Monday, November 27, 2017

Yes, Prince Harry is engaged to a black woman

Meghan Markle with her mother Doria Ragland at Ragland's
graduation from USC.
Those of you who live to quantify blackness may debate just how black the royally engaged Meghan Markle is later. Just know that she has never tried to hide that she is biracial.

Markle is the daughter of Tom Markle (an award-winning lighting designer who is white) and Doria Ragland (an African-American actress). Her parents divorced when she was a child. Once wedded to Prince Harry, she will be  the HRH Duchess of Sussex, says the UK's Telegraph.

On the show Suits in which she plays the paralegal Rachel Zane, New Orleans actor and the always black and living it Wendell Pierce plays her father, the powerful attorney, Robert Zane. So, even her fictional character acknowledges her blackness.

I preface the rest of this post with two statements: 1.) I am a fan of the TV show Suits on USA and have enjoyed Markle's performance on it; 2.) I have yet to care about one of Great Britain's royal weddings, including that of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. I doubt I'll follow the activity around these nuptials either despite being happy for Meghan whose engagement to Prince Harry was announced this morning.

The main reason I'm writing about this royal engagement is to recall the last time the world was abuzz over a royal engagement, Kate Middleton's engagement to Prince William. During that period, Helena Andrews wrote an article published at The Root entitled "There Are No Black Kate Middletons, which annoyed me so much that I in turn wrote my, "Letter to a Young Black Woman: Don't Whine Over White Princesses." Welp. Everything must change.

I guess there won't be too much whining from women of color this time as the world goes royally crazed. Yet, I'm sure someone will find something to complain about before all is said and done. That's life in these Complicated States of America.

But the grumblings of commoners will matter little. The tabloids say Megan's parents are very happy.

Finally, this is not another Obamaesque situation. Prince Harry's union with Meghan Markle will not be the first time Great Britain's had added a little blackness to the royal line. Queen Charlotte was reportedly from a royal black Portuguese family and is considered Great Britain's first black queen, according to historians. However, a lot would have to happen for Meghan ever to become queen. Prince Harry is pretty far down the succession line.

Update, December 5: "The Meaning of Meghan Markle: Black and Royal, No Longer an Oxymoron in Britain," (NPR)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

In Praise of midlife love -- is that a thing?

Delivered to my email today from Poets.org, this love poem by Sarah Browning entitled "Praisesong." A contemporary poem about lovers in midlife -- how refreshing. Here are the first seven lines:

"Praisesong" 

by Sarah Browning 
At the coffee shop you love,
white mugs heavy on the table
between us, young baristas—
spiky haired and impatient—
cannot imagine how two people
so old to them can feel so wanton,
coffee growing cold between us,
middle-aged bodies growing hot
under the other’s gaze. Even now, 
Anyone over 40 knows that seeing poems, movies, and romance novels about mature lovers is far too uncommon. Even more rare are romantic narratives in which one partner is a woman in midlife or an older age group. Fiction in which some man over 40 finds a woman in her 30s or 40s who loves him are much easier to find. Is that because it's also more common in real life. Still, I wonder sometimes that perhaps not only do younger people avoid stories about older people in love but older people also don't care to read or see such stories.

Humans like to identify with their fictional heroes and heroines. Is it possible that as much as we in the AARP crowd like to complain about a dearth of stories about people like us that we, too, don't want to identify with lovers over 40? Is it that we don't want to imagine wrinkled bodies in passionate embrace?

I don't see many romance novels marketed to people over 40. On the other hand, I don't look for them regularly, and I wouldn't want to read anything as formulaic as those I read in my youth. When I was young and dumb, I could suspend belief much more easily than I can now.

In any case, the movie and book Our Souls at Night as well as the Netflix series Grace and Frankie are doing well. And I think Nora Roberts may have a few books with older heroines. There was also the series the Hot Flash Club by Nancy Thayer. I wish she had written more of that series. The women were real and the stories were both poignant and amusing.

My commentary here is based purely on personal observations. I should probably research this topic to see if my intuition proves accurate.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Jonny P.'s "Shine On" -- This singer deserves more attention


Full concert is on ReverbNation, Jonny P. Live at the Cotton Mill. From his bio on ReverbNation:
Jonny P is a soul artist and fashion designer who was born in New York City. This Nashville-based singer has a sound that's reminiscent of the greats of Motown. Jonny is poised to carve his modern soul mark in the landscape of R&B. His vocals are nothing but refreshing and his style is inspiring to those that crave true artistry. In his four years in Nashville he's released "Right to You," a six-track EP and is currently working on new music and projects set to release in 2016.
This Jonny P. is not to be confused with the deceased hiphop artist Johnny P. Better music and a missing "H" in this case makes all the difference.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Robin Sloan's 2004-2015 EPIC or Google and Amazon Take Over the World

(Initial post was at Jersey Goddess in 2004 or 2005.) First post of the month as I try to NaBloPoMo, the National Blog Posting Month project that pushes participating bloggers to post one blog per day for a month. I thought it fitting that my first post tie me to being an old webhead.

I recall when I first saw Robin Sloan's EPIC probably more than four years ago. I had it posted to my old website, that's in a state of pseudo sleep right now, when it was only available as a Flash file and sites got so much traffic from it that they lost bandwidth and had to rotate or split up hosting the file.

If you are unfamiliar with EPIC, then I'll say it's sort of a mini documentary (speculative) on the premise that Google takes over the world as newspapers die and we become a crowd-sourced planet of social media zombies.

The YouTube video is EPIC 2012; however, there's also an EPIC 2014. Sloan blogs at SnarkMarket.



Cool stuff.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Teen kills himself after woman, 45, rejects him - 1876

I do genealogical research. As a result, I sometimes search old newspapers, and from time to time, I am drawn to stories like the one in the screen shot that are written more like fiction than fact. The text is farther down in this post.

The old-style journalism fascinates, amuses, and disturbs me. So many of the stories of the past were written with a purple flourish, thick subjectivity, and wild speculation, I gather that editors and readers preferred such writing. Of course, this type of journalism is not truly dead. It's popular in the political sphere these days in a way and on gossip pages.

In the story here, I observe bias toward women as well as cruelty directed at the youth who committed suicide, even a kind of glee or schadenfreude. The writer attributes feelings and thoughts to the young man that another could not possibly know: "He prayed that his too solid flesh would melt, thaw and resolve itself into dew." How many romances must the writer have read to write that sentence. The approach and style cause me to wonder whether the story is even true.

From the Opelousas Courier (Opelousas, Louisiana) Saturday, Feb. 19, 1876
A Nashville Romance - That was a sad story sent out from Nashville the other day. A small boy named Alfred Reddick, only fifteen years of age, formed a liaison some months ago with the wife of David Rees. On Friday last the estimable lady informed the young man that he would have to discontinue his visits. This broke the young man's tender heart. He prayed that his too, too solid flesh would melt, thaw and resolve itself into dew. The uses of this life appeared to him weary, flat, stale and unprofitable. He called at the home of his charmer. She was inexorable. He stepped into the husband's apartment, drew a pistol and blew out his itty, ootsy, tootsy brains. The dispatch says that Reddick was passionately enamored of Mrs. Rees, and would have done anything at her command. The coroner's jury found a verdict of suicide and charged the woman with being the cause of the deed. It is said that Mrs. Rees has daughters old enough to have been Reddick's mother. Alas, for poor humanity!
 So, a woman, probably in her mid-forties, is blamed for a teenager's suicide. She is called a "charmer," and their relationship is assumed to have been romantic. But for all we know and probably for all the writer knew, the boy could have developed a crush, and the woman did nothing intentionally to encourage it. She could have been teaching him how to read or do arithmetic, for all we know.

If there had been a Facebook back then, I'm sure this story would have been shared repeatedly, especially if Mrs. Rees was well-known known figure. Even I shifted my headline toward the scandalous because I know how the human mind works still.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Prince plays songs from his vault in concert, 2009 (video)

I came across this treasure on YouTube, His Purple Highness performing songs from The Vault:  Old Friends for Sale and other jazz pieces in a Los Angeles concert, 2009. I bought a copy of the album a few years ago. The concert is so much more. BTW, Chaka Khan also appears during the show singing her song "Sweet Thing."

The album Old Friends for Sale includes not only the same-titled song but other lesser known songs of his such as "Five Women," "She Spoke to Me," and "Extraordinary." It's a pretty short collection. Given his death, the song that gets me now on the album is "My Little Pill," a brief tune indicating addiction to prescription medication.





Prince was a gift to the planet. There will never be another like him.

In other news about The Purple One, supposed previously unknown offspring are announcing themselves so they can get a piece of the Prince estate pie. They must take DNA tests, a judge ruled. Carlin Q. Williams, the Colorado inmate who claimed to be Prince's son, has already failed his test. The courts could have saved itself money on that one. The 39-year-old does not look anything like the star, not even Prince from the 70s.

Even possible half-siblings have come forward. I know of one Prince half-sibling who is definitely his sister, or at least he acknowledged her as his sister. I'll be surprised, however, if any of the alleged offspring are genuine because Prince wanted a child of his own pretty badly. If he knew of one, he would have acknowledged the kid when he was alive.

On the other hand, he had so many gatekeepers that it's possible a son or daughter did try to make a case to him that he or she was his child, but Prince never got the message.

I still can't believe that he didn't make out a will because he seemed to take care of business otherwise. Of course, dead at 57 is fairly young today. Most people don't think that they may die too soon. As for Prince, his physical body is gone, but the body of his work is immortal.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Southside with You: Obamas' love story opens this month

I was so deep in the academic hole for the first six months of the year that I completely missed news about the movie Southside with You, the story of Michelle and Barack Obama's romance. The film pays homage to the president and First Lady's initial courtship and opens in limited release August 26. I.must.see.this.movie. So, I'll be scouting websites, Twitter, creating a Google alert, whatever I can do so I can't miss the film when it comes to New Orleans.


Produced by singer/songwriter John Legend and written and directed by Richard Tanne, the movie premiered with good reviews at the Sundance Festival in January. Based on the trailer, I'll say it's a winner already.

I remember one of the first times I heard a story about the first couple's courtship and said, "Sounds like a romance novel or a romantic comedy." I believe at least one of those times I was watching the Oprah Winfrey Show. Their love story made me happy because we don't hear enough, read enough, or see enough stories about healthy, black, romantic relationships.

Tika Sumpter, a young actress who became much more visible after appearing in Tyler Perry's soap opera on OWN, makes a wonderful Michelle Obama based on what I see in the trailer. I don't know much about Parker Sawyers' work (He plays Barack.), but I do recall him in The Assets TV show. He also is believable in the trailer.

The first couple was not consulted about the making of the film, but according to Tanne, they're aware of it, are excited about the movie, but "baffled by its existence." In a Vanity Fair interview, the writer/director says he gathered all his information from public domain sources, probably the Oprah show and other interviews with the Michelle and/or Barack. He thinks his script is mostly accurate. From what I 've seen, he's caught the warmth and humor of the stories as I recall them.

I've already subscribed to Fandango news to make sure I get a ticket. I mean, Southside with You better show here.