Sunday, February 12, 2006
Baby, it's cold outside!
Two views of the snow pileup from my backyard during the Blizzard of '06 taken from my bathroom window.
I know it borders on blasphemy for a Black person to love the cold, but my name is TriniPrincess and I'm a total frostaholic. Contrary to popular belief, not all colored folks wait for the thermostat to surge past 90 with baited breath. And when I think about what I have to look forward to (out-of-control oily skin/frightful frizz/being trapped underground on subway platforms that are hotter than Hades), I'll take my chances in the arctic air. Maybe it has something to do with being born smack dab in the middle of winter, but knee high boots, chunky scarves and cable knit sweaters put me in my element. I get a kick out of sipping a cinnamon dolce latte and watching the chill trail as I cool the styrofoam cup on one of those shivery mornings when the sunlight seems to dance on the water dripping from icicles like a soft stream of diamonds. There are few natural occurrences that rival the beauty of snowflakes which transform the mundane into the picturesque. Yes, I'm waxing real nostalgic right now, but Old Man Winter gets a bum rap. It's about time someone stood in his corner to rep for snowball fights and calling in sick just to cozy up with a mug of hot cocoa or even better, a special someone close by to keep you warm. Remember being a kid and wishing for snow days? Now you're more likely to curse the driving conditions. When you're little, there's tons of fun things to look forward to when the snow falls -- secret snow forts and having stolen street signs double as makeshift sleds on frozen sidewalks with friends around the way. But being a grown-up doesn't make this time of year any more difficult to embrace the winter wonderland. Folks on the Left Coast and down South can keep the 'round the calendar warmth, anything less than 4 real seasons of variety is simply uncivilized.
"Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius."
— Pietro Aretino
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Oops, she did it again
Aside from screaming half the night and leaving your wardrobe with the sweet smell of spit-up, babies are a veritable fountain of redeeming qualities. They're: a) more often than not, so cute as can be, b) cuddly, c) giggly, d) squeezably soft and other fuzzy-wuzzy adjectives not uttered at Planned Parenthood. You'll notice that being used as an airbag deployment tool has been left off that checklist. However, translate that kernel of logic into the twisted mind of Shitney and you get a prime opportunity to lose 20 pounds of baby fat after hitting the brakes and watching little spudnik fly through the window.
But maybe riding the crimson wave into day 3 just has me feeling bitchier than usual. I mean, hell sometimes I run, sometimes I drive...sometimes I'm scared of photographers using the long lens as I leave A&W All-American Food with a face full of chili cheese fries. So, let's hold off on chucking this pop tart to the wolves for at least the next 30 seconds to hear Brit Brit's line of defense:
"Today I had a horrifying, frightful encounter with the paparazzi while I was with my baby. Because of a recent incident when I was trapped in my car without my baby by a throng of paparazzi, I was terrified that this time the physically aggressive paparazzi would put both me and my baby in danger. I instinctively took measures to get my baby and me out of harm's way, but the paparazzi continued to stalk us, and took photos of us which were sold to the media. I love my child and would do anything to protect him."She'd do anything to protect him, especially hold him on her lap while she was being chased by photographers on that oasis of safety - Pacific Coast Highway. That's really secure. I mean, really... who else was gonna hold her Schlitz malt liquor and Cheetos for her?
Talk about being destined for an E! True Hollywood Story from the womb. All Sean Preston really asks for in life is some nipple-to-mouth action, gourmet pureed peaches and working diaper genie. Instead, he's forced to bare the cross of being the love child of a chronic gigolo with the mic skills of Brian Austin Green and a washed-up douchebag who walks into public restrooms barefoot. Next on tap... trading Seanie Poo for a McRib next time Daddy maxes out the Amex card at the golden arches.
As if the baby's daddy wasn't enough, now mom decides the back seat is way too tame for her kid since it's crowded from all of K-Fed's subwoofers. She's Britney fucking Spears — and rules are for fools. What's the big deal, right? "It is what it is."
Monday, February 06, 2006
How sweet it is (to be played by you)
In spite of the littered boulevard of broken Behind The Music dreams, a feature film about the life of Marvin Gaye has been given a green light. Jesse L. Martin, star of NBC's "Law & Order" and the big-screen adaptation of "Rent," has been tapped to play the soul icon in the independently-financed film "Sexual Healing," due to begin production in May. The movie to be directed by Lauren Goodman, will focus on the years preceding his sudden shooting death at the hands of his father on April 1, 1984, one day before his 45th birthday. The film will include his self-imposed exile in Europe after years of battling drugs, domestic issues and label headaches. There through the help of businessman Freddy Cousaert who acted as promoter from his seaside home in Ostend, Belgium, began the retreat which spawned his biggest-selling album, "Midnight Love," supported by his comeback smash, "Sexual Healing."
"More than just being the voice of a generation, Marvin Gaye proved to be its very heartbeat," Goodman told the Hollywood Reporter. "As a filmmaker, I was drawn to tell the story of a human being who was never fully realized, one with faults and foibles and an uncommon grace expressed every time he picked up the microphone."According to the Hollywood Reporter, producers have been trying for years to get a Marvin Gaye biopic off the ground. Originally, "Sexual Healing" was intended to cover a larger portion of his life but was restructured to focus on his final years due to ongoing disputes over his Motown-produced records.
In spite of Ms. Goodman's resume looking about as credible as a medical practitioner in Mexico, the right screenplay coupled with Jesse's formidable talent as both a singer and actor - this could go a long way in renewing interest into a career that seems almost tailor made for an adapted screenplay. Color me so excited, it makes me wanna holler and throw up both my hands!
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Cream in her coffee
The title of the movie could've stood a few recycling in subsequent marketing meetings before being settled on as the final choice. It's too banal, too blah. Too much like an ad slogan for dishwashing liquid (Something New and Improved!). It's one of those lackluster tags that floats off the marquee, onto the projectile and soon out of sight, out of mind. But judging a book by its cover would be a mistake in the case of this appealing romantic comedy from first-time director Sanaa Hamri. What it lacks in catchiness, it more than makes up for in charisma and topical commentary without weighing itself down in spite of it.
So if February is the time when celebrating romance and Black culture takes center stage, then Something New delivers a richly seductive two for the price of one.
The ever-luminous Sanaa Lathan headlines as Kenya Denise McQueen, a Los Angeles accountant who is a workaholic. She's beautiful and whip smart in the workplace as the consummate BAP, but absolutely clueless on how the game of love is played. After being rescued from trash like Alien vs. Predator which is far beneath the scope of her considerable talent, Lathan rises to the task to make Kenya wary, insecure... cautious, but proud. It's a performance that could've devolved into ice-queen caricature territory (á la Gabrielle Union's turn in Deliver Us From Eva) but she goes deeper to paint a multifaceted portrait. Fiercely driven as the only daughter of esteemed parents, a graduate of top schools (Stanford, check. Wharton Business, check.), and now up for partner in her firm. Kenya doesn't date. She doesn't do much of anything except work, although recently she purchased a new house. She makes lists, as in, what needs to be done, what she doesn't "do" (sushi, kayaking, creepy, crawly things, dogs, the color red), and what she wants in her IBM (Ideal Black Male): he'll be taller than her, educated, and professional. Kenya doesn't think she's asking for much — just perfection.
She has her dream man shopping cart down to a science. And yet, she's light years away from inching nearer to the brass (or better yet, wedding) ring so coveted. As she and her similarly equipped, ambitious, and disappointed sistah girls — Cheryl (Wendy Raquel Robinson), Suzzette (Golden Brooks), and Nedra (Taraji P. Henson) — trade laughs over a round of cosmopolitans, the infamous statistic that looms over would-be spinsters: 42.4% of black women have never been married, owing to a shortage of acceptable partners. They look round the restaurant and see one much publicized reason for the imbalance — a Black man with a White woman. (Insert the obligatory eye roll here). Kenya's friends have horror tales to share, and her inability to put herself out there is becoming cause for concern. The friends agree that on the Valentine's edition of their pity party ritual to follow the advice of a self-help guru whose catchphrase to life is "let go, let flow," although the idea of the uptight Kenya even opening a top button is laughable.
A co-worker sets up Kenya on a blind date and she regrets it immediately, especially when she sees that Brian (Simon Baker) is white. Making her way to their table at Magic Johnson Starbucks in Ladera Heights, she scrambles to renew her ghetto pass membership with over-the-top affirmations of her blackness ("How you doin' brother?" she asks a startled employee, before noting a customer's hair: "Girl, you are wearing those dreads!"). Her need to overcompensate is blunt enough that her date observes, "You're making sure everyone knows you're down." When Brian wonders why she even bothered to come in the first place, she tells him, "I promised my girlfriends I'd be more open." Again, he cuts to the chase: "But not this open."
And her rudeness to Brian almost borders to the point of cruelty. But as fate and the story arc would have it, their paths are meant to cross again: recently completing the buppie circle of homeowners in Baldwin Hills, her overgrown backyard is in dire need of renovation. So, wouldn't ya know it, Brian is a landscape architect and because he's the most good-natured, well-balanced, easygoing type of White guy around, he accepts the challenge. Before you can say Miracle-Gro, a bit more than her yard begins to blossom.
But in her need to always wear race on her sleeve, an interracial relationship is out of the question, let alone with someone who has dirt under his nails. Her impulses keep her on a tightrope of exhilaration and self-loathing, even though finding a man willing to sidestep her multitude of hangups and indulge fantasies of painting toes neatly while blowing them dry. The set-up is a deliciously satirized poke at all those fetishes about the well-to-do fair maiden getting serviced in more ways than one from the Black hired help. But thankfully the story itself doesn't shy away from the subtle, everyday racism that made Kenya so tentative and self-protective in the first place.
It's a trip to watch her go completely against her grain — which includes kissing her weave goodbye to get in touch with her roots so to speak (pardon the pun), and of course, she wouldn't be doing this if she weren't falling in love (which she also thinks she shouldn't be doing).
They're blissfully happy behind closed doors, but what happens when those starry-eyed feelings are tested in the real world? Kenya & Brian have their first fight in a neighborhood grocery store that's real in which Hollywood never allows romantic comedies to stretch. There's cutting and honest exchanges about race — not the Rainbow Coalition soapbox we've been spoon fed ad nauseum about how we're all really the same underneath it all. Acknowledgment of the "black tax" for someone like Kenya to work harder than her white colleagues would never appear in slapstick retreads like last year's moronic Guess Who.
While being stuck as the go-to Caucasian, Baker is unbearably charismatic in channeling Matthew McConaughey-lite with a brain, which probably isn't easy to do when your role is basically written as "sensitive stud toy." As Lathan's brother, Donald Faison has some funny bits with a revolving door of dates to suit each day of the week and Taraji P. Henson struck just the right note with well-timed zings of sass.
Something New is something rare: arguably the first major picture with a triple threat of backing behind the scenes from Black women (director Hamri, producer Stephanie Allain and screenwriter Kriss Turner) that offers glimpses of a world we almost never see onscreen. The life of brown folk who also happen to be upwardly mobile. An interracial romance that manages to address serious concerns in a manner that's good-natured, intelligent and humorous without painting Black men in a negative light to justify it is almost a revelation. A rom-com in which Mike Epps of all people utters the single truest line of the whole damn screening, "It's not about color, it's about the love between a man and a woman." And that in itself is something to talk about.
Labels: movie review
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Gotta go, gotta leave
Upon coming into work this morning I was immediately accosted by my boss who was asking me rapid-fire questions before I even had time to set my bagel down and take off my coat. The scoop was that I had just missed an impromptu meeting called by the head honchos of my department to inform us of major changes put into effect and I needed to check my e-mail. Pronto.
In that instant, logging into Lotus Notes seemed to take an eternity. Cryptic messages only serve as an invitation for even more premature grey hairs to spring forth and I didn't have time to thoroughly scan my in box when my boss came over to my desk again with urgency written all over his face. What the hell was going on?
Did you get an e-mail?His forehead lines smoothed to a less weathered crease and exhaled a sigh of relief. This in a nutshell was code for still being on the payroll as many others weren't so lucky this Thursday. In total the ax fell on 65 employees and with a quota of 135 spots to be vacated, the carnage wouldn't be over yet.
Yes, I got one. What's the problem?
Among the casualties was one of my closest colleagues whose wife just lost a loved one two days before. Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place.
The cold, harsh impersonality of white-collar careers always rubbed me the wrong way because just as quickly as you grow accustomed to going through the motions is as equally jarring when the rug's pulled out from underneath your footing without warning. I don't intend to stick around for the other shoe to drop. The rumors, innuendos and constant watchdog atmosphere is enough to make me stark raving mad. After dragging ass for months on putting the wheels into motion to blow this joint, I have no more excuses for a back burner anymore. I just hope I reach the finish line before the powers that be do.