Thursday, February 27, 2014

Product Review: Gardein's Crispy Chick' N Sliders

Gardein has done it again!
Compliments are hard to accept for me. It's a mental thing. Every time someone says the most wonderful sentiment, I get choked up and either respond with silence or sarcasm. Basically, that's what happens during critiques. The negatives come crashing out first. That's all I tend to remember. Positive, pleasant, uplifting endearments pass over my head, refusing to sink into rapt ears and seep into brain's memory compartment. Most artists must feel this way, especially during these mind numbing critiques, sitting up front with beside their works amongst a "firing squad" wishing to visualize better use of studio engagement.
Well, hre's hoping that Gardein isn't too upset over this very gushy post. Ha!
I love Gardein. Love them. Always been an overzealous fan of the way they have perfected the chick'n. It's not too chewy and artificial. They don't have that gluten-y texture that makes teeth so tired that they take little breaks between resuming chewing duty. Although it is highly recommended that one chews many times before swallowing, that annoying consistency Gardein lacks. Teeth don't doze off and fall asleep. I enjoy that. It's a commendable skill that makes a lot of vegans rejoice and wave victory flags.
Now Gardein has gotten in on the slider craze, making these microwavable (or heated in the oven) delights that folks in a hurry heat up and top with anything desired. I got their Chick'N version on sale at a store called Fresh for $4.99 with a bonus $1 off coupon. A definite steal because....
Oh. My. Heaven. They taste amazing. Like above and beyond the scope of amazing. The most delicious darn little hot sandwiches that can ever escape from the microwave. Directions are simple enough. Heat up patties first. Then heat them with the chic slider buns. Tender, moist interior and crispy outside promised from the lovely packaged box. Advertisement was not a lie. The buns are almost restaurant quality. Didn't get soggy or dried out. Flavors are outstanding here. I cannot get over the talents over at Gardein. They understand the science behind chick'n. Reminds one of the days of old. I think. I haven't eaten chicken the animal since 1996.. Beyond great. I would rather continue being friends with the chickens while eating these sandwiches from Gardein.
Now that's what I call the best of both worlds.
Going to try their beefless variety next....

Catchy pink and green colors surround epic little sandwiches of joy.
Who was happier- me or the smiley face potatoes?
One delicious bite and I was out! Added Daiya's provolone slices for the melted magic. Soooooo good!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Vegan Hot Chocolate Fudge Sauced Bananas

Another choconana recipe? AfroVeganChick is trying to kill us!
In seminar this morning, we discussed the relationship between art and writing. Since the dawn of the nosy grapevine, artists have a natural progression towards loving written word with same relish as the paintbrush or lump of clay. In my case, the honest truth is that despite adoring art and writing, chocolate is my life. No- chocolate gives me life. A reason for being. Sorry art and writing. I'm keeping it real today. I have always been devoted to chocolate. We're destined for each other. Our love affair was written in the stars. Or for this recipe, made inside a hot pan with bananas thrown in.
Thanks to Top With Cinnamon for helping me perfect chocolate sauce. Her version is no sugar added. Plus photographs on her site are droolworthy fantasy. Seriously. Someone should draw a scandalously clad lady, who instead of a shirtless man holding her heaving body close, a promisingly devoted bowl of hot fudge takes place, the proximity between them undeniable. And she should definitely hold a silver spoon.....
It's easy to get off track under the influence of such a stimulant.
Mine isn't a no sugar added variety. I used brown sugar. The medjool dates got in an unfortunate accident colliding with peanut butter and hungry opened mouths. That's another story for another time. On the other hand, this yummy hot fudge sauce best complements strawberries, vanilla ice cream, plain graham crackers, a piece of stale bread or some.... bananas! Yippee! Bananas again? Well, I gave proper warning on Monday. Can you just hear Gwen Stefani shouting this recipe is bananas? B-A-N-A-N-A-S!
Yes, bad pop culture reference, but it was bound to happen. Three straight days of bananas? Yes. Hollaback Girl was going to be mentioned somehow regardless of the lack of chocolate.
The hot chocolate fudge sauce makes the banana slices divine and the cinnamon gives a spicy area for the sweet toothed tongue to rest. Overall, very satisfactory and simple to make.
Place any excess sauce in a jar and refrigerate. It can be reheated for another day. 

Vegan Chocolate Sauced Bananas Ingredients and Preparation

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 bananas, ripened and both cut in half
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a medium heated saucepan, heat almond milk, brown sugar, and vanilla together. Stirring gradually as it boils.
Evenly mix in the cocoa powder.
Allow simmer. Don't stop stirring.
In about 7-10 minutes, the sauce will thicken.

Turn off heat and add bananas, being sure to coat each to desired chocolate satisfaction.
Plate and pour excess sauce over top banana goodness.
Gaze at them for a while and embrace feeling like a 5 star dessert maker.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and share with a friend. Or eat the leftovers for later. If there are any leftovers....

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Vegan Chocolate Carob Chip Banana Pancakes

Choconana action before the morning commute?
Never a dull moment at the breakfast table, especially where chocolate is concerned.
I made these mouthwatering pancakes weeks ago, around the time I had checked out a whole bunch of Sylvia Plath books from the downtown library. A classmate asked, "why Plath? Are you depressed? She is always depressed, you know. In fact, she's hailed the Queen of Depression."
Was she? I find her to be a bit upbeat. Okay sometimes.
Maybe it's early phases of midlife crisis reaching out to swallow me whole or feeling under the bluesy chilled weather. School has been tough. Critiques have been bittersweet. Jack Frost is mean. Living and financial situations raise pivotal question. Ever since childhood, pancakes (pancakes not Plath) have made the world better. Just a little bit. I remember begging my mom every weekend to make pancakes. She would ask, "why? You can always only eat two. Two and a half at the most." So what if I can't handle a large stack? I still love pancakes. No matter what ingredients are lying around waiting to be combined. I didn't even care if it was generic mix and water. If they turned out golden brown and crisp, I still wanted to enjoy it with a fork and oodles of Mrs. Butterworth.
Now, I;ve grown up from Mrs. Butterworth.
As I mentioned yesterday, experiments with chocolate and bananas have proven to be fruitful. Yes, fruitful is the best adjective to describe it. No maple syrup or jam necessary. They were sweetened enough. Thanks to the topped goodness of firm, ripened bananas and delightful carob chips. ALl the taste buds can memorize is banana and chocolate. Banana and chocolate repeats. What's better than that.
Pancakes are not difficult to make. Whether it's the dawn's early light, the weekend, or even dinnertime, Choconana Pancakes deliver much needed bliss at any time too.
For added texture, walnuts, pecans, or toasted coconut flakes are great bonuses.

Vegan Chocolate Carob Chip Banana Pancakes Ingredients and Preparation

1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 bananas, ripened
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup almond milk
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup carob chips
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

handful carob chips
1 banana, ripened and chopped

Ingredients having a meeting of minds.
Sift dry ingredients together. In another bowl mix bananas, olive oil, almond milk, and vanilla. 
Combine wet with dry.
Add carob chips. Lastly, mix in the apple cider vinegar. In a medium heated skillet, add olive oil and ladle about 2 tablespoons of batter. Flip over when the pancake bubbles. Repeat the drill and stack.
Extra banana slices and carob chips make this a most beautiful display.
I never finished The Bell Jar. As for the pancakes- a big YES to that! With hot chai tea. Perfection.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Geniuses & Chunky Chocolate Banana Pudding

A delicious treat for chocobananaholics out there!
My landlord can be very nice. Too nice at times.
After I revealed being accepted into the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts MFA Program, he told me something quite surprising.  
"I always knew you were a genius," he said. "I knew it the first day I met you. I said to myself  'this girl is going to go places.'"
It's outrageous to say such a thing aloud. However, it's incredibly humbling praise. Won't lie about that. Of course he then rambled on about oddities and such.... This notion that an eccentric person tip toeing away from stereotype and superficial molds is profound. I simply move to the beat of an inner kettle drum and strive to go forward on a path that promises a positive, creative direction. 
Ages ago, I learned more at a two day workshop at the good ole Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts- drawing with Edgar Jerins! A fascinating artist with an acting wife and two darling daughters- Ruby (Nurse Jackie, Deception) and Sterling Jerins (Shutter Island, The Conjuring), Edgar Jerins gave awesome pointers on perspective and even took a few minutes to visit my studio to discuss decision making via color choices and materials. It was the first time that anyone has ever suggested that I use a large, clean disposable paper palette (my critics often suggest big pieces of glass). One thing that I don't do often enough is clean my brushes. Dried, crisp death can be averted. Jerins also told me to build up luminosity- adding more light values. In my paintings there is no light. Only darkness. Apparently, titanium white kills colors. Zinc white is in. Little tidbits that can help me enrich my artistic practice. I'll always treasure that precious allotted time.

Jerins showing perspective method using string.
Jerins teaching how to shift eyes in different direction.
Jerins posted our class photo to the Facebook world.
In between learning that I'm a genius (insert head scratching), how to create "good" art, and writing about these wonderful experiences, one does tend to become famished. Maybe that's just me. I'm always hungry. Eating out is great and all- convenient more or less, but being in the kitchen, preparing my own meals is so satisfying. It's like going to galleries and admiring inspiring art that drives desire to make art as soon as possible. Is that absurd to enjoy restaurant food yet crave your own?
Lately, I've paired bananas and chocolate. Made incredible chocolate sauced bananas, chocolate banana pancakes and this amazing pudding. This week, I plan to post these experimental recipes. Sharing is caring. Bananas are a terrific source of many feel good vitamins and minerals. Chocolate is too. (Hold in that coughing). But umm.... this isn't a healthy dish here. No apologies. Chunky Chocolate Banana Pudding promises to be all guilty and nothing much else. Oh, wait. It's delicious! SOooooooooooo delicious! Thick, rich, and sinfully sweet, expect a chocolate coated banana in every chilled bite. Worthy of bowl licks and pats on the back. For kicking variation, add a smidgeon of cinnamon or ginger.

Chunky Chocolate Banana Pudding Ingredients and Preparation

We are all gathered here today to join these ingredients in holy matrimony.

1/3 cup So Delicious Culinary Coconut Milk
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 bananas, ripened
1 teaspoon vanilla

Bring milks and sugar to a boil.
Add cocoa powder.
Inside a small bowl, mash bananas with vanilla.

Bring cocoa, brown sugar, and milk to a modest boil on medium heat.
Stir in mashed banana mixture. Blend evenly. Turn off heat. You can either choose to puree in a blender or food processor or keep it at the chunkier consistency. Pour into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 6 hours.
Serve chilled. I topped it off with cold sliced bananas and walnut pieces.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Let Me Tell You A Story About An Unbelievable Night In Brooklyn That Only Happens In Dreams Or In Alcohol Consumption

Apothecary Theater Company's party advertisement. Isn't the drawing lovely?
I totally had a screaming fest with my friends in the studio today. An actual screaming fest!
Here's why:
Last night, I attended a fantastic Edgar Allan Poe's Annabel Lee themed Anti-Valentine's Day Party.
Of course, the day started off so hellishly craptastic- Mother Nature springing her surprise early (sorry, but it really happened). I almost missed the Megabus (because I foolishly took a train going in opposite direction!). It took me entirely too long to reach the Brooklyn Museum- the line was so ridiculous I had to leave (no Wangechi Mutu or Lorainne Hansberry's letter collection or Jean Paul Gaultier). Thus became fashionably late to St. Mazie's- place of my first theater party! However, prior to that, I did see the closing of Flomenhaft Gallery's Women Only exhibit. I cannot begin to serenade how enjoyable seeing a large Faith Ringgold quilt up close and personal is. She is my hero, my beacon of artistic hope and retribution. Next door to Flomenhaft Gallery was Ceres Gallery showcasing very blunt, fleshy, overtly sexual charcoal eroticism by Pamela Shield. Won't get into further concrete details, but let's just say her realist drawings zoomed in on quite stimulating territory.
FYI about taxicabs: don't apply makeup in them, don't beg the driver to go faster- that only happens in the movies, and don't do any seated dancing of any kind. 
Now about that fantastic party....

On the way to Brooklyn with Lucy's Crunchy Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Treats!
I came inside the dimly lit St. Mazie's bar. Sweet Carrie greeted me with a ticket and mentioned a raffle drawing. I peered through modest crowded sea of many tall people (starting to rethink the "flats for life" motto) and watched the middle of the first play. Out of the corner of my eye, ladies and gentleman, I spied Tom Pelphrey. I just knew him and that booming laughter. Probably because I watched a ton of Guiding Light that morning with breakfast flax flakes and almond milk. Mentally, my mind became a flustered blur. Despite the loud hammering of my tell tale heart (just Poe-ing it out there), I managed to view the play and not look back at the corner. Much later, I met the director. She said that her parents thought she would be in the play and didn't understand the play directing concept. Very funny.
Attendees asked me how I found out about this event- a mere stranger standing rooted to one corner like a wallflower observing people chatting and drinking tulip glassed drinks or bottled beers in between intermissions. (Why did I forget my sketchpad!!!!! The setting was gorgeous!) Well, I replied finding out on Facebook. Partly true. The real actualized honesty version is a hilariously strange kind-of-pathetic one. My friends know that I'm a huge Guiding Light fan and dedicated to a certain couple. I'm registered on a fan forum that keeps up-to-date information on them. I found out Tom (my favorite actor on the beloved tragically canceled soap) had co-founded a non-profit theater company (I LOVE THEATER!!!!) and that this theater company had an Anti-Valentine's Day Party every year. For all my little playwright friends and theater enthusiasts, please read more about Apothecary Theater Company's mission here. It's just all kinds of wonderful. Naturally I wanted to come to the party and be a silent supportive groupie. I swear Philadelphia living has been so advantageous. It sounded exciting anyway. A party. With theater? Anti-Valentine's Day? Maybe because I'm also a single lady that hates February 14th and the thought of a dreary, miserable, gut-wrenching, albeit terrifying Annabel Lee poem would ease spirits of last Friday. I don't know. Cannot wait to share this at next month's poetry club meeting....
Then, the excitement continued.
This guy comes up to me and asked "are you Janyce?"
I said, "yes."
"Janyce Denise?"
"...don't be a lily all your life....."
I freaked out. Who wouldn't when attending a party where you know that absolutely nobody is supposed to know your name? This isn't Cheers man. The light ultimately came. I realized whom spoke to me. Michael Medeiros. The Michael Medeiros. The Michael Medeiros I've been tweeting for weeks on end. I didn't recognize him outside of his funky white framed sunglasses. His new indie film Tiger Lily Road stars Tom. I'm going to its showing in Torrington, Connecticut in three weeks at Warner Theater- another adventure in the making. I can already see this as an art project.... As an avid film buff, I feel it my sacred duty to see it and be that silent supportive groupie at the same time! Yes!! I would rather do that than attend a baseball game. Don't ask. Just know that I hate baseball. Now Michael being at the party was the most amazing coincidence. I had no idea he was coming- let alone performing!!!!! Turns out Michael is an actor trained by the well-renowned Uta Hagen. Terrific. Brilliant. Worthy of a million claps. And flowers. Had I known, I would have brought flowers. Now I'm even more excited about Tiger Lily Road. Judging by the quirky trailer, I think it's made of win. I'll bring him flowers too. The ones that smell nice but not too overly fragrant that women tend to like. He performed a very touching monologue about a man mourning his dead wife, hitting notes of vulnerability, frustration, angst, melancholy, and sadness with a bit of warmth and rusty humor in between.
As we talked earlier, before astonishing me with his acting capability, Michael asked me the question that every critic in school has- what is stronger passion- making art or writing? His passion between writing and acting and directing is piano. How sweet!
I still don't know the answer to my own truest desire. Despite sitting here dirtying the keyboard with oil stick residue. Perhaps I'll never find out. Oh well. I love both. Let's leave it at that right now.
Sooooooooo. Wait. For. It.
Michael introduced me to Tom!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tom said "hi Janyce, nice to meet you." And I thought the world ended.
My legs became jelly and I lost eye contact and mojo and all human emotion and capacity to be a normal being and this sentence runs on and on and on.....
Needless to say, I had a lovely reunion with the fresh outside air.

Thank you Apothecary Theater Company for putting up this awesome photo of Tom, me, and Michael!
Two plays happened. Michael's performance was last. By golly, just one word sums it all up- wonderful. The performances and the unique Annabel Lee interpretations ranged from obscurely abstract to vividly entertaining. I respect that the playwrights (Martyna Majok, Edith Freni, and Don Nigro) modernized a classic period poem to fit into the context of this century. Truly commendable. Also loved that each piece happened in a different area of St. Mazie's with Tom- the ringleader jingling the bell. It added another layer to audience reaction. Just awesome! <3
Finally, at last the raffle winner was announced.
And it was ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sorry for the exclamation points. How else could I reveal splendid joy? I was just sitting there thinking about Annabel Lee and taxicabs and how I was going to tell my Mom and schoolmates and Twitterverse how I met my screensaver (which I changed!!). Carrie announcing my name broke me out of the nonsensical reverie. Yes. I was freaking shocked. Stunned. Stoked. I've never won a raffle anything. Being at the party itself was a good enough trophy to put on the mental mantle. So I'm going to see Once on Broadway. Once. BROADWAY!!!!! O-N-C-E. I've always wanted to see a Broadway show. Always. Now it can be etched onto my tombstone.
Janyce Denise Glasper led a great life because she met her screensaver and went to a Broadway Show.  

It's not everyday that someone wins Broadway tickets!!!
Just when my night turned into shining stars and flashing glitter quicker than plump pumpkins changing into diamond decked carriages, Michael kindly forced me to take a pic with Tom. Whom am I to deny such a fate? I cannot believe this happened. I. Can. Not. It was that euphoric magical rarity that only happens on a blue moon. I think unicorns and sphinxes and dandy-lions (mystical lions that have golden flowers for manes) truly exist in this world. Or maybe Mother Nature was being apologetic.
To celebrate, I skipped in merry bedazzlement and headed off to Terri's. Terri's makes any girl way way happier than she should be. Plus I got a drink. Does anyone realize how thirsty one gets when meeting someone you never thought you would actually meet in REAL LIFE? The thirst IS real.

I quenched my thirst in true chocoholic fashion- with a Butterfinger milkshake! The chickpea "tuna" melt wasn't that bad either!!!
In the end, I'm not saddened or disappointed to miss out on Jean Paul Gaultier's exhibit. It's gone forever. It was probably pretty great, but my night at St. Mazie's topped everything. I've already started googling theater parties. They must have them all over Philly someplace. This whole concept is enthralling.
Funnily enough, after I told this story, my friend wished she had gone. She likes Poe. She loves Annabel Lee. Suddenly, I regretted not telling people about this. Being all ashamed of that whole soap opera factor when in fact I should be proud. I am happy. I had fun. Speaking of which, I neglected to tell Tom how much I adored his brilliant work. I could say something in Torrington? If I can look him in the eye and be brave. If I can tell my favorite artist Kara Walker that I love her work, I should be able to give Tom that courtesy. People love compliments. I think.
Anyways, for the record, I might not ever wash my coat. Never again.
Thank you, Michael Medeiros. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Roasted Tofu With Blueberry-Fig Sauce And Butternut Squash

Heart shaped tofu "cutlets" dressed in a luxurious blueberry-fig sauce.
Happy belated Single Awareness Day! Oh and Valentine's to those whom celebrate it.
There's almost too much amazing things happening in  the world. Too much! First of all, I have been accepted into the Masters of Fine Arts Program here at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. How can I not be over the moon about that? I have received a merit, alumnus, and portfolio awards, but need more. Now I've been researching other grant and scholarship opportunities, spoke with the Student Services advisor, and feel confident about fall 2014! I still cannot believe it! I'm going for the MFA!!!
I'm also really psyched about going to Brooklyn next week for Apothecary Theatre Company's Anti-Valentine's Day Party. The theme happens to be Edgar Allen Poe's Annabel Lee. I sort of wanted to go in hopes of seeing Tom Pelphrey, an actor from Guiding Light (I miss Guiding Light a lot- once my favorite soap opera and it hasn't held that honorable title in 7 years) who is a founding member and artistic director of ATC. Maybe it'll happen. Maybe it won't. Still, how can one pass up the opportunity to watch three different interpretations of Poe's haunting poem and possibly go to yummy Terri's after?
In the meantime, to celebrate yesterday's February 14th, Single Awareness Day, I made an unbelievably delicious dish thanks in part to a recipe (meant to prepare beloved cute ducks in *sniffles*, but tofu is the perfect replacement) sent by a classmate. Thanks Tim!
I never made a savory sauce with blueberries let alone figs, but the combination over top roasted tofu tasted like something out of a gourmet cookbook. The sweet tartness bring a compelling element that is simply too impossible to resist. From first bite to finish, this is an amazing dish for both singles and couples. Certainly don't need it to be February 14th to make it either.

Blueberry-Fig Sauce

1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoon water
2 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup dried figs, diced finely
3/4 cup blueberries
salt and pepper

Roasted Tofu and Butternut Squash

5 slices tofu, about 1- 1/2 inch thick
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic
2 teaspoons Italian seasonings
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb. butternut squash, diced (I used Trader Joe's)
green onion

Stir sugar and water over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until mixture is deep amber- about 8 minutes. Stir in vinegar (mixture will bubble). Add broth. Simmer until reduced to 1 cup, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in dried figs. Let stand 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix olive oil, garlic, Italian seasonings, coriander, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper.
Evenly coat tofu slices in the marinade and lay on a greased baking sheet.
Mix butternut squash with a smidgeon of olive oil, green onions, salt, and black pepper.
Lay butternut squash cubes around the tofu. Roast for 30 minutes. Turning over halfway at the fifteen minute mark.
Reheat sauce and add blueberries. Allow to thicken. Should be about 20 minutes more. Be patient. I love the little figgy dots. Pretty. Add a minute pinch of salt and black pepper. Turn off heat.
Layer a bit of sauce onto tofu cutlets.
Dig in!!!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Athena Film Festival 2014

The 4th Annual Athena Film Festival.
I had such a wonderful time at the Athena Film Festival yesterday! Whom else could relish joy at seeing four films in one entire day- three documentaries and one feature. Held at Barnard College across the street from Colombia University (where Kara Walker teaches!), a celebration of women centric film took place for the fourth year in a row. In each film, the female protagonist embraced challenges, defied conventions, and sacrificed a lot, placing hope and trust into believing dreams will come true. I happily volunteered during Rebel by Maria Agui Carter, whom was a nice pleasure to meet and listen to. She had such wonderful advice to all inspiring filmmakers. I met some wonderful people including Megan of Opinioness of the World- we bonded over films, vegan food, and soap opera forums. Woo hoo!

I started my morning with 365 Brand Chickenless Patties and Van's waffles topped with Daiya's fantastic new strawberry cream cheese style spread, fresh strawberries, and walnuts. Then I bused it from there. Watching Downton Abbey and Guiding Light reruns along the way.
I made it to Barnard College a little pass noon.
Picked up my purple volunteer and blue all access passes ready to see women centric films galore!
Jeremy Teicher's Tall as the Balboa Tree was an emotionally riveting tale about circumstances that one simply cannot control no matter how much one wishes. After her brother is injured, Columbu secretly gets a job while supposed to be watching the family cows. She is saving up all her hard earned money to protect Nebo, her little sister from marriage.
Itai Matamombe (left), an advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General on global education, with a Barnard College student moderator (right) leading a thoughtful discussion after the film. Topics ranged from ending child marriages to the importance of staying true to one's cultural beliefs.
I had lunch across the street at a populated restaurant called Ollie's Noodle Shop & Grille.
I had this amazing mango and vegetable stir fry in garlic sauce with a side of steamed brown rice. Utterly divine. Just needed more mango slices. Yes, I was feeling mighty greedy. Also, rather coincidental, but I was sitting next to a festival attendee. We headed off together to watch Maidentrip.
Jillian Schlesinger's Maidentrip was simply amazing!!!! Laura Dekker is definitely a she-ro in my book. This 15-year-old brave soul set sail around the world in a little boat- Guppie. Despite all the odds, all the battles, the people opposing her and the weather threatening survival, she beat everything and still continues to live her life on the sea. She filmed all of her sea adventures. Every last bit. That in itself is just incredible. Some of her shots were beyond beautiful.
I volunteered at the screening for Maria Agui Carter's Rebel. She was a lovely lady to meet. Kind and warm. My job was to hand out programs and greet folks as well as ensure to note Carter's guest list people who wouldn't have tickets. Very simple tasks. Carter's film, a cross between documentary and feature, is about Cuban born Loreta Velazquez- a disguised woman soldier battling on the Confederate side of the Civil War (yes, the bad side). Eventually, she would soon turn into a Union (good!) spy and free her own slave. Most of the film's information comes from Velazquez's book (still in print too!)- The Woman in Battle: A Narrative of the Exploits, Adventures, and Travels of Madame Loreta Janeta Velazquez. Intriguing. The interplays of race and gender that this film tackles, that Velazquez faces with fire and dignity is worth further investigating for history buffs like me. Carter wants to make this film into a feature. I think it's only right. People need to know Loreta Velazquez's contributions. Her as well as other women soldiers who still are relatively unknown, but are slowly making their way into rewriting history books.
Prepared to watch the last film for the evening.
The evening of strong, courageous women ended in a soft, articulate roaring of eloquent poetry from the gracious Alice Walker- who turns 70 today (the same age as another one of my she-ros, Angela Davis). I remember contributing a bit to Beauty In Truth's  indiegogo campaign, all excited and dazzled that someone wanted to make a film about one of my most profound inspirations. It was the first time I ever opened my wallet for supporting filmmaking. It needed to be made. The end results were breathtakingly beautiful- hearing her echo her own written words in a soul stirring voice, watching mesmerized individuals (including an old professor) speak about about her magnetic contributions in literary and activism circles. She has waged wars with good and evil, loved or offended many, but still people flock towards this poignant, commanding aura, towards this energy that she embodied. And it was so wonderful to see every part of her, to know her, to breathe her in for 87 minutes.