Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Efrain's Secret - Another Excerpt

For those who are wondering why I haven't been blogging very frequently over the past few months. :)

Incisive (adj.) clear, sharp, direct

When Trace lets us into the office, Nestor and I find Snipes sitting on the couch reading Sports Illustrated and smoking a cigar. He takes a swill of copper liquor in a short glass then rests it on the table in front of him. Nestor says, "What's up, Snipes?"

He looks up from his magazine and is obviously surprised to see Nes. Nevertheless, Snipes rises to his feet to shake his hand. "What's up?" Then he extends his palm to me. "How's it going, E?"

I have to smile a bit at that one. As I shake his hand, I say, "I've had better days, sir."

He chuckles as if he appreciates my honesty then motions for us to sit. "Word is one of Hinckley's boys wilded out on you, son," says Snipes. "That hothead Julian."

Nestors yells, "Yo, Snipes, he was trippin' . . ."

"I got this, man," I interrupt him. At first, I wanted Nestor here, but it looks bad for to speak for me all the damned time. "Look, I can't front, Snipes. He did wild out, but that's because I messed up." He says nothing, waiting for me to explain. "I was coming out of Floridita's when someone tried to cop from me. It totally slipped my mind I was off the block, and, you know, I got zealous. Tried to service him. So Hinckley's boy had reason step to me, but he ain't have to OD like he did. Punk crept up then raised up on me." Honestly, if Julian had just called the question, I wouldn't have known how to appease him, but I have to play this off. "Had he just stepped to me like a man, I would've owned up and compensated him, but like Nes said, he made a mountain out of a molehill."

Snipes eyeballs me. Without shifting his gaze from me, he addresses Nestor. "Is that how it went down?"


"And how did y'all leave it."

Nestor waits for my cue, but just because I had to take control of the conversation doesn't mean I have to sell him out. "Nes slipped dude a fifty to let it go."

Snipes nods for a few seconds. He finally says, "Everyone, bounce for a minute while I talk to E." His boys roll out. "You, too, Nes."

Nestor hesitates but eventually gets to his feet. "I'll wait for you outside, a'ight?"

I want him to, for real, but I know that ain't the move. "Nah, kid, it's all good. I'm cool. I'll holla at you later." His face says You sure? I force myself to smile. "Remind me to tell you about that waitress I ran into at the restaurant."

Nestor runs with it. "Ah, the one with the big. . ."

"Yeah, that one."

"Yeah, man, she's fit, yo." He gives me a pound and then offers his hand to Snipes. "One, bro."

"Peace, kid." I don't know where to put my eyes until Nestor and the others leave so I pull lint off the cuff of my sweater. When the door closes, I finally look up at Snipes. He reaches toward the cigar box on the table between us. "Smoke?"

I shake my head. "Nah."

"Want a drink? A shot of rum. Some beer?"

"No, but thanks."

Snipes picks up his glass of rum, walks around the table and takes Nestor's seat beside me. "This isn't you, is it, E?" I have no idea what he means so I just shrug. He leans forward and sets his glass back on the table. "Tell me again what you're doing here."

My heart races. Snipes acts as if I have ulterior motives – like I'm fixing to sabotage him or something – yet I feel cheesy at the mere thought of telling him the truth. "Like I said, I need money."

"Yeah, I remember." I'm fraying his patience. "Nobody ever has enough. But why specifically do you need more?" When I hesitate to respond, Snipes jumps to his feet, reaches into his back pocket and pulls out a wad of bills. "OK, Scout, here you go." He peels off one hundred dollar bill after the other, tossing them into a stack on the table. I count them as they pile up. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. "Is that enough for you?"

I go from embarrassed to offended. Snipes doesn't know me to rate my needs and motives in life so damned cheaply. I glance up at him and say, "Hardly."

He scoffs at me, and I look away. Snipes adds another grand in hundreds to the pile on the table. "How's that?"

"If I'm fired, just say so." My chest is on fire. "You don't have to ride me."

"I'm not riding you, Scout," says Snipes, heaping on the sarcasm. "I'm trying to help you." He whips out hundreds like an ATM until five stacks sit on the table. "You can take that and walk away, no questions asked."

I should take it, say peace out and never show my face around these parts again. But there's more at stake now than money. "I would if it were enough."

Snipes bends down and hollers in my face, "How much is enough then?"

"Thirty!" I yell back.

"For what?"


"College?" He laughs like my name is Ernie, and I want to buy a truckload of rubber ducks. "College?"

"I didn't stutter." I'm not two feet from Cerebus, and I unleash this pent up bravado. Where was it when I was on the block?

Fat Princess

I just read the following article on Yahoo!
Feminists cry foul over Fat Princess
Does Sony's cartoony castle game cross the line?

By Ben Silverman

She's plump, powerful and ready to cause more controversy than "SuperSize Me."

She's Fat Princess, the star of Sony's upcoming video game of the same name. Debuting at last week's E3 expo, the colorful Fat Princess is a capture-the-flag game with a twist: you can thwart capture attempts by locking the once-thin princess in a dungeon and stuffing her full of cake, thereby increasing her girth and making her harder for your enemies to haul back to home base.

According to popular gaming blog Joystiq, two feminist gaming sites have already voiced their displeasure with the weighty issue.

Feminist Gamer's "Mighty Ponygirl" rings in diplomatically, suggesting a new way to play the game altogether.

"Instead of running out into the forest to find cake to fatten up the princess with, why not go out and find gold (which is a lot heavier than cake) to stuff into a treasure chest. The more gold in the chest, the heavier it would be, and the harder it would be to carry," she said, before adding, "Oh, but that's not as "cute" as cake and fat chicks. Right."

Over at Shakesville, however, writer Melissa McEwan cuts to the chase, telling Sony she's "positively thrilled to see such unyielding dedication to creating a new generation of fat-hating, heteronormative ---holes."

Sony has yet to issue an official response, although Joystiq did receive a particularly informative update from James Green, Fat Princess' lead art director, who clued gamers in on the origins of the game:

"Does it make it better or worse that the concept artist (who designed the look, characters, everything) is a girl?"

Hmmm...hope the game's detractors don't mind eating a bit of crow.
Ya know, I wasn't all that compelled to lobby a thorough critique of the game. But I couldn't let that last line slide so I pushed back at author Ben Silverman. Here's what I sent.

I don't know, Ben... just because the artist for "Fat Princess" is a girl (or she actually a woman?) shouldn't make critiques of the game "eat crow." Women are quite capable of being sexist, and what's wrong is wrong. All this proves is that the girl (or woman) behind this game has brought into some very problematic ideas about her own sex, and that's very sad. What's worse, she has decided to perpetuate them for a new generation of girls and boys instead of, say, making a game that doesn't traffick in some antiquated and hurtful ideas. As the folks at Joystiq stated, they could have gone another route without losing anything in the process. Lastly, I don't think one has to be a feminist to take issue with this game. I think many people -- heavy and thin, male and female, feminist and non-feminist -- would take issue with many aspects of "Fat Princess." The label for such folks is decent.

Want to tell Ben Silverman what you think? Here's the link to the article.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Reel Images: Stereotypes in Film

As I was updating my Shelfari page, I came across this video. It's a ten-minute clip of this wonderful panel I participated in sponsored by the Center for Communications in New York City called Reel Images: Stereotypes in Film. I was an honor and joy to have this conversation with some amazing talents and sharp minds. If you're in the New York metro area, definitely check out other Center programs. Shout out to Michelle Materre, Alfred Santana, Sophia Chang and, of course, my homegirl Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez for such an pleasant and inspiring night.

Appreciating Sisters Whether by Blood or Choice

My cousin Carmen sent this to me. After passing it on to a handful of close friends, I felt compelled to post it here so that other women can find and share it with the sisters in their lives. :)
A young wife sat on a sofa on a hot humid day,

drinking iced tea and visiting with her Mother. As

they talked about life, about marriage, about the

responsibilities of life and the obligations of

adulthood, the mother clinked the ice cubes in her

glass thoughtfully and turned a clear, sober glance

upon her daughter.

'Don't forget your Sisters,' she advised, swirling

the tea leaves to the bottom of her glass. 'They'll

be more important as you get older. No matter how

much you love your husband, no matter how much you

love the children you may have, you are still going

to need Sisters. Remember to go places with them now

and then; do things with them.'

'Remember that 'Sisters' means ALL the women...

your girlfriends, your daughters, and all your other

women relatives too. 'You'll need other women. Women

always do.'

What a funny piece of advice!' the young woman

thought. Haven't I just gotten married?

Haven't I just joined the couple-world? I'm now a

married woman, for goodness sake! A grownup! Surely

my husband and the family we may start will be all I

need to make my life worthwhile!'

But she listened to her Mother. She kept contact

with her Sisters and made more women friends each

year. As the years tumbled by, one after another,

she gradually came to understand that her Mom really

knew; what she was talking about. As time and nature

work their changes and their mysteries upon a woman,

Sisters are the mainstays of her life.

After more than 50 years of living in this world,

here is what I've learned:


Time passes.

Life happens.

Distance separates.

Children grow up.

Jobs come and go.

Love waxes and wanes.

Men don't do what they're supposed to do.

Hearts break.

Parents die.

Colleagues forget favors.

Careers end.


Sisters are there, no matter how much time and how

many miles are between you. A girl friend is never farther away

than needing her can reach.

When you have to walk that lonesome valley and you

have to walk it by yourself, the women in your life

will be on the valley's rim, cheering you on,

praying for you, pulling for you, intervening on

your behalf, and waiting with open arms at the

valley's end.

Sometimes, they will even break the rules and walk

beside you...Or come in and carry you out.

Girlfriends, daughters, granddaughters,

daughters-in-law, sisters, sisters-in-law, Mothers,

Grandmothers, aunties, nieces, cousins, and extended

family, all bless our life!

The world wouldn't be the same without women, and

neither would I. When we began this adventure called

womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible joys or

sorrows that lay ahead. Nor did we know how much we

would need each other.

Every day, we need each other still. Pass this on

to all the women who help make your life meaningful.

I just did. Short and very sweet:

There are more than twenty angels in this world.

Ten are peacefully sleeping on clouds. Nine are

playing. And one is reading her email at this