Thursday, June 30, 2011

Near the end of May I drafted a list of summer resolutions – several very lofty goals for the months of June and July. I was certain I’d be able to accomplish them all since, as an educator, I have two entire months off.  But looking back over those aspirations, I now realize I had essentially set out to accomplish all my life’s goals in 8 weeks and I learned one week into June that wasn’t going to happen.

There was a party I’d been looking forward to attending for weeks. Not only were guests going to receive fabulous swag bags, but the event was also going to give me a chance to network with the editors of a publication I want to freelance for and bring me one step closer to achieving southern belle socialite status. But the same day of the party I went for a run, scheduled a lunch meeting and an interview for a freelance story I was working on, and I had to pack for the skirt! Creative Conference, which I was leaving for the following morning. At the end of the day something had to be sacrificed and that something ended up being the swanky party. I was crushed (especially after I learned what was in those swag bags), but I learned a valuable lesson.

In December, I signed up for Reverb 10, a project designed to help writers and other creatives develop resolutions for 2011 through a series of writing prompts. It was such a success the organizers decided to keep it going and they send out monthly prompts. Just a day after missing what everyone called the best party of the year, I received June’s Reverb prompt which was: What can you let yourself off the hook for?

I instantly knew the answer. When I was a teen I was always eager to be involved in any and every extracurricular activity that wouldn’t cost my parents much money and that would look good on college and scholarship applications. I was so busy with that and my massive amounts of homework that I only slept four hours a night through much of high school. Concerned about my well being, my mother would always say to me, “Baby, the world wasn’t made in a day,” which was her wise Southern mama way of saying, “Girl, chill out!”

Mother really does know best. It’s time I let myself off the hook for accomplishing all these crazy summer goals. Yes, I’ll continue networking and freelancing, but to think I’m going to become a one-woman media empire in two months is ridiculous.

The world wasn’t made in a day and my writing dreams won’t come true in two months. And finally I’ve realized, that’s OK. Thanks, mom. 

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Man, the mailbox at Georgia Mae headquarters is bursting with Love Letters questions. If we haven't answered yours yet, never fear. We'll answer every single one in time.

Keep 'em coming, as my boy Keith would say.

Send your inquiries to, or find me on twitter @etbowser. Just provide your initials, or a fun nickname. 

Here's today's question:
I have a Facebook friend that I don't know very well but I want to get to know him better. I find him really interesting. How do I approach him without looking desperate or like a cyber stalker?

Computer Lover

I mentioned in my last post that social media gets a bad rap in the dating game. Sure, you'll find some creepy losers on Internet dating sites, but you'll find just as many creepy losers at your local church.

You know those old pimps who unbutton the top five buttons on their silk shirt, unleashing their chest hairs upon the world while reeking of Old Spice and chicken wings - not a good look.

As I said last week, recognizing a good mate is much more important than where you find him or her. So if you wanna do some Facebook mackin', feel free.

But how do you build a relationship with someone you can't physically see? It's not as hard as you'd think.

Thanks to running my mouth on Facebook, Twitter and Georgia Mae, I've made lots of new friends, some whom I talk to nearly every day but have never met in person. We established that friendship the same way all friendships are created - through common interests.

That's what you should do. Engage conversations with him. Find out what he likes. For example, if you know he's a music fan, post on his page, "hey, did you check out those raggedy BET Awards? has a great review, I think you'd like it."

I love cheap plugs for our blog.

Establish a dialogue. People put all their business on Facebook anyway, use that to your advantage. Everyone likes status comments, so if the guy is having a bad day, offer words of encouragement. If something cool happens, congratulate him. Just don't go overboard. Bombarding his page with comments and tracking his every move WILL make you look like a cyber stalker. Just take things slow. It'll also give you a chance to see if this guy is really the one for you.

Although earlier I compared the way I build FB friendships to how you can build FB relationships, they are not exactly one and the same.  I'm confident you can plant the seeds for a relationship via social media, but it's very unwise to START a relationship via social media. At some point, you'll have to meet this guy face to face and see if there is a physical attraction and chemistry.

Yes, I often preach that looks aren't the most important thing, but um, you kinda have to like what your dude looks like in person. What looks like Robin Thicke online could look like Robin Leach for real. Same goes for his personality. He may SEEM cool in those status updates, but you must spend time with him in the real world to know for sure. Don't get too caught up in his online persona.

Social media's greatest strength is making connections. Use that to your advantage, but don't rely on it. Even in the today's high-tech world, nothing beats old school "courtin'," as the creepy old church dudes say.
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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

By now, Georgia Mae fans have heard me harp on endlessly about my favorite artists, especially Keith Sweat and the Notorious B.I.G.

But rarely do I get the chance to mention another of my all-time favorites, Missy Elliott. Missy, who hails from my hometown, Portsmouth, Va., has used her insane creativity to become arguably the greatest female hip hop artist of all time.

But besides sparse cameos and a couple of production credits, Misdemeanor has been laying low since her last album, The Cookbook, was released in 2005. Finally, we now know why, thanks to the newest installment of Vh1's Behind the Music. From

According to Brad Abramson, executive producer for Missy's VH1 Behind the Music (premiering June 29) the visionary suffered from painful health problems. "Missy was great and very candid. She talked for the first time about her [near fatal bout with] Graves disease, which she's been battling for the last few years, and spoke in detail about the sexual abuse she experienced as a child." Missy opened up about her fight with the autoimmune disease even more saying: "You live with it the rest of your life. I couldn't write because my nervous system was so bad. I couldn't even use a pen."

Graves disease is an incurable autoimmune disorder caused by an overactive thyroid. Despite the illness, Missy vows that a comeback will happen in the foreseeable future.

Check your local listings and peep Missy's Behind the Music tonight. To get you in the mood, relive the greatest music video ever made:

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My pal La'Shara Long and I at the Magic City Meetup

Is the current love for natural hair a movement or just a fad? That’s a question that many people, including yours truly, have been asking lately. 

Saturday afternoon I attended the Magic City Natural Hair Meetup, a gathering of hundreds of naturalistas from the Birmingham and Atlanta area. While cruising the streets of downtown Birmingham in search for a parking space I couldn’t help but smile as I saw lines of natural hair beauties walking toward the convention center where the event was held.

The event featured vendors selling handmade jewelry and natural cosmetics, a hilarious comedian who goes by the name FunnyMaine, music, giveaways, and a panel discussion with natural hair stylists. But, honestly, I didn’t attend the event for any of those reasons.

I went in part because I was eager to mix and mingle with my fellow naturalistas. It’s strange that even though I’ve been natural for nearly a decade I didn’t start to feel a part of the natural hair community until recently.

I attended the event with one of the ladies I met through the group Birmingham Natural Beauties, which I’ve written about before. Just the week before she, some other gals from the group, and I went to an art party together. The beauty of the natural hair community is not just our cute coils and curls. The beauty of this is that while we naturalistas may initially come together because of our hair we eventually begin to form genuine friendships as we find we have even more in common.

Another thing that drew me to the event was the fact that Keisa Sharpe was the keynote speaker. Sharpe, also known as The Natural Hair Diva, has been doing great things for Birmingham’s natural hair community by organizing meetups and panel discussions and through her website, for which I’ve had the opportunity to write. She was even featured in Jet magazine earlier this year.

Sharpe’s talk was quite inspiring and I was particularly struck by a comment she made about the natural hair movement being so much bigger than our big hair. And she’s so right. Deciding to wear my hair in its naturally curly state, despite the fact that nearly everyone in my life insisted that to look my best I had to have straight hair, was about more than changing my hairstyle. As I was embracing my curls I was also embracing my quirks.

“Natural hair is not about how we look,” Sharpe said. “It’s about accepting who we are.” 
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Monday, June 27, 2011

Just days after the second anniversary of Michael Jackson's death, his iconic Thriller jacket has been sold - for $1.8 million! From

The red and black jacket, winged shoulders and all, that the late pop star wore during his zombie-ridden "Thriller" video fetched a $1.8 million bid at this weekend's Julien's auction in Beverly Hills, California, according to the auctioneer's website.

Maybe I should put my MJ jacket up for bid. Wonder how much I'd get for it?

For those of you wondering who will receive that $1.8 million, let me give you a hint. It won't be his children, his mother, his creditors, or even papa Joe:

Part of the proceeds will go toward the Shambala Preserve where Jackson's two Bengal tigers, Thriller and Sabu, have been living the past five years.
Yes, MJ's cats are now richer than we will ever be. Doesn't it make you want to yell and grab your crotch?
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A couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation with a kid in my church youth group about the BET Awards:

Kid: "I can't wait till June 26!"
Me: "Why, are you up for parole?"
Kid: "No, it's the BET Awards!"
Me: "Ugh, don't remind me..."
Kid: "You don't like them? I love them. Except when they do those dumb tributes."
Me: "What? That's the best part of the show."
Kid: "Not really. I mean, who still cares about Gerald Levert?"
The boy is recovering well from his surgery to have my Stacy Adams removed from his rectum.

For those of you wisely watched the premier of True Blood instead of BET, here's what you missed:

1. How sad is it that MC Lyte, a hip hop pioneer, will be known by this generation of fans as "the BET intercom lady?"

2. I'm not a huge Kevin Hart fan, but his opening monologue was great. And he asked Diddy the question the world has been asking - where IS Craig Mack?

3. Rick Ross wishes every day he could be Biggie Smalls. He even wore his Notorious B.I.G. Versace tribute outfit. But why did he have to have his man boobs flapping in the breeze? Conceal your man-maries, playa.

4. Who can tell the difference between Ace Hood and Lil Wayne? I think the Predator was sleeping around in the 80s.

5. So BET made up an award, proclaimed "a tie," and sent Jaden and Willow Smith home with statues? Makes you wonder how Will and Jada shelled out for that.

6. Icki Nicki Garbaj is the fakest, most insincere woman alive. Did she really believe that winning an award with no viable contenders was a surprise? There was no way the "Knuck If You Buck" chick or Master P's demon seed was winning the Female Hip Hop Award.

7. Wonder how far BET's ratings plummeted when nearly everyone switched to True Blood after the first hour?

8. Wasn't it a shame that our Progressive Soul artist Mali Music only got 30 seconds of screentime? That's what he gets for singing about Jesus. No time for that, gotta make room for booty shakin!

9. Why didn't y'all tell me Busta Rhymes was with child? He looked like he's in his third trimester.

10. Wanna learn more about my Cousin Chris Brown? Listen to the man himself: "Public speaking ain't my strong suit..." Public beatings, on the other hand...

11. Thank you Alicia Keys and Bruno Mars' hairpiece for the night's first decent performance. Was I the only one expecting that thing to jump off his head and sing "Grenade?"

12. Big Sean gets to perform and Keith Sweat was nowhere to be found. There is no justice. Big Sean needs to step his game up - why did he hit the stage out of breath? I blame the sagging skinny jeans.

13. Didn't you feel bad as Johnny Gill stumbled and fumbled on stage? Even Richard T. Jones was embarrassed. 

14. Speaking of back in the day, didn't Cherelle and that Keith Sweat clone Alexander O'Neal make the old school look, well, old and uneducated? I had no desire to listen to Alex scream "Saturday Love" through his three remaining teeth.

15. Who enjoyed Trey Songz's horrid performance? If he was as concerned with singing as he was stripping, maybe his set would have been better.

16. Kelly Rowland's performance was a bit better. Aren't you glad she borrowed Darkwing Duck's outfit for the occasion?

17. I love Patti LaBelle, and Marsha Ambrosius' tribute stole the show hands down. Pastor Shirley "the Good Witch" Ceaser was pretty good too, but I hope she gives me more than 50 cents the next time I lose a tooth. But Cee-Lo? The man was dressed like an eyelash brush.

18. What in the world happened with the Viewers' Choice Award? The poor guest presenter said on her Twitter account that the iPad thingy she was reading said Chris Brown was the winner, the teleprompter said Rihanna, but Drake came out and took the award. BET should feel bad for embarrasing that girl - but she should already be embarrassed for claiming to be Nicki Minaj's biggest fan on national TV.

19. Did y'all notice Lil Wayne getting higher and higher as the show went on? One more performance and they would have had to wheel him offstage in a wagon. On another note, DJ Khaled seemed to enjoy crashing every other performance. It gave him a chance to show off his vast array of Walmart windbreakers.

20. Beyonce proved to be the smartest person of the night. She had enough sense to not even show up, instead performing remotely from England. But how much you wanna bet that most people were more concerned with the so-called "Illuminati pyramid" on her set?

See you next year, and hopefully not a moment sooner.
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This week's artist is so obscure that even her Facebook page has only a few words in the info box.  She hails from Toronto and lists Amerie, Kelis, and Paramore as some of her influences. She has a sound that is reminiscent of 90s R&B. Enjoy! 

Progressive Soul Mondays: Opening Minds and erradicating foolery, coonery, and bufoonery one Monday at a time®

-- Desiree

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Before there was Dwayne Carter, before there was Shawn Carter, there was Clarence Carter. 

I've mentioned on this blog before that one of my favorite Christmas songs is Carter's "Back Door Santa" (hangs head in shame). Well, I figured more people should know about his soul music goodness and I recently nominated Carter's "Slip Away" to be included in The Ultimate Alabama Playlist. This project is part of a Year of Alabama Music, a yearlong celebration of Alabama's deep musical heritage. 

Check it out and then submit a nomination of your own. 
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Most women know the frustration that often comes with making a gynecological appointment. You call with an important question or concern only to be told the doctor can see you in about 3 months! But Dr. Mia Cowan of MiBella Gynecology and MiBella Wellness Center never wants that to happen to her patients. It is her compassion for women that makes Dr. Cowan, a proud Birmingham native, the perfect example of a Birmingbelle. Read on to learn more about her.

When and why did you start your own practice?

On November 1, 2010 our doors opened for MiBella Gynecology and MiBella Wellness Center.
I wanted to start a practice where I could give high-quality health care and customer service to my patients.  I wanted efficient patient scheduling, the opportunity to give top-notch patient care and customer service to all of my patients in a relaxing, spa-like environment.  My goal is to provide superior and compassionate gynecology services to adolescents and women of all ages with emphasis on prevention and lifelong wellness. I knew I had to create this practice myself, because I have not seen a gynecology practice out there that accomplishes all of my goals.

What does your practice offer women of Birmingham that the state-of-the-art hospitals in town cannot? 

My patients don’t have to wait for over 5 minutes usually to start their experience at MiBella.  I sit down and talk to all of my patients, and answer all of their questions.  I have privileges at five of the state-of-the art hospitals in town, so if they need to go to the hospital for surgery or other reasons, they can choose the hospital they prefer.  So not only do I offer an intimate, personable office environment I can also use the state of the art facilities in Birmingham to treat my patients when necessary.

You were born and raised in Birmingham and after going to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for medical school and residency, you were eager to return. What do you love about this city? 

I love the friendly people, the great weather, the hot summers, the great restaurants, the new growth, my family and friends and all of the talented entrepreneurs and skilled people that I have the opportunity to collaborate with.  Though it’s a small city compared to some, we have attractions and opportunities that a lot of cities our size may not have.

What would you like to change about Birmingham? 

280 traffic jams. 

How do you feel you're making a difference in the city? 

I am able to offer my patients impeccable health care, as well as education and prevention for total wellness.  I also have the opportunity to educate different communities throughout the city by participating in our many community events. 

Are you a Birmingbelle? If you would like be featured in this column email me at 

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The weekend is almost here! Let's celebrate with some throwback albums.

Here's what Edward is listening to:

D'Angelo, Brown Sugar (1995)

Edd said: Many of my friends consider me insane for thinking this but I'm not a fan of soul man D'Angelo's highly-touted sophomore album, Voodoo. It's way too moody and sleepy for my tastes. They say I don't "get it." I "get it" all right - I get sleepy. I think that D'Angelo's best work by far is his mid-90s debut. D'Angelo merged  70s soul, funk and hip hop into an instant classic, which in time would pave the way for the neo-soul movement. Brown Sugar is laid back and smooth, but never dull and meandering. Go ahead, keep playing practicing your boring Voodoo; I'll be entertained by much sweeter sounds.

Also check out:


"Me And Those Dreamin' Eyes of Mine"

What's on Javacia's playlist?:

Mariah Carey, Butterfly (1997)

Jai said: Say what you want about Mariah Carey's nervous breakdowns, outrageous shoe collection, and peculiar taste in men, but the girl can sang!  And if you can get over her ridiculous album titles you'll realize the girl also can write. The lyrics of the songs from her Butterfly album stand above most R&B and pop releases as she paints vivid pictures and evokes emotion with her stories of love lost and found. 

Also check out:

"Fourth of July"

Now, it’s your turn. Email, hit us up on Twitter @etbowser or @writeousbabe, or stop by the comments section and share your Flashback Friday album. Leave a couple of sentences describing what makes it so great. We’ll feature your album on the blog.
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

The search for your perfect mate ends here!

Well, probably not. But read on, I'll help you out. Come here for honesty, not optimism.

Send your inquiries to, or find me on twitter @etbowser. Just provide your initials, or a fun nickname. 

Here's today's question:
Where are the eligible brothers at?

On the prowl

Man, you should have told me. I just stopped by Target. I could have picked up a couple Eligible Brothers on the aisle with the black-eyed peas and the baby butt cream.

Makes your skin as smooth as a baby's bottom! But I guess that's the point.

I hate when ladies say "where da good men at?" like they can be snatched off the shelves at Walgreens. Men are also guilty of this when searching for the perfect woman.

Sorry, playas, anything worth having takes work.

By "work," I don't mean spending tons of money, e-stalking or texting your victim for hours on end. Depsite what you've been told, those are dead ends. First, ladies, you need to work on yourselves.

Time for some self-examination - are you ready to be in a committed relationship? Are you still hanging on to somebody from the past? Are you bitter and jaded following a bad breakup? If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, stop reading this right now and join us for next week's column. Unfortunately, your vision is so clouded that you'd likely miss a good thing if he came along.

If your focus is clear, where can you lay your eyes on your prize? Um, pretty much anywhere. At work, at church, at school, at the coffee shop, at the bookstore, at the automotive shop, at Bed Bath and Beyond - we good men are everywhere. Don't sit at home with your arms folded saying "there ain't no good men NOWHERE" - get up and get out. Your soul mate won't randomly burst through the wall.

Unless your soul mate is made of glass and filled with ghetto nectar.

I'm convinced there are even good guys in maligned places like the club or on Internet dating sites. I have at least three friends who have found their spouses in those places and they've all been married for years.

The reason why good guys seem to be so hard to find is because in the haste to find Mr. Right, ladies settle for just about anything - Mr Right Now, Mr. Right Tonight, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, any old loser will do. Recognize what you want in a guy and refuse to settle for less. My family used to give me grief because I was so picky in my dating days. My grandma would say: "You'll never get a wife being so picky." My reply? "Guess you ain't getting any grandkids. I'm not settling."

I have a wife and sadly, grandma still doesn't have any grandkids.

Anyway, finding eligible brothers is easy if you: 

- Are willing to be a great partner

- Recognize a good guy when you see one

- Have patience

Good men are all around. It's just easy to miss 'em if you lack focus.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

When I was 15 years old I decided I wanted to one day start my own magazine. That dream pushed me to study journalism and English (with a focus in creative writing) in college and to go on to get a master’s in journalism with a concentration in magazine writing and publishing. After graduation I took a job at a lifestyles weekly in Louisville, Ky., and felt I was on my way. But things changed. My dream was interrupted. I married a man who will NEVER move to New York (which is where I was convinced I would have to live to start a magazine).  My desire to teach, which first arose when I was in undergrad, grew stronger. And the economy tanked, leaving journalism one of the most devastated industries.

Yesterday 50 employees at the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., were laid off as part of a 700-person staff reduction across all of parent company Gannett’s newspapers nationwide. My first journalism internship and my first full-time journalism job were at The Courier-Journal. Many of those people laid off were people with whom I worked long, grueling days and nights. Many of those people are my friends.

I mourn for them and, selfishly, I mourn for my own dreams. People constantly say that print journalism is dead and I’m quick to say, “No. It’s simply evolving and experiencing growing pains.” But after yesterday I’m not so sure. My faith in journalism has been shaken to the core.

Those of you who know me may think I shouldn’t care because I “got out” in time. But be clear that I left my former job two years ago for a new career in education because I was unfulfilled in my position and there was no opportunity for advancement, and because I really wanted to teach. I did not leave because I gave up on journalism. In fact, since the day I handed in my letter of resignation I’ve been seeking more and more freelancing opportunities.

Recently, that old dream of mine resurfaced. Suddenly I want to launch that magazine again and I’m convinced I can do it right here in the South. And after yesterday I want to do it right now so I can give jobs to all my friends who were laid off. But why on earth would anyone want to start a magazine now and how exactly am I supposed to do this with no startup money and while maintaining a career in education? I have no idea. But maybe I’ll keep rambling on this blog until I figure it out. And it sure would be great for all of you to come along for the ride.  

In the meantime, please keep my Louisville newspaper pals in your thoughts and prayers.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011



(To be released June 28, 2011)

Beyonce's fourth album, the creatively titled 4, leaked a month early. Everyone else has reviewed it at this point; eh, I figured I might as well weigh in too.

Sorry I'm tardy for the party.

The blogosphere nearly imploded a  couple of weeks ago when the album hit the 'Net, but I dragged my feet on checking it out. I may have a PhD (Playa Hater's Degree) but even I can't deny that Beyonce is the No. 1 pop artist in the world - and has reigned on top for quite a few years now. Still, she's never had a definitive five-star album. In fact, besides 2006's B'Day, her albums haven't really moved me.

One reason for my apathy is Bey's schizophrenic personality. Even though she's released scores of songs since 1997, B. Carter has only shown us two sides of her soul: domineering diva that demands wedding rings and teases dudes via video phone; and lovelorn lady with her head in the clouds, dreaming of halos and how things would be different if she were a boy. Her last album, 2008's I Am ... Sasha Fierce, encouraged that divide - each disc was dedicated to one aspect of her Two-Face-like persona.

Before its release, word around the campfire was that 4 was a "step in a new direction" and featured "bold new sound" - you know, the usual pre-album-release rhetoric. Surprisingly, there is truth to that. 4 sounds nothing like any Beyonce album you've ever heard.

Despite contributions from a wide array producers (including The-Dream, Kanye West, Frank Ocean and Diane Warren) most of the album has a consistent sound - sort of a bizarre blend of big band and Mowtown R&B. And Bey's vocals are very forceful on nearly every track this time around.

No, no, no. Sorry Fantasia, I said "forceful," not "screechy." Beyonce teeters the fine line of hard inflections and flat-out hollerin'. 'Tasia needs to learn that trick.

4 works best when Beyonce borrows a bit from her Sasha Fierce and her, um, Sasha Tame personalities. The best song on the album, "I Miss You" is more than a just a sappy longing for love. Bey's forceful vocals give it an edge that transform the typical pining into desperation and frustration.  Those layers provide a different feel - a depth that Bey has long needed. "I Care" isn't as stellar, but follows that same blueprint.

"Best Thing I Never Had" is more or less "Irreplaceable Part 2," with tons more emotion heaped on. Expect to hear it on every radio station from now till December - "Sucks to be you right now" will be the catchphrase of the summer. The funky "Party" (featuring a Keith Sweat shout-out!) is a nice 80s throwback - even Andre 3000 emerges from the side of a milk carton to provide the usual outstanding verse. Again, Beyonce peppers  the song with her new inflections: "I told my girls you can GET IT" - trust me, it works a lot better than you'd imagine.

The album is predominately ballad heavy, and unfortunately Bey often slips into her un-Fierce comfort zone. On tracks like "I Was Here" and especially "1+1," even her new vocal tricks ("one plus one equal TWO!") can't save them from sounding like rejects from the I Am... album.

On the other side of the coin, "Run The World" is a typical growling girl-power anthem, straight from the Sasha Fierce playbook. Like I said a couple of months ago, it's too loud and frantic - in fact, there's too much emotion here. It's way too tough to digest with Bey going ballistic like the Tazmanian devil.  But Fantasia probably thinks it's too low-key.

4 doesn't successfully merge Bey's Jekyll and Hyde, but it does keep her promise of giving us a new sound. 4 is no B'Day, but it's also like nothing else out there right now.

Who runs the (pop) world? Beyonce. If you don't believe that, she'll yell at you - but sound great while doing it.

Best tracks: "I Miss You," "Party," "Best Thing I Never Had"

3.5 stars out of 5
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Monday, June 20, 2011

Just a couple of weeks ago I wondered aloud where Amy Winehouse had disappeared to.

Should have known, Winehouse is back in the crack house.

Check out her performance in Belgrade, where she's high on everything but life:

Her performances in Istanbul and Athens have been canceled, thankfully. A rep says Amy realizes "she cannot perform to the best of her ability." Well, duh. Not only was that "performance" a waste of concert-goers' hard-earned money, that child seemed as if she was about 30 seconds away from diving head-first off the stage. Who was the genius that decided she was OK to go on stage anyway?

I hope Amy pulls herself together soon. I don't want to have to write another obit for Georgia Mae.
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Posted by in , ,  on 8:28 AM 1 comment
If you think my closet is this clean, you obviously don't know me well.
image via

I spent most of the afternoon yesterday organizing my closet -- something I'd been putting off for weeks, actually months. I'm married to Edward Bowser, a man who owns so many suits he's lost count, a dress shirt in any color you can imagine, and a pair of pants to go with each one. Therefore, I don't have much closet space. Couple that with the fact that our dresser drawers are ridiculously shallow, the result is an unsightly pile of clothing by the side of my bed, another pile on the floor of my side of the closet, and dressers drawers so stuffed they won't close. Meanwhile, Edd's side of the closet and dresser are perfectly organized and therefore lowering my self esteem.

I'd been dreading organizing my wardrobe because I thought it would take several hours to try to find a place for everything. I looked at the job ahead of me and sighed, knowing that I'd be up until midnight trying to complete this mammoth of project. As I went through my clothes I kept finding jackets, sweaters, dresses, pants and tops I hadn't worn in years, but I'd held on to these items "just in case." Just in case of what, I couldn't tell you. But I'd moved these clothes across state lines and time zones nonetheless. But yesterday I decided to simply let them go. I filled two huge garbage bags with clothes and then I moved on and finished organizing my closet before dinner time. 

Standing there in my now nice and neat closet it I realized I'd just learned a life lesson. When we let go of the junk we've been carrying around for years, things for which we clearly have no use, it's easier to move on, it's easier to get the job done -- whatever that job may be. This week take some time figure out what you need to let go of in order to move on. And while you're thinking, clean out your closet. 
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Friday, June 17, 2011

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Last week this time I was on the road heading to Atlanta, Georgia for what would become a life changing weekend. June 10-12 I attended the skirt! Creative Conference, an amazing event at the W Hotel – Midtown designed specifically women writers and organized by skirt! magazine. Never before have I been in an environment in which I was surrounded by women who understood my passions and dreams and who really seemed to want me to succeed even though they’d only known me a few hours or a few minutes even. Any attempt to describe how great the weekend was will fail miserably, but I’ve been blogging about the conference over at my skirt! blog and on the See Jane Write blog, if you’re interested.

One session was so good I had to share my reflections with my readers as well.

The folks at the skirt! Creative Conference surely know how to save the best for last. The workshops and talks on Friday and Saturday had been so informative and so inspirational I could returned to Birmingham Saturday night and felt I got my money’s worth. But, boy am I glad I stuck around.

Sunday’s keynote speaker was Claire Cook (pictured above), author of the best-selling novel Must Love Dogs, on which the 2005 romantic comedy of the same name was based.

Cook is one of the most down-to-earth writers I’ve ever met. She has this generous spirit that’s so bright it’s contagious. And she’s a woman who believes in sisterhood and solidarity. In fact, near the beginning of her talk she shared a famous quote by Madeleine Albright: "There's a place in Hell reserved for women who don't help other women." 

Cook gave us practical advice, such as: Collect email addresses everywhere you go. Add your Facebook and Twitter sites to your business cards. The best way to become a better writer is to become a voracious reader. Choose one project and work on it wholeheartedly until it’s complete instead of dabbling in too much at once.

But the real message I took from her talk was simply love yourself, love other people, work hard and play nice.

Love yourself. Stop trying to imitate your favorite author or trying to write the kind of book that seems to be popular these days. Write your story. What is the thing about you that gives you a book only you can write? Tap into that and write from that place. Novelist Emily Giffin, who wrote Something Borrowed (also adapted for film) and a host of other books, spoke at the conference and she too gave this advice.   

Love other people. When you’re trying to make it big as a writer, or whatever your career of choice may be, it’s tempting to only look out for yourself, to only focus on your goals. This is a mistake. Cook has spent years offering free workshops to people, especially women, because she wants to help others. But by helping others you often indirectly help yourself as you build a name for yourself and build a community of supporters who will be your biggest fans.

Work hard. When working on a novel, Cook commits to writing two pages every day. Period. No exceptions. Set a similar rule for yourself so you can complete your project.

Play nice. The Must Love Dogs movie almost didn’t happen, but it did mostly because Cook is a kind person. Gary David Goldberg revoked his initial offer to make the movie, but instead of burning bridges and breaking ties, Cook wrote him a thank you note showing gratitude for even being considered. This started a great friendship and when Goldberg was once again in a position to make the film he did. And Cook made enough money to put her kids through college.

Because I’m a feminist, Cook’s dedication to helping other women obviously stood out to me most and it really encouraged me too. Never again will I doubt the work I do with organizing groups such as See Jane Write. At the end of her talk one of the women in the audience said, “If it’s true that there’s a special place in Hell for women who don’t help other women, there must be a special place in Heaven for you.” To me that is the greatest compliment a woman could ever receive. 
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Happy Friday! What 'chu listening to?

@artblt submitted this gem via Twitter:

Sisqo, Unleash the Dragon (1999)

@artblt said, "not only R the vocals HOT, but it's still rockable! #realmusic." Poor Sisqo has become a punchline these days, but look beyond the ridiculous hair and you'll find an artist with amazing vocals and showmanship. No, he didn't become the Michael Jackson of the new millennium as some poor souls predicted but he absolutely RULED the spring and summer of 2000.

Go on and say it, you know you want to: "Thong-th-thong-thong-thong"

Also check out:

"Thong Song"

"So Sexual"

What's Javacia playing?:

Fiona Apple, Tidal (1996) 

Jai said: The line "singing my life with his words" from the famous song "Killing Me Softly" is a phrase that always makes me think of Fiona Apple. Ms. Apple seems to have a song for every scenario and situation I tackled in the tumultuous love life I led before Edward and I got hitched.  And even when she sings of something I've never experienced the song still becomes relatable as she pulls you in with her masterful storytelling and poetic lyrics. It's safe to say Fiona Apple is my favorite songwriter, period, and probably always will be. Today I'm listening to Tidal, the album that began our love affair. 

Also check out:

"Slow Like Honey"

"Sleep to Dream"

Now, it’s your turn. Email, hit us up on Twitter @etbowser or @writeousbabe, or stop by the comments section and share your Flashback Friday album. Leave a couple of sentences describing what makes it so great. We’ll feature your album on the blog.
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