Friday, April 21, 2006

the crying game...& don't toy with me...

i guess this is the danger of waiting to post. life goes on, my mind goes to other things, and when it returns to antm the details are fuzzy. but i'll try to do what i can, and in the event that i lose my place i'll do what comes damn near natural to me - i'll imporvise. this week, the girls were toyed with in more ways that one. then jade and nnenna received gifts after the challenge; jade's response was priceless. nnenna acted like she wished she had the reciept...

so you figure models must be pretty confident people, right? they are painfully beautiful and always the center of attention; they wear clothes that are completely outrageous and sometimes next-to-nothing. these ladies want that life, so this week tyra decided to test their metal. a model/actress pretended to be a cut-throat agency scout who didn't bite her tongue about the girls' imperfections. she told nnenna she had a gut. she bothered daniel about her gap. she told furonda that her nose was too big. she bothered joanie about her teeth. she told sarah that her bottom lip was "too much bigger than the top." i don't remember brooke's lashing, but miss agency played jade with the drag-queen card (saw that one coming). some of the girls took the comments to heart. nnenna went back to the waiting room pinching her mid section. joanie was really down. furonda was totally flustered...and so on. but lo and behold! jade's pomposity was her saving grace. she took every malicious critique andd spit it back out as a golden asset, and she won the challenge.

jade chose nnenna to share the wealth this week,and when everyone returned home jade and nnenna had huge gift boxes waiting for them. jade's response was so totally human - and unexpected. jade's mommy was in the box, and when she saw her, she cried. it was the most geniune, moving emotion i've seen for her all season. the way she touched her mother's face and embraced her - as if she was trying to convice herself that her mother was reallt standing there - it was so tender, so loving. that may have created a chink in my anti-jade armor (drats!). nnenna's surprise, according to her face, was not so pleasant. boyfriend, johnny-boy, came out of her box and she looked like she wanted to put him back in. well, i guess being on the phone 23 hours of the day with a person doesn't really give you a chance to miss 'em, does it nnenna? she was hoping it was one of her sisters. i admit, that would have been beautiful...

the photo shoot was very fun this week. the girls were dolls to work really, they were dolls. baby dolls, rag dolls, glamour dolls, MANequins, etc. furonda was awesome at this shoot. she was a rag doll and totally had the body language down. joanie was another one; she was a vantrilaquist's doll, but the ingenius way she pulled off the shot makes her far from a dummy. daniel was a marionett and also brilliant with the body language. jade did very well as a MANequin. brooke's glamour doll attempt just looked, well, plastic. sarah as a teen doll could have used more expression, but her head looked like one of the Brats dolls, so i guess that's good. and then there was nnenna. i'll just say this, if i had baby dolls that looked like nnenna when i was young, i'd second guess having children. now that's a little harsh, but nnenna knows how to soften her expressions. she just didn't...

there was another mini-shoot that the girls did with tyra. she did these crying beauty shots where the girls had to - i guess that's pretty obvious. nnenna and joanie stick out in my mind for this shoot; they both captured a beautiful intensity that came from very different places. nnenna's cry needed to happen; she'd been holding it in, and the shoot gave her th oppotunity - she thought about her sisters and how much this competition could mean for them. she was still crying even after she nailed the shot. joanie's tears came from a very recent and tangible place. upwards of 12 hours in a dentist's chair would probably have the same affect on many (shout-out to daniel who not only stayed with joanie, but kept her gap - i think it's beautiful, daniel!). both of the girls used their inner emotion to create a striking photo. brava!...

at panel, daniel was scolded for not have her gap closed. my heart skipped a beat when i thought it would cost her the competition (especially since the judges started pulling negative comments out of their asses because she was on point). joanie continues to rock the house, so of course she made the cut. nnenna, despite her terrible babydoll photo, has been consistent to this point, and she too was safe. furonda is progressing every week, and the judges see it - she stayed. personally, i think they don't want to be wrong about the "golden child" they recruited, so sarah is safe for now (her crying beauty shot helped too). jade was in the bottom two again - with brooke. brooke's awkwardly perfect looks didn't help her this time (i'm thinking that's because next too jade, brooke's not so awkward). she said goodbye, but i respect her demeanor. she wasn't a cry-baby[doll] about it.

the number of girls is steadily dwindling. it will be time for them to leave the country soon. that's the most exciting part, for me. i have no idea where they will go, but it has to happen in the next week or so. i don't want to peg my predictions for the final three again. i see what it did for leslie and brooke.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

frankenbride...(or) you can't please all the people [in your family] all the time...

why "frankenbride", do you ask? why not "bridezilla", you inquire? simple. godzilla was a monster from the very beginning, no two ways about it. frankstein, however, was not always a monster. he became a monster as a result of his environment and extenuating circumstances. no no, my friends, frankstein was not a villain - he was, in essence, a victim. you readin' me (between the lines)?...trying not to be pre-madonna with it. trying to stay true to my sweats-and-sneaks-sit-on-the-floor-no-big-fuss self. that would be totally fine if i was inviting people over my house for a card party, but the fact of the matter is i'm not asking folks to come half way (or all the way, respectively) across the country for a picnic or a barbeque! i can't do it! oh Humility forgive me if that's wrong, but i can't... in the grand universal scheme of things i recognize that i probably sound like a shallow, spoiled-ass brat who has never worked a day in her life. but in the immediacy of the present, this dilemma has become a veritable thorn in my side.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

holy ghost or vertigo?...(or) this little bling a’mine…& that’s the way the cookie crumples

and here I thought my church was the only one that did fashion shows, so the kids could show off their Easter clothes! this week, the girls learned about modeling accessories, but they also learned the art of “a-swirl” (you thought miss jay was funny). the episode was all about movement. they had time to learn, practice and execute, but all of the ladies couldn’t rize to the occasion…

I realize that I’m so into the challenges and the shoots that I take very little time commenting on the chemistry (every pun intended) in the house, so I’ll dedicate a few lines this time. Brooke and Nenna were like oil and water. Nenna’s still tying up the phone lines with boyfriend drama, and Brooke (like me) thinks she should have left that in the last episode. when Brooke tried to reason with Nenna about the “community phone” she was completely ignored. well, between the laughing at her commercial and at the “swirling” lesson, that was the straw that broke Brooke’s back! she proceed to storm from the room and stomp down the hallway, yelling all kinds of expletives. I knew she had a little fiona apple in her somewhere. but Nenna stayed menacingly cool throughout the ordeal (why are you so cold, Nenna? we’re a warm, tropical people!)…Jade still refers to herself in the third person, but at least there was no bullying this time – only instigating…

it appeared at the accessory lesson, that you can never have enough gloves, bags and shoes, but one button-up jacket was too many. the ladies fumbled around with the accessories as if they had no motor skills whatsoever. then, they met with the swirling senseis, twins Tweedle Flam and Tweedle Flame, and were instructed in the art. they were able to use both lessons at the church fashion show they walked in. decadent capes and skirts and gloves and bags let the girls practice what they had learned. the prize was a $25,000 diamond ring – quite the love offering! the ladies modeled this holy haute-couture with as much energy as they could muster; I rarely use the word pizzazz, but that’s what it was. Joanie was on fire at this show, so much so that I actually remember what her ensemble looked like. Jade, I have to hand it to you (though I’m sure you’ll do something to make me take it back), that looking-like-a-spinning-top-down-the-run-way bit was impressive. first, because you didn’t get dizzy and fall; second because you really rocked the outfit; third because it was original and a risk; and fourth – you didn’t levitate or fly away. Furonda did okay, but there’s too much music in hers; she was trying to swirl in cadence. For all intents and purposes, Nenna walks too slowly. Jade won the church-catwalk competition; at least now she’ll have a best friend in the house. but wait! Jade got to chose a 2nd place, 10K diamond ring winner - Furonda. but wait! she got to chose a 3rd place, 8K diamond ring winner – Nenna. well, there goes the “building fund”…

the girls then jump – from church to crump. the shoot was for a fashion-forward ad for payless shoes, who made their debut at this year’s fashion week in NY (shout out payless! I knew I went there for a reason!). the ladies were joined by Clown and his crew of LA based crumpers who were there to add their energy to the set (and energy, indeed!). Sarah was awkward at this shoot (the story of her top model life, so far). Joanie rocked it! her pole-dancing peers would be so proud. meanwhile, Brooke’s striptease was not at all sexy, but the shot was on point (who knew?). Furonda was kind of weird in her poses, but she connected with the camera and that saved her photo too (lot of that going around). Nenna, again, too mellow for her own good; I disagree with the judges about her photo. the face was beautiful, but the pose wasn’t the best, and was it just me or did the blue in her hair make her head blend into the sky? Daniel really enjoyed the shoot. danced her a*s off, I’ll give her that, but (Jay was right) she did get the I’m-really-into-this-dance-and-I’m-workin’-it ugly face. Leslie let me down at this shoot. she’s exuded sexy in every photo prior, but this time the final results looked like a confident flamenco dancer. Jade was really confident and did well at this shoot (I think her winning the challenge stroked her ego a bit). I agree with Jay about her water bottle innovation; it was very good, but (sorry, honey) the dancing was not…

in the end, when Sarah and Leslie were left, Leslie was sent home. It hurt my heart, really. Sarah’s height saved her, so if she doesn’t capitalize on it next week – she’s outta there! and you can quote me. Poor Leslie, there’s no room for ducks on the runway.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

the graduate...founder's day edition

spelmanite identifier #18:

the term "intergalactical" doesn't make you think of outerspace - it makes you think of resonance.

spelmanite identifier #81:

you have, at some point while saying "spelman", held the L for a full 8 counts.

Friday, April 07, 2006

punch-line KO...(&) easy, breezy, bumbling...

“All the world's a stage, and men and women merely players. They have their exists and their entrances…” This week, the girls were all players, ay! Poor players indeed! Tyra's collapse ended up being quite portentous, as it foretold how every single girl would fall flat at the covergirl challenge. And what was suppose to be wil'-ing out was really just playing the fool.”

So the girls attended this improvisation class where they were to learn how to think on the spot and react. I thought Jade would do well since she's been putting on since the season started. She says, “This is great because I always wanted to take an acting class.” Oh, puh-lease! Mollie Sue was excited too; since height isn't on her side, she hoped this would be an opportunity to cultivate the personality that the panel believes to be intrinsic to her hair color for some odd reason. Jade receives some unsolicited advice from the instructor, “sometimes, it's not all about you.” Amen!...

This was a really good episode for Furonda. Her response to Tyra's “fainting” really showed a genuine compassion in her. Who knew she would get so worked up? It was really sweet though, the poor dear. Meanwhile, Jade didn't even move from the couch when Tyra pretended to pass out; she must have thought with Tyra out of the way, Victoria's Secret would come busting down her door (naïve Jade! I laugh in your ill-formed face- ha ha). Once I saw that it was Tyra falling, I knew acting lessons were at hand, but when I saw the preview I thought to myself, “now which one let her eating disorder get out of control?” They were not so lucky as the ladies of cycle 3 - no Taye Diggs. My guess is Tyra agreed to this when she was on Nick Cannon's show. So, the ladies had a chance to loosen up and wil' out. Furonda, Joanie and Mollie Sue seemed to have the most fun. Nenna would have been funnier, if we could just understand what she was saying! Brooke was too busy sweating and blushing to really take part. Leslie, Daniel and Sarah participated, but not to any amazing degree. Then we have Jade, no-direction-following-quick-ego-bruising-insecurity-leveraging-wack-as-all-outdoors-Jade. Nick should've ragged on her. Oh I wish he did! She was not funny and taking herself way too seriously. So, she starts taking shots at the girls - things that they may be self-conscious about - Furonda's skin and Sarah's height. Totally uncalled for! Nobody said anything about your striking rodent resemblance, Jade, so you didn't have to take it there. And you still didn't win the challenge, punk! (By the way, Furonda and Nenna, good job on the PSA)…

For their challenge, the ladies got their first gander at the covergirl promised land. No shoot, instead they did improv commercials - allowed only two takes - where they had to fill thirty seconds and the only required lines were “Easy. Breezy. Beautiful. Covergirl.” I repeat, the only required lines were, “Easy, breezy, beautiful, Covergirl.” Well, not so easy, breezy. Sarah was up first, and she was natural and beautiful and remembered the product. If it weren't for the implied alcoholism and the wingspan of an albatross, she would have got the product in the frame and nailed it. Then there was Mollie Sue who would have been better off taking the sales pitch of how the foundation covers bruises because she looked like she wanted to fight. If she were trying to sell Marlboro's, it would have been brilliant. Furonda folded at the end - just because cheerleaders wear Covergirl it doesn't mean to mimic them (Ready? OK! Easy. Breezy. Beautiful). It looked like she had some leftover editorial poses from last week that she needed to get out. Joanie can't think on her feet; when she choked, I did too. I almost spit my drink out for laughing when she started rambling about LA (which would have been bad because I have carpeting). What are you talking about, Joanie? Then poor frightful Brooke broke. What did she say? “I just love wearing Covergirl…It's so nice to wear…” Yeah, that's definitely the result of a phobia because nobody uses 'nice' on purpose; I was embarrassed for her. Daniel's accent wasn't as extreme as Tyra made it out to be, but I'd be lying if I said the gap wasn't distracting. Leslie rocked the house! She floated through the set, she kept eye contact with the camera (a look enough to make me blush even!) and that lilac was an awesome color on her. She just radiated beauty and confidence, but Jay said she spoke too quickly (what was that about diarrhea, Jay?). Nenna's improvised script was genius, but she pushed through the crowd, which didn't film as friendly. Maybe she should have channeled the cheesy from her Sears shoot. Then there's Jade (you knew it was coming) who was too fabulous for her own good. That sky blue was a weird color choice because she's already kind of yellow. The incessant spinning probably made the cameraman dizzy, and the pièce de résistance - forgetting the product totally and swearing when you do. Oh I loved it, and turning the bottle around to look at it, no less! If all the world is a stage, you should be relegated to working the curtain, my friend. None of the girls were really pleased with their commercials, so when Nenna went backstage, gloating after her take, it wasn't surprising that they all regarded her something similar to Caesar in his final visit to the capitol…

Everyone looked pretty silly at panel, with only two takes apiece I didn't expect much more. But while everyone else just took their criticism, Jade has to start pointing fingers. She gave the same excuse with the wil' out exercise, “If I had more direction…” That's why it's called improv, sweetie! Deal with it! I thought that would be enough to get her sent home, but the panel disappointed me again. When the elimination was down to Jade and Mollie Sue, she didn't live up to the judges' expectations of a redhead's personality - totally in their own minds. The quirky (but not quirky enough) redhead took her final bow.

Mollie Sue reaches a tragic end, the villain proceeds to the next act and Nenna and her boyfriend? That's an entirely different drama altogether.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

re[comm]union... (or) bambara, my love...

the Toni Cade Bambara Scholar Activism Conference has given me so much over the years. it gave me: another place to contribute my words, the opportunity to share one of the academic works i've been most proud of in my scholastic career, the impetus for my delicious fixation with nikky finney, my introduction to the word wizard called alice lovelace and the opportunity to meet many amazing women who exalt me and humble me at the same time. i have this woman, toni cade bambara, to thank for it all - for her work, for her heart, for her legacy. and we never even met. sometimes i daydream about the workshops in her home. from the stories i have heard, i imagine her being serious and tender - encouraging but not babying. how powerful one must be to draw others together in her name even after she has crossed over, orchestrating transformation from another dimension. how beautiful it is to gather when toni cade says, "Come." i was permitted the honor of delivering a poem at the opening celebration/libation/reception for the conference. so, i wrote this just for the occassion.

"Keys to the Gate"
In honor of the Women's Center, Spelman College activisim and the Toni Cade Bamabara Scholar Activism Conference

she approached the gate
unaware of the keys already in her possession
she has so much to teach, but first
she has to learn her lessons
a large number to be taught outside the classroom
consumed by a world's problems
with seemingly no ending, no beginning
the conception of interlocking systems had her mind spinning
and her sad heart dropping into her shoes
but she chooses to forsake despair for hope
attempts to commence
the unweaving of deceiving "isms", like double dutch rope
who knew she'd been preparing her whole life to do this work?
classrooms were think tanks - intellectual reserve banks
the civil rights generation thought their ship had sank
but she just changed the course
moved to the south to bring our priorities back north
she is the star who will lead us now
strong daughter, from stronger mother
she bears the fruit to feed us now
and somehow between classes, crisis, changes and challenge
she manages to find her voice
because freedom is a right, but fighting is a choice
spent years ingested the words, strengthed her womb
with evolution through involvement--
energy went, time spent, then arrival of her commencement
time found her on the other side of the gates again
this time with keys in hand

but it doesn't just all go away--
disappear with the appearance of
maybe another degree? maybe a salary? maybe 401K?
at least i have to believe it's not that way,
so i have to wake every morning and say
"how will i be revolutionary today?"
now that might not include marching, per se, or a picket
but if the radio calls me out of my name
(you best believe) i'll flip it
if the TV show mocks my community
(you best believe) i'll switch it
if there's unsightly trash on the ground
(you best believe) i'll pick it up and throw it away
or stay on my knees a few minutes longer before the dawn
giving thanks because this day may be my last
and if i transition to meet the heroes of our past,
i don't want them to make me sit at the children's table,
saying, "we were more willing, but you were more able
and what did you do with the leverage that we gave you?"
then i'll have to sit there
in my kindergarten-desk chair, with some stupid ass look on my face
like i got suspended from school or broke the TV antenna
because they put their lives on the line to open doors i wouldn't enter
because they put my freedom first, but i wouldn't put justice at my center
so i make daily efforts to remeber them all
'cause i never been much of an athlete,
but i'll be damned if i drop the ball

i want to re(visit/edit/fine) this piece, but this was essentially my contribution to the 2006 TCB Scholar Activism Conference. With everything that the conference gave to me, it hardly seems like a fair exchange.