Friday, April 29, 2011

Tom Papa Don’t Preach!

He speaks truth to power—and is HI-larious!

Last night I went to Tom Papa's Comedy Central taping. I'd never seen him before, but I just wanted to go see a pro show, as I find it way more useful than attending a bunch of open mics where comedians are just trying all their new/worst stuff. Tapings are free, sure to be funny (since the comic’s doing this for TV, he’s bringing his A-game), and make me feel really, really cool.

I didn’t check out YouTube clips beforehand because I wanted to be surprised. Turns out that he’s the host of the reality show “The Marriage Ref.” I’m kinda glad I didn’t know that, or I wouldn’t have gone.

I went with two of my gal pals, and was more nervous that they wouldn’t like it—after all the open mics I’ve been to, my tolerance for raunch, crap, and silliness is pretty high.

When he walked on stage in a suit and tie, I knew it was gonna be all right. I am so over comedians who act like they’re too cool to iron a damn shirt or put on a sensible pair of slacks. If you have the talking stick and are forcing me to look at you, please do me the service of not dressing like a sister wife! (Those gals are clearly saving some magic for the Celestial Kingdom.)

Apparently, he’s been opening for Seinfeld for years, and you could tell he was a seasoned pro. There was one point where he spaced out, and I could tell he lost his place. But he just took a beat, got quiet, and the crowd went silent—I got very nervous for him, like I was his mom and this was his 8th-grade recital. But the moment he got his bearings, the laughter was uproarious; it was good to see that even if there’s 20 seconds of silence or no punchline, a quiet audience isn’t a bad thing. They'll chill out for a sec, but they won't abandon you that quickly.

I also noticed that his entire set was clean—not a single curse word, no real talk of sex—and it was all about the generalities: women, men, marriage, kids, facebook taking over the world. I’m only now realizing how important it is to have the generalities and the clean sets. I keep being told to “tighten it up”—take out extraneous words, get to the punch faster—and it annoys me, because I’m just not a setup/punchline comedian. But the fact is, if I hope to take it to the next level, I’ve got to have a “tight five” (5-minute set that’s clean, for tv shows like Letterman). And if I want to do touring shows (colleges, events, etc), I’ve also gotta have jokes that aren’t so specific to NYC (apparently, even the line “I have had hasty sex to avoid a subway transfer” won’t really hit home to those in the hinterlands). Realizing how many different types of jokes one has to have—and constantly have ready if the crowd isn’t what you expect—is a bit daunting. On the way home from the show, I broke out my notebook and reviewed my stuff. I made a list of everything that didn’t have a curse word in it (or could still work without the cursing) and everything that any person from any background could relate to. I shy away from that type of "everyman stuff" because it’s kinda boring to me. My brain moves really fast (do you see how much I type in 12 minutes?), so when it comes to a cliché or common occurrence we can all relate to, I’ve got the punchline before it comes, and assume the audience will, too—where’s the humor in that? If I don’t crack myself up with it, why would I say it on stage, you know?

As you can see, Tom Papa has had a profound effect on my life. Here are some clips—maybe he’ll touch something deep inside of you, too.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Confessional: Why I Am Obsessed With Kate Middleton

Let me start off by saying one thing: I have zero interest in the royal wedding. Maybe it’s because I'm young, gifted, and black, but something about colonizers joining forces and reproducing just turns me off.

That said, I must take this public forum and turn it into group therapy, because my insurance doesn’t cover it. Here goes:
I am obsessed with Kate Middleton.

Seriously. And not just because she’s like a porcelain doll—it’s because she’s a mystery. What do we know about her? Who is this WASPy mastermind that set her sights on the future king of England back in college and spent her entire adult life waiting to be a bald man's wife?

Okay, maybe every girl wants to be a princess when she’s little, but by the time most of us hit 14, we let it go. Willie had no choice—in exchange for being expelled from his mom’s uterus, he’s had to live in the public eye, which has made him such a self-conscious, nervous wreck that he’s losing his hair (maybe he’s pulling it out, Trichotillomania-style).

Who would want to commit to a life of scrutiny?

Someone who is so child-like, dedicated and disconnected from reality that she makes Natalie Portman's character in Black Swan look like Sweet Valley High twin.

Do you see why she’s impossible to get over? Her determination to do something so archaic takes my breath away.

She’s a public figure with no voice at all. What does Kate do when she’s not running, playing polo, or wearing a pretty dress? Do you think that she decided she wanted to be a princess when the economy got bad and jobs were scarce? I imagine that at the end of a long day of counting calories, she just sits in her house, drinking white wine on the couch with the shades drawn (gotta hide from the paps!). Over the last 8 years, Kate has probably experienced walks of shame that I’ve only lived through in my nightmares.

If I ever met Kate, I don’t know what I’d do.

Well, first, I’d ask if I could call her Kay-Kay, to establish a sense of intimacy. When she gives me the OK, my first question would be immediately answered—what does her voice really sound like????? (Seriously, have you ever heard her speak or read anything she’s been quoted as saying? I’m convinced the girl’s had her jaw wired shut.)

[In my mind, her voice is throaty and her laugh comes from the diaphragm. After you’ve gotten her good and drunk on sauvignon blanc, she cackles loudly and then covers her mouth with her hands in embarrassment.]

My next question would be something like, “Where do you get those ornate hats? Are there Southern Baptist black women in your family?” In my dream she’s wearing a hat during our coffee date, and she lets me try it on. I know it might sound silly to think there are black women in her family, but think about it—Wills proposed during a vacation in Kenya. Guys, that’s in AFRICA. Why would that be the most romantic place to propose if they weren’t already down with the brown?

Kate and William broke up for a few months in 2007, and were back on by the end of the year. In most human relationships, that's called a 'fake-up,' and is just a precursor to final parting within 6 months. Kate, however, managed to get a 25-year-old man to want to commit for life--she is an inspiration.

I bet she left messages that were creepier than the killer in Scream.

We all know Diana had her demons, and was open about her emotional issues—who wants to bet that Wills loves his women tightly wound and self-loathing?

I feel like her hair smells like coconut and she only gives hand jobs.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Bride of Francostein? (too much?)

It’s only 9am, but so much has happened in the last 12 hours that I feel it is behoovy of me to blog. This is a bit unorthodox, I know, seeing as we’ve settled into a nice Mon/Wed/Fri schedule.

So, on my way home last night I was waiting for forever and a day for the train and I noticed a petite man with a tight bod wearing hearing aids.
Okay, before this sounds like a creepy fetish, let me backtrack: We all know that after I graduated from college my first job was working as the voicing actor with the National Theater of the Deaf, during which time I shared a bedroom with a 40-year-old Deaf, lesbian juggler named Pinky, right?

Well, there it is.

After one of the NTD shows, I met this actor who was really nice. It was at a time when I was really strong as a signer, and I remember him complimenting my skills. He was in his mid-20s, a professional actor, and gave me his business card—which I thought was so cool because it had his headshot on it. Because this was one of the few pleasant experiences I had while touring with the Deaf—and because I’m a low-level hoarder—I kept that headshot-business card until about 2 months ago.

This would explain why I recognized him, even from the back.
I was in a good mood after seeing a great storytelling show, and had already accosted someone that night, so I was on a roll. I got the guy’s attention and asked him his name. It was him!!!!!

We started chatting, and I realized just how rusty my ASL is. He was really nice about it and patient, and I was totally geeking out. I know it sounds cheesy, but I really love signing—it’s expressive, it’s full-body, the language appeals to the blacktress in me—and I’ve missed doing it. There was, however, an awkward moment, when he told me about his plans to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650 mile trail starting from Mexico to Canada. I signed, “Why do you want to go outside and pretend to be dirty and poor?”

Since signing is about thinking in pictures and almost a muscle memory thing, it’s very common to use the wrong sign by thinking only of the word. However, there’s really no excuse for the fact that, instead of the sign for ‘poor,’ I made the sign for ‘penis.’
“Well, I guess penises can make you dirty,” he said. What a peach!

Turns out he lives just around the corner from me. I hope we’ll be best friends when he comes back from his crazy-ass hike—unless he becomes too crunchy and spends the next 2 years talking about his communion with nature.

Although that was a magical moment, I was actually inspired to blog when I woke up this morning after having a crazy-ass dream (you know how much I love those)

In this dream, actor, scholar, and Hollywood’s favorite “Renaissance Man” James Franco, was the managing editor of my magazine. I handed him a draft of one of my editor's notes to review, and he gave it a once over. In his dopey “Pineapple Express” way of his, he said, “Where’s the passion? Why aren’t you into it?” He wanted flowery prose about the beauty of representational art.

“I can add that later,” I said. “It’s easier to put the flowery in later than write too much to start. You can just mark it up with places you’d like some ‘passion’ and I’ll put it in on edit.”
He hands me back the page a few minutes later and he’s crossed out, like, 90% of it. I roll my eyes, and start writing again. Ugh, Francostein, you're a real PITA (Pain In The Ass)

I'm James Franco. I am a Renaissance Man. I've got a bear in a head lock.

I hand the new draft over to James Franco, my new boss, and watch him read it. He nods a few times, then proceeds to cross out the entire middle paragraph. I start muttering curses and go back to my desk.
Look at him, all judgmental and shit. His eyes are practically saying, "You call that writing? I have an advanced degree from Columbia."

Cut to the interior of Duane Reade, a drugstore chain in the city. I’m in line with KWalsh (yes, Katie, you appear in my dreams), and I’m bitching about James Franco. I am so annoyed and frustrated that for some reason I’m sliding on the floor and grabbing KWalsh’s leg, and yelling, JAMES FRANCO IS A TASK MASTER!!!

Then I woke up.

Let me take a moment to say that I am not attracted to James Franco in any way. I think he looks dirty and mean, has a molestache, and his eyes disappear when he smiles. So why he would appear in my REM cycle, I don’t know.

Ugh, gross.

In other news: I’m suffering from a sex-related knee injury. Who am I?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Funday!

Hey there, Zachs and Kellys!

Today is Monday/Cheap Easter Candy Day! and although I've been at my desk since 8:15, I am still too slow in the brainhole to come up with witty bloggery. In the place of Sojourner's truths, I'd like to provide you with some humorous internet videos that speak to me in many ways. For the first, I must thank bounce music lover Michael Gottwald. Like me, Michael is a goy who loves Jews, and he has found a video that best encapsulates the lengths we'll go to for a Hebrew National:

Love the Ethiopian-Jew cameo.

The video below encapsulates everything that's hilarious about Caucasia, Will Ferrell, and race relations. Oh, and of course, the drunk comedian is great (who hasn't laid down on the couch on the verge of a blackout and said 'my legs are showing.'?) In my mind, Zooey Deschanel has never been less annoying! See for yourself what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real... drunk:'s 9:11am and no one else is here. Is today a holiday that I don't know about? Maybe I'm being punked.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wedded Bliss/I'm a Fatty

I'm still doing it, guys--three posts this week! To get you through the blacktress-free weekend, here's a real long 'un.....

It's 10:45am and I got to work about 30 minutes ago—and the first thing I do is start blogging. After leaving the house 30 minutes late, I headed straight into the GAP store 2 blocks from my office to buy a pair of jeans. You see, guys, I woke up this morning and discovered that NONE OF MY PANTS FIT ME.

Yes, I have gotten just that tubby. I left the house in pants that would not zip or button, like some sort of Klump.

I was in a pit of despair most of this week and haven't been sleeping—my only solace came Tuesday night at 12:30am, when I was able to catch the last half hour of the newest episode of "16 and Pregnant" (right at the good part, where she gives birth, goes home, and discovers that babies are "a lot of work"), followed by the genetic-anomaly documentary "My 40-year-old Child." I thought it would be about adult males who spend all day making humorous internet videos, but it was about a boy who was 40 years old but had the body of a 10 year old, and was blind and mentally handicapped. Really tugged at the heartstrings.

I started to rally yesterday—even sleeping more than 6 hours last night—and then woke up to discover that I'm a lard ass.
So I went to the GAP, where a size 4 is really a 10, and made a purchase. Diet starts today.

I think I'm gonna hop on the Jew train and observe Passover, see if I can drop some of this 16-and-pregnant belly. (Any group that builds an Atkins diet into their religion knows how to live. They don't call them 'The Chosen People' for nothing!)

After all, spring’s just around the corner, and summer is two houses down from there, so I won't be able to hide under layers for very long. I can't wait to sit in Central Park and eye-fuck strangers without consent behind my sunglasses (a lady always uses protection). In addition to the lengthened days and increased temperatures, there's yet another reason to stop eating my feelings: wedding season.
[NB: The following piece was rejected from TheHairpin, and largely intended for that audience. Soon-to-be-wedded friends, take a cue from mid-90s R&B songstress Monica, and don't take it personal!*]

I don’t know why this is happening. I didn’t think I’d have to go to these until my 30s, at which point I would not only be financially solvent (and able to buy gifts on your multiple registries and travel to such exciting destinations as your grandmother’s home in Des Moines), but I’d have my own boo locked down—or, at the very least, a bitter divorce that would excuse me from attending. So far I am attending four weddings in 2 months, two of which take place on back-to-back weekends in Vermont. What am I supposed to do there? The last time I was out in nature, I got a tick in my woman parts.

“But Sojourner, what about all the free food, unlimited booze, and merriment?” you may ask. Look, I love a good shindig as much as the next blacktress, but by the time I find a dress that I’m willing to be photographed in, book a hotel, and get to the venue, no amount of Trader Joe’s wine can take that edge off. I inevitably find myself standing by the dessert buffet next to the groom’s aunt or cousin, who points to the happy couple saying, “that’s gonna be you next, dear!”
Um, Aunt Rina, my Jewboo and I make Monopoly money and we can’t even share food, let alone a lifetime.

I’m never a bridesmaid, but the fact that I’m a comedian/actor often gets me roped into other tasks. Remember when I planned a bachelorette party for my doctor-friend? Next month I’ll be doing a brief reading for a Midwestern ceremony and even attend the rehearsal dinner (i love food—see above—but why do I have to practice eating???). I know these are magical times in good friends’ lives, but can’t I just comment on the post-wedding facebook album and pretend I was there? Regardless, I’m gonna have to go through hundreds of photos to either un-tag myself or have something to watch while I’m eating ice cream and sobbing.

My mother always said, “Laugh, and the whole world laughs with you. Cry, and I’ll give you something to cry about.” So I’ve come up with a list of activities that can make this wedding season a bit less depressing:

  • See opportunity to hang out with people over the age of 40 as a chance meet potential financial backers, agents, and managers. It may be the bride’s special day, but you’ve still got bills to pay, and dreams that can no longer be deferred! (Only do this if you have 20-40 8-x-11 headshots)
  • Order both the fish and beef entrée and go to town.
  • Arrive at the reception in fuzzy house slippers. If anyone balks, ask them if they know where your mommy is—adorable!
  • Find the one psychologist on the guest list and get some free medical attention. (It’s likely that if you have a few too many glasses of white wine, you’ll start crying and this person will come to you.)
  • Tack on extra days to either end of the trip and try to get some you-time in. Nothing says “I’m worth it!” like the presidential sweet at the Des Moines Radisson.
  • Request “Single Ladies” every hour on the hour, clearing the dance floor each time to display your skillzzz.
  • Practice identity theft. Forget the out-of-town guests—find the out-of-country guests and create a mystique. I enjoy starting a whisper campaign in which I claim to be a television star (movies have too international a reach. Name some local show the Germans haven’t heard of, and you’ll be the center of every photo for the rest of the night).
  • If you can’t bring a boo, bring your main gay. He’ll look really cute, charm everyone, and always tell you if there’s food in your teeth.
  • Help the help—not by doing actual labor, but by chatting them up. They’re almost all creative types and have a wonderful bitter streak that will be able to handle your self-loathing. Bonus points if you make out with a waiter by the crab puffs—or get a doggie bag filled with crudité.
This is what we call turning lemons into lemon drops, people.

*For those who don't know, here's one of the greatest songs in the history of R&B:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The MotherF**ker With the Hat: A Broadway Show

I had to explain it in the title so that no one would get upset.

Happy Wednesday, readers! Even though I'm bout ready to pass out, I've got to stick to my every-other-day rule.

Just got back from seeing the new Broadway show "The Motherf**ker with the Hat," starring Chris Rock, Annabella Sciora, and Bobby Canavale, and it was soooooo good!!! I have loved Bobby Cannavale since he was on "Will & Grace," and he was just beyond unbelievable. The emotions were at 10 from the beginning of the show, and they sustained it throughout.

Chris Rock was great (the character suited his style, and he was natural on stage), that Bobby Canavale is an out of this world actor, and the 100-minute show was relentless in its rapid-fire pacing.

Okay, enough Ebert-ing from me.

I went to see the show with my mom and my secretly-gay uncle, who's here for a week on vacation (he lives in The D--you know, where it's so cold). He's staying with me, and at first, I was nervous, as I've gotten quite accustomed to having my morning Saved-by-the-Bell-watching "me" time, and he is up with the sun and chatty-chatty. But the best part about secretly-gay uncle is that as a childless 60 year old, he's always happy to break a piece off to his young, gifted, and black(tress) niece. He also fancies himself an aesthete and mostly wants to spend his time in museums, but being from Detroit, he's very easily impressed (this became apparent when he raved about the service at the neighborhood Applebee's--bless).

He really enjoyed the show (not as good as Sister Act, which he loved), but our fun was dampened a few times during the show by some very ignorant audience members who acted as though they were watching a damn movie! During Chris Rock's first scene, an audience member yells out "Love you, Chris Rock!" and totally threw him off. Rock even turned out a little bit and said, "What did you just say? I just forgot my part" and he fumbled for a bit while Cannavale--ever the professional--fed him a trigger to get him back up to speed.
This isn't a fucking Bieber concert--you can't be yelling out like Chris is gonna bring you on stage and serenade you!
After sharing a three-way look, my mom, uncle, and I see an usher tap a young black guy on the shoulder--he was the yeller.
This is why black people can't have nice things, y'all.

Toward the end of the play, during a really emotional scene, another knucklehead yells out to Bobby Cannavale, "We love you, Jackie [the character's name in the show]!"
What the?! When did Broadway become a scene out of Dangerous Minds? As much as I love Chris Rock bringing all kinds of people to the theater, I think there needs to be a sobriety test or something before you're allowed to take your seat.

At the end of the show, the cast came out to their standing ovation and Cannavale talked about Broadway Cares. "You've been a really great audience--most of you," he began. He was instantly met with resounding applause. I could imagine being on that stage and being so pissed; I can't believe they were able to stay with it through that foolery. (the show was really intense, and although it was funny, it was very dark)

Secretly-gay uncle wants to see some more shows while he's here, so I may try to tag along. I want to see "Book of Mormon," but he's really itching to check out "Priscilla: Queen of the Desert."

See you Friday!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mondays With Artists / National Treasure 3: Horses, Flowers, and People

It’s back, guys!!!!
When my mother shamed me into thinking I was a talentless whore (I won't go into it), I ended up taking down my Mondays With Artists posts, but I will no longer hide my light under a bushel! I just got a letter in the mail—complete with Polaroids—that was too good to keep to myself.

To Whom It May Concern:

I have the honor of knowing [An Old Lady Name]. Her gifts deserve worldwide recognition. I think an article on her would be a great human story. Here’s a bit on her life and work. I’d bet you’ll agree she is one very interesting gal.

[Okay, we go from referring to her as an ‘honor to know’ then get all folksy and warm, saying she’s a ‘gal’…I’m not sure what to make of this.]

A treasure, a living, breathing, treasure…how else to describe a woman who has lived a inspiring life for 76 years.
[Because there’s no question mark at the end, I assume this is not up for debate.]

As a youngster, she was clearly out of the box. She resorted to drastic measures to defy a school system that couldn’t respect her gifts, such as putting red dots on her face to feign chicken pox. Her candid portraits of people and horses and flowers are distinctive*.
[* Isn’t that a word you use when something is ugly, but you want to be nice?]

To my mind she is a national treasure, a strong independent, dutiful artist, doing her art of living for anyone lucky enough to know her to witness.

[I don’t know what to make of this last sentence.]

Guys, when I’m old and random and talking about my glory days, will you write to Comedy Central and tell them that I’m a treasure? A living, breathing, national treasure?

Friday, April 15, 2011

If You Prick Me, Do I Not BLOG?

I realized that one of the main reasons my blogging has taken a dip is that, as my readership increases among people who actually know me, there's less room for self-expression. I'm not saying everyone should be able to handle Sojourner's Truths, but if you prick me, do I not bleed (and then blog about it to help heal)?? I've been holding out on you, gentle readers, and it just feels wrong. Here's what you've missed:

1. Two weeks ago I was denied my dream apartment. It was huge, the rent included all utilities and cable/internet, and the guy's youngest daughter is a student at my high school! When I walked in and saw books on Venus Hottentot and "Race and Gender in Post-Colonial America," I knew this potential landlord could handle my truth. He told me about his trans-racial adopted daughter (look it up, it's a term), and also said that she was interested in attending my alma mater, Diversity University. So when he ignored my emails for a week, I was shocked and dismayed--the man was a professor of Divinity, no less! How could he let me down???

2. Perhaps it was for the best, though....I did my taxes last week and apparently I'm taking too many deductions and now owe the tax man some real money--money that I don't have!!! I guess I gotta get myself out of debt before I can go signing a lease.

3. I had a job interview just a few days after the apartment/tax debacle, and thought things might be looking up. We all know how I feel about the plantation, so I'm ready to leave whenever. Add to that the fact that the overseer got fired 5 days ago (the one above the massa, not in our office), and they're cutting people's pay like a pimp with shiv, and it would seem that this interview was a gift from the heavens. The job was an admin position, but I'm just looking for something that lets me pursue my blackting dreams and pay my bills. I met with the entire staff for three hours, and they seemed to like me.

Unfortunately, I didn't like them.

Although the benefits would have been good, there was zero flexibility. I would have been manning the phones, doing spreadsheets, and planning events non-stop. "But it's really relaxed in June and July," the current admin said encouragingly. "You can take more than 10 minutes for lunch, you know?"

No, I don't know. For all the drama of my current position, I am able to run off for auditions, doctor's appointments, and generally handle my business as long as the magazine gets written.
I was going back and forth on even going back in for a 2nd interview when I got the following email from my potential boss--at 11pm last Saturday night, no less:

Please accept an apology for my delay in getting back to you. Friday turned into a nightmare because we had to completely change meetings we'd scheduled with an editor of [An Important Newspaper]. One of the paper's reporters was taken into custody early Friday by Col. Qaddafi's troops in Libya so the editor had to change his schedule for the interviews.

Y'all, I can't working in an office where Qaddafi's messin' up the flow! I get frazzled when an artist doesn't send high-resolution digital images--detainees would be a whole 'nother Oprah!

But am I an idiot? Should I have gotten out while the gettin' was good? I had dinner with a friend last night who didn't mince words, basically saying that I was a fool and lazy to not get a new apt and leave the sinking ship that is my current job.

But what about my blackting dreams? Should they wither like a raisin in the sun?

Last week's showcase was lackluster, with 15 comics performing at 6 minutes each--it was like speed-dating the audience, only they weren't interested in making a love connection. I was un-lucky number 13, and by the time I went up, their eyes had glazed over, and many were fighting with the waitresses over the bill (that drink minimum's no joke!). The producer did say he liked my energy and presence and wanted to see more work, and another comic told me to contact him about doing a set on his show, but it's not exactly momentum building.

I've been given a copy of "The Artist's Way," along with several rhyming platitudes. I think my favorite is "Man's Rejection is God's Protection." This came after my pitches to The Hairpin kept getting rejected. The editor is treating me like every man I've ever been on a date with, saying, "You're funny, but not quite right."

Le sigh. (it's more dramatic if it's French)

So here are a couple of tidbits that missed the Hairpin by a hair (how could she not love such puns?!):

Filed Under: Childhood, Television, Memories

I was cleaning stuff out of my old bedroom, and had to sort through a bunch of boxes, two of which were filled with the entire Babysitter's Club Collection. A bunch of other boxes were filled with paper, and as I prepared to dump them all in the recycling bin, the hoarder in me had to pore over every single one to make sure it was all really junk. I came across many gems, and figured the best way to preserve the memories would be to type them up and share them with strangers. Here is one of many letter I wrote to actors in my favorite TV shows.

Written in October of 1993. I was 9 years old (in my best attempt at cursive):

Dear Rider,

My name is [Sojourner], and I'm a HUGE fan of your show. You're a really good actor, and I think you're really cute. :)
When did you know you wanted to be an actor? I want to be an actress, but I don't think there are black people on Boy Meets World, so I'm trying to get on The Cosby Show. Or GHOSTWRITER--have you ever seen that show? It's about a ghost that solves mysteries by rearranging letters. It's cool.

I don't normally write fan letters, and I don't want you to think I'm a creepy stalker [note: "I am not a creepy stalker" was written on the black flap of the envelope as well...which i think is the same as saying 'i'm mentally ill'.]. I just wanted to say how much I liked your show and how cool I think you are. Is Topanga nice in real life? Do you still have to go to school, or are you done with it forever?

Sorry if my handwriting's messy. I kept trying to start over and this is my last piece of good paper, so I hope it's okay.

[Sojourner 'You Can't Handle The' Truth]

When Rider got a black girlfriend in the last two seasons of the show, I knew it was no coincidence.

File under: Accomplishments, Beauty, How to be a Girl
Thai Tween is Named World's Hairiest Girl

Supatra Sasuphan has told of her delight at being named the 'World's Hairiest Girl.' She has been teased her entire life by other children calling her “monkey face” and “wolf girl”, but now the 11-year-old has been given a Guinness World Record and she says it has helped her become extremely popular at school. "I'm very happy to be in the Guinness World Records! A lot of people have to do a lot to get in," she said. "All I did was answer a few questions and then they gave it to me."

I think the questions were:
  1. Are you hairy?
  2. Are you pre-pubescent?
  3. Is your self-esteem so healthy that grown women wanna be you?

I wonder if she's got a hip buddy named Styles who lets her surf on the hood of his van.

There's also another one about how to get through weddings as the single, my-life's-not-remotely-together-enough-to-even-begin-to-dream-about-such-a-thing friend, but I'll save that for next week.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Children Are Our Future

Hey Gang, What do you think of the redesign? I was getting sick and tired of the blah background, so I decided to change it up--thoughts?

Monday night I met with a publicist to discuss ways to take the blacktress to the next level. She was a very Earth Mother, actualize-your-potential Jewess, and I kinda have a friend crush (and not just because she met with me free of charge). She said a lot of things that were good, but mostly it was about experimenting and tracking changes. She advised that I try different things, but don't just disregard the results--really look at them and write them down. Like, if I do a show in BK, how many referrals do I get? What's kind of response do I get when I host versus doing a short set? How does blogging drive traffic to Only by looking at the results will I get a game plan, be able to set realistic goals, and measure success.

It may sound obvious, but when it takes all my strength to make myself wash the damn dishes, there's no suggestion that's too small. So, in the spirit of experimenting and tracking changes, I'm setting up a blogging schedule--even when I don't feel funny, or feel too busy, or don't want to risk losing my job because I'm being inappropriate, I am going to put up a post every other day. So it begins...

Luckily, I've got something to work with. Yesterday I went to my old high school to meet with an admin about becoming a tutor (blacktress needs to get a well-paying side hustle, and nothing says 'cash-in-hand' like Upper East Side private school tutoring). I don't know if I've already mentioned it, but my private schooling on the UES began when I was a mere 10 years old, and began what would become a lifetime of studies INSIDE CAUCASIA. It wasn't just hard being bigger and blacker than everyone else, but I didn't have a nanny or a kate spade bag AND I wore a size medium (which made me an object of ridicule--I kid you not). Within the first semester I quickly learned that I had to get really funny really fast, and I wouldn't be dating anyone until college, if ever.
I think it could have been when a girl said to me on the first day of music class, "if you don't stop being the little bitch you are, you're never going to make friends here."
If by "bitch" she meant "painfully shy," then I guess she was right.

Needless to say, as I made my way up Park Avenue yesterday, I felt a bit awkward (and really old). By the time I got to the administrator's office, I had an eating disorder. As I walked up the stairs, I could hear Lady Gaga playing--ah, the freedom of private schooling. I saw a poster on the wall advertising the UJIMA* club, which spearheaded the Kenya Project.
Where was UJIMA when I was a lass?! I could have used some inspiration and outreach!
My memories are quieted by a sudden stampede of children flooded into the stairwell, and I started to making my scared noise (which sounds a lot like this:

They were just so full of energy and life--I couldn't take it.

Our meeting was brief, but I'm hopeful that something will come of it--even though it might not happen until the fall.

I went upstairs to visit a teacher (the one whose son has been deeply influenced by a blacktress), and the next thing I know, she's playing my YouTube for everyone in the history department. Students desperately trying to learn couldn't help but listen in.
"Does this have profanity in it?" one boy asked.
"Dude, I'm dropping F-bombs like Hiroshima and Nagasaki!"
I think it was the term "wintercourse" that made him leave the room.

It was kind of surreal to sit in a room where I used to have nervous breakdowns about Robespierre and have people watching my stand-up. It was even more surreal when one of the teaching fellows (a young black woman who went to Dartmouth and can handle Sojourner's Truths) asked me if I'd be interested in being a mentor to a current student.

There is nothing I want more to help another young, gifted, and black mind traverse the treacherous land of CAUCASIA. I told her to give me someone who was really cool, and who needed to be empowered. I'm already getting together a reading list, which so far includes Audre Lorde, bell hooks, and June Jordan.

Just think of it, guys--we'll sit around, braiding each other's hair and talking about boys. I'll rent The Women of Brewster Place and show her our history. It'll be, like, the ultimate safe space!

In other news: Anybody got a job for me that'll pay real money AND give me the flexibility to live my dreams?

*Every time I type "Ujima", both Microsoft Word and Blogger suggest I change it to JEMIMA. Is the Microsoft Office Suite racist???

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Scream 5?

This Friday is the premiere of Scream 4, the fourth installment of Wes Craven’s self-reflexive meta-horror franchise that gave Neve Campbell a reason to dream after Po5 got canceled (and inspired the creepy mismatched romance between Courtney Cox and David Arquette).

When I saw the trailer for the first time, I thought it was one of those SNL parodies, and had a good ol’ chuckle. When I saw the subway posters, I kind of threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Guys, the last Scream movie came out in 2000! 11 years ago! I know you gotta space things out to avoid overload ), but this is a bit ridiculous. The first film came out in 1996; the second appeared in 1997. Scream 3 came out in 2000, and even that was pushing it (a movie about the making of a movie based on the events of a previous movie?—Kevin Williamson, get over yourself). And now, 11 years later, they're coming back with the same look like the dude at your high school reunion who you used to think was hot and is still wearing his letter jacket--it's sad. For those of you who didn't go to suburban high school, think of it this way: it's like a baby whose parents call it "our little surprise," when they really want to call it an “IUD fail”.

Guys, the last film in the series came out before 9/11. The climate has changed, the world in which Sidney Prescott was born is not the same world that wants her back.

Don’t get me wrong—I loved me some Scream. That Matthew Lillard was a real hottie (what happened to him?), and Rose McGowan’s desperate attempt to avoid death through a doggy door left me riveted. But that was in 1996, when Dawson’s Creek provided a guide to living, and prayed each night that my braces would come off early. Besides, isn’t Neve Campbell, much like retirement-ready Detective Murtaugh, getting too old for this shit?

At this rate, what would Scream 5 be like?

I’m glad you asked! Here’s a treatment I’m working on. (Rumor has it Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven are in a feud, so I’m hoping to strike while the irons aren’t speaking to each other!)

The year is 2034

A bloated Sidney Prescott, now 57 years old, sits in boardroom with a lawyer by her side, facing her soon-to-be ex-husband (played by a haggard Pierce Brosnan). He and his counsel whisper quietly. Sidney takes a sip from a tumbler of gin. Her skin is wrinkly, sallow, and her teeth are yellowed from years of nicotine. James Beekman, her husband’s attorney, demands millions of dollars (which Sidney earned speaking at women’s shelters around the world), citing his wife’s emotional torment throughout their marriage. Sidney’s never been able to really love a man—and she’s never been able to sit in a movie theater or stand near a window after dark. Loving her was—at first—easy cause she was beautiful, and then it became impossible because she was crazy.

Sidney and her lawyer exchange a look. As she prepares to speak, a cellphone on the table vibrates, causing her to seize in terror. Sidney becomes a whirling dervish, all fists and elbows, attacking everyone in sight. She looks down at the bloodied bodies left on the boardroom floor. She grabs a phone and dials a number from memory.

“Gale, it’s me, Sid. I need you, baby.”

Cut to the exterior of the building. Gale Weathers drives up in a minivan, and flings her skeletal legs out of the vehicle. She hobbles over to Sidney, who’s chain smoking by a potted fern. She runs to Gale and hugs her tight, with class Neve Campbell tears streaming down her face, and her upper lip all snotty.

“It’s okay,” Gale whispers. “It’s okay.”

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Prepare to Have Your Mind BLOWN

Hey friends,

You know how I like to keep some white men in my corner, just in case these monkey moms try to bring back slavery. Well, it would seem that many of my back-up freedom fighters have actually learned a thing or two from the blacktress. Case in point: the music video below. I got this straight from the producer, y'all! He's a southern ginger with a Jewish sensibility, and the only heterosexual male friend I've never made out with. And now, with the production of this video, he has made a blacktress proud...

For those of you who are not familiar, Big Freedia is a leader in the "bounce" scene--a genre of hip hop developed in New Orleans.
Perhaps Lafayette from True Blood isn't quite so fictional after all. (Which I hope is true, because I think he is the greatest character--and Nelsan Ellis, the finest blacktor--of our time.)


When my Confederate friend told me he'd moved to N'awlins, I was a bit wary at first, wondering if he was just trying to bed vulnerable brown women with the line, "Hey girl, are your levees still broken???" and call it "working for habitat for humanity." But he's actually being of service and getting his filmmaking on with reputable talent. Guys, this music is so real, the New York Times even wrote about it! I am kind of obsessed, and my only regret is that JJSiii hadn't alerted me to this sensation sooner.

When I asked him how on earth he got involved in this gender-bending rap world, he looked at me with his head held high and his back straight as an arrow and said:

"I said to myself, Michael Gottwald, you can't come home to your family for Christmas in Virginia with your head held high unless you can say with confidence, Mom and Dad, I produced a heavily psychedelic music video about an 80-foot transgendered African-American queer man demanding that small white folks, spandex-clad black folks, and Max Goldblatt dance to a sexually explicit, New Orleans strain of hip hop called 'bounce' in the only way the genre allows: by shaking their ass with tremendous vigor.

Also, Freedia was all like 'Where the downtown at?' and i was like, Here!, HERE Freedia! Here I am! Let me produce a video for you!"

Bless his cotton socks!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Dream Deferred--And Decoded

Have I told you guys about how I have reality-nightmares? As KWalsh can attest, my most frightening dreamscapes don’t involved faceless killers, falling into an abyss, or snakes on a plane. I often wake up hyperventilating over things that could very likely happen, but the timeline’s a bit off. Take, for instance, last night’s nachtmare:

I was at home with my mother, and the house looked the way it did before she moved out (you know, furnished), but she was just visiting. She’d spent the night, and we were watching TV. Just then, I look at my Google Calendar (yes, Google even invades my dreams) and realize that at 7pm I've gotta go perform the role of Puck in a production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”—and I totally don’t know my lines!

I remember that we’d done the show a month ago, and even then I was shaky (which was a callback to a dream I had last week, in which I was in a play—that took place in my high school auditorium—and didn’t know any of my cues or lines. How the hell is my subconscious getting self-referential?). My mom had asked me if I wanted to go shopping, and I said I couldn’t because I needed to learn the lines—and I needed to print out the script, cause I couldn't find it! I’m in a frenzy, as I figure out how to get it printed, and somehow, my mom prints it in her old office which no longer exists. I sit down to start reading and ask her to help me when she heads for the door. She says she’s going shopping and has no patience for running lines. I get angry and whiny, like a toddler, saying, “Please, help me. I’m sorry I can’t go shopping and I completely forgot about this and I need help. You’re not even coming to see me? No one’s coming, not [Jewboo], not you. Why doesn’t anyone love me or want to support me???”

I wake up, not shaken as much as depressed. Guys, I really just feel like I’m….always stuck in second gear, like it hasn’t been my day, my week, my month, or even my year—you know? I don’t know what to make of the random dream, so let’s go to the good ol’ Dream Dictionary to get some answers.

To dream that you are reading Shakespeare, signifies your literary aptitude. You are well-read and knowledgeable. Consider which Shakespeare novel you are reading and how the plot line may parallel a situation in your waking life.

Um, I’m not reading any Shakespeare right now. I'm already a bit wary of their misuse of a comma, but let’s see what a dream about a script means:

To read or write a script in your dream, signifies the character or persona that you portray in your waking life. The dream is telling you that you have power to control the direction and path of your own life.

What if I don’t know any of the lines of my script? According to this logic, it means I don’t have the power to control the direction and path of my own life!!!!
Hm....that is pretty much the problem. These kids are good. Being a blacktress, I have to look up what “theater” represents:

To dream that you are in a theater, signifies your social life. Consider how the performance parallels to situations in your waking life. Observe how the characters relate to you and how they may represent an aspect of yourself. You may be taking on a new role. Alternatively, the dream is a metaphor that you are being too theatrical or too melodramatic. Are you being a dream queen?
They may be on to something. However, they have nothing under the heading of “performing,” yet they do have an entry on “Pepperoni”:
To see or eat pepperoni in your dream, indicates that you need to add a little pizzazz and spice to your life. Alternatively, it denotes wholeness and completeness.

Okay, this ain’t makin’ a lick of sense, as my G-unit would say. Do I need to add pizzazz or am I whole and complete? Am I being followed and manipulated by a fairy king? Oberon, is that you?????

I don’t know what’s up, guys—one minute Everything’s Coming Up Blacktress, and the next minute my own boyfriend can’t make it to my show, my mom tells me she Googled me yet again and “found nothing bad, like last time. You did what I told you to do, great”, and as soon as I walked in the office, my coworker greeted me with “you had an interview this morning, didn’t you?” just because I’m dressed slightly above average.

For the record, I didn’t have an interview, and am only dressed this way because I’ll be attending a watercolor organization’s reception tonight (blacktress + geriatrics = awkward times and racial slurs).

How y’all been?