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Review: 4 More Movies

12 Jun

Fast and Furious 6: Did you enjoy the 5th film? If so you could pretty much skip this one and watch that one again. The only real difference in this film is the return of Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty whom I love and was happy to see back. The other thing that this film does is tie up some of the franchises loose ends (including that little issue with Sung Kang’s Han). The film also sets up a 7th film and with a Domestic box office of 204 Million dollars it seems quite likely this next film will happen. Really? 7? It’s not so cute. Though let me go on the record as saying I will see a 7th movie if it gets made. Overall, if you’re a fan of the franchise, see it but don’t be surprised when you feel a sense of deja vu. The best parts of the film come towards the end so don’t walk out if you want your monies worth.

Now You See Me: This film is shockingly good! I had pretty low expectations going in (it was my partners pick) but it was actually a really good time. The film looks beautiful, the acting is great and it constantly keeps you guessing. Just when you think you’ve figured it out they throw another distraction at you. See this movie! It’s only made 63 Million domestically and I don’t want that to be the final total for this awesome film. If you like a crime film, if you like to be surprised, if you like Mark Ruffalo then get to the theater!

The Purge: I was so excited for this film. I was. I thought it was going to be the thriller/horror movie of the summer. I did. I do not now think that will be the case. The concept is pretty incredible: what would happen if we all saved our aggression, anger and base behavior for one night a year? Would we all take advantage and become murderers? How far is too far? The execution was just ok. Ethan Hawke plays a man who seems to have forgotten his values…though I don’t know that we get a real sense of who he is or who his family is. That is the problem, the audience doesn’t get invested enough. The most likeable character is the son and its mostly because you identify with his feelings. He doesn’t see the value in the night and neither did I. I would say see it but I think you can wait for the DVD. So far the domestic totals are at 37 Million. Seems fair to me.

After Earth: Guys. See this movie. I know what you’re thinking “M. Night Shyamalan? No thanks!” but if you take that attitude you will miss out. This movie is visually beautiful and also the story is really excellent. There are some things that aren’t handled well (mostly one thing) but ultimately this film is better than you think. The film has only made 47 Million domestically. Go see it. Form your own opinion!

All the box office totals are from Box Office Mojo. Photos are not mine!

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Shoot the Hype Man: My thoughts on Zami: A New Spelling Of My Name by Audre Lorde

25 Feb

It amazes me how much hype pollutes expectation and even more so poisons perception.  I’ve just finished reading Zami: A New Spelling Of My Name by Audre Lorde and I found myself feeling just meh about it.

Before anyone throws bottles, sends death threats or stops reading altogether let me get to the point of my post. I was introduced to Zami nearly six years ago in college. It was the book that all of my friends in American studies major friends were reading. The book my Gender studies major friends were raving about.  This book, the story of Audre Lorde’s life and love, was hailed by my scholarly friends as life changing.  For me I think this book suffers from what one of my favorite podcasts would call “the Juno Effect”.

Remember Juno? It was the movie about the quirky, intellectual, pregnant teen girl who throws quips at her family and friends with speed and ease. She changed the lives of those around her and handled being a teen mom with sarcastic grace.  When this film came out it was the talk of the town, critics loved it, teens identified with it, and everyone loved the well-written dialogue. Anyone and everyone who saw it bubbled over with good things to say about it. It was a “game changer”. This movie was getting more hype then Beyonce’s video when Kanye interrupted Taylor Swift at the VMAs.  After hearing this movie is a 20 out of 10 it’s kind of discouraging to discover it’s really an 8 or a 9.  Still great but not the earth-shattering thing it was hyped to be.

The difference between Juno and Zami is that Zami has become the Icon of a people.  I am probably committing intellectual suicide with my opinions. As a black, queer woman, many parts of this book spoke to me.  It’s well written and many of the moments resonated. There were times when I was reading and I felt propelled to the next page.  There were equally pages that felt unnecessary and made the book feel slow. I think this is true for a lot books and I think it’s even truer for biographies and autobiographies. It’s difficult to keep every page about a persons life exciting because let’s face it, not everyday of your life is exciting!

I say all this to say I appreciate the book. I’m glad that it exists and creates a space for discussion of the black lesbian experience.  I’m grateful to have the reference BUT I can’t say the book transformed my life. When you’re expecting life changing and you don’t get it, it’s disappointing. I’m sure when this post is read instead of reading that I thought the book was well-written and I know the feeling of flicking your eyes over someone trying to decide if that black woman is “fam”, people will say “She didn’t like Zami???? WTF???”

 

Friday Review: Fairy Tales in Electri-city

3 Feb

So you all know that the first book of my reading list this year was  Fairy Tales in Electri-city by Francesca Lia Block. I’m not going to lie to you…what drew me to this book initially was its small stature and visually engaging cover. Look how cool it is:


Truth be told I also expected this book to be like the usual poetry I like. I’m big into narrative and into monologues in poetry. I sometimes like to call them deep breath poems because I have to take a deep breath before I start to be able to read them aloud and they usually make me need to take a deep breath when I finish. I’m the experimental type, meaning that my work is fairly linear and easy to understand. This is the kind of work I generally enjoy reading and what I expected to get from this book.

While Block’s poems are like stories, there is something whimsical and abstract about them. They are each a page or two long, which isn’t difficult considering its a pocket sized book.  Admittedly, I easily get distracted, it the problem with our 140-character generation but I often found myself drifting while reading this. Most of Block’s poems are about love, the absence, seeking or regret of it. Each poem is beautiful its way but the quietness of the work sort of lulls you, the way a good bedtime story would. There is something about these poems that is both interesting and boring; beautiful and plain and demanding yet easy. Does this make sense? Over all, I didn’t really enjoy the book. This just wasn’t my aesthetic. I’m definitely a punch in the gut and then a sweet kiss as opposed to all sweet kisses. Has anyone read this book? Thoughts?

Productivity

22 Jun

It’s become my favorite topic, how do you keep up with all the work you have? For me that’s writing, my job, my goals and trying to have a social life. For you that might be taking care of your family, work, alone time and for someone else it may just be getting done. As a student, it was easy for me to find ways to get my work done. There was always a concrete deadline. Always a built-in Calendar. Now, even though I’ve only been out of school for a little while it’s becoming clear to me how valuable these dates and deadlines are. When you have to create your own deadlines it is, to put it simply, hard. So to make it easier I’ve been looking for some great ways to manage my time, and I have a few for you. Also, my favorite form of procrastination: looking for ways to be productive.

I’m a list gal. You should probably be able to tell that from this blog. I carry a note pad for notes/lists, I have post-its on my computer, in my car and I use them at work. But, I’m trying to reduce my paper usage. I want to try to green up my process. So that’s where I started.  The list is not in any particular order. I hope no one takes it as an assault on their way of being productive. In fact, I would love to hear what you use. Let me know!

  • Thinkery: What I love about this is that it really is like what you really can just kind of save your thought process someplace, so that when you are ready to sit down and organize you have everything you’ve looked at and wanted to come back to together in one place. If you’re smart you tag it so that everything related to one idea is together. It actually helped to put this blog entry together and I hope it will help me with the next one. You can say links, video, web pages or pieces of web pages. Its great! Oh and its free, best possible price.
  • Wunderlist: Another free site with lots of apps and extensions for your other devices. This is probably what you think it is, a to do list site/app that helps you create different items (lists) so if you are working on multiple projects its easy to section everything off. For instance, I am planning a slam with my partner, have day-to-day items to get done and like to have a list of all my bills that are due for the month in one place so I can make sure I’ve paid them all. Wunderlist lets me have a list of everything I have to do for the slam a different list for bills and so on. You can add due dates and personalize the background. Its cute and sharable.
  • Producteev: This site is another to do list site. It syncs with google tasks and is similar to Wunderlist. I think this site is great if you are using it for work or working with more than one other person. It creates a great workspace where you can assign tasks to different people, prioritize items and assign deadlines. There is a fee for this site but they offer a free trial
  • Podio: This is another great group site. I haven’t tried it yet but I love the concept a lot. Similar to Producteev it lets you share workspace which might be helpful if you are doing a lot of telecommuting. I hope I get the opportunity to try it soon but it definitely takes more than one person. This site is free if you have a small office and then gets bigger with the more space you require.
  • Taskforce: Taskforce connects to your email and lets you convert your emails into tasks. I’m sure you’ve had it happen before, you get an important email from your boss with a ton of tasks that you need to complete and you need an easy way to write them down. Taskforce is kind of cool. I’ve had it a day so I can give you more feedback later if you like. Check it out. Its free!
Ok, that’s it folks. Awesome ways for you to be productive. Try them, see what works! It can’t hurt….

Seeing Eye Bird Showcase, Sierra Demulder and the Silicon Valley gets poetic

24 May

If you’ve never been in the Barefoot Coffee Roaster in Santa Clara, which I totally doubt you have, let me assure you that you would never see it from the street. It’s in a little strip mall on the corner of Cabot and Steven’s Creek with pink walls, a bunch of empty shops and a freight tool store. If by some miracle you happened upon it then you would probably think of it as your average local coffee shop. The kind of place where hippies, hipsters and punk kids can converge and enjoy a steaming hot beverage. The cashier has flamingo pink hair, as do at least two of her customers. More then 40% of the shop has some kind of piercing or tattoo and just about everyone is wearing skinny jeans. It’s the sort of place you might expect an artsy fartsy abstract hipster poetry reading might happen. But that is not what the debut event of the Seeing Eye Bird Showcase is all about.

The MCs and creators of the event, Mike McGee and David Perez, start the evening off with a simple introduction of where they hope this project will go. They are tired of the Silicon Valley being considered an artistic wasteland and they are hoping to change that with this series and if tonight was any indication, they are going to do it. The boys introduce the first performer of the evening was Kim Johnson, a local slam poet who is infamous as a Slam Champion and San Jose Slam supporter. Kim comes to the mic a little nervous, she looks like one of those girls who isn’t used to having all eyes on her. She wears a simple sweatshirt that reads “Living Legend” and jeans. She smiles and the confidence radiates.

Kim’s first poem is about writers block and she begins with a blast, showing the passion that she has for the written word and the reverence for the struggle of being a poet. She is quiet but passionate reciting poems that stick to your gut with a confidence and grace that is unbelievable. When she chitchats with audience, you feel compelled to reply. She ends her set with a poem about a friend who committed suicide and I won’t lie, I felt teary. The poem was beautiful and if you ask me, she did her friend so much justice.

After Kim’s wonderful reading, Kristen Gradwohl took the stage and sang a few songs with her ukulele. Kristen is the sort of girl you would expect to find in a coffee shop like this one, small, dark haired and with a bohemian flavor to her style. Her singing voice is sweet and her tone extremely folksy. Her original songs remind me of Nellie McKay, who is a wonderful interesting singer you should check out as well. Her sweet voice is the sort that you want to listen to as you ride your bike in the afternoon sun, even though the content isn’t always as sweet. One of her songs is about being a stalker and the possibility of killing the girlfriend of the person she stalking. If you get the chance, I would check her out.

Finally, we came to the feature, Sierra Demulder. Let me say that my opinion is entirely biased. I’ve been following Sierra since my junior year of college where I first encountered her at the Artists Quarter at a Saint Paul Slam. For me, she is one of the most original, driven, spunky individuals I have ever had the chance of hearing read and tonight is no exception. Sierra is a tiny girl, maybe five feet, and she is charming. She says her s’s strangely, in an endearing lovely sort of way, plays with her new suspenders and she quakes with passion. She’s also a two time Slam Champion in case you wondered. She performed, and that’s the word for it, several poems and each of them is a passionate, feminist cry and almost a call to action. She begins with a poem about how a woman does not lose her self when she is raped or sexually assaulted. She immediately followed this by a poem about her sentiments on Pro-Ana websites and a response to Katy Perry’s song  “Your So Gay”. She ended her set with a poem about being in love with her best friend and its not being reciprocated.

The evening was amazing and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to hear these poets. I was beginning to think that the Peninsula and South bay were devoid of poetry. I am so glad to be proven wrong. I can’t wait to see what the Seeing Eye Bird Showcase will have next.