Monday, July 30, 2012

To date I have seen The Dark Knight Rises twice and I'm scanning my calendar trying to figure out when I can see it again. 

Honestly, I'm surprised I love this movie so much. I didn't think it could possibly live up to the hype and was sure it was pale in comparison to The Dark Knight. And though I am a fan of Tom Hardy, I thought Bane would be a terribly uninteresting villain. Boy, was I wrong.

There was one decision of Christopher Nolan, however, that I never questioned -- Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. I had very high expectations of Hathaway's performance and she surpassed them. Not only was she cool and cunning just as Selina Kyle should be, but Hathaway also displayed Catwoman's internal conflict with every move she made and often with just a simple stare. 

After reading an article by Shoshana Kessock titled Anne Hathaway: The Best Catwoman Yet I realized that Nolan and Hathaway had not only created a Catwoman that would make comic nerds happy (my husband says it was as if Hathaway just walked off the pages of the comic books), but one that should be celebrated by feminists too. Here's why: 

1. Hathaway's Catwoman is confident. From the moment we're introduced to Selina Kyle it is clear that she is a woman who knows who she is and is, as Kessock states, "unapologetically herself." 

2. Hathaway's Catwoman is complex. She is not some stock sex-kitten character. She's a complicated woman with principles, particularly principles regarding the haves and the have-nots. She's a woman struggling to balance her need to survive and protect herself with her gut reaction to do good and help those for which she cares. And yes, she happens to be sexy as hell too, but in a way that seems natural, not forced or over the top. As Kessock writes, "When she dons the cat suit it’s for practical reasons. She is not out to display her body, she needs clothes that will protect and not get in the way during physical altercations." 

3. Hathaway's Catwoman is competent. Sure, Selina Kyle is a helluva thief, but she's also witty and smart as a whip, which allows her to stand toe-to-toe with Batman/Bruce Wayne in battle and banter. As Kessock argues, Hathaway's Catwoman explodes that tired whore with a heart of gold trope. Catwoman becomes Batman's equal making their connection more believable, which I never found it to be in past movies or even in the old school Batman TV show. Selina Kyle doesn't need some White Knight, (er, Dark Knight?) to ride in on his horse (er, Batcycle?) to save her. Yet, Batman causes her to consider living a life that is about more than just survival. And as Kessock writes, "In her attraction to Batman, Hathaway’s Selina is every woman who has ever been intrigued by a complicated guy who throws their world upside down."

Thanks to her complexity, her intelligence, and her conflicting principles, Hathaway's Catwoman also becomes relatable. No, most of us aren't spending our nights picking pockets, beating up bad guys, or flirting with masked superheroes. But most women do know what it's like to fall for the guy you never thought was your type and most of us are every day fighting to live the best lives that we can. 

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Rick Ross

God Forgives, I Don't (to be released July 31, 2012)

A funny thing happened in the two years since Rick Ross released his last album, Teflon Don. Somehow, he suddenly became the biggest rapper in hip hop.

And I'm not just talking about his waistline.

I'm not sure if it's his knack for selecting superb production, his catalog of catchphrases (HUH) or just his willingness to work with every artist under the sun (which allowed him to appear on virtually every track on the radio) but Rawssssse has become omnipresent in hip hop. You can't go 30 seconds without hearing that Maybach Music tag.

The Bawssssssse, now at the apex of his career, looks to solidify his reign at the top of mainstream hip hop with God Forgives, I Don't, his most celebrated release.

There's just one problem, one that's plagued Rozay all his career - lyrically, he's tends to fall short.

Don't get me wrong, when motivated, Ross can be a force. But usually Ross just coasts, leaning on his amazing production while he randomly prattles on about making money, making babies and making dinner. Sadly, Ross doesn't deviate from that formula this time around, but that doesn't mean there aren't some gems in this collection.

Ross always seems to raise his game when he shares the mic, so it's no surprise that the album is crammed with guest appearances. The much ballyhooed "3 Kings" isn't as epic as it pretends to be, but with Dr. Dre and Jay-Z assisting, it's still worth your time (even though Dre's verse is so blatantly ghostwritten that it sounds like he's doing karaoke). Jay even coins a new catchphrase — expect every rapper to proclaim "it feels different" for the next year.

Ross delivers his usual morsels (ahem) with "Diced Pineapples," as he and Wale trade seductive raps. Drake phones it in on the hook but the real winner here is Cardiak's production, making Ross' job look easy. It works much better as a lady killer anthem than the lazy current single "Touch'N You."

Ross' MMG cohorts Stalley and Teedra Moses steal the show on "Ten Jesus Pieces" and "Amsterdam," respectively, but it's Andre 3000 who commits grand theft/larceny on "Sixteen." 3 Stacks is an absolute beast on the track as he ponders life and leaves Ross eating his dust: "How's he God if he lets Lucifer let loose on us/that noose on us won't loosen up but loose enough to juice us up/making us think we do so much." It's so great I'll even forgive his horrible guitar solo at the end of the track. Stick to the bars, Dre.

Image via
Despite the greatness of "Sixteen," it reinforces my main beef with Rawse - his lack of focus and structure. "Sixteen" is one of the few songs on the album that actually features a concept. In this case, Ross breaks away from the standard hip hop structure of sixteen bars of lyrics because he needs "more than 16" to express himself. But then he doesn't SAY anything of substance. I don't expect Ross to suddenly get all philosophical on us, but if he claims to have so much on his mind, he needs to do more than talk about waking up to "turkey bacon and his thick queen." I mean, isn't that what he ALWAYS talks about?

At its best, Ross' stream-of-consciousness punchlines work when he's backed by a decent hook and bangin' beat, like "Presidential" and "Ashamed." At its worst, you get songs like "So Sophisticated" and "Hold Me Back" with unfocused rhymes and repetitive hooks that you've heard 1,000 times from Rawse already. Like the rapper Skillz so poignantly said about an earlier Rick Ross song, "It's not rap if you're just saying the same thing twice."

I think this line from the track "911" describes the best and worst of Ricky Ross:

"I remember picking watermelons/now the Porsche cost me a quarter million."

Purists will balk at its absurdity (it doesn't even rhyme!) but Rozay fans will quote it endlessly.

Image via

It's so fitting that this album dropped in the dead of summer - it's the epitome of a summer movie blockbuster. It's a flashy, occasionally fun thrill ride but besides a few key moments (ahem, Andre on "Sixteen") it'll be tough to remember six months from now.

God Forgives, I Don't isn't the tour de force we were promised but fans of the Bawsssse fans will eat it up. So to speak.

Best tracks: "Sixteen," "Diced Pineapples," "Ten Jesus Pieces"

3.5 stars out of 5
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Welcome to a Very Special Edition of Flashback Friday. And unlike the Very Special episodes of Good Times and Diff'rent Strokes, this edition won't be depressing.

Georgia Mae fan Hunter Murphy passed along so many great gems that this week's column will consist solely of Hunter's selections. Trust us, you won't be disappointed.

Take it away, Hunter!

Bill Withers, Still Bill (1972)

"I just can't EVER get over Mr. Bill Withers (from Slab Fork, W.Va, no less). He's just too good. 'Oh, my friends feel it's their appointed duty....' Bless you, Bill."

Also check out:

Otis Redding, The Otis Redding Story (1987)

"Yes, 'Tramp,' 'Sittin on the Dock,' and 'Try a Little Tenderness' are smokin', I agree, but what about a lesser known tune about a bad break-up and an indelible image left in Mr. Redding's head? Listen to 'You Left the Water Running.' I wrote a book about a Tuscaloosa student and in some ways, I think I wrote it for Otis."

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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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

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Here's your homework lesson for tonight - go see The Dark Knight Rises. No matter how screwed up your love life is, I guarantee it's not as bad as poor Bruce Wayne's.

Before we check in with today's battling beaus, hit me up if you'd like advice.

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

Here's today's question:

Me and my girlfriend have been fighting like an old married couple but we haven't been together two months yet. I think it's because we're so much alike but I also feel that this is a red flag because we're so early in the relationship. What should I do?

There's a big misconception among my family and friends that the wifey and I don't get into disagreements. We're both human beings, not robots - of course we have different views and perspectives on things. 

Plus, I readily admit that living with me can be pretty annoying. Hang my clothes on the wrong end of the closet and I'll complain. Leave the cabinet doors open and I'll whine. Put the wrong CD in the wrong case and I'll hit the roof. There's nothing worse than opening the case for Lupe Fiasco's Food and Liquor and seeing an old Ani DiFranco disc inside.

Sorry ladies, living with me isn't all champagne and Sour Patch Kids.

Even though the wifey and I have our disagreements, we've NEVER had screaming matches, door-slamming contests, or the tried-and-true "storm out of the house and drive off while the spouse yells your name down the street." Save that stuff for the soap operas and reality TV shows; those histrionics only escalate matters.

I'm not sure the nature of your arguments, but if your disagreements are on the level of cabinet door drama and incorrect CDs catfights I wouldn't rewrite my profile for just yet. The trick to managing any argument is compromise. When an issue arises and there is a disagreement, communicate and find a resolution then and there. Don't let things linger and go unsaid - that just fuels later tension. And once the issue is settled, DROP IT. Don't keep holding it against your mate. If the issue comes up again, address it, then let it go.

When I get ready in the morning I tend to leave things like lotion and cologne bottles randomly around the house, greatly annoying the wifey. When I get busted for it, I just say "my bad" and put them in their proper place. I don't say "ITZ JUST A STOOPID BOTTLE, CHILL OUT WOMAN!!!" nor does she go all Kelis on me. An issue comes up, we resolve it, we move on, the end.

Now if you guys are fighting about more weighty issues ("Stop stealing my mom's car!" or "Is this your heroin needle?") then you really need to re-evaluate things. But since your relationship is pretty young, there are bound to be some bumps in the road as you figure each other out. I wouldn't write things off yet. Just work at it. The trick is to come to a consensus early, respect each other and don't let petty quarrels stop your relationship from blossoming. 

Today's bonus round question is brought to you by Mortal Kombat.

Image via
Why do men love a woman who plays hard to get opposed to a woman who is always in their face?
They say women are from Venus and men from Mars but, really, we're all just a bunch of weird space aliens. We're more similar than you think. 

Let's put things this way: Ladies, would you prefer a man who shows interest but gives you just enough space to think things over or would you like a hyperactive spider monkey jumping in your face 24/7? Unless you're a fan of spider moneys, I bet you'll go with option A. That rings true for us men too.

An overly persistent and overbearing dater reeks of desperation - and baggage too. No one wants a clingy psychopath in their life. Ladies, there is nothing wrong with showing interest in a guy or, gasp, even making the first move. But scale things back and don't get too headstrong. Trust me, a clingy woman is the largest red flag a man can see. Show you're interested, then step back and allow him make a move. Let your absence make his heart grow fonder. 
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

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Crushing news from

Sherman Hemsley, the actor who made the character George Jefferson famous in "The Jeffersons," has died, El Paso cops tell TMZ.

Hemsley died at his home in El Paso, Texas. 

Most 80s babies wanted Bill Cosby to be their dad. Forget that, in my eyes, George Jefferson was always the man.

I don't know if it was his impeccable style, his take-no-prisoners attitude or just that iconic strut, I always related to Sherman Hemsley.

Forget relate, I wanted to BE like Sherman Hemsley.

Hemsley was an '80s icon. After stealing the show as recurring character George Jefferson on "All In the Family," he moved on up to superstardom with the classic sitcom "The Jeffersons." He had memorable roles on "Amen" as Deacon Ernest Frye, "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and countless movies.

In an era where the word "swagger" has been run into the ground, Hemsley was always the embodiment of it. Witness his epic intro for "Amen."

I'm half his age and I can't walk like that.

Although all of his characters seemed to suffer from a severe case of Napoleon complex, deep down, he was a softy who was deeply devoted to his family. Hemsley turned the prototype for "family man" on its head, then strutted on top of it.  He was funny, he was loving, and he was a pioneer.

For old times' sake, join me for one last George Jefferson dance.

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Life imitates art.

Props to my awesome friend @evantravers for his awesome photoshopping skills.
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R. Kelly

Write Me Back (released June 26, 2012)

I'll be honest, I really had no intention of reviewing Arruh's latest effort. That all changed when a friend passed along Kelly's video for "Feelin' Single." One listen and I was hooked.

I, like many listeners, have a love-hate-HATE-love relationship with The Pied Piper. For every classic R&B cut he gives us, he follows it up with something absolutely ridiculous (like the time he had sex in outer space or the "Trapped in the Closet" nonsense). But his talent is undeniable, and he lures us back in each and every time.

That's the goal of Write Me Back, his 11th studio album. No longer is Kelly trying to be the creepy old man in the kiddie club; he's appealing to his core audience - the Grown 'N' Sexy crowd. That's why "Feelin' Single" is such a great track; it's full of youthful vibrancy, but it's not at all immature. The party continues with "Lady Sunday" and "Believe That It's So." Both are perfect for the steppers, although the latter wears out its welcome by the time he starts talking about "clowning with his friends" and yelling "YAAAAAHAHAH-AH." But that's our Robert. You should expect nothing less.

The remainder of the album is a callback to the great eras of R&B. This is where Kelly's diverse vocals come into play and his true talent shines. Arruh channels Barry White on "Love Is," complete with preachy intro and warbling vocals. "Fool For You" is right out of the Temptation's playbook. Most surprising of all is "All Rounds on Me," which sounds like a goofy pop number from the old TV show Gidget. That's not a bad thing, mind you. It makes me wanna go grab my surfboard.

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Kelly also makes sure to pay homage to himself. "Green Light" is a classic 90s R. Kelly slow jam. Close your eyes and I bet you can hear Sherry Carter and Donnie Simpson raving about it on BET's Video Soul Countdown. And I was ready to hate on "When A Man Lies," in which Kelly does his usual shtick of pandering to the ladies by talking about how horrible men are. But when Kelly reveals that the he's actually upset with the man in the mirror, I had to give him credit for that piece of introspection.

Like his last album, Love Letter, this is a much more mature Kelly. Still, even though the tracks sound great and I appreciate the throwbacks, there's almost a tepid mood here, like he's holding back. He seems to be missing a bit of his fire here. Don't confuse me, when I say fire I don't mean filth. Lord knows we don't need another song about having sex in the zoo. Grandma n' dem probably will love this set but until Arruh finds a balance between inspiration and insanity, my  love-hate-HATE-love relationship will continue.

Best tracks: "Feelin Single," "Green Light," "Lady Sunday"

3.5 stars out of 5
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Monday, July 23, 2012

baby all stars
Photo by Roy Costello
Image via Flickr/Creative Commons

The other day a writer pal of mine tweeted about her fear of writing on controversial topics. I quickly jumped in (Writeous Babe to the rescue!) and reminded her that the best of essays are those that take an unpopular stance on an issue. Then she replied that she was mostly reluctant for fear that her opinion would change. I told her that was OK. I don't believe writers should ever pretend to have it all figured out. We don't have all the answers and we should admit that. "Writing is about asking questions," I tweeted. And after she marked my tweet as a favorite I felt special, like I had said something important and sage. 

Then I realized I was a hypocrite. 

Lately the thing that's been on my mind most is a controversial, unpopular choice of mine that I've been leery to write about. 

I don't want children. 

In January of 2008 I was diagnosed with a condition that would most likely make pregnancy, delivery, and life after childbirth extremely difficult for me. When people close to me, people aware of this issue, ask me why my husband and I aren't trying to have kids I use this condition as an excuse. But it's just that -- an excuse. I don't want children, and it has nothing to do with my health. 

I had a wide variety of responses ready for the moment when someone asks why I'm not trying to get knocked up: We're not quite ready. We need to put away more money in savings. We want to buy a house first. Excuse. Excuse. Excuse. 

A few months ago -- ironically on Mother's Day -- I made the decision to drop the excuses. And when random lady at the supermarket asked why my husband and I don't have kids, I boldly replied, "I don't want children." That has been my response to anyone who has asked since then. And for some reason I'm asked this question about once a week, usually by someone who can't even correctly pronounce my name and, therefore, has no business asking me something so personal. But I digress. 

I've wanted to write about the hilarious array of reactions I get to my declaration that I don't want children, but in order to do that I would have to write about the fact that I, you know, don't want children. And that I didn't want to do. 

Sure, I've written about this matter in a lighthearted manner in the past like when I wrote a column for the weekly I used to work for about remaining childless for reasons such as I didn't want my perky boobs to sag after becoming lactation stations. And like this piece I wrote for The Hairpin.

But I've never dealt with this topic seriously in my writing. Why? For the same reason my friend wouldn't tackle her tough topics -- I'm afraid I'll change my mind. At this point in my life I'm pretty sure I will not. When I was in my 20s everyone said as soon as I turned 30 I'd go baby crazy. But when that monumental birthday rolled around last year I began to feel more certain than ever that I did not want to be a mom. Still, there is a chance I could change my mind. 

No, I'm not worried about proving right all the people who said I would, in fact, change my mind. Those are the same people who think I don't want kids because I wasn't hugged enough as a child. (Growing up my brother and I never went to bed without my parents first giving us a hug, a kiss, and an "I love you.") And those are the same people who say ridiculous things like, "Motherhood is a woman's purpose and duty."  Ergo, I don't care what they think.

What I’m worried about is changing my mind, having a kid, and then one day Writeous Baby reads this post and starts yelling, “Mommy! You didn’t want me?! You don’t love me!” That is my fear. But I guess it’s too late now. The declaration that I want to remain child-free has been made and posted in cyberspace. 

And in case it's 2030 and you're reading this, Writeous Baby, please know that if you're in this world it's because I not only wanted you, but decided I couldn't live without you. 

Cross-posted at The Writeous Babe Project
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Friday, July 20, 2012

We don't know how you're spending the weekend, but your favorite bloggers at Georgia Mae headquarters are counting the seconds until the release of The Dark Knight Rises. While we're watching the clock slooooowly tick by, here's what we're listening to to pass the time.

Edward hangs out with Mr. Biggs.

The Isley Brothers, Mission to Please (1996)

Edd said: "The Isleys are R&B royalty. Who else can boast DECADES of classic tracks? Their 1996 effort is probably my favorite Isley album and dropped soon after Ron Isley revived his career with his Mr. Biggs character. I'm still a little bitter that the set didn't include the remix of "Floatin' on Your Love" but I can't complain - it's probably their most well-rounded album."

Also check out:
"Mission to Please You"
"Let's Lay Together"

Javacia goes to Britain for weekend selections.

Coldplay, Parachutes (2000)

Jai said: "I became a Coldplay fan by accident. And my love for the these blokes was sparked years after their debut release. Coldplay and Fiona Apple were coming to Louisville, where I lived at the time, and this was my chance to finally see Fiona perform live. But I didn't know any Coldplay songs except "Yellow" and I'm one of those people who insist on singing along to every single song when I go to a show. So I borrowed every Coldplay album that a colleague of mine owned and listened to them constantly for two weeks. By the time the night of the concert arrived I was just as excited, if not more than, about Coldplay as I was about Fiona Apple. And they did not disappoint."

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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Thursday, July 19, 2012

When I first learned that Michelle Obama was coming to Birmingham my heart started doing cartwheels in my chest. Yes, I have a serious girl crush on my First Lady as does nearly every woman I know. 

The general admission tickets to this special event were $200. A ticket to the preferred viewing section went for $500 and for $5,000 you could get a ticket for two that included a photo with the first lady. 

Um, yeah. After reading that I was sure I was not going to see the First Lady during her trip to the Magic City. But as luck would have it, an awesome pal of mine had access to some discounted general admission tickets and yesterday afternoon she and I had the honor of attending this special reception. 

First Lady Michelle Obama came to Birmingham, Ala., yesterday to campaign for her husband, obviously, but, to be honest with you, the November election had nothing to do with my decision to attend the event. I went to be inspired.

Snapshot of the crowd at the Michelle Obama Reception
Photo by Sherri Ross

The very sight of Michelle Obama inspires me. That might be hard for some people to understand, but let me explain. Actually, a recent Clutch magazine article by Mary Annaise Heglar explains it better than I ever could. Heglar writes of Michelle Obama:

Her very being challenges every myth about black women — we are fat, ugly, angry, stupid, and (now) single. Michelle is slender, a health nut, poised, smart, and happily married...
Michelle has undone centuries of terrible PR and outright lies. She single-handedly brought successful, well-rounded black women out of the shadows. No longer the invisible women, they now meet with the Queen of England and hula hoop on the White House lawn. She is the First Lady, the face of American womanhood to the rest of the world.

To me Michelle Obama is a rock star. This is why my friend and I were giddy like adolescent girls at a Justin Bieber concert before, during, and after the First Lady's talk. I actually screamed and jumped up and down when she took the stage clad in a sleeveless, navy dress, a black patent leather belt, and black patent leather kitten-heeled shoes.

Here I am grinning ear to ear moments before First Lady Michelle Obama took the stage.
Photo by Sherri Ross 

But yesterday was about more than Michelle Obama's celebrity. I wanted to be inspired by her words and she did not disappoint. Sure, her speech focused a lot on President Obama's accomplishments, but I'm not writing this to tell you how to vote. I'm writing this because I want you to feel as encouraged as I did as I drove home yesterday evening. 

Michelle Obama was funny, passionate, smart and down-to-earth and she was also remarkable. One of the most memorable statements she made yesterday was "Sitting on the sidelines is simply not an option." She was talking about the importance of getting apathetic friends, family members, and neighbors to vote, but this statement is one we should all apply to our lives in general. 

So many of us, too many of us, sit on the sidelines of our own lives. We sit there wishing, hoping and praying that things will happen for us, but they don't because we don't bother to get in the game. 

We're afraid. We're afraid because once we get in the game we know we'll have to run a play, we'll have to make decisions and some of those decisions could change our lives as we know it. But this is exactly why we need to get to work. 

Michelle Obama spoke about those moments when she's seen her husband wrestle with decisions he's had to make for our country. In those moments, she said, President Obama had to draw from his life experiences and his values. When making difficult decisions, she said, "it all comes down to who you are and what you stand for." 

Listening to my First Lady I realized that once you know who you are and what you're truly passionate about, you can step away from the sidelines and move onto the court. When you face the hard choices your character and your values will be your guide. Trust yourself. You can do this. I can do this. 

Cross-posted at The Writeous Babe Project
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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Before we get into the lovey dovey stuff, a friend asked me a related question last week:
"Do readers ever get offended by your answers? You can be kinda blunt sometimes."
Submitting a question to Georgia Mae's Love Letters column is like sitting on the front row of a SeaWorld event - enjoying the show means you might get drenched by my sarcasm. Just try not to slip and fall on your face on your way out.  But no, so far I haven't had anyone go all Blu Cantrell on me. I think everyone appreciates a little tough love.

If you too would like to get doused by a wave of relationship knowledge, hit me up. 

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

Here's today's question:
Should a woman be running from a man who says he's looking for a woman that's just like his momma?
Sometimes I think women freak out a bit too much when menfolk say they want a woman like their mom. Or maybe I'm just saying that because I'm one of those menfolk.

It's not unusual that we compare our significant others to our parents. For better or worse, they're often our role models for future relationships. Women who adore their dads, like my wifey, look for similar traits in their men. For example, my dad-in-law and I seem to have absolutely nothing in common (the man thinks Tevin Campbell is better than Keith Sweat - the nerve of him...) but if you ask the wifey, she'll say that we're both protective, comforting and nurturing. Or so I'm told. Icky Garbaj probably feels otherwise.

Likewise, for us guys, our moms are our first relationship role models. Now in many cases, women take this to mean, "He wants me to cook and clean and wash his dirty draws." Not necessarily.

Two of my favorite girls: My mom and my dog Zena

My mom is definitely a domestic dynamo. The woman gets up at 4 a.m., makes breakfast for everyone, goes to work, comes home around 6:30 p.m., makes dinner for everyone, does paperwork for my dad's business, cleans the house, does laundry, endures whatever foolishness my dad and brother put her through that evening, and crawls in the bed around 11:30 without complaint. 

Yeah, I wanted a woman like my mom, and I found her.

No, Javacia doesn't make Thanksgiving dinner every day and you must be crazy if you think she's doing laundry at 10 p.m. But the wifey shares my mom's love and commitment to family.

Ladies, it's not always about what mom does. It's about why she does it.

Now, yes, I'm sure there are some dudes who wants a woman "to cook and clean and wash his dirty draws." That dude doesn't want someone like his mom - he wants someone like his maid. That's not a knock against the domestic divas out there - I know plenty of women who love keeping house. You are appreciated. But I also know women who love keeping house so the place is nice and tidy when their smash buddy stops by. Cooking and cleaning doesn't always make a woman a good catch.

Remember ladies, a guy's mom isn't always the prototype for hired help, like Rosie from the Jetsons. Often, she's just the prototype for a good woman. It can be a tough act to follow, but if you're truly committed to your man it won't be an issue.

Time for a Love Letters Bonus Track! It's like a Lauryn Hill album!

Do you believe that a man who boasts about how many "female friends" he has and how much they are "getting it in" are really doing these things or is that a man with low self-esteem stroking his ego?
Playa, I have a lot of close female friends, but I'm not "getting it in" with any of them. That's actually kinda gross to think about. So I guess you're talking about those pesky "friends with benefits." I bet those three words have stirred up more drama than "Where's my money,"  "Yo momma's ugly," and, worst of all, "Love And Hip-Hop." Ugh.

If it sounds like I'm rambling, it's because I'm trying to distract myself from this question. Look, if a dude is bragging about all the sex he's having with random women, does it really matter if he's stroking his own ego or if one of those chicks is stroking it? Either he's liar or a blatant slut puppy. In either case, would you really wanna start a relationship with that guy? Keep it moving, playa, or you'll soon be one of his "female friends."

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Previously published at The Writeous Babe Project.

Last week I went to my favorite local movie theater not once, but twice. (I’m almost mayor of the place on Foursquare.) And even though Magic Mike and The Amazing Spider-Man were great I’m still kicking myself that I have yet to see Brave. This Pixar film follows the adventures of Princess Merida who wants to defy the customs of her kingdom and choose her own path in life.  As a feminist, I should have been at the theater to see this opening day. I need to step my game up.

Writing for, Sonia Saraiya ranked Disney princesses from least to most feminist. File this under “Things I Wish I’d Written.” I really need to step my game up.

Looking at Saraiya’s list I immediately noticed that the three Disney princesses ranked the most feminist were also young women of color. I found this quite ironic since women of color are constantly being told, usually by members of their own ethnicity, that they can’t be feminist. Back in May I received an email that read: “A black woman cannot be a feminist…sorry.” True story.

Does this list mean women of color are better feminists? Of course, not! What it shows is the mark of progress. These feminist fairy tales not only seek to dismantle the notion that women should be demure, one-dimensional characters depending on a prince to save them, but also challenges the notion of what a princess looks like. She doesn’t always have to have blond hair and blue eyes. (Side note: I love that Princess Merida of Brave has thick, curly hair! That might be a Disney first.)

This got me to thinking, what does it take to create feminist fairy tale? Here’s what I’ve come up with:
  • Your princess needs to actually be awake. She can’t be revolutionary if she spends half the story unconscious waiting for a dude to come kiss her. Princess Aurora, I’m talking to you.
  • Your princess needs a voice. Sure, that sounds obvious, but Saraiya reminds us that in The Little Mermaid Ariel actually trades her voice so she can have a chance with a cute boy. (Though, she should get points for rescuing said boy from drowning and for longing for a life of adventure.)
  • Your princess needs a sensible wardrobe. Not to give poor Ariel a hard time, but it’s hard to fight gender stereotypes in a clamshell bikini.
  • Your princess needs a dream. She needs goals that go beyond just finding a husband. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying marriage is anti-feminist. I love being a wife, but I also love being a writer.  Perfect example: Tiana from The Princess and the Frog wants to run her own restaurant. If that’s not progressive I don’t know what is.
  • Your princess needs to be badass. There’s really no other way to say this. For example, instead of waiting to be rescued, your princess needs to be the one saving others, yes, even men. She needs to be the hero of her own story. Check out the Nerve article to find out which Disney princess is the most feminist (and badass) of them all and let me know if you agree or not.

And while reading that article, this song kept playing in my head...

Who are you favorite Disney princesses?
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Friday, July 13, 2012

In case you forgot to watch last night, here's the latest episode of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. And in case you're new here, you should know the Georgia Mae crew is kind of obsessed with this web series.

Loyal readers, you know the drill: don't watch this at work, especially without headphones. 

My favorite quote from this episode: "What would 90s Nia Long do?"

And be sure to check out CeCe's Hello Kitty lunch bag!

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We're back with more old favorites to help ease you into the weekend. If you'd like to share you favorites, feel free to pass 'em along. Let us know what you're rocking!

C.J. Harris remember when Lil Wayne gained respect.

Lil Wayne, Tha Carter II (2005)

C.J.said: "From the intro to the interlude to the outro, it was Weezy's best album to date. This is the album that made people respect Wayne as a lyricist."

Also check out:
"Tha Mobb"
"Money On My Mind"

This one is for Edward's dogs...

DMX, It's Dark and Hell is Hot (1998)

Edd said: "Earlier this week the Twitter trend #10FavoriteRappers caught my eye. My picks were Missy Elliott, Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Ghostface Killah, Jay-Z Pusha T, Kanye West, Eminem, LL Cool J and DMX. One of my boys (shout out to @MrPhroZone06) though my last selection was pretty shocking. Everyone knows my love for lyrical titans and of course my bias toward Virginia artists is no surprise (hey, Missy) but my boy was taken aback by DMX. What X lacks in lyricism he makes up for in energy and sheer passion. Plus he's just hilariously over the top. His debut is easily among my top 5 favorite albums. There's definitely a method to his madness."

Also check out:
"Get At Me Dog"
"Stop Being Greedy"

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, July 12, 2012


Life is Good (to be released July 17, 2012) 

Nas' greatest gift to hip hop has always been his biggest curse.

His 1994 debut, Illmatic, is arguably (and if you ask me, factually) the greatest rap album ever laid on wax. Nas became an instant rap icon. But now matter how great his subsequent eight albums were, the reaction remained the same: "It's not better than Illmatic."

Nearly two decades later, that sullen boy on the Illmatic cover is now a man and Life is Good chronicles that journey. Think of Life Is Good as a photo album, offering snapshots of not just Nasir's evolution, but 20 years of hip hop history.

"No Introduction" is a four-minute synopsis of Nas' life — from a kid in the project hallways to getting sage advice from The Notorious B.I.G. to his rise an industry legend, it's all here. From there, the album quickly shifts into an updated mid-'90s sound. It's one of raps most critically acclaimed eras, and the era in which Nas reigned supreme. "Loco-Motion" and "A Queens Story" hit hard, with the latter featuring gritty storytelling that is an endangered species in today's rap scene. The track bleeds right into "Accident Murderers," where Nas even drags a strong verse out of Rick Ross, for once. The throwbacks continue with "Reach Out," a collabo with Mary J. Blige that I swear was pulled from a 1995 Rap City countdown. Like a family cookout with your grandma's potato salad, it's a celebration of hip-hop's roots.

And just like the crotchety uncle at the cookout, Nas gathers the kids to offer sage advice on "Back When." Younger fans might roll their eyes at the elder statesmen who is "here to enlighten," but he's merely serving as an experienced voice of reason. Here, Nas derides misguided youth who blame shortcomings on race, sexual preference, the mafia, and other boogeymen in society (ahem, those dreaded Illuminatiz...). He rhetorically asks "who possesses the testicular fortitude to blow away myths that's a hinderence to all of you?" before deciding to shatter those myths himself. Escobar is equally troubled by society's ills on "World's An Addiction," preaching that "we all need faith cuz the world keeps changing/let go of the illusions." Anyone who has questioned Nas' lyrical prowess will quickly be proven wrong.

While Nas is quick to put society under a microscope, he's equally as transparent with his own life. On the laid-back "Cherry Wine," Nas resurrects Amy Winehouse as he daydreams about his perfect woman. Winehouse's vocals blend flawlessly with the guitar licks, slightly tugging at the listener's heartstrings. And on "Daughters" he struggles with being the father of a teenager, readily admitting that he hasn't been the best role model.

But the biggest peek into Nas' personal life is "Bye Baby," his send-off to ex-wife Kelis. You'd imagine this song would be full of rage and bitterness — I mean, the dude has remnants of her wedding dress draped over his leg on the album cover! Sure, there are quite a few barbs here, but in a sign of maturity, Nas spends most of the track reminiscing about the good times. Best of all, he's quick to tell his haters, "At least I can say I tried, plus enjoyed the ride/Plus we got our little boy, my little joy and pride." He's come a long way from the guy who used to bribe women with "ice."

Even the weakest track "Summer On Smash" — with Swizz Beatz acting like a hyperactive kid who just ate 20 pounds of Pixy Stix — succeeds through sheer willpower. Nas has a laser-like focus on making sure even the most lightweight radio tune at least has witty wordplay to snag your ear. There are no throwaway tracks here.

Early reviews of Life Is Good criticized the album for being "stuck in the past and being obsessed with the life he once had." They're missing the point. The album isn't a rehash, it's a road map, showing how far Nas, and the culture he grew up with, has matured and evolved. This album isn't the usual collection of random tracks. It's Nas' story and, most importantly, the story of the art form we all love.

So, is Life Is Good better than the beloved Illmatic? No, and I doubt anything will ever match it. Life is Good is like a history lesson - it's a combination of many stories and eras. Pitting it against just one story from one era does it a grave injustice. If you were born after 1990 and your favorite rapper wears jeggings, the album might not touch you the way it speaks to fans who have lived through 20 years of hip-hop history. But like every good story, give it a chance and you'll get sucked into its world.

I've spent almost four years reviewing albums for this site and none have been better than this piece of work. Life is good, but this album is phenomenal.

Best tracks: "Bye Baby," "Daughters," "Back When," "Cherry Wine," I can keep going if you like.

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Posted by in ,  on 3:37 PM 6 comments

Today we take on those pesky gender roles. Our lives would be so much easier if we didn't have to stress over what outsiders think about our relationships.

But if you'd like to know what THIS outsider thinks about your relationship, hit me up! Hypocrisy can be fun!

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 society say that a woman has to be married off and have a family at a certain age but it's OK for a man to be a bachelor for the rest of his life?


Society sucks.

My wife and I attend separate churches. Society says my wife should leave her church and attend mine because the woman follows the man. Society is wrong. Extenuating circumstances led us to separate churches and it's not fair to pull her away from those roots because I IZ DA MAN.

The wife's father loves to cook and watch soap operas. Her mother loves horror movies and action flicks. Society says those roles are mixed up. Society is wrong - they're a loving couple and their marriage has endured more than 30 years. Oh, and if society questions my father-in-law's manhood he'll smash you in the face with his barbecue grill spatula.

The wifey's paycheck is slightly bigger than mine. Society says I'm not fulfilling my goal of being the alpha male breadwinner. Society is wrong. Why does it matter? What's mine in hers and what's her is mine. All our money is going to the same (pitifully empty) bank account anyway, why does it matter who has the largest share?

As the writer points out, society says that a woman isn't fulfilled unless she's married and popping out babies. Meanwhile, a man can live the single life without consequence because he isn't that active in child care anyway. Society, of course, is wrong, and it goes back to the gender roles I alluded to above: women are caretakers and followers; men are breadwinners and leaders. And actually, there's nothing wrong with that if it fits within the parameters of your relationship. My grandparents have been married 66 years - more than twice as long as I've been on this earth - and those roles have served them just fine.

The problem occurs when we try to shoehorn every relationship into the one role laid out by society. Sometimes that shoe just doesn't fit. Every relationship is different - just like every person is different. I know two different guys who would love nothing more than to be stay at home dads with four or five kids running around. Does that mean they're lazy deadbeats who don't want to work or wimps who want to dance around the house in frilly aprons? Not at all. They love fatherhood and they're great at it. They are examples that men can be great caretakers too.

Like I said last week, live the life you want, not the life society dictates.

Now it's time for the Love Letters Bonus Stage!

Image via

Why can't men handle it when we treat them like a smash buddy? They treat us like that all the time when we have a relationship like that with them.

Wait, what?

Image via


For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of being a smash buddy, it's essentially a person who is (often unknowningly) used just for hookups. It's like having a friend with benefits, but that friend isn't in on joke.

For once, let me ask a question - why do ladies get annoyed when they're treated liked sex toys?

Hush up - I'll answer for you. Women don't like having their emotions toyed with.

Society says ( we go again...) men are perfectly fine living as bachelors, sowing their wild Quaker Oats in random cereal bowls. Guess what? Society is wrong - some guys, gasp, WANT real relationships and don't appreciate being toyed with.

You mean brothers have feeling too, just like women? You don't say!

Everyone would be better off being honest and clarifying the relationship immediately. If it's a serious relationship, treat it as such. If y'all wanna be friends with benefits, eh, whatever, do your thing - just be sure you're on the same page. Save the smash buddy stuff for the cretins on Love & Hip Hop.  It would also help me save on headache medicine.
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Posted by in ,  on 7:00 AM 1 comment

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Frank Ocean

Channel Orange (released digitally July 11, 2012)

Two weeks ago, Frank Ocean stood as R&B's last great hope - an artist who many hoped would resurrect the soulful, pivotal genre that's currently dying a painful dubstep death.

One week ago, Frank Ocean rocked the music industry by revealing that he's bisexual - the first high-profile R&B and hip hop artist to do so. Attention shifted from his craft to the fallout - would Ocean find a new audience, or would the staunchly homophobic hip-hop culture tear him apart?

This week, Frank Ocean released his studio debut and our attention is back on the music, or at least it should be. Instead of feeding the debate about who is under Ocean's sheets, let's talk about how Channel Orange is reviving - and evolving - R&B.

"Thinking Bout You" leaked online seemingly ages ago, and despite its age it definitely deserves inclusion in this set. Ocean longs for his lover with an exquisite falsetto that adds beauty to his anguish. On "Pilot Jones," Ocean rides a beat that's so minimalistic that the vocals almost sound a capella. Meanwhile, "Sierra Leone" revels in a laid-back sensual groove that's been missing since Maxwell left us. Sometimes, though, Ocean tries a bit too hard to honor the veterans - "Super Rich Kids" sounds more like he's mimicking Prince than paying tribute.

When it comes to song themes, Ocean doesn't reinvent the wheel. The usual themes of sex, love and indulgence are all here but they're packaged quite differently. Ocean's strength is his vivid imagination and deft songwriting. "Lost" is a relatively upbeat pop song but listen closely and you'll hear Ocean trying to cope with his drugged-out lover. "Pink Matter" (with Andre 3000) is such a hazy mind trip that even Ocean gets lost in his own thoughts, but you hang on every word, trying to decipher his musings. "Monks" is a hodgepodge of religious imagery, capped off with Ocean and his lover running through the jungle as they escape medevial warriors that sound like they've been pulled from Game of Thrones. Ocean challenges his listeners to keep up with his journey - if you want simple metaphors, go listen to the girl at the bar who's been there too long.

No song is more complex than "Pyramids." Clocking in at about 10 minutes, Ocean details the escapades of his "Cleopatra." Halfway though the song, his beauty morphs from seductive temptress from a foreign land to alluring stripper from around the corner. This is no "Remember the Time." Amazingly, the beat transforms along with the woman, moving from sultry pop tune to club-ready stripper track. It's 10 minutes of masterful storytelling.

By the end of the album, you've forgotten all about Ocean's sexual revelations until the final few tracks. Ocean subtly wrestles with his sexuality on "Bad Religion" and not-so-subtly finds himself exasperated with the "boy who keeps running through his mind" on "Forrest Gump."

Whether those songs open doors for Ocean or slams them in his face is pretty irrelevant. Channel Orange stands as a triumph in artistic expression. Judge Ocean by his work, not his bed mates. 

Best tracks: "Thinking Bout You," "Pyramids," "Lost"

4 stars out of 5
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Monday, July 9, 2012

Photo Credit: Joe Shlabotnik (Flickr/Creative Commons)

Eighth-grader Julia Bluhm made history and headlines last week when her petition and protests led to Seventeen magazine pledging to not ever alter the face and body shapes of young women featured in its editorial pages. 

After hearing too many girls in her ballet class complain about their weight, Bluhm launched a petition on in April calling for the magazine to print one unaltered photo spread each month. Later she held a demonstration at the corporate offices of Hearst, the company that owns Seventeen. The petition garnered over 84,000 signatures. 

Last week the New York Times reported that. Ann Shoket, the magazine’s editor in chief, wrote in the editor’s letter in the August issue that the magazine had drafted a "Body Peace Treaty," promising not to change girls' body or face shapes (something Shoket insists the magazine has never done, anyway) and to include only images of real girls and healthy models. This is no doubt a response to Bluhm's campaign. 

As a feminist, this story makes me rejoice with the hope that perhaps we will see more and more magazines  start to feature realistic images and celebrate all types of beauty. As a writer, I can't help but think about the fact that Bluhm's crusade would not have been a success without new media. 
Not only did the Internet allow Bluhm to collect more than 80,000 signatures, but the Web also offers plenty of competition for magazines like Seventeenas Melissa Harris-Perry pointed out on her show Saturday. With a host of blogs and online publications out there offering girls the tailored beauty, fitness, and fashion advice they could once only find in Seventeen, even this iconic magazine knows that despite its status readers are precious and their complaints need to be taken seriously. 
Many writers are afraid of what new media means for our future. Does it mean the death of newspapers, magazines and print books? I don't know. I hope not, but it could. But that doesn't mean our voices will be silenced. Julia Bluhm's story shows us that new media is a great opportunity for all of us -- whether we're activists or artists -- to make our voices heard like never before. 

Maybe you're a rebel with a cause who starts a petition like Bluhm did, or writer who publishes an e-book that inspires legions of people, or a blogger who creates an online publication that's an alternative to the magazines out there that don't seem to tell the stories of your community. 

I live in a city where many of the local newspaper reporters were recently laid off. And the newspaper at which I worked before I moved here no longer exists. So, I have good reasons to have a woeful attitude about new media, but stories like Julia Bluhm's reminds me I have a good reason to have a hopeful attitude instead. 
Cross-posted at The Writeous Babe Project
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Friday, July 6, 2012

There are three reasons why I wasn’t going to write anything about Anne-Marie Slaughter’s wildly popular cover story for The Atlantic “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.”

1. Even though I’m a woman, I don’t feel like the “Can Women Have It All?” conversation is addressing me. This discussion is about women being both mothers and top professionals and since I don’t have kids I guess I’m a loser that's not even attempting to have it all.

2. Slaughter’s article was so loooong after I read it I wanted to tap a nap, not write a blog post.

3. Anything I could have written about Slaughter’s article was better stated by Lindy West in her insightful and hilarious piece for, No One ‘Has It All,’ Because ‘Having It All’ Doesn’t Exist.

So why did I finally decide to write about Slaughter's essay? Well, I didn't. Actually, I've decided to write about a segment from Saturday morning's episode of Melissa Harris-Perry Show, a segment that made me realize that perhaps women can't "have it all" but we can have "that."

What's "that"? Well, that's up to you. 

On Saturday’s show actress and social commentator Nancy Giles made a statement that you may not have even paid much attention to as it was squeezed in just before a commercial break. She said that when she began her acting career she heard an actress she admired say: “I can play anything from a man to a speck of dust.” Initially she thought that this was what she wanted too, then she realized she’d be much better off  by focusing on what she does best and perhaps everyone should follow suit instead trying to have it all. “Find something that you do and you love and it’s OK to focus on one thing and not be all over the place with your life out of balance,” she said. 

Now, I’m not saying women need to just pick one: parent or professional. And I don't think that's what Giles meant either. 

What I’m talking about is purpose and personal calling. Whether you have children or not, chances are your life hasn’t turned out exactly the way you wanted. I know mine hasn’t. And maybe you didn’t accomplish many of the things on your 30 before 30 list. But take a close look at that list and ask yourself exactly why you set these goals.

For example, one of my goals in life was to move to New York and start a women’s magazine. I wanted to do this because I wanted to connect with and inspire other women. But this is something I can do whether I'm a magazine editor in New York or an English teacher in Alabama. I can find small ways to empower women every single day of my life even if that magazine dream never comes true.

So you may be struggling to balance motherhood and your career. (I mean, has anyone, male or female figured out how to perfectly balance their personal and professional lives?) You may not be able to achieve everything on your bucket list and be mom of the year. But go back to your purpose, go back to the reason you set those goals in the first place and consider how you fulfill this calling anyway. 

At this point in life I can't quit my job, leave my husband and head to the Big Apple. Well, I guess I could but   the Mister probably wouldn't like that very much. So, no, I probably can’t have it all, but when it comes to my dream of inspiring women – I can certainly have that. 

What is your purpose? How can you live it out right here, right now?
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