Monday, April 30, 2012

Thanks to this column, I'm quickly becoming the Chuck Woolery of the Internetz. I kinda like it. If you have a question for me, read on below. I'll be back in two and two.

Ugh, you have to be as old as me to get that reference. Google it, young'ns.

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

Here's today's question:

I'm not a big flirt and my girls always get on me because I don't know when a guy is flirting with me. How can I tell when a man is flirting?
This is one of those questions where the answer is drastically different depending on the dude. It's definitely not one-size-fits-all. But I'll try my best.

Flirting is one of those abstract characteristics of life that is nearly impossible understand, much like the rising popularity of 2 Chainz.


Image via
He's a horrible rapper and looks like a Stretch Armstrong Lil Wayne, but it's fun to say his name.

Flirtation varies greatly from guy to guy. Some guys flirt subtly, others are so blatantly corny that Quagmire from Family Guy would be embarrassed. Also, if the recipient isn't savvy in the Ways of Flirtation, those pick-up lines will fly right over her head. I've been described by some as a very flirty guy, but the wifey often jokes about not realizing that our first date was actually a real date.

Ugh, this flirting thing is as complicated as nuclear physics. Here are a few hints:

- The Great Inquisition: Ever meet a dude who asks a billion questions? What are you interested in? Where did you grow up? What do you like to eat? Do you have a man? That guy might be flirting. Dudes often do this to test the waters for a first date.

- Magnetic Pull: Let's say you're with a friend or group of women and a guy joins the mix. Does he directly ask for your input in the conversation? Does he frequently and consistently make eye contact with only you?  That guy might be flirting.

- Thanks for the Compliment: Sure, we all like compliments from either sex, but do you constantly get compliments on your hair, dress or fragrance from a certain someone? That guy might be flirting. This, of course, could range from innocent to disgusting ("I love the dress you're wearing, it would look great on the floor next to my bed..."), so watch out.

Ladies, even if you pick up on these clues it's not etched in stone that the guy wants to date you. Maybe he's  just nosy, thinks you're great for conversation or a just a nice guy. There will never be a neon sign hanging over him that says "I wanna date you."

The main thing to remember is that flirtation does NOT equal a marriage proposal. Flirtation usually means "I'd like to get to know you better," not "I want you to birth my baby." Don't take things too far. If you're into a man and think he's flirting with you, there's no harm in letting things progress. Just take things slowly and allow the relationship develop.


Ahem. Sorry.
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Friday, April 27, 2012

Ugh, what a week. We're ready to put this week in the record books - we're sure you are too. Here's some music to help you ride out this last work day.

Edward loves the 90s.

Raekwon, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx (1995)

Edd said: "Wanna know why I constantly reminisce about mid-90s hip hop? Because we were blessed with classic albums seemingly monthly. Raekwon's debut album certainly is among those instant classics. Nearly two decades later, it still holds up."

Also check out:
"Rainy Dayz"
"Incarcerated Scarfaces"

Javacia gives us another classic album from 1995

Faith Evans, Faith (1995)

Jai said: "Faith's debut album is a classic example of why 90s music was so amazing. Every song on this CD could have been a hit. No skipping from track to track here. Just press play and enjoy."

Also check out:
"You Don't Understand"
"Come Over"

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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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Let's kick things off with a little relationship advice, courtesy of the amazing Betty White:

"All creatures must learn to coexist. That's why the brown bear and the field mouse can share their lives in harmony. Of course, they can't mate or the mice would explode."

I'm voting for Betty White in November. But first, here's a little relationship advice from yours truly.

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

Here's today's question:
Why does a desperate-acting woman turn a man off?
Ah, playa. Women - and men, too - make this dating thing so hard. It's really not that serious.

Ladies, look at it like this - would you like a man who calls you incessantly; sends texts all day long instead of, you know, working; spends more time on your own Facebook page than you do; and is constantly bugging your friends about your whereabouts?

Beyonce n' dem had a song about guys like that.

No woman with the sense God gave geese would want a man like that, right? Well, I don't understand women who hate those traits but turn around and do the EXACT SAME THING to guys. Trust me, things like that don't show a man you care - it only comes across as desperation. Desperation does not equal devotion, ladies. Trust me, being overbearing doesn't show a man that you're interested; it just shows that you're overbearing.

Remember The Golden Rule? Apply it to your dating life: Treat your mate like you want to be treated.

It's not rocket science. It's so simple, even a caveman could do it.

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If you want your time and space respected, be sure to respect the time and space of your mate. And it goes both ways - your man should treat you just as well as he wants you to treat him. If not, move on.

Women may be from Venus (Williams) and men might be from (Bruno) Mars, but when it comes down to it, we're not all that different. The same annoyances that bug us are the same things that bother you. Just remember that the next time you decide to text some poor guy for the 19th time from your friend's cell phone.
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Monday, April 23, 2012

My Feminist Parents

I once told my little brother that feminism is in my blood. At the time I’d declared this because of our parents. Our father defies gender roles, in part, by doing all the cooking in the family and, interestingly enough, he learned to cook from his father, who even in 60s and 70s recognized it wasn’t fair to expect women to take care of all household duties. And then there’s our tough-as-nails mother who gave birth to me before she married my father. When others urged her to get hitched ASAP so her child would “have a name” she retorted, “She has a name – mine!”

But recently I learned a few things that make me believe the fight for equality of the sexes really is in my DNA.  

A few of my close relatives recently had their DNA analyzed in an effort to learn more about our heritage (you know, since that whole slavery thing makes this pretty difficult for black people). Being the conspiracy theorist that I can be, I refused to participate convinced it was a scam to collect DNA for the production of clones and other trippy experiments. I told my cousin who spearheaded the project that I’m sure there’s a goat somewhere with her face.

Nonetheless, when the results were in I was eager to know the African region the tests claimed we were from.

According to the findings there's a great chance that we descend from the Pygmy people of central Africa. This wasn’t shocking considering how tiny we are. At a mere 5 feet 4 inches I am the tallest woman on my mom’s side of the family and I’m the same height or taller than most of the men. My cousin with the goat clone is only 4’ 10’’. 

So what does this have to do with feminism? Well, in her new book How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm: Child-Raising Discoveries from Around the World, Mei-Ling Hopgood reveals that the Aka Pygmies of the Central African Republic have one of the most perfect examples of egalitarian parenting. As Johanna Gohmann reports in an article in the April/May 2012 issue of Bust magazine, the book explains that in the Aka world fathers spend almost as much time caring for their babies as the mothers do. Furthermore, labors such as hunting, setting up camp, and cooking are evenly divided and there’s no stigma attached to any of the duties.  If the mother is off hunting, the father might spend the day cradling the baby.  

See! Feminism is in my blood. Maybe.

I guess you can’t really argue that a person inherits political beliefs, but I do believe that perhaps we are all born with a heart for equality and that things like sexism, racism, are homophobia are taught.  So maybe I do have feminism in my blood, and maybe you do too.

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Last Sunday, after weeks and weeks of anticipation, the pilot of the new HBO original series Girls left me utterly disappointed. While I appreciated that the main character Hannah was interesting and complex I found her annoying and not relatable. She’s a spoiled brat with a sense of entitlement that makes me want to vomit and the articles I read about the show prior to the premiere had not prepared me for this. But I gave myself a week to process this. If I accept this about Hannah, I told myself, I will be able to enjoy the next episode more.

Ironically, something that didn’t bother me about the show is the primary thing that has most of its critics abuzz – the lack of diversity. While I agree that it’s pretty ridiculous for a show set in modern-day New York to have no people of color as major characters, I went into the show knowing Hannah and her pals were white, so I’d long gotten over that.

This week I also read an interview with the show’s writer and star Lena Dunham in the April/May 2012 issue of Bust. Dunham’s quotes on feminism made me want to add her to my girl crush list and thoroughly convinced me to give Girls one more chance.

When asked if she is a feminist, Dunham replied: “Of course I’m a feminist; I wouldn’t even know another thing to be.”  She went on to say, “As everyone knows, a little gender-role stuff is fun in the way that Halloween is fun, but too much of it is not a pleasure.”

This woman gets me! So why don’t I get her show?

So yesterday was Girls, take two – my second attempt to fall in love with a show that, since I’m a feminist, I somehow feel obligated to support.

My attitude of acceptance actually helped. Sort of. I found Hannah much more likable this time around and even found characters like Shoshanna interesting and funny. Moreover, I applaud Dunham for tackling issues like abortion and STDs which are hardly ever addressed on television.

Still despite all this I was still constantly checking the clock, eager for the episode to end. But why?

Near the end of the show after Hannah babbles and rambles to the doctor performing her STD test and she recklessly says perhaps she wants to have AIDS, the doctor looks at her and says, “You could not pay me enough to be 24 again.” And then it hit me. I’m too old for this show.

Thanks to good genes and the fact that I’ve never smoked a day in my life I still look like I’m in my early 20s. Thanks to frequent exercise and my obsession with pop culture I still feel like I’m in my early 20s, most of the time. I think the fact that I don’t have children adds to my feelings of youthfulness, too. But regardless of how I look and feel, I’m not in my early 20s. I’m 31. And this show is not for me. As much as I want to deny it, it's time for me to accept I’m not a girl anymore. 
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Friday, April 20, 2012

Well, it didn't take long for Friday to get here this week. We're definitely not complaining. In celebration, join us for some old favorites.

Javacia professes her love for bluegrass.

Ben Sollee, Learning to Bend (2008)

Jai said: "Hailing from my Old Kentucky Home, Ben Sollee picks up his cello and blends bluegrass, folk music, and jazz to create a unique sound that conveys an earnest message of hope."

Also check out:

"I Can't"
"Panning for Gold"

Edward serves up some soul.

Jaheim, Ghetto Classics (2006)

Edd said: "Jaheim never got his just due. Yeah, he often went overboard with his 'soulful thug' persona, but that shouldn't cause you to overlook his great voice. It's like he inherited the soul of Teddy Pendergrass. All his albums are great, but his third set was the strongest."

Also check out:
"Come Over"
"The Chosen One"

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, April 19, 2012

Have you ever wondered if you could use your love for social media as more than just a way to promote your writing, but actually as inspiration for it? That's exactly what digital media strategist and author Monica Leonelle has done with her new book Socialpunk

Socialpunk, the first of a trilogy, is aimed at tech-savvy, social media aficionados who enjoy writing and reading (especially those who are fans of books like Ender's Game and The Hunger Games). The book centers on Ima, who is stuck in a virtual reality. Ima would give anything to escape The Dome and learn what’s beyond its barriers, but the Chicago government has kept all its citizens on lockdown ever since the Scorched Years left most of the world a desert wasteland. When a mysterious group of hooded figures enters the city unexpectedly, Ima uncovers a plot to destroy The Dome and is given the choice between escaping to a new, dangerous city or staying behind and fighting a battle she can never win.

Read on to learn more about Leonelle and her new book. 

Monica Leonelle

How did you get inspired to create the Socialpunk trilogy?  

I was inspired by the city of Chicago, by social media issues in our current world, and by the cyberpunk genre. The book is a bit like the Terminator series and I reference that a couple times just for fun. James Cameron is basically my favorite director ever, and he really inspires me with his world-building and storytelling skills.    
Who is your favorite character in Socialpunk and why?

I would have to say Ima, as she's the main character and the book is told entirely from her point of view. What I love about her is how much she changes from the beginning of the book to the end. She feels very guilty and is constantly struggling with right vs. wrong. She's probably one of my favorite characters out of all the ones I've written.

Tell us in one sentence why we should read your book.

The book is fast-paced and fun and Ima is someone you'll definitely be able to relate to! Plus, there is a character with rainbow-colored hair. Seriously. And you can give people money by pressing a finger to their wrist. Pretty crazy.

What motivated you to start writing?

I've been writing forever! I write a ton almost every day, as it turns out. Writing is the way I express myself, so I just fell into it naturally.

I started a Gen Y blog in 2007 called Twenty Set. It actually gained quite a bit of steam early on, but eventually I moved away from Gen Y topics. The reason I started that blog, though, is because I couldn't clear my mind! I literally just needed to get things out of my system. So I wrote that blog 4-5 times a week for about six months until my ideas stop churning so quickly. My love for writing as an adult grew out of that experience.

Who are some of your favorite authors and what is it that you admire most about them?

C.S. Lewis. I also love contemporaries like J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and Cassandra Clare. They are all great storytellers and have amazing characters and enough tension to keep a story going.

What are some of the biggest mistakes you see bloggers and writers make when it comes to marketing their work?

Three things that I talk about all the time on my Prose on Fire newsletter : 1) They don't focus maniacally on building an audience through an email list, 2) they don't write addictively, using marketing psychology to keep people interested in their work, and 3) they don't launch often enough.

I go into waaay more detail about these in my newsletter.

What advice would you give to someone who dreams of one day publishing a book of her own?  

Patience! It's the worst thing to tell a writer. I hate hearing it too, which is why I'm saying it now. To remind myself to have patience with writing. It's not easy to make a living at it. A lot of people advise that if you can see yourself doing anything besides writing, you should do that instead.

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Time for another stroll down lover's lane. Do you have a question about your mate that's keeping you up at night? I probably have an answer.

Of course I have the answer! Modesty ain't my thing.

Send your inquiries to, or find me on twitter @etbowser. Just provide your initials, or a fun nickname. 
Here's today's question: 

If a man always says that he's rubbed the wrong way when you do things like his ex, is it safe to say that he isn't over her or that he has psychological issues from that relationship?

Hmmm. Let me sit back in my chair, place my fingertips together and ponder this question as only Professor Charles Xavier could.

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Let's be real - it's not uncommon to leave past relationships with a little baggage. I mean, if your guy's last relationship was perfect, he wouldn't have moved on. And it's possible that he moved on to a woman that is somewhat similar to his ex, maybe in looks, personality, beliefs - good and bad. Depending on how fresh that breakup is, or how scarred your dude is from it, it's probably pretty easy to open old wounds - especially if his new lady has traits similar to the old lady.

But since I can't read minds like Professor X, I can't say for sure if your guy is still hung up on his ex or if he needs to be checked into a rubber room. But with a little communication and common sense, you can probably unravel the mystery on your own. No mutant powers necessary.

The next time your dude compares you to his no-good ex, evaluate the situation. Is it during a heated moment like an argument? Does he have a problem with the way you dress or carry yourself? Or does he randomly yell "You eat your Lunchables with one cracker instead of two like my EX!" If that's the case, smack him in the face with that rancid Capri Sun they always put in the Lunchables pack.

Seriously, the next time he rants, ask him what exactly you're doing that bothers him. If he's comparing one of your negative traits to that of his ex (yes, we all have negative traits, nobody's perfect), that might be a wake-up call for you. If those traits were bad enough for him to end the first relationship, I'm sure he'll have no qualms ending the current one.

However, if his complaints are more cosmetic (You wear your hair like my ex! My ex wore that perfume!) that's a red flag. If your guy equates frivolous things with his ex and can't get past them to see the real you, then yeah he's got  issues.

Get your guy to open up and find out what's at the root of his displeasure. If he wants you to quit making the same mistakes as his ex, that's one thing. But if he's trying to change who you are, maybe your man is the problem in all those troubled relationships.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

2pac back! 2pac back! I log on to Facebook and they yellin' 2pac back!

As I'm sure you all know by now, 2pac rose from the grave at Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival last weekend. What also arose is debate about whether this holographic tribute took things too far.

In the magical land of social media, there was much rejoicing. Hip hop fans were not only amazed by the technology (here's a great read on how the holographic illusion was created) but were excited about the future. My Twitter mentions were exploding with requests for Hologram Left Eye, Hologram Jam Master Jay and Hologram Big Pun. Sadly, there was no love for Jem and the Holograms.

Except from this lady:

Of course, there's also the 2Pac fans that proudly proclaimed "see, I knew he won't dead! He looks too real!" like they found a loose Cheeto in a couch cushion.

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 Y'all can go search for Bigfoot while the grown folks talk.

Like everyone else (who has good sense), I was astounded by the technology that created Ghost Pac - but that's where my interest ended. While the hip hop fan in me dearly misses the talents of Aaliyah and The Notorious B.I.G., there's just something weird about watching a faux Baby Girl grinding off beat to "Rock the Boat" or a transparent Biggie lurching around on stage. I love ODB but I have no interest in coming face-to-face with his spectral projection. Word to the ThunderCats.

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Sure, the Pac hologram looked realistic, moved somewhat realistically, and it was cool to see it interact with the crowd but something didn't sit quite right. Maybe it was because no matter how realistic Hologram Pac looked, my eyes couldn't fool my brain - I knew it wasn't THE Pac and I couldn't suspend belief. It was like watching a Resident Evil zombie rapping "Hail Mary." For me, that's when Hologram Pac crossed the line from cool tribute to ghastly gimmick.

Still, as a one-off stunt, I had no problem with Hologram Pac. My problem is with the aftermath. Rumor has it that Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg are considering taking Pac's ghost around with them on tour. That's a bit of a red flag. Every penny has been squeezed from Pac's corpse but now it seems that money can be made from his digital soul.

It's bad enough to repackage old songs ad nauseum in attempt to make a buck, but prancing around a carbon copy of a fallen star seems like exploitation. Plus, it opens the floodgates for all kinds of wackness - don't think Diddy is above pairing up Ghost Biggie and Rick Rawssssse for some ridiculous stunt. Do you really want desperate record execs to throw Ghost Aaliyah on stage with The Creature from the Neon Lagoon to boost sales? Corporate greed knows no bounds.

Hologram Pac was a miracle of modern technology, but in the future, please let our favorites rest in peace. But you know, if current rap wasn't so atrocious, maybe scientists wouldn't have to go grave robbing for talent. Hip hop, step your game up.

What did you think of the holographic 2pac?
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Times are tough for female emcees. Radio is only concerned with She Who Must Not Be Named while emerging artists are forced to into boxes labeled "The Next Foxy Brown," "The Next Lil Kim" or "The Next Missy Elliott."

Camay is thinking outside the box and carving her own path.

Named after the classic track from Ghostface Killah, it's clear Camay knows her hip hop history. She's been cultivating her craft since age 9 - by 13, she had an album's worth of material. The army brat's mobile childhood exposed her to various areas of the country, along with various styles of hip hop. That has shaped her unique style.

The title track from the EP "Judge Me" bucks trends. Camay shows no fear as she bares her soul and lets loose on so-called taboo issues. Camay doesn't need a goofy wig to get noticed. She lets her lyrics tell her story.

For more on Camay, visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

Looking to share your music with the masses? Send a track with a short description about yourself to or hit me up on Twitter @etbowser. If we like what we hear we'll feature you in an upcoming post.
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Monday, April 16, 2012

I really, really wanted to like the new HBO original series Girls.
For weeks I’d been anticipating the premiere with the same eagerness I feel before a new episode of The Misadventuresof Awkward Black Girl. Last night at 9:30 p.m. CST the Girls premiere finally arrived. And 30 minutes I was left utterly disappointed.
Let me say that the show was not bad. At all. In fact, in a way, it’s great, with well-developed characters and clever, quotable dialog. So why was I so disenchanted?
Girls had been touted as the show young women like me would love, that we would watch this show and see ourselves on the screen. But last night I was nowhere to be found. And no, I’m not saying I was sad because all the characters were white. I knew that going in and color has nothing to do with this except perhaps the color green.

The show seems as if it is going to focus primarily on Hannah (played by Lena Dunham, who also writes and directs the show). Hannah is a character with which I thought I’d instantly connect because she’s a writer and dreams of penning a memoir. But the big dilemma she’s currently facing is the fact that her parents have decided to stop supporting her financially. Did I mention she’s 24?

At one point in the episode Hannah’s mother finally says exactly what I was thinking, “Get a job and start a blog!”
There’s much more to the show such as Hannah’s interesting friends, her relationship with a guy who is clearly all wrong for her (something to which I certainly can relate), and her hilarious parents. It seems that body image is an issue that will also be examined. So I tried to focus on these things, but to no avail.

Perhaps the financial hardship I’ve faced in the past has left me jaded. My parents had a tough time making ends meet when I was growing up so I didn’t look to them to provide anything for me beyond essentials like food, shelter, and clothing and once I turned 18 I decided to even let them off the hook for that. I bought my own car and paid my way through college and graduate school with scholarships, loans, and part-time jobs.
Am I judging able-bodied, mentally stable folks who still depend on their parents even after they’re well into their 20s? Maybe. Am I bitter that I’ve had to work so hard all my life? Probably.

In her review of the show for, Porochista Khakpour writes, "The pilot will of course draw sighs and groans, something for some to file under 'first-world problems' and dismiss." I guess she was talking about me.

Still my bitterness never kept me from enjoying the over-the-top posh lifestyle of Carrie Bradshaw and her pals on Sex and the City. Shows and movies like those have this aspirational element that I appreciate. It’s like window shopping or thumbing through magazines (or browsing Pinterest) to look at beautiful things you know you will never be able to afford but that you like to gawk at nonetheless.
But Girls isn’t that nor is it supposed to be. What sets Girls apart from shows like Sex and the City is that it’s so realistic. There’s no good girl or bad girl. The girls are just complicated as we girls actually are in the real world. Their friendships are just as complex as the girls themselves and the sex scenes are awkward and clumsy, not romanticized. This is why I say it’s a good show even though I couldn’t get into it.

Girls is realistic, but it isn’t my reality. My 20s looked nothing like Hannah's even though we have similar aspirations. I know I’m in the minority here or at least I was in Twitterverse last night, as I kept seeing tweet after tweet from young women declaring that “@girlsHBO is my life!”
I’m jealous! I want a show I can say that about.

I am going to give the show another chance. I’m holding on to hope that it will grow on me because of its gritty yet hilarious portrayal of post-college life. Plus, I’m intrigued by the more worldly character Jessa and Hannah’s roommate Marnie. (I actually did find some common ground with Marnie as I was usually the responsible one telling my friends that, yes, it would be a bad idea to drink opium tea.)
If after watching a few more episodes I still can’t get into Girls I’ll accept that and move on, knowing that not everything pro-girl will necessarily be for me. After all, I still have Awkward Black Girl.
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Sunday, April 15, 2012


I Missed Us (To be released April 17, 2012)

Would you lose respect for me if I unleash my R&B nerdiness and admit that I've been anticipating this album for  years?

I've already crowned SWV the best female R&B tandem of all time but it's been 15 years since they've released material as a group. 1997 seems like eons ago and the world of R&B is now a dry, desolate landscape. That's why I'm so glad I Missed Us is so refreshing.

SWV's single "Co-Sign" paints the perfect picture of their comeback - longtime fans will embrace its familiarity, but it doesn't sound like dated relic from their glory days. New fans won't feel alienated.

The album's early tracks are loaded with energy. The girls have a ball dissing their ex on "Do Ya." And "Show Off" shows that the ladies are just as feisty and commanding as they were way back when they dropped hits like "Downtown." Vocally, Taj and Lelee aren't nearly as strong as they were in their prime, which is very evident on "All About You," but Coko's voice is as mighty as it was in the Clinton era. She swoops in to do the heavy lifting on many of the tracks.

SWV's bread and butter has always been ballads. Fear not, when the tracks slow down, that's when this album really picks up. "The Best Years" truly is a throwback, complete with a brief outro so seductive that I wish it was its own song. "Time to Go" and "Keep You Home" also smolder - Coko belts out so much emotion on the former that I swear I saw steam seeping from my laptop. The trio even tackles my favorite Patti LaBelle hit, "If Only You Knew." Wisely, they don't try to match Patti note for note. Instead, they put their own twist on it instead of simply mimicking - more proof that these ladies are veterans of the game.

The album slightly stumbles when SWV steers out of their lane. When the ladies talk about how they're "gonna keep it one hunnid" on "Better Than I" they sound like old folks at career day trying to relate to the kiddies. Those missteps are few and far between, thankfully.

This album truly succeeds when old and new successfully blend. And no other song better signifies that than the title track. "I Missed Us" features a sample from, believe it or not, the classic Nintendo game "The Legend of Zelda." There's no way it should work but it's a masterpiece. SWV's vintage harmonies combine with fresh lyrics over a throwback video game beat to produce a song that stands among the group's best work. Yeah, "I Missed Us" is that good.

SWV, I missed you. Welcome back.

Best tracks: "I Missed Us," "Keep You Home," "Show Off"

4 stars out of 5
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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Last week Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen caused an uproar when she commented on CNN that Ann Romney was not qualified to advise her husband and presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney on women's economic concerns because she's "never worked a day in a her life." 

Ann Romney, a stay-at-home mom and mother of five, was so offended she took it to the tweets. She set up a Twitter account so she could tweet this response:

"I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work."

Meanwhile, outrage ensued as the "War on Women" took a new turn with conservatives claiming that Democrats don't respect the hard work that being a good mother requires.

There are so many problems with this faux girl fight I'm not sure where to begin. First of all, while Rosen's comment certainly lacked tact, her point was clearly not that SAHMs just sit around the house all day watching Lifetime. Let's face it, being a SAHM or dad is, for the most part, a privilege. Most families can't afford to have one spouse not work outside the home. And Ann Romney is certainly not a mom struggling to make ends meet since she's married to a gazillionaire. As Rosen said in the interview, "She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing." 

So, no, she should not be Mitt Romney's go-to person on the economic concerns of women raising families. Here's an idea: how about Romney actually ask financially struggling mothers what they need.

Secondly, I find it interesting that conservatives are using this as an opportunity to assure women voters that they believe motherhood is the most important job in the world yet few of them support federally-mandated maternity or paternity leave and other measures that would make the hard job of parenting a bit easier. And while they argue that a woman's choice to be a SAHM should be respected, women who are single or poor or women of color who want to stay home and parent are called "Welfare Queens." 

Third, I find it disturbing that this conversation about parenting centers on motherhood. What about fatherhood? Still in 2012 our society views the nurturing of children and the managing of household duties such a cooking and cleaning as woman's work. And the man's worth as a parent is directly tied to his paycheck. If you're bringing home the bacon you're a good father. If you're not, you're a dead beat dad. 

This attitude, I believe, is hurtful to both men and women. In a world where a man’s worth is determined by his income what happens in times of economic downturn? When Daddy loses his job does he also lose his manhood? And what about men who choose to be stay-at-home dads, are they not real men?

Furthermore, viewing household duties and caregiving as “woman’s work” is a burden for women, especially those who are mothers working outside the home. While many more men nowadays share in duties like cooking, cleaning, etc., in most households women are still expected to handle these duties alone even if they’re working 40+ hours a week outside the home.

All in all, let’s not let this spat between Rosen and Ann Romney revive the so-called Mommy Wars as this would just be a distraction from the real issues at hand such as making changes in our country’s policies (and our society’s attitudes) that will make it easier for women and men to provide healthy, happy lives for their children and for themselves. 
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Friday, April 13, 2012

Remember last week's post on Mary J. Blige's controversial Burger King commercial? The spot's so-called racial implications stirred up a ton of conversation here and over on Facebook (on my page alone there were well over 30 comments).

Whether or not you think Mary's original commercial was degrading, we can ALL agree it's not as bad as the spots in the following video. Check out this spoof of "unaired" Mary J. Burger King commercials.

Sometimes it's OK to laugh at the ridiculousness of racism.

Thanks to @heydmh for sharing this hilarity.
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A few days ago while at the gym, sweating like Lil Boosie at a parole hearing, I learned that MTV has a new show called Savage U. Some dude named Dan Savage hangs around college campuses answering questions about love and sex.

Again I ask, if these dudes can get a TV show, why can't I? It can air on TVOne - they'll show just about anything.

Image via
Until y'all find a 30-minute spot for Love Letters on the local public access station, you can find me here.
Send your inquiries to, or find me on twitter @etbowser. Just provide your initials, or a fun nickname. 
Here's today's question:

Do you think it's possible to change a man's mind that says he doesn't want anymore children and doesn't want to get married?


Sure, it's possible to change a man's mind. Personally, I had no desire to ever get married.

Many of you only know me as Edd, Devoted Married Man and Crabby Keith Sweat Fan. I'm the guy who retweets blogs about natural hair and makes Easter baskets for the wifey. Oh, but back in college it was a much different story. Older friends can tell you about college Edd, Serial Dater and Crabby Keith Sweat Fan.

Yeah, I've changed a bit, but not by much.

Don't get it twisted, people, I wasn't some sloppy man-whore like the weirdos from Savage U. But I did lots of dating and my friends thought I'd NEVER settle down. Most college friends who reconnect with me on Facebook are shocked to find that my Player's Card has been revoked.

I have always taken marriage very seriously. In fact, I took all relationships seriously. Usually it only took one or two dates to realize that most of my college flings were going nowhere. So I quickly moved on. Why waste time with a woman who clearly isn't the one? So I kept it moving.

After years of being called too picky and self-centered, I started to buy into it. I figured that I was related to Prince's Purple Rain mom (like me, she's never satisfied...), and realized that marriage probably isn't for me.

Until I met the right woman, that is. Then it all changed.

The wifey will tell you that I'm a pretty stubborn dude. If I can change, any man can — but only if that man wants to change for himself. If your guy is adamant about not having kids or walking down the aisle, no amount of begging, pleading or nagging will change his mind. In fact, that will just make things much, much worse.  (Ladies, if you learn nothing else from this post, know that nagging is male Kryptonite.)

No, you personally can't change a man's mind, but he definitely can change his own mind. The best thing you can do is persuade him by showering him with love and affection. And I don't mean cheap booty calls or by throwing your friends' baby pictures in his face - if a man realizes he has something special, it'll give him incentive to rethink his life plan. I did.

You can't force a man to make that kind of commitment, though. And why would you? Your husband needs to be a man who wants to be with you and your future kids, not because he was locked into the decision.

Simply show him a little love. It could be the best decision of both your lives.
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Y'all know how we celebrate Fridays here at Georgia Mae. Let's dig in the crates for more forgotten favorites.

GM's music guru Edward is back with a couple of legends.

Eric B & Rakim, Paid in Full (1987)

Edd said: "I refuse to argue this point: Rakim is one of the greatest lyricists of all time. If you disagree, it probably means you're buying prom dresses and high school class rings this month. Young'ns, if you're not familiar with one of the most influential duos in hip hop, here's your chance."

Also check out:
"I Ain't No Joke"
"Move the Crowd"

Javacia reveals her college crush.

Mario (2002)

Jai said: "I felt so wrong for having a crush on this little boy back in the day since I was in college and he was like 16. But the boy can sing!"

Also check out:
"Just a Friend"

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, April 12, 2012


New Life (released April 10, 2012)

Here's a tidbit that will make you feel really old: We first heard Monica's debut single exactly 17 years to the day of her most recent release, New Life.

For almost two decades (geez, I'm old...), Monica's powerful voice has produced top-notch, memorable songs. Despite that, Monica has never compiled a definite, classic album. She has a catalogue of good albums, but that one great album alludes her.

Monica's oft-delayed New Life has been poised as her turning point. The album intro, featuring a voicemail from Mary J. Blige, dismisses the drama of past relationships and vows a fresh start. While Monica's definitely talking about her love life, I figured this would also be a great time to experiment with a new sound, taking those mighty pipes of hers in a new direction.

Sadly, Monica decides to play it safe. Way, way, WAY too safely.

The biggest story of the album is Monica reuniting with Brandy for "It All Belongs to Me," sort of a sequel to 1998's omnipresent "The Boy Is Mine." This time, instead of battling over a guy, they're simultaneously kicking him to the curb. The song has received a lot of press but it falls a bit flat - the girls simply demand their guys return all their gifts, in boring fashion. They should have just called the track "Yo Stuff Is Mine."

Unfortunately, the remaining tracks don't rise much higher. "Big Mistake" and "Without You" are solid ballads that I really wanted to love but they just don't leave an impression. "Man Who Has Everything" features a beat reminiscent of Jazmine Sullivan's "Need U Bad" but it's not nearly as memorable. It's so odd that everything is so middle-of-the-road when A-list producers like Jermaine Dupri, Missy Elliott and Polow da Don took the reins.

The Deluxe Edition's bonus tracks don't add much, save for "Anything (To Find You)." We've discussed this track before and it's not bad - the sample of The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Who Shot Ya?" really stands out among the album's heavy load of so-so ballads.

Still, you just can't deny Monica's voice. "Time to Move On" is sung masterfully and reminds you that few vocalists can rival Miss Thang. That's what makes New Life one of the most frustrating albums I've heard in months. The talent is there, the production is there, the songwriting is there but there's a spark that's missing. Even that horrid Lil B album had one noteworthy track.

I wouldn't dare call New Life a bad album (it doesn't fall anywhere near the depths of this farce) but it's almost like an talent show audition or demo tape. It proves Monica can outsing your favorite pop artist, but once the song ends, no connection has been made with the listener. Sadly, it leaves New Life, well, lifeless.

Best tracks: "Anything (To Find You)," "Time to Move On"

3 stars out of 5
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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I know it’s only Wednesday, but I’m already looking forward to the weekend.

And on Saturday night I am going to paint the town red. No, really, I am. On Saturday night I’ll looking forward to attending the arts event Paint the Town Red, held annually here in Birmingham to support the Jefferson-Shelby Chapter of the American Red Cross. I’ve been hearing about this event since I returned to Birmingham three years ago, but have yet to experience it for myself.

Recently I chatted with Celeste Laborde, a local artist on the planning committee for Paint the Town Red, about what I could expect at this year’s event. I’m especially excited about an art installation by Laurie Shapiro of Pittsburgh which she called “Inside my Dead Grandmother’s Womb. Laurie Shapiro describes her piece this way: “’Inside my Dead Grandmother's Womb’ is an interactive cave installation made with muslin, paper-mache, silk screen drawings, painting, lighting, and pillows…people are encouraged to go inside, as a place of meditation, reflection, or communication.”

Read on to learn more about Paint the Town Red. 

For folks like me who have never attended Paint the Town Red, how would you describe the event? 

Paint the Town Red is a great event with something for everybody. It’s a fun and dynamic evening of art, video, music, food, and dancing that takes place on 2nd Ave. North in downtown Birmingham. The festival takes place in the venues in that space (Rogue Tavern, Das Haus, and Urban Standard) as well as in the street! Outside is going to be alive with large digital art projections from artists from all over. This year we will have two outside stages with live music and, of course, “The Dome” which serves as a music venue and projection space.

Will there be DJs and bands again this year, as I understand there have been in the past? 

Yes! The music is going to be awesome this year! A wide variety of sounds like Dubmassive, Kids Your Age, The Cancers, Jesse Payne and many others will be there. We also have a great line up of DJs this year in our 44 foot geodesic dome, Katie and John Gaiser  will be VJing large projections in real time along with the DJs. Birmingham’s own The Green Seed should not be missed! 

This year we are doing something new for us. Starting at 10 p.m. the dome will go into Silent Disco mode. The music will keep going but will only be able to be heard through one of 150 wireless headsets available (first come first served!). I’m super excited about this. I first attended a Silent Disco at Bonnaroo one year and it is a blast! 

Inside My Mother's Womb by Laurie Shapiro

Tell us about some of the artists whose work we'll see this year, particularly any female artists since we’re all about girl power here at

This year’s festival is going to be full of a lot of very strong work from many talented people – students, amateurs and working professionals from all over Alabama, Pittsburgh, Florida and even Italy! 

I think your readers will be very interested in seeing an installation piece called “Inside My Dead Grandmothers Womb” by Pittsburgh artist Laurie Shapiro. Ms. Shapiro will be coming down from Pittsburgh with her music collaborator, Daniel Sabio, to create her work – a hanging sculpture that viewers can walk into and become surrounded by the work, which is quite a touching tribute to her grandmothers femininity.

We will also be featuring several Alabama artists such as Randy Gachet, Karen Graffeo, Ryan Carlson, Gary Chapman and more.  

You're an artist yourself. Tell us a little bit about the work you do.  Will your work be featured at the event? 

I am a painter and a performance artist. I normally create large scale figurative works with ink on canvas, but lately I have been exploring creating paintings with only textures and hand painted words. Improv modern dance and butoh are also favorite creative outlets for me. 

The piece “Re: RE: Fwd: FWD:” by Karen Graffeo was shot by Ms. Graffeo in Vernazza, Italy and edited here by me. We will also be showing a piece shot by Leo Tichelli Studios that I appear in with dancers Stella Nystrom and Mary Fochee. Working on this event has been very inspiring and educational. 

To purchase your tickets to Paint the Town Red visit
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Quick, name a hip hop band ... not named The Roots.

Give up? Now you can add Theoretics to the list.

Please don't write these guys off as Roots knockoffs. Theoretics is an eclectic union of two emcees and five musicians who draw inspiration from hip hop, soul, electronica, and funk. On paper, you might think all these styles would result in a jarring clash but that's not the case. They mesh into a sound Theoretics can claim as their own.

That's readily apparent on their inspirational new single, "Higher." It's a magnificent blend of multiple musical genres. On the band's Twitter page, Theoretics proudly claims to be "liberating (us) from mediocrity since 2009." I can't argue with them.

Check out "Higher" below.

For more on Theoretics, visit their website, Facebook page, or follow them on Twitter.

Looking to share your music with the masses? Send a track with a short description about yourself to or hit me up on Twitter @etbowser. If we like what we hear we'll feature you in an upcoming post.
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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Even in 2012 the word "feminist" is still considered a dirty word by some. Quick vocabulary lesson: Merriam-Webster defines feminism as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” That’s it; there’s nothing there about emasculating men, for those who equate feminist with man-hater.

There’s also an assumption that feminists scoff at women who take pride in their appearance. I can’t speak for all feminists, obviously, but I am a girl who wants to look good. As a feminist, however, I try to always be thoughtful about the fashion and beauty choices that I make. Am I wearing these clothes and putting on this makeup because I truly want to or because I feel like I have to in order to be accepted or loved? Those are the kinds of questions I ask myself to keep my motives in check, but those are questions I didn’t start asking until I went natural. Let me explain.

One of the points of contention in the natural hair community is whether or not you can still call yourself natural if you occasionally flat iron your hair straight. Some say no. I understand the sentiment. As I've said before on this blog, it's like being an X-Men and hiding your powers. (Sorry for the analogy, but I'm a superhero nerd). But I define being natural as not using caustic chemicals to permanently alter your hair texture. And when I straighten my hair a few times a year I use heat, not a relaxer, and my curls usually come peeking out in a few days because they love to be the center of attention.

But this debate did make me ask myself: “Why do you occasionally straighten your curls?”

When I was younger I straightened my hair because I had been taught that beautiful hair was straight hair. Period. No exceptions. So I constantly wrestled my curls into submission. And that's why when I did stop getting occasional relaxers in 2002, I also stopped straightening my hair altogether. I didn't apply any heat to my hair (no flat irons, no blow dryers) for three years. 

But nowadays things are different. When I straighten my hair these days it’s usually because I’m bored and want a different look for a couple of weeks or because I want to wear a cute hat that won’t fit over my curly coif. I know it's not coming from a dark place of self-hate.

Putting thought into why I wear my hair a certain way pushed me to be thoughtful about all my fashion and beauty choices, which is why I always say going natural made me a better feminist.

Naturalistas, what positive changes in your life have been inspired by going natural? 

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Yesterday Edd and I celebrated our sixth anniversary. So much has changed since we said “I do.” 2009 was perhaps the most tumultuous year as that was the year we moved from Louisville, Kentucky to Birmingham, Alabama, leaving behind our journalism careers and the cozy condo that was our first home. But one thing that hasn’t change is how much we value our quality time.

Togetherness is a top priority for us and something of which we are quite protective. If I’m out with my girls they know that once the clock hits a certain hour I’m ready to call it a night and “head home to hubster.” And while Edd is extremely involved in his church and very passionate about ministry, he will bow out of certain activities if he feels they will keep him away from home too often.

This attitude is one probably held by most people in healthy, happy marriages, but I believe there’s something in the history of our relationship that makes us treasure togetherness as much as we do. For two years of our relationship, before we were married, Edd was my long distance love. I was in California attending graduate school at UC Berkeley and he was in Louisville, Ky., working at the local paper where we’d met during an internship. We only saw each other about six times over those two years, but our love was cultivated by the distance. We learned how to communicate and we learned the importance of being best friends.

And because that old adage “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” is true, once we were finally living in the city and then even in the same home we still couldn’t see enough of each other. And six years later togetherness is just as precious to us as it was when we were nearly 3,000 miles apart. 
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