• Sassy Litigations

    Kristina Larry's dedication to providing excellent legal counsel and her community activism on behalf of those who are underserved ...

  • Break-Up Bullies

    Why You Never Know Who You’re with…Until You Split

  • Crowding It Up

    Besides material, comedians write for their acts, crowd work is another method to elicit laughs from the audience. In NYC clubs . . .

  • Regret All of Your Past Regrets

    There is a common life philosophy—one should live free of regrets because regret creates unhappiness, and past actions are beyond one’s control. While the former . . .

  • Susy Soravia⎯Brains, Beauty, and Karate Moves

    Don’t mess with Susy. Susy Soravia is a 4th degree Black Belt who also carried the Olympic Torch for the 2012 London Summer Olympics through her village in Wales. Her background . . .


Record Store Day

Before the existence of the Internet, or digital music, your local record store was the one place to find a copy of your favorite album. Waiting for the new big album to come out and then going to the store to actually buy a physical copy was a big deal, and always very exciting. You couldn’t turn on your computer and download or stream the music you liked. You’d have to make sure you had enough money, walk, or drive up to the store (or ride a bike) and purchase the piece of music you wanted. For many, record store day was a far more fun and fulfilling way to purchase music, although not convenient or instantaneous.

The ease of downloading music to your MP3 player with the click of a button, unfortunately results in more, and more, record stores closing up shop every year. You can always buy CD’s at places such as WalMart or Target. Most of the time, the stores only carry popular albums compared to actual record stores. Your choices are pretty limited. Of course, you can’t deny that digital music is a pretty cool thing and makes finding specific albums a lot easier. However, digital music has destroyed the profits of record stores around the world. Depending on where you live, locating a record store is gradually becoming harder and harder.

In 2008, a holiday for people who truly appreciate music enough to go out and buy the physical copy was started. The third Saturday of April every year is known as “Record Store Day.” Every year, thousands of music fans flock to record stores in April to purchase their favorite music on CD, Cassette tape, or Vinyl. Music fans hope the money they spend can help keep their local record stores open. The third Saturday of April has become a day loved by customers, and store owners.

The first record store day was kicked off by Metallica, who were that year’s “unofficial ambassadors.” Every year a different musical act plays the role of ambassador for record store day. Another really, cool aspect of record store day is every year there are quite a few “special releases” specifically for record store day. Even if you’re an extensive collector of music and there’s nothing else for you to buy, come record store day there will be a lot of material you don’t own on the shelves. Not only are there special releases, there’s special appearances where musicians and bands of all types show up at different stores around the country to sign autographs, give out free merchandise, and maybe perform live.

Now, April has arrived and record store day is right around the corner. This year record store day falls on the 20th. Instead of spending your money on digital music, why not take a trip to the nearest record store? Support not only the musicians you love but the store owners who struggle every day to provide you with the music.

Festival Season

Everyone loves summer, the warm weather, good vibes, beaches, and bonfires. For music fans, summer has added meaning. The highlight of summer months, one word—festivals. Festivals are huge gatherings where thousands of people spend the day, or sometimes multiple days, surrounded by music, other entertainment, friends, and fun. Groups of friends save up to purchase tickets (unless it’s free, everyone’s favorite price) hop in a car, and drive to their festival of choice, which is sometimes across country.

Since Woodstock took place, which is undoubtedly the most renowned festival of all time, music festivals have increased every year. Regardless of your taste in music, come summer, there’s bound to be a music festival for you. The list is endless. Summer is prime time for musicians from all over the world to go on tour, and it is THE season to see your favorite musical acts perform live in an environment unlike any other.

A big aspect of festivals is camping. Depending on the area, people bring tents or RV’s, and set up in the camping area. People may stay the full length of a festival, falling asleep to music and waking up to more. To some festival goers camping is a necessity; especially, when the festival is far away. These events take place in different venues but mostly outdoors in areas large enough for people to gather, camp, and enjoy the performances.

If you want to attend a music festival this summer there’s a wide variety to choose from. Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza are both great festivals that offer many popular musical acts; including, acts that have been around a while and recent ones. If your interest lies mainly in electronic music there are a lot of choices. You might want to check out festivals such as Electric Forest, Movement: Detroit Electronic, North Coast Music Festival, or Electric Zoo. While naming all of the festivals coming up this summer is an impossible feat those mentioned are great places to start. A quick, Internet search gives you many results if you’re looking for something specific, or closer to your area.

Overall, summer is a wonderful time of the year for multiple reasons. Regardless of your particular reasons for enjoying the warmer months, summer 2013 should be one to remember, for all the right reasons. Music lovers around the world will attend festivals to catch their favorite acts live on stage, and with the number of festivals, and performers growing every year, this time is exciting for live music fans. So purchase your tickets, get a group of friends together, and pack your sleeping bags because it’s time for festival season.


Very early in my audience warmup when hosting a show I like to welcome visitors to NY, asking who needed a passport to be there. This gives me a sense of the makeup of the crowd. Tonight, there was a woman from Great Britain who responded to my question. Sitting to the left of the stage in the front row, she dramatically called out, “I am from Great Britain!” I culled a few laughs remarking on her theatrics, but I had the feeling she was going to be trouble. This was confirmed minutes later when she chimed in while I was talking to somebody else. Time to nip it in the bud.

“OK great, but now you have to shut the fuck up for the rest of the show.”

Done. Not a peep out of her after that. In fact, it took her a while to recover and enjoy the rest of the show. Walking past her on my way to the bathroom I saw her sitting slumped in her chair with her arms folded, and head cocked to the side.

People who don’t often go to comedy clubs have an idea that part of the show is audience participation. That might be true for an improv show, but what they don’t realize is the interaction is always on the comedians’ terms. I thought my message was clear and was quite surprised when I heard somebody in the left corner shout out. I couldn’t make out exactly what was said, but it was a co-signing situation. I simply ignored him the first two times, but on the third strike, I had to call him out.

“Whoever that is–this is the third time you’ve shouted out, and that’s not going to happen again, so either you shut the fuck up or get the fuck out, so what’s it going to be?”

Dead silence.

It was awkward for a minute after that, but he said nothing further. From experience, I know it’s better to have that moment than deal with this guy the rest of the show. He had to understand that the audience is not there to hear him. Sure, I could’ve engaged the guy and gotten laughs, but the rest of the acts on the show prefer to do their jokes. He would’ve thought that it was cool to continue shouting out. Timing is crucial in the standup comedy world and audience members that offer their comments during the show ruin it.

Ups and Downs

I’m not usually star struck by the rich and famous, but tonight was a little different. I worked with Matt Damon on the Come To Papa Live Show for Sirius Satellite Radio’s Raw Dog Channel. I have been a big fan of his since the Bourne movies, and I was actually thrilled to be around him. I saw him at the Olive Tree a few times but to be in a show with him was exciting!

Matt showed up at 6:30 for the run through. After my sketch, he got up and ran through the two bits he did. It was so weird watching him work. Any minute I expected him to karate chop everybody on stage, and leap over the drum set while blasting the room with two handguns!

He read his lines like the pro that he is, and his work was properly subdued. The entire cast didn’t get the script until a few hours before the show, so it was an extra special feeling performing with minimal rehearsal. I get a real tingle when I’m in a show with someone who’s work I’ve admired from afar. The great thing about Matt is that he wasn’t there with an entourage or acting like a common Hollywood asshole. He had no problem taking a cast picture after the show and was as nice to the people who approached him as his cast mates.

This show biz thing is definitely a roller coaster ride. Tonight was a perfect example. Riding high on the success of a live performance then getting hit with a shot of sober reality. By the time the show ended, we got the news of the death of James Gandolfini. He was another actor whose work I admired. His portrayal of Tony Soprano will go down as one of the finest in the history of television. RIP James, may the after world greet you with a resounding, “There he is!”

Jingle Bell Rockin’: Best Taliferro Music For the Holidays

So, the holiday season is underway. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukah, or yes, even Festivus, you’re going to need some awesome tunes! If you’re anything like me, you get tired of the customary holiday music by at least …say, Thanksgiving. Relax, we have what you need! Treat your ears to these Taliferro classics!

3. “Eartistic” by BTS − An epic album that combines techno, house, and that Miami, Florida South Beach sound with traditional dance music in such a way that your party is sure to be rockin’ for its entirety! Warning: BTS stands for Beyond The Sound…so be prepared for a great journey!

2. “ Chillaxation ” by Calima Shatiday − “a groovy yet nu-jazz reflective of ambient downtempo sounds with an implicit lounge foundation”…is so good, it almost defies words! Either way, music this awesome is sure to give your holiday spirits a lift! The description is as apt as possible, however…but you’ll have to listen fully to comprehend!

1.”0.2” by Ty Showers − From the notorious Ty Showers, this is the perfect album to curl up to with your holiday honey! Awesomely sensual electronic jazz fusions sure to make your holiday evening end with sparks!

Overall, I realize the holiday season can be dreadful times for a plethora of reasons. No need to dwell, just change your tune! Happy Holidays from Taliferro Music!

Venus L

Getting A Job

I got a call from the casting director for the “untitled Chris Rock movie project” offering me the role of the Black Cop. When the call came in I didn’t pick up because I didn’t recognize the number and figured it was a bill collector. ( Even though they usually call from an area code outside of NY, I thought it might be one of their tricks). I listened to the phone ring thinking how much I hated my choice for ring tones. My voice mail played an old message first, which was the original call from the casting associate last week.

Now I’m thinking my phone is messing with me, and there is no new message. Ah, but there was! The message was from Matt, and all the news was good. I was in full nap mode, and it took a minute to sink in. I have had dreams where I’m winning everything from free vacations to jillion dollar lotteries.

The role is the lesser of the two I auditioned for but so what. I’ll get a check for several hundred dollars for a days toil, and I get to work with one of my favorite acts. In the audition, I was told Doug Stanhope is playing my partner. Doug is a very funny comic featured in season 2 of Louie on FX playing the depressed comedian who is about to kill himself.

Now I have to figure out whether to try to go back and finish my nap, or stay up and go with the little sleep I had. I have to be at work in 6 ½ hours. The battle between excited and tired is on. Excited led early but tired is way ahead now. I’ve told 3 people the news, my sister, cousin and friend whom yesterday predicted I’d get the part. I’ll tweet and Facebook when it’s much closer to the shoot date, August 7. For now, it’s…back..to…sleepytown.

Do You Ever Ask Yourself “Were We Really There?”

Ever had a relationship that was so strange, you felt vaguely not yourself—so much so that you later wondered how it ever happened, or if it happened at all? The kind of relationship that seems, in retrospect, more like a dream than real life? That’s the mood of “Were We Really There?”

And it’s all about mood. Nothing dramatic happens here. No tension between rhythm section and lead instruments, no demands for me-time among solos. Drama requires conflict, and there is none. Like an affair that just goes along until it ends and no one’s quite sure why, it’s a tune that finds its zone and stays awhile.

True to its album title Conversations, Calima Shatiday’s 2012 release), the tune shifts back and forth between two chords (you say this, I say that) on electric piano. This comes over a late-‘70s synth bass and some slapping percussion, joined later by wah-wah guitar and a busy-bee synth darting between two notes. If your vague, strange relationship happened during the 1970s, you’ll be transported right back.

I’d like to hear what a vocalist might add to music like this. I have in mind someone like Erykah Badu or Nikka Costa. I could offer some lyrics:

Were we really there

(No, we were nowhere)

Was that me or you

(The past is never true)

That kind of thing. A bittersweet lilt, with the horns buoying her up. It would leave you feeling wistful, but probably not nostalgic. After all, what do you actually remember of that time, that person you were? Sometimes, life really is but a dream.

Jim Howard


A comic friend recently posted a Yelp comment that had my name in it. The complaint is most likely due to a thing that happened in a comedy club. A woman came into the show about 20 minutes late and sat in the front row. She starts out wrong twice. As the host, I engage members of the audience at the beginning of the show and I naturally inquired why she was late and mentioned some things I had learned about others.

The initial exchange was fine. I joked about where she was from (Houston) and how New Yorkers had changed the pronunciation to Howston. Midway through the show I overhear a waitress outside the showroom at the bar talking about a customer who hadn’t ordered any drinks. She said she tried to explain that there was a two drink minimum and got waved off. This was the lady from Houston.

When she went back a second time, the Houston lady rudely told her that she was enjoying the show and wanted to see the manager. The waitress asked her to come out of the showroom to speak to the manager because of the front row location and gets waved off again. The show continues but out of the corner of my eye I see the manager creep up to the woman and quietly try to get the woman to come out to the bar and talk about the situation. He gets waved off. Now, I have to deal with her.

“I see you don’t have any drinks at your table.”

This was the opening salvo in the exchange that prompted the Yelp comment that I had been rude. I told her there was a two drink minimum.

“So I hear.”

Oh no, miss thing this isn’t something you heard, it’s a fucking fact! I broke it down and let her know that she would be charged for two drinks so she might as well order them. I told her it didn’t have to be alcohol, it could be coffee, juice or soda. This tightened her jaws nicely and I introduced the next act and went outside for a cig.

When I came back, the woman had her coat on by the bar talking about how rude everybody was. In the words of every 7-year-old in the world―she started it.

William Stephenson

Mood Music: On Why Soul Music has the Most Sensual Sound of All

If you are anything like me, the music you listen to varies based upon how you’re feeling at any particular time. Rock when you’re angry, Jazz when you need to relax, and R&B or Soul when you want to…well, you know (wink). But, why is that? There are a million love songs in existence and a laundry list of genres to pick from, but why is it that when it comes to setting the mood we tend to turn to Soul or R&B music; from old school to contemporary?

The Ever-Present Passion…

No matter if you are a lover of R&B/Soul music or not, there is no denying the level of passion that is inherent within the vocals and even the chords of this music category. That is to say, the greatest love-making songs are slow and highly intense. Let’s take, for example, a man who is arguably one of the greatest ever to grace this music genre, Marvin Gaye. If you are familiar with his music, you know that his music is all about intense emotional crooning, smooth runs, and love language. There was nothing especially unusual about his method of music creation. Nevertheless, he remains one of the most passionate singers of Soul and R&B music.

The Present of Passion Music

In this day and age, we’re a far cry from the type of music that Marvin Gaye and his comrades used to make. However, Soul and R&B music still hold a sizeable place in the hearts and wallets of music fans worldwide. Perhaps less expressive than the players of the past, R&B and Soul music is fused with elements of every genre ranging from hip-hop to alternative. This development has led critics to speculate the genre may be on its final leg.

Quite the contrary, there are numerous new acts heavily influenced by the old school tracks who are seeking to interpret this genre in new and exciting ways. Take Terzasfera and Kerboo; for example, each of these acts are seemingly in totally different genres and even live on opposite sides of the world. Yet, they are each anchored by a heavy, soulful sound; the thread that has loosely held this category of music together.

The almost indescribably soulful essence of R&B remains one of the quickest ways to get choosy lovers to cuddle up and get frisky. Don’t believe me? Throw on a playlist and take it from Kerboo…

Why Music Videos Are Vital for Successful Indie Artists

In case you haven’t been paying attention to the music industry as of late, you may have missed the massive onslaught of Indie artists who are now attaining and enjoying mainstream notoriety. There are many contributing factors to this vast rising in success stories; however, there is one vital factor, the music video.

Why Music Videos?

Within the age of technology or “information age” as many have dubbed our current era, exists a generation that craves instant gratification. Movies are out seemingly weeks after books hit the shelves, and sometimes the movie even beats the book! This is a time when fanaticism can reach astounding heights as it is now possible to find out virtually everything you want to know about any and everyone/thing you can imagine. Music videos act as the proverbial instant reward for listening to an artist’s music. Indeed, the video is how many achieve massive followings almost instantaneously…it’s one thing to enjoy a MP3…it’s quite another to enjoy a MP3, video, interview, and biography of an artist at one’s fingertips.

Indie Artists

The video is especially valuable as a way for Indie artists to connect with their fans. Though many get more radio spins than a typical mainstream artist, they are also doing far fewer appearances on television and are far less likely to gain promotion from endorsement deals and the like. That is to say, for an Indie artist the video is a TV appearance and endorsement deal wrapped into one. Since many do not have the financial backing to make them visible enough to secure more mainstream exposure from the onset of their career, they must work in the opposite direction as mainstream artists and use the views of their videos to leverage high revenue generating opportunities, such as televisions appearances. For instance, the Italian electropop band, Terzasfera has a rapidly growing fan base internationally…yet, they still spend the majority of their time in the country where it all began.

Overall, great music is the most significant element to creating a lasting Indie career. However, all clever artists who seek longevity now realize that even the simplest of videos can help them gain fans and notoriety. If you’re an artist on the Indie scene that opposes the need for shooting large budget videos, do keep in mind that performance or even animated videos are a fairly inexpensive way to achieve the same effect. Either way, you are doing yourself and your fans a disservice if you expect your music (no matter how awesome), to hold its own against those who have an accompanying visual for virtually every note they sing or play…

Sassy Litigations

Kristina Larry’s dedication to providing excellent legal counsel and her community activism on behalf of those who are underserved and at-risk reflects the solid public service foundation upon which she stands as Attorney and Certified Mediator. Her firm Sassy Litigations, and complementary service lines, The Seattle Wedding Lawyer and The PreNup Princess provide all the guidance needed for every marriage-related scenario. 
Led by Kristina, Sassy Litigations also provides legal services in the areas of family law, wills, bankruptcy, and small business. No matter whether she is demonstrating fierceness in the courtroom, mediating a challenging case, working through a prenup for a happy couple, or engaged in volunteerism Kristina’s poise, intellect, and discerning personality brightly shines. 
Crowding It Up

Crowding It Up


Besides material, comedians write for their acts, crowd work is another method to elicit laughs from the audience. In NYC clubs, the host or emcee usually does this at the beginning of the show or warm up. Asking questions of people in the audience such as where they are from, and what they do for a living is standard. People love to yell out their hometown in front of strangers. One must be careful of the questions one chooses to ask. It’s similar to the rule prosecutors have that says never ask a question unless you know the answer.

The bold ones try their hand at humor with what they feel is a funny retort. This almost never works out for them. They act like rookies at the plate ready to hit their first grand slam, and usually end up hitting a dribbler back to the pitcher. When someone in the crowd bombs, it serves as a deterrence for others not to follow suit.

In a small club like the Comedy Cellar (115 seats), seating is tight and somewhat claustrophobic, so you want to offer them comfort and reassurance that they will have a good time. I like to give the audience a prepared opening statement so they don’t think we’re gonna be making all this shit up as we go along. The Cellar gets a lot of tourists from all over the world and I love the “We are family” element of audience composition.

“Let me take a minute to look at you, see what I’m working with….looks like we have a lot of different people from various backgrounds and foreskins…”

The worst crowd work experience I had happened years ago in Washington Square Park. It was one of those perfect summer afternoons near this legendary fountain in the center of the park. When the water isn’t turned on it becomes theater in the round holding nearly a thousand people when it’s filled up. From the outer brim, there are about 6 rows of concrete levels and folks sunbathe while waiting for the next show to start.

For outdoor shows, you have to do a lot of crowd work because of all the distractions going on, drunk hecklers, phones, sirens, planes flying overhead. Getting through bits require attention and it can be tough. I was walking around talking to various small groups and I came upon a woman splayed out as if she was on her living room couch. The plan was to call her out for her bad posture and have her sit up and look like an interested audience member.

“S’matter….you got spina bifida or something?”

The line got a decent laugh from most of the crowd with the exception of the people sitting with her. Their faces were frozen with a horrifying grimace I didn’t understand. Then, I noticed the braces on her limbs and the crutches nearby. Oh my.

Yes, she did have a condition that didn’t allow her the freedom of movement most of us enjoy. I couldn’t think of anything to save this situation so I simply apologized and moved on. Lucky for me the crowd wasn’t huge and most of the people on the other side of the fountain couldn’t hear what was going on.

That was not a good day at the office.

William Stephenson

Susy Soravia⎯Brains, Beauty, and Karate Moves

Note: Had a little bit of an audio problem, but cleaned up as much audio as possible.

Don’t mess with Susy. Susy Soravia is a 4th degree Black Belt who also carried the Olympic Torch for the 2012 London Summer Olympics through her village in Wales. Her background includes English, Turkish, and Italian heritage. Although she has been deaf from birth; interestingly, she does not know sign language but instead lip reads very well. Susy is a statistician and trainer for the local police force. In addition, she recently opened Kickstart Inclusion Karate, Wales, where she encourages all her students to “Go for it!”


Break-Up Bullies

Break-Up Bullies: Why You Never Know Who You’re with…Until You Split


Definitely, being an introverted and highly analytical human has its advantages. On the one hand, we’re often thought to be neurotic over-thinkers who create problems when there are none. On the other hand, we’re often the only ones who can foresee the possibility of situations that seem perfectly fine in the present, going drastically downhill in the future. Namely, relationships.

…And then what??

Yeah, it’s all fun and games until “Prince Charming” cheats on you, or you find out that your little “Cinderella” was only seeking that happily ever after cash. Now what?! If you’re like most people, you ignore the negative aspects of your mate until you are forced to confront them. Thus, eventually leaving you with the rude awakening that your dream guy/gal was anything but.

You’ve likely seen them…or maybe you’ve even been there yourself; a couple seems all but perfect, then they break up and all of a sudden one or both of them is out for blood. They are cutting up clothing, bashing cars and reputations…seems counterintuitive for two people who supposedly love each other, no?

How Did We Get Here?

Well, this is a loaded question…there are a number of ways in which someone could go from a great relationship to a terrible breakup, but the bottom line is that you don’t know your ex-partner as well as you thought you did…

As aforementioned, people often ignore these negative traits for the sake of holding together their relationship. For example, if you go on a date with someone and they’re ridiculously rude to the wait staff, for no apparent reason…this is likely someone who has some character issues. Likewise, if you get into arguments with someone, and they throw every low blow at you they can muster up, this is likely someone who will try to ruin your life when your relationship is over.

Even more, often people don’t know how to let things go. If they planned on being with one person forever, some people might take their relationships for granted; lie, cheat, and steal, and still expect you to stay with them. On the flip-side, there are also people who can’t accept rejection and feel if you leave them, they have the right to ruin your life…because in their mind, you have purposely ruined theirs.

To take it a step further, many will attempt to shame you publicly, hoping you will come back to them and try to make amends; calling jobs, friends, posting your indiscretions on social media…these are all ways to try to win you back. Sound stupid?? It is!

How Can This Be Prevented?!

Get to know people! Find out about their exes, and how the relationships ended. If someone is dragging all of their exes’ names through the mud, it’s not because they’re a blameless victim and you’re better than the rest of them. Rather, it’s usually because this person lashes out when they feel rejected and can’t take responsibility for his or her own actions.

The Breakup Bottom-line

Typically, breakups bring out the worst in people because they also have the potential to bring out the best in them. Those you love can illicit hate because in feeling that deeply for someone, you will suffer a great deal when forced to feel bereft of said feeling.

Furthermore, often times people choose relationships that are beneficial to them in many ways, and may never love anyone at all. These people are happy and agreeable as long as they’re getting their way. The arguments, fights, etc…pay attention to them.
If someone is overreacting about small things, expect the overreactions to be magnified when it’s truly lover.

Though maturity level plays a huge factor, the bottom-line is that many people seem to relish in the chance to hurt someone, they once loved.


Venus L

Is It Really Love

Is It Really Love? Top 3 Signs that You’ve Finally Found ‘The One’

In an age in which the sanctity of marriage is quickly dwindling, the thin lines between love and hate seem to be all but completely blurred. That is to say, in a world promoting “friends with benefits” over official boyfriend/girlfriend relationships discerning whether you have found someone to love…or simply someone to like…for now has become increasingly difficult. Relax!

To assist in cutting out the guess work, here are the top 3 signs that your love is real!

3. You Found Love in A Hopeless Place―More than a reference to the queen of the pop charts, Rihanna, love is often found in the darkest of days…when it’s the last thing on your mind. This is not to say that it’s not love if these weren’t your circumstances. However, if a person goes out of his or her way to lift you up during times of trouble and loves you despite your dismal circumstances, you can safely assume that these actions may be motivated by love.

2. They Make You Better―This is more than a reference to the song by Rapper, Fabolous. Love should make you more of the person you aim to be, not less. If you are miserable and suppressing who you really are just to hold on to a relationship, you are only doing yourself a disservice. The truth doesn’t stay buried for long. Why pretend to be someone else for years, only to get left when the person finds out who you really are years later? Furthermore, if someone loves you he or she won’t spend their life trying to “fix” you. When this is the case, you are not wanted, only what they believe you have the potential to live up to…which may or may not ever fully come to fruition. Indeed, even if it does…do you really want to be with someone who feels you need years of work to be a suitable partner?

1. You Can Live Without Them―This is not a typo. When you are truly in love with someone you should also have your own life. There is also a thin line between love and hate, but also love and codependency. There is a reason this country’s divorce rate has been steady at 50% for so long. Many relationships are formed out of convenience, fear of being alone, etc., rather than two people taking the time to get to know one another and then decide they are right for each other. There are many people who have never been alone; never even considered it. How is this relevant? You learn the most about yourself when you are devoid of the influence of others. When you spend your entire life jumping from one relationship to the next, you may wake up one day and realize that you’re unhappy with everything. Indeed, how can you truly be satisfied with life…until you know who you are? Healthy relationships with longevity are typically found where each respective partner has their own set of hobbies and friends as well as shared and collective ones.

Overall, love is a complex concept as the definition seems to vary from person to person. Never let anyone else tell you what may or may not be right for you…but also don’t sell yourself short!

If it’s love, you should never have to ask, you should just… feel it!

Regret All of Your Past Regrets

Regret All of Your Past Regrets

There is a common life philosophy—one should live free of regrets because regret creates unhappiness, and past actions are beyond one’s control. While the former statements are true, there is another (perhaps better) reason that people should try not to rue their past acts. Whenever you make a decision, you are making what you believe to be the best one with the information you have at that point in time. The saying “hindsight is 20/20” means, that, with the knowledge, wisdom and emotional distance, you might conclude differently and by extension, act in another way than you previously did.

We constantly make decisions all the time, actually, most are unconscious. Even if the choice made was, in retrospect, a “bad” one (although that is a relative term), it was made because you genuinely thought it was for the best. It is our nature to take care of ourselves. Even when someone does something that is constituted as “self-sabotage” such as, passively-aggressively ruining a relationship or intentionally missing an opportunity, there is some reason he or she has done so.

People don’t hurt themselves for no reason. Many times an avoidance relates to fear of rejection or getting emotional entwined with something, or someone. This is a defense mechanism. Arguably, not a very good one in the longterm, but it keeps people within their comfort zones and protects them from their fears.

We can always learn from past mistakes, and apply that knowledge to the present and future. It’s important to be compassionate to yourself and give yourself the benefit of the doubt, and not chastise yourself for past errors. Most importantly, accepting mistakes or your past means that you can be compassionate towards yourself, and move on from more difficult times. The most unlikable and miserable people you’ll meet are this way because they don’t like themselves.

Or, as RuPaul so wisely said, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love someone else?”

Micaela Gardner

Is The View On Government Changing

Is The View On Government Changing?

Over the past decade, a lot of big things happened throughout America rubbing a lot of people the wrong way. The general consensus of most of the country may still be that the Government is a positive force; however, everyday more people are starting to have a change of heart regarding those in power. From the “Occupy” movement, to the legalization of marijuana in multiple states, it’s evident that the old values American society once held so dear are starting to crumble; especially among the country’s youth.

From countless wars and military interventions, an economy that’s falling apart, and a serious breach in our constitutional rights, the trust between the United States Government and its citizens is starting to disappear. For example, the recent actions of whistleblower Edward Snowden, a former employee for the NSA (The National Security Agency). He leaked information to the public showing how the NSA spied on citizens all around the country, and even the world; through their phones, computers, and other communication mediums.

Why in a country supposedly founded on freedom, and so dedicated to the rights of its citizens, do people have to worry about their every word being monitored and kept in a database in a warehouse somewhere? This type of thing doesn’t sound uncommon in fascist countries, but in a nation so focused on freedom, and democracy, why is this taking place?

The people that are really becoming concerned with the current state of the US are the youth. They’ve been promised that if they work hard in school, go to college, and do their best, they’ll be able to secure a career and live comfortably, “The American Dream.” However, what keeps happening is people get huge loans to pay for their college tuition, only to be unable to find a job, and end up stuck in debt with no real solution as to how to pay it off. Those who join the military are in a similar boat, but one that’s even sadder.

Those in the military join under the guise of defending their country, and its peoples’ freedom, with promises of a secure future, only to return with mental, and sometimes physical scars, and a lot of times end up having to work a dead end job to make ends meet. Most of the time it seems as if the things they were putting their lives on the line for, didn’t seem to make as much sense as they initially believed.

The climate of the country, and the world at large is rapidly changing. Whatever the changes mean, it’s obvious changes are necessary. Increasingly, people in the U.S. are becoming more frustrated with the way things are going. Our view on those in government power is changing.

Ms. NedRa: What Awaits You Now?

M. Chislom, jR


You called shotgun the first trip we took; only thing was, you and I were the only two in the car
You told me that the man giving the Speech at the Kansas Arts Council was lying and that somebody needed to twist his unmentionables
When the Arts Council called to see if I could take somebody with me to the State run meetings; one member of the Team said, “anybody but Nedra”, which made me call you first
The other side was this short woman who came to the door with blankets wrapped around her shoulders, coughing and whizzing and said, “don’t even ask why”
At the National Arts Festival in St. Louis, you said everybody at the table was a phony and they needed to quit playing, but I was the table, you winked at me and said-“I call them like I see them”
When Vikki and Tyrone were chosen to give  the Technology section of our first Minority Conference for Kan Arts, you said “bout Time a Real Minority” gets to do something for the Minorities in Kansas
When I needed your advice on continuing to be President of the Kansas Arts & Technical Services, I was smiling and being a typical MALE with an ego and you said; “Watch your back”, at the next meeting I was impeached, you suggested I go shopping, I still have the sweater I bought that day
Standing at the Indian Center in Wichita KS, we both saw our relatives standing in line waiting on a wagon train headed to Texas and WE KNEW WE WERE SOMEHOW RELATED!
My favorite quilt is your “Freedom Quilt” and when you explain it to folks, you don’t apologize for the symbols or the knowledge imprinted in the design
It is the True Artist who sees what will happen; and in your work, if we don’t see it in the beginning, we’ll walk out and go home and go to bed and wake up and say, OOOOO that’s what she meant
Those of us who admire you, we don’t give you your props often enough! So Props to Sistah
Cousin Nedra your art inspires us all! Keep inspiring, teaching and being unapologetic

Cancer: The ART Project

I have an ancestor who is trying to kill me.
I have cancer but cancer does not have me.
Being a survivor means you came through a situation bigger than yourself. I’m going to OVErCome this
Situation because I AM bigger.
I am not a victim. I am victorious.
I will not do the pink ribbon. Pink ribbons stigmatize us into subservient
Categories. I will not be categorized.

F*ck Cancer

Rabbit Could be the Most Sustainable Meat to Consume for Americans Part 1

In the light of economic, global and dietary climate concerns, why not begin to consider rabbit as an alternative to chicken?

“Floppy” was a Friend

As a youth, rabbit was frequently prepared at the home of my grandparents. From rural Texas and Central Louisiana, they had a friend from whom they purchased rabbit, venison, seasonal fish and game fowl. The meats they sourced were reminiscent of their childhoods. Meal preparations were simple, hearty and delicious. My grandmother’s gravy, often from the smothering of chicken, rabbit or liver, is the best I’ve had to date. When available, the rabbit’s gravy was often a delightful and substantial breakfast. My perception of the delectable rabbit has never changed. The night my father brought home a lovely, young, white flippity-flop as a reward for receiving straight A’s on my report card, I considered the new pet “possible food.” I never forgot about Grandmother’s delicious smothered rabbit. I knew one day, “Floppy’s” fate would be met. My father, an animal lover and a country boy, was not above spinning a yarn and serving us the beloved pet for dinner. Although it never happened, I reminded myself daily of the possibility.

Reacquaintance with a Childhood Friend

I didn’t eat rabbit again until I was 27 years old when my friends held their first annual “Who’s the Betty to Beat” cook-off. Participants drew vintage Betty Crocker recipe cards and were challenged to recreate the dish with personal touch, modern flair and “Betty Crocker-ness.” My card was “Chicken Cacciatore.” I elected to use rabbit to replace the chicken as my personal touch and modern flair, as I had grown weary of chicken. As the default protein, served regularly, eaten nearly daily and often featured, chicken and I had developed a relationship which required a generous amount of space. A short time passed and again, I ate rabbit. I worked as a waitress at a local, regional Italian kitchen. With great enthusiasm, I’d sell the house preparation, “cacciatore” or “in the style of the hunter.” The rabbit’s leg quarters were braised in stock, wine, tomatoes, carrots and onions served fork tender, as a panino with montasio and sour cabbage. It was often my shift meal before I left the restaurant to begin my nightly haunt.

Bugs Never Surrenders, without a Catch

The healthiest meat for consumers comes at a cost which is considerably higher than all other regularly consumed meats in the U.S. A whole rabbit now costs around $7.50/lb (up from $6.00/lb on average, in 2013) for a five-pound fryer with organs. Yet, rabbit is rapidly becoming, the original “other white meat” amongst the adventurous cooks, diners, and crowds who support sustainability. Rabbit is a specialty item typically found on menus of European restaurants. Higher costs are directly related to the rate at which the meat is consumed and produced. Now, rabbits are locally grown, small farmed products and are not subsidized by the United States government.
What this means for the consumer is meat that is low in fat and rich in flavor, at lower costs for higher quality. . . if you chose to raise them at home. At lower prices, is it not something to consider? Rabbits are the simplest of animals to butcher at home. They are also safer to consume as they have a lower cooking temperature, are raised off the ground, can be easily raised at home, and in nearly any climate for the highest quality production.

A Long Way to Hippity-hop…

Historically, a food of the rural dwellers of meager means world wide, in America, rabbits have maintained the profile of friend, favorite furry and giver of eggs, as per its association with Easter. As times shift, so will the role of rabbits. The costs and consumer ranking amongst America’s top consumed meats will also shift. And we will look forward to innovative creations from “foodies”, research and production from the environmentally conscious and advocates, all working to continue to shine new light on the rational delicacy.

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

This Christmas, I visited Vancouver, British Columbia. This was especially wonderful because two things I enjoy most were stationed in the same place: my little sister and the wines of Western Canada.

The Pacific Northwest has been one of my long time favored regions of wine production. I prefer the complexity, depth and character of these wines and champion them among some of the world’s best. Vines in this region sit in great company with other worldly regional favorites such as Burgundy & Loire Valley of France, the Piedmont of Northern Italy, the Ribera del Duero & Rioja of Spain.

What can I say, I’m just different, though I live in California when I shop, I look first for wines from the Pacific Northwest: Oregon, Washington State and British Columbia. Even in Northern California, it’s challenging to walk in to a local shop and discover tastes from British Columbia. There simply isn’t enough produced and Canadians like to drink their own, in country.

I was in wine enthusiast heaven when I walked in a local chain in Davie, Vancouver and found a generous selection of British Columbia wines at a price point of around half of what they can be found for, if found, in the states!!!!
I grabbed three bottles which would be around $30 American dollars: 1) Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Rsv. Merlot 2013 Okanagan Valley 2) Inniskillin Okanagan Estate Pinot Noir 2014 Okanagan Valley and 3) Red Rooster Cabernet Merlot 2013 British Columbia.
My favorite of the three has been the Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Reserve Merlot 2013. This wine is precisely what I wanted when I walked into the wine shop. It was cold with mixed snow a day rain and I had arrived by train a couple of days prior and had yet to have a proper glass of wine. I wanted something delicious and comfortable, rich, warm and thought provoking. These guys did it in style!

The notes I have for you are taken over a three day period. My nose in the glass gave an evolving spicy bramble berry jam with hints of cedar, toasted oak, dried strawberry and plumbing fruit rollup.

On the palatte, the wine was rich and lush. The full-bodied red was elegant, graceful and bold. The chewy, yet delicate texture was supple and grounded with notes of right h, this kind velvety mocha….no vanilla, just mature, unlike the California mellows of the same price point. The deep purple juice splashed with firm, dignified tannins which left my mouth feeling coated like a soft velour throw. The mid-palatte was filled with red and black fruit, plums, blackberries, prunes and dried strawberry. The total composition finished with light cedar.

This wine is perfectly flawless. It would be great with steak, grilled lamp chops, spices rubbed grilled pork, ribs, beef stew or just with popcorn and a movie.

Bowie and Me

It must have been the spirits connecting who persuaded me to stay up late last night and watch the Bowie documentary I recorded over Christmas so you can imagine my shock this morning to hear he had died around the same time.

I am not going to pretend I knew him well, I wasn’t a girlfriend but for a small moment we held hands, snuggled up and kissed. I met Bowie after the singer Danny Williams (Moonriver) was brought to our flat. I think Greg Edwards had already left Manchester but the guy who brought Williams didn’t know that. The three of us went into town. I think to the Explosion club where DJ Dave Eager brought Bowie and persuaded me to get them into the Time and Place. I was happy to do so because though Bowie was excited to meet Williams I didn’t like the crooner so off we went.

Eager lived quite close so I was happy to accept a lift with them but instead of Longsight we went straight to their hotel by the airport where Eager (yes you did) drove off and left me with Ronson and a snotty blonde. At the bar he told me about his music ambitions and while there he took a call that informed him they had a USA hit so he was over the moon. It was really late when I left and with not enough money for a cab I was given a handful of cash; over fifty pounds. I was living with the man who was to be the love of my life and knew that even as a night taxi driver Pete Gresty was already home with the sunrise. Not mentioning the kisses I told him I had been with this extrovert Gay guy I had after all been snuggling up to Ziggy still I was confused. Bowie was a toucher (not a groper) a caresser and his kisses were not gay!

Even though he had asked me to join him at his show at The Hardrock (Stretford), I was still in my teens and had no idea how I was going to get in, plus my music taste laid more in American Black music. That afternoon the same taxi driver arrived with my tickets and flowers. I hid the tickets and binned the flowers which was a good job because when I pointed Bowie out on Top of The Pops Pete went ballistic and that was that.

SuAndi Honorary Degree Lancaster University, UK


Photo and Content Courtesy of Anne Rothwell Lancaster University, UK

5 March 2015 10:57
An internationally acclaimed performance poet has been awarded an honorary degree for her outstanding contribution to British art.

SuAndi is a performance poet, whose works include poetry, prose and librettos. She has published numerous collections of poetry, including Style (1990), Nearly Forty (1994), and There Will Be No Tears (1996).

SuAndi was presented with the honorary degree by Alan Milburn on 4 March, which was one of his very first tasks as Chancellor, having been officially installed that day.

On receiving the honour, SuAndi said: “This honorary degree illustrates that Lancaster University values voices outside of academia and for me, as a self-taught poet and writer, it is my Oscar.”

Born of Nigerian and British heritage, she was a dancer and a model before becoming a performance poet in 1985. In more recent years she has also worked in Live Art, touring and lecturing nationally and internationally.

An active supporter of the arts, both locally and nationally, SuAndi has been voluntary Cultural Director of the National Black Arts Alliance since its formation in 1985. She was appointed OBE in 1999 for her services to the Black Arts.

Lancaster University has been awarding Honorary Degrees since it was founded in 1964. They are awarded to people with an outstanding international reputation in their field and those with a leading national reputation who have a strong link with the University or the local region. SuAndi has a strong association with Lancaster University, both through her work with Theatre Studies and the AHRC-funded ‘Moving Manchester’ research project, which explored how migration has informed Manchester’s literary scene since the 1960s.


Lancs Bio 1 | Lancs Bio 2Lancs Bio 3Lancs Bio 4

Milburn 20150157

Photo and Content Courtesy of Anne Rothwell Lancaster University, UK

From Friends to Physical: Top 5 Reasons Men and Women Can’t be Friends

The idea that (heterosexual) men and women may be able to participate in strictly platonic relationships is one of the most debated notions amongst people across the globe. On the one hand, we’ve all had friends of the opposite sex that we have never been physical with.Other the other hand, however, we all have also had to turn down the sexual advances of a trusted buddy…or even moments where we forcibly quelled our own inappropriate attractions.

That being said, please consider: The Top 5 Reasons Men & Women Can’t be Friends

5. Sexual Attraction– Let’s begin by stating the obvious: if you have hot, ‘platonic’ friends, you’re in trouble. Not that you won’t be able to control yourself (nevertheless, you may not want to) but regularly being around someone who you find sexually attractive is one of the worst way to avoid having sex with said person. What’s more, your ‘friend’ may also find you attractive…which means they may also be having their own dreams and dirty thoughts about you. Even if you’re involved in a relationship, how long do you think it will take before an awkward silence turns into kissing…or more…?

4. Jealous Significant Others– That being said, if you are in a relationship and have close friends of the opposite sex, your thoughts might not be the ones most threatening to the situation. It’s not uncommon for significant others to become jealous of platonic relationship even when they truly have nothing to worried about. Watching someone spend you’re involved with give time and attention to some unrelated person of the opposite sex can be a lot for anyone to deal with. What’s more, most men and women have playfully flirtatious relationships which only add to this insecurity. It usually doesn’t take very long for the threats and ultimatums to start flying…

3.Break-ups and Rebounds– Speaking of which, be very careful after breakups! Being vulnerable or ‘on the rebound’ is a part of many people’s process when getting over a relationship. Add to this, a fairly to extremely attractive friend, as well as some sexual chemistry, and you’ve got a recipe for rebound sex. Ideally this may not ruin a friendship, but more often than not it will. Furthermore, it will change the way you view one another and you may find that going back to being ‘just’ friends after such an experience to be next to impossible.

2. People/ Things Change– To piggy back off of number 3, people/ things change! Just because you weren’t interested in dating someone when you first met them (and vice versa) doesn’t mean that things will stay that way. People grow up, go through things, then all of a sudden even you’re goofy buddy starts to look like a dashing prospect. This can sometimes be the best thing ever. However, other times it may just be a relationship of convenience ending once you reach the realization that you were never compatible.

1. Secret Crushes– The top platonic relationship killer typically comes along when the realization that one or both of you never intended for it to be platonic to begin with. As humans, we often settle for whatever role we can get in someone’s life if we deem them as special in some way. That is to say, someone may be in a committed relationship or have other limitations that prevent them from being available when you first meet them. Most people will attempt to remain in their lives under the guise of ‘friendship’ just waiting for the perfect time to strike. In fact, I’d venture to say that this is the case within most platonic relationships. Just think about it, when you become friends with anyone, you usually do so because something attracted you to them.  This is all well and good when you are of the same gender (assuming you’re straight) but where do you go from there when you’re just a pair of heterosexuals? (Indeed, many so-called ‘platonic’ relationships begin with either one-sided or mutual flirtation.) Lastly, it seems that men are the least likely to sniff this out as most have been conditioned to be the hunters and can’t fathom a woman going such great lengths to win them over. (In fact, this may be the preferred method for some as many prefer to get close to someone before making a move in order to lessen the likelihood of rejection and humiliation) Don’t be so naive, fellas! If a woman is hanging around a lot, don’t think she’s not a threat simply because you don’t find her attractive. It takes 2 to tango…but only 1 to initiate! Keep that in mind…

The Bottom Line…

This was not written in order to discourage men and women from being friends. On the contrary, these ideas are being presented to encourage people to closely examine their relationships and to be open and honest with the people in their lives. Nothing lasts forever and many friendships are seasonal. However, many still could be saved from years of pointless yearning and turmoil if they simply refuse to accept those dreaded words ‘Let’s just be friends’…

NedRa Bonds Podcast Interview

NedRa BondsOne can use many adjectives to describe the multiple dimensions of NedRa Bonds. Social Activist, Educator, Mixed- Fiber Artist, and Quilter are only a few. She is a woman who possesses the type of intellect that slices through bullshit. Her charisma and persistence can melt the strongest opponent. Categorizing Ms. Bonds is impossible because she defies all the neat, little boxes society likes to use to profile someone. She continues to make her voice her in support of “the people,” she educates anyone willing to listen about how art intersects with healing and self-identity. Moreover, Ms. Bonds’ unique quilting and dollmaking talents are like no other.

Enjoy listening to a podcast with NedRa Bonds. Additionally, you will find a video interview, and a written interview on fromacloud, The Official Site of NedRa Bonds.

Click here to listen to Podcast.

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