Sunday, August 7, 2016

From the Desk of my Hubs: Some Thoughts About Suicide Squad and the State of the Summer Movie

Hey y'all. I'm still here...just trying to keep everything afloat.

I'm not posting at the moment, but my hubs, the pop culture junkie extraordinaire, has a few things to get off his chest about summer movies and his geekdom. This superhero stuff just ain't up my alley, but I'm learning. 



First things first…. I refuse to pay $4-$5 for a Dasani water at the theater!

Watching the movie, I can see why DC is having so many problems replicating Marvel’s success. They are trying move way too fast with their Universe. The Marvel movie that best parallels Suicide Squad is Guardians of the Galaxy. While important they are “B” level characters at best. Guardians of the Galaxy is the tenth Marvel movie and during that time they have been slowly building from the big guns individually to groups. Suicide Squad is the third DC movie….THE THIRD ONE!!! How do you make this movie before (rebooted) Batman, Wonder Woman, (movie version) Flash, or (rebooted) Green Lantern, JUSTICE freakin' LEAGUE?!?!

I am not quite sure where they go from here with the movie.  Harley Quinn will be in the Batman reboot and possibly Justice League. What about Will Smith’s Deadshot who had, perhaps, the best performance in the movie? Do you make another Suicide Squad, or does he get a solo movie? Looks to be a waste of “A” level star power.

Speaking of Harley Quinn, they clearly wanted her to be the scene-stealing star of the movie. She had the most fleshed out story and best lines of the movie. The only gripe I had with her is that it felt at times like they were trying to force the audience to see her as the scene stealer rather than it happen organically. I suspect at the early test screenings, the powers that be saw her and said we need to see more of her…. RESHOOTS!!!

This leads to the next issue/slight disappointment. I feel there is a director’s cut/ “R” rated version of this movie that would have really KICKED ASS!  David Ayers is know to make some pretty dark violent movies and that is what the Suicide Squad is about in the comic books. These people are some of the baddest guys in the DC universe. While they said they were bad repeatedly, I feel that they held back on letting them truly be “bad” with it being PG-13.  really wanted to put out. You would think that after Deadpool’s massive box office, the studio would be daring enough to not put out a PG-13.

Jared Leto’s performance as The Joker intrigues me. Heath Ledger remains the gold standard for his Joker performance and I think it will be unfair to expect someone to surpass it (although it could happen). He really wasn’t put out front and center so I will withhold final judgment however for the time he was there it was a good performance. I enjoy his take on The Joker, which is more of a gangster rather than Heath Ledger’s anarchist performance. Both are clearly demented and unpredictable however, Jared Leto’s Joker would not be burning stacks of money like the Heath Ledger version. 

I really enjoyed the use of classic and current music in the movie. I think it helped give it a cool feeling and give you a feel about some of the characters.

Adding everything up and walking in with low expectations, I thought the movie was enjoyable. As I said earlier, I believe there is a unrated version that would have been a lot better then the one released. I do not think Suicide Squad is a bad as reviewers have made it out to be; however it’s pretty cookie-cutter as comic book movies go.

My Final Verdict- 6.5/ 10

Can I say that this summer SUCKED in terms of movies? Allow me to get some stuff off of my chest.

Remember when summer movies actually premiered in the SUMMER! This summer season started on May 6th with Captain America: Civil War. While this was the best movie of the summer, it was MAY 6TH!!!!! I understand starting summer movies during Memorial Day, but MAY 6th!!!! It feels like we are always in a rush to get to the thing instead of enjoying the now. For example, walk into some stores and they are already selling Halloween merchandise. Could we wait till at least September before putting this stuff out? Let’s enjoy the moment, Hollywood! I want the Summer Season to be the SUMMER SEASON and keep the blockbusters to that time frame. I love movie trailers to the point that it annoys the misses that I would rather see another showing then miss them. However, it feels like they have gotten longer and longer and LONGER. These days I have already finished my Twizzlers before the opening credits have started with all of the trailers. Can we limit them from 4-5 to around 1 to 2 minutes? Also please try to hold back a little on what is included. Some of the best stuff from a movie is thrown in the trailer leaving the actually movie lackluster.

Before I conclude: 

I REFUSE to pay $4-$5 dollars for a Dasani

Comic-Con is the devil when it comes to summer movies now. Hollywood is so concerned with getting the approval of a room of full of antsy twitter fingers  that they are scared to take chances. Summer movies now fall into a couple of buckets:
·      Kids Movies- The Secret Lives of Pets, Finding Dory, The Jungle Book, The BFG (Big Friendly Giant), Angry Birds, and Alice Through the Looking Glass
·      Sequels- Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, Independence Day: Resurgence, Now You See Me 2, The Conjuring 2, Star Trek Beyond, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Neighbors 2, X-Men: Apocalypse, Jason Bourne, Ice Age: Collision Course
·      Remakes- Ghostbusters
·      Comic Books- Captain America: Civil War, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Suicide Squad, X-Men: Apocalypse
Notice a trend…not much thinking outside the box. Producers are so focused on getting the approval of the Comic-Con crowd that it has really killed creativity and taking chances with movies. Could you imagine a movie about a globetrotting archeologist seeking out a legendary artifact succeeding today? How about a lonely kid befriending a lost alien while the army is chasing after them? Maybe a teenager going back in time to make sure his parents met one another so he could be born in the future? Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., and Back to the Future were made without looking for the approval of the Comic-Con and became HUGE. Notice how long these trailers are, BTW.

The poor box-office this summer reflected the sad state of movies and I hope a change is made soon. When I take my daughter to the movies in a couple of years, I want her to get the same feeling I had when I saw some of the movies above. Until that happens, I will just have to fire up my Blu-ray player and tell her what a real blockbuster used to look like.

And I still refuse to pay $4-$5 for a Dasani!!!!!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Make Your Ears Happy: Chance the Rapper

I've told y'all before that my favorite genres of music are gospel and hip hop. When the two merge...listen.

So, when Hubs rushed home from work on some, "Come downstairs; you've gotta hear this. It's your speed," I hightailed it to the basement. Let's just say, my ears aren't the same.

If I were using emojis, this post would be full of flames and 100s.

This album is everything.

Honestly, this feels like what The Life of Pablo wanted to be, but the lyrics are amazing (Kanye's bleach/t-shirt lyric destroyed one of the best beats I've heard in years) . I must note, however, that the Kanye influence is definitely recognizable.

Best part - THIS JOINT IS $FREE.99!!! Go on and stream/download it.

The preacher's daughter who is in love with breakbeats is a happy camper right now.  Listening to this gave me an opportunity to share some of my favorite gospel songs with my husband.

And don't get me started on the Chance-Jay Electronica cut.

Chancelor Bennet - You did that!!!

Until next time, I'm over here praising and nodding my head.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Cannot. Process. Prince.

Phife's passing made me feel like a piece of my adolescence disappeared.

Prince -- Lord, I feel like a chunk of my childhood is gone.  I can barely focus, and I need to get a TON of work done.

Here's to the heel-wearing, hair flipping, gender-bending with the amazing ability to keep his masculinity clearly in tact. Here's to the man who was already in 1999 in 1982. Visionary. Genius. A man who loved his Blackness. May he rest in power and paradise. I can't even write about this anymore.

I'll leave you with one of my VERY favorite love songs, not just Prince songs, She Loves Me 4 Me. Click the link. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Literally and Figuratively Sowing Seeds

First, a little mood music. Today's selection - Apple Tree by Erykah Badu.

After years of imagining and dreaming of a backyard garden, I finally got to work!

I could have been grading papers or working on a paper that needs revising, or working on another manuscript that won't let me rest, but instead, I decided to sow seeds - literally and figuratively. 

Life in academia is rough. Beginning my career as a tenure-track professor being pregnant, on bed rest, and caring for a newborn, now toddler, exacerbates the struggle.  I've spent the last month and a half trying to get back on track - establishing a productive writing routine, bouncing from conference to conference to conference.  For someone who is very, very shy, attending conferences does a number on my spirit, and by "does a number," I mean makes me anxiety-ridden. It's hard putting yourself out there. Rubbing elbows and exchanging cards drains me.  Walking up to strangers to share how their work impacts you is tough, especially when that person is looking through you in search of a bigger name to flatter. Academia is one part rigor and five two parts self-promotion. I've decided that I'm going to go hard for my career, but I'll have to do it in my own way, on my own terms.  This ain't nobody else's race to run but my own, and I think I lost sight of that. This article blessed me this morning. I have rockstar potential, but I'm going to let the work (and some strategic social engagement) be my calling card. 

So this past weekend, in an effort to recalibrate and shake off the academic residue, my family and I sowed seeds - literally and figuratively. 

I've dreamed of growing a garden for years.  Maybe it's the southern girl in me.  Maybe it's the inner-boho-Badu (as my husband would describe it). Either way, I've always had the desire to grow my own food. We planned on gardening last year, but moving into our house in mid-May pushed gardening way down on our list of priorities. After over a month of palm pressing and hobnobbing, and the cold weather FINALLY gone for good, Hubs and I decided it was time to get going.  

Following the advice of every gardening site I read, I only planted what I knew we'd eat - lettuce, kale, cucumbers, red peppers, onion, and garlic.  We also did some container gardening for a watermelon and some strawberries. I've still gotta plant the herbs, but we're up and running!  

Things always happen when they are supposed to happen (Lord, why can't I hold onto this?!?). Starting our garden this year gave us the awesome opportunity to share the activity with Little Miss TJ. And, y'all, she took right to it. 

Posted up and serious about the work
As annoyed as I was that she was undoing our hard work at times, I was more grateful to watch her enjoy connecting with nature.  She's a helpful kid by nature, so she was more than willing to make sure that everything was watered.  


As y'all can see, she was serious about keeping the plants nice and hydrated. Let's pray she doesn't drown them. 

As we worked on the yard, I realized I felt something that I hadn't felt in a while - RELAXED! 

Tending to our little garden gave me a way to connect with my family.  It also allowed us to do a little personal sowing. We sowed:

Seeds of Quality Time: Being outside with each other made my heart full. The joy on Little Miss TJ's face was priceless.

Seeds of Teamwork: We all came inside hot and tired, yet accomplished.

Seeds of Patience: Hubs and I are mindful of how we engage with Little Miss TJ as she "helps" with the garden, and we are teaching her to wait for our seeds to blossom and grow.

Seeds of Self-Care: I needed this weekend off (well, mostly off). Tending to the garden took me away from the world of due dates and deadlines.

This weekend also reminded me that my sweet, chubby-cheeked baby is evolving into her own autonomous, independent little person. Check her out!

I just noticed Tyson trying to get a little bit of H20. Ha! 

These are just a few of the special moments we shared in the yard yesterday.  We are already reaping from what we sowed.  I believe this. The garden, like our lives, need to be cultivated.  Sometimes it (and we) need a little pruning and some new soil to get us growing. I love getting lessons when I'm not looking for them. Continue to lift me up as I cultivate my backyard garden, my inner garden, my marriage garden, and my family-life garden. All of these things will contribute to the improvement of my work-life garden, which is slowly starting to bud.

I'll be sure to keep you all posted on the garden.  Given all the hard work, time, and energy (and coins!) we put into it, we want to eat from our back yard this summer! Also pray for Tyson - He's already eating the watermelon leaves, and I'm NOT happy about it. Sigh.

Until next time - I'll be over here sowing seeds in all my gardens.  

Thursday, April 7, 2016

I've been...

It's been forever since I said hi. Hey, y'all!

Just checking in while I write, survive, and thrive (well, try to anyway). Lately I've been...

Making: little to no time for the things that sustain me . . . reading, exercising, going out with my girlfriends, blogging. A change is coming!

Cooking: meatloaf muffins and smashed, cheesy cauliflower.  It's the way I get my little person to eat her veggies.

Drinking: way too much coffee. Little Miss TJ's daycare puts it out every morning for parents, so I (over)indulge.

Reading: one of my doctoral student's papers on equity in mathematics education. She's got it, y'all. Total star in the making. I'm going to take some credit. :)

Wanting: a new Fitbit, but one that I wear like a watch.  I just washed the One that you clip to your bra/pocket. This is #3.

Looking: at comforters to redecorate our master bedroom.  It is the barest space in the house. I'm designing with the word "sexy sanctuary" in mind.

Playing: games on my phone as I think through an article I'm trying to write that's giving me the blues.

Wasting: time when I should be grading papers. Same answer as before. At least I'm consistent.

Wishing: for a nap.

Enjoying: watching Little Miss TJ make sense of the world.

Um...could y'all hurry up?!? I'm Easter fresh. It's time to style on the other babies.
Waiting: for my final meeting of the day.

Liking: Brooklyn's Own by Joey Badass. 

Wondering: What Little Miss TJ is doing at school right now.

I hate that she has to wear uniforms, but we find ways to jazz it up. 

Loving: the idea of being a Slow Professor. Busy culture is overrated.

Hoping: that my rental property sells really soon. Say a prayer for me.

Marveling: at my awesome wash & go from the other day. It's all about product and application.

First wash & go EVER in almost 17 years! This pic doesn't even come
close to showing y'all how my curls were *popping* in person

Wondering: if Sesame Place is a too much for Little Miss TJ's 2nd birthday. Lord Jesus, she's almost 2 years old.

Needing: a solo vacation.

Smelling: like Givenchy Ange ou Demon. Mmmm.

Wearing: the same shit over and over because I refuse to give up on fitting all of my pre-baby clothes.

Following: some fun new mommy blogs, which inspired me to visit my own.

Noticing: that things run so much smoother when I plan ahead. Duh.

Creating: beautiful programs for my sister's wedding. It was awesome.

Knowing: that I need to network rub some elbows at a conference this weekend.

Thinking: how can I carve out meaningful time with my husband and myself. Life is so go, go, go at the moment.

Bookmarking: cute haircuts. It's almost time for another big chop!

Giggling: at my group text messages. Mess. LOL.

Feeling: like I have something really special to give the world, but I haven't quite tapped into it yet. It's coming.

What have y'all been up to? What are you thinking, making, marveling?

Until next time . . . 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Achievement gap at infancy...What?!?

I used to want to teach kindergarten.  Since Little Miss TJ has entered my life, my interest in early childhood education has been reignited.

My husband and I trade child-rearing and educational articles for sport.  He sent me this article, and it has been circulating in my education social media feeds all day. It sent me over the edge in a way that I didn't expect. I think the title is what triggered me. It is rooted in deficit thinking and language.

I call BS on some of this article. I get the point of it and the intention, but I still call BS.

If you've been reading for a while, you know I can't get into achievement gap rhetoric in the first place.

Achievement gap in infancy? Get out of here.  What about honoring the knowledge that children bring with them to school, and what about addressing issues of longstanding social injustice? Time and time again, we've seen that when we (1) address social issues AND (2) equip parents with knowledge and skills, kids thrive. Folks always want to fixate on Step 2 and ignore Step 1.  I think that's why I'm so annoyed.

We're forcing too much inauthentic learning down kids' throats anyway. Who gives a damn if your baby can read? If they were meant to read, they'd have fully developed language. Besides, experts in early child education have said that PLAY is the best way to grow little minds.  You mean to tell me the little ones referenced in the article don't have imagination and know how to play? They have to learn how to do a lot with a little, and if that isn't imagination and innovation, I don't know what is.  There is a "gap" because people are putting too many academic rigors on babies and not addressing larger social and institutional forces at play. And while we're on gaps, lets talk about opportunity and exposure gaps instead of achievement gaps that put the problem on the shoulders of kids.

Here's the thing, and I don't know how to dress this up nicely - They (meaning the systems that be) will never give poor, Black kids the kind of play-based education research has shown that young kids need and that affluent parents pay top dollar to give their kids (I'm presently on the hunt).  They'll keep forcing reading down 4-year olds' throats and calling them dumb when they don't rise to the occassion. This isn't to say some little ones don't have the natural desire, inclination, or ability to do so, but it's ok if they don't. Some children need more time than others.  We have to learn how to let children develop on their own terms (barring any serious issues) and stop panicking every time they don't hit some developmentally inappropriate target.  CAN THE KIDS LIVE?!?!

After reading the actual report the article cites, I feel a little more at ease, but I'm still coming down.

Until next time . . . let's encourage policy makers to read some early childhood research.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Guest Post: Hubby's Musings on ATCQ

Hey, y'all.

I'm still here.  Just trying to figure out how to juggle it all.  I won't even fix my fingers to write about balancing it all, because I think balance is a farce, at least for me.

My husband stays on me about blogging.  I miss it.  I love it; I've just got to figure out how to juggle it.  In the meantime, he had a little something on his mind about the A Tribe Called Quest reunion tour that he needed to get off of his chest.  Remember, we're hard core music lovers.

This is serious business for us. So here's the scenario:

If you want to know more about his musical tastes, follow him here or here.


I know there is a lot of energy around this Tribe Called Quest reunion and what might happen afterward. I will saythat I am conflicted on some of the aftermath from this reunion. Here are a couple of things I do and don't want to see:

I DO want to see a tour. I attended the shows they had for Rock the Bells, and both years they put on great performances. Similar to Outkast or even Lauryn Hill, the nostalgia bump always makes what could be an okay show seem great when you start reciting Check the Rhyme or Bonita Applebum. There was animosity during one of the tours as seen in their documentary, and shows were still dope. I believe the continued beef will not affect them having a great show (but it may cut the tour short).

I DO want to see an album of unreleased material. I know that tracks like these are usually leftover for a reason - they were subpar to the actual material that was released. However, Tribe was so ahead of others that their sh!t still sounds better than 70% of the sh!t out today. I will bump that number up to 80% if you are between 29 and 34 and 95% if you are 35 and older. I am sure amongst these tracks are some gems. Couple that with possible unreleased Ummah tracks (check Wikipedia if you don't know who that group is), that makes me even more excited at what's floating around in that vault.

Finally, I DO NOT want to see a new album from ATCQ. Sure we yearn for this like a new Outkast or Lauryn Hill album; however I will point out exhibit A (like that subtle Jay Electronica reference?) as to why I don't want to see this. Gentlemen of the jury, I present the recent Dr. Dre release, Compton. We have been fiendin' for the follow up to Chronic 2001, and this what we got. After the hype and social media over reaction wore off, what you were left with was a lackluster effort from the good Doctor. While I hate to compare albums, I will compare an artist's output and this just didn't meet his previous work. Maybe it was the ghost writers or "co-producers" but the album just isn't very good to me....Back to Tribe, I want to keep them off the mic and not sully their legacy. Think about how disappointed you would be if you didn't get that same thrill and feeling you had when you listened to Low End Theory or Midnight Marauders. Hell, even The Love Movement and Beats, Rhymes, and Life were great albums; they unfortunately followed two all-time great records. I would equate this to Nas's Illmatic vs. It Was Written. Listen to It Was Written now and you will realize that it was an amazing album that rightfully would have a hard time eclipsing what people consider the greatest hip hop album of all time. Tribe would have the same issue only worse because of the lapse of time in releases.

So to wrap up, stay out of the booth but take your act on the road, ATCQ. Couple yourselves with De La Soul, and that would be a well attended show. Team up with Outkast, and y'all are selling out arenas. A man can dream.

Until next time, my wife and I will leave you with our unwavering love of ATCQ and each other - our first dance to Bonita Applebum.