Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Say Yes! to Barbara Lee

Thanks to Rod 2.0 for alerting us to Representative Barbara Lee's passionate support for the Hate Crimes bill in the House: Too Many Hate Crimes Are Against Gay Black Men.

As many of the comments in Rod's column share, we should be aware that Barbara Lee was the ONLY legislator to vote "no" to Bush's initial Iraq War plan back when war was all the rage in the early 2000s. Of course, we all know how right she was back when many thought she was so wrong.

It's nice to hear a politician specifically naming black gay men as a target of hate crimes. Not that any one groups wants to be the designated "victim" per se. But it seems rare these days for black gay men (or black gay women too) to be advocated for in larger LGBT community discussions.

She's on the side of what's good and right.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ain't We Lucky

For any of you who watched the show Good Times, either as an original series or in reruns, you know the painting, Sugar Shack, pictured here.

What you may not know is the artist behind the art work, is Ernie Barnes. And you also may not know that Ernie Barnes passed away on Monday, here in Los Angeles.

It's funny how many of us don't think we're into art. But then when a painting like Sugar Shack has been etched in our minds for like ever, we soon realize that we are into art without thinking about it. And that there is a real person and story behind the work.

Ain't we lucky...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hot Rafael and Y&R's Gay Storyline?

If you're looking for some great, free entertainment try Young and The Restless. Trust.

And if you're a friend and ally of the LGBT community, Y&R has a hot gay storyline just around the corner according to Daytime Confidential. We know one character who'll be part of the story, Rafael. The other part of the story, and possible romance, is a long-established male character already on the show.

Keep your DVRs on alert. Or watch online for part of the reveal in Friday's episode.

We know a thing about hot characters named Rafael. People still email me about Rafael in my first novel, Down For Whatever. Can't seem to get enough of him.

Looking forward to seeing how Y&R handles its new gay storyline.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oleta Adams Is Still Here

I was happily excited this morning when one of the listserves I belong to had a brief mention of a new CD project by Oleta Adams called Let's Stay Here.

You probably remember her song Get Here, which was kind of like the Gulf War, long-distance love song of the 1990s. Such beautiful lyrics... EVERYone loved and I think still loves the song. I'd seen a project or two after that, but figured that recording was over and that she was doing shows only.

So excited to see there's a new CD. And so excited to see that almost twenty years after Get Here, that she could pass for a twenty-something. Actually, she kinda favors my friend Rhonda, but I'm sure she'll disagree.

Anyway, check out Let's Stay Here. And have a nice day!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

More Comedy. Henrietta.

Saw another great comedian at the Laugh A Latte show I told you about last month.


Check out her YouTube videos, Sex Tips from Henrietta. Quite fun and funny.

Humorous way to end the weekend or start the week. Hope yours is all you want it to be!

Writing Opportunity. CBS/CW Diversity.

My sister emailed me this opportunity, the CBS Diversity Institute Writer Mentoring Program. I think I'm going to apply. And wanted to share with you, who may be writers or know someone who has thought of writing... especially for television.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

American Violet

American Violet comes out tomorrow Friday, April 17.

Many in the artistic and academic circles are saying it's the first must-see black film of the year. Based on seeing the film preview, I can see why.

It's about a 20-something, single mother in Texas who is unjustly accused of drug dealing. She's completely innocent, but still is pressured to plea bargain and plead guilty. Talk about ethnicity, class, gender, and the role of government in enforcing stereotypes. It looks amazing.

It stars Nicole Beharie, along with favorites Alfre Woodard, Xzibit, Charles S. Dutton and other folks you know.

Now, films like this won't get all the media hype that some of the "lawd, big mama done burnt the chicken" projects, so that's why it's up to us to find it at the local independent theaters in our areas and go see it next weekend.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Age Ain't Nothing But A Number

Spring time brings a lot of birthdays and holidays that honor some of the women in my life and family, so I've been thinking about gifts to get for that set who say they already have everything they need.

Found this anthology, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number, which was edited by novelist Carleen Brice. It features essays and fiction excerpts by black women on midlife, including work by some folks you may recognize... Maya Angelou, Pearl Cleage, Nikki Giovanni, and many others.

The book may or may not be the entire gift you give, but can be part of a gift basket/bag you put together for those spring birthdays and holidays some of us are gearing up for. And these feel-good and thought-provoking works can make all of us feel and realize that age ain't nothing but a number... it's how we feel and what we exude that count!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sunday Hat

I remember my grandmother NEVER left the house on Sunday without her church hat. She had style... well, most women and men of her generation had style and a sense of dignity about their appearance.

So browsing the L.A. Times today, I found this great article that put those grandma memories back in my mind: A Congregation of Splendid Hats. Great story and a great photo essay accompanies the story.

A few years back, Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry put together a great photography book featuring black women in their hats, Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats. It always makes a great gift.

A few months ago, a few of my colleagues who didn't have the cultural capital to know about church hats and black women were making fun of the Aretha Franklin hat at Barack Obama's inauguration. They thought it was excessive. I had to school some people on why it wasn't funny and that hats are an important part of black community fashion history.

Anyway, hope you see some fabulous crowns this weekend during your family or holiday gatherings.

Friday, April 10, 2009

What To Feed Me Friday

First, an anectode.

Where I work, they just opened a pizza restaurant -- one of the national chains -- on the first floor. The smell drifts up to my second floor office from the moment they start making pizza-ish items at 8 am. All day long, my mind is on pizza -- how good it tastes, how good it smells, how much I want some, and how I'm going to justify not eating the lunch and snacks I packed because I want to buy pizza instead. It's such a halos and horns moment -- I pack good stuff, but am tempted by other choices.

All that said, one of the events we held yesterday took a look at nutrition, obesity, etc... through a culturally-focused lens. It challenged us to look at the national charts that say what makes one healthy or not healthy in terms of size, as those national charts don't always take into account ethnicity, class, and gender differences. At the same time, the presentation challenged the notion that people can't make healthier choices even with ethnicity, class, and gender differences taken into account.

But learned about two new resources/books that are interesting when it comes to food, health, nutrition, and how we personally reflect on and manage these issues. The first, Feed Me blog, is based out of a recently-released book, Feed Me: Writers Dish About Food, Eating, Weight, and Body Image, by Harriet Brown.

The second resource. MyPyramid, an informative and interactive site from the USDA, that helps people learn various nutrition facts, but also has several FREE and interactive tools to help people develop personalized nutrition plans. We like FREE in these times.

I've been challenging the pizza halos-and-horns moments by doing a few things at the office. One, I've put in some Wallflowers from Bath & Body Works to keep my space smelling less like pizza. It has helped a lot. Two, we've pooled our resources to keep bottled waters, fresh fruit and those 100-cal snacks in our common spaces, so that we have some choices to consider when those pizza-craves hit us all day.

Anything to keep us focused on thing other than pizza.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Dreaming @ Jobs

OK. So it's 5:30 in the morning, and I just woke up from the most vivid dreams about new job offers.

The first, radio host and comedian Steve Harvey offered me a job to work with his company and radio show. I remember the exact offer. I remember the salary offer to work with him. And it was only 6 hours a day, from 4 - 10 am. And I would have had to commute between L.A., NYC, and Dallas a few times a week.

The second, I got offered a full-time "Grad" job (in grad school, my friends and I were graduate assistants, or Grads, for Residence Life -- we got free rent, tuition, and meals but no salary, in exchange for 20-25 hours a week of work.) In the dream, I loved the idea of working 20 hours a week for free rent in L.A.

The common theme with both dreams, besides the job offers -- they both lured me in with the idea that I'd have a LOT of free time to work on my writing and creative endeavors.

I'm not a dream analyst, but hmmm.... the topic/idea of creativity time has been on my mind lately.

Your latest dreams? Or interpretation of this series of dreams?

Monday, April 06, 2009

L.A. Times Book Festival

If you're in L.A., the annual L.A. Times Festival of Books will take place at UCLA campus on the weekend of April 25 and 16, 2009. It's a free, 2-day event (except for parking costs).

Generally a very fun event for book lovers and people watchers.

Ways to make it an economically-savvy trip in these times:

take public transportation to UCLA (or stay with a friend on the West Side of L.A. so the bus/train trip isn't so long);

pack enough snacks, drinks, and meals to avoid $20 hot dog meal deals -- there are plenty of campus locations to make your day a family picnic;

leave the ATM/credit card at home and budget the most cash you plan to spend on books -- very important for impulsive book addicts like me;

read the schedule of panels and writers to decide your schedule for the day(s) -- it can be like free writer school for the day;

or volunteer for the festival and get your parking for free, get a t-shirt, and one free meal for a few hours of service. I've volunteered before and it's not hard work -- keep a line of people in order, escort an author to a panel, collect evaluations at the end of a panel.


Thursday, April 02, 2009

60 Minutes... of Dolly and Memories

Dolly Parton will be featured on 60 Minutes this Sunday, April 5. She'll be talking about how her business-savvy nature, and how she has managed to ride out hard times. CBS News preview here.

Y'all know I'm a huge Dolly Parton fan. I remember an interview she did once on some show talking about her experience working on the film Steel Magnolias. She talked about how some of the co-stars were complaining about the heat, long hours, etc... while working on the film. She said she never felt like complaining, because why complain about something you've dreamed about doing all your life.

I liked that humble and gratitude-filled answer. That sold me.

But, back to 60 Minutes. This morning while getting ready for work, I thought to myself, "Why have I always liked 60 Minutes and the news?"

And I remembered... Sunday afternoon and evening was our personal chore day. My parents had my sister and I do our laundry, iron, and get our clothes ready for the upcoming school week (I think that's why I'm so planned out nowadays!) Then, they'd wash, dry, and oil our scalps... that was usually around the 7 pm hour, when 60 Minutes was on. Oiling your hair... how old school, huh?!?!

We had no choice but to watch 60 Minutes, and to learn about things, places, issues, and people that no other elementary school kid was learning about. Those were my first memories about being interested in news and being a 60 Minutes fan.

Anyway, funny how one thing leads to another. But for sure, I'll be tuned in (or at least my DVR will be) for Dolly Parton on 60 Minutes this Sunday!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Time Goes By... Guiding Light

I thought it was an April Fool's joke when I heard the news that CBS had cancelled the long-running soap, Guiding Light, with the last show to air in September.

But source after source confirms it's true: Daytime Confidential, CBS News, NY Times.

So weird. It's the longest-running television show ever... 72 years, pre-television. But weirder, I used to watch with my grandma when I was a little kid. It was my first soap, so to speak, and what eventually got me into the other CBS soaps that are now my stories -- Young/Restless and Bold/Beautiful.

But it all started with Guiding Light. Such is another childhood memory gone for good. Time goes by.