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MUSIC REVIEW: “Honey” by Robyn

Robyn released her new album, Honey, last Friday. Wade in the Sonic Joy is here to give you their review of the the LGBTQ icon’s new music.

Robyn is back to annihilate the music industry with yet another timeless masterpiece. ‘Honey’ came out last night and it’s quite the treat. It’s been 8 years since Robyn’s legendary audio bible, ‘Body Talk’, was released and although ‘Honey’ is a slight departure from the loud, club ready anthems people have come to expect from Robyn, it is quite a gorgeous work of sonic art.

Released on October 26th, under the full moon in Scorpio, Robyn unleashed ‘Honey’ to her fans to consume. At its core, ‘Honey’ is a pop record; however, it is beautifully subdued and ushers in elements of deep house, disco, r&b, and lo-fi. While these genres aren’t completely out of Robyn’s realm, she definitely used the components to introduce a softer sound, with even more sure-of-herself lyrics to uplift the masses. With the stripped back production style, the vocals and lyrics are at the forefront to grab you, and take you into Robyn’s journey since her almost-decade long absence. You’re no longer lost in the electro beats, dancing and crying; you can sit back and soak up the rich yet sweet songs.

robyn2 MUSIC REVIEW: "Honey" by RobynThe first single, and opening track, ‘Missing U’ is a melancholy segue that acts as a gateway between ‘Body Talk’ and ‘Honey’. It is a brutally honest, yearning heartthrob of a track that has splashes of nostalgia from Robyn’s earlier works, with gentle healing lyrics. ‘Missing U’ is not representative of the production themes on the rest of the album, yet it feels seamlessly cohesive. Robyn has stated that this song has multiple meanings, one meaning being she has missed her devoted fans for years. Another meaning involves the loss of her friend and collaborator Christian Falk, as well as her recent personal breakup. This track contains the essential Robyn-esque synth patterns we have all come to know and love, but it keeps its pace. The song never takes off; it keeps the listener in the blurry haze of missing someone and needing that absent space filled. “All the love you gave, it still defines me” fills that empty space with self love as the album unfolds and the story develops.

‘Human Being’ is here to remind listeners that we are all human. We are all guilty of fucking up at times. We have natural desires that need quenching and we can all benefit from being more understanding of human behaviour during our short stay on Earth. Another aspect of this album that really stands out is that Robyn’s music and persona have always been robotic yet humanlike, and with ‘Honey’ she is at her most organic, pure, and raw form. Robyn is expressing her vulnerability, with more reflection on her interactions and how it affects her and those around her.  

With the title track, it’s almost the antithesis of her incomparable hit ‘Dancing On My Own’. The Robyn in ‘Dancing On My Own’ is a heartbroken, lonely woman longing for someone who can’t care enough to see her standing alone at the club. The Robyn in ‘Honey (song)’ is in total control of her destiny. She is confident, no holds barred, and ready for whatever the future has in store for her. “Come get this honey,” she says authoritatively. She’s no longer that sad little bird in the corner, she’s ready to take what’s hers and give what she’s got. “No you’re not gonna get what you need, but baby I have what you want.”

robyn3 MUSIC REVIEW: "Honey" by RobynOther standout tracks such as ‘Ever Again’ and ‘Because It’s In The Music’ offer up deeper glam disco beats, tinged with a gorgeous array of string instruments. Collectively, you can feel the pain and heartache Robyn has experienced in the 8 years since ‘Body Talk’ was released, but there’s endless strength and confidence throughout these subdued tracks. “Never gonna be broken hearted ever again (that shit’s out the door)” swirls in and out of the speakers from left to right sinking deep into your mind that pain is what you make it. Recovery is in our own hands and the choice is either to wallow or to move onward. There is enough strength inside us all to discover our own sticky, sweet honey and exude the same unstoppable assuredness that Robyn is showcasing on this triumphant record.

From beginning to end, this album is one complete thought with a clear message. Through pain, sadness, and heartbreak we have the capability to use these negativities to our advantages. Pain makes us stronger, and Robyn is the vessel voicing that to the listener. She found her honey, and she is here to offer her voice to help everyone find their own. Robyn offers up hope during these scary and uncertain times that we can steer our lives towards the light, towards the honey we all deserve.

About That Movie: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Lesbian LGBTQ Miseducation of Cameron Post Film Chloe Grace Moretz

A film review of the new LGBTQ film The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which stars Chloe Grace Moretz as a young lesbian at a conversion camp.

Though it’s had a limited release, even by indie film standards, The Miseducation of Cameron Post is mandatory watching material for any queer person raised in a conservative state.

CAMERON_POST_QUAD_2_MR About That Movie: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

The film, starring Chloe Grace Moretz and directed by Desiree Akhavan, is a movie adaptation of a book of the same name by Emily M. Danforth. The award-winning YA novel follows the life of teenager Cameron Post, from her parents’ death through high school and to her stay at God’s Promise, an LGBTQ+ conversion therapy camp in Montana. While the book explores Cameron’s life at a leisurely pace, the film focuses primarily on her time at conversion camp, where she meets fellow rebels Jane Fonda (Sasha Lane) and Adam Red Eagle (Forrest Goodluck). The scope of the movie is limited in comparison to the book, but that scope allows the reader fully to absorb the lives of the dozen-or-so teens at God’s Promise.

 

The movie and book are both set in the early 90s, and director Akhavan captures the period with earthy colors, grunge-y costuming, and a killer soundtrack. Stars Moretz, Lane, and Goodluck all put in compelling performances as a misfit band of queer teens trapped at the camp and struggling to hold their true identities dear. On the opposite end of the film, conversion center leaders Reverend Rick (John Gallagher Jr.) and Dr. Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle) delivered performances that landed somewhere between chilling and heartwrenching; their words will ring as uncomfortably familiar for LGBTQ+ people raised in the conservative South. Though the film shares themes with cult classic But I’m a Cheerleader, this new movie explores the trauma of a conversion center in a way that is more earnest and less tongue-in-cheek. There are plenty of lighthearted moments of rebellion, angst, and teen longing; but the overall effect is far more serious.

Blog-MisEdFilm2 About That Movie: The Miseducation of Cameron PostAlthough the story takes place over two decades ago, the core message still feels timely and important. The continued existence of conversion therapy camps is a worst case scenario for LGBTQ youth; but you don’t have to be at a conversion therapy camp to suffer from the effects of homophobia. I was raised in the church, as were all of my friends growing up. We heard it all — that being gay is a choice, that it’s best to ignore those impulses, that a true Christian would abstain from romance and attraction by any means necessary. It is no wonder that so many of us weren’t able to come out until our 20s, when we had the independence and safety of adulthood. Many teens aren’t lucky enough to come out when the time is right. To see that experience honored on the big screen was validating and necessary.

The greatest disappointment about The Miseducation of Cameron Post had nothing to do with the quality of the film itself but rather with its release. Though the movie played to Sundance and won the Grand Jury Prize, its theater release has been incredibly limited. At the time I am writing this, the movie is not available at any theater in Texas, despite the fact that it is gay young adults trapped in the South that need this movie the most. Additionally, its limited release began rolling through theaters in August and September — hardly primetime for a movie to gain traction when most major releases are scheduled for the beginning of summer and winter. Perhaps because of the poor release timing, the film still hasn’t grossed it’s first $1M in profit. There is no word yet on when this movie will be available to rent or buy.

1_W01KuzCh2f8PVzb0udY7KA About That Movie: The Miseducation of Cameron PostI wish that movies like this could break through from indie to mainstream. Perhaps I am still waiting for the lesbian equivalent to Love, Simon, although this movie’s decidedly more somber setting doesn’t have the same romantic dramedy appeal. I’m still waiting for a lesbian movie to garner the accolades and fans that Call Me By Your Name found easily. Again, this is no fault of The Miseducation of Cameron Post, nor do I say this to bemoan the success of other LGBTQ films. I just want to see a lesbian-centered film succeed in a big way, dammit.

I’ll keep waiting for the lesbian box-office hit of my queer dreams, but The Miseducation of Cameron Post provides a great step in the right direction. I look forward to more WLW representation in movies and literature in the future.

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Firsts’ by People with Disabilities

Firsts Disabilities LGBTQ+ Book Stories

Firsts: Coming of Age Stories by People With Disabilities, edited by Belo Miguel Cipriani

About Rating: 5/5 Stars

Each and every story in this anthology is worth reading, for they each tell individual stories of different people living with different disabilities. I have reviewed two of my favorites from the book. But trust me, they’re all worth reading. A few of the pieces (including the two below) are written by LGBTQ+ authors, and the editor of the book is also an LGBTQ+ person. 

“Landmines” — Caitlin Hernandez

“I needed to know what page he was on so I could turn my own pages accordingly.”

“Landmines” by Caitlin Hernandez is the beautiful story of a blind, bisexual woman traversing through the romantic world around her that she cannot physically see. Her prose is elegant, beautiful, and easy to read all at the same time. I found myself wanting more from her even after the story had ended. The way she describes the world around her is wonderful. I wanted more stories like this, books like this, characters like this. Readers have so much to learn about the struggles of the blind — especially those who re queer — and can foray such a journey from reading non-fiction stories such as this one. As writers, we need to better learn how to incorporate characters that with disabilities into our writing. And I say this, not only as someone who reviews books for a LGBTQ magazine, but for an avid reader and writer, but “Landmines” is probably one of my new favorite short stories. That being said, I’m also not someone who normally spends a great deal of time reading non-fiction or memoirs all that much. But Hernandez has a way of taking her real-life experiences and spinning them into prose that is absolutely amazing to read.

“I needed him to appreciate how much it had cost me to let him in at all: to open up to and trust him, even though others — boys who were not so unlike him — had given me every reason to deadbolt my doors indefinitely.”

Everything Hernandez says is so real and bleeds with truth. While she is blind, she does a remarkable job of making the story relatable in a way that is able to temporarily erase our vision and replace it with a landscape we’re forced to feel. We all go through situations like these and we’ve all had people that we love with all-consuming pain that can’t love us back in the exact same way. Hernandez does an excellent job of writing in a way that evokes feeling and emotion while telling her own story at the same time.


“StarWords” — David-Elijah Nahmod

“If he could overcome his disability, then I could overcome mine.”

“StarWords” by David-Elijah Nahmod is a story of a gay man with PTSD rooted back into his childhood that sprung from the way he was treated then. The way that Nahmod describes his childhood trauma is truly amazing. The details he includes made me feel like I was right there beside him the entire time. I felt the pain and trauma that he surely went through, as his words were inescapably gripping and raw. Most of all, I felt for Nahmod a sense of empathy. Reading this story made me want to reach out to small Nahmod and offer him help; but the realization that is equal part heartbreaking and inspiring is that you can’t do that. Heartbreaking to know that this isn’t an option, inspiring to know that Nahmod overcame these struggles and is capable of sharing his story today. This, like the tale before, is an incredibly important story in the realm of what people will learn from it. Before this story, I didn’t know what LGBTQ+ children were going through back during the period in which Nahmod was growing up, and likely still go through today in some places.

“I wonder what they would have thought if I told them the truth — that I was in the midst of a severe anxiety attack and was too frightened to talk to them.”

Nahmod also goes on to discuss his disability. Post-traumatic stress disorder, like Nahmod, is never something that I viewed as a disability. Before reading this piece, I wasn’t informed as to what exactly PTSD meant and what people who had it could be feeling. Nahmod does a great job of informing the reader while also telling his story. I enjoyed watching Nahmod grow throughout the story. When he came to terms with his disability, it came with a sense of pride. I think that people reading this will also realize that not all disabilities are on the surface, and that’s great.  

All-About-It BOOK REVIEW: 'Firsts' by People with Disabilities

TV Review: ‘Cover to Cover’ with Ernie Manouse

Ernie Manouse Cover to Cover PBS Houston Public Media TV

Ten-time Emmy Award winner Ernie Manouse returns to television in Cover to Cover, a follow-up to PBS’s The Great American Read.

About Magazine Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

As one may imagine of a writer and the editor-in-chief of a magazine, nothing gives me greater joy than reading. It’s what makes the task of being an editor bearable and fun — getting to spend a great deal of time reading other people’s words. Mind you, the opportunities to read actual books are few and far between when you’re constantly staring at a computer screen for the better part of twelve hours a day. Between editing other people’s work, writing my own weekly column, drafting sitcom scripts, and piecing together my latest book a few lines at a time just to punctuate the former tasks of my days, I rarely get in any leisurely reading. By the time I get a chance to sit down and do something just for pleasure, my brain has met its maximum capacity for words — a bit of a disappointment for someone who started his career putting out a new novel every year from age nineteen. This is partly because when you’re a reader — especially so a writer-reader — books have an addictive effect on the brain; they become gateway drugs to more books. You find one you think you might be interested in, pick up another in the same genre, and then find something you like about your last book — maybe it’s an omniscient narrator or where the story is set — that catapults you into a very different type of narrative in a equally different genre. Suddenly, you’re reading three books a week, staying up much later than you can just to get in one more chapter (followed by perennial more), putting off that load of laundry that’s needed to be done for a week, and forgetting that you haven’t eaten a real meal in several days. And in the last year of running this magazine, I’ve staved off that addiction because I’ve simply become too busy.

 

ernie TV Review: 'Cover to Cover' with Ernie ManouseBut then came Ernie Manouse making me relapse into my thirst for books all over again in his newest PBS TV show from Houston Public Media, Cover to Cover, a six-episode program premiering tonight at 8 following PBS’s The Great American Read. The latter, a limited series which is hosted weekly by news anchor and television personality Meredith Vieira, launched back in May with a two-hour special, with this continuation taking viewers on a journey for the 100 best American novels. Cover to Cover — also a limited series — is a companion series to Vieira’s in which Manouse gathers together a select book club of personalities, writers, performers, and other public figures from around Texas to zero in on the themes presented in Vieira’s series and to present their own favorite books.

In the show’s premiere episode, Ernie Manouse is joined by Great Day Houston host Deborah Duncan, author Ann Weisgarber, author and former First Lady of Houston Andrea White, and editor/columnist Joe Holley who get together to discuss their favorite books relating to Texas while delving deeper into rather lively discussions about how Texas is presented to people unfamiliar with it and how it translates into the written word. At one point, Duncan even shares a story about a dinner she had with Prince Charles, in which he stated he’d expected more cowboys in this part of the South. Each guest took a moment to read an excerpt from their favorite Texas-centric books (which included Lonesome Dove, the River Oaks-inspired Blood and Money, and more) and share how the prose of each contributed to the success of the books, even if the portraits of Texas might come off somewhat askew to state natives.

texas-10 TV Review: 'Cover to Cover' with Ernie Manouse
Left to Right: Ann Weisgarber, Andrea White, Ernie Manouse, Deborah Duncan, and Joe Holley.

Manouse, as always, allows audiences to feel as though they’re sitting right there in the Houston Public Library’s Julia Ideson Building with he and his famous friends as they foray into conversations not just about how each book portrays Texans, but what exactly Texans are capable of confronting when writers place a mirror in front of them. He and his guests are truly capable of having a funny, engaging, and scholarly conversation without sacrificing their candor and are having a nearly palpable good time laughing and smiling at one another’s high brow anecdotes. The round table of familiar faces — each a tad different from the next — is engaging, informative, and clearly learning just as much as audiences will when Manouse surprises them with a literary trivia game reminiscent of Vieira’s stint on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? — sans the million dollars.

Those familiar with Manouse — either from knowing him personally or enjoying his palette of work that has earned him no small collection of Emmy wins and nominations — will recognize the LGBTQ Community Pillar’s trademark sense of humor immediately and will feel right at home with him in the gaudy and beautiful Julia Ideson Building. Newcomers and lovers of literature will similarly feel as though they’ve known Manouse and his guests as if they were old college buddies catching up after years apart. And it is that sort of hallmark that keeps Manouse not only on screens and radios across the nation, but eagerly awaited by fans to see what he’ll come up with next. For lovers of books, those who simply enjoy seeing Manouse do what he does best, and freshman to either of the former, Houston Public Media’s Cover to Cover is certainly worthwhile TV programming. And most certainly, Manouse’s new television series is certain to awaken that old book lover in all of us, reviving that thirst for books we may often not have the time for or forget to let ourselves savor.

Cover to Cover, which premieres tonight at 8 PM on PBS Channel 8, will run its limited series for six weeks. Manouse’s rotating round table of guests on his pretaped episodes is set to include other Houston nobles such as America’s Got Talent star Christina Edwards Wells — who will be competing in the semifinals of the televised talent show tonight at 7 PM on NBC — poet Jasminne Mendez, Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star CEO Pierce Bush, meteorologist-turned-memoir penman Frank Billingsly, and many other familiar faces over its six week run. All-About-It TV Review: 'Cover to Cover' with Ernie Manouse


Click here for more information on Cover to Cover, including the show air dates, themes, panelists and books.

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About Houston Public Media
Houston Public Media is a service of the University of Houston and supported with financial gifts from the community. Houston Public Media combines broadcast and digital assets to serve residents of Southeast Texas with trusted local news and entertainment and national programming from NPR and PBS. With a combined weekly audience of more than 1.5 million, Houston Public Media is committed to delivering content that expands minds and possibilities with trusted information.