Thursday, September 20, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1.  I have a slight quibble with the Noah's Ark comparison, but this man rescues pets from natural disaster areas, so he was busy last weekend. 
2. Vallery Lomas won a baking show that got cancelled (due to the host being involved in sexual harassment) before her win ever aired.  The good news is, she's still baking. 
3. Alisha Rai wrote a sexy short about consent for Refinery 29. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

"Turn Me Loose" at Arena Stage

"Turn Me Loose" flips back and forth through moments in Dick Gregory's life. While there are time/place markers projected onto the back wall, the clearest mark was actually watching Edwin Lee Gibson (playing Dick Gregory) shift his body into that of an older or younger man. The show provides a good primer for anyone not versed in Gregory, showing his wit, is willingness to be outrageous in order to talk truth about how this country was (and is) treating many of it's citizens, and his belief that fighting for people was the greatest legacy he could leave behind. For much of the show the audience acts as the comedy show audience and there are moments of direct interaction. 
There is one other cast member who plays a heckler, a cab driver, and a radio host, but 99% of the show rests with its star. 
Several audience members near me were murmuring in agreement, often commenting, "Yes" or "Oh that was deep" at certain points, lending more to the feeling we were just at several sequential comedy shows. 
There are some references to Obama and to the current president, but otherwise it stays farther back covering Gregory's direct work with Civil Rights leaders and also his work to be able to be treated - wherever possible - like a comic, and not just a Black comic.  
It's a wonderful show, and I was pleased to see it. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

I Believe Victims

I believe victims. As I've said before no one has ever gotten money or fame from claiming sexual assault (think how many of us would be rich and famous) from claiming sexual assault. So when people take great personal and professional risk to come forward to say, hey, maybe this person shouldn't get even more power, I believe them. 
I beleived this accuser before I had her name or credentials. And I know some people think that sounds like blind faith, and well it kind of is. Innocent until proven guilty is supposedly the premise of justice and similarly I believe people who tell stories of harm done to them unless and until I have a reason to not believe them. 
So, I believe Christine Blasley Ford not because we share an alma mater, not because she's got a cool job. I believe her because the only possible thing that could come out of her being thrust into the spotlight on this is that maybe her accuser won't get more power. That's it. 
And if that's not enough for you, think about why. Why isn't a victim's recounting of what was done to them enough for you? Why do you believe the man who isn't saying I remember it differently or gosh, I was super drunk, he is saying nope, nothing happened at all. At the very least it suggests he is lying again. 
Also, this has been such a hard week for sexual assault survivors
Take care of yourself and remember RAINN is just one of the resources available to you if you need help. Call 800.656.HOPE or chat at Para ayuda en español,

Monday, September 17, 2018

Love and Laughter

I spent the weekend in Colorado for a family wedding. It was a great opportunity to meet family members and reacquaint myself with others. A number of family members had made big changes be it starting college or changing jobs and/or states and it was great to see that and to catch up with folks. 
I had a wonderful time and was thanked profusely for coming when honestly it was a joy for me. As much as the logistics surrounding family trips can take up a huge amount of my brain space, it is always such a great thing to see end enjoy their company. And it was a good reminder of this. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. David Simon got Twitter banned for, among other things, suggesting that Twitter was a cesspool for trolls.  His very colorfully worded discussion of what happened to the Tweet he refused to delete is an interesting look at Twitter's growing problem. 
2. Brittany Packnett talks about how watching Serena Williams demand an apology caused her to reflect on how, as a black woman, she had been trained not to demand such things. 
3. Local DC schoolkids got a chance to perform their own works about the founding fathers, chat with the cast of "Hamilton", and then see it themselves. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Ripped Bodice Bingo 2018

I did Ripped Bodice Bingo again this summer, and this year, I actually remembered to submit.  I did not fill in the whole board.  I ended up reading a lot of historical that I had lingering in the TBR in search of carriage sex, and then kept finding other qualifications, so would read another.  I also read two that would have been perfect in May but had nothing queued up fill in those slots.  And one of these books was also the Romance Book Group pick for the Politics and Prose group, so that was nice.  There were no books I completely hated, there were certainly some (that I have indicated) that I would not recommend whole-heartedly just because there was some alphaholes or some dated jokes about gender stereotypes and such.  It was a lot of fun, and while yes, a couple of these books were purchased just to fill a spot, most I already had in the TBR, so it was a good chance to get to them.  

Crossing Hearts by Rebecca Crowley - soccer, older heroine
Lone Star Cinderella* by Maureen Child - fairytale retelling 
My Favorite Mistake* by Chelsea Cameron - forced proximity
Heat Exchange by Shannon Stacey - firefighter, older heroine
Savage Blue by Zoraida Cordova - YA Paranormal, mermaids

Destiny's Embrace by Beverly Jenkins - Buggy sex
Bay Side's Most Unexpected Bride* by Kerri Carpenter - fashionista, forced proximity
Seal Camp by Suzanne Brockmann - camp, damsel in distress
Running with Lions by Julian Winters- soccer, enemies to lovers, summer camp

The Harlot Countess* by Joanna Shupe - birds, mermaids, enemies to lovers, carriage sex, damsel in distress
Whiteout by Elyse Springer - forced proximity, extreme location 
Contracted Defense by Piper J. Drake - HEA 

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon - will be a movie
How to be a Proper Lady by Katharine Ashe - hero smells like man, birds, carriage sex, forced proximity, birds 
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandyha Menon - tech in the big city, summer camp

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang - heroine older, fashionista, smells like a man, tech in the big city
The Surgeon's Secret Baby by Ann Christopher - Baby on cover        
Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne - birds
The Viking Queen's Men by Holley Trent - return to hometown
Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn - damsel in distress

Not used, but also would have worked: 
Forget You by Nina Crespo - HEA
Falling for the Right Brother by Kerri Carpenter - smells like a man
Rogue Hearts - Anthology - Return to Hometown
Love is All - Anthology - smells like a man
Cities: A Novella by Carla Guzman - time travel
The Ruin of a Rake by Cat Sebastian - Queer Historical

*gender sterteotype jokes  
*alphahole behavior, rape jokes
*homophobic stereotype joke

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. The perfume company in question has decided to pull this item, but this explainer about cultural and spiritual theft very interesting. 
2. This article on the many uses Cubans are finding for condoms, which seem to be more available than some other things, is fascinating. 
3. Teen Vogue talks about how the current prison strike ties into our larger history of slavery. 

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

National Book Fest

I am always thrilled when it's National Book Fest time.  I found this year the schedule made a lot of choices for me, such that I didn't make it to either of the Children's stages.  I also found the Fiction room already at capacity twice, and am sad that they've now shoved a bunch of authors into genre fiction, and yet genre fiction did not include romance. 
But, the event is free, and amazing nonetheless.  Because I couldn't get into Fiction, I got in line for the third floor, where they had the main stage.  The line was large enough that it stretched out across a good portion of the second floor too. My backup plan was to go down to children's but partly curiosity had me seeing if I could get into see Amy Tan.  I could, as it turns out.  She talked about how the writer's memoir was born, and how she learned all these things going through old family papers.  
In the Teen room, Elizabeth Acevedo talked about the genesis of Poet X, and also read from both it and the "Ode to the Rat".  She talked about that at the book launch too, how when she had told a professor she would write about a rat being from New York, he had told her he thought she needed more experiences.  She said, as a former teacher herself, she always tried to be very careful because small things we say to students and mentees can cut you and stick with you.  When an audience member asked what he said when she turned it in, she said he did not remember having said it.  He said wow, where did this poem come from.  
Justina Ireland read from Dread Nation and talked about how zombie stories were almost never really zombie stories, and if they were, that was almost a failure.  Ireland also wanted to look at the "not like other girls" phenomenon and why girls in similar situations are often told they need to compete with each other.  So this book let her look at that, look at racist structures, but wrap it in a package for zombies. 
I went to the Poetry Slam next, and as always these kids did some amazing things.  The Baltimore team had originally been going to participate, but could not, so they showed a video.  I snuck out at one point to see if I could get into the Fiction room for one more author talk, but it was not to be, but it meant I got to see the full second round of the slam, so really, good stuff.   

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Sandya Menon at One More Page

Christina June talked with Sandya Menon on Friday.  Menon said that From Twinkle With Love had existed as a darker book that she had already written and then when  When Dimple Met Rishi sold and was happier rom-com there was the idea to make the stories match tonally.  She also said her agent had suggested that a nice unifying thing was the fun names in the title and she said she made a whole list, thinking there are tons of Indian American names like this.  Apparently people (non-Indian generally) have accused her of making up such names, and actual Dimples, and Twinkles, and so on have shown up to explain that no, these are real names. 
Menon said one of her favorite scenes is where Dimple throws the coffee.  Menon watched a lot of movies as part of her research for Twinkle, and found some great stuff. She also mentioned that her next book will feature Rishi's brother which sounds like a lot of fun.  

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. Talia Hibbert spoke with someone about her career, and how she started writing romance while finishing up university
2. Nicole Bilderback, a face you know if you loved teen movies in the 1990's among other things, talked about this new place in US media. 
3. Roxane Gay wrote about how taking a work break with your piles of money is not the same as being punished for sexual harassment. 

Monday, August 27, 2018

"The Color Purple" at the Kennedy Center

Adapting an award winning book that has already been made into a beloved star-studded movie is not an easy task. "The Color Purple" meets the challenge with songs that ask much of the cast. Because the original properties are so well-known, there is not much rest time as the show works to tell the story of Celie, abused by her stepdad, given over to Mister/Albert in marriage for much the same treatment, cut off from her sister Nellie who has to leave their childhood home when their stepdad goes after her too. Her interactions with Albert's son Harpo, watching him love a Sofia who does not allow her husband to mistreat her, and then of course her developing relationship with Shug, who she meets through her husband's relationship with her. As such, there are almost no songs where at least three things aren't happening, even the love songs. They use male farm workers and more often female churchgoers as sort of a combo Greek chorus and narration catch up. The cast album from the revival with Jennifer Hudson, Cynthia Erivo, and Danielle Brooks provides a lot to live up to, but this cast did a great job. The DC run has wrapped up, but if you are elsewhere, keep an eye out for it. 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. It turns out the event was sponsored by a group who has been behind other viral videos, but I still am amazed by the ingenuity of setting up a giant group date over Tinder with a group of men.  Kind of your own personal dating show. 
2. A local school found the perfect person to name their school after, instead of a slave owner, they changed it to the name of their first black principal
3. The internet allows so much communication and community, that sometimes, you read a whole article inspired by someone's odd post where they assumed their anecdotal experience of how (and why) men enter the bathtub a certain way was universal. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

In Defense of Eleanor Young

I saw a number of pieces where Michelle Yeoh said that she didn't want to be the villain mom in "Crazy Rich Asians".  I think this interview expresses it most succintly, but many of the pieces that riffed on it, boiled it down to Yeoh said she wouldn't be a stereotypical mean mom, where if you look at what she said, she said she thinks of Eleanor as a dragon mom, rather than a tiger mom.  
I am not at all here to argue with Michelle Yeoh. As someone who read the book and saw the movie, I do think that movie Eleanor is expressed a little more explicitly, partly due to time constraints, but while there absolutely are scenes in the movie that do not exist in the book, movie Eleanor is still book Eleanor.  
By the way, yes, I cannot go any further without spoiling both the book and the movie.  
I listened to the book in audio, and it is almost 14 hours, to give you a sense of the level of cutting the movie was doing.  Now of course, movies have visuals, and can do montages, and all sorts of things.  But as we see, Nick has asked Rachel to come to Singapore for his best friend's wedding.  And his mother discovers this at Bible study.  Now, it's possible to view that as an amusing quirk of the speed of gossip in the community.  But let's also look at this, Nick has been dating this woman for some time, enough that he is ready to take her to meet his family and propose, but he has told Rachel almost nothing about his family (other than Astrid).  And his mother found out about this woman - that she existed, that they were dating, that he was bringing her home - from someone else.  
And so, from Eleanor's perspective, Rachel is part of this pretend life he has been living in America, the one where he's a cool professor.  And as the movie points out a little more explicitly, when Nick tells Colin his plan, Nick hasn't figured out anything else other than he wants to marry her.  He hasn't figured out where they will live, hasn't even ever told her his ultimate life plan was to move back to Singapore.  He tells Rachel that his mother loves him so much that she let him be raised by his grandmother so he would be the favorite and he hasn't ever thought through the implications of that.  Eleanor is from a respected family, and Su Yi - this many years later - still considers her not a great match for her son. Rachel wasn't raised in Asia, isn't rich, is basically, even less acceptable than Eleanor, and so yes, Rachel will ruin the years of work that Eleanor has put into making Nick the favorite.  But Eleanor also knows that if they still don't accept her, they will never come around on Rachel.  
So, while the mahjong scene in the movie does not occur in the book, it basically demonstrates what the book says in more subtle ways throughout.  Nick can propose to Rachel and pretend the where they will live, and whose family will accept them is all details to be worked out later, but it isn't.  Rachel could be like Nick and accept and not worry.  Or she could look at the possible outcomes and see that none of them lead to happiness.  The concern is as the American raised Asian, Rachel won't worry about doing anything but what will make her happy, but actually it is Nick who is doing that.  
So, I agree that dragon mom is a fair assessment.  I was #teamRachel throughout both the book and movie, but that doesn't mean I didn't see that Eleanor had a point. Nick hadn't thought this through, he hadn't thought about what he was doing to either himself or to Rachel.  
Movie Eleanor comes around in a way that book Eleanor does not, not in the first book at least. But that doesn't make movie Eleanor any tamer.  I like to think that wordless scene where she shows up at Nick's hotel room stands in for a long conversation where she reminds Nick what he may be giving up.  Because Eleanor is right, Nick has been pretending his professor life is all he needs, but, as has happened with many discussions of late about generational wealth, it's easy to do that, when you can also hop on a first class flight home anytime you want without worrying about the cost. 

Monday, August 20, 2018

"To All the Boys I've Loved Before" - the movie version

My YA book club had a gathering to watch "To All the Boys I've Loved Before".  I adored the book by Jenny Han and the short version is that the movie captures the essence of it in the best way.  
The story is about a middle sister who has been writing letters to boys she has crushes on to provide closure for herself, and storing the letters in a hat box.  The letters get out into the world, causing the expected embarrassment, and because one of the letters was to the next door neighbor boy who, um, happens to be her older sister's very recent ex, she makes a deal with another letter recipient to pretend date so that it's clear any other crushes on her part are in the past.  Said fake boyfriend has just broken up with his girlfriend and wants to make her jealous.  
There are of course changes, compressions and all of that. The cast is amazing, and it managed to feel enough like a realistic depiction of now, and not something that would seem very dated in a few years, which is a neat trick. 
Buzzfeed has this list of differences between the book and movie. To me, as a Virginia adjacent person, the movie being set in Oregon was also notable. 
Jenny Han's letter about her desire for an Asian American teen idol was moving. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Three Interesting Things

There's a theme this week. 
1. Celeste Pewter talks about how she hopes "Crazy Rich Asians" provides better possible choices for the next batch of Asian American kids. 
3. The wardrobe of "Crazy Rich Asians", including that emerald ring. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

"Crazy Rich Asians" Made Me Cry

It has been quite a month for remakes. As with all remakes or medium shifts, I guess would be the best term for book to movie, or in the case of "Freaky Friday", book to musical to movie, the challenge is to view it as it's own thing. Now partly that's not true, obviously "Crazy Rich Asians" is hoping all the book fans show up. But if we can get a little gritty, very few books do numbers that would allow them to be considered successful movies. So they are clearly hoping to get more. 
I enjoyed the book. It took me a few tries because I was working with audio and it's long and I can only do audio while moving. But I was there for Rachel and Nick. I loved the large cast, but I cared a little less about the details of some of the horrible relatives. I got it. They were terrible. 
Movies have to compress (unless they are based on short stories). I think this movie did an awesome job of compressing so that the essence of Bernie and Eddie and Astrid are all there, but Nick and Rachel get the main time. There are no footnotes, but I think - to me at least - it seemed accessible but not handholding. It was a delight as someone who had read the book and I think would make me intrigued about the book if I had not read it. There are changes, from Nick's Mom Eleanor being there the whole time to Peik Lin's family being in on the Young family fortune the whole time. There are also some bits that may be stolen from future books (I have been hoarding the next two 'til after the movie), since there are some resolutions that don't appear in the first book. Overall it is great. 
I cried when Rachel runs away and her best friend is there to hug her. And there's a look at one point between two mothers that said so many things. 
My half Chinese grandmother did not get to see this, nor did my dad. My grandmother was a nurse who later got into real estate with my grandpa to help support the kids. This isn't really their story. But I like to think they would have loved it. So it coming out in my dad's birth month seems special to me. 
PS.  There have been concerns raised about Awkwafina's appropriation of AAVE, and I think that is something it is fair to discuss. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tara's Ranking of the "Freaky Friday" Musical Songs

In honor of Disney airing the Disney Channel Original Movie version of "Freaky Friday, I present my ranking of the songs. 
This is based on the theater version. 
None of these songs are bad, and if course many of them are there to do multiple things. So, here we go.   
1. "Oh, Biology" - The one I came home desperate to hear again. So great, Mom realizing that being in a body going through puberty is so hard, no matter how smart or experienced you are at life. 
2.    "Somebody Has Got to Take the Blame" - I originally had this ranked lower and then realized this song made me cry the first eleventy times I heard it and that deserved acknowledgment. 
3.  "I Got This" - The smugness of each character's certainty that the other's life is easy peasy. 
4. "No More Fear" - A wonderful song about realizing that maybe the thing you meant to tell your kids wasn't helpful for the life they had to live.
5.  "Busted" - Mom and daughter realizing things they didn't know about each other's lives. 
6. "Bring My Baby (Brother) Home" - This song asks a lot of the daughter in particular.
7. "Women and Sandwiches" - This song, as the title implies, starts off ridiculous and then ends up making a really inferring point. It's also the first song ranked not featuring out body swapees. 
8. "Parents Lie" - Oh the chance to exert extra authority over your words when talking to your brother. 
 9. "Vows" - Mike, the fiancée gets a chance to be heartwarming. 
10.   "After All of This and Everything" - Daughter gets to be heartfelt as she figures out some of this family stuff in the mom role.
11. "Watch Your Back" - A fun catchy song about the dangers of high school. 
12.  "Not Myself Today" - Mom and daughter are staring to get that it's hard.
13+. Quite honestly the rest of these are all serviceable and fine.  "Prologue",   "Just One Day",  "Go", 
    "The Hourglass" , "The Other Hourglass", "Today and Ev'ry Day".  "What You Got".  Some of you will, I expect be mad that "Go" and "What You Got" didn't get more love. I don't dislike them at all, they are fun, they have a good beat, I enjoy singing along, but these, and the otehr songs, for me at least, their explainer need doesn't overcome the song.  

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. Teen Vogue and Reappopriate put together this primer on yellowface and whitewashing of Asian and Asian American characters in American cinema. 
2. I am biased because I know this interviewer, but this piece on football player Martellus Bennett and his plans for children's media was fascinating. 
3. DC has decriminalized marijuana, but arrests for marijuana related crimes are actually up, and sadly police are arresting primarily black residents. 

Monday, August 06, 2018

RIP Charlotte Rae

I watched both "Different Strokes" and every evolution of "The Facts of Life". It ran in reruns for many evenings of my childhood, so I have seen many of the episodes multiple times. I watched the movies. I know that the first year Mrs. Garrett was house mother, then cafeteria manager, and then the bakery, and then shop.  Mrs. Garrett wasn't my only fictional auntie, but she was one of the earliest. 
Charlotte Rae was an actress before either of these shows, but I loved her for this one. My heart goes out to her friends and family. 

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. RITA scores are back and as a result folks are finding they got dinged when maybe they shouldn't. I know RWA is working to fix that going forward so this just gives us a sense of how much work we still have to do, because the judging clarification will help, but it's not a cure all. 
2. This video ode to romance novels made me happy. 
3. This story on why writing matters in the age of despair is lovely. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Does This Sound Like A Writers Conference to You?

I saw this statement on Twitter and I got mad. It was about RWA, more specifically the Lifetime Achievement Award acceptance speech that Suzanne Brockmann gave. And I saw red. 
Before I go all in my short answer is yes it does. I have no idea if the person who said this is an RWA member. 
If RWA writ large was telling me who to vote for in my local government elections, I'd be mad. But I am so over this idea that politics doesn't directly affect each and every one of us. Even if Brockmann hadn't explained eloquently how concerns about offending readers with the mere presence of gay characters had shaped her career, even if she hadn't talked about how it was within our lifetimes that she wrote the second book featuring African American main characters for a particular character before talking about how RWA was working to fight white supremacy and homophobia just as our country was, I want to be done with the idea that people who are artists, writers, actors, or athletes don't have a stake in politics. The number of policies from suppression of LBGTQ+ rights to gun control (or lack thereof) to healthcare to taxes all affect writers. They affect you and me. Sure, there's a time and a place. I probably should not hunt you down in the drug store aisle to ask what you've done to fight fascism today. But let's face it, writers tell stories. Brockmann told stories of her writing and connected that to a larger problem. Does that sound like a writers conference to me? Yes. Even if that had been the whole of the conference, which obviously it wasn't, my answer would be yes. 
And look, if it made you mad - that's fine. I don't agree with every writer, not even every Lifetime Achievement Award winning writer. You don't have to. But don't pretend you're worried we didn't talk enough about writing. If you paid attention to the whole speech, that's exactly what we were doing. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

"Dave" at Arena Stage

I have a confession. Despite being a Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver fan, I have never seen the movie "Dave". It seems vaguely possible that I dismissed it on premise, like ugh, a fake president? How ridiculous. 
Anyway, I was intrigued when I saw it on Arena's new season. As we know, I love a good musical. Several people suggested I should see the movie first, and I decided at this point there was value in going on cold, in not comparing casts. So that's what I did. 
For those with similar pop culture blindspots, Dave is an American history teacher who gets fired due to budget cuts and struggles to pay his ailing dad's health bills, starts taking impersonation gigs, since he looks a bit like the newly elected president. 
He is called on by the actual president to do some crowd waving while the real president, ahem, has sex with his secretary. When the president has a stroke, the staff decide maybe they can have the stand in act as figurehead so they can finish out their plans, which is all fine and good until the American History teacher starts having his own ideas. 
The cast is wonderful. I always scan the bios to see if I should recognize the actor under the wig and there are quite a few familiar faces and voices here. 
The set made much use of circular walls, no surprise really, given circular offices, but it got a little busy at times. 
The show as a whole provided the heart and idealism in the possibilities of government you may be looking for. The songs ranged from heartfelt to hilarious. I don't think there was a crazy memorable one, but that isn't said as a knock. I still left humming. 
Seeing this in a DC crowd, meant there was some chuckling over how easy they make budget changes look. It's also a show that asks an incredible amount of it's leading man. He's hardly off the stage, performs several switcheroos, one involving a trick bed, for the two scenes where Dave and the president swap out. 
I was glad to have the chance to see it. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

Suzanne Brockmann - Now a Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

I discovered Suzanne Brockmann in a bookstore.  Strolling through a new to me bookstore on a vacation near a beach, I found Over the Edge. I finished and went back and got Out of Sight. I then went back ad found the beginning of the Troubleshooters series and worked my way through, finding the other series and standalones along the way.  I joined her newsletter list.  I went to a fan event in Atlanta, which I documented here. The event had been timed to precede the RWA conference.  Many of the other attendees knew to stay an extra day for that.  I did not.  (I actually had to come back and move so it was probably just as well.)  But I remembered this RWA thing.  And sometime after that, I read a Meg Cabot blog post where she talked about RWA being the organization that had helped her the most in her career.  It took a little over a year for me to join, but I did.  
Suzanne Brockmann has talked many times about how she pushed to write characters of color, gay characters, and even to make a featured gay character have his own multi-book arc.  And here's the other thing, she is a white, straight, cis-gender author.  She is a multi-bestseller.  Sure, I bet she gets less pushback now, but it's still there.  Yes, no one will always like you.  But, Brenda Jackson and Beverly Jenkins are likely the only African American authors to receive RITAs, and those were lifetime achievement awards.  Not everyone who writes great things will get an award, but such a lack is still glaring.  African American authors are not the only category of authors RWA has failed to acknowledge.  But it's a big, obvious one.  Partway through, Brockmann's speech, I thought about the second thing.  I don't claim to be besties with Jackson and Jenkins (although, hi, universe, drinking buddies would be just fine), but their speeches were wonderful and talked about the struggles they faced and how grateful to receive such an award now.  And Brockmann as a intersectionally privileged person, was able to be a little angry.  It was exactly what I expected of her, and was a powerful demonstration of true allyship. Just like she also had a list of favorite authors other people should go visit at the Literacy Signing.  (A thing, she has actually been doing forever. Not all favorite authors have the same taste as you, but I have discovered lots of great authors from her.)
Brockmann posted the full text, with some notes here.  I have already sent in my feedback that the RITA ceremony was everything I wish for RWA to be and hope for it to become.  

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. As a "West Wing" fan, I think about the episode where they interview a judge who says that privacy is the next big thing we'll be battling out a lot.  So, I took not of the story that one of the genetic ancestry companies is now selling data to pharmaceutical companies
2. This story from the L. A. Times about a person who moved through many literary and non-profit spaces, has lots of ties to the DC area.  And a reminder to folks, scammers may not mean to be scammers, so they often seem and even in their worldview are super genuine.  You being scammed is not a failing. 
3. Apparently there has been some gold prospecting going on in Scotland

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

RWA 2018

Trying to encapsulate RWA 2018 in Denver into a coherent piece, is hard.  
I went to part of the Newsletter class, but quickly reached my brain saturation point, so left and began making dinner plans.  
My WRW chapter had a breakfast which was awesome but meant a second early morning (Day of YA was an early start too). It was great to see people in one room that we don't always get to hang out with at home.  (In fact, some of our members are distance members.)
I was on duty at the PRO Retreat, which means many things came to me in snippets as I ran to help other committee members.  (I also learned an important lesson about standing more than I needed to.)  But the panels talked about the challenges and joys of entering publishing, remembering to take care of your writer self, letting yourself believe that your writing has worth, and how to push through the doubts.  We also gave out the PRO Mentor of the Year award to Cindy Dees, who talked about the PRO to Published initiative in her chapter, and that a lot of it is the PRO writer letting something hold them back.  
The Golden Heart ceremony meant I got to hear my lovely chapter mate Pintip Dunn speak again as emcee.  And watch lovely folks win awards.  I went and huddled in my room before the RITAs because my feet demanded it.  The RITAs were wonderful, and I have a longer story about the Lifetime Achievement Award Winner speech, that I'm going to break out into it's own post.  I thought the theme of both ceremonies, which was very much how writers and authors support each other was wonderful. I was so, so, glad to be there for it.  
Friday I moderated two sessions, which is in fact a clever way to make yourself go to things.  Jennifer Barnes' discussion of Psychology of Fiction was amazing, as was Robin Covington and Avery Flynn's Professional Jealousy.  
Saturday, I volunteered at the registration desk.  I told a story about that here.  I had a wonderful time and look forward to making my way through the recordings for more. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Denver Food

I'm giving Denver Food it's own post so I can rave. The following caveats. I only went to two restaurants not in walking distance of the hotel. I'm sure Denver's food scene is far more expansive than this. 
Monday night we went to Cholon, which among other things, has French onion soup dumplings which is a godsend to someone like me with dietary preferences that eliminate most soup dumplings. They were amaze. As was the fish and the tea infused panna cotta I had for dessert. 
Tuesday morning we hit Snooze for late breakfast, practically brunch. I had avocado hollandaise. 
For dinner we went for pizza. It was large enough that I had leftovers and a sales rep from one of the local micro-brews had a long chat with us about the home grown alcohol scene. 
Wednesday (and Thursday) I got hotel breakfast so went for fast easy lunch at the coffee place. 
For dinner, a writer bud had heard about Ophelia's a self described gastro-brothel. It was a gastro-pub with brothel themed decor and live music. The food was great, and we had fun questioning the wait staff on their back stories. 
Thursday night I had that leftover pizza so I could get in line early for the RITAs. Watching the restaurant hotels get slammed with people all descending for food at the same time meant I felt very wise. 
Friday I was searching for food near Tattered Cover and discovered they had an attached restaurant. I had the veggie burger and rosemary parmesan fries at Good Eats. 
And Saturday I had a craving for Tex Mex
So we went to Otra Vez. I had the nachoes and I ate them all. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Day of YA

I am back from a week in Denver, so lots of posts ahead.  Let's start with Day of YA, put on by the YARWA chapter. 
Christine Gunderson kicked us off, introducing our keynote speaker Pintip Dunn.  Dunn talked about how she had resisted her dream of becoming an author until health reasons forced her to realize some of her stress came from suppressing her dream. And now she is a New York times Bestselling author and (after this year's RITAs) a two time RITA award winner.  Then I announced the Rosemary results, and Monica Jones announced the Athena results.  
Our Industry panel included Kate Brauning, Bess Cozby, Laura Bradford, Michelle Grajkowski, and Kristin Nelson. They talked about the differences between digital and print audiences, especially in YA, and the value of discussing goals. 
Michael Hauge talked about inner circles and also how coming of age stories may approach armor and essence a little differently since young people may not have fully formed their armor and may instead be discovering their armor is not fully ready for the harshness of the adult world.  
Then the winners of the silent auction were announced and then we adjourned.  Looking forward to seeing everyone next year. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Anti-Racism Expansion Pack

I have written about this before but a lot of white people keep saying back then people were all racist/sexist/bigoted. And I beg to differ. But let's pretend for a moment that this was true. That anti-racism was an expansion pack that got released at some point. I am unclear if it was first beta tested by folks of color and then released to white people later. Also for mixed race folks, which release were they in? And if everyone was bigoted who even knew to develop an anti-bigotry expansion, that would be some really visionary thinking. 
Here's what we need to learn to accept. Bigotry used to be far more accepted in many cultures. You could certainly argue that even today, it will get you elected President. 
That doesn't mean that no one noticed that bigotry was bad. I'm really sure that people who were stolen from their homes and forced to be slaves knew that this sucked. It's nicer to think maybe they didn't know. Just like it's nicer to think a few white Europeans were a little bit mean to some of the Native Americans they encountered but mostly everyone was super nice to each other and shared food and there definitely wasn't like decades of bloodshed where the European descended folks constantly stole and hunted Native Americans. Or that time rich Americans overthrew the government of Hawaii because sugar. Or rounded up and jailed a bunch of people because they were good at farming, er, I mean a possible danger to the US because people who looked like them had done a thing. jails. This is an abbreviated list. 
But I wrote a paper in my British History class in college about contemporaneous vs. Contemporary views of King John and got the best grade I got all year for looking at how nowadays we were like, well, losing control of France was inevitable and folks at the time were like that was ours, dude, how could you? So, I am perfectly aware that priorities and such change over time. And that is sometimes a good thing. 
But we can enjoy problematic things, be they old or not, and still also say, okay, this bit is crappy. And here's my real question about this anti-racism expansion pack, those of you who keep arguing that everyone was racist then, are you sure your expansion pack is okay? I think it might need to be upgraded so that you can recognize that just about every time someone did a crappy thing, someone else said, ew, what are you doing? Sometimes that second person suffered for speaking out. Sometimes they got pushed away or silenced. But if you think all these movements for change just happened because someone had an aha moment the morning before, gosh, do you have a lot of learning to do. Maybe there's an expansion pack for that too. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. I found this remniscense of the challenges of being a student of color at Oxford interesting. 
2. The Capital Gazette takes a look at how various places have handled being the site of a mass shooting
3. A woman accidentally stole a car she thought was the rental car she'd parked at a store. It took trying to return the car for the mixup to be discovered. 

Monday, July 09, 2018

Passion and Prose - DC Stories

Politics and Prose had another romance panel on Saturday, and this time the theme was DC set stories.  Andie J. Christopher moderated, and Tracey Livesay, Aimee Agresti, and Kelly Maher talked about their stories that are set in DC.  Since some of these are local romance authors, I am friends with several of them.  Agresti and Livesay both have had politicians or politically adjacent folks in their stories.  Maher has not, although things like climate change, and human rights have shown up.  Livesay mentioned she liked writing about areas where there was both power and wide diversity that wasn't New York.  Agresti has politicians, so had DC as an obvious setting choice.  Maher said that she likes writing about cities.  When asked if DC is sexy, Livesay mentioned that power is sexy, as is people who want to change the world.  Maher mentioned competence being sexy.  Agresti said her book, which tips a little more women's fiction has people in it for the right and the wrong reasons, but certainly, she made the choice to have the people who really had great ideas do better.  Christopher did mention a recent article where Trump staffers are having a challenge dating, and asked if the authors thought across the aisle romances that appeared in this timeframe with this administration would be sort of like Nazi romances.  The panel did seem to agree, although Livesay did mention that there was probably still a market for that if an enterprising writer wanted to go for it. There was a comment about the transient nature of the city, particularly if one was writing about political types.  This, and some other comments about the city, led to one audience member letting them know she was a multi-generational DC resident, and if they thought dating here was hard they just weren't trying very hard, especially since there are so many young men out there.  (I of course introduced myself to her later, and told her I was a lifelong resident and that I apologized for their comments.)  
They were asked to name their favorite DC set stories not on this panel.  I confess, I might have been heckle/helping during this segment, so probably missed some of the suggestions. Certainly Nora Roberts has some DC stuff, as does HelenKay Dimon.  
It was a great panel and I appreciate that we're about a year into Politics and Prose's continuing efforts to be a bookstore that serves a romance audience, and I appreciate it.  

Friday, July 06, 2018

"Let's Go Steal a Podcast"

I was back on "Let's Go Steal a Podcast" with Christina and fellow guest Lisa Lin. It's a longer episode as we covered "The First David Job" and "The Second David Job".

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. Candice Patton and Ashleigh Murray talked about how they got some racist backlash for portraying characters that had been white in the comics.  (Warning, there is a video that autoplays depending one what browser you use.)  Anyone who doesn't recognize that Candice Patton and Jesse L. Martin are the heart of that show, well, they are wrong. 
2. Patreon has been cracking down on adult content, partly because the payment systems require it.  This is interesting especially because a lot of Patreon's early growth was them reaching out to folks who worked in realms other sites weren't supporting.  And now, those are in jeopardy. With very little opportunity to adapt on the part of creators since the rules are a bit nebulous. 
3. Capital Gazette reporter Joshua McKerrow's piece on working with Wendi Winters was moving and I imagine recognizable to those who knew her and worked with her. 
Bonus: I like heat.  Within reason.  (Heat index of 122, I start to admit it could be cooler.)  So, I found this Onion piece amusing. 

Monday, July 02, 2018

Heartbroken and Angry

This is the second time someone I worked with was murdered by an abuser with a gun. And the reality is, I'm super lucky. My city has been attacked, workplaces of friends and loved ones have been attacked, mass shootings are becoming so commonplace I didn't even think to keep an eye out for victim's names at first. 
But I'm lucky. I'm still on that first batch of fingers despite having grown up in the murder capital.  Timehop showed me a text from a friend letting me know she was fine after another local mass shooting.  So, there have been other near misses for me.  But, many folks have been to way more funerals than I have. Some folks used up that first hand last week. Or last year. Or a decade ago. 
We have let this happen here in the US. We have decided retroactively that a broad interpretation of the second amendment is the right one. That guns - in the hands of white people - because let's be honest we do not hold the same things true for folks of color - have to be allowed whenever and wherever. Because people who have demonstrated a lack of appropriate boundaries are innocent even though they have actually been proven guilty, and they get to threaten violence with impunity. And no, I don't think it's coincidence that this particular shooter has been mad at the paper for reporting on his harassment for years, but decided this week when our President and others said again that journalists are a danger to us all that yes, this was the week he should kill a bunch of people. 
Certainly no one can expect the ways that people will carry out their words. But let's stop pretending this is an unexpected result. Our President has been calling for violence from the day he announced he was running for office. He has intentionally made an enemy of the press so that anything bad said about him is suspect. 
So a community paper lost a close to quarter of it's staff. And all those staff has friends and family. 
This is not okay. And I'm going to keep working to change it. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018


Lo some years ago, I had the pleasure of serving on the District Youth Steering Committee with some amazing teens (who are all now adult shaped people, but I digress) and some passionate adults. One of those adults worked as a reporter as her day job. At the Capitol Gazette. 
I didn't think anything of it when I first saw the news about the shooting. As the day went on I checked into Facebook, saw some other folks marking themselves safe. And I saw one person asking for news of her. Some of her kids (two of which I also had the pleasure of working with) no longer live in the area. 
Her whole Facebook page had turned into people asking her to check in. 
I checked Twitter. Her name pulled up all tweets of people asking her to check in. 
I felt an odd mix of emotions. We hadn't really kept in touch post-committee, so did I deserve to feel sad? She has friends and family who will feel the loss more deeply. Adding to the people awaiting word seemed unnecessary. And while I knew refreshing Twitter and Facebook would do little to make her safe, but the illusion of control was seductive. 
I wrote this before I knew anything. I wrote this hoping this would be a good reminder to reach out to folks, keep up with folks. As names started coming out it was the conflicting mix of emotions, as each name wasn't the person I knew, since it wasn't any less sad for these people to be dead.  This was her.  I am so sad for her family.  I am so sad that there are more heartbroken families tonight.  

Three Interesting Things

1.  Ijeoma Oluo wrote this piece about what will be needed in light of Justice Kennedy's retirement.  And in a week of not great, in my opinion, Supreme Court decisions, I was reminded that the courts have decided that racism and bigotry were legal before and so we worked on getting that changed. 
2. When one of the cast members of Disney's Broadway version of "The Lion King" fell ill, much of the cast signed up to be possible bone marrow donors.  And then one cast member got a call. 
3 From what I've seen the DC restaurant called Red Hen has been handling the social media vitriol from confused folks pretty nicely. This interview with them was fun.  (Also Red Hen Press, also unaffiliated with any restaurants has been pretty funny about it.) 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

"The Scottsboro Boys" at Signature Theater

In 2011, I watched the Tony Awards as I often did, mainly for a glimpse of what shows I was missing out on. Cast albums I should pick up and experience. And one of the performances was this, for the nominated musical "The Scottsboro Boys"
Even though Google existed, I just bought it and went. I had not been familiar with this specific case, I'm not even sure I had done enough due diligence to realize it was a real case. But in many ways I think that is the best way to approach "The Scottsboro Boys".
The musical is from Kander and Ebb with book by David Thompson. It uses two things to lure you in, the framing device of an African American woman waiting for transport in a clearly segregated station, and the minstrel show she unleashes. One of the performers in the minstrel asks if they can tell the real truth this time, giving the audience the sense that there are layers to this story. It is the cheeriest, most gorgeous harmonies that lead you into the story of nine African American boys found riding a train with two white women. In order to escape charges, the white women claim they were gang raped. The white women are played by two of the cast members playing the boys which tells the audience exactly which side to be on and of course also ties in the the minstrel idea. Similarly the white police officers are played by black cast members. So these black actors are, in minstrel form, portraying caricatures of another race. A writer friend felt this was an important piece and did a Twitter thread about this.  
The nine boys (and one of them was twelve at the start, so boys is the correct form of address) are found guilty and sentenced to death but then granted additional trials when it was found that their legal representation was inadequate. One of the women recants her story, but the other continues to show up to each new trial. 
Throughout the show, the African American woman stands up and looks at the audience, or intervenes or comforts one of the boys who has been beaten. She is there to keep reminding you that it looks fun, but is terrible, in case you have forgotten. 
The cast was wonderful. The Signature Theater version left the tambourines in the orchestra but had the boys shake their hands like they had tambourines, which created an intriguing layer to the real/not real effect. 
I know Kander and Ebb have done other things, but I thought a lot about how this compared to "Chicago". In many ways, both shows are peppy, jazz hands looks at how white woman tears can pervert justice. In "Chicago" you are mostly on the women's side, but the show does not let you forget the collateral damage. "The Scottsboro Boys" is entirely about that damage. Yes, it's clear that the two women were facing charges of their own had they not shifted blame. One of them sings about the challenges of being a woman in a man's world. It also takes a poke at Southern nostalgia for good old days, and Northern allyship in the my black driver says I'm great way of things. And a peek at anti-semitism too. 
It does the thing many musicals do, just a little more overtly, it lures you in with tambourines and horns to get you to think about a miscarriage of justice and the show itself intentionally links itself to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's, the Signature version went a step further having a cast member at the end appear in a Black Lives Matter shirt. 
I won the Todaytix lottery for discounted tickets to the show, but it runs through July 1st. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

"Hamilton" at the Kennedy Center

It is always a challenge to revisit a show you saw before. I had the great joy of seeing "Hamilton" early in it's Broadway run. A different cast, a different theater, it's a bit like seeing a movie adaptation of a favorite book in that you have to expect some things will be different.  The Kennedy Center run is a long one so, the cast and crew get to settle in for a bit, but it is still a replica of a thing.  It will look and sound like the thing, there were still cheers and gasps in places where a visual gag took something to the next level or a moment of revelation came from combining the visual and the sound together.  
All of this is to say, my friend and I saw it Thursday night.  The cast was wonderful, the set was wonderful, if you came for a "Hamilton" experience, you got one.  Certain cast members made different choices.  Dan Belnavis' George Washington was less warm but stern leader that Chris Jackson had been, or as I put it to my friend - stern daddy Washington.  My friend preferred Sabrina Sloan's Eliza (which is heresy, but certainly she was wonderful).  Bryson Bruce handled the speed of Lafayette/Jefferson well, but I confess there was some diction lost to me in "Guns and Ships".  Nicolas Christopher's Burr seemed a little off pace in the first act, but handled "The Room Where it Happens" (and all the rest of the second act) with energy and charm.  And those cast members I haven't mentioned were all wonderful too, this is not a situation where anyone was awful, just little things that are often only noticeable when performing in an extremely well known property. 
One of the things that was clearer to me, watching this three years later is how much the cast is on stage, even when you often think they aren't. Partly this is the immersion of "Hamilton" into the pop culture such that I now know by color which dress is for which character.  
If you have somehow managed to remain unspoiled on "Hamilton", the hip-hop/pop music tale of a founding father, the touring cast will definitely entertain you.  And it's a wonderful chance to see it again for others.  
I'm thankful I got another chance to see this show.  

Monday, June 25, 2018

It's Here!

Update 1: It's here! (On Amazon, other etailers still in progress, I will update this once I have those links.) If you pre-ordered, there were a few minor glitches in the original file, and a subsequent file was loaded this morning, so you may wish to update. Update 2: Kobo link is up! Update 3: Apple link is up!
I have a short story in the Cocky Cockers anthology.  My story is a sweet contemporary romance with a woman who finds a dog on her porch and teams up with her cute next door neighbor to look after it. There's a good range in there from a number of authors. The lovely Jackie Barbosa wrangled us all together.  And the title is not just in fun, each story includes a cocker spaniel. The money raised from the anthology will go to any legal costs, if necessary, and then to the Romance Writers of America Perseverance Fund, which helps defray the costs of dues and membership fees for members in need.  

The book is available on Amazon and Kobo and Apple. I'm so excited about this.  
If blogging or Twitter is not your preferred method for keeping up with any book, or you like newsletters, you can sign up here. I'll only newsletter with book news and occasional book recs.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Back on "Let's Go Steal a Podcast"

I was back on "Let's Go Steal a Podcast" to discuss the Juror Number 6 Job, aka yet another Parker themed episode.  

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. Jelani Cobb reflected on the place of Juneteenth in our history and how the current policies against children and families tie into that.  This post on suggestions for working against these policies was written before the executive order that changed it to family internment in some cases, but has good info and resources should you feel like calling or sending money. 
2. Britni Danielle wrote about how clemency for Alice Johnson is great for her, but her case is far from unique. 
3. And if you had forgotten the time people across multiple countries turned towards an octopus for World Cup predictions, this history of Paul the Octopus is here for you. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Now vs. Then, a "Project Runway" contestant

Many people know that Christian Siriano came to most people's attention first as a "Project Runway" contestant. I confess he wasn't my favorite that season, but I often like the second or fourth place contestant best.  What was clear was that Siriano already had a clear vision, and an understanding of the larger business.  As a sidenote, I will say, there is often a sense that many of the contestants who go work for other lines, or go back home and set up an etsy shop have not made it, or not been as successful, and I think some of that is that in much the way of many pursuits, probably way more people would like Siriano name recognition and money than want to work like that.  When you consider how few - relatively speaking - "Project Runway" contestants have worked in a larger fashion business, versus, sewing stuff in their living room, it's a little less surprising.  But I digress. 
The hing that fascinates me the most about all of this, is that in Siriano's season, the challenge he did the worst with, was one of their "real" people challenges.  Now, if you look at the list of challenges, it wasn't the first time the designers worked with a non-model. And teenagers can be challenges, and one could certainly argue that prom is different.  But Christian ended up in the bottom for creating something that neither he nor his model liked and it became one of those where the judges more believed that he had had an off day than the designer who got sent home, but it was close.  
And now Siriano is known for designing inclusively* in his line. For being the designer who dresses the celebrities who can't get an outfit for an award ceremony. And I am aware that basing a theory of someone's career based on a highly edited hour of TV is not a great idea, but I do think that's there's something interesting going on, that the moment where he was most in danger was part of design for just this person challenge, and now that is part of what he is most known for. 

*Interestingly he mentions in that interview that "Project Runway" isn't necessarily the best choice for your career.  

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. If you are looking for queer romance recommendations for the Ripped Bodice Bingo, this list at Love in Panels has a bunch of suggestions. 
2. Sarah Gailey's discussion of the sensitivity read that saved her life is both heartfelt and a look at how even those living certain identities can fall victim to the dominant narratives. 
3. This remembrance of Anthony Bourdain got at his passion for both knowledge and people.  He will be greatly missed.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

"How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying" at the Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center's Center Stage series, allows for minimally staged short runs of productions.  This run included a cast of well known folks - Skylar Astin, Betsy Wolfe, Michael Urie, Becky Newton, and John Michael Higgins to name a few.  I had seen "How to Succeed", ahem, quite a few years ago when they did the pre-Broadway revival run with Matthew Broderick.  So it was nice to come back to the same place for this version.  Folks who have seen or heard "Pitch Perfect", "Betty Ugly" or "Waitress" won't be surprised that this was a cast that sang well, and was able to be comedic when necessary.  "How to Succeed" is the story of Finch who finds the titular book and uses it's advice to finesse his way into the fast track in a large corporation.  Along the way he encounters Rosemary, who has goals of her own, aka a husband, and the boss's nephew who lacks Finch's finesse and charm but still wants to get ahead also.  The gender conformity is inherent in script.  That's not to excuse it, it's simply to note that it's not something that can be fixed with clever line updates. 
However, I think the show takes both of their goals seriously.  Certainly Finch gets more time, and Finch is the one who gets to wink at the crowd a lot.  Having Michael Urie play a conniving nephew is practically typecasting, but he was wonderful to watch and it was fun to watch Finch keep one upping him.  There was one moment where a particularly amusing pause in a line from Finch caused Biggley (Higgins) to break for a few seconds before he could recover his lines.  
This production did manage to have multiple people of color.  Usually Miss Jones is cast as African American, in part because she gets the more bluesy bits in "Brotherhood of Man".  But this production also had the wonderful Joaquina Kalukango as Smitty, as well as several ensemble members.  
I really enjoyed the production.  

Sunday, June 10, 2018

One Sentence Summaries

In honor of tonight's Tony Awards, I am presenting one sentence summaries. Disclaimer: I have not seen all of these and well, it is meant to be both humorous and true. 

Best Musical Nominees: 

The Band's Visit - Things happen when you go to the wrong city. See also, band dudes are bad at checking where they are going. 

Frozen - Brand new queen ices over everything and her sister's new boyfriend plots a coup.  

Mean Girls - The patriarchy has taught girls some bad mating habits.  

SpongeBob SquarePants - Volcanoes cause chaos. 

Best Play Nominees: 

The Children - Nuclear explosions cause chaos. 

Farinelli and the King - Musical therapy can help depression and contibrute to adultery. 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Messing with time is a bad idea.  

Junk - Wall Street power brokers like money. 

Latin History for Morons - Everything you should have learned about Latinx folks in school but probably didn't. 

Friday, June 08, 2018


I have been engaging in a complex series of sport superstitions this year. The realization that there are college kids who can't remember when DC sports teams didn't seem like the worst teases was tough. I am not a lifelong hockey fan. I came to it later. But it is currently the only area sports team I ever had season tickets to. All sports are different live, but I maintain that hockey does the best job of welcoming you in and taking you along for a huge ride. 
The the Vegas Knights fans. Welcome to the highs and the lows of sports fandom. 
To the Caps - the players and all the people who make it go, to the fans new and old, and to the rest of you all in DC this week, congrats. I have a New Yorker tell me that never had he seen a city live and die by it's sports teams as much as DC. We are in a great mood right now. 

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. A friend of mine wrote this about her years as a 911 dispatcher, and how calls about people of color just being were a regular occurence.  
2. This remembrance of Kate Spade and what having such a bag meant, was lovely. 
3. I had thoughts about the cancellation of "Roseanne", but I thought one of the targets of one of her online screeds might do better to explain how racism isn't the same as being an edgy comedian

Monday, June 04, 2018

7 Posts: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Taking Responsibility

The ultimate theme of season 3 turned out to be taking responsibility.  I am not a huge fan of big season finale's necessarily, because I feel they often create a scenario where the show constantly has to top itself and yet, "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" has managed to do that three times in ways that are both unexpected and predictable.  Anyone who watched the first episode would not have been terribly surprised to watch Rebecca stand up for herself in one relationship only to immediately turn around and make the choice to hook up with Josh mere seconds after they each left a relationship, and then just assume that this meant all the things were perfect.  
And it wasn't a surprise in retrospect that Josh would not marry her, would leave her at the altar, and vowing revenge was wonderful and right and also totally not the healthy choice.  
Rebecca realized that she felt guilty for having been absolved by her friends for the smaller transgressions, and decided in typical Rebecca fashion to go all in and confess all the things, leading to understandable hurt on the part of Paula, Nathan, and Josh.  Normally I would say the big gesture was Rebecca hoping to make herself feel better, and I think there was a little of that.  Confession is good for the soul, but there are some things that you confess to feel better about not having to keep the secret, not because anyone really needs to know what had happened.  And of course, there is always that hope that the truest of friends will hear the whole list and still forgive you.  Ultimately, I think it was partly Rebecca expecting to lose everyone, because she realized that she really had crossed boundaries (and legalities) and wanted to be punished because she doesn't really believe she deserves good things.  
So post confession, having been manipulated by Trent to show up at Nathan's housewarming party with his new girlfriend, because Trent threatened Nathan's life, she shoves Trent off a balcony and then ends up in a scenario where, as Nathan neatly sums it up, it looks like she showed up uninvited to one ex's party in order to attempt to kill another ex.  So, he suggests she make use of her new diagnosis and plead insanity.  But Rebecca, after singing an awesome duet with Nathan about how nothing is their fault, ultimately realizes that that's not the road she wants to take. So she pleads guilty.  
Season 4 is apparently the last season, so I fully expect that the creators are taking us on a final amazing journey. I'm so grateful for this show. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. I have often enjoyed local restaurant - now chain - Busboys and Poets, but this recent "race card" idea seems silly at best and potentially harmful especially without context or training for employees, and as some commenters mentioned when folks may just want food and not conversation. 
2. This piece provides some useful context to the recent "Roseanne" cancellation.  I can certainly see why it has shocked Barr to continue to be the harmful (under the guise of edgy) person she has been for some time and now have it suddenly have consequences.  But I think consequences for harmful behavior are not a bad thing.  
3. If you missed the Twitter thread about the world's tallest waffle stack, or even if you didn't, this story about the attempt is delightful. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Who Tells the Story

I spent part of the long weekend visiting family and two of my cousins started to tell a story about my brother that was about how he fell asleep in a boat without a life jacket and the boat capsized and he was stuck under the hull and my uncle was able to help get him out because he had a life jacket.  The story was apparently one my uncle brought up a lot which is amusing, whereas it sounded vaguely familiar to me so I asked my uncle later that day to tell me the story.  His version (and my mother was there too for corroboration) was that my parents had been out sailing and my brother (who I think was two or three at the time) had fallen asleep in the small space under the deck of the boat (it was a small boat, only a toddler would have fit under there).  The boat capsized (in my parent's defense, my uncle said they passed by a larger sailboat that was taking much of the wind and then as they pulled in front then caught all the wind so the wind on their boat shifted dramatically).  My mother - who had drilled into us always wear a life jacket, have it on and useful, because you never know - had her life jacket on.  My dad did not, so he surfaced quickly but was hanging onto the boat to stay afloat.  My uncle, who was passing by in a motorboat with a friend was wearing his life jacket.  His friend was not.  So it was my uncle and my mom who were able to dive under the boat and retrieve my brother who was wearing a life jacket but probably wasn't awake or aware of what was happening yet.  
The point of this is not to say that my cousins are bad at stories.  They are not.  But because this story had been turned into a repetitive learning opportunity for them it had taken on the tone of bla, bla, bla, yes, dad, you should always wear your life jacket and they did not recall enough to actually make it a useful story for them to pass on to anyone.  (I'm pretty sure that they have great stories to tell.  It will all be fine.)  
But it was an interesting reminder that people's ability to tell a story can be impacted by how it was told to them.  And why.  

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1.  The journalists at a local high school dug into the background of who the Montgomery County Schools are named after, and in particular, how many owned slaves. 
2.  Kilauea is erupting on the big island of Hawaii, which has created a number of interesting things.  Many tourists and even cruise ships assume the whole island is on fire, and there is an intriguing public reaction that something should be done, that I don't seem to find with things like hurricanes or earthquakes.  This interview talks a little about the perspective of some that, well, essentially, volcanoes gonna volcano.  And Pele will do her thing. 
3. For local folks there's an initiative on the ballot in June about the minimum wage for tipped workers.  This City Paper piece sums up many of the arguments for and against. Two of the podcasts in m rotation have covered tipping, including talking to Danny Meyer.  Freakanomics and the Sporkful.  I'm still reading up.  It will clearly affect prices anywhere tips are considered part of the equation, but I'm not convinced that should the primary concern. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

"Snow Child" at Arena Stage

I saw "Snow Child" at Arena Stage Friday.   Mabel  and Jack are homesteaders from Pennsylvania, who up and moved to Alaska in the 1920's after losing a child. They are not handling their first Alaskan winter as homesteaders well. They build a small snow man, a snow child, and dress it in a hat and scarf. Later a young girl accompanied by a fox shows up. The others don't believe Mabel, but she reads the snow child legend and believes it has come true. Their neighbors help them out, but also wonder if it might be best if Mabel and Frank went back and then they could take over their claim. 
There is use of puppetry as the fox, the horse, and other animals make their appearances on stage.
The music is appropriately old American. The songs were both wonderful and odd. It reminded me a bit of "Come From Away", in the sense that the songs sounded a little like something you'd probably heard before around a campfire. 
The cast was great. The musical is inspired by the book by Eowyn Ivey, which I have not read.  There's use of a term Merriam Webster informs me is Chinook for newcomers. That and a passing reference to there being natives somewhere is about all you'll get for any sense that there might be a long history of people in Alaska. This story is all settler.
This came through for me (and I'm paraphrasing because I did not write this down mid-song) the neighbors sing a long about the land belonging to those who get there first. Which, wow. Yes, that's how homesteaders felt, I'm sure. But that is some manifest destiny type thinking their for the folks who showed up in the 1920's to call themselves first. 
The musical is still enjoyable but it does require ignoring all of that. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. This ode to Amy Santiago on the now saved "Brooklyn 99" is fabulous. 
2. The, as it now stand, last RT convention is going on in Reno right now.  This post about cover censorship is now outdated, the resort updated or clarified their stance and the posters are being redone, but I think it's worth looking at, anyway, since posters in and on hotels are a thing I see at a lot of bookish events. 
3. This post about how reading romance can heal is wonderful. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A Full Heart

Having begun working with teenagers, ahem, some time ago, many of them are no longer teens.  (Shocking news, people get older every day, story at eleven!)  I am well aware that being a small presence in these teens lives once a week and the occasional long weekend is the teeniest contribution to their lives.  I am also aware that they have all gone off and done various things, from parenthood to medical school to military service to cashier to still searching for that career path and that each of these is valid and awesome and some of them have (horrors) eschewed social media so keeping up on the specifics is tough.  
But this Sunday I, and others, had the amazing chance to watch one of them be ordained as a minister.  As such, I got to sit in the building where I first met her, surrounded by others, some who had watched her grow up, some who knew her from college, or post-college life, or seminary.  I listened to wonderful people talk about journeys, and leadership, and when sometimes someone elucidates the path you are travelling for you, and sometimes no one tells you but something inside you knows.  I listened to people talk about remembering your purpose even as people try to tell you their vision for you and what you should do next.  
We sang joyous songs and then we had the laying of the hands, and I came away just as filled with love and hope as I expect that our newly ordained minister was.  It is not the only or even most important thing one of my former youth kids could become, but it was one that let me participate in this step in the journey, revisit all those who showed up for this special moment, and for that I am very grateful.