Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Media Monday: Becky G, Vi är bäst!

Monday sh-Monday. I managed to disappoint myself yet again, but I. Will. Not. Back. Down. Now the problem is, I have been all over the place and as far as being into stuff...I haven't. Well, to be completely honest, Becky G has been on repeat on my early morning playlist. What? Like you do not find her hit single, at least in my world, Lovin' So Hard cute. If Austin Mahone was not her bae, I would probably be that fan girl leaving 'ship names on their respective Youtube channels. Yes, I am an Austin Mahone closet fan. So maybe I just know the one catchy song featuring Pitbull, sue me. They are still epically cute together.

E! News is purely responsible for my Becky G obsession. A snippet of Becky from The Block played at the end of one of their broadcasts. I couldn't help but think, "Oh great, another Justin Bieber, complete with her own Usher," in Becky's case, Jeniffer Lopez. A Youtube playlist later and I was all, "She a'ight". That translates to, girl sure got mad, mad skills. And her look, the whole front tooth gap thing, massive selling point.

I forgot about her for a minute then she sprang up with Shower. Again I was sold, sold and sold. Well not at first. It was pretty pop-y and springy, not the cup of tea I would like to admit is my liking. In no time, I knew the lyrics by heart and was buffing the living room glass cabinets to the rhythm.

Hands down, Can't Stop Dancing takes the cup. Simply put, I just cannot stop dancing or singing along to this sick tune.In the words of Rebecca Gomez herself, "Latinas stand up!" say it with the accent, sounds one hundred times better.

 Well there you go a little music for you there, didn't think I had it in me.

Mov-aaay time! Vi är bäst (We are the best). Let's take a minute to appreciate that I knew what the title meant from the little one and a half year stint I had with the German language even though it is Swedish. I have never liked the term "Coming of Age" as a genre but I am waving the white flag on this classification especially for this indie movie.

Based in 1980s Sweden, two thirteen year olds are eager to bring back punk. Meet best friends Bobo and Karla. Bobo an only child who seems to be keeping it together for both herself and her mom. Klara on the other hand comes from one close knit family who she thinks is lame, no surprise there, what teen doesn't? They aren't your classic teenage girls. These girls are feisty and the punk band they start without knowing to play even one instrument (that's faith right there) is evidence. They know how to keep it real, with their wiggity wack  sound they recruit Hedvig into their "band", who is nothing like them, in fact she is the complete opposite but oh! they do something about that.

So what is so good about it? The girls. The trio manages to represent each and every girl of the stick out like a sore thumb type in that teen/tween stage. Bobo, the odd one out, she knows it, dislikes it and tries all means to escape her harsh reality. Karla the loud mouth, headstrong and even with that outrageous mo-hawk on her head she still manages to be the pretty one. Hedvig, she is just like you and me, trying to figure it all out while being the voice of reason for this duo. There are a couple of hilarious, outrageous moments, some awkward moments, a moment or two that will seem all too familiar, the list is endless.

So go ahead, check it out. If you happen to be looking for direction, this is not the movie. But it does give you assurance that there are plenty of you out there. It is in pure Swedish but it does have subtitles, knock yourself out.

Have a good one!

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Surviving College: Presentation Preparation

And I am back! Second day in a row. Take a minute to appreciate how much I am trying to earn back your support.

Well, let's get to it.

It is no secret that just over a week ago I managed to embarrass myself after one lousy performance that I talked about here. Rarely am I caught off guard in such situations so the whole episode was quite the wake up call. The saying goes that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Imma put my big girl pants on and admit the whole five minute from hell spectacle was all on me. Pinning the blame on somebody or something else will only land me in a pit of quick sand; stuck, struggling and ultimately sinking.

Whoo! Feels good to let that out, even better to see it documented. So what happens next? Pumping myself with a few pointers that will have me better prepared for future presentations and climbing out of the six feet under joint of humiliation that I have since embraced as home.

1. Early preparation. The moment you have your hands on your assignment, the work starts then. Procrastination can take several seats. Starting the process early has a number of perks, you can make several mistakes, identify these flaws, fix them and take a shot at being perfect.

2. Know your team. That is if you have a team but bare in mind that presentations rarely see you working solo. Identify  your partner(s) early enough this way you get to: divide the work fairly and accordingly, get the hang of each other and be each others judges. This way you have a couple of opinions and constructive criticism in due time.

3. Consistency. This would be in regards to knowing and understanding the assignment in question, individual and group oral practice, group meetings and individual and group reading, re-reading and understanding research findings.

4. Be thorough. Research on everything that could trigger a question. Now, I cannot stress enough  how important it is to read and re-read your research findings then understand them. Read. It. All. You do not want your own deer in headlights simulation similar to mine.

5. Language. If there is a way your audience is meant to be addressed, go through it from the get go. Have a mock audience and address them as you would the real audience. The more times you do, the faster and firmer it will stick.

6. Confidence. Project your voice, let it fill up the room. Dress the part. Put all the hours and hours of practice in to use, that moment depends on it. Relax, breathe, be sure of what you are saying and talk at a normal pace. This should have you managing curve balls thrown at you mighty well. Most importantly, remember you've got this in the bag.

These are just the few lessons I learnt from watching the OG's of the internal rounds do their thing and if it worked for them, they surely have to work for me and you, right?

Hmm, looks like I did take away something other than dire humiliation from the whole spectacle, Hopefully next time, I can put into practice what I have preached to you.

Have a good one!

Friday, 19 June 2015

Book Review: A series of Unfortunate Events, The Hostile Hospital

Hey guys,

There was no Media Monday. So sorry. Last week it was cold then this week it was hot , we are in this awkward in between called swinter and my sinuses were just not  or should I say are not having it. Being under the weather, with bad weather sprinkle some laziness on top and you have got one huge mess of no blog posts. Again, I say sorry.

If you read my last post here  you know I have had an unfortunate event of my own. No need to sugar coat it now, yes, the humiliation wound is not as fresh but the pain still lingers. On the long, long ride home from my ordeal in a bid to forget even for a second the incident, I did what every book lover does when they are having one of those sigh-days, bury their nose in a book.

The book, A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Hostile Hospital. It's actually quite interesting how I found this latest addition to my library. One of those chilly Nairobi mid-mornings which had me scurrying home. Mission would have been accomplished, but I thought why not swing by my book-guy and see if there's anything that tickles my fancy? Well, I never made it to my usual book guy, better, I found a new book-guy, much like a hidden treasure. Location! Location! Location! clearly took a back seat when it came to this guy setting up shop.

Either way, I was meant to be walking past and it turned into buying two books each at a whopping 50/- Kenya Shillings, scanning his stock for other good reads and a notable dent in my financial life since then. Did I mention that the price in  his books are seriously right? What can I say, you have got to love Nairobi.

On to the book itself. A little history. My obsession with book series began with these Lemony Snicket installments. I read the first three books in my late years of primary school and lost touch. Seven years later, the Baudelaire trio still have me at the edge of my seat.

The Hostile Hospital meets Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire running, no surprise there, from the authorities this time, as they are being framed for Count Olaf's murder who happens to be alive and kicking by the way. You know that Count Olaf, not even the Grim Reaper can get his hands on him.

They meet a couple of hippies, Olaf who is back in another outrageous disguise with his girlfriend the self christened  fashionista Esme Squalor and a couple of Olaf's other minions. A craniotomy may be performed on one of the Baudelaires by the Baudelaires, a theft case here and there topped with some good-old arson not forgetting some pretty transparent "disguises" . Are you at the edge of your sit already?

Let me just get it out of the way. This book has pictures! Come on, share in the excitement with me, I know you still get as excited over pictures as I do. There is one striking illustration for each chapter and I could not appreciate the work of the hands of the illustrator more.

Why this book is up there in the world of children books, it truly entertains and educated. Of course my 10-12 year old self was thrilled by the slip ups, hold up and upside down world of the Baudelaire clan but Lemony Snicket made it his business to up my vocab' level and my English grades were a sure reflection. Yes he used 'big words' except with a big difference, he proceeded to tell you their contextual definition. Quite frankly, seven years down the line I am still glad he defines them.

Here comes the worst part. Thankfully it has nothing to do Lemony's writing. He still manages to be good old, depressingly, pessimistic, telling you a couple of unnecessary stories before cutting to the good stuff.

Growing up is the worst part. Being ten I was empathetic towards my fictitious Baudelaire friends, now, I am just laughing at some humor that in the past would have flown right past me with the occasional spurt of empathy. And they painted out growing up to be fun, Ha! Guess the joke was on us, then.

Take a walk down memory lane with your literary blast from the past.

Have a good one!

P.S. Did I mention that four of the books bought all happen to be best sellers and 3 out of 4 were hard cover? YAAAS! 

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Surviving College: The Worst Five Minutes of My Existence Yet

It's been a century ey?

I trust you are having yourself one hell of a weekend. Let’s take it up a notch  as I tell you about my Moot Court experience from hell. I guarantee a few laughs if dark comedy is your cup of tea, because this, this was a dark experience.

Quick explanation on my one week or so hiatus, it all came down to Thursday 11th June midday. All Africa Moot Court internal rounds. There were hiccups along the way, major  and minor ones at that. These were probable warning signs, “Don’t do it!” that’s just paranoia talking. Yeah, it wasn’t.

I would like to tell you about the moments that led up to the most treacherous five minutes of my life, but that would postpone my embarrassment which you are probably aching to know by now.

My name just had to be the first on that list. I would be arguing the first issue, only problem is I was prepared for the third and fourth. In fact I was beyond prepared. The relevant law was on my finger tips, the relevant articles in the African Charter were mastered, international declarations and resolutions were in the bag, I had historical facts up my sleeve, Heck! I even had a quote that was for sure going to blow the judges away. My argument for luck of a better term was going to be …fire.

The only thing “fire” about my little situation because it was definitely no argument was how I crushed and burned, into ashes. My introduction was pathetic, let’s just keep in mind that the term pathetic in this situation is mild. There was no strong start, in fact  there was nothing strong about those five minutes, don’t keep your hopes up, don’t even have your fingers crossed.

Remembering the whole ordeal is painfully embarrassing. The memory sends me into few bouts of shortness of breath, but writing is risky business and my readers are worth the risk.

Quoting an article from the African Charter sent me on a downward spiral and the beginning of the end could not have been  clearer. At that moment I felt my eyes well up, yup the water works were on the brink of being turned on and it had nothing to do with the case Blyth v Birmington Waterworks that I would have cited. Besides being on the verge of letting my emotions get the utmost best of me, my temperature either dropped or rose maybe even both. All I know is if I was a couple of shades lighter, I would have probably turned berry red. All the while, I had goose bumps all over me, the hairs at the back of my neck were doing over time standing at attention and my hands were cold, ice cold.

All the while questions were coming at me left right and centre. You know how questions usually have answers, my mind changed it up and instead of answers, blank stares were the name of the game. It gets worse the language of the court also known as the fancy language used among those in the legal fraternity went out of the window. Everything and anything I said warranted a question, it is at these points that I should have just shut up.

Disappointing yourself is one thing , disappointing yourself in front of a good number of people is another. My situation was the latter. The icing on the cake, no? My five minutes were up and so was my life as I know it.

When I went back to my seat after that terrifying , humiliating, self-esteem, depriving, grueling experience the first thing I thought, I kid you not was, “Well won’t this make for an epic read.” I also thought of wimpering in the corner or finding a hole to bury myself in as I waited for my impending death. The long walk home would be far from therapeutic if anything it would amplify my fail not to mention how the weather was an accurate reflection of my exact sentiments; glum, gloom, grey, cold and lonely. 

For the past few days I have just wallowed in my own pool of misery reliving the humiliation over and over again. I would like to say that the world has since come to a standstill as I cope with this traumatic experience but if you’re still moving, you guessed it, nothing and no one stopped even for a split second, as  Chris Cooper finely put it in The Company Men. 

My weekend is usually laundry, lounging and literature now I get to throw in looking past this. Feel free to re-read this post if you ever feel the need to feel better about yourself.

Have a good one!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Book Review: Stephen King: On Writing

The week has gone by so fast I am still in awe that it ends tomorrow. Where does the time go? Oh, right, that public holiday at the beginning of the week explains it all.

Well, I thought I had time on my hands but clearly time had me.. for supper. I did not finish my book of the month, can't help but kick myself in the shins. You see I let a couple of things get to me, things that at the time defined the end, my end. Here I am still standing. That's what over reacting gets you kids, do not try this at home.

My time management skills also need a tweak here and there, nothing I can't handle let's just hope my commitment levels are at their optimum.

For now, on to my favorite quotes continued from this post:

"Optimism is a perfectly legitimate response to failure"

"If you write or paint or dance or sculpt or sing someone will try to make you feel lousy about it. "

"Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don't have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough."

 "Take writing seriously." 

 "...even at its best, writing almost always falls short of full meaning"

"Fear is at the root of most bad writing."

"Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affection."

 "...lots of practice you have to learn the beat."

"The hours we spend talking about writing is time we don't spend actually doing it"

"If there's no joy in it, it's just no good"

I could have lost it and re-written the whole book all in the name of not missing a thing, but I'm pretty sure that would have some legal implications of it's own. But aren't those quotes something or are they something? Take a while and just let them soak in.

Have a good one! 

Monday, 1 June 2015

Media Monday: Bande des filles, Mayonde

Didn't I tell you I would see you on the other side?

First thing's first, Happy Madaraka Day! A week kicking off with a public holiday is always welcome. It's a public holiday and Media Monday, I think I spoil you guys way too much.

Since it's a new month, I am looking to change things up a bit. There is going to be a review on a movie but all the other good stuff will still be there. The movies on this end of the stick are not your usual; a lot of foreign films, documentary movies, not the usual silver screen regulars. Occasionally a box office common one may pop up, so we are not ruling those out completely. With that out of the way you can navigate your way around this week's round of Media Monday without feeling as though you are in uncharted territory.

Straight to the good stuff. The first movie on Media Monday is Girlhood (Bande des filles). I heard the movie title and I thought it was going to be a slight variation of Boyhood (2014). A black girl's account of growing up filmed over a period of years. Yeah, well it wasn't. More than that it was in French. It was late at night and I just had to watch a movie, there was no way I was going to fall over myself looking for something else  on account of a language barrier.

The movie started off at a rather fair pace. Not too fast, not too slow just the perfect in between. The first scene was pretty captivating, breaking a lot of gender barriers; girls in full American football gear, I'm talking the whole shebang helmet, jerseys, shoulder pads all of it, playing the game just as well as the pros. Now, I have no idea what that one scene had to do with the entire movie but then again it is an indie movie, that is to be expected and that's one sure way of capturing my attention.

It's not the text book French I am used to. This is the full on street French slang. Of course there was the occasional phrase or word that I couldn't help but smile foolishly when I understood. But aside from that my summary of what this movie is about is purely from putting two and two together and could be up for debate.

There's a girl, Marieme. The second born out of four in a single parent family.They pretty much take care of themselves except for the youngest member who is clearly the apple of everybody's eye. She has an abusive brother who basically could be the one responsible for sending her over the edge. Marieme joins a gang of girls after dropping out of school due to matters tuition. The gang ends up being her comfort, the family she never had. Things take a turn for the worst and she's forced into a world of drugs as a means of escaping her family woes, consequently leaving all that she loves and cares for behind as she assumes a new identity.

There are a number of reasons why I liked this movie. For one the casting was superb. Every day people , especially in the all girl gang department. They came complete with weaves, piled on eyeliner, piercing in the nasal area and the cherry on top, the I-just-don't-like-you aura. They even managed to fill all the roles in those girl groups your mother warned you about ; the queen bee, the excessively loud energetic one, the not so obvious fit and the good girl trying to go bad but still has her conscience following her. I raise my hat to wardrobe, make-up, casting director and of course the cast whose delivery was exemplary.

I also liked how easy the story was to follow, maybe its because this story is far too common but that shouldn't be confused to mean there is no element of uniqueness.

The spotlight surely needs to be shone on the main character. She did such a spectacular job. Her character was not easy to play with Marieme being all over the place; school drop out, mom to her two younger sisters, punching bag to her older brother, gang member, good girl gone bad, drug trafficker, teenage girl. She's been nominated for a bunch of awards and it's about time she bagged an award.

What I did not like, most of it should probably be attributed to the elephant in the room, the language barrier so I can't really complain considering I am not sure what exactly I would be complaining about . But what I can complain about, the transitions. Just. Too. Long. They had me thinking the movie had come to an abrupt end or my laptop was having another one of its impromptu shut downs.

Bande des filles completely did it for me. It left the door wide open to the world of non-subtitled foreign movies.Give it a go and I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

Music time. I have basically been singing praise to music from all corners of the world except mine. It's about time I brought it back home and told you about one of  my favorite Kenyan artistes, Mayonde. My sister is the one who got me hooked but a high school concert was responsible for introducing me to her back when she was Dee, a member of gospel group, Chit Chat. Fast forward a few years later and she is on her solo career.

Each and every one of her songs are good even though good just doesn't do it description wise. It's like a box of Swiss chocolates with her music. She's not restrained to one genre but an assortment. Every song is unique yet they still all share the same quality of being unforgettably good. There's everything in between soft, smooth and slow Rise, upbeat and feel-good Isikuti love and most recently emotive and reminiscent Angels.

No matter your voice (of frogs or of angels) you cannot help but sing along. If you still can't get enough, she's the voice behind Just A Band's Have you seen her?, you can also check out her early stuff like Too Good, catch her on Coke Studio backing up some of Africa's biggest musical acts and acting on Kenya's first musical series, Groove Theory. As I catch my breath let me leave you to be the judge of her sound being like a box of Swiss chocolates or naah?

Have a good one!