Friday, June 29, 2012

Spam is getting out of control.

A friend told me she's been receiving spam email promising "love spells" to help you seduce that dream guy. Is that what's hot in the streets? Putting Internet roots on people so you can get a date?

People, if you need to get your love life in order, visit the one site that won't give you viruses, both electronic and sexual.

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

Here's today's question:
Why is it that when some people are not together like that one of them becomes territorial?

For those of you not from the Commonwealth, let me brush off my Virginian to English dictionary.

*puts on reading glasses*

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Not those!

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Now I can dig it. Ahem. Here's what the reader is asking:
When you're casually dating a guy, why does he suddenly get possessive (i.e., questioning your whereabouts, asking if other guys have been hitting on you) if he suspects you're interested in someone else?
I've discussed this before, but some guys have a tough time committing. And no, it's not because ALL MENZ IZ DAWGZ. Sometimes we're uneasy about entering another relationship, we're dealing with personal baggage or we just don't know how to communicate our feelings. And yeah, some brothers just want to play the field. In any case, we often waste time trying to sort things out and take the woman for granted.

I'm speaking from experience, here. I did the same thing to my future wife way back when.

But the second that woman seems to be enamored with another guy, we freak out and suddenly, in our minds, we're in a relationship. That woman we're still trying to decide on is slipping away so we get clingy. Like a mom trying to decide if she's gonna spend $80 on Walmart's last Elmo doll (or whatever kids are into these days), she quickly goes from indecisive to 'DATZ FOR MY BAY-BAY!' when another woman comes by to claim it.

When it comes to men and relationships, women often say "territorial" attitudes come from men who want to be controlling. That's not always true - many times, guys just freak out because they're paranoid. They think they might have a good woman and might want a relationship, but they aren't sure - but they SURE aren't gonna let someone else take her while they're trying to figure it out.

Of course, the woman is not required to stick around while Mr. Indecisive tries to make up his mind, nor is she required to give him her itinerary. She can come and go as she pleases without explanation. Really, it's in the hands of the woman - is this guy worth waiting for? That's a decision only she can make.

 It's 2012, why do some women still think if they have a man's baby he will want to be with her?
I hope WB isn't Maury Povich's pen name.

This never makes sense to me. So, if you're with a guy who doesn't want you (which is ridiculous anyway...), you think he's suddenly gonna fall in love because you give birth to his kid?

Say it with me: Playa please.

At best, he'll love the kid and hate the woman even more for an unwanted pregnancy. At worst, he'll hate the woman for an unwanted pregnancy AND hate the baby, so she'll be dealing with a hateful lover and a deadbeat dad. The only person who wins in this situation is Maury cuz he'll have another segment for his show.

In Va, we have a word for people who think like that.

*brushes off Va dictionary, puts on reading glasses*

Ahem... we call them stupid.
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Posted by in ,  on 9:15 AM No comments
It seems the closer we get to July 4, the closer we get to the sun. It's insanely hot in our neck of the woods. Squirrels are bursting into flames and the candy paint is literally dripping from old school caddys.

Here's some music to get you through the final day of the week. Stay cool this weekend.

Javacia gets her Apple a day. 

Fiona Apple, When the Pawn... (1999)

Jai said: I've spent the whole week listening to Fiona Apple's new album The Idler Wheel...  and though I love it my favorite Apple album is still her second studio release, When the Pawn... Fun fact: the full name of the CD is actually When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He'll Win the Whole Thing 'Fore He Enters the Ring There's No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won't Matter, Cuz You'll Know That You're Right. Try saying that three times fast.  

Also check out:
"Paper Bag"
"Love Ridden"

Edward proves that some actors CAN rap.

Mos Def, Black on Both Sides (1999)

Edd said: "I was pretty late to the party on this one. Even though I enjoyed all of this album's singles, I didn't hear the set in its entirety until about five years later. Man, I missed out. Front to back, it's one of the most complete albums you'll ever hear. Consider it the descendant of The Fugees' magnificent The Score. If that doesn't convince you of its greatness, try this: The wifey has all but given up on hip hop, but this is the ONLY rap album she still listens to. You need this album in your life."

Also check out:
"Ms. Fat Booty"

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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Posted by in ,  on 8:45 AM No comments

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ah, 1992. Such a simpler time. There was no World Star Hip Hop for juvenile delinquents to incriminate themselves, gas was a mere buck and kids watched Nickelodeon instead of toxic VH1 reality shows.

Speaking of Nick, Mental Floss recently revealed the contents of a time capsule the studio buried in 1992. It won't be opened until 2042 but I guess they decided to spill the beans since they expect us all to be in our graves by then thanks to cell phone radiation.

Check out the contents of the capsule here. An MC Hammer album, Game Boy and old '90s movies are among the treasures. Is it sad that I still own all that stuff? Still, it was a nice, nostalgic stroll down memory lane.

But it got me to thinking - if today's youth were allowed to make selections for a 2012 time capsule, what would they want generations to see 50 years from now? What best represents their culture?

People of 2062, witness the legacy of 2012.

1. Weave from one of the Real Housewives of Atlanta and/or one of those women from Love & Hip Hop.

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The most popular show among our teens. These Are Our Heroes.

2. The pinnacle of personal communication, the iPhone.

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Preferrably containing naked pics of your favorite R&B singer. That's how you promote an album in 2012.

3. A plate of wings from Rick Ross, the most popular rapper in the world.

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Sorry, that's all that was left.

4. Skinny jeans, the era's most popular fashion trend for men.

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This also will explain men's low sperm count in 2062.

5. A PDF of 

Kids of the future can learn what "lean" is, and how to decipher text message slang. OMG, it's educational, LOLWUT!? SMH...

6. A list of Twitter trending topics.

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What's on the mind of our young social media At the time of this posting, the top trends in the lovely city of Birmingham were #USayUBoutThatLifeBut, #A90sBabyKnows, and of course, Love & Hip Hop.

And y'all thought I was exaggerating about that show.

7. A pair of Air Yeezy's, Kanye West's ugly knockoff Jordans.

These shoes somehow sold on eBay for $90,000. Kids of 2062 are gonna be mighty confused when they read about the 2012 economic downturn.

8. Some sort of vampire stuff. 

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The wifey suggests that gross-looking True Blood drink derived from the HBO show. Feel free to substitute some kindergarten glitter to represent Twilight, or throw in one of those kids from that horrid Vampire Diaries show. Or maybe some bath salts - apparently they turn people into vampires. Or zombies. Or crackheads, I can't remember.

9. A whole bunch of Madea movies.

Cuz nothing says cinematic art like a tall black man pretending to be a tall sassy grandma pretending to be a kind-hearted gangsta.

10. A blank CD, so hip hop fans can download Dr. Dre's Detox when it's finally released in 2062.

I'm just kidding. DETOX IS NEVER COMING OUT.

And a bonus addition to our capsule...

11. Me.

I'm locking myself in that time capsule - hopefully life be improved when they release me in 2062.

2012, we need to do better.

What other items deserve to be in the 2012 time capsule?
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Posted by in , , ,  on 7:42 AM 4 comments

Monday, June 25, 2012

Three years ago today we lost one of the greatest entertainers who ever lived, Michael Jackson.

While Jackson's "Thriller" video is noted as being a groundbreaking game changer, my absolute favorite video by the King of Pop is the futuristic "Scream," performed with his sister Janet. I can still remember spending one Saturday afternoon learning the dance moves in the living room with my little brother.

We miss you, MJ.

What's your favorite Michael Jackson video? 

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Posted by on 7:52 AM 1 comment
A couple of days ago, I dug through my CD collection and pulled out a gem - soul man Dave Hollister's Chicago '85, The Movie. Years ago, I ran into Dave and he was one of the nicest dudes you'd ever meet. I've never seen a guy so happy to be recognized. I even blogged about it way back when.

In the same blog, I mentioned the worst meeting I've ever had with a celebrity - Teddy Riley's brother Markell. You'd think a guy whose career consisted of one and a half songs would be gracious to receive props from a fan, but you'd be wrong. I think he was just frontin' for his wannabe Kelly Bundy arm candy.

The wifey told me that R&B starlet Monica had a similarly sour experience as a child when she met dance queen CeCe Peniston. A few years ago, Monica spoke candidly about the situation and when CeCe got word of it, she publicly apologized in an open letter. Now, that's class.


Here's a better question - what ever happened to CeCe?

CeCe Peniston was born in Dayton, Ohio, but grew up in Phoenix, Ariz. She honed her vocals in church and sharpened her performing skills in theater. She even excelled in beauty pagents - she was crowned Miss Black Arizona in 1989 and Miss Galaxy in 1990.

In early 1991, CeCe began her recording career, cutting her teeth by performing backup vocals for other up-and-coming artists. Through those connections, CeCe gained a solo deal and recorded her first single, "Finally."

And then, boys and girls, life as we knew it changed.

Fellas, y'all think that girls are obsessed with that horrid "Refill" song? Its popularity had NOTHING on "Finally." Girls from 8 to 80 sang that song constantly. And woe on your eardrums if that woman didn't know the correct lyrics. Sadly, my cousin was one of those misinformed young women.

The real lyrics: "Finally it has happened to me/right in front of my face/and I just cannot hide it."

My cousins' rendition: "FINALLY it happened to BE/right in front of my PLACE/and you just cannot HAVE IT."

When I politely told my cousin that she must have 10 pounds of wax in her ears because what she was singing made no sense, she replied 'NUH UH! That's right! And it's a girl's song so I would know!'

Playa please.

Made-up lyrics aside, that song captured the imaginations of women across the globe and it became an instant hit, rocketing up the dance charts and eventually selling 3 million copies worldwide.

After the success of "Finally," CeCe rushed to the studio to record her solo debut. The album, titled Finally, of course, dropped in 1991 to much fanfare. More hits followed: "We Got A Love Thang" was CeCe's second No. 1 hit on the dance charts, and "Keep On Walkin'" completed the trio of No. 1 dance hits. "Inside That I Cried" and "Crazy Love" followed, making CeCe a bonafide star.

By the mid-90s, the dance genre was slowly being overtaken by R&B and CeCe saw an opportunity for growth. CeCe's 1994 sophomore effort, Thought 'Ya Knew, was much more pop and R&B-influenced than her debut. Reviews were mixed but I was a fan of her new sound. I have no idea what's going on the video for "I'm In the Mood" - ladies wearing powdered wigs, guys breathing fire, a fortune-teller dude slamming tarot cards like he's playing Spades - but the song was pretty fun. "I'm Not Over You" was a bit more funky that the usual CeCe cut, while "I Will Be Received" was just good-ol' Sunday-morning gospel.

Speaking of gospel, a year later, CeCe teamed with industry veterans Thelma Houston, Phoebe Snow, Albertina Walker and Lois Walden to form Sisters of Glory. The quintent released Good News In Hard Times in 1995.

Sadly, we never got a CeCe Peniston/CeCe Winans gospel collabo. I guess we missed out on Ce+Ce Gospel Factory.

CeCe returned to the world of secular music in 1996 with I'm Movin' On. This time, she distanced herself even further from her dance roots, and instead fully embraced R&B and hip hop. And ... that didn't work out so well. I was a big fan of the single "Movin' On" but good lord the intro rap is excruciating. Lord, bless guest rapper Suga T. Yes, the woman from E-40's "Sprinkle Me" was sprinkling horrible ad-libs (UGGGGGGGGGGH!) all over CeCe's decent song. Frankly, CeCe's hip hop assimilation never worked out - she just didn't fit comfortably in that era. But Suga T became an ad-lib pioneer, encouraging rappers like Master P and Rick Ross to grunt and groan like they're putting in work on the toilet.

By the turn of the century, CeCe aimed to release another album and dropped a handful of singles in anticipation of it. Neither "Nobody Else," "He Loves Me 2," nor "My Boo" gained enough traction and her album never saw the light of day.

Since then, CeCe has sporadically released a few singles and covers but has remained relatively quiet.

Should She Come Back?: Things have come full circle and the dance....


Apparently CeCe IS attempting a comeback this year with a self-titled album and a couple of new singles. But don't get too excited, CeCe fans. "Celebrate" and "Stoopid." both sound like they were recorded by one of the Housewives of Atlanta.

Let me finish my thought from above.

Should She Come Back?: Things have come full circle and the dance genre has made a huge comeback. Sounds like the perfect time for a CeCe comeback, right? But if CeCe is trying to appeal to the younger set, she's setting herself up for a fall. Grown folks like to dance too, you know. If she can recapture the energy of "Finally" without becoming too inauthentic and ghetto (or, ahem, "Stoopid"), I think she would be welcomed back warmly. 

Unlike Markell Riley. I want my apology.
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Posted by in ,  on 6:35 AM 1 comment

Friday, June 22, 2012

Free Two Happy Girls Holding Hands Walking to School at Sunrise Creative Commons
Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt of Pink Sherbet Photography
Image via Flickr/Creative Commons

Melissa Harris-Perry, Sloane Crosley, and Crystal Renn. A political talk TV show host, a humor writer, and a supermodel. It seems these three women have nothing in common, but they do. They are all atop my very long list of girl crushes.

I've written about some of my girl crushes before, confessing my love for the likes of First Lady Michelle Obama, pop icon Beyonce, actresses Zoe Saldana and Scarlet Johansson, and broadcast journalist Soledad O'Brien. And lately it seems the girl crush has become some sort of phenomenon, regularly popping up in the media.

In a recent article for W magazine, Thessaly la Force explored what all this girl crushing could mean. She writes:
The “girl crush” may sound ­silly, but sometimes it takes something ­unserious to get us talking about a serious subject: the ambitions of young creative women and the need for ­worthy role models. Among my own nominees for inaugural members of the Girl Crush Hall of Fame are Zadie Smith, with her daring, brilliance, and wild success; Joan ­Didion, with her cool, spare prose; Patti Smith, with her soul and wisdom; Sofia Coppola, with her chic grace and unmistakable taste; and Tina Fey, with her goofy smile and razor wit. Each of them has accomplished something the rest of us dream of doing. And because they’ve done it, we feel we can too.
She's right. We all need role models, not superheroes, but real people doing the very things we want to one day achieve. And girl crushes are exactly that. 

Harris-Perry, an educator, black feminist writer, and host of The Melissa Harris-Perry Show on MSNBC, encourages me to hold fast to my feminist beliefs, even if they're not always popular, and shows that I can and should find a way to make my voice heard.  Sloane Crosley, author of I Was Told There'd Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number, is the model I look to as I dream of publishing a collection of essays. And Crystal Renn, plus-size supermodel and author of the memoir Hungry, motivates me to learn to love my body and write about my journey to self-acceptance once I've actually achieved it. 

Furthermore, Harris-Perry and Renn both teach a lesson about the importance of platform. If you have something you believe in -- whether it's feminism, empowering racial minorities, or promoting healthy body image in women and realistic beauty standards in fashion -- build a platform and get your voice heard. And you will find there are plenty of  people out there who feel the same and were just waiting for someone to speak up. 

Girl crushes can cultivate our creativity as they push us to work toward our artistic goals. 

But, wait! There's more. 

Thessaly la Force also argues that the prevalence of girl crushes could indicate a slight narrowing of the gender gap:

I can’t help but believe our current generation’s embrace of girl crushing signifies something larger: evidence that a professional world once dominated by men has evened out—maybe not totally, but to a reassuring degree. When ­Didion first set out to become a writer, she copied the sentences of Ernest Hemingway; today, my friends and I copy hers.

Young women dreaming of  hosting their own political talk TV show no longer have to solely look to Larry King. They have women like Harris-Perry as role models too. And anyone who says women can't be funny has clearly never read one of Crosley's essays. 

Who are your girl crushes and how do they help your creativity? 

*Originally written for The Writeous Babe Project
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Posted by in , ,  on 10:54 AM No comments

Hey, babes! Check out my latest article for Magic City Post. 


Runner Olivia Affuso has completed a 50K North Face Endurance race, she’s an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and she has a Ph.D. from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Yet, even with all those accomplishments, she says one of her proudest moments is actually starting a local running club called Black Girls RUN!
According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 45 percent of African-American adults are obese. Black Girls RUN! is a grassroots effort to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African-American community by providing encouragement and resources to both new and veteran runners.
“My goal as a researcher has been to find ways to help individuals become more physically active and reduce their risks of developing chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease,” Affuso said. “This has been a difficult proposition in the past, but there is something about the BGR social running movement that just motivates our women to get moving.  And I think it’s group identification - seeing someone that looks like you doing something active.”
The Birmingham group is a spinoff of a larger grassroots effort which began in New York City in 2009.  Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks, the founders of the NYC group, have seen the organization spread into 29 states and the District of Columbia.  Affuso contacted them last August about starting a Birmingham chapter. 
Jeralyn Powell, an active runner since 2008, joined Affuso and together they launched the Birmingham group that same month hosting its first run on August 20.
Currently, Black Girls RUN! Birmingham has over 800 women signed up for its Facebook group and has accomplished a lot in its short lifetime. The group had eight teams participate in the Mercedes-Benz Marathon Relay and at least another five members who completed the Mercedes Half Marathon.

You can read the complete article at Magic City Post

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This week marked the official beginning of summer, but y'all probably already knew that from the temperature. Here's some music to help you get in the mood for those summer cookouts.

Edward unveils another of his guilty pleasures.

G. Dep, Child of the Ghetto (2001)

Edd said: "Poor G. Dep. Dep, aka, Ghetto Dependent, was one of Diddy's lead artists during Bad Boy's last ditch effort at fame restructuring in the early 2000s. I initially was NOT a fan of his choppy flow but over time it really grew on me. His 2001 debut wound up being a shockingly great project. Of course, Diddy cherry picked all the best tracks from Dep's album and put them on his own, hanging his own artist out to dry. Why do people continue working for that guy? Things have only gotten worse for Dep, who recently turned himself and confessed to a 1993 murder. He was sentenced to 15 years to life. Poor G. Dep. At least he taught us to Harlem Shake."

Also check out:
"Child of the Ghetto"

Javacia gets in the mood.

Corinne Bailey Rae (2006)

Jai said: " When I want to get in the mood for summer I know this album will do the trick. Some songs remind me of sunshine, honeysuckle, and family cookouts, while other tracks make me imagine myself lying beneath the stars on a clear night with the love of my life. Corinne Bailey Rae never disappoints."

Also check out:

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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Posted by in ,  on 7:00 AM 2 comments

Thursday, June 21, 2012

This week I suffered from my first ever bout of food poisoning. A batch of fried chicken I picked up from the grocery store had me crawling on the floor like that Maxwell video. I swear it felt like my soul - among other things - was on fire.

Still, that chicken was so good that I hesitated to throw away the leftovers. I kept telling myself "maybe it was something else. I've had this chicken before and it never bothered me." Some friends said the same thing, saying it must have been something else I ate. It COULDN'T have been the delicious chicken.

Well, I threw the remaining chicken away this morning. Rick Rawsssse would be disappointed, but it was the right thing to do. No matter how good it looked, how enticing it was, and how many times people tried to deflect blame, you just gotta get rid of what's ailing you.

Remember that the next time you're conflicted over your no-good lover.

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

Here's today's question:

When a man says that he is not ready for a relationship does it really mean he isn't ready or is he holding out for someone else or does he not like you like that and he's trying to spare your feelings?

This week, while home recovering from the foul fowl I mentioned earlier, I caught an episode of Maury. 

By the way, I don't wanna hear ANY complaints about me watching Maury when most of y'all are eyeballs-deep in Basketball Wives and Love & Hip Hop every week. There's trash TV, and then there is the festering STD-laden landfill that is VH1 reality TV.

Anyway, Maury featured a guest who was a self-proclaimed "detective." She went through all these bizarre and drawn-out methods to find out what was going on in the mind of her man. Ladies, oftentimes you make things much too difficult. The answer is usually right in your face.

Whether the man says he's not ready for a relationship because he truly isn't ready OR if he's really holding out for someone else OR if he's trying to spare your feelings is irrelevant. The key words are: He's not ready for a relationship. That's the only real answer you need. Why waste time poking around (literally) with someone who doesn't want to be with you?

Are you owed a truthful explanation? Yeah. Is he required to give it to you? Not really, especially if there was never a relationship in the first place. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, maybe the real reason is a serious or sensitive issue that he doesn't feel comfortable sharing. And if you two aren't dating, you aren't privy to that info. Now, if a husband suddenly walked out on his wife after 40 years of marriage, he better give that woman a good reason. But if the relationship hasn't even begun the rules are a bit different.

Again, it's all a moot point. If a guy doesn't want to be with you, it's his loss, no matter the reason. Look ahead, not backward.

And because I'm in such a magnanimous mood, y'all get a second question today. Hmmm, when my new album drops, I should name it Magnanimous.

What does it say about a man's character if you have been dating him off and on and you find out on Facebook he has other child that he never told you about?

Um, it says his character sucks?

They should ask questions like this during the next Miss America pageant.

Yeah right, you wish. Notorious K.I.N.G.!? More like Dairy Queen.

Anyway, back to the question - this is why the social media explosion is so hilarious to me. Wannabe macks will play their pimp role in the real world and get exposed on Facebook. Not sure if that guy who asked for your number is really single? Just wait till his baby momma starts running her mouth on his Facebook wall. Facebook doesn't lie, even if he does.

I've said before that I am strongly against Facebook stalking. But there's nothing wrong with being observant. You don't have to hack into a guy's Facebook account or use your friends as a Sexy Decoy (another Maury reference) to see if he's faithful. Just look on the man's wall. If he's dumb enough to post pics  of his baby while claiming he's childless, he's one step below Wile E Coyote. Please move on.

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Posted by in  on 11:06 AM 2 comments

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hello. My name is Javacia Harris Bowser and I am a product junkie.

Or at least I used to be. Lately, I've been beginning to wonder if I have turned over a new leaf.

First, let me explain what a product junkie is for those of you who are a bit confused. We women who choose to wear our hair in its natural state instead of chemically straightened still must find the right products to keep our hair moisturized, healthy and strong. This results in a lot of experimentation and in some cases, like mine, downright obsession.

There was a time when I would buy any and every hair product I could afford and even some that I couldn't. And since I often wrote product reviews for this blog, that just gave me even more reason to feed my habit.

Recently, however, I have adopted a regimen that just might get me to settle down and change my ways.

My products of choice are Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie and Garnier Fructis Pure Clean Smoothing Cream. I comb these products through wet hair after co-washing with TRESemme Naturals Conditioner. To refresh second and third day hair, I smooth on Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Style Milk and the Pure Clean Smoothing Cream to slightly damp hair, which just takes a couple of minutes. I shampoo once a week with Shea Moisture Organic Coconut & Hibiscus Shampoo. 

So what's so special about this regimen? Not only does it keep my hair soft, shiny, and moisturized, but each product listed is less than $10. And they are all available at Walgreens and Target so you don't have to worry about shipping costs, either.

I will still probably treat myself to a bottle of Miss Jessie's Quick Curls when the company has a buy one get one free sale, because I am still in awe of how great my hair looks and feels with that curl cream. But $32 for 8 ounces is a bit too rich for my blood, as my mom would say.

So for now, this recovering product junkie is settling down with her current hair regimen and saving money in the process.

What products are you currently using on your natural hair?
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Posted by in  on 8:35 AM 3 comments

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Call me crazy, but there is one huge element that seems to be missing from most of today's music - the element of fun.

Unless your idea of a good time is smoking on Keisha or flailing around to annoying techno music, there's not much fun to be found on the airwaves. Never fear, there is hope. Next time I'm in a grungy public bathroom I'm gonna write on the stall, "For a good time, call Aabaraki."

Vocalist and keyboardist Akie Bermiss, guitarist Brian Forbes, bassist Ari Folman-Cohen and drummer Aaron Steele come from very diverse musical backgrounds but form a seamless unit. Aabaraki describes its sound as a mix of Gnarls Barkley and The Black Keys. I hear the similarities but it's not fair to put these guys in a box - their style is truly unique.

Check out Aabaraki's hilarious video "DanceShee" below. They're making it fun to be a music fan again.

For more, visit their website and follow @Aabaraki 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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Posted by in ,  on 6:48 AM 1 comment

Friday, June 15, 2012

She's baaaack! And it's time to get awkward.

In case you missed the premiere of Season 2 of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl you can check it out below. And be sure to stop by the snazzy newly designed website.

(Warning: If you know ABG, you know you shouldn't be watching this at work, especially without headphones, due to plenty of "adult language.")

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Posted by in , ,  on 6:41 AM No comments

Is natural hair the end of black beauty culture? 

That's the question posed by Cassandra Jackson in a recent article she wrote for The Huffington Post. Jackson says that while she is glad to see an increasing number of black women choosing natural hair (as opposed to chemically straightened hair) she worries that the shift toward natural hair also means a shift away from the black beauty salon, which for decades has been the center of black beauty culture. 

She writes:

While many, including me, celebrate the natural hair movement's emphasis on self-discovery, I cannot help but wonder if something has also been lost with this cultural shift. For all the horrible things about hair straightening, the experiences associated with it have created a powerful thread that connects the vast majority of black women. Even if you have kinky hair now, you probably have memories of time spent with family and friends in kitchens getting your hair done by someone who loved you and who you trusted enough to wield a sizzling hot straightening comb next to your ear. You probably remember that first trip to the beauty shop where black women talked about grown folks' business, and nearly every sentence began with the endearment, "girl." It does not matter if your mother was a teacher or housekeeper, or if you were in New York or Alabama because these experiences crossed class and region. Hair straightening was a rite of passage, an entry into the world of black women.

Personally, I've never been a fan of salons. They stink, they're hot, and you're in there for what feels like half your life. So the fact that wearing my hair in its naturally curly state meant fewer trips to a beauty shop was just more reason for me to embrace my curls. But, ironically, now that I'm natural I feel more a part of black beauty culture than ever before. Black beauty culture has not died; it has simply evolved. 

One of the things I love most about being natural has very little to do with my actual hair. I love being natural because of the sense of community and camaraderie that comes with it. At least once a week I have a conversation with a complete stranger in a clothing store at a shopping mall or in the aisles of the supermarket or in an aerobics class at the gym, and those conversations are sparked because of my curls. Those conversations begin with questions like "How long have you been natural?" or "What products do you use on your hair?" 

Furthermore, some of my closest friends that I've made since I moved back to my hometown have been through local natural hair mixers organized by groups like Birmingham Natural Beauties. At these mixers conversations begin with questions like those I mentioned before, but soon the discussions move to other topics -- our careers, our hobbies, our husbands, our dreams. And soon a friendship is born. 

And thanks to natural blogs we naturalistas can forge bonds with women all across the country or even the world. Through online communities we share stories of our transition from relaxed hair, we rant about our search for a stylist who can cut curly hair, and we rave about products that keep our tresses soft. And soon even these conversations can drift to topics like exercise, as many women begin to workout more after going natural, or healthy eating, as many women begin to reconsider what they're putting in their bodies once they start to think about the products they're putting on their heads. 

So, no, many black women no longer congregate in black beauty salons as we once did, but black beauty culture is alive and well. We naturalistas may not see the black beauty shop as the safe and sacred space as our mothers did but as we gather at natural hair blogs, conferences, and meetups, we are encouraged and we are supported because we are always reminded that we are beautiful. 

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Posted by in ,  on 5:59 AM 1 comment
It's Ice Cube's favorite day of the week! And we're betting that it's your favorite too.

Here's how we celebrate the greatest day of the week.

Javacia defends her favorite Prince movie.

Prince and the Revolution, Parade: Music from the Motion Picture Under the Cherry Moon,  (1986)

Jai said: "I will go to my grave insisting that Under the Cherry Moon is a quality film. Chances are you've never heard of it, but it stars Prince, the greatest performer of all time, so it has to be good, right? Under the Cherry Moon is a musical drama in which Prince plays a gigolo named Christopher Tracy who swindles wealthy French women. OK, I realize that sounds like a horrible premise for a movie, but give it a chance. Or at least check out the soundtrack. It not only includes well-known hits like "Kiss" but also several other tracks that show off Prince's musical genius.

Also check out:
"Girls & Boys"
"Under the Cherry Moon"

This week, Edward's selection is brought to you by the letters "W" and "U."

Method Man, Tical (1994)

Edd said: Here's the answer to a future trivia question: Method Man's Tical is the first CD I ever purchased. After the Wu-Tang Clan took hip hop by storm, Meth was considered the breakout star and was on track to be one of hip-hop's all-time-greats. He didn't quite reach the upper echelon but his solo debut will remind you why he's one of rap's pioneers.

Also check out:
"Bring The Pain"
"I'll Be There For You/You're All I Need." featuring Mary J. Blige

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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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Image via

 We've got a treat for you today. I'm breaking you off with not one, but TWO Love Letters questions. Aren't you lucky? Not only are the questions sorta related, this will help clear out my bulging inbox.

But if you'd like to refill my inbox with your love queries, here's how.

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

Here's today's first question:  

If you are trying to start a relationship with someone and you asked for their number and they replied, "No, I'd rather talk to you on Facebook than on the phone," would you find that strange?


Times are a-changin'. Back in my day, if I asked for a girls' cell number and she gave me her parents' house number or borrowed a line from a Hollywood agent and said "don't call me, I'll call you" I'd assume either she's not interested or she's trying to keep me a secret from her man. But the world of social media has changed the dating game. Things aren't always as sinister as they seem.

As y'all know from personal experience, or just keeping up with this column, there are a ton of weirdos out there. Social sites like Facebook, when used effectively, can actually be used to protect yourself.

Instead of giving some stranger your phone number and risk 500 calls a day from a nutcase, you can easily ask someone to find you on Facebook and have them send you a message. It's much easier to delete Facebook messages and "un-friend" someone if things get weird than it is to change your phone number and go into witness protection. If I was still dating I'd probably use Facebook or Twitter to weed out the weirdos.

Of course, that new friend of yours COULD be a cheater and MAY be using Facebook to live a double life. If the relationship has been going on for more than a month and Facebook is only used to schedule your late-night hookups, yeah, that's a problem. Really, the same rules apply if your mate only accepts calls between 2 a.m. or 5 a.m. or only communicates via text. Facebook itself isn't evil - just open your eyes and see the massive red flags waiving in your face.

And speaking of that, question No. 2:

What are the top 10 signs that your significant other is cheating?


Y'all are mighty preoccupied with cheating today. Did someone get a call from Mr. Biggs over the weekend?

Image via

You know I love y'all but I'm not gonna rattle off 10 trivial things so paranoid people can spy on their spouses. First, I'm too lazy (what are you gonna do, dock my pay?). Second, it's not fair to make a blanket statement like "If your man gets a call at 4 a.m., he's cheating." What if it's a wrong number? What if there is an emergency? Every case is different.

As I mentioned in question No. 1, instead of snooping around for loose hairs and unknown texts, it's more important to pay attention to behavioral changes. Let's be real - 90% of the time, when a someone finds out their mate is cheating, it isn't a big surprise. There were many clues staring them in the face, and they had nothing to do with unclaimed draws on the bedroom floor. There is often a breakdown in communication, a drastic drop in quality time, a lack of affection - things that are often apparent way before you catch a stranger in your house. These actions might not be a sign that your mate is cheating, but it's definitely a sign that the relationship is failing. That should be your focus and you should work hard to communicate your concerns and repair what's broken.

Instead of trying to catch your no-good partner in the act so you can wild out like they do on Cheaters, take steps to safeguard your relationship before you have to call Joey Greco.
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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ten years ago in the newsroom of The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky I met a man who wore a tie to work every day (even on Fridays and even though the newsroom was a casual workplace) and insisted that Keith Sweat was the greatest R&B singer to ever live. Needless to say, I thought he was weird. But soon this quirky guy became one of my best friends and eventually the love of my life.

It's quite fitting that my husband Edward and I met at a newspaper. We both have a love for words and so it's pretty poetic that, in a way, words brought us together. And words continue to be an important part of our relationship, not only because we maintain a blog together, but because good communication is what we believe is one of the essentials to building a healthy marriage.

Edward and I had the chance to share this relationship tip and several others in today's edition of The Birmingham News. We're very excited to be featured, even though this puts a lot of pressure of us to make this thing work. I mean, really, do you realize how much it will suck if we were to get a divorce after this?

Check out the article here and let us know what you think.

Cross-posted at The Writeous Babe Project
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Saturday, June 9, 2012

What is true beauty? That's the question I was contemplating while mixing and mingling at Birmingham Magazine's 2012 Beautiful People Party. And this led me to thoughts about the meaning of true art. (Yes, I'm aware that the fact that I was thinking about all this at a party makes me a complete nerd.) If you're a nerd too and would like to know what conclusions I came to, check out my post Defining Beauty, Defining Art at The Writeous Babe Project.
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Friday, June 8, 2012


Looking 4 Myself (to be released June 12)

Wanna know the wifey's favorite song right now?

You haven't lived until you've watched her mimic Usher's flailing head and mouth-stretching notes. She looks like a baby bird being fed by mama bird.

I kid you not - the woman has to watch this video every day or somehow her life is unfulfilled. And as much as I'd love to hate on "Climax," I can't. It's by far the best thing clogging up radio airwaves right now - maybe even the best track of Usher's career.

The wobbly synths, the calm falsetto that slowly rises in each verse, only to hit its zenith and crash back down - the entire song lives up to its name. Usher and producer Diplo really created a masterpiece, a track that sounds like nothing I've heard before. That's a miracle in today's marketplace, which features an endless assembly line of techno pop clones.

So after Usher gets us all excited with "Climax," what does he release next? "Scream," yet another in the endless assembly line of techno pop clones. Sadly, if you're hoping for an album filled with Climaxes, you'll be disappointed. But what you will find is that Looking 4 Myself, Usher's seventh set, is filled with diversity - most of it familiar.

Current single "Lemme See" is the standard radio-friendly R&B song: typical oversexed lyrics, a hip-hop beat that sounds like the stepchild of DJ Khaled's "I'm On One" and the requisite cut-and-paste verse from Rick Ross (dude spends half the time talking about cars - did he even listen to the song?). Excluding Rawsssse, "Lemme See" actually succeeds, thanks to Usher's flawless falsetto.

"What Happened to U" is the lovechild of Beyonce's "I Miss You" and one of Drake's murky mixtape tracks. That's not a complaint - Usher draws you in with the familiarity and then adds his own stamp, bending your ear until you forget about the source material. Example: Listen to "Lessons for the Lover" and you'll immediately think it's ripped off from Kelly Rowland's "Motivation." But once you get pulled into the song's storyline, in which sex locks lovers into flawed relationships, similarities are forgotten and talent triumphs.

Longtime Urshur fans will love "Dive" and all its innuendo while old school R&B fans will be drawn to "Twisted" and its '60s Motown sound.

But of course, Usher is required to pad the album with irritating techno pop. The aforementioned "Scream," "Euphoria" and "Can't Stop Won't Stop" could have been sung (poorly) by Nicki Minaj, my Cousin Chris Brown — pretty much anyone. They're annoyingly interchangeable and offer nothing new.  Thankfully, the title track does stray from the pack. Yeah, the lyrics are quite cornball - "I was looking for myself and I ran right into you" - but it's not nearly as shouty and bland as the others. It's synth pop done right.

I really wish Usher took more chances, like "Climax" and "Sins of My Father." Usher sounds absolutely crazed on the latter, like he's marching through a swamp after his woman put a hex on him. Like "Climax," it's in a class of its own.

If Usher spent more time innovating and less time imitating, Looking 4 Myself might have been a classic. Still, even though you'd heard similar songs before I bet they didn't sound this good.

Best tracks: "Climax," "What Happened to U," "Sins of My Father"

4 stars out of 5
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The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that a recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that while exercise is a nearly sure way to prevent obesity in white adolescent girls, it does not have the same effect on African American girls.

From the L.A. Times:
The study, published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, found that among black adolescent girls who moved the most at age 12, obesity at age 14 was nearly as likely as it was for those whose activity rates were far lower.
For white girls, by contrast, regular exercise at 12 appeared a nearly sure way to head off obesity at 14. That finding held, even when the calorie intakes of an African American youngster and her white counterpart were the same.

The article goes on to say that the study falls in line with research that finds black women oxidize fat more slowly in response to exercise, and that their resting metabolic rates are lower than those of white women.
These findings come in the midst of a national effort to fight the obesity epidemic in the United States and many of those efforts focus on black women. Four in five African American women are overweight or obese when measured by the body mass index, or BMI. Even First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign has had a strong focus on encouraging black girls to be more active since experts say the run-up in weight may begin in adolescence.

So with this new research should black women and girls just give up? Should we hang up our sneakers and head to the couch? Of course not!

In fact, Linda Bacon, an associate nutritionist with UC Davis who was interviewed for the L.A. Times article, has been very critical of the focus on things like weight, BMI, and percent body fat. She believes that people should be encouraged to exercise and eat right for the sake of good health, not a number on a scale. 

The focus on weight can discourage people from being active and eating a healthy diet if they’re not shedding pounds and can lead thin people who eat junk food all the time to think that they’re healthy. Bacon does not believe weight alone determines a person’s level of health.

In the March issue of Glamour magazine she was quoted saying that overweight people can lead long, disease-free lives. “If you eat a good diet and exercise” Bacon told Glamour, “you’re likely to be healthy, no matter what the scale says.”

About a year ago I made the decision to get rid of my scale. I had successfully shed some pounds I wanted to lose but along the way I had become obsessed with my weight, so much so that my sense of self-worth had become too tied to my size. So last summer I trashed my scale and decided to focus on overall fitness. 

That’s when I started training for a half-marathon, something I never thought I would do because even though I had always enjoyed things like dance aerobics classes I had always told myself I could never be a runner. But in February of this year I crossed the finish line of the Mercedes Benz Half-Marathon in Birmingham, Alabama donning a Black Girls Run t-shirt and track jacket. 

This summer I’m working to improve my strength, while still doing plenty of running, dancing, and cycling to maintain good cardiovascular health.

And the only time you will see me stepping on a scale is at a doctor’s office.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think that for some women weight loss is crucial. If you’ve been told by a doctor that you need to shed pounds because your weight is putting you at serious risk for life-threatening diseases, then by all means follow your doctor’s orders, but do so by making lifestyle changes, not with a crash diet. And don’t get discouraged from your efforts to exercise and eat right just because you can’t reach a magic number on a chart or wear a certain size dress or jeans.

So to all women, regardless of race, out there hitting the gym to lift weights, work that elliptical or dance at your favorite aerobics class, keep moving! To all women and girls pounding the pavement training for your first 5K, 10K, or half-marathon, keep running. With each step you are making your body healthier and stronger, even if it’s not getting smaller.

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Hey, y'all, it's Friday!

And there was much rejoicing....

Let's mark this magnanimous occasion with some great music.

Edward gives respect when it's due.

Common, Be (2005)

Edd said: "Common's a great lyricist, one of the best in the game, but his albums can be hit or miss. This album was a definite hit. Com and Kanye West proved to be a perfect match and together created magic. Critics might disagree but this is probably Common's greatest work."

Also check out:
"The Corner"

Javacia begins to hope.

Regina Spektor, Begin to Hope (2006)

Jai said: "All this week I've been listening to Regina Spektor's latest release What We Saw From the Cheap Seats, which put me in the mood to listen to the album that sparked my love for Spektor, Begin to Hope. A student once randomly wrote on a test that I seemed like someone who would like Regina Spektor. Though she was right I wasn't quite sure how to take that since Regina Spektor is so freaking weird. But all that strangeness makes for some amazing music thanks to her talent and knack for storytelling.

Also check out:
"That Time"
"Apres Moi"

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 7, 2012

Antoinette (l) and Shanti (r)
Photos Courtesy Around the Way Curls

There are so many natural hair websites out in the blogosphere these days that when I stumble upon one I haven't read before I usually think, "Oh gosh, not another one." But when I found Antoinette and Shanti's blog Around the Way Curls (formerly known as A Curl's Best Friend), I knew I'd found something special. 

Antoinette and Shanti are best friends and together have created an online publication that explores pop culture and women's issues with an emphasis on celebrating naturally kinky and curly hair. They say their goal is to re-define popular notions of beauty and inspire women to embrace their uniqueness and to encourage a strong sense of self-worth within their readers. 

In less than a year, Antoinette and Shanti have managed to garner a strong following of loyal readers and were recently named by The Root as two of the best black bloggers of 2012. 

The ladies of Around the Way Curls graciously shared with me how they've managed to build a strong online community and how they deal with issues they face while blogging. 

You launched your blog a little less than a year ago, yet your site is already very popular. What's your secret? How did you get the word out about your site?

I don’t think that we have a secret to our popularity. We have just kept consistency, creativity and communication as the pillars to our blog’s growth. I think if you want to have a successful blog you must remain consistent. You should be posting every day and your material should have some rhyme and reason to it. There is nothing worse than to have a reader confused about the focus of the blog.
You must also have your creative juices flowing daily. We are always open and hoping to gain inspiration from our daily lives. In the shower, upon waking, when listening to music we are always trying to gain inspiration which can be translated to our blog. 

Lastly, the most important of all is communication. We would not be where we are if we had not reached out to others in the blogosphere. We took a leap and reached out to people that had many more followers than we did like Curly Nikki and Andrea and Shannon from Those Girls Are Wild. After contacting Nikki asking if she would let us guest post on her fabulous blog, she was kind enough to oblige and we were exposed to triple the readers we were reaching on our own. The same goes for our video collaboration we did with Those Girls Are Wild. We also keep up sincere communication with our readers through comments, emails and events. We love them and we want them to know that. They are never ignored or taken for granted.

Why do you think natural hair has become so popular over the past few years?

Natural hair is undeniably the best option (if not the only) to achieving healthy and happy hair. I think once women of color had the information readily available on how to take care of their hair and had the visual representations -- via blogs and YouTube --  of the growth potential and style potential from other women- it was a wrap! There is no stopping it now. It is not a fad. It is only growing. 

One of the most memorable things I ever read on your blog was when you all addressed a comment from a reader who said mixed hair isn't natural hair and that curly girls should stop trying to associate themselves with the natural hair movement. Why do you think people have this kind of attitude and how do you deal with it?

That comment was not the first time we have been confronted with that type of thinking. We have had very close friends say the same thing to us. Initially we were really defensive and insecure about how to handle that mentality. At times we thought that perhaps we didn’t fit the bill or that we should simply ignore it, but as the comments continued we realized that we had to address it head on and honestly. We will never deny that the experience and response of going natural varies from texture to texture.  But the act of discontinuing straightening and chemically perming one’s hair is across the board referred to as “going natural.” When one allows her hair to grow out of her head unaltered whether it grows kinky, curly or in fine ringlets or waves it means that person has decided to embrace and care for her hair naturally. Boom. It’s scientifically straightforward. 

As women who are both bi-racial, we are always confronted with the accusations that our existence is easier than our darker sisters. I think the way in which we deal with it is by remaining genuine in who and how we are. We do not cower to anyone, we do not push the “white aesthetic” on our blog, we do not over compensate for anyone, nor do we vilify white people either. We just try to represent ourselves (and all the components that make us up) respectfully and honestly. 

What are some of the benefits and challenges of blogging with your best friend? 

Shanti says: Sweet baby Jesus! The challenges! Just kidding…but not really. Antoinette and I are complete opposites in how we think and work, but we are the same when it comes to our love, passion and goals for the blog. We bicker often about howthings should get done but we never argue about what it is that needs to be done. I never have to worry about her post content. I trust her judgment, ideas and quality control and I think it goes the same for her. We love each other and I think that that comes before business. We know each other well and creating this blog together has only brought us closer. We are pretty much family. It’s a family business at this point.

What advice would you give to someone hoping to launch a blog in a niche that they think may already be over-saturated (like natural hair)?

We would say do something different! Make sure that, although your focus is hair, you offer your information in a different way. Make it juicy. Nothing is worse then a dry ass, dull hair blog. Incorporate your other interests as well so that it is not just hair, hair and hair.  And no matter what type of blog you are hoping to start, remember the “3 Cs”- consistency, creativity and communication. 

Cross-posted at The Writeous Babe Project
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