Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The NaNoWriMo Advice Post

I do a version of this every year and well, ahem, we could probably revisit those but NaNo is all about creating new words so here we go. 
1. All writing advice is just that - advice.  Suggestions are based on what worked for the person giving the advice and that includes everything here.  So any advice that works for you is great.  And any advice that didn't work for you, stop using.  If anyone had a magic key, then literally all of us would be using that and there wouldn't be a need for so much advice.  Your job is to figure out what works for you. 
2. There will be ebbs and flows.  Some of that is normal - life, plot problems all happen.  If you hit a slump that's fine.  Your job is to figure out what things need to change to get you out of it.  Beating yourself up about it is not a useful part of that. 
3. Back everything up.  Even the parts you think are crap.  Print it out, email yourself a copy, take picture of your notebook, do not let there be only one version. 
4. Try things you haven't tried before.  If you've never been to a write in, try it. If you've never tried writing in a library, try it.  If you've never tried writing from your couch while checking in with the NaNo sprints team, try it. Anything that tanks your word count, don't try again.  But just like (I hear) people who exercise get bored with the same old same old, your brain does too.  So jazz up the routine. 
5. Decision fatigue is real. So if you find at the end of the day you can't figure out what your characters need to do next, try deciding earlier, even if you can't write earlier.  Take a voice memo, write on a post it, three things, so you have that ready to go when you get to writing time. 
6. Other decisions you can eliminate will help.  If you can make a big batch of soup, or buy 60 of the same microwave meal, or lay out your outfits for the week, whatever you can take off your plate for November, do. 
7. Don't be a hermit (unless you want to).  But really, going out and talking to non-writing people will and maybe seeing some sunlight will not only be good for you, it will be good for your writing.  You will see little things out there that inspire you.  
Good luck.  Writing at any pace is a success, so however many words you get, and whatever you learn about what does and doesn't work for you is good stuff. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

A Guide to Apologizing for Hurts You Don't Recall

There has been so much news of late, and I don't want to conflate apologizing for sexual assault with apologizing for racism, but between David Cross and Kevin Spacey there is one similarity. They don't remember.  It seems convenient and yet also likely.  I watched one person talk about the shock of having someone make a racist comment to them in an airport and hearing that person laughing with a friend five minutes later.  These incidents of harm are often so huge in the memory of the person harmed and, in many cases, just a silly or drunken moment to the perpetrator.  And that's why to this day I can describe with incredible detail an eight page note I received from a supposed friend my freshman year in high school or other barbs, arrows, and transgressions made against me, that probably aren't memorable to the people who hurt me.  Either because they thought they were being funny, or flirty, or that it was so long ago.  So let's talk about how to handle this.  Because we would all love to believe we have only ever been the harmed and not the wielder of harm, and while most of us can say with certainty there are some lines we haven't crossed that doesn't mean there weren't times we still thought we were being funny and didn't stop.  
1.  It is a natural inclination to want more context surrounding the incident. I did what to you?  When?  Are you sure?  Here's the thing.  This person has taken a huge risk recounting harm done to them, to talk about a painful moment for them.  If they feel willing to talk to you, then sure.  But consider they may not want to.  They may never want to talk to you again.  They may be signaling that they are done pretending you are a person they can smile next to.  And that's okay.  Because you desire for context and understanding about your own behavior is not more important than their hurt. 
2. Apologize.  You can say, I don't remember this.  But not as an excuse.  So not, I'm sorry, but I don't remember this.  Instead, I'm sorry, I don't remember this, but that's terrible and I'm sorry.  
3. Don't equivocate.  No one cares if you were drunk, or doing a bit, or whatever other excuse you've decided to attach to your behavior.  Lots of people get drunk and don't hurt others.  If you cannot, then you should stop drinking.  See also, I was raised in a different era, I was trying out a character who was racist and apparently practicing it unknowingly on people of different races to see if I could cause them harm in a way that was funny to me. 
4.  Do not send others to say you are lovely, wonderful, and would never do this.  Silencing victims is never a good look.  
5. In the privacy of your own home, away from social media, feel free to reflect on the things that would contribute to this behavior on your part.  Don't do this as part of your apology. These are things that you ponder yourself, or possibly with your team so you can make better choices going forward.  I don't need to hear about your stop being racist or stop being a sexual predator step program.  Your improvement will be made clear by your actions, not your words.  

Friday, October 27, 2017

Project Runway: Warriors

The designers are given boxing gloves. Kentaro proves to be the savvy one, telling Brandon the important part is that the clove is pink.  They arrive at the boxing ring to meet Tim, in sweats (Ayana speaks for us all to express shock) and a representative from Avon who tells them about the work Avon has done to combat breast cancer and introduces them to some survivors. Margarita is obviously emotional, and tells the mannequins that her grandmother had breast cancer. I know the warrior/fighter parlance is getting pushback in some circles, as it implies that there are winners and losers in illness, but warrior woman is not a bad theme for a challenge.  
During the Tim critiques, Margarita is still really emotional, and Tim seems thrown.  I think it's hard to remember that at this point they have been in a weird routine for weeks, different food, different sleep, different schedules, this is the point in the trip where you think you are super fine and then a bus stop ad sends you into a meltdown.  So, getting a little emotional about breast cancer seems right on par. Tim ponders perhaps being a woman it touches her more.  I'm going to assume that Tim's real concern here was that sometimes being a little to emotionally tied to your piece inhibits your ability to critically edit it and Margarita has gold pleather and bright red, so it's something she needs to keep an eye on. 
Kentaro and Brandon have both created looks with turtlenecks and hoods, and menswear inspired elements.  Basically warrior woman is where their two aesthetics overlap, and while Brandon is working in pastel pink and white, and Kentaro is working in black and white.  Kentaro keeps tweaking and trying different elements. He also tells the mannequin, he thinks he has been too focused on what will look good on the model and not on what he likes to make, which sure, but, hmm.  Basically he seems to be flailing a bit.  Kenya has been paired with the model Liris, who I believe may have more appearances in the top than many of the models.  (Obviously, as they use one less model each week, there's no way to make a fair comparison, but she has shown to be a great asset to several of the designers.) 
So let's just go in alphabetical order. 
Ayana made a beautifully tailored top that pairs a half ruffled button down top with striped pants that have a petal detail on it.  I wonder if the judges assumed it was from Kentaro or Brandon. I think it looks very Ayana, and yes also has some of the elements Kentaro and Brandon have been playing with.  It's very editorial, and the judges love it even more up close as they see how carefully she matched the stripes.  
Brandon has created a cropped top with tailoring and buckles, topped with a hoodie drawn tightly around the model's head and layered drop crotch pants. Zac notes that he is generally not a fan of poopy pants, but these are very well tailored.  Nina loves what she continues to call his street style paired with millienial pink. Heidi wishes the hood had been down, but overall liked it. 
Kentaro's black layers mean a lot of his details are lost and the outfit looks heavy.  One could argue she does look ready to go into battle, but not in a way that is editorial or interesting. The judges do note the similarity to what Brandon did, but Brandon's outfit shows more skin and Kentaro's doesn't. 
Kenya has made a beautiful blue dress with her signature form fitting pencil skirt, and petal shoulder details.  Nina loves dresses that you could wear to work and sit at the conference table in and still have all the fun stuff be visible.  Heidi is thrilled that someone has dressed Liris so well. Nina later asks Zac about the work involved in the petals.  There's been a noticeable shift this season in Nina's interest in how things are made.  Allowing for changes in show editors of course, we have seen her demonstrate more interest in the skill required.  
Margarita described her idea that cancer is chaos and she was containing the chaos with the corset, so the corset is snug (and gold pleather) and the red is more wild.  She was also trying to do something that was very her.  The judges like it better knowing her idea, but ultimately, on my screen at least, the red is very bright, and paired with gold pleather it just reads more discount Wonder Woman than it might have in deeper colors.  I like Margarita, but this is still not something that tells me specifically what her viewpoint is. 
Brandon wins. 
Margarita is out. Except, as Tim comes back he tells her he loved the outfit, and he wants to see more of her, so is using the Tim Gunn save.  

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Three Interesting Things

1. I watched one the interviews Matt Damon did with Goerge Clooney for their new movie where Harvey Weinstein was brought up and had similar rageful thoughts. Saying someone seemed respectful in front of you without further unpacking why that might be just supports this idea that we can spot predators from afar, that they don't work, lurk, and exist among us. And yeah, I also wondered why three dudes thoughts about a predator who preyed on people not like them was getting airtime. But this post about how we can't have it both ways is spot on.
2. This article about the pages of Tinder data also looks how we about a lot of passive digital collection in our lives. 
3. The headline on this piece got some crap in my corner of the timeline, but the post itself was thoughtful about how knowing things your parents are ready or willing to discuss with you can create a disconnect you don't quite know how to address.  

Monday, October 23, 2017

Tom Hanks in Conversation with Ann Patchett

Friday night I went to the Warner Theater for another Politics and Prose event, this time Ann Patchett discussing Tom Hank's new short story collection Uncommon Type. Patchett asked Hanks as an actor when you go into interviews, what is the signal to you that your interviewer is not familiar with the thing you are promoting.  Hanks said that generally there wasn't that sort of sense, but there were signs that the interviewer hated your movie and wished they could somehow interview you without mentioning it, and usually you could tell when they did something like, "So, your new movie..."  
Patchett said for books, the sign is often when the interviewer holds up your book and says, "Wow, what a cover!".  And then they will flip to the author picture on the back, and say, "You look great there!"  And then they will open the book to the dedication page and ask about that, and that's when you know they never made it past the dedication page.  And then she asked about the dedication since it is to Rita and the kids and because of Nora. (Pop Culture Happy Hour recently released an interview with Tom Hanks.  If you would like to hear him talk about this and other things about the book with your own ears, check that out.) Hank explained that he had met with Nora Ephron and her sister Delia, who also worked on "Sleepless in Seattle" and he had liked her work, but he was kind of a big deal, and well, he had some thoughts about some things in the script that didn't reflect the way that a dad would talk to his son.  In particular he said, well, a dad would say, I'm going on this trip to get laid.  Not, oh, I know your poor feelings, or whatever.  And that afterwords, he had said, well, I think that worked great.  And Ephron has said, well, you wrote that.  And he said know, I just complained and made a suggestion.  And she said, well that's writing.  So, Ephron was the person who first treated him like a writer. And later when he wrote a thing, he sent it to her and said, is this a thing.  And she gave suggestions (about voice) and who and where to send it, and so, he felt it was because of her.  
Patchett noted that a famous photographer had recently released a jazz album at 73, so maybe we were in a moment of people who had been very successful in one career, trying out another.  She also said that she often says that she is a writer because she has no esprit de corp, preferring to work alone.  Whereas acting is a clear teamwork deal, so what are the things that are the same.  Hanks talked about taking a tough acting class where they made you be interesting while playing a side part, and that a lot of that was making an interesting backstory for that character so that even when they were setting the table it was clear other things were going on.  As an actor you have to show up knowing the character well, so that you can just create truthful moments. And then afterwords, an editor and other folks take the material you created and stitch it into something, so in many ways, acting and writing do have some overlap.  
Patchett said as an author and a bookstore owner she gets sent tons of books, and she was sent a galley of Hanks' book and eventually sat down to read it and was entranced.  She can often tell, because she is so well read, when she reads new fiction, who else the author has been reading.  And that Hanks' work had a very specific old school style, and yet seemed uninfluenced by others.  He mentioned he doesn't read a lot of fiction, more non-fiction.  And that some of these were inspired by snippets he had read in non-fiction, or from talking to various vets to prepare for movies he had done.  And one was inspired by his father-in-law's story of coming to America. 
Patchett was thrilled that he included a typewriter in each story but also wanted to talk about his inclusion of a Kobo ereader in several stories.  Hanks said he had met a woman who called it the Canadian Kindle and he had one and liked it.  Adding it, where possible, and the typewriter had become a fun thing to get him to sit down and write, where will the typewriter go.  Patchett noted for the audience that Kobo allows independent bookstores to sell ebooks to readers.  (I take advantage of this feature a lot.) 
They talked about Hanks' love of typewriters.  He has about 250.  Some are just for display, antiques with missing parts and such.  The rest, he rotates frequently, making sure they all get regular use. 
There were a number of audience questions.  One about raising kids, led to a story about an, ahem, unnamed child who skipped school one day.  They called him, after the school called them, and asked what he was up to, and the child said they were eating waffles.  So, Hanks and the child's mother did some math, they called the school to confirm the number of school days in a school year, and figured out how much that private school cost per school day.  And when the child came home, they took that money from the child's wallet.  Said child never skipped again. (Patchett did ask why the child had that much money, it was apparently Christmas money.) 
I've already read the first two stories in the collection and they are wry and enjoyable and I have spotted two typewriters and a Kobo.  

Friday, October 20, 2017

Project Runway: The Car Challenge

I appreciate that as they came around the corner to see cars, one of the designers said, oh the car challenge, indicating actual familiarity with the show.  There were cars filled with safety gear, the challenge was to make something out of bandages, seatbelts, harnesses, construction fencing, and other such gear.  They are down to six and the knowledge that no one would be safe this week seemed to weigh heavily on them all as they second guessed themselves.  Ayana had grabbed a ton of stuff, knowing her intention was to make a modest, aka head to toe outfit.  Kenya worries that she doesn't have enough or that since she only grabbed black things and is surrounded by folks making things in bright blue, safety orange, and safety yellow. 
Tim has concerns that Brandon is making something that doesn't look like him, so he tries again.  Tim expresses concern that Kentaro has combined many fire hoses and made something that looks like a burlap sack, so neither stylish or terribly unconventional looking.  Michael has dedicated a lot of time to twisting bungee cords and gets Tim's message to execute it in a sophisticated fashion.  
The model mirror is used. (I apologize, I have not learned all the model's names.) Michael's model is happy she's not naked. Margarita's model notes that it's very top heavy.  Brandon's model is a little concerned that her skirt is both short and angled out providing a possible booty glimpse.  Kenya's model says she would never personally wear something that enlarges her hips, but it's a cool outfit. Kenya's zipper breaks right before they go down to the runway.  The outfit is belted so they carry on as is.  (You'll note no zipper gate this time.)
Heidi says the scores were tight, no really bad ones, getting eh's from Zac and Nina.  But it does seem there's more of a top four again.  
They love Brandon's look made of cones and inflatable boats, which looks very Brandon only more color.  I will note that Brandon used green last week, so whatever.  The judges and I are not in agreement about what constitutes a street look, or an interesting design here. I mean it's fine. But, I am bored of Brandon doing the same thing the way I am happy to see Kenya and Ayana do the same thing.  So, I recognize the paradox.
Michael's outfit is short and his time spent playing with the bungee overlay and not the rest of the dress shows.  The overlay squishes parts of the dress making it look weirdly fit and I suspect Michael kind of knows it's an idea that looked better in his head.  
Kenya's black seatbelt and bandage dress is beloved.  They appreciate that she painted some of the bandages to give it dimension and texture.  It reminds me a bit of a Kini Zamora design, but in a good way.  
Ayana's outfit is amazing, it has long sleeves, pointy shoulders, and a cloud of construction fencing as a skirt.  She has a helmet head peace too.  She used broken reflectors as detail all over and it looks awesome.  
Margarita used kneepads as boob cups and created a molded top, with harnessing, and a safety tape skirt.  The judges love it, Nina says it looks superhero-esque, but Zac notes that at this point they don't know what her point of view as a designer is.  I want to note here, that in one of her mannequin interviews, Margarita pulled out the dressmaker word for Ayana and Kenya.  Right now I think Ayana and Kenya have pretty clear points of view.  Heck, as bored as I am of Brandon, he has a clear point of view.  Margarita has done a lot of different things.  And whether it's the pressure of the challenges or not, I don't know what a Margarita look looks like.  Some people that do well in the confines of the challenges,do less well with the go make a collection thing because they don't have a specific aesthetic to fall back on.  Margarita may well have a really great plan.  But it's something to consider. 
Kentaro took Tim's critique about his shapeless top and pleated but boring skirt and attached things to it.  He used an arrowhead shape, so decided to embrace the vaguely native American aspect of it, putting his model in fringed shoes, and braids.  Basically it looks costumey and not good.  
Ayana wins. Michael is out.  He is incredibly gracious about leaving.  And the episode ends with an RIP tag for designer Mychael Knight from Season three, who passed away this week. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Amy Tan in conversation with Deborah Tannen

Amy Tan was at Sixth and I last night as part of a Politics and Prose and George Mason partnership.  Deborah Tannen - author of books on language - and Amy Tan met in the Linguistics PhD program back in the day and have stayed friends. Tannen is now a professor at Georgetown and Tan is, well, acclaimed author Amy Tan.  Their long friendship was clear. Tan spoke about how when she was in the worst phase of her Lyme disease, she couldn't write.  So her prior memoir had been compiled from previously written pieces that just needed little touches.  Now that her Lyme is well-managed, her editor suggested another memoir, and he said they could just throw together some of their long email exchanges and give folks a glimpse into the writer/editor relationship. 
So contracts were signed and ultimately, while she did include some emails, she felt she really needed to do some writing.  That emails alone would not a good book make. So she made a deal with her editor that she would send him stuff every week and he was not allowed to comment on it unless something in there was egregious and he really felt she needed redirecting.  He would send her pictures of the pile. She had been planning to call it a Writer's Memoir, and he started calling it Where the Past Begins, and she asked where he got that, and he said, that was in your last pages.  
Tannen mentioned that the mother daughter relationship had been so present in so much of Tan's work, but that here she also looked at her relationship with her father.  Tan said she had a lot of memorabilia, and found her father's diary, and lots of documents that in retrospect added context or shifted her understanding of parts of her childhood.  She also discussed that the week of the election last year was a tough writing week as she pondered how would her father have voted.  (As someone who also had a conservative father, a former real estate person no less, I confess I have wondered this a lot too.) Tan's father had been a conservative evangelical, but she hoped that also the treatment of immigrants, watching her own struggles with healthcare might have also factored into his voting. 
Tan remembered while writing this book that she had been given a test in grade school that her parents told her meant she was destined to become a neurosurgeon.  She said upon reflection it occurred to her that this might not have been the kind of test the Oakland school system was offering young children, so she googled and discovered that someone had done a study of early readers in the Oakland school system and, as an early reader, she had been a test case.  She read the book, and while the names were changed, she was able to recognize her family and see that her parents were worried that they had broken a rule, letting her learn to read early (at the time there were concerns about early exposure to reading, hence the study) and, when she found the papers indicating that her parents had overstayed their student visas and risked deportation, she realized that her parents were very worried that this woman who wanted to talk about their daughter's reading habits was really up to something else.  Tan said she doesn't really want to know what would have happened if she hadn't spent much of her life thinking she was destined to be a neurosurgeon, since that made her who she is and that maybe she would have become an unhappy neurosurgeon if she hadn't been told that.  
They took questions from the audience, including one from a fan of her children's series.  Tan said writing for children is tough because you may want to make a point, but you can't do it being didactic or prescriptive, you have to create a tale that's fun and maybe also contains a lesson.  Another audience member said she was second generation herself and worried that she wasn't sufficiently Asian sometimes and wondered if Tan felt that way.  Tan said that yes, she had felt that way.  And that when she published the Joy Luck Club she waited for folks to show up and tell her that she got things wrong.  But that her mother had said that she thought her mother, Tan's grandmother's spirit must have dictated the story to her, so she knew it felt that good to her mother. 
It was a great evening.  

Three Interesting Things

1. TV Critic Maureen Ryan talked about her own experience being sexually assaulted by a TV executive. As a fan of her work, I'm grateful she stayed in the industry, but it's tough, and I hate that people keep having to push forward through the worst experiences to keep doing their jobs. Bad days happen in any job sure, but this is the toll that knowing people can mistreat you and it won't affect their job getting skills at all.  
2. Rasika is a restaurant that has long been popular here, so knowing there's a cookbook, oh yes. 
3. And today is the last day to bid on packages for readers and writers with the money going to support the US Virgin Islands. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Ripped Bodice Bingo

So, when I saw the Ripped Bodice's summer reading bingo, I loved it.  And yeah, I know it's fall now.  I made a goal to try for not just bingo but almost every square. I was not quite there.  Some of these I assume I wouldn't have to try hard for.  Some are like impossible to search for so you just hope for the best.  And some books, I did not finish in time. But here is my card.  And here are the books. 
Sight Unseen - Character on the Run, Anthology, Non-Regency Set-Historical, Elaborate Proposal Scene, Heroine smells like food item. 
Some Kind of Hero; The SEAL's Rebel Librarian - Character in uniform on cover 
Small Change - Food described in delicious detail (I stopped looking for this after this one, but I could have gotten this square many, many times.) 
Far From Home - Heroine named Rachel, Queer NA ish. beach read. geek/nerd elements, Asexual (new to me subgenre)
Rogue Desire - Rogue in the Title (This also would have worked for anthology, queer NA.)
Rancher's Surrender - Heroine inherits a business
Hard Wired - Broke AF hero.  
Also in progress were Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Queer YA/NA), First to Burn (Viking), Forged in Desire (which I did finish but not before the deadline and was planning to count for conversation would have solved the conflict even though it's a romantic suspense because the hero and heroine needed a communication class).  I don't know how I managed to get through that many books without anyone smelling like pine or sandalwood, but kudos to the authors I read this summer who avoided that. And yeah, I failed on reading dragons this summer which would have taken care of some more. 
Regardless it was a really fun challenge. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Project Runway: Avant Garde Dolls

I am thrilled to report that we resume episodes with endings this week.  We start before we left, Claire is the winner, Michael walks off stage, Heidi and Tim want to know what's up.  Batani seems to be the first on stage to cave to the pressure of all the questions and mentions that there were concerns about Claire (and SHawn) copying other designers and their own clothes. Backstage, Michael tells Tim, and is joined by Margarita.  Tim says copying the clothes you are wearing (by which we mean using them to pattern) is within the rules.  Michael and Margarita go back on stage, Claire remains the winner, Batani is out.  
The designers return to the backroom to catch the others up.  Claire is understandably upset that she got sideswiped on the runway for concerns that had clearly been going on for weeks that no one had mentioned to her.  Margarita seems to have realized that by venting to Michael and not to Claire she has not actually preserved the nice with Claire.  Let's talk about this.  I am going to in some ways make some assumptions about motivations, but I think Margarita had noticed this patterning off their own clothes that both Shawn and Claire were engaging in, and referencing other things - they had pointed out in the model episode that Shawn's top look for her model basically looked like exactly what the model wore when she visited Shawn. The designers had hoped that this lack of originality would get noticed by the judges.  And while no one has brought out the word seamstress, that's what this is.  They think Shawn and Claire make good things that look like what is out there.  And that designers innovate.  And they were assuming the judges would agree, especially since Shawn and Claire spent time in the bottom.  And yet, here Claire is.  Claire asks if all this came up now because she won money. No one appears to answer, but you have to wonder. 
In the discussion, Margarita, who I think was trying to vent to Micheal to diffuse her own tension and now realizes that she has spread the tension further so is taking some responsibility to explain her concerns, says in addition to patterning in the bathroom, she has seen both Shawn and Claire measure items in their own closet in the hotel room.  Amy, who you may recall is a fashion professor in her other life says, well, having design tools outside the workroom is a violation of the rules. Claire - who I want to point out did have a legit gripe that people were jerks whispering about her but not talking to her - now seems to see that okay, there was this one fair point. Tim enters the backroom, asks Claire to confirm she has been using tools outside of the workroom, she does, and her win is rescinded.  And also she is gone and Batani stays.  And the cup pattern will go to Brandon who you may recall was neither top or bottom, lending credence to the idea that the biggest problem with the product placement challenges might be the product placement people. 
So, on to a normal show.  It's...a product placement challenge.  It's avant garde Shopkins. The designers are given consultation with a Shopkins fan, aka kid.  Amy says it makes her miss when her kid was that age.  Michael is thrilled his superfan is so inspired by disco given it's influence on fashion.  (I am pretty sure his fan just likes glitter, but hey, they bonded.) Margarita wonders why eliminated designers can't come be their seamstresses, and when asked who she'd want, she says Samantha. 
As with many of the avant garde challenges, it's avant garde in the sense that you could wear this to the Met Ball and look like you didn't just wear a regular outfit.  Heidi says they have four top scores (I'm guessing there were ties) and two bottom.  Kenya and Kentaro are safe. Ayana has made a delightful outfit that looks like a giant pink ruffle bell with a huge bow, and polka dot legging peeking out from underneath. Michael has made a glitter jumpsuit with some glitter piping (remniscient of Sandia) wrapping around to simulate a melting disco ball.  Brandon's outfit looks like a strappy thing, and when guest judge Kate Upton says her cooking apron is the same color, well, that was what it reminded me of, a fashion apron. That the judges love and say they knew was his. Margarita uses a few fabrics to create volume and glitter sparkle touches that looks poufy but interesting.
Batani returned to her pattern matching ways, and has also made use of volume, but in a way that is less successful, especially as she has a part on the side, she didn't cover, so it looks unfinished.  There's also a cut out in the back that emphasizes that the whole outfit is a little too tight for her model. And Amy has made an outfit that is very Amy and could have easily been something that Amy would have entered in any other challenge.  It has a high neck, uses Amy's signature neutrals, and it's well made but makes the judges feel like she didn't try.  
Michael wins. 
Batani is back out.  And Amy is too.  So we finally got a double elimination. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Three Interesting Things

1.  The new Shondaland site talked to Beverly Jenkins about writing romance. 
2. Jemele Hill was suspended from ESPN for suggesting hitting advertisers if you disagreed with a team owner's stance on the anthem, and her co-host sat out Monday. This article looks at the juxtaposition ESPN has created encouraging folks to engage with fans via social media, and then punishing them.  I think ESPN is wrong.  I think even the appearance of caving to presidential demands is far more dangerous than upsetting the delicate balance they have with the teams they cover where they need to be able to comment and not lose access. But even there, no media organization has gotten more trust from their viewers by openly caving there either.  I eagerly await her return.  And hopefully her upcoming whatever other book/podcast/website she may choose to also engage in. 
3. I share a neighborhood with the delightful folks behind Craft Kombucha (which means I consume it pretty regularly at the farmer's market) so appreciated this piece on founder Tanya Maynigo

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Sankofa Video and Books had an event (hosted at Metropolitan AME Church) with Ta-Nehisi Coates in conversation with Kojo Nnamdi to discuss Coates' new book, We Were Eight Years in Power. It's not unusual for DC to experience a little summery weather in early October, but the day (and the day before, to be honest) had threatened rain without rain actually materializing which meant the humidity was quite high, and let's just say, there were lots of fans going in that church.  
Nnamdi started off by asking Coates to talk a little about how the book threads together Reconstruction, the Obama presidency, and Coates' writing career.  Coates said that he felt people wanted to view the Obama presidency as a symbol of forward progress and that to his mind it was part of cycle that we saw after Reconstruction.  He also talked about how during the Obama presidency that there seemed to be a lot more opportunity for black writers to talk about all sorts of things.  He did touch on the idea that some black writers who had found success perhaps a generation before felt boxed into specific topics, but that he hadn't felt that.  He also mentioned Nikole-Hannah Jones had been an award winning journalist but now there are plenty more people ready to listen to her.  It wasn't that she wasn't doing the work all along. 
Coates' spoke about his concern with the bootstrap mentality that Obama had sometimes espoused.  He talked about being invited to the White House twice and gearing himself up the second time to ask a serious question and dive in on it.  Touching on a recent article that implied that Coates was just as bad as white nationalists, leaving centrists with nowhere to turn, he said that he was not interested in seeking common ground with white supremacists.  A lot of folks claiming to be in the middle are ignoring the fact that white supremacists want to kill people, this is a war, not a discussion point.  
There were audience questions, including one from a women who felt Coates was the person with the platform to talk to folks about COINTELPRO and political prisoners.  Coates said he didn't think he was going to get to that.  That he already had ideas and things he wanted to tackle and that each one required tons of research and reading so he could properly account for the points he wished to make, and the historical context he wanted to put it in.  And that what we really needed was an army of writers tackling all the things.  
The interview was aired on a local station but also recorded for the Kojo Nnamdi show, so it should soon be available for others to listen to. 

Monday, October 09, 2017

In The Heights Two Times

Olney Theater and Roundhouse Theater did a joint production of "In the Heights" and I went to see it.  Yes, I had seen it in April at Gala Theater when they did the Spanish version.  And since I apparently didn't write about that let's talk about both. Gala Theater's version was in Spanish, which is to say for the most part they flipped the Spanish and English in the play and had subtitles on stage.  Olney/Roundhouse did the traditional English, with a lot of Spanish mixed in. 
Gala's theater is smaller and let to a very intimate feel.  For "Alabanza" they had actors carrying candles down the aisles which led to a feeling of intimacy. The Olney Theater is larger, and they had piped in city noises - sirens and subways - something a theater in Columbia Heights did not need to do.  Also, it's not part of the performance, but I went to Gala on a rainy Friday and everyone seemed happy and in the mood to party.  While I went to Olney on a Wednesday, and the audience response was interested, but comparatively more sedate. 
In both cases the casts were great.  In both cases, a number of the actors were making their debut at that theater, but had performed in "In the Heights" before. Olney's cast had Rayanne Gonzalez playing Abuela Claudia, and I have now seen her in three local productions ("Destiny of Desire", "Oliver!") and she's been great in each.  
"In The Heights" takes place over three days in July in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City and while covering lottery wins, and romantic drama, also manages to touch on themes of immigration, gentrification, and defining success. It was a Tony award winner for music and lyrics writer Lin-Manuel Miranda among others. 
I had listened to the cast album for years, but had not managed to catch a live version until this year, so I hadn't known, until I saw a video on Twitter about the use of cell phones in the "Blackout" number.  I confess, along with a birthday month present to myself, part of my excuse for seeing it again was to see what the Olney production would do for "Blackout".  The Gala production has used flashlights, which is certainly a choice.  (I had also chatted via Facebook with someone who went to the Annapolis version, who said they used low stage lights.) Olney did use cell phones.  Very modern looking cell phones.  
The play, like many is very recent (about 10 years old, which compared to say Dickens is just a spring chicken of a play) and yet, it's already a bit dated.  The neighborhood in question is already gentrified.  Rosario's Car Service would be fighting off competition from ride sharing services.  Going to visit the Dominican Republic is fraught with additional tension these days.  Although I confess the Trump joke is actually funnier now.  
Also, after the production, the cast announced they are fundraising disaster relief for hurricane and earthquake affected folks. They were at 40,000 something.  They are hoping to get to 96,000. 
A transportation note for local folks.  There is a bus that gets you to the Olney theater, but it stops running around sixish, so you will need an alternate plan for your return trip, or to carpool out there.  

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Three Interesting Things

1.  There are two book themed giveaway donation things going on right now.  Romance cares is giving away ebooks to folks who show proof of donation to disaster relief organizations. And YA authors are behind Pub for PR where there are a ton of things you can bid on, or just donate and enter the raffle.
2. The author of this list is known to me, but that doesn't mean this list of good audio doesn't have some great recommendations.
3. And I'm so excited to see the Disney Channel's version of "Freaky Friday".  I enjoyed it so much last year.  The daughter has been recast (I suspect because looking like a teen on Broadway is different than looking like a teen on HDTV) but the mother remains the same.  (Warning, EW site contains a lot of things that autoplay.)

Monday, October 02, 2017

Puerto Rico and Other Sad Things

I had this post ready to go, and then woke up to the news about the shooting in Las Vegas.  I resist the temptation to believe the world is worse, but certainly our ability to learn quickly about awful things that are going on can lend to that appearance.  Being an American abroad, or even one who just chats with folks from other countries via social media, can often mean explaining that despite the news, the US is not a dangerous place where nearly every event can turn into the scene of a mass shooting.  It gets harder to make that supposition.  I have friends who have kids that now do active shooter drills in school.  I have friends who had to escorted from their offices during an active shooting event.  Friends who lived near this or that one.  I go to concerts and baseball games and other events where I have to plan my bag around searchability.  Plan my outfit around walking through a metal detector.I can recall easily the top shootings in modern history.  
Yesterday, I had lunch by the river, going to a baseball game with yarn friends since it was Stitch and Pitch.  And I had ice cream for dinner.  When the opportunity arises, I highly recommend having ice cream for dinner.  
As we work the ability to multi-task our horrors, I wanted to share a story about Puerto Rico.  My company has offices in Puerto Rico. I work for a company with a workaholic nature. For hurricane Irma, they closed offices in several places (including Florida) and encouraged folks to telecommute. So basically we are the it's-too-dangerous-to-be-outside-so-please-work-from-home-kind-of-company. 
After the hurricane I received updates that employees in affected areas had been accounted for and that a company match was available for charities assisting with recovery. 
Friday we got an announcement that our company was sending a plane to Puerto Rico with supplies for employees. This is unprecedented. I'm not saying my company is heartless, we (little bit like the US writ large) are good at big gestures. We come together in crises. But this, in addition to being a great thing, told me things were bad. Things are not getting taken care of and even my company could see that they couldn't expect their employees to keep on without water or food or other basics. 
So please, call your electeds. (Feel free to mention gun control too.) Give if you can. This is going to be a long haul, probably longer than the others, so if you can now great, if you can't for two weeks or months, it will still be needed then.