This May Interest You: My “Girl Power” Playlist

Every now and again everyone needs inspiration, something to give you a little extra pep in your step, fire to fight your fear and comfort when you’re down. Being someone with depression, I feel down quite often. Being a depressed, plus-sized, feminist woman of color, the state of the world, heck, the state of America—the politics, the race relations, the sexism, the socioeconomic gaps, etc.—has me feeling down basically all the time.

I feel like my identity doesn’t matter, which in turn means my opinion doesn’t matter because I hardly see anyone who looks or thinks like me represented in popular media, the outlet to which I turn to to escape despair. They tell us the wage gap is a myth and women need to stop complaining—it’s obviously a compliment when they praise us for our beauty and mothering or domestic skills but not our talents, intelligence or ideas. They tell us minorities are equal to the majority despite the lack of visibility/roles for Hispanics/Latinos, Asians, Indians, Native Americans and bi- and multiracial people. They tell us that just because women may have stretch marks or a double chin they’re just as valuable to society as women who don’t—oh wait, no, they don’t. And it all makes me feel like I don’t have a chance in hell of becoming a published author because no one is going to listen to a size-16, Black/White/Hispanic woman like me, and the depression deepens.

So. To where do I turn when I pull myself far enough out of the abyss to remember I need to start un-brainwashing myself from years of believing I’m inferior to men, to whites and to the physically fit and attractive? To the entertainment that does include and speak to people like me because people like me—people like usexist.  We have voices And here are a few for every occasion, women and girls.

Some are sung by women, some by men, but the point is the same: they either apply to us or are straight-up for us and you know what? We have to be for us, too.

Fight Songs

  • “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Theme” by TV Tunesters
  • “Swing to Glory” from BtVS series finale “Chosen” by Daniel Jay Nielsen
  • “Salute” by Little Mix (the most-played song on my iPod; helps pump me up to write the most important idea for a book series I have ever had, one for minority girls, about minority girls by a minority girl)
  • “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten (duh, lol)
  • “Stand By You” by Rachel Platten
  • “Forcefield” by Jax
  • “It’s On Again” by Alicia Keys feat. Kendrick Lamar
  • “Rise” by Katy Perry
  • “People Like Us” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “No More Drama” by Mary J. Blige
  • “I Know Where I’ve Been” by Queen Latifah
  • “One Girl Revolution” by Superchick
  • “Freedom” by Beyoncé
  • “Good Woman Down” by Mary J. Blige (as in “You can’t keep a…”)

Inspirational Songs

  • “Something Beautiful” by Tori Kelly
  • “Call Me Beep Me” by Banaroo (originally sung by Christina Milian, this is better known to the world as the theme song to Disney’s Kim Possible)
  • “Wings” by Little Mix (I have The Voice cover by Tess Boyer)
  • “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyoncé
  • “Can’t Hold Us Down” by Christina Aguilera
  • “Little Me” by Little Mix
  • “Invincible” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato (I have The Voice cover by Brittnee Camelle)
  • “Girl On Fire” by Alicia Keys
  • “Roar” by Katy Perry
  • “Just Do You” by India.Arie
  • “Brave” by Sara Bareilles
  • “Mean” by Taylor Swift (I have The Voice cover by Danielle Bradbery)
  • “Don’t Hold Me Down” by Colbie Caillat
  • “Happy” by Leona Lewis
  • “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “Born To Fly” by Danielle Bradbery
  • “Beautiful Flower” by India.Arie
  • “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars
  • “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash (I have The Voice cover by Anita Antoinette and Mayra Alvarez)
  • “I Make My Own Sunshine” by Alyssa Bonagura
  • “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift
  • “Free Your Mind” by En Vogue
  • “Diamonds” by Rihanna
  • “Fly” by Nicki Minaj feat. Rihanna
  • “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus
  • “Almost There” by Anika Noni Rose (from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog)
  • “Control” by Janet Jackson
  • “Black Girl Magic” by Sierra McClain (from Empire)
  • “Respect” by Aretha Franklin
  • “Firework” by Katy Perry
  • “Unbreakable Smile” by Tori Kelly
  • “Spectrum” by Florence + The Machine
  • “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz (I have The Voice cover by Christina Grimmie)
  • “I’m With You” by Avril Lavigne
  • “Stand” by Rascal Flatts (I have The Voice cover by Cassadee Pope)
  • “Irreplaceable” by Madilyn Paige
  • “Titanium” by David Guetta & Sia (I also have The Voice cover by Madilyn Paige)
  • “Superwoman” by Alicia Keys
  • “Mama” by Jussie Smollett (from Empire)
  • “The Voice Within” by Christina Aguilera
  • “Sing for Me” by Christina Aguilera
  • “Fly” by Maddie & Tae (I have The Voice cover by Brennley Brown)
  • “Think Good Thoughts” by Colbie Caillat
  • “Gold” by Britt Nicole
  • “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield
  • “Ugly” by Christina Grimmie
  • “Not Fragile” by Christina Grimmie
  • “Wait Til You See My Smile” by Alicia Keys
  • “Indestructible” by Mary J. Blige
  • “With Love” by Christina Grimmie
  • “Rise Up” by Andra Day

Self-Acceptance Songs

  • “Scars to Your Beautiful” by Alessia Cara (I have The Voice cover by Wé McDonald)
  • “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera
  • “One Step at a Time” by Jordin Sparks
  • “Dark Side” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “Video” by India.Arie
  • “I Am Light” by India.Arie
  • “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga
  • “F**kin’ Perfect” by P!nk
  • “Wild Things” by Alessia Cara
  • “Still Crazy After All These Years” by Paul Simon (I have The Voice cover by Emily Keener)
  • “Shake It Out” by Florence + The Machine
  • “Try” by Colbie Caillat
  • “Who Says” by Selena Gomez (a song that asks us to question who taught us we weren’t good enough because much like other forms of hate, self-hatred is usually learned)
  • “Secrets” by Mary Lambert
  • “Body Love Parts 1&2” by Mary Lambert (a spoken-word declaration, a revelation)
  • “Redneck Woman” by Gretchen Wilson
  • “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” by James Brown (I have The Voice cover by Juliet Simms)
  • “Unconditionally” by Katy Perry

Relationship and/or Breakup Songs

  • “You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore (I have The Voice cover by Darby Walker)
  • “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera
  • “King of Anything” by Sara Bareilles
  • “Gonna Get Over You” by Sara Bareilles
  • “Get Yourself Together” by Christina Grimmie
  • “Ghost” by Ella Henderson
  • “Done.” by The Band Perry
  • “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” by Beyoncé
  • “So What” by P!nk
  • “Goodbye” by Kristinia DeBarge
  • “Bartender” by Lady Antebellum
  • “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor
  • “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child
  • “A Little Bit Stronger” by Sara Evans (I have The Voice cover by Danielle Bradbery)
  • “I Do Not Hook Up” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “Mr. Know It All” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “A Broken Wing” by Martina McBride (I have The Voice cover by Holly Tucker)
  • “The War Is Over” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “Little Black Dress” by Sara Bareilles
  • “Dollhouse” by Priscilla Renea
  • “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” by En Vogue
  • “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga
  • “Part of Me” by Katy Perry
  • “Express Yourself” by Madonna (I have the Glee cover)
  • “Get It Right” by Teedra Moses
  • “Think” by Aretha Franklin (from The Blues Brothers)
  • “Independent Women Part I” by Destiny’s Child
  • “I Don’t Need a Man” by The Pussycat Dolls
  • “Miss Independent” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “Miss Independent” by Ne-Yo (a great feminist love song in which a Ne-Yo describes his admiration for a woman who “wants him but doesn’t need him”)
  • “Make Me Better” by Fabolous feat. Ne-Yo
  • “No Scrubs” by TLC
  • “Dip It Low” by Christina Milian feat. Fabolous
  • “Bootylicious” by Destiny’s Child
  • “Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me” by Susan Sarandon (from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the moment Janet takes control of her sexual desires)
  • “Anything Could Happen” by Ellie Goulding (I have The Voice cover by Caroline Pennell)
  • “No More (Baby I’ma Do Right)” by 3LW (uh-oh, my age is showing…)
  • “Halo” by Beyoncé
  • “She Is Love” by Parachute
  • “Wild Horses” by The Rolling Sundays (I have the cover by The Sundays)
  • “These Words” by Natasha Bedingfield
  • “She’s a Lady” by Tom Jones
  • “Stronger” by Britney Spears
  • “A Woman’s Worth” by Alicia Keys

(Hmm. I have a lot of songs about relationships even though I have never been in a relationship. Go figure.)

Feel-Good Songs

  • “Some Nights” by Fun. (I have The Voice cover by Christina Grimmie; the lyrics aren’t exactly feel-good but the music is, as are the dulcet but powered pipes of the lovely, late Miss Grimmie)
  • “#thatPOWER” by will.i.am feat. Justin Bieber (I have The Voice cover by Judith Hill)
  • “Keeps Gettin’ Better” by Christina Aguilera
  • “Bella Finals” by The Barden Bellas of Pitch Perfect
  • “World Championship Finale 2” by The Barden Bellas of Pitch Perfect 2
  • “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles
  • “Do What U Want” by Lady Gaga feat. R. Kelly (I have The Voice cover by Sisaundra Lewis)
  • “Catch My Breath” by Kelly Clarkson
  • “Who I Am” by Jessica Andrews (I have The Voice cover by Danielle Bradbery)
  • “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack
  • “Just Fine” by Mary J. Blige
  • “Suddenly I See” by KT Tunstall
  • “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge
  • “We Found Love” by Rihanna feat. Calvin Harris
  • “Something Kind of Ooooh” by Girls Aloud (a good workout song off the fabulous soundtrack to an underrated romance-comedy called Run, Fatboy, Run)
  • “Queen of the Night” by Whitney Houston
  • “I’m Every Woman” by Whitney Houston
  • “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” by Shania Twain
  • “Show Me How You Burlesque” by Christina Aguilera (from Burlesque)
  • Lady Marmalade by Patti LaBelle (I have the Moulin Rouge cover)
  • “We R Who We R” by Kesha (formerly Ke$ha)
  • “Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae
  • “I’m Like a Bird” by Nelly Furtado (I have The Voice cover by Mathai; another where the lyrics aren’t particularly inspirational but the melody is calming)
  • “One” by India.Arie
  • “Selena” by Wyclef Jean feat. Melissa Jiménez (a tribute song honoring late and lovable Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla)

Honorable Mention: “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy, a pioneer song for the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s.

There we have it, my personal “Girl Power” playlist, a bevy of songs reinforcing the kind of feminism and empowerment I stand for: equal opportunities, rights and treatment to men; emotional independence; sisterhood; and varied definitions of beauty and the recognition and appreciation of inherent female resilience. Ladies, what are your favorite go-to empowerment songs? If you care to share, please leave a comment below. What you share just might make someone feel better! After all, it was lists like these that helped me and led me to form my own.

-BP

Taboo Topics: Choosing to be Childfree

Hi. I am a 25-year-old woman who has no desire to have children now or in the future. I am going to be childless or, to use the term I learned in college and rather prefer, childfree. Shocking! Or is it? In this day and age in the 21st century, is it really all that shocking for young women not to have or want kids?

I only count this as a taboo topic because it is, from what I perceive, still a relevant social expectation that women get married and have children. Oh, you can have a job now, but your real job is to raise a family—that’s what’s at the core of a woman’s worth. It’s what the Bible says after all, that women will be “preserved” through childbearing!

Well now. As both a Christian and a modern woman, I have to say I think this edict is positively medieval and, even more to the point, pardon me, bullshit.

Giving birth to a baby doesn’t make you worthy of being seen as a saint any more than being a sperm donor makes a man worthy of being seen as one either. Having children doesn’t automatically make you a good or bad person, doesn’t make you better than someone else, just like watching horror movies doesn’t make someone a bad person and going to church doesn’t make someone a good person. But then again, the Bible’s got plenty of bullshit in it. There are A LOT of things in there that I don’t believe were inspired by a loving, fair God but more by cowardly, power-hungry, fallible men, and this is one of them, but I digress.

I don’t have a grip on what this expectation is like for young men; I presume they’re asked about when they’re going to settle down and have kids just as much as we young ladies are. The only difference is, that in the past, they didn’t have to to have a fair quality of life. Women come from a background of economic oppression (unable to vote, to own or inherit property, to attend school, to work certain jobs) and sometimes even emotional repression and had to get with a man just to survive, until what, like the 1970s? Wasn’t that the height of women’s lib?

We’ve got a long way to go still—hell, look who got elected as our president—for women and other minority groups to be treated as equals to men and the majority, but we’ve come pretty dang far in 50 years. Scores of women are getting an education. Most women have jobs and dare I say careers. Girls are no longer being programmed by Disney to think they have to wait on Prince Charming to swoop in and save them. They can make a happily ever after happen on their own. Relationships are now a choice. Sex is a choice. Having children (in most cases) is a choice. We don’t have to if we don’t want to because we now have the economic and emotional means (by claiming our independence and inherent resilience) to take care of ourselves.

So why do people still care? Why do people want to control aspects of others’ lives that they have no business trying to be a part of? One of the great mysteries of humanity. I think it has to do with pinpointing what’s different and talking about it. Wondering about it. Feeling superior to it. Feeling sorry for it. Being puzzled by it. Whatever it is, it’s because of some satisfaction someone gets from marking another person as different and therefore separate. People just love putting others into categories—makes it easier to judge them. It’s like an alarm goes off in his or her brain: “Whee-ooh! Whee-ooh! Something different than my own values/beliefs/conceits! Whee-ooh! Whee-ooh! Must react! Must select judgment! Anger? Envy? Confusion? Pity? Disapproval? Select judgment!”

In my experience God likes variety, so people are diverse. We’re not meant to fit one certain category under one certain label. But some people just can’t let it go. Someone even called me an “evolutionary failure” because I’m going against what people were meant to do, which is procreate. Look, I don’t give a damn what evolutionary biology says I’m supposed to; I’m more than a body.

Here, these are my personal reasons I don’t want children:

  • Because I am mentally ill. I have OCD and anxiety and have struggled with profound depression for almost 15 years, and I know some parts of these illnesses are genetic. I do not want to pass this kind of pain and dysfunction on to an innocent child, nor would I want my children burdened with my baggage or to be burdened myself with theirs.
  • Because I’m not in a relationship. There is no man in my life with whom I would consider entering a lifetime commitment that includes children and I would not want to raise a child by myself. My mother was a single parent and I was raised as an only child—I have seen how hard the single parent must work and know the suffering of the child who feels she is neglected because of it. I’m not saying it’s not doable, of course it is, but I have assessed myself as not strong enough to be able to handle both a career and motherhood.
  • Because I identify as asexual. Yes, we asexuals exist. We even have a website (AVEN)! An asexual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction and, therefore, has an extremely low libido or sex drive. For example, when I look at handsome men (or even beautiful women), they please me aesthetically, as in I like to look at them to appreciate their beauty, but never do I feel the desire to copulate with them. To make a baby, you have to have sex. Frankly I don’t want to have sex. Ever. Even the thought of it frightens me and repulses me. I will be content as a clam to die a virgin, and even more content that I didn’t have to experience the pain of my cervix stretching five times its natural width to squeeze out a gooey, screaming little person into the world. Yeah, no thanks.
  • Because of the world we live in. Speaking of the world, I’ve found I’m not too fond of it anymore. Lately, thoughts of suicide have become a cozy alternative to realizing I probably have another 50 years on this frosty, merciless, miserable rock we call Earth (yes, I’m in therapy). My outlook on life has become so pessimistic that the thought of bringing a child into this world actually awakens a ghost-like guilt in my chest. I think I would feel bad for having a child. I would feel like I’d never be able to protect him or her. He or she could get shot at school or at the movie theater or the mall. Fall victim to cyberbullying or date rape. Get killed in one of the wars that always seem to be raging. I’ve heard mothers say the exact opposite, that they want their children here to experience the good in life. Well, from my standpoint the means don’t justify the ends.
  • Because of overpopulation. We have over seven billion people on the planet. Plenty of other people are having children. I don’t need to add to the overcrowding we’re sure to experience in the decades to come.
  • Because I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. To give a short explanation, PCOS means your hormones are messed up, bestowing upon you the lovely gifts of irregular periods (I haven’t had one since August 2016), excess body hair and weight and a bunch of cysts on the outsides of your ovaries. Because it is a hormonal disorder, it is difficult for women with PCOS to conceive. Knowing it’d be extra hard for me to get pregnant just reinforces my desire not to have kids. I’m not going to spend my money on fertility treatments. I’m saving that shit for me!
  • Because I am a selfish, impatient person. I don’t believe I have the maternal spark—I’m compassionate and affectionate but not nurturing. I’m not keen on focusing what little energy my mental illnesses afford me on someone else, and a child should be a parent’s number one priority. Because of the type of person I am and because I have a long-term goal of being a writer, for which I would absolutely sacrifice time spent on trying to have a family, I honestly don’t feel like it’d be fair of me to have a child. Wouldn’t be fair to her or him. So the most unselfish thing a selfish person like me could do is not have any children in the first place.

There are plenty more reasons not to want children. There are also plenty of reasons to want them and many downfalls to not having them, I acknowledge that. I will grow old alone. There will be no phone calls, no visits from grandchildren. No one to help me shower or go to the bathroom when I’m old and decrepit. There will only be silence, the unspoken voices of what and who could have been. I will never know the feeling of what it’s like to be pregnant, never know the intimacies of the miracle of life growing inside me. And, for all my bluster, when I’m feeling particularly depressed and worthless, I do feel like less of a woman for not wanting kids/being virtually unable to bear them. I know it’s not true. I know I can contribute to society without giving the world another person to house, but not being a mom in a world and a generation where it feels like everybody else is makes me feel inferior to them.

So then we just have to look at the positives for not having children: I’ll save myself around $250,000 (I learned on Dr. Phil that that’s about what it takes to raise a kid from birth to age 18); I don’t have to have force myself to have sex (woo hoo!); I don’t have to worry about gaining even more weight and trying to get back in shape after delivery; I get to be in control of my schedule—I can sleep when I want and don’t have to change diapers or go to boring school talent shows; I’ll save myself the worry and grief and pain that inevitably comes with raising a teenager (pssht, I’ve got enough grief, I don’t need anyone else’s). I’ll be free, in other words, to pursue my own interests, responsible for me and only me.

And that kind of freedom is the life for me.

What about you? Do you want to be childfree to? Why or why not? Tell me in the comments below.

-BP

Millennial Nostalgia: Things We Grew Up with that Are 10 Years Old This Year

Yes, I realize I missed posting last month, and I’m going to make up for it with this post by addressing the topic I missed.

To ignite a little nostalgia—and also to make you feel really old so I’m not alone in the feeling—here is a list of things that debuted or rose to popularity 10 years ago, in the year 2007.

Songs

  • “Umbrella” by Rihanna feat. Jay-Z
  • “Low” by Flo Rida
  • “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood
  • “Lip Gloss” by Lil’ Mama
  • “Hey There Delilah” by Plain White Ts
  • “Irreplaceable” by Beyoncé
  • “Makes Me Wonder” by Maroon 5
  • “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” by Soulja Boy (remember that stupid dance? I do)
  • “Cupid’s Chokehold” by Gym Class Heroes
  • “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis
  • “This Is Why I’m Hot” by MIMS
  • “Beautiful Girls” by Sean Kingston (where did he go, by the way?)
  • “Bubbly” by Colbie Caillat
  • “Lips of an Angel” by Hinder
  • “SexyBack” by Justin Timberlake
  • “Teardrops on My Guitar” by Taylor Swift (I remember this as her first big hit)
  • “It’s Not Over” by Daughtry (still can’t believe he was voted off that season)
  • “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie
  • “Like a Boy” by Ciara
  • “It Ends Tonight” by The All-American Rejects
  • “Apologize” by Timbaland feat. OneRepublic
  • “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse
  • “Walk Away (Remember Me)” by Paula DeAnda (I miss her! Haven’t seen her since she was eliminated on season 6 of The Voice…)

I was still listening to these songs on a CD player back when the volumes of Now That’s What I Call Music CDs were still in the 20s!

Books

  • Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (we all had a copy reserved, did we not? I KNOW I DID)
  • The Shack by Wm. Paul Young (the book I’m currently reading at the request of my half-sister)
  • Blaze by Richard Bachman (Stephen King’s pseudonym)
  • Playing for Pizza by John Grisham
  • City of Bones: The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
  • Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
  • The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort
  • The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson
  • Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (I vehemently want to make something clear: I am only mentioning this book because it was popular in 2007, not because I support the Twilight series because I DON’T)

Movies

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (I saw this three times in the theater and it has become one of my top five favorite movies because it’s one of the only movies that completely met and satisfied my expectations)
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (my least favorite of the Potter films)
  • Transformers
  • Hairspray (remake) (which I loved)
  • Halloween (remake) (which I hated—way too gratuitous and made almost all the characters unlikable)
  • The Simpsons Movie
  • Spider-Man 3 (which I, as the Queen of Unpopular Opinions, liked)
  • I Am Legend
  • Saw IV
  • Freedom Writers (I think we all watched this in English class, lol)
  • Juno
  • American Gangster
  • Black Snake Moan
  • 300
  • Knocked Up
  • I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
  • 28 Weeks Later
  • 1408 (I looove this movie)
  • The Mist (I also looove this movie)
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  • Live Free or Die Hard
  • Ratatouille
  • P.S. I Love You
  • Rush Hour 3 (I own the other two but not this one if that tells you anything…)
  • Enchanted
  • The Darjeeling Limited
  • Gone Baby Gone
  • 30 Days of Night (not bad, not bad)
  • There Will Be Blood
  • No Country for Old Men

TV Shows

  • Chuck
  • Chelsea Lately
  • The Sarah Silverman Program
  • Gossip Girl
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • iCarly
  • Yo Gabba Gabba!
  • Wizards of Waverly Place
  • Kitchen Nightmares
  • Rock of Love (with Bret Michaels)
  • Road Rules
  • Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?
  • Californication
  • Burn Notice
  • Mad Men

I watch(ed) almost none of these…except the ocassional Kitchen Nightmares or AYSTAFG episode and the sequel series to Rock of Love. Why? I have no idea. Don’t judge me! 😀

Video Games

  • BioShock
  • Portal
  • Assassin’s Creed
  • Halo 3
  • Mass Effect
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
  • Resident Evil 4
  • Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
  • God of War II
  • Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock
  • Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga
  • Silent Hill: Origins

I was still gaming on my Gameboy Advance SP (SpongeBob, Star Wars, Fantastic Four, Harry Potter, Fairly OddParents, etc.), so I didn’t play any of these.

Fads/Other Popular Things

  • Crocs
  • Velour tracksuits
  • The iPhone
  • American Idol
  • High School Musical 2
  • Hannah Montana
  • Bratz Dolls
  • Trying to interpret the series finale of The Sopranos
  • Talking about Britney Spears’ public meltdown (I’m not judging her; it’s tough having a mental illness…and that statement is an understatement)
  • Rickrolling

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

A lot has changed yet some things have not. And I don’t know about you, but I wish I could go back. The year 2007, when I was 15-16, was one of the best years of my life. Sophomore year was better than freshman year. I loved my teachers and the sports I played and the music I lost myself in. I was practicing my writing by penning horror fan fiction. I miss the security of all those things. I miss it like the sky misses the sun when it sets. And I, and anyone else who misses his or her halcyon days, have to accept that the sun set on 2007 ten years ago.

That’s just the way it is. Now all there is to do is focus on making 2017 another great year.

Let’s hope we can and let’s hope it is.

Was 2007 a good year for you? How well do you remember these 2007 hits? Do you remember 2007? If you do, feel free to tell me how in the comments below.

-BP

Guilty Pleasure: Not Particularly…Again

Welp, I’m late. Not that anyone cares since nobody reads these posts, but I’m just dropping in to say there will be No Guilty Pleasure post for the month of January (I don’t care what the date listed says, I’m posting this at 7:50 p.m. on January 31st) for personal reasons. Personal reasons that may or may not carry over into February. It’s too early to tell. :/

I hope you’ve had a good start to the new year. Hopefully there will be new, positive developments for us all as the year unfolds.

-BP

My Favorites: “My Favorite Time of Year”

Happy Holidays! And for those of you who celebrate either one, Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas! Since it’s the season for winter music, I thought I’d share a beloved holiday tune of mine: “Favorite Time of Year” by India.Arie, Joe Sample and Tori Kelly. Though released just last year, I very nearly consider it to be a classic for the cozy, quaint pictures the lyrics paint amid a sprinkling of jingle bells and a cheery piano soundtrack.

India.Arie and Tori Kelly trade off verses before coming together to explain “why Christmas is [their] favorite time of year,” with India’s tones warm and dulcet like freshly made chocolate drops and Tori’s like a mix of sugar and sunshine. It’s impossible to feel cold listening to these ladies.

The artists are only one reason I cherish the song. Another? Because I can relate to a lot of the lyrics:

  • “Kids are making angels in the snow” (of course most of us have done that!)
  • “Magic tricks by Uncle Joe” (I have an Uncle Joe)
  • “You can feel the loving in the air” (I feel like you really can feel the care in the air—the kindness and compassion and gratefulness)
  • “Grandma sitting in her favorite chair/With a halo of silver hair (I have a grandma with silver hair)
  • With a smile lighting up the room/So sad grandpa’s gone too soon (while I still have my lovely grandmother, my grandpa is deceased, having passed almost ten years ago)
  • “Chocolate smells fill the room” (not just chocolate but those of cinnamon, turkey, ham and potatoes too!)
  • “Santa’s ringing bells outside the door” (a little reminder to do your good deed for the year and drop some money in the Salvation Army bucket)
  • “Ate so much I’m about to pop” (I always do this)
  • “There’s no place I’d rather be/Than with you, my family (this is true for me)
  • “Your loving is the sweetest thing I know” (because of my mother and grandmother I know what it is to be unconditionally loved and it is indeed the most incredible feeling)
  • “This is why Christmas is my favorite time of year” (it’s mine too—it’s exciting and sweet, filled with laughs and togetherness)

My absolute favorite part of the song, though, is the line,

“Everybody smile, 1,2,3/Time for Tyler Perry’s new movie!”

It makes me grin if not downright chuckle. It’s a funny thing to say itself, but the really charming part is when India.Arie delivers the Tyler Perry line, she sounds like she’s giggling too! I love listening to such a genuine moment of joy captured on recording. And you know what follows? A subtle round of applause. Oh, lololol. It’s just awesome. And like the rest of us India must know the man releases a movie, like, every month. They just did a Madea Halloween—I’m sure there’s a Madea Christmas special in there somewhere.

So if you’re in the mood for a good Christmas song, this one immediately “takes you there.” The ladies are soothing, the music bounces beyond the lyrics, which fittingly support the song with reasons why holidays are our best times and why they are universal, using gentle reminders to be grateful for what and whom we have.

I’d post a link to the video but won’t since I don’t have YouTube’s permission to do so/am not comfortable doing so without permission. If you’d like to have a listen, make sure you click on the India.Arie version, not the Debby Ryan song of the same name (though hers is probably good too).

May you have warm, safe and happy holidays wherever you are.

-BP

Recently Awesome: American Horror Story: Roanoke

I believe the chronicle of the lost colony of Roanoke is relatively common knowledge among most fans of the paranormal, even if they don’t know the specific details. In short back in the 16th century a group of English settlers vanished from their North Carolina colony, leaving behind a single word carved into wood: “Croatoan.” There are a plethora of theories as to what the word means as awell as happened to the colonists but no definitive answer. Their erasure remains a mystery. While parts of the Roanoke legend have been intertwined with other horror works, such as Supernatural and Vanishing on 7th Street, what AHS  focused on in its latest entry in the anthology is, of course, the more supernatural tilt of an explanation for the people’s disappearance.

And really, would we have it any other way?

(MINOR spoilers ahead.)

Told in a set of 10 tight episodes, the multiverse-laden events of Roanoke  are told to the audience always from the point of view of a camera, which is the other predominant motif of the season. I thought it was a brilliant concept to do a frame story, loosely defined by this English major as “a story within a story”—the documentary of “real life” events called My Roanoke Nightmare and its sequel series, now set in “real life,” Return to Roanoke: 3 Days in Hell.

My Roanoke Nightmare consists of dramatizations of the harrowing ordeal of the Miller couple, Matt and Shelby, who provided interviews that are intercut alongside the reenactments. In “reality” Matt is portrayed by André Holland and Shelby by Lily Rabe; in the documentary, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Sarah Paulson play actors who play Matt and Shelby. (It’s a lot less confusing if you just watch it.) Also involved are Matt’s sister, Lee Harris (Adina Porter and Angela Bassett), her daughter, Flora, a number of learned, well-meaning guests, a backwoods bunch, and the colonists themselves, most notably The Butcher (Susan Berger and Kathy Bates) and her supernatural superior, the witch Scáthach (Lady Gaga).

Long ago The Butcher murdered her fellow settlers and gave herself to Scáthach, tethering them all to the forested land of the Mott home in North Carolina. The Butcher, to put it lightly, does not appreciate visitors and subsequently uses her victims and all the dark creatures at her disposal to terrorize and ultimately slaughter all who step foot on the blood-soaked land. Matt, Shelby, and Lee manage to escape only to join their actor counterparts for Return to Roanoke: 3 Days in Hell  (why return to the nightmare house? You know people in horror movies/shows make stupid decisions). This time around, many, many of the guests of this historical murder house are not so fortunate.

So, why did I find this particular season awesome?

1. Lee Harris. While I liked both Shelby and Matt, I thought some of their intentions and actions were a bit poorly explained. Lee’s motivations were always crystal clear: everything she does, she does out of the will to survive for her daughter and her brother. I find that horror often has heart, and Lee’s desperation to protect and sacrifice what she must for her child’s well-being is endearing. And as noble as that sounds, dear reader, do not leave here thinking she is a selfless, one-note character. She is also a recovering alcoholic and accused murderer. No one’s hands are clean in this house. Also, on a more personal note, I liked having a dynamic woman of color at the forefront of a horror-centric story, something that doesn’t happen often enough. Kudos as always, Ryan Murphy, for your inclusion of people of color, women with sexual agency and LGBT characters. Thank youuuu.

2. Satirical Implications on Society’s Obsession with Crime. Besides two documentaries, the story is told through news coverage, camera phones, the head-cams of a trio of hapless fame-seekers, a clip of Paleyfest, spoofs of shows like Ghost Hunters/Paranormal State and Snapped and coverage of a trial. It just speaks to the fact that we live in an age where cameras are ubiquitous, an age where nothing is sacred and murder is exploited, even arguably glorified, for ratings and hits on Twitter and Instagram. Now if that’s not scary, I don’t know what is. (Yes, I wish I had a more intelligent commentary on this season’s satire, but I just noticed it, I didn’t have anything smart to say about it. Meh.)

3. The Joy of Being Scared (in Controlled Circumstances). Like I mentioned last month, I am a fan of terror in controlled circumstances: movies, shows, books, video games, haunted houses on Halloween. I enjoy a good slow scare, the kind that creeps up on you and chills you to the bone, keeps you thinking in bed at night. I also enjoy the quick scares, the rush of adrenaline, the instant panic, the belly laughs when you realize it wasn’t that big of a deal/all over. It cracks me up. It’s all a different kind of joy, much darker, more perverse. Rarer and harsher and blunter, like a blow to the head. Only when you choose horror it’s like you bleed a little bit of joy instead. (Rhyme not intended but glad for it anyway.)

There was a large body count this season and a couple jump scares got me. There was also this creepy crawling chick who crab-walked on all fours—I hate unnatural locomotion! It’s so disturbing! But in the best and worst possible ways…Dread and wonder coupled together this year to make a monstrous martini. I won’t say I got drunk off this season but the buzz was morbidly pleasant indeed.

After six years of histrionic horror, I wouldn’t say Ryan Murphy’s monster (pun intended) had its most haunting season ever, but it was a story-telling triumph for the series.

Did you watch American Horror Story: Roanoke? If you did, what did you think of it? What’s your favorite season?

If you want to give a holler about this hallmark of horror, leave a comment below. Thanks.

-BP

This May Interest You: My Horror Movie Collection

What better time of the year to celebrate spine-tingling scares and hair-raising horror movies than Halloween (or, if you want to get technical, Halloween Eve)?

I wasn’t always a horror fan. Growing up, I literally had to hide while watching Gremlins and The Others. By the time I was 12 I decided something needed to be done. I was tired of people thinking I couldn’t handle what they could. I began to rent and buy every classic horror movie I could get my hands on. I watched the behind-the-scenes documentaries and studied the special effects. Researched the actors. Listened to the commentaries. The exposure therapy worked and I became inured to the (relatively) formulaic genre. Rooted for the girls and guys who fought back (when I wasn’t rooting for Freddy Krueger so I could get some more bad puns, that is).  Wrote fan fiction about the killers. And enjoyed myself. I found out I liked being scared in controlled circumstances. I liked finding out killers’ backstories. I liked horror movies.

As a teen I even covered my bedroom walls with lists of horror movies and checked them off as soon as I’d seen them.

Now that I’m in my mid-twenties I’m a fan of the old favorites but not particularly anything super recent. I prefer a little story with my scares so the slashers nowadays no longer do it for me. I still love the occasional outing to a (FAKE) haunted house and a Stephen King book or two…or a hundred.

Now, for my collection (and please, let me know some of your favorites!):

Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein, Ghost of Frankenstein, House of Frankenstein

The Wolf Man (1941)

Psycho (1960), Psycho II, Psycho III, Psycho IV: The Beginning

Tales from the Crypt (1972)

Vault of Horror (which is terrible but came in a two-disc set with my Tales from the Crypt)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (remake)

Jaws

The Omen (1975), Omen III: The Final Conflict (aaand then they had Part IV, which wasn’t very good)

Carrie (1976)

Halloween (1978), Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, Halloween: Resurrection (I have to re-buy 2, 6, and 7 — I got rid of them because I never watched them but now I miss them, lol)

The Shining

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (yeah, okay), Jason X

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (again, yeah right), Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

Freddy vs. Jason

Child’s Play, Child’s Play 3 (don’t ask me why I don’t have 2), Bride of Chucky, Seed of Chucky, Curse of Chucky

Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings

Misery

The Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon, Hannibal Rising

Leprechaun 3, Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood (don’t judge me, lol)

Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight

Wishmaster, Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies

The Sixth Sense

The Blair Witch Project

Hollow Man

American Psycho

Scary Movie, Scary Movie 2, Scary Movie 3, Scary Movie 4

Thir13en Ghosts

Jeepers Creepers, Jeepers Creepers 2

Willard (2003)

Gothika

AVP: Alien vs. Predator

Shaun of the Dead

Secret Window

Saw, Saw II, Saw III, Saw IV, Saw V, Saw VI, Saw: The Final Chapter (again, I hear they’re making Part VIII)

Hide and Seek

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

War of the Worlds (2005)

1408

The Mist

Quarantine

Zombieland

Paranormal Activity

The Human Centipede: First Sequence, The Human Centipede 3: Final Sequence (it’s so offensive it can’t be taken seriously)

-BP