I love hats!

I am obsessed with hats. Not just any old hat, but big, flashy church lady hats. I am talking about the kind of hat that no one wants to be stuck behind on any Sunday morning because you will see nothing else. The lamp shade hat, the flying saucer hat, the stovepipe hat — the bigger the better. A hat like this will give you an attitude and make you stand up straight and walk proud. There is a reason that some women refer to these hats as crowns

Harriet Rosebud NYC

Harriet Rosebud NYC

This started a couple of years ago when I signed up for Pinterest and was browsing for things that interested me. I started off with shoes. That was natural for me because I have always loved a good pair of heels. From there, I moved on to looking at fashion – runway and ready to wear. Next thing you know, I saw photos of some Kentucky Derby hats and it was a wrap. I was drawn to those outrageous hats that served absolutely no practical purpose. Do not even get me started on the lids that were sported during the Royal wedding because no one rocks a hat– or a fascinator — like the Brits.

The Duchess of Cornwall

The Duchess of Cornwall

I see you Camilla Parker Bowles looking like you are headed to some kind of society function with tea and crumpets on the menu.

My family is from the south and my grandmother wore hats to church regularly, so my fondness of big hats is genetic. Back in the day, a woman wouldn’t dare go to church bare-headed. And for many women who toiled in menial jobs during the week, wearing a nice hat to church once per week gave them a real boost of self esteem. My grandmother had a serious hat collection, but I have no idea what happened to those magnificent brims once she passed away. I sure wish that I had one or two of those hats for sentimental purposes. Unlike back in the day, wearing hats to church regularly is no longer as prevalent now outside of certain denominations like the COGIC whose members are known for wearing gorgeous hats and matching outfits. These stylish ladies could give the royals a run for their money.

Mr. Sax Unlimited

Mr. Sax Unlimited

Donna Vinci ensemble

Donna Vinci ensemble

Otherwise, you will not normally see many hats during a church service unless it’s Easter Sunday or a special occasion like church anniversary. That is why I have to search for pictures online since it is rare for me to see a fabulous hat in real life.

Another significant hat event happened during during President Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 when people were carrying on over Aretha Franklin’s hat like it was the most unusual thing that they had ever seen. That hat had its own Facebook page. People photo-shopped that hat onto themselves, family pets and historical figures from Abraham Lincoln to Gandhi.

The (in)famous Inauguration hat

The (in)famous Inauguration hat

It was a great moment for the art of millinery. Now that Mr. Song creation was definitely impressive, but I was watching at home thinking that you would easily see something way more elaborate during a Pastor’s anniversary service because the average First Lady will go all out for her hat for that day even if she won’t for any other time.

You can buy a beautiful hat that is already made, or you can go to the next level with a couture hat made just for you. For those of us with larger heads, this is probably your best bet to insure a good fit. You can customize the fabric, decoration and height however you like. These custom hats are beautiful, but they can be pricey – I have seen some go for more than $500.

For all my fascination with hats, I do not own even one. I rarely get dressed up enough to justify buying one, so I have to live vicariously through others, but if I ever had an occasion to finally buy myself a hat, it is going to be something spectacular. Until then, I will stick with collecting photos on my Pinterest board.

Randy, Red, Julia and Superfreak

Olivia Pope is back

Olivia chilling on the Beach

Scandal is back!

Season 4 of Scandal opened up with Jake and Olivia relaxing on a beach with him being very attentive. Apparently he had been  listening to some 90’s R&B because he was all like “All I Got Is 15 Minutes,” and suddenly Marc Nelson is relevant again. Ole Jake is still sprung and is really feeling himself in this episode.

We knew this idyllic scene could not last. They ordered a shipment of wine that was delivered by boat, and the captain handed her an envelope containing an article about the death of Harrison Wright. So, it’s really a wrap for Columbus short and they didn’t even take long to settle it. Olivia, now known as Julia Baker, is surprised to get the mail since no one knows her location and the sender did not include a return address.

Olivia returns to DC to bury her friend and finds the OPA office empty and full of old mail and periodicals about the second Grant Administration. Quinn is waiting for her and gloats about how she tracked Olivia to the Island based on her fondness for rare wine. She updates Olivia on what happened with her two other former employees neither of whom is glad to see their old boss.

Huck is now a computer repair guy named Randy and wants no parts of Olivia unless she is back for good. White House Press Secretary Abby is still angry with Olivia for leaving and blames her for Harrison’s death which causes Olivia to tell her to back all the way up and check herself before she wrecks herself.
Pump Your brakes Abbie

Back at the White House, Mellie is a disheveled mess walking around unwashed in a robe with Uggs while eating cereal from the box. At first I thought she was just drunk, but she is still mourning the death of her son and everyone is being very patient with her because of it. She doesn’t even bother to get dressed before going to visit Little Gerry’s grave where she lays down on the grass. Poor Mellie.

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Mourning Mellie is fresh out of damns

 

Portia Di Rossi made an appearance wearing Hillary Clinton’s old hair and a fierce power suit. Werk Mrs. Ellen! She’s playing the new RNC chairman who is in town to get Fitz to play nice with the party because he has been alienating everyone by working with the Democrats. He is also thinking about nominating David Rosen for Attorney General which is a non-starter for the Republicans.

PORTIA DE ROSSI

Portia De Rossi channeling Hillary Clinton

 

Daddy Pope is Back

Olivia meets Daddy Pope for dinner at their regular restaurant. He knew she was in town and ordered her a glass of wine in anticipation of her joining him and gets on her case for coming back. He even had the nerve to say that he was sorry for her loss when she told him that her friend had died. Deadly dad denied having anything to do with it, which we all know is a lie and claimed to have killed Mama Pope at the President’s request. The last time we saw the Notorious MOM she was chilling in the hole, so I am not falling for the okey doke. Nice try Pops.

Daddy Pope Scandal

He’s not really sorry

 

Jake comes back from a burger run to find Olivia moping on the couch about planning Harrison’s funeral.They are interrupted by a young Senate staffer whose female boss may have killed a colleague after a sexual assault at the male senator’s house. The victim says that she met up with her colleague late that night to discuss an Equal Pay bill, but he grabbed her and when she tried to get him off of her, she shoved him,  he fell down and is likely dead.

 

Jake Stakes his Claim

Jake and Olivia are in the sack and she is talking about her new case to the point where he has to tell her to hush up and enjoy the moment. Olivia is not trying to be silenced and starts ranting about how unfair the situation is to the victim because the rapist is getting all the sympathy. She then calls the lawyer representing the Senator and tells him to hold off on making a statement.

Jake knows where this is headed and says that as long as they are in DC she will be tempted by Fitz despite all the knocking of boots that’s been done by the two them – only he was way more graphic about it:  “I’m the one you like to ride. That i’m the one that makes you moan that I’m the one that reaches you in places that he can’t begin to touch.” Sir, it’s only 9:00 pm and this aint HBO. I never really much liked him before, but he is winning me over with this newfound machismo. After he said all that, he got up and strutted off like a peacock.

.Jake getting raunchy jakeII

Olivia figured out that the Senator is lying about being attacked and learns that the real victim was her young staffer.  The female senator knew that the guy was a perv and she used her employee as bait to try to have some leverage over him! The staffer overheard the boss admitting what she’d done and accused the legislator of dangling her in front of the old man like a piece of meat.

Harrison’s funeral is a small gathering only attended by OPA staff and Jake because he had no family and was raised in a group home. Toward the end, we see Daddy Pope watching from his car as Jake consoles a weeping Olivia while Aretha Franklin sangs – not sings -“Bridge Over Troubled Water.” I don’t know what Mr. Pope is up to, but something tells me that he was not there out of purely paternal concern for his daughter.

Harrison's burial

Harrison’s burial with no ushers on duty

Mourning Mellie Lays Down the Law

Mellie is outside looking over the rail of the balcony when Fitz tells her to come in because it’s getting cold. She says that she is not going to jump because she’s not him, and we find out that Fitz attempted suicide after his son’s death. He says he had a bad night and warned her not to mention it again. He also tells her that Olivia is back in town. Mellie says that he must tell her when he sees Olivia to give her time to prepare for sloppy seconds once he comes back home all hot and bothered. Oh and she also mentioned that she stopped waxing, “and it’s 1976 down there.” Yikes. I did not need to know that.

The show concludes with Fitz passing Olivia in the hallway after she finished a press conference with the young senate staffer who had been attacked. She’s decided to represent the girl which means that she is staying in town and is back to wearing the figurative white hat. As she and Fitz pass, neither speaks or acknowledges the other outside of a very subtle hand gesture. Olivia does offer up a faint smirk because she knows as well as the rest of us that those two are never finished and are likely to be locked in a broom closet by the next episode.

Olivia Passing Fitz

Olivia Passing Fitz

 

The season premiere was good and lays the groundwork for a great fourth season, and I have just a few final thoughts.

  • How are they going to have a funeral for Harrison but not James? As much work as some of us put into planning James’ imaginary funeral, surely someone could have given us a heads up or at least used some of our ideas.
  • Where were the ushers during that graveside service? Olivia and them were about to hop down there on top of the casket and there was no one around to hold them back. That was just irresponsible.
  • We never saw the body, so there is a chance that Harrison is not really dead. I’m not saying, I’m just saying. And I’m not the only one speculating.

  • What is the deal with Cyrus’ hair? I know that he is still in bereavement, but that hair is downright disrespectful. He’s never going to find another man looking like a greying cockatoo, and Ella will eventually need a new mommy.
  • I loved the Julia Baker pseudonym  which has to be a reference to the legendary Julia Sugarbaker who is probably one of Mellie’s matriarchs. I wrote about this last week.
  • Is Jake ever going to get tired of being Olivia’s fallback guy? Everyone knows that she thinks the President is her soulmate and will go back to him every time. I just hope that Jake doesn’t turn on her when he finally accepts the truth.

Scandal Season 4

Shonda Rhimes is Not an Angry Black Woman

Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes looking decidedly not angry

Shonda Rhimes Angry Black Woman?!

 

The New York times is still dealing with backlash from a recent article that reduced television creator and producer Shonda Rhimes to an angry Black woman. In a horribly inaccurate article written by tv critic Alessandra Stanley, Rhimes is accused of polluting the landscape of prime time television with her army of angry and intimidating Black female characters. Unfortunately for Stanley, the show that she spent the most time discussing, “How To Get Away With Murder” was created by a White male. The article was posted online on 9/18 and has since been corrected after Rhimes took to Twitter to address the nonsensical claims.

 

A Persistent Stereotype

This article made lots of people angry because it trades on an old stereotype. Although Rhimes and the characters she creates are well-educated, powerful and complete human beings, Stanley could not help falling back on a tired old label. For the record, Mellie is the most angry woman on Scandal (a show that Rhimes actually created) yet  the writer focuses on Olivia and her supposed anger issues. Hmmm, sounds like someone has been sipping on haterade.

Shonda Rhimes is not one to suffer fools gladly, and the writer would have done well to read up on her before trying to come for her in a national publication. Folks are still reeling from her takedown of Twitter militants who were angry about her commencement address at Dartmouth earlier this year. Her speech warned the new grads that hashtag activism was no substitute for going out in the world and actually doing something.  Some Twitter activists got upset about and started reckless typing that built up to a fever pitch about the supposed slight in the days following the graduation speech. The vacationing Ms. Rhimes basically dismissed folks by saying she wasn’t even talking to them. This woman has an empire to run and is not here for the foolishness.

Even my shero of style Desiree Rogers, CEO of Johnson Publishing and former White House Social Secretary, weighed in on this nonsense in an interview on CBS This Morning.  Rocking a fierce haircut, Ms. Rogers noted that while Sheryl Sandberg might be encouraging women to “Lean In” Black women are being told to fall back.

 

 

#LessClassicallyBeautiful

New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan launched an inquiry into how this hot mess of an article was allowed to be published  and she spoke to the author who is standing by her offensive words including this gem about actress Viola Davis  “Ms. Rhimes chose a performer who is older, darker-skinned and less classically beautiful than Ms. Washington, or for that matter Halle Berry….”

I’m just surprised that the author didn’t mention Ms. Davis’ hair while she was at it since Davis has been known to sport a natural style that is definitely outside of the mainstream of beauty standards – surely that has not escaped Stanley’s highly refined sensibilities.

Black Twitter lives for this kind of thing and #lessclassicallybeautiful has been trending for a few days now with Black women posting pictures of themselves and affirming their beauty despite other people’s misgivings about it.

I understand that tv criticism is subjective, but this article was clearly offensive and a backhanded way of trying to account for the success of a talented woman. Black women have the right to have a personality that is not docile and shouldn’t be pigeonholed because of it.  Furthermore, many of us have good reason to be angry even if that makes some people uncomfortable. The fact that this horrible article made it past the editors is disturbing because someone should have been able to predict that it was going to make people upset. The New York Times editorial staff is either oblivious or just does not care, and I’m not sure which is worse.

 

 

The Time Fitz was on Designing Women

Tony Goldwyn AKA Fitz

Tony Goldwyn as Kendall Dobbs

Scandal’s Fitz on Designing Women

With just 5 days until the premiere of Scandal’s 4th season, imagine my delight when I found a clip of Fitz, er Tony Goldwyn, guest starring on Designing Women in 1987 as a young man dying of AIDS. Check him out in all his 80’s preppy glory with the highlights, flips & the navy blazer. He looks like quite the Young Republican here and had a real James Spader pre-Blacklist yuppie vibe happening. Revisiting past looks can be dicey business for many of us, but he does not look bad considering that this was the decade of acid wash denim and fluorescent colors. Well played sir.

James Spader

James Spader in the 80’s

Julia Sugarbaker Vs Mellie

Discovering this episode makes me happy because it combines one of my current tv obsessions  – Scandal – with one of my favorite characters of all time Julia Sugarbaker. There are few things I love more than a devastating read and no one did it better than Julia and my other shero of life Claire Huxtable. If you don’t know about Julia Sugarbaker you’ve been missing out because this woman routinely broke fools down to their lowest common denominators effortlessly with a smile on her face. I have been known to curse people out when provoked – I ‘m not proud of that and it really is something that I have been trying to stop- but there is nothing like letting someone have it eloquently with nary a profane word defiling your lips. It is downright poetic.

In this episode, Julia lets a friend have it for her ignorant views about AIDS and tells her “If God was giving out sexually transmitted diseases to people as a punishment for sinning then you would be at the free clinic all the time!” 

Just imagine Julia getting into it with drunk Mellie. Julia could be the matriarch of Mellie’s hillbilly clan who is totally unimpressed by the shenanigans in the White House.  If Dixie Carter were still alive I would start a letter writing campaign to Shonda Rhimes to make this happen. Now that I think about it, Mellie’s side of the family has not been fleshed out at all, so giving her a female relative is not a bad idea. Surely she must have a feisty grandmother or a salty aunt somewhere waiting in the wings. Mellie could have her very own Daddy Pope.

Fitz was on Season 2, Episode 4 “Killing all the Right People,” which was pretty bold at the time because AIDS was still a taboo topic in many circles. His character was dying and asked the Sugarbakers design firm to plan his funeral. He doesn’t have much screen time, but here is the episode if you want to watch the whole thing. 

 

Healing in Ferguson

Iyanla Healing Ferguson

Iyanla Hugging People in Ferguson, MO

Iyanala Goes to Ferguson

Iyanla Vanzant announced she was going to Ferguson to promote healing after the murder of Michael Brown, and the backlash was immediate. She was called an opportunist and her motives were questioned, and her critics were all in an uproar based on what they thought she was going to do despite her not having a history of being an exploiter. Furthermore, Iyanla is a lawyer, minister, life coach and a full human being with the right to express herself. I am not even going to give those negative Nancys any more attention because now that the show has aired, you can judge for yourself whether the visit was effective. The 90-minute special “Iyanla Fix My Life -Special Report: Healing in Ferguson” aired on August 26, 2014 more than two weeks after the unarmed 18-year old was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, MO.

“I’ve Come to Interrupt the Pattern”

In the weeks since the shooting, the streets of Ferguson have been chaotic. The police are in tanks hurling tear gas with snipers trained on the crowds of protesters and even some reporters have been threatened and arrested.  Violence and bad feelings abound. These horrible images were being broadcast all over the world every day to the point where people from Palestine have been tweeting tips to the protesters in Ferguson about how to deal with tear gas using the tags #Ferguson and #Palestine.

This is the environment that Iyanla was walking into to try to offer some much-needed healing and interrupt the patterns that lead to this tragic situation. She thanked the community for allowing her to visit and upon being embraced by an older woman, she told the woman that as an elder in the community she needs a voice: “We cannot be silent any longer. We cannot!”

Iyanla showed up with a camera crew ready to have some tough conversations with the interested parties including Police Chief Thomas Jackson and Pastor Charles Ewing, Mr. Brown’s Granduncle. I give the Chief credit for showing up even if he did seem to dodge the questions about the poor optics of having a militarized police force squashing peaceful demonstrations. She allowed Pastor Ewing to speak from the family’s perspective about the desire for justice, and the Chief expressed his sympathy for the loss of  life that happened on his watch. The Chief said that the investigation into the shooting is still ongoing and  that he needs at least 14 days of peace to wrap things up, and Pastor Ewing agreed to that. Now they just needed to convince the protesters to remain peaceful despite the high tensions.

Iyanla Healing Ferguson

Iyanla Meeting with Pastor Ewing and Chief Jackson

 

An Elder’s Apology

Next Iyanla met with a group of clergy, protesters and concerned citizens to find out what they hoped to accomplish by demonstrating every day. The protesters are very angry not just about this particular shooting but about the ongoing issues of racial profiling and discrimination that they have been dealing with for years. She tried to get to the root of the problem and let them know that the Chief requested 14 days of peace and gets them to agree to enforce this moratorium on violence.

The next meeting with a group of protesters, including some gang members, was the part of this episode that stayed with me long after the show was finished. Iyanla apologized to the young men for failing them as an elder by not showing them the way and let them know that continuing down that path that they have chosen is very dangerous since they have no real plan of action, and the police were prepared for brutal retaliation. One young man had on a shirt that said “No Justice No Peace” which was a familiar rallying cry, but as she pointed out “Now you don’t have justice, and you don’t have peace.”  They are understandably angry, but that alone won’t change anything. After a long discussion about their fears and expectations,  there were promises to do better and hugs. You can tell when someone is just returning a hug to be polite, but these young men fell into Iyanla’s embrace and were clinging to her like she was a lifesaver.

Iyanla Healing Ferguson

Iyanla meeting with some of the protesters

In asking the young men to commit to enforcing the peace, Iyanla asked them to do three things:

  • Pause – to get clarity
  • Plan – have some goals in mind
  • Participate – show up and be counted

After that, they headed out to march and were immediately confronted by police officers and National Guard members who asked them for their passes – reminiscent of what happened in Johannesburg under Apartheid – and then herded them over to an approved assembly area.

The Takeaways

Iyanla’s visit started some necessary conversations and could lead to real changes down the road. The protesters needed to know that violence begets violence and as she put it “someone is benefiting from you staying disorganized.” She stated more than once that she was an outsider and was not there to tell them how to handle their business, but as a coach, she did make some good suggestions.  She also promised to return to Ferguson in the future without cameras. For all the advance criticism, she was received with open arms and those young men seemed to genuinely appreciate her love and guidance. And I liked that she made the point about how some people are so busy clutching their pearls and being afraid of these young men that they cannot even see how they have failed them.

A $20 piece of cheese

wensleydale cheese with cranberries

Wensleydale Cheese is Delicious

I made a truly shocking discovery this weekend. There exists in the world cheese that costs $20 per pound, and I like it! I mean I really like it although it’s wildly impractical. Wensleydale cheese with cranberries is one of the tastiest things I have tried since I discovered the almond croissants at Trader Joes, and I am mad about a few things — that it took me this long to discover it, the price is ridiculous, and I really want to buy some despite the ridiculous price.

The Fresh Market is Slick

I love the Fresh Market. I love everything about the place. The variety and quality of foods, the classical music that is usually playing in the background, and I especially love the free samples that they were giving out over the weekend. I was just there a couple of days ago for red velvet cupcakes when I saw that they were having a sampling event over the weekend with specials on some of the featured products – not a bad way to pass part of the afternoon.
Fresh Market Sampling Event

Hooked by a Sample of $20 Cheese

There I was happily trying out the pasta salad, the Cajun crab dip and the bread and olive oil when I strolled past the cheese counter. Eh, I can take it or leave cheese so I was not all that pressed to sample any of it. There was some Manchego set out on a tray and it was nothing special. Then I noticed that the cheese person (or whatever you call the person who slices and displays the cheese) was wrapping some cheese that had fruit in it. It looked good, but this special cheese was not available on the sample tray. Undaunted by it not being one of the advertised freebies, a friend asked the cheeseman for a sample, and we were both rationed two small cubes of cheese that were truly delicious.

I cannot describe how good that cheese was! It was a soft and creamy, and the cranberries added a bit of sweetness and texture. That cheese was pure happiness in dairy form. That cheese was the edible equivalent for finding a cute pair of shoes in your size on clearance with an additional percentage being taken off that reduced price. I had to know the name of this fabulous cheese and was ready to buy some to take home. Then cheeseman said that it was Wensleydale Cheese with cranberries, and nonchalantly mentioned that it cost $19.99 per pound. The very small wedge that I picked up was $9.60 and was smaller than a deck of cards. Now I am no bumpkin– I realize that some of these fancy joints charge exorbitant amounts for even the smallest things, but $20 per pound for cheese was shocking.

$20 per pound for cheese?! No

I could not wrap my head around that price, so I checked online and learned that this cheese is imported from Yorkshire England and was first made by Cistercian Monks in 1150. For all that, if I am paying $20 per pound for cheese, it needs to grate itself, boil the macaroni, pre-heat the oven, make the cheese sauce and bake itself at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Hours later, I was still thinking about that cheese and how much it cost. Do you know what you can get for $20?

  • 1/3 of a tank of gas
  • 1 pound of crab legs
  • 1 Pack of 16″ Wet & Wavy Human Hair
  • Three pairs of Jockey underwear (the combo pack)
  • A tube of Mac Tinted Lipglass
  • 1 Bottle of Jose Cuervo

Unlike the cheese, half those things are necessities that will last more than a few minutes. The cheeseman offered to cut a smaller piece for me to make the price more reasonable, but it still would have been $20 per pound, and that I cannot do. I can always  start a campaign on gofundme if I really just have to try that cheese again. Either that or take out a small home equity loan for that and a tank of gas.

 

 

 

Assessments Used In Hiring

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Kolbe A Assessment used for Hiring

I took the Kolbe A Assessment last week as part of a screening process for a new job.   After a brief phone interview, a recruiter from company X said that they wanted me to come in for a couple of hours so that they could see how I measured up to what was required for this position. The phone interview went well, so I was really excited if a little unsure about what to expect next.  The recruiter also requested a copy of my college transcripts.  While this is a relatively entry level position, I graduated from college quite a while ago, and it’s been a long time since anyone asked to see my transcripts. Nonetheless, I was prepared, or as prepared as I could be seeing as I was warned that I could not study for this test.

Three Separate Tests

Job Interview cartoon
I showed up early with the requested documents ready to get started. I was set up in an office and handed the first part of the examination – an 80-question test covering word problems, vocabulary, logic  and spatial reasoning. Much of it was multiple choice, but there were some questions where you had to come up with the answer and write it down. The recruiter who I’d spoken with over the phone was the one administering the tests and she assured me that everyone that they hired had to undergo the same process. She also said that most people left feeling defeated after taking the test which was not exactly a confidence booster for me. The next part was a relatively simple grammar test. It seemed kind of basic, so I was not worried about it.

The final component was a type of personality exam known as the Kolbe A Assessment.  There were a list of scenarios with four statements about how to proceed and the applicant was to select two answers for each of these questions – one representing how you are most likely to react while the second one indicates how you are least likely to react. There were about 35 questions in total.

Kolbe A Assessment

Sample of the Kolbe A Assessment

The test is designed to determine how you work and learn best – as part of a team or alone, and you can learn more about the test on the developer’s web site.

I found the process interesting since I had never gone through this type of testing as part of the interview. Ultimately, I was not selected to move forward in the process, but it was a great learning experience. The last time I had to look for a new job I simply checked the paper and responded to an ad. That seems downright quaint now. One thing is certain, you have to prepared to adapt to rapidly changing realities or be left behind with very few options.