Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hello, Thirty.

Isla Grande, Panamá
Today is my 30th birthday. Bust a nut in my honor on today. I have been here with mi familia in 1998, Virginia (aka Hampton) since August and have yet to backflip into traffic due to boredom. Clap it up for me. This is the longest I’ve spent here in my hometown since moving to New York in 2006. If I were 60 and down with spending my days in a town as vibrant as Sandra Lee’s spice rack, then Hampton would be the place for me.

Pero, no.

I need decadent food and a place to party where Top 40 Fuckshit is not involved. These things are not common here. You see, I am from the Shopping Center Capital of the Universe. Here, there are shopping centers inside shopping centers.

Hampton is THE suburb. For example: when Steak & Shake opened here this summer, the drive-thru line wrapped around the building TWICE for TWO MONTHS STRAIGHT, because these bammas folks ain’t got shit else to do. So, surely you can understand why I usually have night terrors by the 10th day here.

1998, Virginia Insider Tip # 351:
Local pastimes include posting up at Club Wal-Mart, getting in fights at The Alley, being wretched and quasi-Southern. When in doubt: Take a deep breath, lower your expectations, and reassess the situation.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Writing Roundup


I am still here in Virginia with the family, eating good and soaking up all the family time I can. You see, cheese grits won't eat themselves. Here are my freelance situations from the past few weeks.

I'm a senior writer at Very Smart Brothas now, and have loved working with the site's creators Damon Young and Panama Jackson, who recently filmed a few hilarious segments with comics Key and Peele. (I am watching Key and Peele for the first time, and am sold. Great show.) I'm very excited about writing for VSB. They have a smart, active readership that turns every post into a lively discussion and has welcomed me into the fold (after a shaky beginning). Here are my recent joints over there:

Growing To Appreciate Steve Harvey's Shuckey Jivey Charm on 'Family Feud'
"I appreciate that he goes from black-ish Black to Antebellum sharecropper Black in the presence of a Black family. My favorite episodes involve boisterous Negro families. Guaranteed entertainment. Because we da bess. Sure, he’s animated with every family. That’s part of the job. But in front of Moms Mabely and her four kids? He’s hugging, dancing, cleaning collards and cracking jokes. And his televised Blacktivities warm my Black ass heart."

"Speaking occasionally in vague Jaden Smithisms, he alludes to his label’s disappointment with what they considered underperforming releases. Add a dash of Atlanta to the mix, and the benevolent Burger King of Hip Hop is born. Armed with an ever-present black leather BK Kids crown and his newfound handy-dandy satchel of marketable mediocrity The Husel is here to “give people quality content, in however many ways that [he] can actually pull off.”

Or something."

"I get to watch my nieces have their Girlz II Women moment, which I’m thrilled about. I can’t help but feel like an absentee uncle, having been gone for so many birthdays, recitals, and Back to School Nights. Moving further and further away from home these past few years, I got used to seeing these young magnificents—who are turning 16 and 17 in just over a month—once a year at best. I have missed a lot. They have personalities, pet peeves, and résumés now. I feel like I just changed their diapers last year and these chicks are out here with Poetic Justice braids and luscious “Pleasure Principle” hair, grown as hell. I’m still asking, “Wait, they can read now?” and they’re discussing learner’s permits, college applications, and Beyoncé performances.

It’s a lot to take in."

The rest of my work for Very Smart Brothas can be found here.

Aaaaaand since I'm watching television regularly for the first time in ages, I'm writing about a few shows I enjoy for Gawker's Morning After section, which is dedicated to TV. I'll be reacting to ABC's How To Get Away With Murder starring the stunning Viola Davis, and a mix of other content, each week. 

"Meanwhile, Dre walks in on his teenage son getting touchy-feely with himself. The resulting sex talks crash and burn after being mauled by uncorked freak nasty teenage curiosity. I don't know which of them was more mortified, but I felt Dre Jr here. At thirteen, I, too, was Hornball Numero Uno. A gust of wind? HOT NOW light on at Krispy Kreme? Boing.

But, unlike Dre Jr, I didn't run to my parents for answers. I learned about the birds and the bees from Tiger Tyson and the cast of Aprende, but that's a whole different conversation."

"We sat together on social media and in over-decorated How To Get Away With Murder watch parties and loved on Viola Davis. We fawned over her boundless talent; appreciated her masterful timing and thundering voice; and envied her flawless skin (It's okay. #melanin). We adored her brusque and her despicable. We watched Viola Davis be a person.

Finally. Shit."

The rest of my work for Gawker can be found here.

And remember, when in doubt: chicken.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Waiting for Meatball: Nile Tate on Fatherhood and Expensive Ass Babies

"We are the Dadmies. Because mommies shouldn’t get to have all the fun." -Nile Tate

My homie Nile Tate is waiting for his daughter, Harper aka "Meatball," to enter the world. (I love that Black people assign nicknames before birth.) Right now. As I publish this post, he’s counting down the hours contractions til the birth of his first daughter, Harper ze water hath broken, and Harper is ready to get this damn show on the road. He tweets regularly about the challenges, and joys of pre-fatherhood, and it’s clear that he is damn excited about this journey.

Nile has channeled his enthusiasm into Dadmies, a site for baby daddies, by baby daddies, where men can share the their adventures and victories in fatherhood. Last night, I asked Nile if he would be down to bust those emotions open for me right quick before he becomes somebody’s Pops, and he was game.

Alexander Hardy: So what's goodie my nizzle?

Nile Tate: Not much. Sitting and waiting on Preggy Bundy here to finish this gestation. Laying on this leather couch that I'm sure has been home to many a strange buttocks.

AH: Ah. So. Wait. Let's backtrack. Who the hell are you and why are we talking?

NT: I'm Nile. I'm a new father of a child because birth control is ONLY 99.99% effective. Just giving a few pieces of the things that have been going on in my mind since realizing I'm a dad now.

AH: Yes. You da pappy. So. How do you feel right now?

NT: I haven't really felt much besides poorer, honestly. I'm excited, yes. Nervous? In a small way. Nothing too major as of yet...

AH: That's real as shit. I was on the scene for the birth of sisterfriend's first child in New Orleans last year, and I learned that there is a gadget and/or machine for EVERYTHING—shit I didn't even know babies did. It's incredible, the babybullshit industry. What's the most ridiculous thing you've had to purchase on this journey?

NT: Daycare. Fucking daycare. And we haven't even bought it yet. Just priced it because it's gonna be needed in eight weeks. Just started prioritizing the organs I like and which ones I'm gonna sell. PayPal or cash only.

AH: Do we reeeally need the spleen? You might could get some nice coins for that.

NT: You know anyone back in Panama that needs something? I'm fat, but you can just tell ‘em my organs come with 20% extra, free.

AH: Listen. Panama is the Wild West. If you have some cousins you want to dispose of, I might could even help you with that.

NT: ...I...believe you actually.

Dude…this baby shit gets really real, really quick.

AH: I’m sure the fuck it does. I'm sure those priorities came into laser focus, asaptualmente.

NT: Priorities are a bitch. Priorities are…something to watch. Things tend to sort themselves out, but it doesn't hurt to have a partner that sorts them the hell out for you. Quickly.

AH: Agreed. Sometimes we need to be whipped into shape. What has been the hardest sacrifice you've had to make thus far?

NT: Buying a car with airbags. That's the BIGGEST thing I’ve had to change. I like my cars with more horsepower than safety features. I've also had to check a few biases of mine. Having a daughter, especially after being a bit uh...young and free as a younger start thinking about a few things.

AH: Biases?

NT: Yeah. What's ok for a young lady, versus the things I did as a younger guy. I'm only 27, but the things I was doing from 18-25? I wasn't BAD, but...I had my fun. But I wonder how I'd be if my daughter were to come to me with the stories I would take to my father.

AH: Great point. But we all have our fun. We all live life in our own special butt nekkid and nasty way, and that's a part of growing up. Of course, you now have first-hand experience and can teach her to spot a creep from a distance.

NT: Very, very true. She'll def be hipped to the game early. I don't want her to be out here gaming people and taking advantage, but she'll definitely know how to handle herself out here.

AH: Right. Pimp bones in her body, and such. I have seen friends go from Smut Numero Uno to Cliff Huxtable in nine months. Not to suggest that they can't be the same person, but they learned to keep their dick in their pants and learned an expensive lesson about spreading it low and wide. They cleaned it up. Have you seen other friends/relatives with daughters have similar moments of clarity?

NT: My uncle. Handsome guy. Intelligent as all the fucks. He's had far more "fun" than I have I'm sure. But he's been great with the "moment of clarity" advice. Outside of my brother, I don't have any male friends with kids. Ironically, I ended up with a kid first.

AH: Before now, when did you see yourself having kids? Was there something you felt you needed to do first?

NT: I saw myself with kids. I really want as many as I can financially handle. If I were rich? Like 6 or so. I grew up in a family of five kids. But I always saw myself having my first kid at like 35 or so. That's a luxury that men have. Our biological clocks are Rolex crafted. They don't audibly tick. I felt that around then, I could have something to offer in the raising of a tiny human.

AH: I'm in the same boat as you. I have this assumption that I will "have it together" by thirty-five and can start trying to get one of my good judies to let me lace her womb right quick.

By my age, my Dad was just about to have his second child (me). And I look at my Black ass life, trying to support ONE MOFO (myself), and I just figure that something kicks in and you just make it your business to git 'er done at all costs.

NT: Yup. Trying to support ONE person is a bitch. But you, PLUS someone who is gonna cost you $245,000 until they're 18? Shit. I coulda just bought stock in Apple with that money. Apple and Chipotle.

AH: You coulda. Indeed. Next time.

NT: Next time I wanna have a kid I'm just gonna buy stock in white people.

AH: Oh yes. White people be winning with their scandalous asses.

Do you think you'd be feeling any differently right now if you were having a son?

NT: Kinda. Only because there are things that I identify with, as a man, that are easier to translate and interpret to a boy. I have this thing about giving advice, especially if I'm not coming from a place of personal experience.

AH: Mmmm. Well, that's where mama comes in. She's got her own lessons to throw in the batter, too.

NT: And with me being poly, it would have been easier to explain it to a son first. At least I think.

AH: Ahhh, yes.

NT: Far more nuances about it that I need to cover with a daughter. With a son, I still have to. But…differently.

AH: You're right. Upside: firsthand creeplife experience. Would you be opposed to her being poly?

NT: Not at all. And yes. It's just...from my experience, I've been hearing far too many stories of men using polyam as an excuse to be whores, but with a loophole almost. I want her to find love in the way she's meant to find it. With a man or woman. But I don't want her to let love be an excuse to put up with fuckshit.

AH: Agreed. That'll have to come from your example, in part, yes?

NT: Yes. But I can only provide the skeleton of certain things. How she builds around it though has both everything and nothing to do with me. I love how my parents did, and yet nothing like ‘em. I'm affectionate, verbally and physically. Values like they had. But still somehow, largely unlike them.

AH: Do you plan to use Dadmies to share some of that skeleton-building?

NT: Yes. I just want to be sure that whatever message I present be well articulated. Nothing clarifies like clarity.

AH: Whew. That is a word. "Nothing clarifies like clarity." I love that. What is your hope for Dadmies?

NT: I want it to become the place men go and feel comfortable about feeling things. Being open to that expression of love, and growth, and to every mistake that makes you a father. I want them to share how they failed and how they grew. How they succeeded. I wanna see fathers talk about more than the sports awards their kids won. I wanna see men embrace more aspects of emotion in fatherhood, hopefully through Dadmies.

AH: Dope vision, good sir. Encouraging men to uncork about the good, bad, and mundane is necessary. You’re well on your damn way, man. How the hell did Dadmies come to be?

NT: People have long been trying to get me to write. Then Harper was announced and people wanted me to chronicle the journey. I knew I wouldn't have a lot of material by myself; so having other people contribute just seemed to make sense. And I knew I couldn't be the ONLY guy happy about fatherhood. Sometimes people just need to see someone else start something to know that it's safe to be, or feel, or think a certain way.

AH: You're right. Sometimes, it's scary being the first dude on the dance floor. How has the response been?

NT: It's been received far better than I expected actually. Like the first two months it was at 15k page views. I haven't updated it since July, but I've been working on the interface and putting together products to sell through it. Tryna monetize it then turn it into a brand one day. Family event days and what not that we back. Tutoring. All that. Make it a business all about the family.

AH: Wow. I know people would get behind that. Is there ANYTHING you could use help with at the moment, especially considering Harper is arriving today?

NT: I'm new to all this. I'm down for any help or suggestions really. We're in the hospital now for the induction, and we start the labor process at 6 AM.

AH: We got you, broham. Just watch. Asking is more than half the battle. Well Nile, I know you must be drained, and well, starting in a few hours, you'll never be more rested than you are right now, for at least the next 18 years. So.

NT: Lmao. Yup. Last night of sleep that belongs to me alone.

AH: Thank you for your time. Go get those last few moments of rest and get ready to watch the ball drop.

NT: No problem at all man. Thank you for allowing me to contribute.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Aretha Franklin's black-ish take on Adele's "Rolling In The Deep"

Because spaghetti strap tops won't pay for themselves, Returning to the spotlight after a string of health issues that kept her from the stage, House Mother Aretha is prepping to release her newest album, Warblin' and Winnin' Aretha Franklin Sings The Great Diva Classics, on October 21. Patti's bestie has reunited with soul music's Vampire-in-Chief Clive Davis to honor contemporaries and lessors alike with covers of hits by likes of Gladys Knight, Barbara Streisand, Sinéad O'Connor, Gloria Gaynor, and the late Whitney Houston.

And, for some reason, Alicia Keys.

'Retha starts the party with a rousing take on Adele's "Rolling In The Deep" that would make any surly, drinky deaconess proud. The set's lead single, a battered and deep-fried version of the original, turns Adele's faux-plantationy lover's lament into a battered and deep-fried howl-a-thon. Out with the soulful hoedown and in with the refined two-step, I reckon.

In short: The power is there, but now, so are the auto-tune and the struggle.

With production by Andre 3000 and Babyface, I'm not sure what to expect from the album. These are covers, so I want to believe that another game of Established Singers And The Trend-Chasing Producers Who Guide Them is less likely. At any rate, I vote that she drop a Trapped In The Closet-style visual album, directed by Lil B, of course. Can you see it? I can.

The Aretha Franklin Sings The Great Diva Classics tracklist:

1. "At Last" (Etta James cover)
2. "Rolling In The Deep" (Adele cover)
3. "Midnight Train To Georgia" (Gladys Knight and the Pips cover)
4. "I Will Survive" (Gloria Gaynor cover)
5. "People" (Barbra Streisand cover)
6. "No One" (Alicia Keys cover)
7. "I'm Every Woman" (Chaka Khan cover) / "Respect"
8. "Teach Me Tonight" (Dinah Washington cover)
9. "You Keep Me Hangin' On" (The Supremes cover)
10. "Nothing Compares 2 U" (Sinéad O'Connor cover)


...but this live performance of "Rolling In The Deep," though?

NO x (2841 x 40 million)

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Scandal for Dummies: An Introduction to the Wonderful World of Olivia Pope [ATA #13]

WARNING: Across the Aisle features a generous helping of exploratory writing, gratuitous pop culture abuse, and complimentary Funyons. This is Hive Mind 101. That glorious moment when Wonder Twin powers activate. Jay Connor + Alex Hardy = the triumphant return of Voltron. These ain’t no studio tricks, and such brilliance is solely intended for mature reading audiences.  Enjoy.

Episode 13
Scandal for Dummies: An Introduction to the Wonderful Wold of Olivia Pope

Alex Hardy: As watch parties are planned and popcorn and red wine stashes are replenished ahead of Thursday’s season four premiere of ABC’s Scandal, we gather here today to offer a primer for those who are new to the underworld of Olivia Pope and Associates, where rapid-fire dialogue and moral abandonment are the cornerstones of company culture. It’s a special world, one where you’re here today and tortured tomorrow. Careers, loyalties and fingers vanish over commercial breaks. Come for the drama, stay for the blood, stylish clothes and flashy editing. If you, like Pharrell Williams, enjoy unsavory White people and straight-faced subterfuge, then this is the show for you.

Scandal is a densely packed show that moves quickly. We’ll try to break down a few key plot elements, as keeping track of each awful person’s acts of awful personhood can be dizzying. Storylines can sometimes feel propelled by that Jesse Spano, but don’t let that deter you from diving in. There are enough flawed slick talkers on the scene to love, root for and despise a different person each week. Fun for everyone.

We have invited writer, attorney, and serial Scandal live-tweeter April Reign to help us address some basic questions about the show. We’ve both seen every episode, while Sir Jay of Connor has yet to see a single episode and missed out on the hilarious pregnancy-masking antics during Season Three. Good times, those were. Grab a jumbo glass of wine, a handful of popcorn, and allow us to get you up to speed.

And. Fuck Quinn. Forever.

1. What the hell is this show even about?

Alex: Scandal follows the doings and screwings of Olivia Pope, the owner of a crisis management firm in Washington, D.C. Aided by red wine and a lack of scruples, Olivia leads her gang of affectionately flawed misfits on a weekly adventure to make tragedies disappear for one another and the bescandled gents and dames who seek their expertise. People die and good guys lose. Basically, Olivia Pope is Diddy.

Jay Connor: Gotcha. And who comprises her devoted roster of extraordinarily talented, yet royalty check deprived cheesecake connoisseurs Bad Boy signees?

April Reign: The Associates of Olivia Pope & Associates are Harrison Wright (an attorney), Abby Whelan (an investigator), Huck (a tech guru who used to work for B613) and Quinn Perkins/Lindsay Dwyer (who cares). Each has a reason they were hand-chosen by Olivia and possess special skills that help the firm run. Except Quinn, because we hate her. She was only saved by Olivia after being framed for a crime (by Olivia). We’ve yet to see her value on the show but her faults are clearly present. Every week. 

Jay: So do we have anyone else of note? Or are we saving the good shit for their individual “Unsung” episodes? 

April: Other characters are Jake Ballard (Navy officer who served with Fitz Grant; worked under, then over, Papa Pope; and became Olivia’s lover (yes, that’s TWO dips in the Vanilla Pond for Livvie); Papa Rowan/Eli Pope (played MASTERFULLY by Joe Morton), Olivia’s father and the head of a shadowy government organization named B613 that actually has more power than the President himself; President Fitzgerald and First Lady Mellie Grant, Cyrus Beene, the President’s Chief of Staff; and David Rosen, a lawyer who truly believes in right and wrong. He and Abby become lovers and as a reward for doing what he was told, he becomes the United States Attorney in DC.

2. Who is Olivia Pope and why is she sleeping with her Commander-in-Chief?

Kerry Washington as "Olivia Pope"
April: Olivia Pope is known nationwide as a “fixer.” She “handles” problems brought to her and her team, each of whom has a significant backstory. The Pope character is based on real life Crisis Manager Judy Smith, who has handled some very high profile cases, especially in Washington, DC. We learned that Pope is the lover of Fitzgerald Grant, the married President. They have had an on-again, off-again relationship for several years and it appears they both have sincere feelings for one another.

Jay: What are these “feelings” you speak of and where might one find some? Asking for a friend.

Alex: Destructive dependency, romantic repulsion, unhealthy mutual obsession, and so forth. ABC’s very own Bobby and Whitney, with only the finest Oil of Enthusiastic Self-Debasement to really get shit poppin’.

Jay: Well, color me badd intrigued. Shout out to her majesty, Queen Shonda, for breathing new life and congeniality into the universal pandemic known as The Other Woman. Professional athletes, Basketball Wives, and Alicia Keys, take heed and upgrade accordingly. 

3. Who is this Fitz person blowing up my social media feeds every gotdamn Thursday night?

Tony Goldwyn as
"President Fitzgerald Grant III"
Alex: Fitzpatrick Thomas Grant III is the Fuckboy In Chief and Olivia’s part-time lover. President Grant is a Republican, but that is not the reason for his astounding terribleness. Like many of the other characters, Fitz is a murderer and an opportunistic scoundrel. He is married to Mellie Grant, one of two people who regularly puts Olivia in her motherfucking place. (Papa Pope is the other.) He killed someone who was literally in a hospital bed dying from cancer. He blamed his wife for his affair with Olivia and hired a stalker-spy to protect his douchely personal interests. He promised Mellie that if she didn’t disappear like Judy Winslow and allow him to rebrand himself as the nation-uniting captain of Team Swirl, he’d ruin her life and career with a fairytale freshly harvested from his terrible anal cavity of terribleness. Fitz is what happens when kids raised by helicopter parents make it to adulthood without therapy. He is a useless White man. He can’t get right and is a waste of privilege. I think that pretty much covers it.

April: I…I have nothing to add. LMAOOOOO

Alex: You know that 112 song about cryogenically freezing your main squeeze’s heart until you’re done spreading it low and spreading it wide? That sums up all of the fuckboy philosophy Fitz has pitched at Olivia. “Wait for me. No, you can’t have anyone else. But I promise you, at some point, no more broom closet humpings for you. I swear.” And she wants to believe him.

Jay: Desperate. Sinister. Unscrupulous. Just so we’re crystal clear here, are we talking about an actual person or Robin Thicke’s Paula album?

4. And Columbus Short is involved…how?
Columbus Short as "Harrison Wright"
April: This has been an ongoing problem in the show. Everyone has a backstory but Short’s (who plays
Harrison Wright) has never been fully fleshed out. We know that Olivia saved him from going to prison, but it’s not exactly clear what the crime(s) was. It seemed we were going to learn more near the end of last season but Harrison decided to step to Papa Pope and…you just don’t do that. Add to that Short’s problems off the air and Shonda yanked him from the show. We won’t be seeing Harrison Wright/Columbus Short again. RIP to Harrison and to Short’s career. Welp.

Jay: I would pour some liquor on the curb in his memory, but I’m sure the careers of Kel Thompson and Smilez & Southstar were dying for companionship anyway. I hope he knows how to play Spades.

Alex: If not for his daily presence in the muted halls of Pope & Associates, Harrison Wright would be Tommy Strong: a murky background and no discernable abilities. Harrison Wright was most skilled at slowly turning away from tables with clenched fists and a harrowed scowl. He was the best-dressed two-dimensional reformed [past profession unknown] you’ve seen thus far.

Jay: Okay, so he wasn't a cornerstone, like say LL Cool J’s hat or Benzino’s aversion to bow ties, but he wasn’t quite [insert Blackstreet member of choice that isn't Teddy Riley] either. Which would make him French Fries: Appreciated, but by no means the star of your indigestion the plate. Carry on.

5. I’ve never seen this show before a day in my life. Is it too late to jump on the bandwagon? Or much like society’s need for Lil’ Kim, has time passed me by?

April: You can catch back episodes on Netflix and the first season was really the best to me because it showed how Olivia and Company handled their client’s problems. In the most recent season, the show was almost exclusively focused on Olivia and her various relationships, so the show lost some of its edge. The only thing that Olivia was trying to fix was her own life, basically, and the really interesting cases that she used to handle in 48 minutes each week were lost. It’s definitely not too late to jump on the bandwagon and the show has almost a cult following, especially on Twitter where we live tweet each week.

Alex: Start from the beginning. You need to be fully up to date on those doings and screwings. Besides, it’s best if you let your Quinnhate blossom gradually, rather than taking it to the head now, when her herpesworthiness is at an all-time high.

Jay: That makes sense. Could you imagine a world in which Original Recipe Aunt Viv succeeded her vapid, imitation crab incarnation? Even chaos demands some semblance of order, and since ire doesn’t grow on trees (or in petri dishes), if I’m going to learn to loathe someone I want it to come naturally. Which leads to our next question.

6. “Everyone Loves Raymond,” but where did Quinn go wrong in this equation?
April: Quinn began by being too naIÏve and whiny. She was helpless. Then she made a series of mistakes to prove her worth to Olivia that literally put folks’ lives in jeopardy. Then Huck took her under his wing to train her and she was desperately trying to prove herself to him. I’ve yet to find any redeeming quality about her. She needs to die. Swiftly.

Jay: Ouch. Alex?

Alex: Quinn is an idiot. She’s a terrible liar and is as trustworthy as a self worth seminar led by someone who adores coleslaw. Like Orange Is The New Black’s Piper Chapman, her sister in Useless Whiteness, she is a herpes sore on my soul. It’s hard to stand out for exceptional scumbaggery among such company, but betcha by golly wow, she does it. Dave Chappelle said it best: “I hope all the bad things in life happen to you and only you.” 

Jay: This Quinn person must be hell on the arteries. I mean, damn. Disdain this resounding is typically reserved for Sprint. Iyanla, please fix her life.

7. Alright. So who is likable on this show?

Guillermo Díaz as "Huck"
Alex: Despite his stabbiness, I am not turned off by Huck. I feel like he wants to be a better person. For some reason, I pity him when he’s hacking away at someone. I want him to get the fuck away from Olivia and Abby and into therapy. And I root for former Assistant U.S. Attorney David Rosen, Olivia’s punching bag of choice. So far, he’s the only person here I’ve never wished spontaneous combustion upon.

April: Huck is going to have a very interesting season. He has been psychologically damaged by previously working for B613 and hasn’t had an opportunity to properly deal with his issues. At the end of the last season, we saw him about to reconnect with his wife and their son, people he hasn’t had an opportunity to see or speak to in years because they thought he was dead. I truly enjoy watching Chief of Staff Cyrus Beene in action. He has fantastic dialogue and will do whatever is necessary to reach his goals. He knows he’s the devil and has made peace with this fact. He’s wonderful to watch.

Alex: When in doubt, root for Rosen.

Jay: This guy sounds a lot like Deadpool of Marvel Comics infamy. Tremendously gifted but keeps questionable company, and that whole “internal turmoil” thing disqualifies him from babysitting unsupervised. I like him already. Pencil him in as my spirit animal.

8. Okay. Soooooo what should I expect from Season Four?

April: At the end of the last season, Harrison is about to die, Quinn and Huck are sleeping together, Fitzgerald Grant has just won reelection but cannot celebrate because his son has been murdered (the outpouring of emotion from which won him the election), Papa Pope is back in charge of B613, and Olivia and Jake are literally flying off into the sunset. Who the hell knows what is coming next, although the tag line is “Where is Olivia?”

Jay: After three seasons of acclaim and fanfare, Empress Rhimes must be running short on ideas. When Carmen Sandiego sues her for copyright infringement, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Alex: I’m certain we will quickly learn what master plan Olivia’s dastardly ass mother cooked up at the end of Season 3. When the credits last rolled, Maya Pope and her laid ass hair were seen scowling up at a highly self-satisfied Papa Pope from her new home in the chokey. Though hemmed up, it’s not smart to count her out. Because half of Olivia’s terribleness flows through her, I feel like she is at least two steps ahead of her estranged daughter and her equally dastardly husband. Whatever happens, I’m certain her hair will look mad luscious.

I know that Fitz, fresh from burying his murdered son, will resort to his Robin Thickely ways and wind up inside Olivia by Episode Three. But ultimately, I just need Quinn Perkins to die horrifically. Perhaps death by sugar grits. Perhaps a flesh-eating virus will take her out. I’m sure Shonda will think of something snazzy. I have faith in her.

Jay: More fire, more brimstone. Another round of elevated blood pressure and plots with more twists than Chubby Checker. Death comes in threes, syndication arrives in fives, and our beloved Fitz will finally goad Olivia into a threesome during this whimsical Fourth Season of Nielsen ratings supremacy. But I ain’t one to gossip, so you ain’t heard that from me.

9. Why should Shonda Rhimes receive my vote in the upcoming presidential election?

Shonda Rhimes Tha Don
April: Should she? Her shows have become a bit formulaic. Fantastic starts but you soon realize that the female protagonists are brilliant but emotionally flawed. We’ve seen the same in Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, and I expect to see it in How to Get Away With Murder, Shonda’s new series starring Viola Davis. The writing can be great, but once Shonda starts focusing on the relationships of the female lead and not the original premise of the show, it loses something for me. Shonda does bring us a PERFECT soundtrack in the music she chooses each week. Not to mention fabulous styling, especially of Olivia Pope, which is handled by Lyn Paolo (in real life).

Alex: Say what you will about her shows, but Shonda has excelled at consistently presenting three-dimensional, relatable Black characters in primetime slots. Her shows aren’t perfect, but I appreciate that, with Grey’s Anatomy specifically, these characters of color feel like people. Likable people. Scandalous people. Murderous, despicable people. But people rather than types. With brisk writing and more twists and turns than a piecemeal Mariah Carey album rollout attempt, Shonda has kept viewers emotionally invested in the lustings of Whitley Gilbert’s jilted beau’s chile. Plus, she gave me a weekly opportunity to watch Harrison—in all his underutilized, great-faced splendor—as he power-whispered his way through scenes. She hasn’t figured how to write Miley the entire quarantined fuck off this planet, but she is doing quite a few things right. Dat girl good.

Jay: As someone with firsthand involvement in the nefarious underworld known as film and television, I can attest to Empress Rhimes’ ubiquitous Black reign. In fact, her dominion over Thursday nights is imperiled only by power outages, football, or anemic remote control batteries. No weapon formed against her shall prosper. She is the way, the truth, and the life. Oprah aspires to be her when she grows up, and whoever dogged Her Highness out at the prom can be found sharing a heroin needle with Kima, Keisha, and Pam.

10. Does that about cover it, or is there anything else I should know?

April: There are a lot of little pieces that can’t possibly be covered here, but we’ve hit the highlights. For example, we haven’t even mentioned Mama Pope! You know there’s a reason she’s being kept alive. I would still recommend watching at least the last few episodes to get caught up, if not binge-watching from Season One.

Alex: Huck, Olivia’s Shyne, is the creepiest of them all. But even after watching him pull teeth from someone’s mouth, he’s still more likable than Quinn Perkins, who must be disassembled at once.

Jay: And that brings “Scandal for Dummies: An Introduction to the Wonderful World of Olivia Pope” to a close. For those already familiar with the show, hopefully we’ve been able to provide you with a quick refresher, and for those new to this series, consider this a gateway drug towards harsher, much more addictive Shonda Rhimes-helmed opiates. Because in the immortal words of nosey ass Black people, you’ve got the juice now

Make sure to catch the season premiere Thursday night on ABC April’s Twitter feed, and this is Jay Connor, reminding you to help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.

Follow Alex on Twitter: @chrisalexander_
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A million thanks to my partner in crime:

Jay Connor is a prized pupil of the esteemed Professor Xavier and a Los Angeles based freelance writer. When he’s not preoccupied with accruing overdraft fees while chasing the dream, he can be found disseminating terrorist threats on Twitter and Facebook. Direct all business inquiries, sexual innuendo and Nigerian email scams to

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Friday, September 19, 2014

The Friday FeelGood: Sheryl Underwood won.

So. I just happened upon this powerful testimony by comic Sheryl Underwood from The Talk. For her turn during the show's "Secrets Week," Sheryl opened up about a long-held secret from much earlier in her professional career. I'll let her tell her tale, but it's a great lesson about flying above the haters and knowing when to choose your battles. I gagged. I smiled. I drafted my Thank You letter to Fuckboy Numero Uno. (Hi.)

Now, I definitely scowl at many of her comments on sexuality and gender, but the instances when she has opened up about her personal struggles and triumphs have softened my views of CBS' favorite wig snatcher. Also, she is a bigger person than I am (you'll see why), because I am petty and petty is me.

I love a good "YOU MAD?" moment. Sheryl won. Enjoy.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Selective benevolence and nice White girls who strip to pay tuition.

In response to my recent post on the predictable character assassination that accompanies stories involving Black victims, a reader felt that Jay and I "grossly exaggerated" this disparity in fairness shown in the reporting on White suspects and victims versus Black victims. He informed me via email that headlines are only written so unfavorably towards Blacks because "tensions are high." Whatever the fuck that means.

And while I am a wee exhausted by White deflection and foolishness, I took a moment to briefly engage with him, explaining that this gap in fairness doesn't end with dead people. I directed him to this story, which slid down my Facebook newsfeed yesterday. It looks harmless enough. I advised him that there's nothing wrong with anything found within, it's just one of those stories that you know is about a White person just by reading the headline:

College Park student will graduate debt free working part-time job as stripper in NYC

This ABC story covers how University of Maryland student Maggie NoLastNameGiven funds her college education by working as a stripper in New York City a few weekends a month. I fully support this. Get it how you live, or something. It's such a kind story that would only ever receive placement anywhere but an Atlanta-based negrogossipblog were it not for its humanely presented White subject. 

Look at the benevolence used to tell this story:
She’s double majoring in Spanish and political science and unlike many of her peers at the University of Maryland, she will graduate debt free. Every other weekend she takes a three-hour train ride to Manhattan to a club where she dances.
This story, like Flo-Rida fan fiction, would be impossible without Whiteness pon the scene.

In the accompanying video, notice how Maggie and the reporter chuckle like good girlfriends as Maggie reveals that she makes about $180,000 annually as a stripper, part-time. See how impressed with and envious of Maggie the anchors are. Peep the smiles and awe and lack of shaming here. Look how no assumptions are made about her character or sexual behavior based on her choice to become a stripper. Observe how her work as a stripper is treated as a stellar work opportunity, a show of initiative by an industrious young woman, rather than as a low point or last resort, something she did when shit got really real because, well, obviously she has no other skills. Nary an ounce of judgment in this story. 

Oprah would interview her.

How often do you see a brown woman who uses her body to change her circumstances in this way, wholly of her own volition, spoken of in a positive way? Consider how Nene's history as a stripper is a scandal and a punchline, yet Kim K's lazy backshot extravaganza is a business model. 

This is how it feels to be treated with dignity. This is how it feels to be presented as a person whose actions are individual and not necessarily rooted in some imaginary cultural pathology. This is what humanity feels like, nary a splash of which is present in this river of inhumane media fuckshit we're wading in these days. 

Frankly, it is thanks to her whiteness that she is not a villain or a lowly and unsavory woman fulfilling a handful of racial stereotypes. Here, she is a hero, to be admired for her gumption, foresight, and bravery. She'll tell this story after parlaying her nighttime activities into a book deal in a few years and will receive chuckles rather than pity. 

Anyway, just an observation...

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Under The Influence: The Media's Silent War Against Black America [ATA #12]

WARNING: Across the Aisle features a generous helping of exploratory writing, gratuitous pop culture abuse, and complimentary Funyons. This is Hive Mind 101. That glorious moment when Wonder Twin powers activate. Jay Connor + Alex Hardy = the triumphant return of Voltron. These ain’t no studio tricks, and such brilliance is solely intended for mature reading audiences.  Enjoy.

Episode 12 
Under The Influence: The Media's Silent War Against Black America

Jay Connor: In the ensuing days since Michael Brown’s execution, his hometown of Ferguson, Mo., has descended into chaos. More so as a byproduct of overreaction from a militarized police force than from any destructive provocation from its citizens, but how did it get to this point in the first place? Some would point to the disproportionate ratio in Ferguson’s racial demographic, which is 63% Black, yet somehow responsible for 86% of its police stops, versus those who constitute its police force (95% White), a disparity that has manifested into some disturbing results. Others have taken it upon themselves to lament their role, intentional or otherwise, in the escalation of racial tensions and ubiquitous implications that “Black victims are to blame for their own deaths”. Their words, not mine. So with media outlets publicly taking themselves and their methodologies to task, one can’t help but to inquire: What if the roles were reversedWhat if Black suspects and victims were portrayed in the same light as their White counterparts? And what if White suspects and victims had their perceptions manipulated in the same manner that befalls their Black contemporaries?

So sponsored in part by Huffington Post’s sobering glance at the mirror, what you are about to read is an exercise in that exact scenario. EVERYTHING YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ IS 100% FACTUAL, excerpts culled from their original news sources and related material, but repurposed to demonstrate the alarming stranglehold the media has on public perception.

Homicidal Biology Professor Murdered Brother, Then Colleagues

HUNTSVILLE, AL. – Three members of the University of Alabama in Huntsville faculty were gunned down early this morning in what the Huntsville Police Department is describing as “calculated carnage”.

The sole suspect, Biology professor Amy Bishop, has been taken into custody while three other faculty members remained hospitalized as a result of her rampage on campus.

Criminal records indicate that this was not her first brush with the law, nor with gun violence, as Bishop had previously shot and killed her younger brother Seth with a 12-gauge pump action shotgun in 1986. Subsequent charges include assault plus disorderly conduct in 2002, in addition to suspicions concerning her involvement in a pair of pipe bombs mailed to a children’s hospital.

‘Deeply Religious’ Marine gunned down in front of daughters for ‘acting oddly’

ORANGE COUNTY, CA. – Decorated Marine Sgt. Manuel Loggins, Jr., was executed by an unnamed sheriff’s deputy who deemed his behavior odd before fatally shooting the father of two as his daughters, nine and fourteen, looked on from his SUV’s backseat. 

When not reading the bible with his wife and children on their predawn “prayer walks,” Loggins volunteered at nursing homes and a Big Brother’s group. He was looking forward to earning his bachelor’s degree in nursing. 

Loggins’ supervisor, Major Christopher Cox told the LA Times, "He was a mentor, somewhat of a father figure, to a number of the Marines. He was very soft-spoken, very nonconfrontational — very, very respectful. He was just the epitome of respect."

Racist, Misogynist Virgin Murders Six, Wounds 13 in Shooting Rampage

SANTA BARBARA, CA. – After years of unrequited affection and sexual advances, a deranged 22-year-old, Elliot Rodger, embarked on a murderous joy ride near the University of California, Santa Barbara. 

The self-hating bastion of privilege cooked up a dastardly plan to punish those who had rebuffed his cries for acceptance and sexual satisfaction. Fueled by “loneliness, rejection, and unfulfilled desires,” Rodger announced via a chilling Youtube rant his plans to seek revenge on those unimpressed by his privilege, cheekbones, or BMW. 

“All those girls that I've desired so much, they would have all rejected me and looked down on me as an inferior man if I ever made a sexual advance towards them,” he ranted. “I'll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am, in truth, the superior one. The true alpha male.” 

The sex-obsessed monster began his killing spree by stabbing his three roommates to death. He then calmly drove to the Alpha Phi sorority house and used three semi-automatic handguns to brutally murder six innocent people and wound 13 others before ending his own life with a gunshot wound to the head when confronted by sheriff’s deputies.

South Omaha Devastated by Slaying of Popular Benson High School Graduate

SOUTH OMAHA, NE. – Police have identified South Omaha resident Julius B. Vaughn, 19, as the victim in a homicide that has both startled and crippled his community.

His body was discovered in a parked car Friday night at approximately 9:40pm, next to an apartment building at 23rd and Vinton Street.

Popular amongst his peers, he will be remembered by his grieving community as “the life of the party” with the charming smile.

Original article: “Shooting victim had many run-ins with law”

Teenage gun nut slaughters classmate, kills self with parents’ assault rifle

 – If only Jared Michael Padgett’s love of church had stopped him from smuggling an assault rifle and a handgun into Reynolds High School and opening fire.

That’s what friends, family, and classmates are left to ponder in the wake of a murder-suicide that left a popular classmate dead and a teacher injured at the hands of this gun-loving hothead.

Padgett, who supported pages such as Conservative American Military Veterans Against Barack Obama on Facebook, was known by peers to have an unpredictable temper. The week before the shooting, he became enraged in class while giving a presentation on a book about Adolf Hitler. This destructive affection for destruction was cultivated at home with his family in a household where the teen obtained the weapons used in the shooting.

The National Rifle Association has yet to comment on the loss of its future member.

Single mother, drug abuser robs three banks in two days to pay rent
BRIDGEWATER, MA. – An area single mother with a drug history admitted to police that after months of skirting financial responsibility, she robbed a total of three local banks in two days in order to pay her landlord $1,950 in owed rent.

Failed athlete Kerri Ann Heffernan, short on cash, entered two Brocktons grocery stores and maniacally demanded that the Citizens Bank tellers pass her the hard-earned money of hardworking Americans, casualties in her reign of terror.

The following week, the desperate Heffernan stormed a third Citizens Bank branch in a flurry of gangsterly pistol waving and note passing. Thankfully, no bank customers were harmed during Hefferman’s thuggish ruggish crime spree.

Officials have been mum on which drugs were present in Hefferman’s system at the time of the robberies.

Original article: “Bank robbery suspect was outstanding Blue Hills student”

Police: Motive behind Thwarted High School Bombing Plot? 'Hatred for Humankind' 
FLORENCE, S.C. – After 10 pounds of ammonium nitrate was delivered to their home, Ryan Schallenberger, 18, was arrested Saturday after his parents notified the authorities. As Schallenberger was apprehended, Police Chief Randall Lear revealed that a suspicious journal was recovered as well.

“He seemed to hate the world,” Lear said, “He hated people different from him.”

This journal, kept for more than a year, contained explicit details of not only intricate maps and layouts of his high school, but lauded the valor of those who enacted the Columbine attacks and detailed his own desire to accomplish a similar suicide massacre.

Original article: “Straight-A student plots to bomb high school”

Overzealous Vigilante Infiltrates Neighborhood Watch, Murders Promising Aviation Student in Cold Blood

SANFORD, FL. – Sanford residents are overcome with outrage and anguish after learning that Trayvon Martin, 17, was murdered in the housing community of Twin Lakes.

The suspected shooter, George Michael Zimmerman, 28, is currently in police custody according to Police Chief Bill Lee of the Sanford Police Department.

Celebrated among his teachers and classmates, Martin was a standout football player at Forzano Park in Miramar, where he played for the Wolverines, a team he would later volunteer for at their concession stand after his ambition led him to pursue a future career in aviation. Adept at repairing and assembling dirt bikes, Martin enrolled in a seven week “Experience Aviation” program in Opa-Iocka before attending George T. Baker Aviation School.

Original article: “Trayvon Martin was suspended three times from school”

Alexander Hardy: As this war unfolds in Ferguson, Missouri, the callous assassination of Michael Brown’s character shouldn’t be a surprise after almost 30 years of Blackness. Unrelated details are extracted from unclear circumstances to string together unfavorable narratives of the lives of people not here to defend themselves. Every time. At this point, it’s a matter of when and how bizarrely rather than if a Black victim will be defamed in the press. The headlines from this homegrown war will continue to generate the very same ignorance and fear mongering that keep our media outlets afloat. This smearing of the voiceless underscores just how far from the mythical Land of Post-Racial Living we truly are.

Follow me on Twitter: @chrisalexander_
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A million thanks to my partner in crime:

Jay Connor is a prized pupil of the esteemed Professor Xavier and a Los Angeles based freelance writer. When he’s not preoccupied with accruing overdraft fees while chasing the dream, he can be found disseminating terrorist threats on Twitter and Facebook. Direct all business inquiries, sexual innuendo and Nigerian email scams to

Subscribe to Extra Colored, Alexander Hardy's personal newsletter, and receive updates and exclusive content via email.

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