Monday, January 30, 2012

Saga of the Hooptie Pt 2: Your Role in Understanding Your Vehicle

My hooptie had the most velvety vocals; a little loud but it was part of his unique identity. When I took my Altima out for a ride, the road would give me a welcoming smile when I could ease into traffic and cruise down on it with the swiftness. Days like those were our most tender experiences.  

The morning sunshine was an indication that I was meant to be driving. My Altima was old, but it would dominate the road as if it were the hottest new model. I had my windows open blasting my music in the air as if I had a huge bass booming system in it. But it was a 98 and it didn’t look fresh at all though it drove real smooth. I would take it everywhere possible.

Within the first six months of owning it, I noticed that while I was driving, it would shift gears and it became a recurring motif in its life with me. A mechanic was recommended to me and ever since, he is the main person I always run to when I have a problem.  When you get what you pay for, like me, you are constantly running. Sadly enough, the problem in those days was the transmission.  My transmission mounts and motor mounts had broken and the transmission was not good anymore and it cost me $1500 for a new tranny.

After spending all that money, it became inevitable; I had to drive.  And so, I started driving to work in Manhattan everyday.  It’s like driving wars trying to compete for a space on the open road with NYC taxi cabs.  I still can't figure out how a car could be in the middle lane and when seeing a passenger in need of a ride, will abruptly stop in front of you and nearly cause an accident. But I can't knock them; it's business.

I remember one day after work, when going to retrieve my car from the lot. While driving off, I noticed something different about the way my hooptie was driving.  My heart started beating double time when I noticed that I was mashing my foot on the breaks and it was literally hitting the ground.  And that is when I noticed the brake lights had been on. 

Can you imagine a lady behind the wheel of a car who knows nothing about cars except for how to drive one, going through an issue of this sort?  Fear became mine and so did emotion. It is not such an easy thing to drive with tears rolling down your face. I had to find a way to transport my car and me back to Brooklyn without getting into an accident or without the brakes failing me. 

Traffic that afternoon had been a bit heavy which scared me even more.  The horn became my best friend that day; especially since I had to basically stomp on the brakes for it to work as I traversed the Brooklyn Bridge with my hazards on.  My heart was beating double time and all I could do was pray, hoping everything would be okay.

As soon as I got off the bridge, I decided that my only option was to sit on the side of the road and call AAA.  One of the reps told me that a service station was like around the corner and so I inched the rest of the way there. 

All of these issues could have been avoided if I had simply learned the car before I learned how to drive everywhere with it.  The problem was solved within two minutes of me getting to the service station because all they did was pull the emergency brakes down. The brake lights went off and everything was back to normal. All that panic and it was because I didn't know the parking attendant put the emergency brakes on. Maybe he should have warned me, but can I really blame him for my own mistake of not checking to make sure.  Yet,  I didn't even know that was something I had to check for at all.

Fear had lost its chain on me. To be able to drive away from this experience without harm and without having to spend any money to fix it was like what the NY Giants will feel like when they win the Superbowl this Sunday and are running across fields, kissing trophies. There is nothing better than owing your own victory. I learned a valuable lesson that day.  I have to pay more attention and be more aware of the what’s and the why’s of the cars I decide to drive.  In order to be the ultimate driver, I had to attain the desire like New York Knick Tyler Chandler,  to focus on my role; I'm the parent and my car is my kid. After that day, I decided not to drive to work anymore and started taking public transportation again.

Nonetheless, me and my hooptie celebrated. We paraded through the streets of New York without worry.  And even though the image of the experience remained tattooed in my memory, my Altima would serenade me with its soprano riffs in the sweetest key like Vanessa Bell Armstrong would while also uplifting a church; even louder for those who believed the NE Patriots would win. My hooptie even left trails of its oil everywhere for the world to remember; we made it happen as if we were in Indianapolis, even though we were New York baby.

This ends another episode of the Hooptie of the Saga ;)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Movie Review: "One For The Money:" Now in theatres

What a great afternoon to go to the movies and catch up on films that I might have overlooked.  I see the commercials, but it is not always at the top of my to-do list to go sit in an expensive seat at the movie theatre. But today was different.  It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday; a great day to take my week-long neglected Accord out for a spin, and it was the birthday of my baby cousin. And so to the movies we went.

The line at the Loews movie theatre seemed so long today.  Luckily, not many are interested in purchasing their tickets at the machines inside; and so I was first on the self-service line and got our tickets with the swiftness. We decided on One For The Money; a movie that we both really enjoyed.

Background Info About the Movie

One For the Money was released into the US movie theatres on January 27, 2011 which was a little surprising to me with all the empty seats I saw at Loews. But perhaps, inconsistent movie goers like me might not have been aware that this PG13 movie featured 106 minutes of great footage and pure excitement.

The main character of the movie is Stephanie Plum, a 30-year old recently divorced and laid off woman trying to find a way to add a consistent flow of money into her life.  With the way the economy is today, her character seemed fairly relative. Like many, she was struggling to find work, stability and to maintain her standards of living, and has enough attitude, boldness and wit to make things happen. Her role is portrayed by actress Katherine Heigl who does an excellent job playing out her role.

Adapted from a book

Click Here
While I was watching the opening credits of the movie, I noticed that the movie was an adaptation of a book written by Janet Evanovich which I didn’t realize I had read until I saw the screenplay unfold. Not only was it a great book by an excellent author who uses her words and creativity rather well, but it was an excellent movie.

You know how sometimes the things author's write just create an image?  I pictured the scenes featured in the novel exactly how they were acted out in the movie. With each slide that scrolled by, something familiar about it came to memory. I had no idea that the book of the same name, One For the Money was set to be released as a movie and that was when I realized that we had made a great choice in our movie going experience.

I have had the opportunity to read many books that have been adapted into movies.  Sometimes the adaptations are disappointing because the stories featured in the film are so different.  One For the Money has its differences, but not so off-center.

The Story in One For The Money

The story develops as Stephanie decides to turn to her cousin Vinny (Patrick Fischler) for work. He is the owner of a bails bonding business. He had employment opportunities available but that did not pay much money.  The job that interested her was a risky job, but one that what would gain her a fast buck.  She would take on the role as what Janet Evanovich called, “a bad ass fugitive apprehension agent.” Her task would be catching fugitives; but not just any fugitive, Joseph Morelli who is also a cop.

Morelli and Stephanie had history.  He was the man who took her virginity, hurt her and in return, she violently hit him with a car and broke his leg.  While all that was in the past, her fury is still very much alive in the present. So capturing him would be no small task.

Jason O’Mara plays the role of Morelli.  He has been accused of murdering a man and is being sought because he failed to show up at his court hearing. “He had a tight ass narrow hip swagger and a reputation for having fast hands and heavy fingers” (Janet Evanovich).  O’Mara and Heigl have great chemistry on the screen.  O’Mara definitely had the swagger, sexiness and appeal that was needed to fulfill the requirements of this role. Together, they make a great team of actors and mesh wonderfully on the screen.  
In Stephanie’s pursuit of capturing and bringing in Morelli, she experiences a few things. She is taught how to handle law enforcement while searching for missing witnesses. She learns how to fire guns at a shooting range to strengthen her defense strategies. As a character, Stephanie even steals cars. But all while doing it, she also has to find a way to survive the unchartered roads of fury and panic by people who do not want the truth to be revealed. 

Characters & Thoughts

Other notable actors that were in this movie include Sherri Shepherd who did a great job in portraying the role of Lula, a hooker who helps Stephanie a lot in her journey as a bounty hunter. With any role that Shepherd plays, you can expect a character who will add a warm, comedic touch to it. Debbie Reynolds plays the role of Stephanie’s grandmother.  Grandma Mazur’s character was acted out exactly how I pictured her; curious and funny but definitely down to earth. Other actors and actresses in the film include Annie Parisse, Daniel Sunjata, Nate Mooney, Gavin-Keith Umeh, and John Leguizamo.
One for the Money is a movie of terror and curiosity. There is some cursing and nudity in the movie, but it is not entirely overdone. I like the movie because it is action packed.  There are not many dull moments presented in this film and some of the positions of the characters, especially the main actress, was something that people in our time can relate to: laid off, trying to find a means of survival. 
I would definitely recommend this movie. Go see it for yourself. If you are a lover of books, read the book first. Janet Evanovich wrote an awesome novel. But if you do, please do not let it deter you from seeing the well-written screen play scribed by Stacy Sherman, Karen Ray, and Liz Brixius. I really enjoyed both versions; a lot! Seeing the movie makes me want to read the next installation in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich entitled Two for the Dough.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Poetry Corner: Writing Color Blinds

Writing Color Blinds
By Stephanie Jeannot

I want to travel heights - -
as high as the San Gabriel Mountains
writing in the ladder that will take me
up the rocks, at a high altitude
in the body of my green nature of work.

I want to walk on clear blue water
to the Italian Isle of Giglio
and on the lines of the page,
I want to write the passage
that will cruise me
as the captain of the unabandoned ship.
I want to follow the ocean
to the ends of the world,
open up and release my treasure like a white pearl,
on a safe traveling journey.

I want to move forth on an immense field
through heavy winded storms and floods,
where hypnotic red fire rhythms
simply captivate the heart
and kill it on the written compositions
as deadly as a Burmese Python.

I want to open my eyes and see
vivid patterns of quarter moons,
sandstone cliffs and hard to articulate
lines of carved ebony and ivory
strewn across my pages,
greeting my amazing ear with
sincere hospitality and friendship.

I want to see that vision of ruby love
outside of a brainstorm.
I want to write the words to a ballad
and dream upon that golden yellow star
and claim the story scape now
so that I don’t lose my writing drive later.
I want to write while words are flooding my mind
like Hurricane Irene in New York,
and while it is in my heart,
I want to narrate a brand new heavy
and like the neo-soul group with the same name,
"Never stop."

It has been a while
I lost it in a tile - -
a series of patterns
like on a grey checkered Jones NY suit,
but unhealthy ones and not so fashionable,
that kept me from finding my all
and now that my flame has been relit
I've been storming on a sample kick
that has been putting words on my tongue.

I am ready to shoot them out
like one would at a shooting range
but only on the lines of a loose leaf page
introducing my rage to the eyes of the journal,
that I only obtained by jumping hurdles like runner Kyle Walker
to finally track my hopes for my wings to unfold
on black and white field paper. 
I want to be your server
of stories and poems and songs and flow’ems
and I want to write the world in as my guest.

I want to discover the slim margins of poetic imagery
with my blue inked pen and paper
and I want to write
because that is my nature.
It increases excitement
as I scribe in my notebook,
unraveling my spiritual layers wherever I am.
Writing is the weapon that enables me to
make it through the world out there.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Swap on Musicologies

The other day, my sister asked me a question that truly made me consider the odds.  She asked, “is the only thing that you listen to music?”  Maybe I am a little selfish, denying myself of all the other great things to listen to in the world, but, I have to admit, I listen to lots and lots of music because I love it. 
Maybe I’m a music freak, but there is nothing wrong with that. What would you expect, I’m an artist. So my love for singing didn’t just magically appear. It comes from years of listening to great music. My favorite singers are Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Sarah Vaughn, Anita Baker, Deniece Williams, Amel Larrieux, Ledisi, Stevie Wonder, Fred Hammond, Deborah Cox, Lalah Hathaway, Michael Jackson and Karen Clark-Sheard, just to name a few.  So how could I not listen to them often?  It is almost imperative.
 I love all types and all genres from all different eras of the world.  I am Haitian and so, I cannot deny that I love some Haitian music which is often playing in my IPOD. Carimi is a really cool group of musicians and so is Tabou Combo.  Haitian music is hot. And so is Spanish music. I love Celia Cruz. I love the South African singer Daou Daou. His music is pretty good.
Perhaps we can call this one the swap on musicologies.  My love is not only based on the artist that sings the song, but the musicians and the quality of sound that I appreciate. I like both the vocalists and the musicians. There’s nothing like sitting back and having my ear tuned in to some Dizzy Gillespie performing Nights in Tunisia or John Coltrane put his foot into My Favorite Things.  I enjoy the instrumentals and the added harmony of vocalization as well. Carmen McRae is the absolute best. I like her style and approach. She is phenomenal. So is Ella. If it is music, it is me.

I can find the love of a song or an artist in almost any situation. For instance, I started to like one of Elvis Presley's phenomenal hits, A Little Less conversation after playing the Wii game Just Dance.  The song grew on me and I had to download it from ITunes. Listen to it here. Back in high school, I listened to 106.7 Lite FM constantly and this song by the group Take That used to play called Back For Good and until this day, it is one of my absolute favorites. Listen to it Here.  Music is my life and my love. And so, here are just a couple of my favorites.
Phoebe Snow
 Sadly enough, I didn’t learn about this divine singer until the day that she died.  She sings like an angel and puts a whole lot of heart and soul into each and every song that she sings. Many people remember her for her song, Poetry Man, yet I have never heard a more beautiful rendition of the recently deceased Etta James’ At Last. If you have never heard it, prepare your ears to hear something amazing. Here is the link .
Infinite Possibilities
I really liked Groove Theory with all their jazzy type songs.  The lead singer of the group, Amel Larrieux, has this compelling voice that really made me appreciate their music even more. I am thinking that I must love her music because of that.  There are layers of soul embodied in her music and it is beautiful.  Infinite Possibilities was Larrieux’s first solo album and it is a great one.  Every time I listen to it, there is something unique I find about it, even though I listen to it often. She is definitely one of my favorite artists. Check out the album for yourself here.
Fur Elise
Classical music has really touched my heart.  I love the way the instruments just mellow me out. Classical music is not only beautiful to listen to, but can bring a great deal of satisfaction.  Beethoven is one of my favorite classical musicians. He is awesome.  Fur Elise is my absolute favorite song.  After reading the book of his life, to know of a genius like himself, who was able to compose and teach while being deaf had to be something extraordinary. How could he find the way to make such beautiful music and to lead others to do the same?  His book is called Beethoven: His Music & His Life which features a plethora of pages of his story and also a couple of CDs featuring his works.  Check it out here.

Earth, Wind & Fire: The Eternal Dance
I appreciate almost every single song that EWF puts out. So there’s no surprise that I would be one of the listeners of their collection.  It’s not just one of their songs or a single album that I like to listen to. I like all of their music.  Their collection is just awesome. It features three CDs of pure fire.  I can’t help but sing along. They make some great songs. Check out the collection here.

No Turning Back
I heard this album by Out of Eden for the first time through a listening promotion and fell in love.  They are a Gospel singing group of singers who truly know how to add some pizzazz to great lyrics that can uplift. No Turning Back is that album that I can put on anytime I need some energy and something just takes over and I am revived. I love their sound and I enjoy their third installment over all of their albums. Check out some of the reviews of their works here.
Faith Hill
I love Faith Hill. Any song she puts out is great for me. I like her sound. I love her lyrics. I enjoy the music. And every song that she sings is extremely catchy.  I have a few of her albums and manage to listen to them often. Check out her website to find out more about this wonderful country artist. Here is the link.

Teena Marie

I grew up listening to this awesome singer. I remember going to one of the free summer concerts at Wingate High School and seeing Teena perform some of her most popular tunes.  She was great and even after her death, her music still seems to resonate.  Read the tribute to Teena Marie here.

Handel Messiah Hallelujah Chorus

There is nothing more exciting than listening to the multiple voice choir belt out the highest praise. This song is absolutely gorgeous. I love the concept. I love the sounds of the violin. Great tune. See a live video clip of this song being performed at Radio City Music Hall on youtube here.

These are just some of the things I listen to the most during my day.  Here are some links to other things I might tune in to.

The Hottest Rap Albums of All Time - Link

Carimi Buzz - Link

Minnie Ripperton Loving You - Link

Kayla Parker and the Perfecting Praise Choir: Now Are We - Link

The Definitive Collection by Angela Bofill - Link

Bob Marley Remembered - Link

Caribbean Carnival: Soca Party, Vol. 4 - Link

Michael Jackson Brithday Tribute - Link

Nas is Like a . . . Half Man Half Amazing - Link

The Best of the Doobie Brothers - Link

CUNY Radio - Link

Steve Harvey Morning Show - Link

Beyonce's Latest Album: 4 - Link

The Emancipation oif MiMi - Link

YoYo Ma Plays Cristal - Link

Martin King Drum Solo With Organic Band - Link

Esperanza Spalding's Chamber Music Society - Link

Alabaster Box by CeCe Winans - Link

Do You! The Audio Book by Russell Simmons - Link 

Everything is Different Now: Original by Stephanie Jeannot - Link

Music Medley - Link

Renee Fleming; A Singer's Tips - Link

The Other Side of Tupac - Link

A Piece of Musical Art - Link

CNN Podcasts - Link

The Singer Leontyne Price - Link

The Floral Ballad - Link

Dear John, Love Ella Fitzgerald - Link

Nu-Look on Myspace - Link

Calypse Rose performs Fire in Me Wire Live - Link

Anthony Hamilton - Link

Listen to Nice & Smooth on Last FM - Link

Heaven's Balcony by the Gosepl Group Arise - Link

Stephanie Jeannot on ITUNES - Link

This list is only a quarter of the million songs, artists and music I love to listen to. The list would be astronomically long if I added every artist and every song that touches my heart and makes me come alive. But, for what I have listed so far,  these are truly great works.

What are some of your favorites?  Please leave a comment and share. Thanks for stopping by. Hope to touch a glimpse of your eye again tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Short Story Board: Contained by Gravity

Contained By Gravity
by Stephanie Jeannot

Her father set the landscape of a place for his daughter to believe. He created what was supposed to be a realistic blueprint of tomorrow. The secured plan seemed like a huge opportunity and all she could do was respond with great applause.

She was a hardworking, capable woman who carried with her, the wisdom of Solomon. She kept up with the news of the day so she could know everything she needed to know about her world. She not only had the gorgeousness of illustration but also the richness of knowledge. Two things gave her an advantage. She had all the family support she needed to push beyond the boundaries. But also, she was rich in tradition and knew exactly who she was which gave her a good grasp of her identity, the ground she walked on and her power as a woman. And so yesterday, when she sat on the balcony of today looking through the gates at tomorrow, she knew that she had the power to win.

He stuck by his daughter’s side and she was always happy to be in the midst of her father’s company. While he had the idea that they would work together and work as a unit to get to that magical place somewhere, she acted with her heart and not her head.

We often are inspired to have the courage to be all that we can but forget the courtly gestures of the knights that helped us along the way and often sometimes the map that was supposed to lead us there. His way of looking at the world was creating a world where in it his daughter would be able to touch heaven and expressed his view about his intentions for her well-being on a daily basis. But she had her own way of perceiving the universe.

At first, it was like a win for the ages. She was on the battlefield with all the weapons she needed to fight. She was willing to go to war and so like the strongest of soldiers, made her way to the classrooms and started to achieve notable victories.

But then her pattern of thought changed. The duty of her day revolutionized from being focused to being occupied with other unimportant things. That unbounded confidence she once had, diminished and she suddenly became distracted. Imagine! A genius of sorts who was once taking life seriously was now unable to be contained even by gravity which could not keep her from floating away.

Freedom was hers. She was in the air, traveling like a moth cutting into the fibers of her father’s heart. She wanted to be the image of the Stylistics song that sings, "you're a big girl now. No more daddy's little girl." She had always wanted to know what being liberated felt like, not thinking that the expansion of her mind was a freedom that some do not have the opportunity to experience.

Her father was hurt because she let go of his firm hand. She was disappointed because she started to feel inferior to the people who once stood next to her. Her story soon became the news of the day. There was no sympathy, just gossip that simply picked her apart and left her in a dark place.

She wanted to get back on track. There was a range of opinions being thrown her way but all she could do was think about the opinion that mattered the most to her,  which was her dad’s.  That is when she decided to no longer live day by day mangled and torn. Instead, she chose to exercise the power she held within to make differences for the good of the world.  

Distractions are the relative challenges we often face when we create goals that we strive for. We want our visions to salute our longing eyes. If our dreams give us an awesome feeling inside, why not?  There are always detours we can take just in case there is an obstacle in the road. Nothing says we cannot take them but it is our duty to find our way back to solid ground.  

She moved with sweet intensity beyond the balcony. She had been saving all her love for her tomorrow and finally, the blinding bright light of that day became to flame and strew across the sky. He knew she loved him because she finally started to listen. That’s what becomes important sometimes, how much we listen and how we use the advice that was drilled into us by the ones who cared the most.  I’m still learning how to do that part. Nobody in this world is perfect I admit.

Sometimes I look at life and I think of how we bounce back as a people like a game of basketball.  We come close to the end of a quarter thinking that we might not make the win that we thought we would. But just when we think it is over, we are fouled and go to the free throw line like Reggie Miller at a finals game against the Knicks, make the first basket, rebound the second and win a game we almost lost by seven points with only 17 seconds left, by one point. Exactly, we amaze ourselves sometimes even more than we ever imagined. Click here to see the last 17 seconds of that Knicks Vs Pacers Game.

Inexpressible surprise was in her eyes when she met her 1,000 words landscape she had painted in her mind the day before yesterday. Faith became a lasting thing and she decided to always seek her father’s advice, so that they could come together as one, like they should have been. Funny how all the partying she wanted to do when focus should have been her theme, now was allotted time.  She celebrated in her every day with big Kool-Aid smiles, the victories that brought her to where she is today; in a place beyond her own comprehension.

Links To Consider

Lost in Doubt When Hope Found Victoria (Short Story) - Link

The 2012 State of the Union Address Transcript - Link

Dreams from my Father by President Barack Obama - Link

The Mother and Her Young Son (Short Story) - Link

Best of the Stylistics - Link

The Freelance Writer's Bible - Link

This Is My Song by Deniece Williams - Link

Free to Be Me - Link

Sestina of Just Like That: Change - Link

Kill A Slinger With Kindness - Link

Jazzy Endings to the Rain - Link

Reactive Vs Proactive - Link

Reggie Miller: 8 Points in 9 Seconds - Link

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Poetry Tuesday

My First Love
Poem by Stephanie Jeannot

Every time I come into your midst I know exactly what I deserve,
A pinch of your honey to add flavor to my earth - -
So that just maybe you'll take a glance at my page.

I want to perfect the format of my symphony of strings;
part from my anchor and simply roll with the punches;
unwind and pledge simply to be true to my emotions.

I want to stroke the shoulders of the perfect song and melody;
embrace the lyrical content of the cosmic music of God
and maintain divine silence to simply listen to his call.

Every time I come and share the wind of your commitment,
I see the long run - -a prototype of a fantasy,
and I get this enormous appetite for being a part of your everything.

Ideas flow from all directions as my mood becomes transformed.
I shine like new and my love orbits your dance floor.
Fire is always burning when your music dictates an encore.

The way you make me feel makes me understand your durability.
I grow old but you stay the same as you always have been;
no matter how many miles I build up within myself.

A fraction of time is all I need to level the playing field.
Thoughts are thrown around like a Basketball on a fresh 16.
We communicate best when gelling into a twist of harmony.

I always run at full capacity into the arms of the anointing
Feels like flowers shipped from the highest corner of the world
Sometimes I just want to lose myself in a song.

Then these mountains rise and leave me frozen where I am.
I envisioned singing as my dream but also many other things
but without enough time and energy to dedicate to everything.

And so, I find myself in constant contact with the Lord up above.
I think he is the only one that can lead me to the end zone.
By myself, I’m broken peace still searching for light and love.
When I wake from dreaming I hope to find you there - -
On a stage where I can let you twinkle rosily
because singing, you're my first love, and you make me happy.

So like President Obama, I'm making an iron clad commitment.
I'm gonna stick by your side while my heart just keeps pounding.
I love you deeper than the dead sea;  music, you give me liberty.


You are a touch from heaven; a gift from God and I am thankful.
Happy to be a part of you and situated in your harmonized bars.
I pledge to keep bending like a tree in your wind until I am no more.

Links to Consider

Mama I Want to Sing: Writing on the Movie and Talent - Link

Singer Stephanie Jeannot - Link

A Piece of Musical Art - Link

I Love Music - Link

Buskers - Link

Her Best - The Chess 50th Anniversary Collection - Link

Very Best of Al Green - Link

Hooked on Yodeling - Link

Dreams that You Treasure - Link

Face the Music - Link

My Marriage to Musique - Link

Valentino - Link

Worf of the Day: Vicissitudes - Link