Lingua Mea Vita


A Feminist Graphic Genesis

After receiving a comment on my post on Victoria’s Secret underwear, I think I realize one of my goals in life is to make things better for the younger girls around me. I’ve always been attracted to feminism—not because I’m a lesbian (because I’m not) or because I hate men (because I certainly don’t) or because I listen to Ani DiFranco (…ok…I love me some Ani!)

(Actually I blame Geri Halliwell from the Spice Girls for making 8-year-old me run around screaming “Girl Power!”)

But seriously, let’s talk about Ani for a minute. She’s one of the biggest faces of third-wave feminism, and a positive one, in my opinion. Not only does Ani write powerful music, but she also writes poetry, runs her own label and is a mommy.  She’s got a song called “I’m No Heroine”, but I gotta tell you, Ani, you’ve got to face it—you are; just because you are human and have weak points like the rest of us doesn’t mean that your moxie should be marginalized in anyway. Much like another heroine of mine…

…And you’re probably thinking I’ve lost my damn mind. Ani DiFranco and Jerrica Benton? From Jem (the 80s cartoon)? For serious?

But let’s compare Ani and Jerrica’s strong points:

  1. Both of them perform music that they wrote themselves or with a band. Both creative types.
  2. Both run their own record labels—and had trying times getting to that place. Ani’s talked about struggles with big labels and Jerrica had that big bout with Eric Raymond in the first story arc.
  3. Both feel a sense of responsibility to the women/girls around them. Ani crafts inspiring messages in to her lyrics, while Jerrica runs a home for foster girls.

So how do I join Ani and Jerrica and making the world better for the women in the world around me? Well, what are my skills? I write well, I think I draw/paint well and I can make a bangin’ pistachio cake.

The cake won’t help me much, but I’ve been toying with the idea of a graphic novel. This will come to a shock to the people who didn’t know I like to draw (I’m really shy about it. This is something I’ll have to get over I guess.) Or maybe I’ll take it to an illustrator. I know for sure that I want to write a story that comments on the state of girls while introducing superheroines that are feminist friendly.  Wonder Woman is great, but there’s only one of her, and even she can’t make it past NBC.

(I heard that they cancelled it over negative reaction to the costuming. Is how Wonder Woman looks really that important? The show is called Wonder Woman—I doubt audiences will have any trouble determining who the show is about).

I think posting about the novel idea on here will keep me committed (my biggest issue with writing projects is committing to them). I’ve got a story outline done, so let’s go!

I’ve stated it. I believe it can happen. So let’s create it!



Naming Your Children 101
May 4, 2011, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Misc | Tags: , , ,

I am so glad I didn’t put money on this.

Last month, my sister and I talked about placing bets on what shabadoo names Mariah Carey would bestow upon her twins. Neither of us are hardcore Mimi fans, but we do enjoy her occasional  absolute batshit public displays of crazy bouts of quirkiness.

We were absolutely sure that her children would have names like:

Muffin
Boo
Sugar
Kitten
Cupcake
Ribbon
Honey
Glitter
Charmbracelet

Or any other names of her songs and/or albums.

But it turns out Mariah named her little boy and girl Moroccan and Monroe respectively, (which is still pretty weird, especially considering Moroccan [her child] is named after the decor of a room?) but not as nearly bad as Little Bunny and Foo-Foo. The jury is still out on Moroccan for me (I can’t get the image of minarets and bazaars out of my head—why not give the kid a name commonly used in Morocco?), but the name Monroe is growing on me for the girl twin.

This makes me think of this great VlogBros video about naming your children. I think all pregnant women should watch this at least once (this and Pregnant Women Are Smug):

Hank Green’s Rules For Naming Your Children:

1. Say your baby name out loud
Hank gives the example of Andrew Peacock and (Droopycock), but I can give an example! I’ve met a Michael Dixon-Cox.
2. Name your child what you will call your child
He gives himself as an example. He’s always been called Hank. His name is William.
3. Test your baby name with native language speakers
Poor Harry Dong
4. Don’t try to be cute
Olive Green, Hiho Silva. I know of twins named Stormy and Rainy McCloud.
5. Check the most popular baby names and avoid them
Jacob, Isabella, Aiden, Jaden, Kaden, Hayden.
6. Spell your kid’s name like a normal person
Mykul, Kayt, Jaucshuwa. Also, Roazze (pronounced Rose).
7. Name your child a name
No word names. Hank gives the example of Satchel and Pilot. I’ve met a baby named Gnarls (named after Gnarls Barkley. I guess the mother didn’t understand the band name was a pun).



The 10 Necessities for Detroit’s Revolution
April 20, 2011, 5:04 pm
Filed under: Misc | Tags: , , ,

I’m taking a departure from words to talk about something that irks me: discussion of my hometown, Detroit (or at least, the metro area). Seemingly everyone has their own ideas of what will “bring Detroit back,” but these ideas suck since Detroit is far from being one of “America’s Comeback cities.” So here’s my list of what is best for Detroit (and yes, I think my ideas are better. Call it ego—whatever.)

1. Honesty
Detroit is fucked up. The crime rate is high, the unemployment rate is astronomically high and the city is ugly as hell. Detroit, (like every other city) has its positive points, but Detroiters shouldn’t use them to sugarcoat the really bad things. Yes, the theatres in Detroit are gorgeous, but that doesn’t excuse the blighted eyesores next to the Masonic Temple Theatre.

 2. To Face Forward
Detroit is like a pathetic, psychotic ex-girlfriend—clinging to better times and refusing to let go despite having some serious issues. It shows up in the city in all sorts of ways: from people clutching to the auto industry as a main source of employment to advertisers using tired Motown songs in their spots. Detroiters seem to have an aversion to things that aren’t familiar, which keeps the city from being modern.

 3. Youth
Think of the population of New York—how would you describe the demographic? Do the same for L.A. Now Chicago. Did young, single people come to mind? They drive the population of cities. Someone told me today that Patti Smith said that Detroit is the new place for the young, hip artist type. Clearly, Patti Smith hasn’t been to Austin, Portland, Seattle, Boston or even Atlanta lately.

 4. Hot Industry
Michigan was onto something with giving tax credits to film producers, but since the governor did away with that, Michigan (and Detroit) is left without a hot industry. For people to want to move to a location there’s got to be some glamour. No one is going to move to Detroit because they want to work for Quicken Loans (or even The Big 3). New York has fashion, LA has movies, Austin has music, Chicago has skyscrapers (Chicago doesn’t have a specific hot industry, but it sure looks like it does).  I personally think Detroit could have Art. The Detroit Institute of Arts is large and has pieces by van Gogh, Matisse, and Diego Rivera, not to mention the Frank Lloyd Wright house, the Heidelberg Project, and Banksy left his mark in Detroit.

5. Public Transportation
Subways, trams, and efficient bus lines are really indicators of a big city (name a major, happening city without them). Detroit is 0 for 3, and that’s because Detroit is clinging onto this old “Everyone-in-the-Motor-City-owns-a-car” deal.  The auto companies being based in Detroit does NOT make them cheaper. I think a lot of Detroiters would see public transport as an upgrade. (Luckily, there is a light-rail system being built in Detroit, but it runs to the northern ‘burbs. :/)

6. Food
I’m not talking about restaurants, because Detroit has plenty of great ones (Slow’s, Fishbones, Wolfgang Puck Grille, Xochi’s…the list goes on), but there are more stores of a liquor variety than the grocery one. Especially downtown, where they are creating cheap luxury apartments. Having a nice place is great, but you don’t want to have to drive further out into the city in a rough neighborhood  or 30 minutes to the suburbs to get to a grocery store. Yes, there’s the Eastern Market, but its barely accessible, with parking being so atrocious down there.

7. Whites
This isn’t going to make me popular, but the nail in the coffin for Detroit was White Flight. Whites didn’t feel safe post-race riot, so they fled to the burbs. Now black people don’t feel safe in Detroit, and they are contributing to the mass exodus. In this age, young people (who fuel major cities) want to live in places that are cosmopolitan. That means the city can’t be dark chocolate, but it can’t be vanilla either. I once saw a study that said white people won’t move to a largely black community unless there are Asians and/or Hispanics also there. For Asians and Hispanics to be there (mostly Asians), whites have to be present (as white communities are deemed “safer”) or other Asians and Hispanics have to be around. It’s a one hell of a Catch-22, but Detroit is lagging far, far behind.

8. Style
Regardless if a city is renowned as a fashion capital or not, the upwardly mobile have to spend their money somewhere. But where would they shop in Detroit? It needs the big brands: the Chanel’s, Valentino’s, and the Dolce and Gabbana’s of the world to open up in Detroit, so the wealthy can spend their income and subsequently produce the image of wealth. Other cities have upscale shopping, Detroit does not.

 9. Patience
People need to realize that even if Detroit does a major overhaul, it’s not going to happen overnight. It will cost a lot of money. It will be an investment. Companies and investors are afraid of Detroit and Detroiters. You’re not going to see a flood of faces from all over the world running to Detroit to pursue their dreams the day after the new Cobo Center or the light rail opens. These things take time.

 10. More Honesty
Lastly, Detroiters may have to realize that this revolution just may be in their heads. Detroit might actually go the way of Flint, it may die. It may never return to its pre-riot glory days as the 4th largest city in the U.S. and hotbed of opportunity. What Detroit needs is a lot of blood, sweat and tears from investors who are too afraid of a dangerous and quickly dying city. It’s good to have the hope and the fire in the belly, but if you have that as a Detroiter, make sure you are doing your part to make sure that Detroit gets back on its feet (and that means doing more than just talking about how awesome Detroit is to your non-resident friends).



Growing Up Guate

I don’t know how I feel about fate.

On one hand, I desperately want to believe in the power of my own agency. But then, from the other hand,  “fate” throws little zingers my way that force me  to believe that I’m not always in control. But after today, I’m almost sure fate exists…almost.

I’d tuned into Snap Judgment on NPR today while I was speeding around town looking for a Girl Scout cookie booth to satisfy a (very rare) chocolate craving. Whenever I catch Snap Judgment on the radio, I half-joke to myself, “I should send in the story about how I was kidnapped in Guatemala on Friday the 13th”.

Then it hit me that tomorrow (March 13) will be the two-year-anniversary of the kidnapping.

Then Glynn Washington emotes,

“…there’s a guy in the corner, and he says, “Yeah, I’ve got a story. Once, I was kidnapped. By the FARC. In Colombia.”

I immediately cranked the volume up like his story was a pop song.

I listened to Jason McLaughlin (with annotations from the story’s producer Anne Elizabeth Moore) tell my whole life with his words (Oh, Roberta Flack and your Killing Me Softly…you have nothing on this):

  • He was in college at the time of his kidnapping. I was in college at the time of mine.
  • He went to Colombia and was kidnapped by a guerrilla group. I was in Guatemala and was kidnapped by what the locals call guerrillas, but I don’t know much about the men who did so (except one had a Salvadorean accent, not Guatemalan.) Either way, both countries do not have the best reputations in North America.
  • Jason (and his friend) had been hiking in the jungle, attempting to canoe the Putamayo River. I’d been doing volunteer work in the jungle (with my friends) and was headed to Lake Atitlan at the time of my kidnapping.
  • He was tied up, and led through a field, through woods, to a river. I was tied up, led through a field, to a river.

The parallels were eerie. But there was something unsettling comfortable about knowing someone had gone through a similar trauma to me. But the very best part was that Jason McLaughlin was able to verbalize what I’ve tried to tell people when they ask me if I was scared during the ordeal:

“The thing about being kidnapped is that you have to get used to the idea that you don’t know what’s going on. You don’t know the rules, you don’t know what the situation is, you can try to pay attention and figure stuff out. The very hard thing is feeling okay with not knowing what the plan is, though one part of the plan may mean you get killed really soon.”

Our stories started to differ when he revealed that he’d been held by the FARC for over a year. I’d been held for hours.  And though I hadn’t experienced a kidnapping with the same length of time, I felt like I could relate to every thing he mentioned.

It was hands down the easiest story for me to relate to that I’d heard on the radio. And it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.

So could my unusual chocolate craving have been the universe forcing me to my car to hear Jason McLaughlin’s story on the anniversary of my kidnapping? Maybe. I’ll entertain that idea. But what I know for sure is that by listening to Jason’s story, I learned a way to explain my story and answer people’s questions about my kidnapping in a way that feels more honest and whole.

We are all connected, folks! And sometimes it takes little bits of fate to make us see the connections.

To listen to Jason McLaughlin’s story for yourself, check out Snap Judgment’s Warning Signs episode.



Wordplay with Willem Dafoe

So, I JUST saw something amazing on television that didn’t involve hoarding or Kim Kardashian:

It’s creative! It’s visually dazzling! It’s Willem Dafoe reading to you!

Don’t tell me you didn’t recognize the moody, rumbling voice of Gil the Fish (or the Green Goblin! Spider-mannnnn). What stands out to me about this commercial (outside of the fact that it seemingly has nothing to do with yogurt) is the poem:

Plain was the same as it ever was the same
plainly plain, samely same.
But then—
someone lit the flame!
Plain rode away on  lion’s mane
where plain met fruits with strangely names
such wonderful things did they did contain—
a shot of life to a hungry vein,
the captive beast who broke the chain.
And there upon that fruited plain became what plain became
So much more than more than plain.
Plain will never be the same.

Did they resurrect Lewis Carroll to write copy for this commercial? Who is the genius who did this? Believe it or not, the poet is Brian Tierney, a copywriter for Mullen (as far as I know). Not the Jabberwocky! Amazing, right?

Even if you aren’t a fan of poetry, Willem Dafoe reads slowly and with an inflection that makes you pay attention. And the poem isn’t really hard to decipher—it’s about something that is plain becoming not so plain at all.  It doesn’t sound overly cheesy and gives an ethereal quality to the commercial. Why yogurt needs to be ethereal is beyond me.

I guess the downside of this commercial is that doesn’t directly have much to do with yogurt at all. It may be too arty and some people may not get the point. But I can excuse it because it’s Fage, which isn’t…Dannon. AND I saw this commercial on Cooking Channel, which is like the Food Network gone through puberty living in a hipster, urban setting.

I’m already a big fan of Fage yogurt to begin with, and now, because of Paul Smecker and his fancy-dancy poem, I’m going to keep an eye out for their blueberry acai flavor.



Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Hey everybody! Today is National Read Across America Day!

And you’re probably thinking, “Who cares? I could be starting a revolution or liking some pickle on Facebook.”

But despite the cheesy 80s PSA name, National Read Across America Day is really important because it is none other than Dr. Seuss’s birthday. That’s right, Dr. Seuss, one of the most witty and inspirational writers of the 20th century was a moody, sentimental Pisces. 😛

Dr. Seuss is such a great writer because he had this knack for saying such profound things in a fun way that spoke to children, but didn’t lose any of their value. Adults love Dr. Seuss too! I mean, what other writer made you feel like you could trash your entire house and not get in trouble for it? Didn’t Dr. Seuss’ books instill confidence in you as a kid? Even as an adult?

So, I’m going to list off a few of my favorite Seuss quotes. Enjoy, be inspired, and please, for the love of your heart and mind…read:

“Today you are You. That is truer than true. There is no one alive more You-er than You.”

“Be who you are and say what you feel because the ones who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

“I have heard that there are troubles of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead, some come from behind.
But I’ve bought a big bat, I’m all ready you see.
Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me.”

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

“You have brains in your head. You have feet on your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. You know what you know.
You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

“I mean what I said, and I said what I meant—an elephant’s faithful, 100 percent.”

“The more you read, the more you know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”



The Newest, Best TV Show You Will Probably Never See

Before I even start with this post, I guess I should explain who Aaron Sorkin, who is going to be the star of this post, is. He’s a beloved and respected writer in Hollywood best known for:

  1. Writing The American President and one of my all-time favorite movies, A Few Good Men. He’s also up for an Oscar this year for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Social Network.
  2. Being the creator, writer and driving force behind The West Wing.
  3. Drawing and quartering Sarah Palin via blog post on the HuffPo.

Now Aaron Sorkin is brewing up a new TV series for HBO, hoping to capture “the same kind of idealism and romanticism that made government sexy on The West Wing.”

…”sexy” isn’t the first word I’d use to describe The West Wing. While it was a good show, I think The West Wing was one of those shows you watched while rubbing Bengay on your arthritic joints and waiting for your vanilla ice-cream to thaw. And his other two shows, Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, fared well critically, but were not on the air very long.

A move to a premium channel where you can be sexy as you wanna be could be what a Sorkin-show needs to actually hang in there. Sorkin himself said that he thought HBO is were people are turning for “more literate programming.” And with a history of airing shows like  the iconic Sex and the City, the awesome bro-fest that is Entourage, the introspective and darkly funny Six Feet Under and the only halfway decent product of the neo-vampire phenomenon True Blood, he’d be 100 percent right.

However, the true test will be set up of the show itself. Just because a show is on HBO doesn’t mean it’ll survive (R.I.P. John from Cincinnati). Sorkin is known for his “show about a show” style, and it looks like this show is going to take on that format. But I guess I’m wondering if it’s the network choice or the actual “show about a show” set-up that is responsible for the demise of Sorkin shows.

I guess only time will tell, but I’m rooting for ya, Aaron! The show about a show thing works for 30 Rock!