Tomboy: book review

TOMBOY_Liz-Prince_9781936976553-e1408580510368

Tomboy: a graphic memoir by Liz Prince. Publisher: Zest Books. Graphic/memoir. Paperback. 256 pages.

“A boy can be celebrated because of his personality and talents, regardless of how he looks. In fact, talent can make a guy attractive who may not be by traditional standards. But a girl is usually only popular if she looks good.”

An outstanding, contemplative examination of identity, status and fitting in. Liz Prince is a talented cartoonist who takes us back to her childhood to examine her choice and comfort in being a tomboy. At a young age, Prince rejects standard female looks and prefers to dress like a boy. Shiloh Jolie-Pitt anyone? She chooses to wear a hat, blazer, jeans and t-shirts to dresses and skirts. Of course she gets picked on in elementary school without really understanding why. She states: “I didn’t even know what a tomboy was until I started school and was expected to follow the “rules of gender.” She prefers what we consider boys’ toys and games and most of her role models were boys like Huck Finn, Luke Skywalker and Indiana Jones. She wants to be a boy instead of a girl because even in elementary school she knew that boys might have it better than girls. Prince suffers intense bullying for not looking like the girl her classmates expected her to look like with long hair and soft edges. She plays on the little league baseball team and also joins a girl scout troop.

As Prince becomes a teenager she grows confused as she’s a girl who wants to be like a boy and dress like a boy but she’s not gay. She’s attracted to boys. This throws another loop in her quest for identity. Like many teens she struggles for acceptance and for a boy to like her. I wore pink in high school and never had a boyfriend so I can relate. She worries about puberty—getting her period and developing breasts. She’s extremely body conscious. She notes that she started feeling dislike for girls and their girly ways. “For boys, there seemed to be more options available: there were more ways to be a boy and still be accepted whereas the popular girls all seemed to be cut from the same cloth.” So true.

I always preferred skirts and dresses and still do. I still defined myself as a feminist in fifth grade. I don’t recall a lot of girls wearing dresses when I grew up but I did. It’s my style. It’s what I’m most comfortable in. When I wear jeans I just don’t feel like myself. But I had wavy hair, unruly hair in the 80s and most girls and teens had straight hair. I fought my hair for many years until my senior year when I gained a slight bit of self-confidence and started to go with the flow regarding my hair. Clearly many adults never wear skirts and dresses but wear makeup and clothes that accent their femininity. Outside of fancy events and modeling shoots, I’ve never seen Gisele Bundchen wearing a skirt. She’s generally in jeans. But no one would confuse Gisele for a boy with her long hair, curvy body and makeup.

Being critical only suits one’s own egoism. There’s not many ways to tell who someone is based on her personal style and looks. Don’t put people in boxes. Don’t be so quick to judge someone based on her appearance. It’s about personality, capabilities, desires and communication. The way someone dresses is completely personal expression and comfort.

Boys and girls accuse Prince of being a lesbian or not liking boys. “The stereotype of the butch lesbian has plagued me my whole life but I don’t dress like a boy to attract girls. I dress like a boy because it feels natural to me.” A friend of Prince’s mom, Harley, runs a zine and asks Prince to contribute. Harley is this “cool” childfree adult who takes an interest in Prince’s desire to be a graphic/ comic artist. She’s also the first adult to explain to Prince about societal expectations for boys and girls. Through Harley, Prince realizes that it’s not girls per se she dislikes but the way that our society expects girls to act and dress. Thus a young feminist is born. Prince changes to a more progressive school where she doesn’t feel so out of place with the other “misfits:” Goth kids, punk kids, a hippie, a nerd. She also does an internship at an art collective and meets some cool kids there.

Another graphic memoir that’s stand-out poignant and provocative is Ellen Forney’s Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me. This is en par with that in quality and meaning. Tomboy is a fascinating meditation on identity through fantastic cartooning style. Sometimes amusing. Often heartbreaking. Always honest. An important read for all ages.

RATING: ****/5*

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Zest Books.

Liz Prince will be reading at Trident Booksellers and Café on Thursday, October 23 at 7pm.

Shop Indie Bookstores

purchase at Amazon: Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir

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NEW MUSIC: Bee vs. Moth; Field Guides

Bee vs. Moth, “It Looked Good in the Showroom”

–turning the work day into a bananas explosion with grooving, invigorating tune from the band’s latest album, Shelter in Place.

BEE VS MOTH TOUR DATES:

09/26 New Orleans, LA @ The Beatnik

09/27 Atlanta, GA @ Eyedrum

09/28 Chapel Hill, NC @ The Cave

09/29 Raleigh, NC @ Slim’s Downtown

09/30 Hamden, CT @ private house concert w/ 11twelve13

10/01 Boston, MA @ TT the Bear’s Place w Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band

10/02 New York, NY @ Pianos

10/03 Pittsburgh, PA @ VIA Festival – Thunderbird Cafe

10/04 Washington, DC @ Sonic Circuits Festival

10/05 Indianapolis, IN @ The Melody Inn

10/06 Tulsa, OK @ The Soundpony

Field Guides, “Lisa Loeb Probably Never Pierced her Ears”

–mellow, wavy rock. lovely in its murkiness.

debut album Boo, Forever [Muir Woods] out November 11

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MUSIC: shows in Boston in the next week

Shonen Knife
Middle East
Monday, September 22

The Dandy Warhols
Bonfire Beach
The Paradise
Monday, September 22nd

Kevin Drew
(from Broken Social Scene)
Eleanor Friedberger

the Royale
Wednesday, September 24th

WMBR’S PIPELINE
25TH ANNIVERSARY SHOWS

The Barnies
Bill Goffrier (of Big Dipper) & friends
Dumptruck
The Jigsaws
Vapors of Morphine
the Regent Theatre
Friday, September 26th

Kasabian
The Paradise
Friday, September 26th

Tweedy (Jeff & Spencer)
Hospitality

Berklee Performance Center
Friday, September 26th

Erasure
House of Blues
Saturday, September 27th

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Project Runway S13.Ep8 RECAP

Tim with Heather Northrop of American Girls explain the challenge

Tim with Heather Northrop of American Girls explain the challenge

Challenge: American Girl dolls challenge. Designers paired with Be Forever character to design childrens clothing inspired by the doll and the doll’s story.

Working with children intimidates a few people. Emily has a children’s clothing line.

“I’m never around children I don’t have children so I’m not great with communicating with them.” –Korina

“I have no reference. Kids are weird . . . shape.” –Sean

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Sandhya’s struggling with her unpopularity and other designers questioning her design aesthetic and abilities. At one point at Mood, she interrupts Korina who is being helped with fabric cutting. Korina says Sandhya doesn’t care about anyone else. But they only have 30 minutes in Mood so who knows the best approach. If you aren’t aggressive you fall behind on the show but if you’re too aggressive as a woman you’re viewing poorly.

“I have a super thick skin and it’ll take a lot to break me.” –Sandhya

Later back at the dorms, Sandhya cries. She tells Emily: “All of us have worked really hard to be here. To be who we are and I just expect a little respect for who I am.”

Last week Fade had a meltdown and was out. This week it’s Sandhya.

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SAFE

Amanda
–I like this a lot. super cute. great fabrics.

design by Amanda

design by Amanda

Alexander

design by Alexander

design by Alexander

HIGH SCORES

Korina
–this a favorite for me.

design by Korina

design by Korina

“Great update and really fun.” –Zac Posen
“I love the whole thing. So cute.” –Elisabeth Moss
“I love this outfit. I like the graphic element.” –Nina Garcia

Kini

design by Kini

design by Kini

“I’m in love with this. I think it’s fantastic. What a stunning dress.” –Heidi Klum
“I thought it was sensational. It was a great translation.” –Zac Posen
“It’s a party dress. It’s fun but it’s also super modern and cool.” –guest judge, Mad Men and Top of the Lake star Elisabeth Moss

Charketa

design by Charketa

design by Charketa

“So cute. I think it’s fantastic.” –Elisabeth Moss
“I think this is one of the most updated looks.” –Nina Garcia
“You’ve made it contemporary and it worked well.” –Zac Posen

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LOW SCORES

Sean

design by Sean

design by Sean

“It aint groovy baby. It could’ve been a bit funkier.” –Zac Posen
“I don’t mind the vest. But the 70s there is an explosion of fashion and so much to do.” –Nina Garcia
“It is so safe. Safe doesn’t cut it anymore. This is super snoozy.” –Heidi Klum
There would’ve been so many places you could’ve gone.” –guest judge and American Girls executive Heather Northrop.

Sandhya

design by Sandhya

design by Sandhya

“For a one-year-old this would be great but for 8-12-year-old, not great. It looks like a onesie for a baby.” –Heidi Klum
“You could’ve made something classic and age-appropriate.” –Nina Garcia
“It’s just not cool enough or modern enough.” –Elisabeth Moss

Emily
–I really liked this and didn’t find it too dark.

emily design

“I’m a little torn. I’m on the fence.” –Heidi Klum
“For a child there is no joy in the outfit. The color is dark and she looks sad.” –Nina Garcia

KINI is the WINNER.
SANDHYA is OUT.

“People didn’t like me. And found a reason to put me in a bad light. They didn’t understand why I was so happy and positive.” –Sandhya
I’m sorry to see Sandhya go. She’s genuine. She really hung tough with all the negativity around her.

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TV news: A&E new nonfiction series Dead Again premieres October 2

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Dead Again –an hour-long nonfiction/reality series– follows a top team of detectives who will re-examine controversial murder cases in which unresolved questions still linger long after the verdict was determined.

The investigative team includes Detective Michelle Wood, a homicide officer from Chicago with 13 years on the force; Detective Joe Schillaci, a 30-year veteran of the Miami PD with a background in homicide and undercover work, and fan-favorite from The First 48; and Kevin “Spider” Gannon, a retired NYPD detective and supervisor.

Cases are all over the country. In Georgia, the team re-investigates the vicious double-homicide of a father and son attacked in their home. In Ohio detectives re-open the horrific case of a young mother whose throat was slashed while her children slept nearby and soon learn that she had been leading a double-life. In Texas the investigators re-examine the brutal murder of a young art student whose case takes an unexpected turn that reveals a sinister plot for revenge.

Dead Again is produced by Wolf Reality and Left/Right for A&E Network. Executive producers for Wolf Reality are Dick Wolf and Tom Thayer. Executive producers for Left/Right are Ken Druckerman and Banks Tarver. Executive producers for A&E Network are Shelly Tatro, Drew Tappon, Laura Fleury and Brad Holcman.

Dead Again premieres Thursday, October 2 at 10:00 PM ET/PT on A&E.

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STEELE INTERVIEWS: filmmaker Jordan Brady [I AM ROAD COMIC]

“A real road comic works in cities that even mapquest doesn’t know.” —Oni Perez

“I should call myself four market Norton. I’m great in Boston and Cleveland. I do good in Phillie, New Jersey.” –Jim Norton

“I’ve been living out of a suitcase for over a decade.” –Nikki Glaser

“There’s something about drunk women. They love me.” –Alonzo Bodden

Several years ago, filmmaker Jordan Brady put out the documentary I Am Comic which illuminated the realities of being a stand-up comic.After being offered an out-of-state stand-up gig, he decided to make I Am Road Comic in order to document the costs of doing a road gig. He teamed up with his friend Wayne Federman and they traveled to the site. Interspersed throughout Federman and Brady’s experience on this stand-up gig are interviews with a variety of comics about life on the road. The success of I Am Comic allowed Brady a larger pool of comedians from which to cull interviews this time around. Since making I Am Comic, Brady’s met a lot more comics and could bring different voices and representation from the comedy world to the screen in I Am Road Comic.

I spoke with Jordan Brady by phone last week. We’ve been twitter friends for a while since I watched/discovered I Am Comic. We started the conversation by talking about interviews by phone vs. Skype. I said I was hesitant to interview a band on Skype because I didn’t want anyone to see me and the delight that Jordan is, he replied: “I’ve seen your avatar, you’re a pretty woman. Why don’t you show it off.” Very sweet.

Amy Steele: After doing I Am Comic what made you decide to do I Am Road Comic?

Jordan Brady: The success of I Am Comic led comedians that book shows—there’s this new trend that comedians often book their own nights at bars especially—they brand their own show. They mistakenly thought I was an active stand-up comedian because of I Am Comic. When I was asked to do a show. At first I said “no, no, no I’m a filmmaker now.” They said, “just come and do a set.” Finally I said yes. They booked me and I said I don’t have 45 minutes. I figured it would be a great documentary.

Jordan Brady Headshot

Amy Steele: So you were a stand-up a long time ago.

Jordan Brady: 20-something years ago I stopped but I’d started as a stand-up comic when I was 18 and did the road for 14 years. Colleges. Even though I knew this would be a good story of being on the road and I would take my good friend Wayne Federman with me, I knew it wouldn’t be the crux of the documentary. The meat of it would be the newer guys like TJ Miller, Marc Maron. The people that have rose to prominence in the last five years. People like Doug Benson and Marc Maron I’ve know for 30 years but TJ Miller, Maria Bamford, Jen Kirkman I met by going to clubs and they said they loved the movie. I Am Comic paved the way for these interviews in I Am Road Comic.

Amy Steele: What was your goal in making this? What’s the difference between I Am Road Comic and I Am Comic?

Jordan Brady: Economics was the difference. I was squeezing 80 comedians into 80 minutes. This time I wanted to approach it gorilla-style, as just me and a camera. Me on the road. I had to film it and also remember my comedy material.

With I Am Road Comic I wanted to specifically point out low-level road comedians and how you have to be so cost-effective. The only thing I knew was I was going to keep a tally of the expenses. For a gig you get a couple hundred bucks per show which is decent money for a bar gig. As soon as I had to buy a plane ticket I would only break even.

Amy Steele: How did you decide who to interview and how did you get people involved?

Jordan Brady: Less people because I realized if I had less people they’d get more screen time. I wanted to get more in-depth. There were a lot of old white guys in I Am Comic and I think the world has seen its share of old white comedians. I tried to get more females and I tried to get more minorities. A comic is a comic whether they’re a man, a woman, straight, gay, black, white, Puerto Rican. I don’t delve into that.

But I wanted younger hipper guys who are more relevant. Doug Benson and Marc Maron put out a couple of podcasts every week. I wanted to talk to comedians who were more personal in their material rather than jokey jokers. I wanted comedians that were honest in their material and their comedy was based on life experiences and based in reality. Some guys are road warriors like Alonzo Bodden. I think he works 45 weeks a year. Nikki Glaser is kind of a throw-back to the old-school road comics. There are only two guys who are famous for being comedians—Louis C.K.—but it took a television show to make him famous. Jerry Seinfeld played himself on Seinfeld. But until they had a scripted vehicle on television it’s hard to make it as a comedian.

It takes a series– and of late podcasts– to put people on the map. And radio is still big in the Midwest. If I had a thesis it was how relevant was the road to being a comedian today. The fact that Seth Milstein took a bus for 16 hours to perform his first road gig—and he wanted to be in a documentary—the answer was yes.

purchase I Am Road Comic

i am road comic

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Project Runway S13.Ep7 RECAP

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Challenge: SAMSUNG avant-garde challenge inspired by the curved television

For a Project Runway first there was a rainway—rain on the Runway—and the designers used waterproof materials.

KIni working away

KIni working away

Kini notes that after three times being in the top “It’s time to win.”

Tim discuss Sandhya's design

Tim discuss Sandhya’s design

Tim is dubious [a favorite Tim Gunn word] about Sandhya’s multi-color striped jumpsuit. “You need some counterpoint to this very colorful jumpsuit,” Tim tells her.

Fade breaks down. Having a very difficult time getting motivated for the challenge. Foreboding here when he tells his partner he’d be home “soon.”

judges including guest judge Caitlin Fitzgerald

judges including guest judge Caitlin Fitzgerald

SAFE

Amanda

design by Amanda

design by Amanda

Alexander

design by Alexander

design by Alexander

Charketa

design by Charketa

design by Charketa

gorgeous and talented Caitlin Fitzgerald [Masters of Sex]

gorgeous and talented Caitlin Fitzgerald [Masters of Sex]

HIGH SCORES

Kini

design by Kini

design by Kini

“I like the dominatrix-esque look.” –Caitlin Fitzgerald
“I thought this was sublime. I was very dramatic.” –Nina Garcia
“You did a wonderful job. You’re so talented. You have great technique.” –Zac Posen

Sandhya

design by Sandhya

design by Sandhya

“Your look made me feel very happy. It has your handwriting on it.” –Heidi Klum
“You have such a strong signature, it comes through.” –Zac Posen
“I like this however it’s at the surface of looking circusy and child-like.” –Nina Garcia
“The dangly bits I could do without.” –Caitlin Fitzgerald

Sean

design by Sean

design by Sean

“I love how this dress came alive in the rain. It’s a special moment you created.” –Heidi Klum
“When it’s effective like this it’s exceptional.” –Zac Posen
“This took my breath away on so many levels.” –Nina Garcia

LOW SCORES

Korina

design by Korina

design by Korina

“I was not very impressed with this look.” –Heidi Klum
“Looks like something I’d make for a Halloween costume.” –guest judge and Masters of Sex star Caitlin Fitzgerald
“It looks lackluster.” –Zac Posen

Fade

design by Fade

design by Fade

“Putting a play button on your dress doesn’t make it look modern or techie, it just makes it look gimmicky.” –Nina Garcia
“I like the graphic nature and the elements you had working with it.” –Caitlin Fitgerald

Emily

design by Emily

design by Emily

“I felt like a cliché of a fashion show. The shapes aren’t strong enough. It feels flimsy.” –Zac Posen
“It wasn’t cohesive.” –Caitlin Fitzgerald
“It’s so cliché that it’s too predictable.” –Nina Garcia

After the judges’ critiques the designers compare notes backstage and note that Alexander McQueen got referenced a lot. Sandhya says that she never gets compared to any designers. Amanda interviewed: “I don’t know what why you’d say that it feels so insensitive.”

SEAN and KINI are dual WINNERS.
FADE is OUT.

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