Jan 21, 2015

Lady Who Rocks: Maysoon Zayid

Maysoon Zayid in 'You Don't Mess With The Zohan' (2008)

We all have things against us. Minuscule and major. We cry, moan, and FML about them, and then we either let those things make us feel like sh*t, or we turn the sh*t into shiitake mushrooms and make a delicious pasta meal out of them. Maysoon Zayid chooses the latter. Like us all, she has her own "strikes" against her. She's Palestinian. She's a Muslim. She's a woman, and...oh, yeah she's from New Jersey. Yeppers, she's got it rough alright. She's also just so happens to have cerebral palsy, and a set-back it is not, as Maysoon Zayid is a comedian and actress who is embracing her so-called flaws in the best ways possible.

Jan 15, 2015

What I ♥ Today: Of Course The Only Issue Of Vogue I Ever Bought Had The Spice Girls On It...

17 years ago the Spice Girls were featured on the front cover of  "the fashion Bible" in support of their campy-fun flick, Spice World, and upcoming world tour, and it was all around stylish n' spicy.

Black nail polish on short nails, highlights, and a grumpy looking Posh are things that will always give me the warm and fuzzies about the late '90s, and it's all on this one cover. Oh, and smiles, natural smiles and looks! People didn't go overboard with the photoshopping back then, and it's why the ladies Spice are glowing and looking like your best gal pals on this cover. They just look approachable, their looks look achievable...if that makes any sense.

To burst the bubble some, Vogue editor Anna Wintour regretted doing this cover because the Spice Girls are like plastic feminism blah blah blah. Still, I wonder will the ol' helmet head grouse about the much lambasted Kim Kardashian and Kanye West cover 15 years from now, or look back and wonder why the vanilla blandness of Blake Lively and Kate Bosworth were so cover-worthy....

Jan 14, 2015

Impressions: 6 Ways 'Broad City' Captures Your Twenties (Almost) Perfectly

When I heard about Comedy Central's show, Broad City, the first thought I had was: "Not another show about girls in New York City". No offense to those who live and bite into the Big Apple, but it seems that if you're not from the greater New York City area, and are in your twenties or thirties, single and struggling, you just don't exist, and your story is just not worth telling. It's always a narrow storyline whittled down to one city and often one racial demographic, and yep, it bugs me.

Still I was curious....

Comedians and real life best buds, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer created the show from their web seires, and you know I'm ALL for sistas doin' it for themselves. Amy Poehler producing the show was also some catnip, plus the multiple reviews that I came across that were waving hands in the air to exasperatedly say it was better and much more relatable than the unbalanced act that is HBO's Girls. Okay. Okay. Fiiiiine. You got me.

So I watched the premiere episode via the web, and was...a little 'meh' about it. Yet, because it's a comedy show about women in their twenties, and since I don't bail on shows until I've given them the 'three episodes or you're out' test, I decided to give it another go. So when the full season popped up on Amazon Prime, I dove into it again, and was happy to find that the rest of the season flowed so much better! I fell hard in love with how feminist funny, cringe inducing, and quote-worthy each episode was as they all unfolded like a Gen Y's nod to the zany madcap adventures of Absolutely Fabulous (just substitute the booze with blunts and you're good to go). Plus the show features a rainbow of characters without being forceful or pandering to a demographic ("see look we included you!!"), and that is a huge plus in my book.

Still what captured me more was how even in the swell of crazy, Broad City mirrors some aspects of my roaring and wandering 20s. While it's always difficult to find a show that speaks to you on some selfish level, I feel that Abbi and Ilana are my people, as not an episode goes by without me nodding my head and closing my eyes going, "Yep, I've been there...".

So how does Broad City hit (almost) everything on the nail about my twenties? Allow me to count the six ways...

Jan 13, 2015

Impressions: 'Selma' Evokes & Echoes An Era

Selma is an outstanding and powerful movie.

Directed by Ava DuVernay, Selma with lucid intimacy has you walk right alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as he fights for equal rights, combating all the social and political obstacles and bloodshed that come his way, all while still upholding a sense of self. These attempts in the end lead up to the historic 54-mile march from Selma to Montgomery that ultimately led to the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Selma first and foremost roars with violence and hardship that is astoundingly effective, but it's brilliant how the film begins with a tranquil and regarded interaction between King (played excellently by David Oyelowo) and his wife, Coretta Scott-King (played by Carmen Ejogo) moments before King accepts the Noble Peace Prize that honors his efforts during the Civil Rights Movement. This somewhat sterile, docile moment is the calm before the typhoon, as peace and the nobility to uphold morality are contested in the soon-to-be unfolding months as King and countless of loyal supporters and activists work tirelessly towards equality that is still not yet obtained.

Jan 6, 2015

Book Looks: On 'Bad Feminist', Its Contradictions And Its Triumphs

In the case of feminism, we far too often argue and worry about who is doing feminism the right way, or who's setting women back thousands of years. The definitions of  feminism are too vast and laborious for all that boxing in, as it's seasoned with a mélange of thoughts and experiences to where every woman (and man --- because men can be feminist too!) possesses their own unique definition to what it means and how it applies to their lives. This is why I always find it silly that feminism gets tacked with such petty criteria, that people have the actual gall to formulate rules on how to do feminism the "correct" way, when it truly isn't a one-size-fits-all deal.

Roxane Gay is a personable, vivacious, and talented writer and raconteur --- and with those strong attributes it's super hard to have dissenting recoil about what unfolds in the pages of Bad Feminist. It's why I had trouble writing this review, as while I enjoy Gay's online writings and persona for the most part, her writings in this oddly assembled collection have me dueling in the middle as while reading I was enthralled as well as aggravated.

Jan 5, 2015

Life & Times: 15 Ways To Better Myself For 2015

Bad ass Anna May Wong drinking in the new year circa 1920s
'New year, new me' ...eh, that line disagrees with me. Immensely.

I guess I want to be more like Anaïs Nin who quoted: "I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me."

Yes. Yes. This so much.

When the clock struck midnight on January 1st I didn't morph into 'All-New Jen!', I was still ol' boring Jen, a little buzzed, loudly laughing at the dumb nut newscasters on our local New Years broadcast, and stuffed with cocktail shrimp Jen.

I will say there is nothing wrong with having a game plan for what you want in life, and there is absolutely positively tooting nothing wrong with using the new year to start that game plan. All I'm just saying is that you don't become shiny and new with a new year, so stop that bullshiggity. There is a process to change and it's ongoing, and quite arduous, but still it's doable.

In my always earnest attempt to be on top of things, I decided to write out my process, coming up with 15 ways to better myself for 2015 and beyond. Not all of the things are going to get done this year, maybe all of them won't, but I'm going to at least try and roll with the 2015 punches, see what molds.