Thursday, July 02, 2020

Three Interesting Things

1. This article focuses on "Survivor" but raises an interesting point.  Editing of reality shows can play into stereotypes.  And while "Big Brother" with the constantly available livestreams made it more explicit, a lot of reality shows seem to have decided not to air racist or homophobic slurs uttered by participants.  I totally agree with that stance.  But, editing it out can often lead to unexplained tension between contestants.  The targets of those slurs then look short with the contestant that uttered them, letting the viewers at home conclude that that contestant is mean.  Reality shows need to take a hard look at how they are allowing bullying, because tension makes for good TV.  I know "Project Runway" and "Top Chef" have let awful instances of bullying slide and hope the teams behind all these shows take an interest in changing that going forward.  Diversifying the production teams would definitely be a start. 
2. This parody of studio notes on a rom-com in the age of Corona, was amusing. 
3. This article focuses on protests, but has larger applications.  When covering issues and areas where we know oppressive structures are in play, shining a spotlight carries with it a risk of harm. We've seen this in book coverage where using screencaps of a Twitter conversation led to vicious harassment.  Twitter is public of course.  But articles about changes being made to books, as an example, are written to bring book news to a larger population. There are ways to cover these discussions more responsibly.  

Monday, June 29, 2020

Incremental Steps

I think often of Yarn Harlot (who I know has a name - Stephanie Pearl-McPhee) saying that she had no trouble imagining knitters as great fundraisers, because knitters and other yarn peeps engage in a craft where you intentionally set out to make something piece by piece, stitch by stitch, so the idea of small donations adding up to something huge is not much of a mental adjustment. Similarly activist Miriame Kaba often says, "Hope is a discipline."  
So on Friday I tuned into C-Span to watch the historic passage of HR51 through the House of Representatives.  It would shrink the official federal enclave to basically be some grass and some federal buildings, and make the rest of what is collectively referred to as DC a state.  
Oh, and if you are here to tell me that this is against the Constitution - a - it's not, and b, I don't care. The Constitution doesn't say citizens in DC shouldn't have rights, but it also was written with the assumption that a lot of people, including people who looked and were shaped like me, wouldn't need rights.  
It is possible that this bill will also pass the Senate and for the first time since DC was organized in 1801, the citizens within it would have rights.  (Note: Of course, when they shrunk DC in 1846, so a slave port in Alexandria could remain active while they banned slave trade in DC (but only DC in 1850) those citizens got rights back.  Weird.  No one minded then.  Oh wait, just some citizens.  That's probably why.)  
Or it may not pass the Senate. We shall see.  But this remains a historic step towards where we ought to be.  So I will celebrate it.  

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Three Plus Three Interesting Things

Since I got distracted with new book things last week, let's double up this week.  
1. L. L. Mckinney talked about how some books by Black authors are getting less coverage because they aren't about trauma, and what that means.  (Also, I've seen a lot of folks lately saying some variation of I would love to read more books by Black authors, but I read mostly [insert genre] and there just aren't any.  I promise you there are.  There are not enough, but they already exist, you can already find them from picture books to sci-fi, to lit fic, to romance, to cozy mystery.  The more you read, the more you will find.  And also hopefully those sales (yours or the library's) will help convince folks in publishing to find even more for you.  
2. Captain Awkward is often great at helping people verbalize boundaries, so this post on talking to family about travel and gathering amid a pandemic is great.  
3. I was directed to this piece from last fall regarding Amber Guyger, about reconciling the need for justice when it comes to police officers who murder on and off the job and also recognizing that adding to the prison population doesn't provide justice. As we work towards a community that is set up to provide justice, the very least that can be done is for police officers using deadly force to be terminated and unable to work in fields charged with community care.  But more prisoners does not happen to be one of my goals.  
4. I talked about this on Twitter last night, but a random post led me to this post, where I discovered that in 1908 three Hawaiians showed up at the Wyoming Rodeo and kinda killed it.  (This is a promo post for the book, which I have not yet read.)    
5. NPR talked to Ijoema Olua about tips for having conversations with your parents (or other relative, especially elder ones) about race, and how to frame them.  
6. R. Eric Thomas pointed me to this delightful story about a woman whose husband didn't know she could cook until she decided to reveal her skills in quarantine.  

Monday, June 22, 2020

Live Read of "Cuttin' Up"

In these pandemic times, we are all figuring out how to do these things. I've been making use of lots of virtual backgrounds, so have discovered that virtual backgrounds can overtake your face and get very confused when you reach your hand towards the camera. 
Also you may have discovered that your friends have varying lighting situations where they video chat.
"Cutting Up" debuted at Arena Stage in 2005. The live read was a collaboration between Playbill and the Classical Theater of Harlem.
The cast for the read included Joe Morton, Blair Underwood, and Tisha Campbell. Special props to Tisha Campbell, who broke out a different top and hairstyle for each character she played. 
There was sound and video editing. As with movies and such, it is interesting to discover how distractable I am watching from my own couch.
So, the play. The play has not stayed in 2005. There are references to current events. The three main characters are male, the owner of the shop, his more experienced barber, and the newer younger barber. As a neighborhood barber shop, it experiences a lot of peeks at folks' lives, and the barbers also reminisce about different experiences. It reminded me in ways of "Jitney", where the play stayed in one place and snippets that formed these people's lives layered in. It's unclear to me how long it will stay up, but it is a theater like experience if that has been missing for you.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Undercover Bridesmaid

 I have a new book out today - sort of.  It's releasing on Kobo today, so if epub and/or Kobo is your jam, you can pick it up now. It releases at the rest of the sites next week so you can go hit preorder.  

Rafe has been using charm both in and out of work. Finding himself the only groomsman at a weather interrupted bachelor party isn't going to stop him from having fun. Felicia has made a living for herself helping out brides by posing as one of their bridesmaids. She's used to handling all sorts of unexpected hitches, but a solo groomsman who keeps showing up at all the bachelorette events is a new one for her. It doesn't matter if he's hot, Felicia's there to make the bride happy not herself. Not even if the bride decides a little matchmaking might make her happy.

1. This book is written to stand alone, but it is part of the City Complications series, so if you have read Aloha to You you will already know who Rafe's friend Seth is.  In fact, you will have met Rafe too.  

2. I don't always know exactly what inspired my stories, because my writer brain is often like a sticky ball, gathering up bits of things until it coalesces into something.  For this one I know.  I was listening to NPR's "Ask Me Another" and on that same show they had a woman who was for some time a professional bridesmaid, and a gentleman who had garnered internet fame for being the only member of his bachelor party. And I thought what if I stuck them together? 

3. It is a particularly odd thing to have a book that involves travel to three different cities, and a number of non-socially distant gatherings amid a moment where essentially none of these things are really possible.  I have friends trying to figure out if they should even get married right now. 

4. I have watched a lot of TV shows about animal rescue.  I myself have a cat from a shelter.  The people who dedicate some or all of their time to animal rescue, are wonderful people who do a lot of work, and see a lot.  This book contains many fictional dogs, who all survive and are happy.  Let's not tell my cat that I have now written more fictional dogs than cats, mmkay?

5. This book starts in New Orleans, a city that called to me so much the first time I visited.  I've been lucky enough to visit it several times since. With groups and on my own. 

6.  This book, in addition to DC and it's suburbs (because of course) also spends some time in New York City.  New York City and New Orleans have been hard hit by both the COVID 19 pandemic, and police brutality.  (DC also.)  Here's hoping the world that we build going forward is better on all fronts. 

7. There is a teeny Broadway reference in here.  Let me know if you spot it.  

Oh also, if you are playing Ripped Bodice Bingo, this works for I'm on a Boat and Secret Identity.