Questions, Comments & Concerns: Britney Ever After

It was bound to happen. It’s Britney on Lifetime, Bitch. If Saved By The Bell can have its own dramatized version of behind-the-scenes drama, obviously one of the biggest pop stars of our generation would get her own TV movie too. Over the weekend, Britney Ever After premiered, and it gave viewers a peek behind the stage lights and into her pop star lifestyle. From 1998 to 2015, it covers a lot of ground over her career, and no doubt did I have a lot of questions, comments and concerns about this film. Let’s dive right in to Lifetime’s Britney Ever After.

Concern: I’m already questioning the actress who’s playing Britney

I’d like to preface this post by saying I am a Britney fan. I have been since 1998, and her …Baby One More Time tour was the first ever concert I went to. I’ve seen her live multiple times and always pick her over Christina any day. This commentary is all coming from a place of love.

Now that that’s out of the way, the actress who plays Britney is Natasha Bassett, who is surprisingly Australian. Her Southern accent is not that great, but considering she’s not from the U.S., I’ll give her props for even sounding American. Don’t get me started on her mom Lynne (played by Nicole Oliver), who sounds more like a Georgia Belle instead of a backwoods Louisiana native. The acting from Natasha is already subpar. “I wanna be Britney Jean. I’m Britney Spears” Also her accent is… not good. And her mom’s accent is more George Belle as opposed to backwoods of Louisiana. Oh and Natasha’s acting is exactly what you’d expect from a Lifetime movie.

Comment: I’m excited Fe gets a prominent role in this

Any die hard Britney fan knows exactly who Fe aka Felicia Culotta is. She was a family friend long before she became Brit’s assistant back in the late 1990s, and was constantly by her side as she rose to fame. They had a falling out in 2007 (when Fe went to go work for the Jonas Brothers), and she is working for Brit again, so all is right with the world. In the movie, Fe’s storyline isn’t excessive or dramatic and pretty straightforward so she luckily didn’t get the shaft in the movie. As for other tertiary Brit posse, I’m kind of upset her backup dancer TJ didn’t get a role in Britney Ever After. I legit went to her Baby One More Time tour because I thought he was cute.

Question: Fake Justin actually sounds like Justin?

We’re introduced to Justin Timberlake when he meets up with Britney the first night she opens up for *NSync. As she’s standing on the stage looking out into the empty arena, he approaches in the shadows, so all we see is the outline of his ramen hair. But when fake Justin starts talking we KNOW it’s Justin because he actually does sound like real Justin and it’s a little freaky. The look however…

Concern: Britney’s dad seems too angry

Obviously we don’t know how he was IRL, but Jamie Spears is coming off like a real angry and frustrated asshole. I choose not to believe this characterization.

20 minutes later: He’s a “drunk” who gets angry and leaves whenever something mildly goes wrong… so this is obviously an asshole move, but is this really what he did?

Comment: The Most Disturbing Version of *NSync

*NSync featuring Fe AND TJ in the back!

The rest of *NSync doesn’t have a prominent role in Britney Ever After, but thankfully they do show up in a pivotal moment when they surprise her with an a cappella serenade and birthday cake. It is… a thing that happened.

“You’re one year older, girl” JT to Brit

Question: Did Britney and Justin really have their first kiss drunk and in front of a tour bus?

Slash have sex on her tour bus?! And he told her he loves her? All in the span of like 10 minutes?!

Question: Are we going to hear at least one real Britney song?

All the songs played in the film are fake pop songs that might as well be demos that Britney passed on when she was still trying to find a hit pre-Baby One More Time. The only songs we see her performing are covers of covers she recorded – EG:  Satisfaction and I Love Rock and Roll, which means it was such a blatant problem with getting the rights to her songs.

Instead of hits like Toxic and Womanizer being played in the background, we got to hear pop songs that included lyrics like, “I wanna feel you down with me/You know I’d do you right/You know we got all night/I wanna feel you down with me. RAP BREAK.” Did I mention this was during her wedding reception with Kevin Federline?

Question: Did Brit & Justin really get their nicknames from a ring?

JT gives her a ring after her performance at the 2000 VMAs and it only fits on her pinky finger. So he calls her Pinky. And she says, “Then I’ll just have to call you Stinky”. Is this really the origin story of these nicknames?! Brand new information. Also, very dumb.

Comment: This love montage looks like Brit & Justin’s Hello Magazine spread

Comment: OH SHIT WADE ROBSON

We’re introduced to choreographer Wade Robson as he grinds up on Brit during dance rehearsals and introduces her to Banana the snake for the famous Slave 4 U VMA performance. But also, if you don’t know, Wade is reportedly the guy Brit cheated on Justin with and the subject of JT’s Cry Me A River. Also a v good friend to both Brit and JT. Wade co-wrote Britney’s track What It’s Like To Be Me off her Britney album, and it was the only song she ever collaborated with Justin on (bonus clip: watch Justin mention Wade while talking about said track, after surprising her on a MTV special – around 3:45).

Later, Brit and Justin have a fight in a club (she told him he was slipping on the charts) and when she returns to her room crying, who’s there to cheer her up? Fucking WADE. And Justin finds out they (allegedly) slept together after finding from a doodle Wade made??? I hope that’s not how he found out.

Comment: Dancers Abound

There’s a montage of Brit auditioning dancers and it makes me think about how my hip hop teacher was a backup dancer in her Crazy video. True story.

Comment: Kudos for the exercise scene

Brit used to do like 500 sit ups every day, which is why the montage of her crazily exercising in her room probably isn’t TOO far from the truth.

Question: Are they having a post-breakup dance off?

Yes. The answer is yes.

Comment: The Justin Breakup Really Did a Number on Brit

After her VMAs 2003 performance with Madonna and Christina makeout sesh, she gets off the stage and asks her mama, Fe and Larry Rudolph (her longtime manager) if they think Justin liked it. Except he had already moved on to Cameron Diaz. Britney’s mom already mentioned she had been acting up after their split, but we’re still 4 years away from the ’07 head shaving incident.

Question: Do we all forget Britney was married for 48 hours?

Just me? There’s so much other shit that went down that I always forget she was married to Jason Alexander. And she was a hot mess in this scene.

Comment: Kevin Federline Seems Like a Skeeze

Britney’s second husband is introduced to us in a scene where she and KFed are making out in a stairwell before her show. There is WAY too much tongue being used and I had to legitimately look away. Was this supposed to show us that their relationship was purely sexual? That they had a hot marriage which resulted in two (of a total of six) kids?

Other things I learned about their marriage: KFed’s is nickname was supposedly “Meat Pole”, there were allegations he cheated on her which planted the seeds of the imminent split, and she supposedly texted him to let him know she was done with him, with the phrase, “I wnt 2 divorce u.”

Concern: Just general concern for Britney 2007

I’m still not over this. She needed help and the only media made her even crazier. It makes me frustrated and sad, but in the end very proud that she was able to distance herself from the people who tried to take advantage of her and gain back control of her life.

Comment: The Sam Lutfi Dude Is Still Creepy

Brit flanked by Sam Lutfi and Adnan Ghalib (front), who was not portrayed in Britney Ever After.

Sam somehow got close enough to Brit that he was hired as her “manager”, but he was no bueno. At the time, he already had two outstanding restraining orders against him, so already off to a great start. In the movie, he’s correctly portrayed as someone who is just in Brit’s life for the fame and money, clearly not getting her the help she needed during the dark days. What an asshole. Britney’s parents ultimately got a restraining order against Sam, and in the film, the order is literally thrown at his face. It’s great.

Question: I still don’t get why this is called Britney Ever After?

It goes all the way up to the opening of her Vegas show… which is still happening… and I’m starting to think this was just one giant commercial for her residency and they just acted like she had no part in it. LARRY RUDOLPH IF THIS IS TRUE, I APPLAUD YOU.

*cue the I Am Britney Jean documentary right after this film ends. Seriously.*

Notable Lines:

Phrases used to show it’s not present day:  “Look a Furby!””Straight buggin… The bomb diggity.”  We get it. It’s 1998.

“Cool friggin beans – BUNKBEDS!?” Definitely something Brit would’ve said

Jamie Spears calls Brit and Justin’s alleged sex tapes “boudoir videos” after they were stolen from her home.

*Justin surprises Britney after being out on the road, and shows up at her door with finger guns*

Brit: “Is this a stick up?” Justin: “I’m about to rob you… of your heart!”

“Who’s that fool?… A clown is what she’s got.” Her bodyguard when he first sees Brit making out with Kevin Federline

Things I’m Willing To Believe About Logan Everett, The Boy American Girl Doll

There’s something different about the newest American Girl doll. It’s a boy. Which is a fine thing to be, if you’re a human, but I have to admit that my knee-jerk reaction was more like:

As if white boys couldn’t already be EVERYTHING, now they’re an American Girl doll? Ugh. What would Felicity think? (Trick question, she’d just note whether they wore the same britches size in case she had to steal another pair under cover of darkness.) Okay, also the boy looks like this:

Of course he does.

Anyway, the Boy American Girl is named Logan Everett.

Of course he is.

Logan is apparently the drummer for the doll version of 2008-era Taylor Swift. As the latest addition to our series Things I’m Willing To Believe About, here are some things I am willing to believe about Logan Everett, Boy American Girl:


His working name was Logan Bruno because he was 100% based on Logan Bruno, boy associate member of the Baby-Sitters Club. He’s even Southern.

Not to put all Logans in a box but all Logans are exactly one way, right?

Not to put all Logans in a box but all Logans are exactly one way, right?

Logan would like to invite you to a fun laser tag outing with his youth group.

His dad is in the worship band. Logan’s first performance was Lord I Lift Your Name On High.

 

The original plan was for Boy American Girl Doll Logan Everett to be a historical character from 1994. He would have had the requisite Cute Boy In The 90s Haircut (see: Rider Strong), a plaid flannel with a heather gray hood, and you could buy him a scaled-down, working Talkboy for $19.99.

Like this.

Like this.

In a frozen pioneer cemetery in Minnesota, Logan’s great-great-great-great grandmormor Kirsten is rolling over in her grave due to his coddled and simple lifestyle.

He calls his dog a rescue dog but it’s just a regular dog.

Logan rarely looks up from his Nintendo DS when he is forced to visit his great-grandma Molly. To be fair, all of her “harrowing war stories” are, like, “one time I curled my hair when it was wet and I got a cold” and “I ate turnips, once.”

Get a grip, Molls.

Get a grip, Molls.

I’m not saying Logan smirks mockingly at people, I’m just saying that doll is smirking mockingly at me, right? 

That face where you dropped something on your shirt and he's not gonna laugh, he's just gonna stare at you.

That face where you dropped something on your shirt and he’s not gonna laugh, he’s just gonna stare at you condescendingly.

His parents buy Lunchables.

And Sunny D.

And maybe Cheez Wiz?

Logan’s instagram is all skating pictures he stole off of other people’s instagrams (he doesn’t skate) and quotes.

Just really wants to bring hacky sack back.

Is the main character’s older brother who the best friend has a crush on on a Disney show.

If his name wasn’t Logan, it would have been Hunter. Or Kyler.

Was the first kid in his class whose parents didn’t care if he watched PG 13 movies.

Was in a commercial for a local amusement park 2 years ago and finds way more ways to bring it up than you’d think.

Boy band role: the one moms are OK with

Logan “thinks you look prettier without makeup,” but also thinks “no makeup” looks like concealer, light, well-blended foundation and bronzer, neutral eye shadow, lightly smudged dark brown liner, full mascara and lip gloss

Also “Tthinks you look prettier when you don’t do you hair;” hot rollers and highlights.

I understand this is supposed to be a country musician but I still kind of feel like on Myspace c. 2005 his favorite music would have been “anything but country lol.”

 

Always has to show you this hilarious video he found on YouTube.

Things We Need To Revisit From The 2017 Grammy Awards

It’s 2017, and we’ll take our heroes where we can find them. We love all our feet-on-the-ground workers and thinkers and doers, but even the Grammy Awards had their slate of performers and guests who saved the show from being a hum-drum night of pop hits and elevated it to the next level. Picks are in no particular order and there’s gonna be a lot of Beyonce. Just so you know.

Beyonce

My explanation for Beyonce’s performance: when you’re in an art museum, and you’re expecting to walk into another gallery room, but it’s actually a video installation and there’s movement, light, color and sound all around you.  Just a few of the amazing features of this performance, because we all know that YouTube video isn’t staying up:

  • Beyonce looking like some kind of pregnant Renaissance painting subject
  • Beyonce also looking like some religious fresco subject
  • Hologram Tina, Bey and Blue
  • That crown. Statue of liberty? Space queen? Egyptian deity? Halo? All of the above?
  • Every single one of those dancers
  • That kind of last supper thing.
  • Bey reenacting the move that always made our teachers tell us that we’d crack our head open if we leaned back in our chair like that.
  • My realization that almost 4 minutes passed before Bey even sang.
  • That time she sang right into all of our souls, personally and individually, all at the same time.
  • Jay-Z’s look of pride and adoration.
Tribe Called Quest

A Tribe Called Quest is exactly the group we need, back exactly when we need them. This video’s going away soon too (we are waiting and hoping for an official, sanctioned vid), so here’s what we love:

  • The fact that they performed We The People, the same fantastic song they did on SNL just days after the election, which came true in the intervening months.
  • The moniker “President Agent Orange”
  • That classic throwback with Award Tour
  • When the wall broke down
  • The fierce looking hijabi standing center stage
  • Everyone processing down the aisles
  • The raised fist
  • The presence of Phife Dawg so strong it was almost like he was there
Chance The Rapper

Both his win and his performance. I included one of Lil Chano’s Acid Rap songs on our summer 2013 playlist. For a few years after, I was worried that one of the most promising and talented new rappers was out of the scene. Lucky for all of us, Coloring Book is making huge waves. These wins – Best New Artist, Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Album – aren’t JUST huge for Chance’s career, they’re a huge moment for indie rap in general.

“I’m gonna talk. Y’all can play the music if you want. I want to thank God for my team. I know a lot of people think independence means you do it by yourself, but independence means freedom. I do it with these folks right here. Glory be to God, I claim the victory in the name of the Lord, let’s go!”

Adele

I think Adele is incredibly talented. I mean, we’re past objectivity with her: there’s no ‘I think’ about it; Adele IS incredibly talented. That said, I was pulling for Lemonade for the Album Of The Year win. Of all the nominees, I thought it was the best-crafted and most innovative: it was the album that would define 2016, above the others. Still, Adele seems like such a genuine and kind person that I can’t help but be happy for her good fortune. Besides, she was pulling for Lemonade too. She pulled a Cady Heron and broke up her award:

“My artist of my life is Beyonce and this Lemonade album is just monumental. It was so monumental and so well thought-out and soul-baring, and we all got to see another side to you that you don’t always let you see. And all of the artists here, we all fucking adore you. You are our light. And the way you make me feel, the way you make my Black friends feel, is empowering, and you make them stand up for themselves. I love you, and I always will.”

It’s 2017, we’ve come a long way as a people, and Adele just “I’m’a let you finish”-ed herself.

Blue Ivy

Blue Ivy in a pink Gucci power suit with a black panther on the back, because she’s Beyonce’s girl already and you can be adorable and make a statement at the same time.

Blue Ivy cheering for her mother’s win.

Hologram Blue Ivy.

Blue rushing in to the Carpool Karaoke car to save a failing bit.

Blue showing her purse to her bestie during Bey’s speech.

Blue Ivy Carter is our future. It’s her world, and we just live in it.

Blue Ivy’s Friend Madison

This woman of mystery is so enigmatic that I found myself searching “2017 Grammys seating chart,” “Jay Z niece” and “does Beyonce have a cousin.” It took days to learn that Blue’s gal pal is Madison Brown, daughter of Roc-Nation co-founder Jay Brown. Blue Ivy gets a front row guest when half of the entertainment industry can’t even get a ticket (okay, I GUESS Madison was there with her dad), and Madison was living her best life and making the most out of this awesome school night outing. I’d never really want to be famous,  but Blue’s mystery friend proves that having a famous bestie might be the best gig of all. Madison mugged for the camera and, wither her impeccable white-silver dress, proved that she won’t just be singing backup.

Drunk Chrissy Teigen and Helpful John Legend

Chrissy Teigen is hilarious, fun, and exactly the kind of person I would like to have in all of my group texts. She’s also one of my favorite famous people because she DOES.IT.RIGHT. Like, she really enjoys the perks and parties that go with her lifestyle instead of appearing blase or too cool for it. John Legend is every guy trying to figure out how girl clothes and jewelry work, and earned himself an internet Relationship Goals badge in the process (“why would I be mad at you? You’re perfect.” Cherish him, Chrissy. I mean, we know you do.)

True, but unfortunately when you’re single and drunk you have to take off all of your own jewelry, and it’s HARD.


In conclusion, the Grammys were great, A Tribe Called Quest just might save us, Blue Ivy is a blessed child of the light, and Chrissy Teigen is invited to all of my texts forever.

Very Specific Dating Apps For Single People on Valentine’s Day

Congratulations, people in love. Today’s a day for you to celebrate the romance you’ve cultivated over the past ::insert amount of time here:: and show how much you care with a greeting card and a 3-course dinner special at your local favorite restaurant.

For everyone else, congratulations, you’re single. If you feel the need to spend today not entirely by yourself, here are some super niche dating apps that can narrow down the field for you and possibly fill that void of #foreveralone-ness. At least for now. But who knows how this could turn out? Maybe you’ll be telling your kids the story of How I Met Your Mother on Spoonr.

Wingman

Are you a frequent flier? On the road for business a lot and don’t get a chance to go on real dates? Wingman is the app for people on the go looking to scores some points in the mile high club. In addition to the usual info, you also add your flight number and airline to your profile, and it shows you a list of people on your flight that you could be paired up with. Seat-to-seat chatting is gonna get a whole lot sexier.

Bumble

Bumble is a giant Sadie Hawkins Dance version of Tinder. Once you’re matched with someone, the lady has to message the guy first, but if they don’t within 24 hours, the connection disappears. And for all my LGBTQ homies out there, either one can make the first move.

Happn

Happenstance (noun) : a circumstance especially that is due to chance. We always are stunned to find out what small a world we really live in, and with Happn, it sets out to prove that to be true. using GPS functionality in your phone, the app shows profiles of other singles in your area and pinpoints the last place and time you were close to each other. All prospective matches are people you’ve crossed paths within 250 meters, and it’s definitely NOT creepy at all, right?

Spoonr

Aside: why are all these dating apps missing one vowel? Is there a real reason? Please respond in comments. Anyways, Spoonr is not for folks who enjoy the round utensil, it’s for people who just need a cuddle. Unclear whether there’s an option to set a preference for big or little spoon.

Tindog

Have a fear you’re going to become an old dog lady/man with no human significant other? Well Tindog not only sets you up with other dog lovers, it sets up your dogs too. Puppy love, AMIRITE?

Seeking Arrangement

SeekingArrangement is a very generous phrase to describe what this dating app is – a way for sugar daddies to find young women to shower with material items, companionship, and of course, sex. If Hugh Hefner doesn’t already have stock in this, he really should.

 

SaladMatch

This app was created by New York-based salad eatery Just Salad, as a way to connect customers with other salad lovers. Like Tinder, it allows you to swipe left or right on users based on their salad prefs, Just Salad location and what time of day they usually go to Just Salad. So if you get matched with someone, do you get like free salads for life, or something? Because I could be into that.

Sizzl

Like SaladMatch, Sizzl is powered by Oscar Mayer, but a little less serious than Just Salad. The app matches singles based on their bacon preferences – crispy or tender? Pork or turkey? etc. etc. Again, I feel like if you get properly matched there should at least be a voucher for free bacon at your local grocery store.

Luxy

Luxy is for rich snobs. No, really. One time their tag line was “Tinder, minus the poor people.” And in the ad above, the slogan “Over 40,000 people have been kicked out” is not a misprint. Luxy is a dating app for the 1% – millionaires, CEOs, celebs, etc. Apparently, users even select their fave high-end brands like Cartier and Prada, so potential suitors know what to get them as a casual gift.

Raya

Speaking of the 1%, Raya is a similar dating app, but used by a lot of celebs. It’s super exclusive and very secretive, and referred to as the “Illuminati Tinder”. There’s an intense vetting process, and after users submit their application, an anonymous committee assesses their social media presence and decides whether you’re cool enough to join the app. Stars like Sharon Stone, Diplo, Joe Jonas, Rayven Symone and even Matthew Perry are all rumored to be looking for love on Raya. The fact that it’s so elusive is why it’s so fascinating – but all I really want to know is what do these celebs put in their profiles??

Fashion Friday: Nordstrom Steals & Deals

We’re always trying to come up with new fun topics to talk about with you guys, and today, we’re introducing a new series, Fashion Friday! Of course this concept is nothing new, but it’s new to us and we are v excited about it! Basically it’s a way for us to highlight a favorite store or brand that we’ve enjoyed as of late, and want to spread the good word to you fine folks.

For this inaugural post, we’re going to focus on one of the best department stores in the U.S. – Nordstrom! I always see great items when I go there (especially Nordstrom Rack), so here are just a few of the fantastic steals and deals you can buy online or in a store near you – you can even use this handy store locator to find one! ALSO did we mention the cafe? Because many locations have Nordstrom cafes. What’s better than finding the perfect clothes to dress like a woman and then grabbing some tacos as a reward? Nothing, really. Get a head start with our guide below!

Rebecca Taylor – Metallic Clip Midi Dress

Was: $595.00 Now: $356.98 40% off

TBH, I think I was drawn to this dress because it reminded me of the dress Alexis Bledel wore to the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life premiere. Yes, I realize I’m a crazypants for even remembering what she wore.

Want & Need – Strapless Lace Jumpsuit

Was $58.00 Now $20.30 65% Off

If there was a way to make jumpsuits that a) looked great on every body type and b) had an easier way to pee in them, I’d say jumpsuits should be a required item in everyone’s closet. This black halter jumpsuit it simple yet versatile, and can be perfectly paired with a white blazer.

Athena Alexander – ‘Layla’ Boot (Women)

Was: $109.95 Now: $59.90 45% off

I feel like Betty (Draper) Francis would wear these on the way to horseback riding lessons.

Topshop – Floral Velvet Dress

Was: $75.00 Now: $34.99 50% off

You can’t really tell, but this is velvet, which apparently is a think that’s made a comeback because ’90s. Tamagotchi not included.

Ivy Park – Mesh Panel Racerback Tank

Was $35.00 Now $16.97  52% Off

THIS IS BEYONCE’S ATHLEISURE LINE AND ON SALE GO BUY IT AND SUPPORT HER GROWING FAMILY

kate spade new york cameron street – byrdie leather crossbody bag

Was: $298.00 Now: $199.66 33% off


Kate Spade is always classy but stands out from the rest thanks to the frequent use of bright colors. This adorbs crossbody bag is no different. Perfect for a holiday in Miami or night out in New York.

Equipment – Leema Tie Neck Silk Blouse

Was: $238.00 Now: $95.20 60% off

I’m no Vogue editor, but pussy bows are totally in, right? If it’s good enough for the First Lady, it’s good enough for me.

BP. – Square Stud Earrings (Set of 2)

Was: $16.00 Now: $9.98 35% off

These are v New Year’s Eve party, no?

Adrianna Papell – Floral Matelass? Fit & Flare Dress (Regular & Petite)

Was $209.00 Now $31.35 85% Off

True story: my friend has this exact same dress and she wore it to a wedding last year and got so many compliments. It was comfortable, breathable and best part – POCKETS.

Topshop – Stripe Detail Scalloped Knit Top

Was: $75.00 Now: $34.99 50% off

Because you can never go wrong with black and white.

TOMS – Desert Lace-Up Wedge Bootie

Was $119.00 Now $59.50 50% Off

I went to Nordstrom Rack specifically to purchase classic Toms flats because of the great price, and they have a YUGE selection of not only classic flats but sandals, boots, slippers and as seen above, fashionable wedges.

Helene Berman – Studded Ears Wool Blend Cap

Was: $122.00 Now: $73.20 40% off
nordstrom

I can’t put my finger on it, but I feel like I’ve seen this hat before. (Update: yes I have).

Pa Ingalls Had Bad Ideas: C+S Book Club

If I’ve learned one thing from life, love and fiction it’s that most great relationships consist of one logical, methodical quick thinker, and then a nonsense person. Pa Ingalls was the nonsense person in the Little House universe, but not the benign kind. A benign nonsense person would, say, decide that it would be a great idea to open a used book store in small-town New England and then they let the logic person figure out how to do it. Pa’s more like “let’s cross rivers and woodlands to go build a house underneath the earth for whatever reason and not really take care of our dog while we’re doing it.” Every couple needs an idea person: the problem was, Pa Ingalls’ ideas were bad.

Good looking couple, though.

During the Big Woods years, Ma and Pa Ingalls more or less serve as the Goofus and Gallant of 1800s forest life. Caroline painstakingly dyes her butter with carrot juice so that it looks more appealing; Charles lets shiny hot lead bullets cool within reach of toddlers. (Granted, he did warn Laura, but that child was half Charles, after all.)  They balance each other pretty well, except that it is the nineteenth century and every time Pa wants to get into a covered wagon and move onto an Indian reservation that the family has no legal right to occupy (a true thing!) Ma just had to pack up the calico and deal with it.

The Ingallses were poor. It’s fine to be poor, but I can’t help but think it’s because Pa can’t settle himself in one place and be normal. You can tell the family is poor because the inventory of their possessions is so small that I can recount it decades after reading the books. Ma had one (1) china shepherdess, Pa had one (1) fiddle, they clearly owned a thimble because Pa did that Jack Frost stuff on the windows which was admittedly pretty cool, and then one day a year they had a pig bladder to play with until it disintegrated because that is not a toy, it is a body part. Okay, so the family wasn’t doing terribly but wasn’t raking it in either, and they went off to find a “better life” or whatever. Problem was, Pa wasn’t good at finding it.

First the family lives in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. It’s pretty good; they have a garret full of dried vegetables in the winter and they run around in bonnets in the summer; Ma has the love and support of her family close by; sometimes Laura gets a piece of hard candy if they take the wagon into town. As I said above, they’re poor but in a comfy way. This is when Pa gets it into his head to, in the great words of T.L.C., “go chasing waterfalls” even though he quite literally would be better off sticking to the rivers and the lakes that he’s used to.

Bad Idea Beard

Bad Idea Beard

The family piles into a covered wagon and crosses a swollen creek, huddling in a rickety wooden cart that I don’t even think they caulked per Oregon Trail recommendations. Oh, did I say the whole family? Not their dog Jack, who was left to swim alongside the wagon and drown. Jack comes back later because he is a Very Good Boy but that was a bad position for Pa to put his kids and dog in. While I know dogs served more of a utilitarian function in those days, you can’t deny that Laura loved that pup and for good reason. Jack jealously guarded and protected his family from everything … except for Pa’s poor choices, which almost killed him.

The family gets to Kansas, but psych! They move onto Osage Indian land and they aren’t allowed to be there. You know all those times Pa says racist garbage like “the only good Indian is a dead Indian,” and you kind of try to put yourself in the head space of a white man from the 1800s, but it STILL seems awful? To make it even worse, Pa was acting like the Osage were dangerous intruders when he was on their land. It’s like a racist version of that movie The Others, where the characters think that their house is haunted because they don’t realize that they are the ghosts. Sorry if you haven’t seen The Others, but it came out 15 years ago and was good but not amazing.

You know the real threat in that part of Kansas? Of course you do. It was weird white people. More specifically, the “Bloody Benders,” a family – or possibly not a real family? – who ran a tavern of horrors where they murdered over twenty people. The Ingalls drove by the Bender tavern at one point, saw the murderess, looked her in the face, but didn’t have tavern money. This is one time when Pa’s inability to provide for his family actually saved them, so that’s nice. What’s not nice is pretending like the Osage were out for blood when the real killers were more like a 19th century homespun Manson family.

The Bloody Benders

The Bloody Benders

The books kind of shift the timeline here, but after that the family moved back to The Big Woods. “Lesson learned! Better stay comfy-poor in these big woods!” That’s how a normal person would react. Not Pa! He decides maybe if it would be better to go move to a hole next to a creek in the coldest and snowiest state, and Ma says “Charles, that sounds irresponsible and also like a weird thing to do, even for people in the 1800s.” Just kidding! Societal conventions wouldn’t have allowed it. She just packed up the china shepherdess and they moved into a dirt hole.

the dugout, recreated

the dugout, recreated

At this point the Ingallses kind of move to and fro within Minnesota for a while. Then they go to Iowa for a bit to manage a hotel, a weird kind of Wes Anderson-y chapter in the family’s existence. While that seems like a tough lifestyle to mess up, Charles finds a way. He wasn’t into the hotel so he works at a grist mill for a second, the family lives above a grocery store and then they live in a rented house… and THEN the family skips town under cover of darkness and they go back to Minnesota. Okay. Cool. Minnesota is a bit too warm and dry so then the Ingalls go to De Smet, North Dakota, where they experience the worst winter America has ever had, per my twenty-year-old memory of The Long Winter. Laura meets Almanzo, gets married, and no longer has to live under the rein of her father’s nonsense ideas.  I mean, Manly’s favorite food is apples fried with onions, so I’m not saying he’s perfect; I’m just saying they get a bit more stable.

During her whole childhood, Charles (and Caroline, but we’re talking Pa here) was also painfully oblivious to Laura’s feelings of inadequacy, probably because he was too busy making plans to get lost in blizzards or move out of a perfectly good cabin into a way less-good cabin. Laura always thought Mary was so much better than her, probably because of things like Mary having a legit ragdoll, Nettie, while Laura just had a handkerchief that was trying to be a doll. Laura clearly had a hangup the size of the wide-open prairie about Mary having blonde hair, because she brings it up a LOT. You’d think Pa would have squashed that nonsense or, at the least, informed Laura that Mary was seriously not even all that blonde but Pa was cooking up a schemes and a once-annual pig tail so I guess he never got around to it.

Brown-haired Mary.

Brown-haired Mary.

 

This is just the tip of the Bad Idea iceberg. Remember the time Pa dressed up in blackface for the minstrel show? Or almost got blizzarded to death that one Christmas? When I was a kid, I thought Pa seemed like the most fun dad ever, what with his singalongs and scruffy friends and all. Now that I’m older, I can see Pa through Ma’s eyes instead of Laura’s – and what I see is a whole lot of nonsense wrapped up in a legacy of terrible ideas.

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Marilla Cuthbert Was A Creepy Church Hag

Life Lessons From Harriet The Spy

Life Lessons From The Fault In Our Stars

This Is Where I Leave You

Matilda: The Book For Book Lovers

Miss Honey Is Wonderful

Gritty, Dystopian ‘Little Women’ Plotlines

Amy March Was A Total Bitch

Tiny Crush Tuesday: Marcel The Shell With Shoes On

Black History Spotlight #2: Frederick Douglass

Last week, we started our Black History Spotlight series with a brief overview on the life of teenage Civil Rights pioneer Claudette Colvin. Her name may not be as much of a household name as 13th Amendment hero Abraham Lincoln, but she’s just as important than any of our presidents. Today we’re shining a light on yet another unknown: Frederick Douglass. Here are 8 facts you need to know about one of the foremost abolitionists in American history.

F. Doug at age 29

F. Doug at age 29

/1/ 20 Years a Slave

Frederick Douglass was born a slave on a plantation in Maryland, and by the age of 7, was separated from his mother and sent to work at another plantation for the Auld family. When he was 12, his master’s wife secretly taught Frederick how to read, despite the fact it was against the law at the time. When his master found out, he forbid his wife to continue teaching him, but that only lit a fire within young Douglass. He taught himself how to read and write from the white kids in his neighborhood as well as the writings by his male co-workers. He used his new talent to teach other slaves how to read, but he also read newspapers and books about slavery, thus igniting his passion to end slavery.

After three failed attempts to escape from his plantation, Douglass finally left Maryland disguised as a free black sailor and ended up in New York City after a grueling 24 hour journey. He then married Anna Murray, a free black woman who helped him escape, and they settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

/2/ Abolish It

Douglass, now 23, quickly became a well-respected leader in the thriving free black community of New Bedford, mainly thanks to his leadership of the abolitionist movement to end slavery. It was then when he began his career as a renowned orator, speaking about his experience as a slave at local meetings, as well as the Hundred Conventions project, a tour throughout the East Coast and Midwest as a part of the American Anti-Slavery Society. However, it was his speeches that put him in danger of being captured by his former slave owners, so he fled across the pond to the U.K., where he continued to speak to people in Ireland and Britain against slavery. He spent two years in Europe telling them horrific slavery stories back in the U.S. In fact, the Brits were so moved by his story, that they raise 700 pounds to pay his master for his official freedom, officially making him a free man back at home.

/3/ Putting Pen To Paper

In 1845, he wrote his life story in an autobiography titled Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, which became a bestseller in the U.S. and even overseas (thanks Irish & Brits), and they were so popular he went on to publish two more versions of his autobiography with new details in each one.

Upon his return to America, he settled in Rochester, New York (OUR HOMETOWN!), where he started The North Star anti-slavery newspaper, focusing on current events concerning abolitionist issues. Because one periodical wasn’t enough, Douglass went all in with the newspaper business, with Frederick Douglass Weekly, Frederick Douglass’ Paper, Douglass’ Monthly and New National Era.

“Right is of no Sex – Truth is of no Color – God is the Father of us all, and we are all brethren.” The North Star motto

/4/ A Groundbreaking Feminist

Frederick was a staunch supporter of females during the women’s sufferage movement, and when the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, NY went down in 1948, he was the ONLY African-American to attend. It was at the convention that he spoke in favor of the assembly passing a resolution for women’s suffrage, saying he could not accept the right to vote as a black man if women could not also have the right to vote. His speech made such an impact that the resolution was ultimately passed.

/5/ Fought for Black Soldiers’ Right To Fight

By the time the Civil War started, Douglass was one of the most popular black men in the U.S. and he used his visibility to fight for African-Americans to fight in the war, on the basis that the aim of the Civil war was the end slavery. He even met with President Lincoln a few times after the South boasted they would execute or enslave any captured black soldiers. Due to Douglass’ persistence, Lincoln warned the Confederacy that for every Union soldier killed, he would execute a rebel soldier.

Nearly a decade after Lincoln’s death, Douglass spoke about the president’s legacy during the opening of the Emancipation Memorial in Washington’s Lincoln Park. While he called out Lincoln’s hesitance to speak out against slavery from the get-go, he also acknowledged he was ultimately a supporter of the anti-slavery cause.

“Though Mr. Lincoln shared the prejudices of his white fellow-countrymen against the Negro, it is hardly necessary to say that in his heart of hearts he loathed and hated slavery….”

As a token of her appreciation, Mary Todd Lincoln gave Douglass the president’s favorite walking stick, which sits in Douglass’ final residence.

/6/ First African-American to be nominated for Vice President

In 1872, he was put on the Equal Rights Party ticket as Victoria Woodhull’s running mate. One problem – he had no idea he was nominated and he didn’t even campaign for it. As we know (or maybe not), they did not take the presidency.

/7/ Look at this photograph

frederick_douglass_2

Frederick Douglass with the most photographed American of the 19th Century, and stealthily made sure of it in an effort to advance his political views. He rarely smiled in his photographs, sending a message that he was not indulging in the racist stereotype of being a happy slave, and often looked into the lens with a stern look.

/8/ Rest In Peace

While there may be alternative facts swirling around out there, Mr. Douglass unfortunately passed away from a heart attack at his home in Washington a mere 122 years ago. He is buried in Rochester’s Mount Hope Cemetery, where people continue to pay their respects to this great man (check out video of a reporter from our local newspaper visiting Douglass last week). RIP.

Black History Spotlight #1: Claudette Colvin

Around here we think Black History needs to be an all-year, all-the-time celebration – but we’re also glad that there’s a month set aside to call special attention to all of the influential, talented, brilliant Black Americans who built this country. That’s why this February we’re shining a spotlight on different historical figures who shaped the world we live in. First up: Claudette Colvin, the teenage Civil Rights pioneer who started a movement by refusing to give up her seat on a bus.

claudette_colvin

Claudette Colvin, c. 1955.

Sound familiar? That’s probably because Rosa Parks is on the shortlist of Civil Rights figures we all learned about as children. There’s no denying that Rosa Parks changed our country with her activism and organization efforts as well as her own act of civil disobedience, but until recently Claudette Colvin’s story was sifted down into history.

Claudette Colvin began March 2, 1955 as a straight-A 15-year-old student and ended it a Civil Rights hero. On her way home from school, Claudette’s city bus driver ordered her to give up her seat to a white passenger. She ignored the driver and looked out the window. When the driver came back to confront her, Claudette stated that it was her constitutional right to sit where she was. Claudette later explained:

I felt like Sojourner Truth was pushing down on one shoulder and Harriet Tubman was pushing down on the other—saying, ‘Sit down girl!’ I was glued to my seat.

If you need any further reason why Black History Month is necessary, here’s one: Claudette Colvin was inspired to take this stand because that February, her school had observed what was then known as Negro History Week. The stories of the fight against slavery encouraged Claudette to work against the steep inequalities still present in her society.

Young Claudette Colvin was arrested, with police kicking her, knocking away her textbooks and dragging her off the bus. She was ultimately charged with violating segregation laws; Claudette plead not guilty but was sentenced to probation. The NAACP chose not to take Claudette’s case because she became pregnant the year of her arrest, and they feared that bad press and further prejudice would cloud the public’s support of Claudette’s cause. Nine months after Claudette refused to give up her seat on the bus, Rosa Parks made the same statement; a year after Claudette’s arrest, her first son was born.

When it became apparent that an appeal from Rosa Parks’ case would stagnate in the courts, Civil Rights lawyers looked to a different case to address the constitutionality of bus segregation. Claudette Colvin was named as a plaintiff, along with Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, Mary Louise Smith and Jeanette Reese, in the case that would confirm the illegality of segregation on mass transit. Because Browder v. Gayle addressed a federal question (a civil suit for damages due to a deprivation of rights by a public official, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983) it was heard in district court.

The ultimate question in Browder v. Gayle was whether statutes and ordinances requiring segregation on a common carrier violated the Constitution. The ‘separate but equal’ doctrine had already been weakened by a string of cases regarding interstate transit, as well as college education and public recreation. The court in Browder placed the final nail in the Plessy v. Ferguson coffin, holding that bus segregation statutes violate the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The lower court’s decision was affirmed by the Supreme Court in 1956.

Claudette Colvin later moved to New York and became a nurse’s aide. She is now retired, and has said that at one time she dreamed of becoming a lawyer. Instead, she inspired the case that ended segregation on common carriers – just as she said on the bus on March 2, 1955, it was her constitutional right – and has had a larger impact on the course of constitutional law than most lawyers could ever dream.

I feel very, very proud of what I did. I do feel like what I did was a spark and it caught on. I’m not disappointed. Let the people know Rosa Parks was the right person for the boycott. But also let them know that the attorneys took four other women to the Supreme Court to challenge the law that led to the end of segregation.


Any other facts about Claudette Colvin, the bus boycotts, or the Civil Rights era that you’d like to point out? Suggestions for further Black History Spotlights? Let us know!

Beyonce Is Here To Save 2017

Call it divine intervention. Call it Destiny’s Child(ren). But for sure call it TWINS.

Yesterday, February 1st, Beyonce dropped not a new album, but rather baby news that made the world stop…

CARRY ON.

Actually, no. We, as a world, could not carry on. I will forever remember today as one of the most important days of my life. I work in a newsroom specifically for entertainment and we have one of those open floor plans where you can basically hear and see everyone. Someone sent through an email with the subject line: “Beyonce is Pregnant” along with the link to her Instagram picture. Sure enough, you could hear gasps and screams from throughout the office  – did I mention it’s a predominantly young-ish female environment? About 30 seconds later, someone said, “Wait did you guys notice she’s having twins?” UM NO, WE DID NOT SIR, WE WERE DISTRACTED BY THE BELLY BUMP, FLOWER WALL AND MESH VEIL PLACED UPON HER HEAD. TWINS?! WE HAVE BEEN BLESSED TWO TIMES OVER. What happened next was something I wish I had on camera (but I was still too shook to do anything). The screaming continued, people were congratulating and hugging each other as if we ALL were pregnant with twins.

meeting cancelled

And you know what, this is the type of communal excitement we need with this sham of administration tearing the country apart. Each morning, I wake up thinking, “Ah, what fresh hell is awaiting me today?”. But on this first day of Black History Month, Beyonce reminded us that despite the fact we’re surrounded with dumpster fires, the world is still spinning and new life is created, just like it did pre-January 20th (November 8th).

So now that Bey is prepping for The Carter 5, I feel like we as a society are a little bit better in the state of the world knowing that love is still on top. Yes, she’s a celebrity that a majority if not all of us will never be BFFs with, but in dire times like these, it’s exactly why the idea of stardom and artistry are important. It gives us a moment of distraction away from the insanity happening in politics and lower our blood pressure just a tad knowing new, talented life is being made. Just how will she save 2017? Here’s what we’re hoping Bey & these two little nuggets will do for all of us in the coming year:

  • She’ll have two more girls and start Destiny’s Child: Part II
  • DC:P2 will wear matching/coordinating clothes designed by Beyonce, just like Miss Tina designed for DC3
  • She’ll have a boy and a girl, and they becoming mini-Bey & Jays doing a rap/sing combo
  • She’ll have two boys and they’ll only wear the RocaWear baby collection Jay has secretly been hiding in their underground bunker for years
  • Bey’s mere appearance at the Grammys next Sunday will show off her belly and give us VMAs 2011 feels all over again
  • Bey starts a new trend of pregnancy announcement photos in lingerie, a veil and a flower wall. (It gets old fast)
  • She’ll be the fiercest pregnant performer ever to take the Coachella stage
  • But she could also lit’rally sit on a folding chair in the middle of the stage and it would be the best thing the world has ever seen
  • Bey letting us in on how Blue will be as a big sister
  • Blue wearing a “Big Sister” shirt
  • Bey and Jay have dinner with Mariah and Nick Cannon for advice on parenting twins
  • Instead of Who Is Becky With The Good Hair, B’s biggest mystery is WHY THE VEIL
  • Jay drops a surprise album on Tidal the day the twins are born all about his kids
  • Makes Tidal free. For one day.
  • Beyonce drops another surprise 5 track EP, one song is just the twins cooing
  • Just all the maternity outfits. All of them.
  • Anything Taylor Swift tries to do in 2017 will never be as good as this
  • To reiterate, this is not just one child, it’s TWO. TWO MORE BEY/JAY BABIES THIS IS A MIRACLE AND SHOULD BE REASON ENOUGH

Best Spoken of the 2017 SAG Awards: Actors Take On The #MuslimBan

Whether you were watching last night’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, or were tuned into the other breaking news instead, I think you’ll understand why we decided to forego the Best Dressed post. We would have loved to talk about outfits and we’re sure all those actors would have loved to talk about their “craft,” but here we all are, in strange times. An actor’s opinion is no more qualified than any other individual’s and we don’t wish to imply that. However, events like the SAG awards give actors a platform most of the rest of us don’t have, and we were pleased to see that many celebrities made good use of their soapboxes. Here are some of our favorites, in no particular order:

Mahershala Ali [Moonlight]

“I think what I’ve learned from working on Moonlight is we see what happened when you persecute people – they fold into themselves. And what I was so grateful about in having the opportunity to play Juan was playing a gentlemen who saw a young man folding into himself as a result of the persecution of his community, and taking the opportunity to uplift him and tell him that he mattered, that he was okay, and accept him. I hope that we do a better job of that.”

“When we kind of get caught up in the minutiae, the details that make us different, I think there’s two ways of seeing that — there’s an opportunity to see the texture of that person, the characteristics that make them unique, and then there’s an opportunity to go to war about it, and to say that that person is different from me, and I don’t like you, so let’s battle.”

“My mother is an ordained minister, I’m a Muslim. She didn’t do backflips when I called her to tell her I converted 17 years ago. But I tell you now, you put things to the side. And I’m able to see her, and she’s able to see me. We love each other and the love has grown. And that stuff is minutiae. It’s not that important.”

Taraji P. Henson [Hidden Figures]

“This film is about unity. … The shoulders of the women that we stand on are three American heroes: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. Without them, we would not know how to reach the stars.”

“These women did not complain about the problems, the circumstances, the issues. We know what was going on in that era. They didn’t complain. They focused on solutions. Therefore, these brave women helped put men into space.”

“We cannot forget the brave men who also worked with us. God rest his soul in peace, John Glenn. ”

“This story is about unity. This story is about what happens when we put our differences aside, and we come together as a human race. We win. Love wins every time. Thank you so much for appreciating the work we’ve done, thank you so much for appreciating these women. They are hidden figures no more!”

David Harbour [Stranger Things]

“In light of all that’s going on in the world today, it’s difficult to celebrate the already celebrated Stranger Things. But this award from you, who take your craft seriously and earnestly believe, like me, that great acting can change the world, is a call to arms from our fellow craftsmen and women to go deeper, and through our art to battle against fear, self-centeredness, and exclusivity of our predominantly narcissistic culture and through our craft, cultivate a more empathetic and understanding society by revealing intimate truths that serve as a forceful reminder to folks that when they feel broken and afraid and tired, they are not alone.”

“We are united, in that we are all human beings, and we are all together on this horrible, painful, joyous, exciting, and mysterious ride that is being alive. Now, as we act in the continuing narrative of Stranger Things, we 1983 Midwesterners will repel bullies. We will shelter freaks and outcasts — those who have no hope. We will get past the lies. We will hunt monsters. And when we are at a loss amidst the hypocrisy and casual violence of certain individuals and institutions, we will, as per Chief Jim Hopper, punch some people in the face when they seek to destroy the meek and the disenfranchised and the marginalized. And we will do it all with soul, with heart, and with joy. We thank you for this responsibility.”

Julia Louis Dreyfus [Veep]

“Whether the Russians did or did not hack the voting of tonight’s SAG Awards, I look out on the million or probably even million and a half people in this room and I say this award is legitimate and I won! I’m the winner, the winner is me, landslide!” …

“I want you all to know that I am the daughter of an immigrant. My father fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France, and I’m an American patriot, and I love this country, and because I love this country I am horrified by its blemishes. This immigrant ban is a blemish and it is un-American. So I say to you this: Our sister guild, the WGA, made a statement today that I would like to read because I am in complete agreeance with it.”

“ ‘Our guilds are unions of storytellers who always welcomed those from the nations of varying beliefs who wish to share their creativity with America. We are grateful for them. We stand with them. And we will fight for them.’ ”

Sarah Paulson [The People Vs. O.J. Simpson]

… “Any money you have to spare, please donate to the ACLU. It’s a vital organization that relies entirely on our support.”

[Note: as someone who has logged plenty of volunteer hours with a local refugee settlement/services organization and in pro bono legal services, I’d also add that it would be great to look at what organizations are doing work in your own back yard. -m]


Like we said: actors aren’t the only people speaking up. They aren’t necessarily the most qualified spokespeople, either. But they ARE concerned citizens using the platforms that they have available to them to say what they feel needs to be said. It’s a reminder that all of us can and should work within our personal spheres of influence and capitalize on our own connections or expertise. And for the love of God, let’s get things back to being okay soon. We’d like this one to be an outfit post next year.