Posts Tagged With: postaweek2013

Write On Wednesday: Portraits of Artists

Previously I shared my fascination with black and white artistic author photos, highlighting images of Eudora Welty, Katherine Ann Porter, Virginia Woolf, Colette, and Margaret Atwood.

Finding images of male writers that compare to the women is difficult for me–most of them lack the intensity or are off in some way (Hemingway’s tendency to be photographed with guns, the obvious way Fitzgerald pandered).

Samuel Beckett. The Irish playwright has a fantastic face and there are a number of striking shots of him looking directly into the camera. The almost goofy nature of this image, his glasses on his forehead, shows that he is not all intensity. The Irish sense of humor is evident.

John Fowles. I happen to love pictures of Fowles because he, like me, always has crooked glasses. The rocky seashore, the isolation: he might have just stepped out of The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Even though the photo is certainly posed, it looks almost as if Fowles was stopping to say something when the photographer snapped it.

Jack Kerouac. In pictures, Kerouac tends to read as an aspiring method actor–all intensity and stray locks of hair. Photos like this one are striking to me in that I can see the author caught unaware, working, as opposed to posing. His eyes are closed as if he is away from the physical world. Thinking? Listening? Creating?

Haruki Murakami. The Japanese writer is often photographed in guarded positions. His go-to pose is to lean his head on his hands. Sometimes he’ll cross his arms over his chest. In this image, the photographer either wisely gave him something to keep his hands occupied, or Murakami used the kitten as a crutch. Note the hand placement and the way he is holding it–is he protecting the kitten or the other way around? They seem somehow ostracized from the viewer, isolated. Thematically, the photo seems deeply connected to Murakami’s own writings.

Categories: Get Smart | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Just Push Play: The Herb Ritts Edition

No, Herb Ritts was not a musician. Technically, he was a fashion photographer whose black and white work defined a generation. Careers were made by his work. He also directed some of the sexiest music videos in the history of ever. This week Just Push Play is dedicated to Ritts, a visual genius gone way too soon. I would have loved to feature “Wicked Game” with my other favorite, “Love Will Never Do Without You,” but sadly the latter is not available. However, if you’ve ever seen the Ritts directed video with Miss Jackson and a few famous fellas, you know it’s crazy cool.

(Note: This is a slightly edited version of the original Chris Isaak video because Youtube requires age verification to show the original. It’s that hot, ya’ll.)

I miss Janet Jackson. This album defined my junior high life and this video still makes my day.


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Love Letters: The Strand

Dear Strand,

When I first heard someone talking about you, I thought they were exaggerating. I was certain you were a mistress belied with false compare. How could such a place exist? Eighteen miles of books? Ha! Tis not possible.

Our first meeting was like stepping into the sun. The smell of books–old books, new books, just books, books, books . . . I actually thought I might faint. It was as if my youthful fantasy of being Belle and having someone give me a library was that much closer to reality. It was heaven carved out for geeky girls who read by the glow of a nightlight.

We have exchanged much you and I. I have given, you have taken. You have given, I have paid way less than any chain would ask. You reunited me with limited prints, childhood favorites, and sometimes introduced me to strange new tales that I never would have known of. Although it has been years since I passed under your bright red awning, I still dream of you. I know you exist online, but ours is not an online romance.

Someday I shall return to you, backpack in hand, to explore your wonders once more.



Categories: Life and Other Nonsense | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Potent Quotables: Making Passes at Girls with Glasses

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Little Love Sprouts

Yesterday a five-year-old boy asked a little girl in his Kindergarten reading group to be his girlfriend. The little girl said yes even though, as she would later reveal to her parents, she doesn’t know what it means. But she likes him and he’s nice to her. He offered her part of his cookie. Young love has sprouted.

My daughter has a boyfriend.

Tired of “Fine” as her answer when I ask her how school was each day, I started asking Lili for the best, worst, and funniest things that happen each day. Somehow these unlock the key to her life. Her budding romance was revealed under the funniest thing. She was a bit shy when she told me, as if she wasn’t quite sure what to make of her new label. (Later, she asked me if when she’s graduated from college and has a job with healthy insurance she can marry her boyfriend. Word cannot express how much I loved hearing her say that in complete seriousness.)

Her father asked her how she felt about it in a patient, interested way that made her feel grown up, and we all said it was nice to make new kinds of friends. What more can you say at this age? It’s sweet and innocent and adorable. If it’s still going on when I pick her up today, all the better.

Speaking of sprouting friendships, I am one of the authors lucky enough to be featured in this month’s issue of Sprout. The theme is friendship and I have an essay talking about some of my best friends, as well as a brief interview about my thoughts on friendship. Please take a moment to check it out. Sprout is a colorful and inspiring publication that always brings a smile to my face. Even the sarcastic need to remember that life is good.



Categories: Let Me Entertain You, Life and Other Nonsense, The Little People and Furry Friends, Write On | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wild Women: Bianca Phillips

Welcome to a new series here on Generation Cake interviwing smart, inspiring, and just crazy cool women.

Bianca PhillipsIt’s not secret that I have a culinary crush on the first Wild Woman, vegan blogger and cookbook author Bianca Phillips. Readers of her blog, Vegan Crunk, get a taste of vegan eating in the dirty South where some sad lentils just won’t cut it. Her cookbook, Cookin’ Crunk, features a number of classic Southern recipes for the vegan home cook who wants to cut animal products without cutting taste. Starting February 19, Phillips is running a week long social media campaign called Keep on Crunkin’. She’ll be posting recipes from the book on her blog, as well as Cookin’ Crunk apron and book giveaways (I am dying for an apron). There will also be some guest chefs “crunking” their recipes. For more details, visit

And now . . . Wild Woman Bianca Phillips

After a number of years as a vegetarian, why did you elect to take the step into veganism?

I was a vegetarian for 10 years and then went vegan. And I’ve been vegan now for 8 years. But at the time that I went vegan, in 2004, I had just begun getting active in the animal rights movement, mostly through PETA. We had formed a Memphis-based AR club, and we were doing regular circus and KFC protests. I met a few nice vegans through that work, and they opened my eyes to factory farm cruelty beyond just meat. Once I knew how dairy cows and egg-laying hens were treated, I couldn’t eat them anymore.

You started your food blog, Vegan Crunk, in 2007 to share your experiences veganizing Southern food. What are the greatest challenges and rewards of food blogging?

The only real challenge for me is fitting daily blogging into my sometimes hectic routine. I always blog at night, right before bed. But sometimes, I’m busy right up until bedtime, and I have to stay up late to blog. But no matter what, I always find the time … even if I’m sleepier the next day for staying up late blogging. As for rewards, I love having a community of readers and other vegan bloggers who I consider my friends (even though I haven’t met many of them in real life). Also, I love having a forever record of all the important meal moments in my life. Since I live to eat, meals are precious memories.

So it’s probably no secret that I am a huge groupie of your cookbook, Cookin’ Crunk. What led you to write your own cookbook and what was that process like?

Back in 2007, I realized I was slowly amassing a collection of recipes from blogging. And then I realized there were no vegan Southern cookbooks on the market (this was before Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen). So I decided to write one! My mama and my granny helped me veganize some of their recipes, and I used old Southern cookbooks from my mom’s collection for a little inspiration. Of course, Bryant’s book beat me to the Southern vegan thing. But our styles are very different. Love that guys! He’s a Memphis native too!

(editor note: Must get to Memphis as it appears to be home of vegan geniuses.)

 What is one Must Try recipe from your book?

My very fave recipe is the Country Fried Tempeh Steak with Soymilk Gravy. I also offer a baked alternative. Both are good, but I highly recommend trying it fried at least once. Live a little!! (editor note: The baked is ridiculously good.)

If there was a foodie version of Mythbusters, what vegan myth would you love to see busted?

Probably the myth that veganism is expensive. That was one of the things holding me back before I went vegan. At the time, I lived on convenience foods, like TV dinners and frozen pizzas. When I looked at the price of vegan versions, I believed it must cost an arm and a leg to go vegan. But then, after I went vegan, I really started cooking from scratch and discovered whole plants foods are cheap! Way cheaper then meat. Costly vegan convenience foods should be saved for occasional indulgences when you’re on a budget. Also, bulk bins are your best friend.

What tips do you have for those wishing to try on the vegetarian or vegan lifestyle?

I always tell people who say they could never give up cheese and are scared to try vegan cheeses to give it up for one month. Just one month. No cheese or vegan cheese for one month. Learn to prepare meals without it. During that month, read up on the dairy industry and watch the sad videos. At the end of the month, try some vegan cheese, like Daiya or Punk Rawk Labs cheese. By then, you’ll have lost your taste for dairy cheese and you won’t be as likely to compare vegan stuff to dairy products. It’s not the same, but you’ll learn to appreciate those vegan versions for themselves.

What role does running play in your life?

I started running a couple years ago. Before, I had a gym membership but I only did classes, like yoga and boxing. I didn’t think I could run without dying because, even though I was in shape, I couldn’t run without huffing and puffing. Then I started a really basic couch to 5K program and went at my own pace. Now I’m addicted. I run three days a week and get in six miles runs on Saturdays. It’s how I meditate and find inner peace and all that shit. Running takes me somewhere else in my mind. It’s the perfect escape. Later this year, I plan to run my first half-marathon.

I’m a fellow Southern girl, but I’ve never been to Memphis. If we had 24-hours and limitless funds, what would we do to get crazy in your town?

I’d suggesting starting the morning at Brother Juniper’s for vegan breakfast. They have the best tofu scramble (stuffed with kalamata olives and roasted red peppers) and fried taters. Then for lunch, I’d send you to Balewa’s Vegan Gourmet for one of his live burgers (raw veggie patty on Ezekiel bread) and maybe a bowl of raw broccoli soup or some of his famous un-cookies. And then for dinner, you would HAVE to go Imagine Vegan Cafe for anything on their massive, awesome menu. The chicken fried “steak” and the macaroni and “cheese” are my faves. Or the French dip sub. Or the Vegan Memphis sandwich (BBQ seitan with coleslaw) for a real Memphis ‘cue experience. Grab one the vegan cakes from Swell Baked Goods sold at Imagine for dessert later. Oh, and sometime during that day, I’d recommend stopping by Cosmic Coconut for a vegan smoothie and some kale chips!

You have fantastic taste in music and movies. If movies still came on VHS, what movie could you watch over and over until it broke the tape?

Um, the Neverending Story 1 and 2 all the way!! I’m having Falkor tattooed on my leg next week! I actually do have those movies on DVD and I have watched them over and over. 🙂

(editor note: Fingers crossed for a picture of the final ink!)

I’m a sucker for cute animal stories. Any stories you can share about your rad pups?

Well, I have two dogs — a lab mix and a pit mix — named Datsun (he’s 11) and Maynard (he’s 2). Datsun is a lover. He’s super well-mannered, and he loves nothing more than a good game of fetch. Maynard is a little hellcat. He likes to get crunk and crazy and jump on people and chase cats and tear toys to bits. But every once in awhile, I’ll catch him sleeping on the couch and not acting crazy. That’s when he’s the cutest. I also have six cats — Akasha, Pandora, Polaris, Gelfing, Ozzy, and Seymour. My house is basically a domestic animal rescue sanctuary. 🙂


Thanks to Bianca for answering my questions and for being generally fantastic (she loves Tori Amos and Labyrinth!). Animal lover, vegan, Southern girl, and general hip chick–my definition of a Wild Woman.




Categories: Feed the Belly, Get Smart, Life and Other Nonsense | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

In Praise of Veg*n Chefs

Food reality competitions are one of my favorite things on earth–Top Chef, Chopped, Master Chef, Sweet Genius . . . love them. The Taste, the newest offering which follows the trend of ripping off The Voice (mentors!) has already garnered a Hulu subscription for our household. That the shows are able to draw in people to watch the creation things that require at least three senses to enjoy while the viewer can only go on sight and the judges’ description, is an interesting paradox. As much as I love them, I have a slight bone to pick:

Stop acting like vegetarian and vegan chefs are inbred cousins who should be kept under the stairs and poked with sticks.

The Taste -Dayna Mcleod

Dayna Mcleod represents mad vegan skills

During the audition round of The Taste, three veg chefs were presented in a montage accompanied by music making it clear that we, the viewer, should not take them seriously because no one on the panel was. One of them showed up to cook in a tutu, as if she wandered through life trying to convince people Betsey Johnson was her birth mother. This was really the best representative for raw vegan chefs they could find? The other two were less caricatures, but their food was not taken any more seriously. Anthony Bourdain even outted them as veggie chefs with the disdain of someone discovering their favorite Chow Mein is made from cats. The one dish he claimed was the best vegan dish he’d ever had (cooked by Dayna Mcleod) was still treated with open contempt, like she had committed some crime by actually making awesome food.

Look, I get it. I really do. Most of world is made of meat-eaters. That’s fine. It’s their choice. My approach to plant-based eating has never been to shame or convert–if people ask me about it, I will tell them. I will encourage them to consider cruelty-free living. But I never mock their lifestyles choices and expect that they shouldn’t mock mine. It’s my body and my choice. That being said, Bourdain once ate the inside of a pig’s anus on television (I’m not even kidding–you can google it); he didn’t sneer or make nasty quips, he just ate it. My guess is that he didn’t want to be insulting to his hosts. So would it really be too much to ask that he at least try the freaking food before spitting his insults?

Bourdain, however, is not alone in his small-minded approach to plant-based eating. Veg chefs are absent from all these cooking competitions. The argument seems obvious–by not working with  animal products, there will be limitations to what ingredients they can use in challenges (ie. a seafood or bacon challenge). I would counter that a number of other chefs are equally as limited in their abilities, just not in the same way. How many chefs get derailed on Top Chef or Chopped by not knowing how to make desserts? Or think about the number that only know how to cook one style of food really well? (Top Chef Season 2 saw Elan take home the win for finding a way to make every dish Spanish. That’s range how?)

On two separate occasions Top Chef has issued vegan and vegetarian challenges (Masters Season 1 with guest judge Zooey Deschanel and the Las Vegas season with guest judge Natalie Portman, respectively). The results were mixed. Stripped of their animal crutches, many of the chefs lacked any sort of creativity (similar to the issues some chefs face on any of these shows when tasked to make a salad). Lame plates of flavorless and poorly cooked veggies abounded. Others made amazing dishes that showed they did indeed have mad skills.

The one show where vegans are treated with more dignity is oddly enough Cupcake Wars. Vegan baking, which is its own art form, does not seem to  receive the scrutiny of vegan savory. Chloe Cascarelli’s high profile win was a step in the right direction, in part because she didn’t win a vegan cooking competition, she won a cooking competition. I think Chloe is an indicator of the power of vegan chefs to compete on the same level as those who use animal products.

This past weekend I received my pre-ordered copy of Betty Goes Vegan by Ann and Dan Shannon. If you aren’t already making regular visits to their website,, start now. The book takes 500 hundred classic Betty Crocker recipes and takes them vegan. I can’t review the book yet because I am still picking up the pieces of my blown mind. The one that put it over the edge for me was the presence of souffles–a dish that is basically eggs. And they made those SOBs vegan. Shut. Up.

If reading vegan cookbooks and blogs has taught me anything, it is that vegan chefs are creative out the butt because they have to be. They combine crazy ingredients and redefine what food means. Most have a strong understanding of flavor, texture, and balance. Cooking a steak well is an art (raised in Texas, I know this all too well). But the person prepping the steak has the fact that beef has an appealing flavor on their side. Tofu, on the other hand, has no flavor and a strange texture. So if a chef can make it tasty and appealing, that’s a serious set of skills.

Sadly, I think we are a long way from veg chefs representing. In the meantime, I salute you, all you crazy-cool kitchen beasts. You rock that tempeh and nutritional yeast!



Categories: Feed the Belly, Let Me Entertain You, Life and Other Nonsense | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Potent Quotables: Good Swedish Thing That Doesn’t End in Skarsgard

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Just Push Play: Friday I’m in Love

Because my college does not have Friday classes, that day is reserved for meetings, trainings, and other administrative falderal. As my responsibilities have increased, so have the mandatory obligations on Fridays. But every once and awhile, I still get to enjoy the perfect storm of kids at school and no work. From roughly 9:30 am to 2 pm, my time is my own to be wasted or enjoyed.

After I drop my son off at school, I treat myself to a soy latte or Cafe Americano with a touch of soy milk. The coffee and I return home, curl up on the couch, and catch up on Law and Order: SVU (I know, it’s awful, but it’s my guilty pleasure that no one else watches). When the cat hears the theme music, she comes running in to nestle on my lap. My theory is she plans on dispatching our dog and is looking for tips.

After SVU ends, I am almost overwhelmed with possibilities, including walking the dogs, writing, reading, or just dancing around the living room for no particular reason. Often I will do all four–my cat and dogs have some crazy good dance moves. (Cleaning, while never on my wish list, does sometimes happen. Usually once the coffee has kicked in.)

May your Friday activities brim with joy, be it at work, at home, riding a giant rocking horse, and/or surrounded by bubbles. Here’s the Cure to send you on your way. Has anyone ever looked so thrilled to be dancing in a straight jacket? I know I haven’t.




Categories: Let Me Entertain You, Life and Other Nonsense | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mixing It Up

You may notice a few new things on Generation Cake. Last year I elected to start a blog dedicated just to literature and writing. While I love the blog and have posted some interesting things on it, I have come to the realization that I don’t need to separate my interests in that way. Generation Cake was created in the spirit of being a woman who has varied pursuits and roles. So it makes sense to include writing in that mix as it is a part of my life and something I deeply love. As much as I post here, I can certainly work writing elements into my normal posting schedule.

So come all ye cooks and teachers, vegans and writers, mothers and pop culture lovers. I have a little something for everyone. Let’s all enjoy the cake.



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