Wednesday, April 2, 2014

#WCW: Tracee Ellis Ross

Girlfriends was the best. TV show. ever. We had the opportunity to watch four beautiful, intelligent black women on TV that were not snapping their fingers, rolling their necks, and dropping off the last constants on their words.  They were funny and showed us that life can suck sometimes but it's okay as long as you have your Girlfriends (sorry for that corny line). 

Source: twitter.com
But what really made me love this show was the fantastic Tracee Ellis Ross.  I always gravitated towards Ross' character, Joan Clayton.  First of all, the lady was freakin' hilarious.  For as long as I live I will never forget the line "I can't be whatever I want! Can I be a couch?!"  My 8th grade self laughed at that line for a solid hour.

I felt her character and I had so much in common: grew up only children, could be overly anxious, and we both love themes (remember her Cinco de Mayo song?).  She was a rock for her girls (She could have claimed Lynn as a dependent on her taxes).  She was a beast of a lawyer and blew me away when she quick her job and opened her own night spot, The J Spot.  She was eccentric but she owned it.


I didn't only gravitate towards her personality but I LOVED her style.  I would watch every episode and study her house and her clothes.  She looked flawless in everything she wore.  I wanted to submerge myself in her closet and burn every print and fabric to my memory so I could do my own version of her wardrobe.   She is the reason I started wearing black nail polish.  And don't get me started on her house.  Tell me you didn't want your first house to look like her's?  It was so slick and chic.  Her house was the definition of the single, independent woman.

However, my admiration for her goes beyond her talent on the screen.  Tracee's unique beauty is what stands out most for me.  As a young, dark skinned girl, I didn't have a variety of women to look up to when flipping through the channels or the pages of a magazine.  Watching Tracee with her unique beauty features (stunning big eyes and curvy shape) made me want to embrace my own unique features.  Let's not forget to mention her hair.  There is no telling how many women she has inspired to take the BIG CHOP because of her impressive jet black locks.  I see pictures of her and I just want to melt.  No hate here, she is gorgeous.


Yet, she is more than her looks.  I'm convinced that Ms. Ross sweats confidence.  Don't believe me? Watch her in an interview.  I don't believe the woman has ever heard the word nervous.  She jumps right in and makes you interested in whatever she is interested in.  She could be talking about trash bags and her enthusiasm will make me want to buy and wear those trash bags.

Source: mommynoire.com
Some might say "Well, she is the daughter of the diva, Diana Ross."  Yet and still, that's what makes her even more intriguing to me.  Most women might feel they wouldn't be able to come out from under the shadow of their uber famous mother, but Tracee has so much love for her.  When she was doing a taping of Watch What Happens Live she was excited to talk about Ms. Diana.  Even on Twitter she's constantly gives her mother shoutouts.  Famous or not famous, she understands you only get one mama.

By now, you have realized that I love me some Tracee Ellis Ross (but not in a standing outside her window type way).  I don't do #WCW often but Tracee gets the honor this week.  Her talent, confidence, humor, style, beauty, and love for her mama wins her the title.

Are you as infatuated with Ms. Ross as I am?



Monday, March 31, 2014

People I Love and You Should Love Them Too

As your pop culture guide, I feel obligated to tell you about the coolest people in pop culture.  If you haven't already heard of these great folks be sure to google them as soon as you finish reading this post.

Billy on the Street: Billy Eichner is the host of Funny or Die's Billy on the Street, a pop culture trivia kinda-game show.  Billy approaches random people on the streets of New York and ask them random questions about music and celebrities.  What makes this show so drop dead funny is his approach.  He yells, curse, and insults people and miraculously doesn't get punched in the face.  You might also recognize him from his character Craig, the bipolar office manager, on NBC's Parks and Rec.  He was even nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Best Gameshow Host. Yea, he's something incredible.  Check out the video below to witness all his awesomeness:



Source: deadline.com
Issa Rae: I have talked about Ms. Issa in an earlier post but I had to mention her again (and it probably won't be the last).  Issa Rae is who I want to be when I grow up.  She makes me want to create stuff.  She is a my shero and I wish we were roommates so I could absorb all her coolness.  Issa Rae is the creator of the YouTube series, Awkward Black Girl.  When you watch it you are going to think that she has been secretly taping you all your life. Her show is actually the reason I have become comfortable with my own socially awkward ways.  She has also created other online series including The Choir and Ratchet Piece Theater.  And you most definitely want to watch Ratchet Piece Theater.  She breaks down some of the most ratchet songs and it will have you in tears.  She is also working on a new series for HBO so yea, she kind of a big deal.  Like for real, check her out.

Be Blacker: You might recognize Nicole Byer from Girl Code.  This. girl. is. FUNNY. I saw one of YouTube videos about being black in Hollywood and I laughed for hours.  I have never auditioned for a movie but I believe this is exactly how it would be.  She also works with the YouTube channel UCBComedy with the newest member of SNL, Sasheer Zamata.  What makes me go goo-goo for her is how comfortable she is in her skin.  She seems like the type of person that says whatever is on her mind.  If you don't believe me check her out below:



Source: us.emelisande.com
Emeli Sande: I love good music that comes out of nowhere and that's British Pop Artist, Emeli Sande.  I bought her album end of last year and I'm still listening to it.  It's something about this girl's voice.  She has a song called Where I Sleep and I could let that song rock me to sleep.  I really feel that she is going to be snatching wigs and I can't wait to hear more music from her.

Source: stuffmomnevertoldyou.tumblr.com
Stuff Mom Never Told You: Did you know that the first craft beer brewers were women?  You can learn this and more by listening to the podcast, Stuff Mom Never Told You hosted by Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin.  They talk about everything that concerns women from Beyonce Feminism to the history of women wearing pants.  It blows my mind how knowledgeable they are.  They are walking and talking encyclopedias.  Don't judge an episode by its title.  I just listened to Craft Beer Brewsters and thought it was going to be boring considering the fact I'm not a fan of beer, but it was quite enlightening.

I hope I introduced you to something new and hope you love these folks as much as I do.

Is there something in pop culture you would like me to review? Leave it in the comments.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Annie is Black: But Is It Going to be Worth the $9

Source:imdb.com
"Tomorrow, tomorrow, I'll love ya, tomorrow.  You're only a day away."

The first musical I vividly remember watching as a child was Annie.  I remember that my mom rented the VHS (yep, it was the 90's) starring Carol Burnett and Albert Finny with Aileen Quinn playing the title role.  I instantly fell in love with every ounce of this movie.  I roamed our home reenacting every scene from a Hard Knock Life to You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile.  I know my mom grew very tired of hearing me sing Tomorrow.  Life got even better when she took me to see the stage play when it came to Little Rock.  It's safe to say that I'm a huge fan of the movie and play.

One day as I was casually scrolling my Newsfeed, I see a trailer titled Annie but it's Quvenzhane Wallis playing the famous, rambunctious orphan.  Are my eyes playing a trick on me?  Nope, this is real.  As I watched the video, I realized that this new version was modernized and it was going to be a bit different from the original.  

Along with Quvenzhane, the remake will also star Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.  Foxx will be a  politician running for Mayor and will use Annie to improve his public image and Diaz will play the infamous Ms. Hannigan.   


Needless to say, the in-the-closet racists took to the Twittersphere and expressed their butt-hurt feelings that the new Annie would not be a red curly hair, white girl.  Because you know Annie was a real person so it has to be played by a white girl with freckles.  No, I kid.  Annie is a fictional character about a orphan so it can be played by any girl of any race.  

However, Annie's nationality is the least of my worries.  We all know that remakes can go one of two ways: either really good or really bad.  The Wiz: really good.  The new Steel Magnolias: really bad.  Diana Ross and Michael Jackson made The Wiz an instant hit while Queen Latifah's southern accent kept leaving and magically appearing throughout Steel Magnolias.  I just don't want to see my beloved musical ripped to shreds.  I hope that the Academy Award nominated Quvenzhane Wallis and the Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx can pull off the iconic roles.  I'm putting the most pressure on these two.

All I want to know is will it be worth my $9?  Will I walk away from this movie wanting my hour and 30 minutes back or will I leave the movie singing Tomorrow (loudly) in the parking lot?  I pray it's the latter.

Are you excited for the Annie remake? Leave a comment below. 


Monday, March 3, 2014

Oscars 2014: Epic Selfies and Much More

If you didn't tune in to the Oscars last night because you thought it was going to be the same old boring award show, then you missed a great show that closed out the movie award season.  This year's Oscars was hosted by Ellen DeGeneres and she really knocked it out of the park.  So let's just dig into some of the great moments of last night's show:

Opening monologue:  Let's face it, the host's opening monologue makes or breaks the entire show.  It sets the tone for how well the host is going to do.  Ellen set the tone right because she gave a hilarious opening monologue.  She knows just how far to make fun of the stars in the audience without crossing the line.  I think some people might have thought she pushed it with basically calling Liza Minnelli a man but even still it was a great opening.  My favorite moment was when she called out J-Law (Jennifer Lawrence) on her infamous fall receiving her Oscar last year and suggested bringing the award to her this year if she was to win it.  Only Ellen could execute that perfectly.



Jared Leto's Acceptance Speech: Jared won Best Supporting Actor for Dallas Buyers Club.  In his acceptance speech he spoke about his mom being a young mother and still teaching her children to chase their dreams.  I should add that his mother was his date which always makes an actor a winner in my book. He also spoke about the millions of people who have lost their lives to AIDS.  I don't know much about this guy but he is a winner on many levels.  Also, can I add that Jared Leto's hair was flowing?  Can someone tell me what conditioner he uses because I need my hair shiny like that.  He must do an egg and mayo mask on his hair once a week.  Forget about the Virgin Brazilian, I'm trying to find where to purchase that Leto.

Am I the only one that is mesmerized by his locks?
Source: instyle.com
Pharrell Performs Happy: I have only recently fallen in love with this song so when I found out that Pharrell was going to perform I got real excited.    Pharrell, along with his signature Arby's hat, did a great job performing Happy on the Oscars. His performance really added some youth to the sometimes stuffy Oscars.  Not only because Pharrell doesn't age but the song itself just takes you back to being a kid. He also had kids performing with him and when they hit that Nae Nae I was hollering.  Pharrell better give the Oscars some hip hop flair.  And before I forget, did you see him shimmy with Meryl Streep and jig with Lupita Nyong'o?    Mr. Fountain of Youth, you get a "Yaaaaaassssssss" for that performance.

His performance made me happy.
Source: billboard.com
Somebody Auditioned for Sunday Best During the Oscars: During the show where they are giving awards for categories where I don't know any of the nominees is usually when I start exploring the Twittersphere. Out of nowhere I hear someone belt His Eyes are on the Sparrow and it took me awhile to gather my thoughts because I was not sure what had happened.  Apparently, it was Darlene Love who was in 20 Feet from Stardom which took home the award for Best Documentary.  And she had not one ounce of shame for her impromptu performance.  Ma'am, you better praise him.

Ellen Orders Pizza: Did I mention that Ellen was a great host?  Between the presenters, Ellen could be found in the audience rubbing elbows with Hollywood's most talented.  Ellen cracked a joke about how hungry everybody was and mention ordering pizza.  A few minutes later they are passing out pizza to stars like Brad Pitt, Kerry Washington, Meryl Streep, and J-Law.  Like they were really eating pizza at the Oscars!  The next bit was Ellen taking up an offering for the pizza using Pharrell's hat.  This woman can't get any more ridiculous!

Lupita wins Best Supporting Actress: The only reason I was watching this year's award show was to make sure that Lupita Nyong'o won.  Because if she didn't I was researching and stalking every Oscar voter and they were going to have to answer some questions for me.  However lucky for them this will not be the case because Lupita won.  What I love about her win was how gracious she was with it.  She thanked everyone, including the training she got from her parents.  I loved her final quote
"No matter where you're from your dreams are valid"
Yes, girl, my dreams are valid and my dreams are to get the same regiment you use for your skin because your face is radiant and beat.  Lupita promise me that you will continue to show Hollywood that us dark skin girls have talent and grace and deserve our spot on the big screen.  You are my shero.

"Your Dreams are Valid"
The Best Selfie Ever: Ellen decided she wanted to help Meryl Streep break another record (She currently has been nominated the most times for an Academy Award): become the most retweeted photo on Twitter. So she took this photo with Meryl, J-Law, Julia Roberts, Channing Tatum, Bradley Cooper, Jared Leto, Lupita and her brother, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, and Angelina Joli.  And it truly was the best selfie ever!  It got a whooping 2.6 million retweets beating President Obama's photo he tweeted when won his second presidential term.  Yes, it was that epic.  

2.6 million retweets!!!!! 
I'm not sure if I mentioned this or not, but Ellen is the greatest host ever. Oscars, how about you just go head and get her to sign a contract to host the award show for life.  She really made the 3 and a half hour show bearable.

What was your favorite moment of the show?  Leave it in the comments.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Maya Angelou: Why She's My Homegirl

Every now and then I go through a phase where I always want a book in my hands.  A lot of times this happens when I don't have cable or I'm sick of watching Law & Order marathons.  But at other times it's because I want to escape.  Those authors that can take you another world or make you forget your present situation are the best.
Source: tower.com
Everyone knows her I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and it's details on her being raped and how she went silent in speech for awhile.  But Maya Angelou's Gather Together in My Name took me to another place.  This book is the second in the series of Angelou’s autobiography.  What impressed me the most was her openness.  We get a front row seat to her tales of prostitution and running a whore house.  We also get an inside look to her failed relationships: one being with a married man and another being with a married pimp.  There were times when I would reread paragraphs and have to remind myself that I was reading an autobiography because these stories were something you saw in a 70's blaxploitation film. However, this was not a movie, this was a black woman's life.

Speaking of being a black woman, that is a story within itself.  Facing problems that women still face today, she also had to deal with Old South attitudes and being seen as less than her white counterpart.  Angelou was living in a world completely unknown to my generation.  A world that immediately saw you as less than human just because of the color of your skin.  I can count on one hand how many times I have encountered racism but in Angelou's world it was as common as blue skies.  Can you imagine coming of age in a world that hates you and you don't know why?  Every black person that made it out of that era with their sanity deserves a medal.  And Ms. Angelou deserves two medals because she has her sanity and a talent with words.

Another reason I enjoyed this book so much is because I see my favorite author's flaws and imperfections.  When we see accomplished public figures, we assume that have always had it figured out.  We imagine that every trial they have faced they passed it with flying colors.  It's nice to see that they are just as human as we are.  They have made stupid mistakes.  They have broken laws.  They have fell for the wrong guys.  They have had broken hearts.  After reading Gather Together in My Name Maya Angelou was no longer just a great writer but she was my homegirl.

Her stories remind me of stories in the Bible.  Yea we get the good stuff but we also get the bad.  The reason I have a connection with Moses is not just because he stood up to Pharaoh and led the Israelites out of Egypt but he also had a speech impediment and lost his cool when the Isrealites were getting on his nerves.  I like Peter because he was follower of Jesus but he also had a problem with being pretentious.  Maya was a brave young single mother but she also could be a little haughty and irrational. Knowing someone's best attributes as well as their Achilles heel just makes them more than a well known figure, it makes them real.

 I have gone through things I would like to forget, much less write about them for millions to read.   How Angelou mustered up the courage to write about these events in her life is beyond me.  I'm glad that she found the courage though.  It makes me feel that it's not only possible to survive some of my bad decisions but I won't live the rest of my life defined by those bad decisions.

Yasssss Ms. Angelou, call me when you ready for girl talk.
Source: motivationalday.com 
Maya Angelou, you're my homegirl and I look forward to the day we sit down to have drinks and have a good cackle.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Reading with Thugs

My next post for Black History Month is more about someone making Black History.  In high school, we all had to read the classics: To Kill A Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, Romeo and Juliet, 1984, Hamlet, Beowulf, and so on and so forth. Like most high school students, you were not excited to read them.  And also like most high students, you did as much as you could to get the gist of the story without actually reading the story.  Some looked for summaries online and others bought the CliffNotes.  But even the CliffNotes could be a bore.  Unless you had one of those teachers that made reading Pride & Prejudice seem like an action movie, 10th grade English was the most dreadful time of your high school years.

The Sparky Sweets Source:thug-notes.com 
Well, there is someone that is making the classics gansta... literally.  I present to you Sparky Sweets, Ph.D.  He is the host of the YouTube series, Thug Notes.  He basically breaks a book down in 3 minutes and then gives you a 2 minute analysis.  And he does all this while wearing a du-rag, chains, tank top, and shorts speaking with street lingo.  And the crazy thing is the videos are surprisingly good!  Don't believe me? Here is just one of his great videos:


Is it just me or did he give To Kill A Mockingbird the most street cred?  After watching most of his videos, he made me want to go on a classical book reading binge.  I was ashamed by this thug that I hadn't read more of these books.  But if I'm being really honest, I wish I had these videos in high school.  Unfortunately, YouTube wasn't a site until 2005 and even then it was mostly videos of people falling and kittens.  So yea, I was stuck having to read Romeo and Juliet on my own and do my best to decipher Shakespearean jargon.

Sparky has said that his initial reasons for making the videos were to bring classic literature to the masses.  He realized that those who were teaching literature were not making it accessible to all but making folks feel they had to step up a social level to appreciate great literature.  He breaks it down as simple as possible and after those 5 minutes there is no reason you shouldn't understand that Of Mice and Men is about how no matter how hard you work your dreams will always be a dream because the rich is always holding you down.  Dang the rich.  

He also helps us realize that those books our teachers tried to make us read were not as boring as we thought.  He explains these books go beyond the plots we read and how they still ring true today.  Dante's Inferno and The Picture of Dorian Gray dive into our fight with sin and purity.  McBeth and Romeo and Juliet tackles fate and asks the question, do we really have control of what happens to us?  Yall thought our teachers were trying to torture us but they were trying to get us to explore deeper truths. 

So support this brotha in his efforts to bring the classics to the hood and be sure to visit Thug Notes on Youtube.  

Monday, February 3, 2014

Black Planet: The OG of Social Networks

In my next Black History Month post, I want to take some of yall back... alllllll the way back.  Back when dial-up was our main source for Internet, this was that site.  You were constantly updating your page with ratchet graphics and tacky backgrounds.  Have you guess what site I'm talking about?

If you said Black Planet then you guessed right.  Black Planet wasn't just any site.  It was Instagram but only with selfies (before selfie was in the dictionary).  It was Facebook without the annoying status updates every 20 minutes.  Your page painted a picture of who you were.  I know I wasn't the only that worked hours at making my page look perfect.  You made a wordy description of yourself where you felt a need to tell people how fine you were however you were only looking for "friends".  You would come up with a color scheme (usually pink, purple, or baby blue if you were a girl) and everything on that page had to be that color.

There was a science to making the perfect page.  After you picked the color scheme, you then had to add graphics.  And not just any graphics, but graphics that explained my 16 year old self.  I had a glittery graphic that said "Sexy", purple one that read "Angel", and green camo graphic that boldly said "BabyGirl".  Then to top it off, you had to make sure you added a graphic that reminded people to "Show Your Page Some Love".

Why were we blinded to the fact that this stuff looked horrible?  Why did we think we had the flyest pages?  I wish I could take a screen shot of my page from 2005.  I would be ashamed of myself.  One thing I can say is that I'm surprised that more black people from this era did not become graphic designers.  We were most definitely getting hours of practice.

What puzzled me was what exactly was I supposed to be doing on Black Planet?  My mom had scared me straight with numerous 20/20 and Dateline Specials so I knew better than to give my number to an online lurker.  But for the brave who ignored 20/20's warnings, did  anybody meet someone over Black Planet and actually have a lasting, loving relationship.  When Jerome and Takesha renew their vows at their 20th anniversary will they reference Black Planet as the place they found true love?  Will Jerome tell his kids how he couldn't live another minute without Takesha once he saw her page with its Cash Money Millionaire background?  I hope so.  I want true love for Jerome and Takesha.

All jokes aside, Black Planet was a simpler time.  We were just learning what social media was.  We had no idea the power social media had yet we still had an understanding of just how much we should share online.  You didn't hear numerous incidents about bullying on Black Planet.  You basically looked at someone's fancy page and moved on to the next.  There were no trolls or stan wars.  You didn't get into online battles with racists idiots whose profile picture is Darth Vader. No crazy names like Takesha BoutMyMoney James.  Instead, you had B@byGirl1988.   It was just simple page browsing.  Sounds boring but at least we didn't have the problems we have online now.

Just like how Elvis stole Rock n' Rock from Little Richard, Facebook stole social media from Black Planet.  Now poor Black Planet is a wasteland full of ratchets and ratchettes.  I recently went by the old place just to see how it was doing and found out they have an app!  Good for you, Black Planet, for fighting the good fight.

Do you all remember your Black Planet Page?  Be honest, is it still active?



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