Category Archives: Media

My end of 2015 homework

This end of the year assessment is an interesting one for me. I started doing this six years ago, at Jamey’s prompting and now it’s one of my favorite ways to wrap up each year.

In the past, I often haven’t wanted the year to end and I’ve been anxious about the coming year.  The last few years have been really tricky and challenging, so I’ve been eager to start fresh. I feel really calm about 2016, even though my upcoming birthday is almost simultaneous with the beginning of both a month of Mercury Retrograde and a Jupiter Retrograde (which is going to be interesting, I understand from reading my horoscope).

All that is to say that while I haven’t achieved everything I’d hoped to achieve this year (see: the last item on the list), I’m still satisfied with my year. A friend asked me tonight what my resolutions are for 2016 and I realized that my only resolution is to continue doing what I’m doing and, in some cases, more of it.

1) I learned a lot about blogging and even met a lot of amazing bloggers. I just didn’t blog. If you count *this* post, I only updated three times this year, which is the total number of posts I published in December 2014. It wasn’t intentional and I felt really bad about it at first. And then I just stopped, posting and feeling bad. I decided to do it again when it felt right, when I had a better sense of what I wanted the blog to be in the future. And, in the meantime, I Tweeted a ton. It started to feel like poetry to me, the opportunity to quickly be creative within a rigid structure (limited characters). I hope to use Goodreads more regularly in 2016, because I would like to continue writing my fun, crazy subjective book reviews. I read a lot of great books this year.

2) My once-temporary apartment became permanent. At the beginning of 2015, I thought I’d be moving for the 3rd time since 2013 and I was pretty miserable about it. I’d fallen in love with my place and my neighborhood.

I’ve made a cozy, impermanent, perfect little home here for myself and while I’ll probably have to move again soon, I know now that I absolutely love Mid City…

I went so far as to look at a ton of apartments and while none of them was right, I thought I’d have to pick one. And then, on my birthday, a reprieve. It was pretty amazing timing. Since then, I’ve finally settled in completely, hanging mirrors, hooks and cork boards, buying a bookcase and filling it up with books that had been in storage for a year. I downsized to a smaller storage unit and while the majority of my books are still there, I’m now “all in” on my place.

3) My mission to cook more and eat healthier continued. If you need proof, my Twitter feed is evidence. It’s filled with food photos, love letters to cast iron skillets, longing notes about breadboxes. I became ravenous for avocados and beets, two foods almost unknown to my diet previously. Cooking and preparing meals became my main form of entertainment as well as a resolution for better health. A good friend moved last year and gave me a bunch of her kitchen stuff and I endeavored to use it. When the sweet amazing couple who I bought bread from every week at the market left town, the baker taught me how to make bread. Suddenly, I was baking my own bread every week, bringing a loaf (pic below) to every gathering of friends and taking serious pleasure from feeding the people I care about. There’s nothing like it.

Another friend visited early in the year, scoped the contents of my fridge and said, kinda judgey and suspicious, “What’s up with all the green stuff in your fridge?” I was thrilled. And so here you go, a pic of my fridge from a few days ago, way more green than earlier in the year. To round out the photos, a  “skinny cheesecake parfait” (mine is made with minced cranberries instead of strawberries) I just made with the mixer I got for Christmas.

4) I jettisoned broken things or any experience or relationship that didn’t work for me anymore. Including a job that was making me miserable. A grudge that kept me from walking into a place I’d once loved. I lovingly laid to rest painful “what-ifs” about past relationships. And the real biggie – I worked on giving up habits that weren’t serving me or were actively hurting me.

5) I challenged myself to do things that made me anxious or uncomfortable. Liiike, a friend gave me a VIP pass for Jazz Fest and I used it to go see Lenny Kravitz by myself – which is terrifying because I have trouble with crowds. Gotta say, the VIP access was huge in making it possible, but it was definitely still a challenge.

An editor of an amazing publication expressed interest in my writing and I sent work not once, but twice. I talked myself through a mid-flight panic attack. I binged the first 5 seasons of The Walking Dead and then read the comics and started watching every week, even though I’m a total wuss and almost never watch scary stuff. After years of being intrigued by this show, I just dove in and became a huge fan. Instead of letting panic or anxiety control my decisions, I let the things I loved, or wanted to love, guide me.

6) I focused on the people I was with and/or what I was doing at any given time. Meaning, my cell phone was in my bag or turned screen-down when I was hanging out or taking a meeting. I left the phone in the other room a lot. I gave myself permission not to answer if I was writing or decompressing. But I also returned calls more regularly and enjoyed Skype sessions with folks I love who are far away. I was thoughtful about how I spent my time, and with whom. And I was lucky enough to witness so many of my friends and colleagues achieve wonderful success this year, to be fully present when it happened.

7) I traveled even more this year. A 36-hour whirlwind of a trip to Portland for ValenTango (where I also got to visit with my brother). Atlanta for work and for dancing. Then, New York kept coming up (Anne and Hiro’s joint gallery show, their NYC debut!, a new tango friend who offered to host me). I haven’t been for years and in the past, I would’ve been practical and skipped it, but this year, I gave myself a trip to NYC as a present. I had an amazing time dancing and catching up with Anne and basically living at Google’s offices for the first day and a half (the cafeteria exceeds every legend you might’ve heard). I made new friends while I was there and had a random adventure going to see Karl Ove Knausgard at The Strand with one of them. I longed to go to NYC, so I made it happen. And it was fantastic.

8) (cont’d) Travel Pt II. I made a pilgrimage to a Tennessee mountaintop with Peauxdunque and on the way, stopped by Memphis to catch up with Jamey.

And then another whirlwind tango trip – this one 23 hours in Dallas to dance, catch up with great friends and celebrate the holidays.

9) Speaking of tango. For the second year, I assisted with the New Orleans Tango Festival, which has become, for me personally, a tango family reunion every year. More and more, I appreciate catching up with friends I might not get to see but once a year (if that) and to measure my growth against the last time we danced together. Check out this recap video (you can even see me about 27 seconds in):

And this year was even more special because of the time I got to spend with the ladies of La Bailonga Tango (+ Giovanni Parra), a Colombian tango band that came to Nola for the Festival. We had so much behind-the-scenes fun: getting them to their radio and tv appearances and trying to communicate in both English and Spanish (and oddly, French, which kept popping out when I tried to speak Spanish). I will treasure the experience!

We started working on 2016 very soon after this year’s festival was finished and I’m excited to do it again.

10) I threw myself into a new job, a new career. One that I really, really love. No matter how exhausting and challenging the day is, I end each one entirely satisfied by the opportunity to use my exceptionally diverse job history and my creativity while learning new things, every day. This job is bringing me balance and stability, but even so it’s also forcing me to face my struggle with change head-on. What is this job, you ask? I work at the library. It kinda seems like the obvious path for me, in hindsight.

11) (cont’d – this is worth 2 spots) So obvious that I was probably running from it. I realized that I was afraid of at least two things: a stable 9-5 career and also doing something I loved for a living. What if working at the library ruined what has always been my safe haven, my happy place? (This is the “don’t work at your favorite restaurant” theory). And, the biggie, what if career satisfaction removed all of my motivation to write? Luckily…

12) I wrote with more dedication and playfulness than ever before. For most of the year, I woke up a few hours early in order to write before work! I’d estimate that 2/3rds of the year, I went out of my way and made time for writing. Thanks to several months playing around with a novel about zombies (during the miserable job) and once again to NaNoWriMo in November, I looked forward to my writing sessions. I was light-hearted in a way I haven’t been in a long, long time.

13) I published. A short short story in Like a Girl pre-show supplement. A short piece of advice. More author profiles and book pieces for 225 Magazine. Several small business profiles for Gambit Weekly. An essay in the Scars Anthology. This last one is closely tied to #14 below…

14) I “appeared” more times this year than in the previous three years combined. I hadn’t read my work publicly for about 5 years before that, so this was huge.

A lot of the opportunities I had this year were because Maurice and I were promoting Scars locally. I’ve been so thrilled to share the experience with him and to be included in such a fabulous anthology. It was inspiring to get a tiny taste of what it’s like to publish and promote your work.

I got to have a book release at Garden District Bookshop, where I used to work, to share a stage with authors Jami Attenberg and MO Walsh at the Louisiana Book Festival and then to “work” at Octavia Books alongside authors Claudia Gray and Wayne Curtis for Small Business Saturday

After these experiences – I’m even more determined now.

15) I didn’t finish the novel by the end of the year, like I hoped I would. But I will finish it. After years of working on this novel and trying to put it aside and move on, I finally *know* that I will finish it, soon.

The best analogy I’ve ever heard about writing a novel is that it’s like building a boat in the middle of the ocean, no land in sight. I’ve spent more than 10 years with mirages of land or no hope of ever seeing it again. And now, there, not too far away, I see land ahead. I know where I’m going and that the journey is almost over.

A friend posted today about “done lists,” vs. “to-do lists.” I like that idea a lot. It immediately resonated. I think that’s what I’ve been doing these last few years. A list to remind myself of everything I’ve done, since it can be so easy to forget the sea of never-ending to-dos.

Can you see why I’m satisfied with 2015? It’s been pretty amazing. 2016 is gonna be even more so, I can feel it. Happy New Year, y’all.

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Filed under art, book news, Community Events & Forums, freelance work, Friends, Louisiana, Media, music, musing, NaNoWriMo, New Orleans, tango, writing updates

Least Favorite Love Songs Kickstarter Campaign

This post was originally written for and hosted at NolaFemmes.

Helen Krieger, of Flood Streets fame (and one of our Femme Fatales in 2011), is working on the second season of her webseries Least Favorite Love Songs. To raise a budget for the the show, she launched a Kickstarter campaign that’s winding down in the next five days. They’ve already made their minimum $5,000 goal, so now they’re stretching for an amount that will allow them to pay their crew just a lil something for their time and expertise.

They have low contributor levels ($1 and $5 backers get updates and swag!) and every little bit will help — maybe they’ll even be able to provide lunch to their crew on shooting days. 🙂 Even if you can’t contribute, you’ll help them out enormously if you watch Season 1, talk about it and share the Kickstarter page with your friends. There’s also a Kickstarter Campaign Wrap Party this Sunday, at Banks St. Bar (4401 Banks Street), from 7 to 9. The suggested $5 donation gets you a screening of Season 1, music from ROARSHARK and some improv.

It should be noted that Least Favorite Love Songs has some strong adult themes, is very funny and includes partial nudity. Season 2 is likely to be funnier and perhaps even nuder. Nudier? How do you express that there may be more nudity? Well, how about you check out the short, funny, almost nude video for the campaign?

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Filed under Femme Fatale Friday, Film, Media, New Orleans Women, TV, Women

Local author Ronlyn Domingue in the middle of the Simon & Schuster/Barnes & Noble contract dispute

This post was originally written for and hosted at NolaFemmes.

Recently, a friend of mine, Ronlyn Domingue, published her second novel, The Mapmaker’s War. Ronlyn’s a fantastic writer and The Mapmaker’s War is a inventive and inspired book. However, since her first novel, The Mercy of Thin Air, was published in 2005, the publishing industry has changed drastically. It’s often very hard for authors to make their books visible to the reading public.

It’s recently gotten even harder for some authors with recent titles from Simon & Schuster, including Ronlyn, because S&S is involved in a contract dispute with Barnes & Noble. This means The Mapmaker’s War, as well as other recent S&S titles, are not being carried in B&N stores.

The greater workings of this contract dispute are complicated, but the easy take-away is that authors with recent S&S books need help spreading the word about their books since there are no B&N front-of-store-placements or co-ops available to them right now. Please do them a favor and check out some of their titles here. Read them and tell as many people as you can to check them out, too.

Something else that’s changed significantly since 2005? Social media. Fans just voted on Facebook and picked Elizabeth Gilbert’s newest book cover. Together, we can tell people about the S&S titles we like and help the authors get read.

Ronlyn recently had book signing events in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, where she lives. Her books can be found at the great local booksellers Garden District Books and Cottonwood Books, among others.

Ronlyn signing a huge stack of books at Garden District Books. She put handmade bookmarks in each one!

Ronlyn signing a huge stack of books at Garden District Books. She put handmade bookmarks in each one!

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Filed under books, literature, Media, Writers and Poets

The NO Show Wants You

Host Mindy Hawes with Eritria Pitts and Andrew Larimer.

Today, The NO Show is recording live at the Loews Hotel (300 Poydras), at 6 p.m.

What is The NO Show, you ask? Well, it is a new-style, old-fashioned variety radio show, hosted by Mindy Hawes, with music from Hazy Ray and produced by local filmmaker Helen Krieger of Flood Streets and Least Favorite Love Songs.

Featured in this session of The NO Show are Dan Woods and Cyrus Cooper, founders of Film Instant, Andrew Ward, a musician and poet, and Chris Champagne, political satirist.

The recording is free and open to the public.

Mindy Hawes with Michael Garrett and Jason Foster.

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October 3, 2012 · 11:49 am

Hollywood Car Wash by Lori Culwell

Lori Culwell was doing a giveaway of Hollywood Car Wash on Twitter. I missed the actual giveaway, but when I read the description of the book, I wanted to read it. So, I wrote her and asked her if she’d still send me one to review. And, she did, so that was extremely cool of her. Here’s the description that made me want to read the book:

From college student to Hollywood star in less than one year, Amy Spencer is living every girl’s dream. But will she survive the Hollywood Car Wash?

I was intrigued because of my background in movie production, primarily because I don’t have a lot of experience with the acting side of things. I thought it would be an interesting and fun read.

First, Hollywood Car Wash looks like (and is) light “chick lit” reading. The kind of book best suited for a beach or for carrying you away on boring plane trips. It’s so easy to get sucked into the story and care about Amy immediately that the pages will just fly by.

But, this book is also sneaky and really smart. During Amy’s transformation from an insecure, grieving theater major to a successful (but still insecure) lead actress, there is an actual physical transformation that might haunt you at night, like it haunted me. Think the Miss Congeniality sequence in the big airplane hanger mixed with any sequence from any SAW or Final Destination movie. Amy’s being pushed toward a “perfection” that can be measured by ratings and opinion polls but which demands bigger and bigger emotional and physical sacrifices. Leading up to and during the scenes at the dentist’s office, I was screaming for Amy to run just like I would during any horror movie.

This book made me think a lot about the price of fame and success (especially for women), but was wrapped up in humorous, scandalous pleasure reading.

My only complaint is that because there’s a romance (of course), I wish it had been developed a bit more. Part of me kinda likes that Amy and her Hollywood transformation/burnout are the main focuses of the story, but because the romance was there, I wanted more. Even as slightly underdeveloped as it is, it’s still believable, which is a big plus.

Originally self-published in 2007, Hollywood Car Wash won “Project Publish” and was re-released in 2009 by Simon & Schuster. It might be turned into a t.v. show (ironically). You can visit Lori Culwell, who also founded an Internet consulting firm, at her website.

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Filed under books, Film, In Business, Media, movies, New Orleans Women, Women, Writers and Poets

Flood Streets – a local film

Last Thursday, I attended a private screening of a local indie feature, Flood Streets, hosted by NOVAC at Vintage Uptown. It was a gorgeous space and the entire event was wonderful.

I think everybody should know about this film, and the filmmakers behind it. The script was co-written by Helen Krieger and her husband Joseph Meissner based on a group of short stories Helen wrote about the often humorous situations New Orleanians found themselves in after Katrina. Together, Helen and Joseph created a production company, The Hatchery Media, and threw themselves into every aspect of filmmaking, taking on the producing and directing roles in addition to writing. Joseph plays one of the main characters as well. They recruited a dedicated crew (including co-producers Michelle Benoit and Glen Pitre) and a talented cast including Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond and Harry Shearer. You’ll find, as I did, a lot of familiar faces from the music community – Clint Maedgen from The New Orleans Bingo! Show and Meschiya Lake, just to name two.

Among its other projects, The Hatchery Media has also released a book of Helen’s stories that inspired the film, In the Land of What Now, which were sold at the event by Faulkner House Books. You can keep an eye on the progress of Flood Streets by signing up for the newsletter here.

An image from the film

The cover of "In the Land of What Next"

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Filed under books, Creativity, Film, Media, New Orleans Women, Writers and Poets