Moments of escape can be moments of clarity!

"Oh, had I but followed the Arts"-William Shakespeare

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Love, A Roadtrip & Interpretive Dance...

In case you've forgotten who I's Eiayay and I have a blog. Yeah, I know it has been a while. Luckily I don't make my living as a writer or I'd have gotten the sack about two months ago. Well I'm back after a little hiatus & a vacation, which I will be writing about soon. (seriously, I will..come back here..)
I was scrolling through movies, as I do sometimes, and landed on this weeks Reel,2011's CLOUDBURST. I didn't even read the description, I was just intrigued by the title. It turned out to be a great decision (I should listen to myself more often.) 
Stella (Olympia Dukakis) and Dot (Brenda Fricker)have had each others backs for 31 years. They have lived together and loved deeply. Their love affair has been secret, not secret for all of those years. All who chose to know, knew.
Dot's grand-daughter Molly chose to live in ignorant and blissful denial, so when Dot, who is blind starts to need more care, Molly ignores the loving care & helping hand Stella has been providing and chooses to put Dot in a nursing home to avoid what she perceives as her upcoming burden. She also has an eye on her inheritance.
Stella's protestations are ignored, her place in Dot's life diminished. So Stella comes up with a plan, albeit not a well thought out one. She decides on a jail break..or nursing home break. She enlists the help of an errant, but lovable hitchhiker, Prentice (Ryan Doucette) who she picks up along the way. Together they make a bad idea even worse and what follows is a hilarious, raunchy, and tender road trip as Stella, Dot & Prentice make a break and try to avoid the long arm of the law.
CLOUDBURST had so many laugh out loud moments. Olympia Dukakis's honest portrayal of Stella was the highlight of the movie. I just loved listening to her husky voice and raucous laughter and her tender moments with Dot and Prentice. At the root CLOUDBURST was a story about love and the importance of Equality. Also, reminding us that we are just as bound to the people we choose as family as the family we are born into. CLOUDBURST deftly combined comedy and drama, and left me sniffling & laughing in equal measure. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Jurassic is Back...Enter the Rapter Whisperer!

Hey, another Sequel, surprise, surprise. I thought I would wait until the roar and din quieted down before I posted this weeks Reel, JURASSIC WORLD.
It has, thus far been a long & sometimes painful journey for this franchise.

In this latest installment, lessons remain unlearned, well if they had learned, we'd have been all done after JURASSIC PARK and how much mon...I mean how much fun we would have missed out on..ahem...

In JURASSIC WORLD, all those cloned dinosaurs that have been wandering aimlessly on Isla Nublar for 22 years, have been rounded up and have become part of a theme park for vacationers looking for fun & adventure..nothing wrong there. JURASSIC WORLD had rides and swanky hotel rooms and up close and personal contact with some of the dinosaurs. The Velocirapters  have been rounded & wrangled by dedicated, gentle, dinosaur loving Rapter-whisperer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt). The Park is operated by Claire Dearing (Bryce Howard) no-nonsense & career driven, she runs the Park strictly by the book. So when her nephews come to visit, the Park takes precedent. She leaves them in the hands of her capable assistant.
In the quest for bigger & Better attractions the Park has created a newer & deadlier Dinosaur & it has disappeared & so have her nephews, who were out on one of the attractions.
Things have gone horribly awry and Mayhem ensues or as Dr. Ian Macolm so eloquently put it in THE LOST WORLD: "First there's oohing & Ahing, and there's running & screaming."
JURASSIC WORLD was entertaining, although predictable. The Dinosaurs were the stars. Chris Pratt was likeable & funny. Bryce Howard's character was seriously lacking in the Complex Female Protagonist area. She spent most of the time hrumphing & looking doe eyed into the camera, with ample bloom. The addition of a completely unnecessary relationship sub-plot was just distracting as was Claire's wardrobe. The idea that a woman who runs a Theme park is wearing a white jersey dress with high heels traipsing around in the  jungle was ludicrous. I spent a lot of time during the movie saying to myself "WTF is wrong with this woman?"
Character development was not high on anyone's list during the writing of this screenplay.
So, if you haven't seen JURASSIC WORLD, I'm not saying don't go see it. I'm saying go with very low expectations. Go for the Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs are always fun & the special effects were excellent. Oh, and don't expect to see any Women of Color 'cos in JURASSIC PARK Dinosaurs live & Women of Color are extinct...go figure. Oh, and there's a sequel to this sequel planned for 2018...if wishes were horses, then Women of Color could ride..

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Bits & Bobs...& Lynley...Suarez...& other stuff

Well, it's definitely Summer because I find reading, Sleeping & drinking wine infinitely more fun than typing, But I am determined to finish my three upcoming Blog Posts before the end of the month.
I have four books on my Nightstand waiting to be read. I just finished JUST ONE EVIL ACT by Elizabeth George, whose DI Lynley character is one of my favorites.

In JUST ONE EVIL ACT, Sargent Barbara Havers, who covers her empathetic & vulnerable personality with a tetchy, no nonsense exterior, has opened her heart to her neighbor Taymullah Azhar & his daughter Hadiyyah , so when a few months after Hadiyyah's mother, Angela comes back into her life, & disappears again taking Hadiyyah with her, Taymullah has only to ask & Havers drops everything to come to his aid.
She in turn calls on DI Lynley, her boss, her advocate & her closest friend. Lynley is reluctant to become embroiled in a domestic matter, but finds himself front & center in the investigation if only to save Havers from herself.
The investigation leads Lynley to Tuscany, where he takes on the role of liaison between Taymullah & the Polizia di Stato. Lynley must walk a tightrope between his duties as a liaison & his own prodding inquiries, to avoid stepping on the toes of the sensitive, Italian lead investigator.
Havers, who is stuck in London refuses to heed Lynley's advice to stay clear of the investigation, letting her feelings for Taymullah & Hadiyyah cloud her judgement & heart. She finds herself heading recklessly over a career-ending cliff.
Lynley must quickly get answers to Hadiyyah's disappearance before Havers takes him plummeting over that cliff with her.
Elizabeth George is a brilliant storyteller & doesn't disappoint. Her stories seem patternless & you just don't know how it's all going to come together, but all the twists & turns keep you guessing until the very last word.

A little Bits & Bobs about the Acting front. I will be addressing mostly in an
 upcoming special Bits & Bobs. The Reel Eiayay Documentary with @GitgoFims is still being edited & I'm excited about it's upcoming release. You can follow me on Twitter @BlackStarr & Instagram for all the latest news.
Meanwhile Himself & I are busy learning the ins & outs of Home recording Studios. It's a intimidating & laborious learning experience.
I am getting inspired by some great music like:

Danay Suarez


Emeli Sande

I will continue to read & write & drink wine in these waning days of Summer...& hopefully finish these damn posts...really...I mean it...

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Avengers: Age of...WTF happened...

I'm a huge Marvel geek so on the heels of 2014's CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER, I was looking forward to this week's Reel AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON. WINTER SOLDIER was well written, action-packed, funny...& made sense, so I was expecting more of the same from ULTRON. Even though the screenplay & director were different. This time around Joss Whedon was at the helm as writer & director.

 Joss Whedon has written and produced some of the episodes of AGENTS OF SHIELD, which I have for the most part enjoyed watching. So, I approached ULTRON with an open mind.
When I left the Theater, my mind was mostly just baffled. Where was the smart script? Where was the plot? Was their a plot? It was as if the Avengers...all of them, had regressed to their early teens & 20's. I was mystified as I listened to the conversations taking place on screen.  It was like walking through a mall on a Saturday & catching bits & pieces of conversations: Who has the hots for who, who's stronger than who, who's mad at who. Tony Stark wasn't smart snarky like in IRON MAN & WINTER SOLDIER, he was silly snarky. The Hulk wasn't broody & tortured, he was sulky & lovesick & Black Widow was distracted & thinking about babies.

I don't know where men got the sexist idea that women who go to see Marvel movies want to see romance. We don't! I go to Marvel movies to see  super heroes saving the World. I want to see the HULK throwing things around. I want to see IRON MAN being snarky, flying around in his iron suit, & making gadgets. I want to see Thor throwing Mjolnir around & ruling Asgard, in short, I want an intelligent story with fun & lots of action. If I want romance, I'll go to a Romantic movie (unlikely).

The bottom line is, the characters in this particular installment of the AVENGERS, seemed to be sleep walking. The idea of the character of ULTRON could have been really interesting. I was expecting him to be menacing, scary & angry. I wanted to be scared, not annoyed. He was whiny, petulant & one-dimensional. It was such a waste of James Spader's talent. 

The Maximoff twins (Elizabeth Olsen & Aaron Taylor-Johnson) were forgettable. The stars of AGE OF ULTRON were the the battle scenes & the HULK running amok scenes, which if they'd been accompanied by a more lucid plot, would have been a bit more satisfying.
As a Black girl & a geek I would be remiss if I didn't speak about one huge, glaring omission from the Marvel Comic movies: WHERE ARE THE BLACK WOMEN?? Even when THE AVENGERS were in Africa, we were strangely absent! What? Is it that there is a belief that Black women aren't interested in Comics, Sci-Fi or Fantasy. We seem to be extinct in any kind of imagined futuristic World.

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON was a disappointment for me, but I will close this chapter and try to look forward to CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, when Anthony Russo & Joe Russo return with the original writers: Chris Markus & Stephen McFeely. May we return to Action & Intelligence... and I hope a World where Black women exist...& spend money.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Special Bits & Bobs: Race & Navigating the Treacherous Waters of Social Media

I originally joined Facebook & Twitter to keep in touch with friends &
family, but as the years have gone by I find navigating Social Media as a Person Of Color an exhausting & disturbing tight rope walk.
People participate on Facebook & Twitter to share a little bit of who they are and tidbits of their lives. As as POC I have to deal with racism in my everyday life, so, yeah, it's going to show up in my timeline. I expect to see racism when I am casually surfing the web, but what I find disheartening is the passive & sometimes blatant racism that I find myself exposed to on my own timeline, from FB & Twitter friends & their friends.
I see racist posts & my friends comments and Likes. I get to see racist memes that get shared, LoL'd and "liked". I see conversations with friends & their friends speaking in what they perceive as "Black Vernacular" as if the height of humor is speaking like what they think of as "ghetto", because that is so far removed from who they are as to make it funny.
I see you & your friends Tsk,Tsk as you post Fox New's fictional "Black on Black" crime, while you lament about "Thugs & Gangsters", two words thrown around constantly when it comes to POC.
I see your Halloween or theater costumes where your idea of dressing as a "criminal" includes, Afros, Bantu knots, Doo rags,  & dreads, all the accoutrements that are a part of Black culture, flashing imaginary gang signs, because nothing says criminal like Black Culture, I mean how else would people know you were portraying a criminal?
If I post an article about the ongoing & seemingly endless murders of Black People at the hands of those sworn to protect, inevitably someone will post an article about how wonderful the police are or try to justify the murder or try to shut me up & shame me for being angry by beating me over the head with a Martin Luther King stick. If I post a status about an instance of racism that has happened to me, you try to tell me that being short or thin or a redhead is the same thing as being Black....No, just No. You don't get paid less, denied housing, charged more for just about everything or murdered for being short,thin or a redhead.

I have no problem having frank discussions about Race, but I think White people haven't been listening or really taking in & digesting the stories of racism from POC. Also we can not spend our time telling you or giving you suggestions on how you can end Racism. The Oppressed are not here to help the Oppresser end Racism. It's tiresome and usually the first reaction is to negate what we are saying by trying to debunk what is happening, then the "I'm one of the good ones, don't blame me" speech or  telling POC that it's all in our heads...we are "post-racial"  All said from the comfortable perch of White Privilege.  
Some people feel Facebook (Racebook) & Twitter are not the forums for race discussions, but if Social media outlets are about snippets of what is going on in our lives then it's the perfect forum because racism is an almost daily occurrence in our lives. But, it's not about debating on my threads...don't. Brainstorm with each other, because that is what being an ally & friend looks like. Because like Smoky the bear says "Only you can Prevent Forest Fires", only Wypipo can end Racism...
A big part of the problem is, some of the friends I have on Facebook & Twitter who have POC as "friends" forget that we are there. We become an abstraction, because we are just friends on Social Media, we aren't actually in your life. We aren't in any of your pictures, no weddings, birthday celebrations or girl/boys night out. You have no real POC in your life, so your idea of POC comes from the news or television.
 Well, I'm telling you that we see all the racist articles,microagressions the racist memes, the passive racism you "Like" & Lol.  All the times you use Gangster & Thug to describe POC. We see it...I see it...I see it all. So, are we REALLY friends?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Bits & Bobs..Syl & Paul, The Marque..oh & Pips & Bass...

My first Bits & Bobs Of Spring...well, kinda Spring. There is a hint of it in the air, at least the immense snow mounds have begun to recede.
Winter hibernation has it's perks. I am able to tackle the ever teetering pile of reading material that is slowly encroaching from every corner of my bedroom. 

I plucked from the stack of books,EMPIRE by John Connolly & Jennifer Ridyard.  It's Book 2 of the Chronicles of the Invaders Series.  
I was more than happy to settle in & revisit Paul, Syl and the Illyri.
In Book 2, Paul & Syl have been separated. Paul is now a reluctant soldier with the Brigades. Syl has been sent to the Marque to begin her education with the Sisterhood, but both Paul & Syl are determined in their own way to wrest their fate away from their "captors" and continue the fight to save Earth from the Illyri and an even more dangerous enemy, known only as "The Others"
Syl continues to resist the pull of the Sisterhood & to listen to her instincts, which push her to seek answers to the origin of "The Others" and make sense of what she witnessed during the siege at Dundearg.
Paul's deep loyalties lie with the Resistance, which is as much a part of him as breathing, but he still can't shake thoughts of Syl that tug gently at his heart.
Syl & Paul must each fight their own battle while trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together if they have any hope of stopping those who  are planning the decimation of Earth.

EMPIRE is solid Science Fiction, that refuses to slip lazily into
cliché , and formulaic drivel. The technical, gadgety science sated my geeky brain and the characters & human emotion that drive the narrative, kept my heart in the story.John & Jennifer's writing styles continue to blend well, avoiding the jarring effect that happens sometimes when two writers are telling the same story. I approach Books & music with the same philosophy. I don't separate them into genres.EMPIRE is sold as a YA novel, but for me their are just two categories of books & music: Good or Bad. EMPIRE is good...really good. I look forward to continuing the journey. Bravo!

Now,a bit of a bit about what's happening on the creative front. My Documentary with BlueStocking Films is in the can. I can't wait to see the final product!
My other half and I are slowly moving toward recording some work.
Since I became a Drummer almost four years ago I find myself listening to music with a whole different ear, I'm honed in on the Bass much more, which is reflected in what I'm listening to. Check out the Bass...'cos that's what it's all about, right?

Gladys Knight & the Pips

Earth, wind & Fire

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Plummeting to Earth with a Resounding Thud

I finally decided to see what all the buzz was about, so my Reel of the Week is 2013's GRAVITY. Well I've hopped on the bandwagon and am still scratching my head or my brain...& looking for a way to hop off.
With that much Award hoopla, I was expecting much more. The star of GRAVITY is most definitely the cinematography, it was spectacular, but the movie itself was very small. 
Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a medical engineer who accompanies  Astronaut (George Clooney) into space. While repairing their shuttle, a disaster leaves the pair hopelessly adrift in orbit.
GRAVITY was as formulaic as a movie can get, you know: Everything is fine, then everything is not fine, solution, mini disaster, inner or outer pep talk,then success. I'm not really sure what made it Oscar worthy. Sandra Bullock  was adequate. She did her thing & it was okay. George Clooney  was a clone of a lot of characters he's played over & over. Snarky, emotionally distant but wise & brave. They had the one minority throw away character. It's a running joke among POC(People of Color) that the minority character is there so he or she can be killed off without being missed in the story. Sadly,GRAVITY didn't disappoint on that front. Technically & visually, GRAVITY was a tour-de-force, but I expected more from a film that received so many accolades.
GRAVITY made the list of movies that didn't pass the Bechdel Test 
which has the bare minimum requirements for Women in Film. I have my own test these days called the Are Women of Color Reflected Test: 1.Has to have one or more women of Color who talk to other women or each other. 2.About something besides a man. 3. The woman of Color has a name & a life 4. Is not just a sounding board for the White Woman to lament about her problems. 5. Is not killed off in the first 15 minutes of the film.  6.Is not always a Slave, prostitute, welfare mother, murder victim,Hypersexual or a housekeeper.
It's a dream I have... I'm gonna go watch "ALIEN vs. PREDATOR".

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Bits & Bobs & the shortest month of the Year..

My first Bits & Bobs of the new year and it falls on Black History Month. I have a certain ambivalence when it comes to Black History Month. Is it really celebrated or is it ignored? Black people are out there making History everyday, but it goes largely unnoticed. Most Black people will say "Hey, I  know my history, I got this." We are creatively,inventively, politically & Environmentally making History everyday. Maybe Black History Month will spark curiosity in those unaware of our History to ask: Who invented the potato chip, Stop lights,the watch, the mailbox? Where did the phrase "The Real McCoy" come from?
Enough ranting. This week I'm writing about some of my favorite Books & movies by & about Black people.
I just finished reading RED RIVER by Lalita Tademy:

 Lalita vividly tells the ancestral story of the Tademy family, whose history is intertwined with one of many darker days in Americas History: The Colfax Massacre of 1873.
Following the first election after the Civil War in which Black men were allowed to vote, tensions arose between the mostly Black Republicans, who won the election & the white Democrats. Fighting erupts when a handful of Black Republicans refuse to give up the hard won Colfax Parish Courthouse. More than 300 armed White men, which included the White League, the precursor to todays Ku Klux Klan and the Knights of the White Camellia converge on the Courthouse.
The White militia come armed with a cannon. Some Blacks upon seeing that they are out gunned & out manned decide surrendering is the best option. When one of the leaders of the White Militia is accidentally shot by one of his own men, the Whites respond by shooting the Black prisoners. The leaders of the Black Militia were singled out for execution. The killing ends with 150 Blacks murdered & 3 whites killed. The Government succeeds in changing the view of the Massacre by calling it the Colfax Riot as a testament to what happens when unruly Blacks are given the chance to govern.
Within this horrible chapter of history Lalita Tademy manages to cull from the tragedy, stories of resilience, hope, bravery & determination.
The story she tells is not an isolated story. Many like it are dotted throughout America's History. Some you might want to read or watch a cinematic retelling of are:  ROSEWOOD or THE BURNING or a fantastic movie chronicling 110 years in the life of a woman who was born a slave; 
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MISS JANE PITTMAN & Mr. & Mrs. Loving, which is my all time favorite movie. The true story of Mildred & Richard Loving an interracial couple who are arrested for marrying in Virgina and challenge Virginia's miscegenation laws all the way to the supreme court. WENCH the true story about a Post Civil war Retreat in Ohio where wealthy white men bring their enslaved Black mistresses.
My hope is that every month we will all be a little more curious about the lives of people who look nothing like us, but are like us in all the ways that really matter & that their History is our History.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

"Children Grow up to be People One day"

After a very lazy Holiday Season, full of wine & regret, I am back with my Reel of the Week. This week is off my favorites list. It's 1967's TO SIR WITH LOVE". 

It's the 60's and Mark Thackery (Sidney Poitier) is a Black man, trying to get along ,and get a job in the field of engineering. Again and again, the Color wall rears it's ugly head. So when he is offered a job teaching troubled High School students in a poor neighborhood, he jumps at the chance of employment.
His first day of school he is confronted with a classroom full of surly, brash, irrepressible teens, who in a years time be unleashed into the World with no grasp of what awaits them.
Thakery feels in over his head and the students mask their uncertainty at his presence, with bravado and an escalation of unruly behavior, hoping to scare him off like previous teachers. Thackery has experienced worse in his day to day life as a Black man so steels himself for the battle ahead.
After weeks of following the rules and being met with  alternating apathy and rudeness, Thackery decides to throw convention to the wind and look to the Students instead of the books for the curriculum. The surprise is that both the Students & Thackery learn new lessons.

I watch TO SIR WITH LOVE at least once or twice a year. It is a relevant today as it was in 1967. I don't know what that says about our society, but when I watch it,I'm filled with a mixture of nostalgia, sadness and awe that this movie from 1967 dealt more honestly with racism then a lot of current movies. I also become a complete emotional wreck when I watch it. I hope that some of you who have not seen TO SIR WITH LOVE will give it a try. It also boast a great Soundtrack with the song of the same name, sung by Lulu. The song alone brings a tear.