January Recap

January has been marked with loss—the deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman, the closing of a favorite restaurant. But good things have happened, too: David Bowie’s newest and last album, Blackstar, came out. We celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. And we read a lot of books, listened to a lot of music, and watched a lot of movies.

Big MagicWe once again set our reading resolutions for the new year, and Melissa F. helped us start off right with Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Kayla gave us a list of her favorite R&B and hip-hop albums of the decade so far, suggested songs to go along with Between the World and Me and shamelessly plugged the television show Shameless.

Leigh Anne introduced us to poet Gregory Pardlo, and Whitney celebrated Lewis Carroll’s birthday. Ginny wrote an excellent and thorough book list on body positivity.

bookofunknownamRoss summed up his reading accomplishments from 2015, and Natalie got a head start on her 2016 resolution to cook better meals for her family. Scott M. suggested some good reads from Latin America, and Jess began her 2016 reading challenge with a play. Kelly resolved to get in trouble, and Joelle explored Brian Eno’s music.

In February, we’ll be writing about books, movies, music and more by our favorite African American artists. We hope you’ll join us!

-Team Eleventh Stack

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Remembering Alan Rickman

This is how I learned of Alan Rickman’s passing: I checked Facebook while eating breakfast, and immediately saw that my sister had written, “First David Bowie, and now Alan Rickman?… Please tell me that this is a hoax.”

“Not him,” I thought. “Maybe it actually is a hoax?” I didn’t have to scroll far to see that it wasn’t. When my husband came into the room, I didn’t have words, so I just pointed at the headline. He paused a moment and said, “I guess we’ll never have another Galaxy Quest.” Not that anyone really expected a sequel, but the point is, Rickman can’t be replaced. No one else has that distinctive, resonant voice. No one else has those perfect facial expressions.

Alan Rickman in 2011. Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen; used under a Creative Commons license.

Alan Rickman in 2011. Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen; used under a Creative Commons license – click through for source.

Daniel Radcliffe, who starred with him in the Harry Potter movies, described him as “kind, generous, self-deprecating and funny.” He must have been a wonderful person, but he excelled at playing characters with a flair for being arch, put-upon or dour, i.e. the perfect voice for Marvin in the 2005 film adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. When you need a robot with a brain the size of a planet, who’s constantly depressed (and not afraid to let everyone know it), who better to turn to than Alan Rickman?

Below is a list I’ve compiled of times Rickman played a supporting role and still managed to steal the show—every single time.

Remember when he called off Christmas? Remember when he refused to say that stupid line one more time, but then said it anyway (of course)? Remember when he revealed the truth about his past to Harry?

What are we going to do without him? I guess we’ll have to obsessively watch his movies over and over. Here are a few to get you started, if you want to join me. There are plenty more, so feel free to mention your favorites in the comments.

Farewell, Mr. Rickman. There’s only one thing left for me to say: By Grabthar’s hammer, you shall be avenged.

-Megan

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Celebrating Alice

On the 27th of this month, we celebrate the 184th birthday of one of the most influential writers to grace children’s literature … the Rev. Charles Lutwitdge Dodgson. But most of us know him better under his super secret superhero/pen name: Lewis Carroll.

annotated aliceBorn in 1832 into a conservative and religious family, Carroll’s father, a parish priest, married his first cousin and had 11 children. Carroll was the eldest boy, the family entertainer, and even though he had a stammer, he was a practiced storyteller for his brothers and sisters and a brilliant student.

Carroll had an affinity for children and collected “Child Friends” throughout his lifetime that raised some eyebrows, even in Victorian times, when the age of consent was 14. This otherwise dry, methodical, punctilious and orderly man preferred them to his adult peers, thinking of them as a refuge from adults and his duties as a Don of Mathematics at Christ Church, Oxford.  He came alive before children, inspired by their innocence and mere presence. And most especially by the presence of one little girl in particular: Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Alice in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Before you  think about comparing him to another famous entertainer and child-afficiando, his biographers have described him as a man who held himself to high moral standards. Although Carroll never attained full priesthood, he did take his holy orders, and in Victorian times, a clergyman having children over for tea wasn’t considered especially scandalous. He simply loved the innocence of childhood.

alicegraphicnovelOn a scorching hot July 4th in 1862 on the river Thames, he was, as usual, hanging out with Alice Liddell and her sisters. As they begged for a story, he unwillingly told them the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He hadn’t written a single word down, and it was only after Liddell’s incessant nagging that Carroll did finally put pen to paper (because kids are amazing at reminding grownups what they should be doing). So can I get all of you take a second out of your day to thank Ms. Liddell? It’s only because of her that generations of artists, photographers and writers were able to be influenced by this wonderful work of imagination. Let’s hear an amen to that!

The Library has loads of books based off of Mr. Carroll’s works. Let’s take a look at just a few of the awesome titles:

Share your favorite Alice spin-offs or tributes in the comments!

-Whitney

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Body Positivity Reading List

Abbey’s recent post on Jes Baker’s new book, Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Guide for Unapologetic Living, inspired me to write a longer post on body-positivity. I think that Baker’s book is great, but if I had a criticism, I’d say that the title is misleading. Body positivity is emphatically not just for girls and women, nor is it just for fat people.

Contrary to what you see in the media, we are not all supposed to look the same.

Contrary to what you see in the media, we are not all supposed to look the same.

Simply put, the body positivity movement is about feeling good about your body in a culture that constantly sends all of us messages about how we’re not good enough. Body positivity goes way beyond fat and thin; it’s about intersectionality — the ways that different aspects of our lives and identities intersect with our body image; it varies for everyone, but this might include race, disability, size, age, sexuality, gender presentation and more.

Again, I think Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls is a dynamic and accessible introduction to and exploration of the concept of body positivity, but as Baker herself points out, it’s far from the only book out there on this subject. Here’s a look at some additional options:

Children’s Books for Talking about Body Image

Disability and/or Health and Body Image

Gender and/or Sexuality and Body Image

General/Misc.

Media and/or Advertising and Body Image

Race and Body Image

6

Art by Carol Rossetti – Click through for source.

This isn’t a fully comprehensive list, but it’s my hope that this is a good starting place for those interested in these topics. I also highly recommend spending some time with nontraditional  media; amazing things are happening in the body positive community online. Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls has a fantastic online resource list in an appendix, and  the #bodypositive, #bodypositivity, #medialiteracy and #effyourbeautystandards tags on Instagram and Tumblr are another good place to start.

Riots not diets,

Ginny

15 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Stay Out of Trouble? Never!

When someone tells me to stay out of trouble, I invariably respond with, “Never.”

Well-behaved women seldom make history, after all.

getintroubleAnd that is one of the many reasons why I love Kelly Link’s newest short story collection, Get in Trouble.

These nine stories are fantastically dark and brooding, but not so dark as to leave you utterly depressed at their end. They touch on death, suicide, betrayal, secrets kept and secrets revealed, creepy trends, the afterlife, and more.

My favorite story from the collections is the first one, “The Summer People” (which you can read online at The Wallstreet Journal for free!). It begins as one thing and transforms into another, and I love the way Link leads the reader from grounded reality to an otherworldly fantastical place.

Some short story collections feel scattered or uneven, but this one never misses a step. Once you’re thrown off balance by the unreality and harshness of that first story, Link keeps you unsettled through the rest of the collection, hardly giving you room to breathe. Her prose is fantastical but solid–you know there’s more bubbling under the surface, even if you can only glimpse it.

The characters are all complex, flawed, and relatable. They don’t always behave well (you can guess that from the title), but you can’t help but relate to them anyway (And who behaves well all the time, anyway?).

One of the subtler themes in this book is that of longing and belonging. Many of the characters want something that they cannot have, or can only have at someone else’s expense. Some of them appear to belong to a group, but feel isolated and alone. Watching them all work through their problems, sometimes to a tragic conclusion, is riveting and heartbreaking.

For the audiobook, each story has a different narrator; a common practice for audiobooks of short story collections. Generally, there’s at least one narrator I can’t stand (it was hard for me to get through Haruki Murakami’s The Elephant Vanishes because one of the narrators irritated me so much, and of course that one read multiple stories), but there wasn’t a bad one in this bunch.

Like the stories, the narrators feel as if they go together. There’s no discord or disharmony in their reading–each one fits the story he or she reads, and they sound good next to each other.

If you like authors like Karen Russell, Haruki Murakami, Jorge Luis Borges, and/or Aimee Bender, give Kelly Link a try.

Request Get in Trouble in print, as an eBook, as an audiobook, or as an eAudiobook.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

My Five Favorite R&B/Hip-Hop Albums of the 2010s (So Far)

 

Black History Month is soon approaching, but it doesn’t have to be a certain month for me to talk music. This post is all about R&B and hip-hop, specifically some of my favorite r&b and hip-hop albums of the 2010s.

Beyoncé: 4

Year released: 2011

This was the album where Bey went back to her R&B roots. Personally, I feel that this album doesn’t get enough credit for how good it is. This album spawns the girl power anthem “Run the World (Girls),” a beautiful love song “1+1,” and one of my all time favorite songs of hers, “End of Time.” I feel like this album was overshadowed by her pregnancy.

drakeDrake: Take Care (also available on Hoopla)

Year released: 2011

This was the album when Drake mania exploded to another level. It’s also where the assumption that Drake is emo began. Personally, I don’t think that he’s emo. I just think that he’s comfortable with expressing how he feels, which is refreshing. This album is one that you can press play & let it ride. One of my favorite tracks on this album is “The Real Her” that features Lil’ Wayne & Andre 3000, who delivers my favorite verse on the song. This album also features the classic “Marvin’s Room,” which spawned several remixes over the summer of 2011.

Miguel: Kaleidoscope Dream

Year released: 2012

Miguel carefully avoided the sophomore slump with Kaleidoscope Dream. This album is what made Miguel crossover into mainstream attention. This album features the Grammy Award winning, timeless single “Adorn.” The album is alternative R&B & it works. It’s a great album from start to finish.

J. Cole: 2014 Forest Hills Drive

Year released: 2014

J.Cole has always made great music, but this is the album that finally made the naysayers pay attention & give him his long overdue credit. Cole did a very brave thing with the release of this album by having it come out without releasing any singles. This was a bold decision, but it worked because it sold a lot in its first week. Not many artists nowadays can do that. This album was a story, with each song being a snapshot into a different time in Cole’s life. It’s a great album not only for hip-hop, but for music in general. The album features “Apparently,” which is a great song and the first verse always gets me emotional when he talks about his mother.

Chris Brown: F.A.M.E.  

Year released: 2011

This album was Brown’s comeback album, and in my opinion, his best album. On this album, Brown showcased that he could do practically any genre of music, even rap. He proved that on the blockbuster single “Look At Me Now.” This album earned Brown a Grammy for Best R&B Album in 2012. It was well deserved.

kendricklamarHonorable mention- Kendrick Lamar: good kid, m.A.A.d. city (also available on Hoopla)

Year released: 2012

This album is one of the best rap albums that I’ve heard in a long time. This album is basically Lamar’s autobiography set to music. Throughout the album, listeners can hear snippets of his friends and family on different tracks. It gave audiences a closer glimpse into the life of Kendrick Lamar.

These are some of my favorite R&B/hip-hop albums of the 2010s so far. What are yours? Let us know in the comments below.

~Kayla

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Baby’s on Fire

befroe

My first year of college, 1983, was a huge transitional year in my musical awareness. I worked at the university’s music library and I also became a DJ. At work, I was exposed to classical music for the first time, international music like Indian ragas, and contemporary composers like Steve Reich and Edgar Varese. At the radio station, I played music I was more familiar with at first, punk and prog rock were my staples, but I greatly expanded my repertoire every day. At home, I was obsessed with these four albums by Brian Eno:

jets Here Come the Warm Jets (1974)

tiger Taking Tiger Mountain (by Strategy) (1974)

Postcards for this Peking opera gave Eno the idea for the name.

green Another Green World (1975)

Here is a book detailing the album: Brian Eno’s Another Green World by Geeta Dayal.

befroe Before and After Science (1977)

Listening to them on Hoopla has brought me back to that time.

These albums are pop music and avant-garde at the same time. They contain driving rhythms and multi-textured aural qualities, with glam-rock sensibilities at times, ambient electronica at others. I hear direct influences of David Bowie and David Byrne. I also hear a unique set of songs similar to other music only in what has come after. The vocal timber is what I think draws me the most. Eno’s voice goes from almost sneeringly punk to decidedly New Wave. A frequent contributor to the albums is Robert Fripp, my favorite guitarist of the era.

I listened to these so often, they would be in the soundtrack to my college years if it were a movie, just like in this one: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

Brian Eno has been an influential record producer since the 1970s. His sonic stamp is present on the albums of The Talking Heads, U2, Coldplay, and many others. He was planning to collaborate on another project with his good friend David Bowie. It was Bowie’s recent death that prompted me to revisit these touchstones of my past.

 

-Joelle

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized