Thursday, 26 February 2015

Twitter and the Lost Art of Editing

by E. Amato

The more social media evolves, the more I love Twitter.

As I scroll through my Facebook feed, I am toxically assaulted with the rants and raves of various people - some of whom are ranting and raving counter to the person above and below them. The Patricia Arquette thing pretty much sent me over the edge. On the one hand, the "privileged," "well-meaning," white feminists of a certain age on my stream were cheering her Oscar speech, while seemingly oblivious to the backlash her subsequent comments affected. On the other hand, the diverse, activist, artist intersectionalists in my stream were asking for her head on a platter. I'm sure there might have been a middle ground, carefully falling through the algorithmic net, because all I saw were the extremes.

Every time I am on Facebook, or even while reading a new book - say, Roxanne Gay's Bad Feminist - I have to wonder, what happened to editing? Are rant and blurt the only communication options we can embrace as a culture?

Once upon a time, I worked in publishing. Like a real publisher. Like a big one, with a whole building. On Fifth Avenue. In Manhattan.

Editors were superstars who collected superstar writers like baseball cards and had standing lunch reservations at restaurants where they could spend hours wining and dining new writers - only to work well into the night on the manuscript getting ready for production. Their assistants and their assistants' assistants poured over every line of text. Freelance editors, proofreaders, and copy editors were employed.  Cuts were made mercilously, copy was edited. Pages were covered in proofreader's marks.

Somewhere in all that, the book emerged. Pristine, unruffled, elegant and most importantly, potently communicative.

I wish I could remember who said "show me a novel over 1000 pages and I'll show you a bad book." (I generally agree, except when it comes to Neal Stephenson books and The Goldfinch.) When I take hold of a book over 400 pages, I start to wonder - is this really worth it? Or is there an excellent 200 - 300 page book hiding in this manuscript somewhere that will never truly see the light of day?

We read more than ever, yet we also misread more than ever. We have certainly lost the art of the self-edit, and very little of the text we read every day seems to have seen the eyes of a professional editor.

Enter twitter: home of the 140 characters. Yes, characters - not even letters and not words - characters. Spaces count. URLs count. Everything counts. You can distill a tweet and distill it again and it still may not make it. You can choose to do a string of tweets, but there's no guarantee someone will see them all, or realize that's what you are doing or bother to find your whole story. No. If you want to say something on twitter, you are going to have to be succinct.

Succinct. Even the sound it makes sounds like a paper cutter or a Japanese sword.

To say that I've placed all my hopes for a new generation of rock star editors and writers in Twitter is not an overstatement. Embarrassing, perhaps, but not an overstatement. Tens of thousands of people getting their point across in 140 characters or less is something of a marvel. As these little gems scroll by, like a ticker tape feed, I can feel the human race becoming smarter again, finding discipline, shirking indulgence.

It's a beautiful sound.

p.s. If you know the source of the quote I'm paraphrasing please do leave it in the comments! Google didn't help! Cheers!

Zestyverse Editor/Publisher E. Amato has woven a creative life that moves fluidly between words, stages, film, and practical activism. She was a member of the 2011 Los Angeles Slam Team and has competed at Poetry Slam Nationals and WOWps. In 2010, Zesty Pubs released her first collection, Swimming Through Amber, her Kindle book 5 in 2012, and her second poetry collection, Will Travel, in 2013. In 2007 and 2008 Down Home traveled to the Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, garnering 5-star reviews consecutive years – a rare honour. She recently produced Homeless in H

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Dear Able People: 5 On the Radar

by E. Amato

Wow - this past week or two I have read some of the most amazing pieces about ability, disability, living, and dying, with illness.

It feels a little bit like a moment.

We'll take it!

Maybe you've read some of these via posts on social media. maybe not. Either way, they are all worth of a read, a check in and some thought. If you are an able person, they offer ways into being allies to the less able. If you are less than able, they offer some much-needed solidarity, perspective and thankfully, humour.

"My lack of wheelchair may have suggested to you that I was some lazy cow who didn’t care. Some inconsiderate bitch who was using something I wasn’t entitled too."
1. I was so thrilled to read the open letter from Samantha Cleasby, who was shamed for using the disabled toilet. A severe case of able on the outside assumptions, this letter spelled it all out. Cleasby's a mom, a writer, and someone making her life work despite limitations. Really, she's a shero and not someone deserving of shame. This piece is so typical of daily life when you are able on the outside, I'm truly grateful for it.
"Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts."
2. Many, many, many people posted and re-posted Oliver Sacks' New York Times Op Ed piece calling it brilliant, humbling, important and other accolades. The piece is sincere, well-reasoned, and heroic in that it is written in the latter stages of illness. It highlights the tremendous divide between the well and the unwell, the able and the disabled. If you have ever been unwell, facing limitation, disability, declining health, uncertain outcomes, this is how you function. These are the choices you make. I don't even think you retreat from or change these choices if you recover, for you always have the knowledge that you could return to the former state. Sacks comes across as a very normal human being faced with stark life choices. It's remarkably unremarkable, and for that, noteworthy.

"Looking back, I realize that I've been trying to report my way out of this disease..."

3. Perhaps more groundbreaking, is Laurie Becklund's cogent article, "As I lay dying," in the Los Angeles Times.  Dying of metastasized breast cancer, Becklund pens a call to action. She lays out the futility of current practices, the intense need for statistical analysis, different methods of treating and assessing treatments, and updated channels for new solutions. Even knowing none of this will help her, she is adamant on what the course needs to be. It is a much needed and sober look at how our medical system lags decades behind practices in other industries and what that means for patients like her.

"If you had asked me before the diagnosis if I thought I would get cancer. I'd have answered that I would have to be in the bottom one percent of population. I am in the bottom one percent of the population."

4. One of the most moving and life-affirming things I've read in a long time are the journals of Vid Warren, Dealing with Cancer. Vid passed a couple of weeks ago at the age of twenty-four. I met him about 4 or 5 years ago, when I performed at the same show as he did. He was an extraordinary talent and one of those people for whom life is filled with wonder and possibility, He never stopped learning more, practicing his craft, and living and sharing fully. The journals are a testament to that. This is a great loss. I feel he would have continued to develop as an artist and performer into someone absolutely fascinating (he was kind of fascinating already). Yet, the journals show us that life can be beautiful in any moment. That is can be considered precious in any moment. That hard work, perseverance, skill, talent, humility and all those wonderful qualities someone may possess don't necessarily mean a long, healthy, happy, productive, successful life.

“I can confirm it’s not possible to twerk in a wheelchair,” she once tweeted. “It looks more like you have an itchy backside. You’re welcome.”
5. This article on the life of disability writer and activist Lucy Glennon just about broke my heart. Her life, her work, her experience, they are all shattering. Disability in the US is comical. Sorry, but it is. If you're truly disabled, you need a small army of people and a whole lot of time just to get you on disability, which then gives you just enough money to be constantly worried about every penny. The UK and other countries have always been better at caring for their vulnerable citizens, yet the tide has turned and they seem to be using the failed systems in the US as a model. Lucy's story should shame all those who argue for lower benefits that are more difficult to accesss. I wish I knew her.

Other posts in the series:

Dear Able People

Wearing the Inside Out by Jerry Garcia

Zestyverse Editor/Publisher E. Amato has woven a creative life that moves fluidly between words, stages, film, and practical activism. She was a member of the 2011 Los Angeles Slam Team and has competed at Poetry Slam Nationals and WOWps. In 2010, Zesty Pubs released her first collection, Swimming Through Amber, her Kindle book 5 in 2012, and her second poetry collection, Will Travel, in 2013. In 2007 and 2008 Down Home traveled to the Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, garnering 5-star reviews consecutive years – a rare honour. She recently produced Homeless in Homeland, Saria Idana’s solo piece, which received 4 stars at the Brighton Fringe 2013.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The First Taste: How to Make a Detox Green Soup in 10 Easy Steps

by Alicia Ying

When I was traveling in Thailand, I discovered that there was a surprising lack of green veggies to eat. Sure, there was broccoli, snow peas, and some bok choy, but the serving portion was so tiny. Only a few florets sprinkled here and there. Even in the vegetarian dishes! When I got back to Los Angeles, I was craving everything GREEN. 
I searched online for a good detox green soup recipe to make that was healthy AND delicious. I wanted to give my body the greens my body was begging me for.  My friend recommended Kirstie Allie's Green Soup recipe. She had made it many times before and said that it was delicious and cleansing. I took a look at the ingredients and liked everything on it, so I decided to give it a shot! There are a few more ingredients that I knew had extra cleansing power (like garlic and ginger), so I added them to the mix. I also halved the recipe because I didn't have a pot big enough to fit all the ingredients. It still produced enough soup for 7 days, so I have included my halved recipe below.
The soup comes out fragrant and delicious! Give it a try if you need to detox or if you are just wanting a healthy meal. The best part about this recipe is:
  • it makes such a large batch, so you have plenty of soup for the rest of the week! Definitely a time saver!
  • You have a healthy meal already prepared in the fridge to grab instead of junk food
  • the nutrients give you energy to get through the rest of the week and the fiber helps scrub out any bad build up in your tummy
Give it a try and let me know how you like it by commenting below. Enjoy!
xoxo Alicia

(adapted from Kirstie Alley and Sean Prenter)
  • 4 shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 knubs ginger
  • 4 leeks
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 big bunch asparagus
  • 2 big bunches broccoli
  • 1 big bunch spinach
  • 2 32 oz. containers organic chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1.5 tbsp sea salt
  • Black pepper for taste
  • Cayenne pepper for taste (optional)
1. Prepare all the veggies. Peel and slice the shallots thinly. Peel and mince garlic. Peel and chop ginger. Cut the leeks just above the white part, peel the outer layer off and cut them open lengthwise. Rinse them out well, then chop into chunks. Cut hard ends off asparagus. Cut stems off broccoli.
2. Put EVOO in a large deep pot. Turn heat to medium-high. Put shallots into oil and sweat shallots. Make sure they don't brown.
3. Add 1 tbsp sea salt, garlic, and ginger.
4. Add leeks and asparagus. Allow them all to sweat. If they get too dry, add a little bit of chicken/vegetable broth.
5. Once they are all sweated down and tender, break the broccoli into small chunks and put them in the pot. Cook for 2 minutes.
6. Then add 1 whole container of chicken/vegetable broth. Cook for 10 minutes.
7. Add 2nd container of chicken/vegetable broth, and continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes. Keep an eye on the color. You want the broccoli to remain a bright green color.
8. Add spinach and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
9. Turn heat off and season with the rest of salt and pepper.
10. Transfer soup into blender in increments. Puree mixture.
11. Pour into a bowl and enjoy!

Alicia Ying is a professional baker, born and bred in sweet, southern Georgia. A world traveler, Alicia enjoys eating delicious global cuisine and savoring a good cup of coffee. Also a blooming actress and producer, she has been seen on "Days of Our Lives," "Young & The Restless," independent films, and multiple web series.

Alicia's passion is to create dishes that are healthy and affordable. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. More adventures in food and travel on her blog:

Monday, 23 February 2015

13 + 1 Sex-Positive Books to Help You Explore Your 50 Shades

Image by Doris Kloster

The response to our 10 Films to Watch Instead of 50 Shades  was huge, with many people asking for a book list. I said yes, as long as they were willing to help! What follows is a tiny list of what's available, from a small sample of curators. Adnittedly, it's a bit more of a mish-mash than a survey, but once you get started, you can branch out easily thanks to Amazon recommends... There is erotica, BDSM, manuals and how-tos, memoir/non-fiction, and visual art. These books all have lots of stars on Amazon and great recommendations, so you can feel pretty safe!


1. The Mistress Manual

Flip the script with Mistress Lorelei's informative book on how to be a female dominant. Role play in your mind while you read!

2. The Dominant's Handbook: An Intimate Guide to BDSM

This book is excellent for beginners who are ready to explore BDSM safely and responsibly. Lots of how-to, tips, and instruction.

3. Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns: The Romance and Sexual Sorcery of Sadomasochism

A book from the male dominant/female submissive perspective, Screw the Roses offers instruction and information in a fun and approachable way.

4. Different Loving: A Complete Exploration of the World of Sexual Dominance and Submission

Different Loving is an exploration of the worlds of alternative sex. It is responsible, compassionate and non-judgmental. A fantastic book.

5. Sex Work: Writings by Women in the Sex Industry

Want to know what it's really like to be a sex worker? Why not ask a sex worker? Who is also a writer? This book is women speaking in their own words about their professions, choices and encounters.

6. Doris Kloster: Photographs

Doris Kloster's work is a partnership between fine art photography and fetish documentation. This book as well as her more recent Forms of Desire are explorations in beauty.

7. The Complete Claudine: Claudine at School; Claudine in Paris; Claudine Married; Claudine and Annie

Where would we be without Colette's daring, her unwillingness to acknowledge judgment or failure and her insistence on giving voice to her stories? If you are looking to start exploring sensuality, this is a great place to start, both in terms of literature and literary history.

8. Delta of Venus. Erotica By Anais Nin

Perhaps the mother of modern erotica, Nin's voice is the one inside. Would you believe me if I told you this book was given to me by a grandmother?

9. Daddy: A Memoir

A memoir by Madison Young (with Annie Sprinkle) of a bi high femme discovering her strength and desire bound in love. Great for those interested in better understanding feminist porn and BDSM.

10. The Leather Daddy and the Femme: an erotic novel in several scenes and a few conversations

Annie Sprinkle calls Carol Queen "the thinking person's sex queen." This story of a girl wiht a penchant for gay leather daddies should not disappoint!

11. Best Women's Erotica 2015

Edited  by Violet Blue, this anthology focuses on women and desire -- what could be bad?

This series by Tiffany Reisz comes highly recommended and has been called, "dazzling, devastating and sinfully erotic," by author Miranda Baker.   If you like binging on book series, this may be for you!

Seriously - was I going to compile a list without poets on it? Maybe you've caught The Punany Poets on HBO or live - if yes, or no, here they are in print exploring sex in all its forms.

14. Giovanni's Room

This absorbing novel of intimate relationships is one of James Baldwin's greatest - and that's saying a whole lot. It may not feel dangerous now, but it shattered convention when it came out.

(Compiled by E. Amato from various contributions)

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Quote of the Week - Almond

"Life isn't some narcissistic game you play online. It all matters -- every sin, every regret, every affliction... I happen to believe that America is dying of loneliness. That we, as a people, have bought into the false dream of convenience, and turned away from a deep engagement with out internal lives..." 
~ Steve Almond, 
from the Introduction to Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

Wow. And wow. Those are two quotes, really - that ellipsis is about a paragraph and a half; I just couldn't resist the two powerful thoughts.

Angelique Palmer had me re-looking at Cheryl Strayed. I had tried reading Wild after having a residency at Playa Summer Lake, where it was partly written, but to no avail. But Angelique pointed me to Tiny Beautiful Things which sounded much more amenable. At the moment, I'm just taking in the power of this introduction, somewhat afraid to turn more pages.

Yes, America is dying of loneliness, and online narcissism presents as a symptom of that illness. The look at me please culture is just really very much wishing for a good hug or deep engagement. It's why I run from this place every chance I get and the next time, I won't know of any reason to come back.

That's a classic Ansel Adams photograph up top.

Monday, 16 February 2015

11 Super Simple Steps to Self Care

by E. Amato

Self-care is essential and it’s not as hard as you think! Try these easy life hacks to get more energy, more value from your time, and more happiness.

As someone who has been forced to self-care, and someone who knows a lot of people who have had to do the same, I can tell you all of these work. If you do them. So do them. Try one at a time and work your way through adding them all in, or just dive in and change your life.

If you don't, it’s likely you’ll be forced to. If you’re already doing the things on this list, consider that you are taking pretty good care of yourself. Good for you!

1. Sleep more! At least 8 hours a night. Every night. Think I’m kidding? I’m so not. Studies have shown that more sleep is necessary for higher productivity and functionality. Yet, still folks are trying to get by with less sleep. Why? You’ll get more out of your days if you rest through nights. If you have trouble sleeping at first, just make a promise to stay in bed for 8 hours. Commit to more rest for yourself. Dreaming - which is getting to REM sleep - has many benefits. If you’re not remembering your dreams, or feel that you don’t dream, likely you’re not sleeping enough. This one thing will change how you look and how you look at the world.

2. Eat at least three meals a day – Sitting down. We don’t eat enough. We don’t eat often enough. We need at least three meals a day. Best to eat them seated. Don’t work, read email or other stress-related activities while eating. Eat enough calories. If you feel you’re gaining weight, it’s likely not because you’re eating too much – on the contrary – you could be eating too little – causing your body to store food as if it were lean times. If that’s the case, you’re not processing the nutrients and calories you are eating in an optimal manner and you are not getting the benefit of their food. You can look up how many calories you need for your age, gender, and weight. Don’t eat less. I find a lot of small meals best for me.

3. Chew your food. Mindfulness teachers suggest chewing each bite at least 20 times. If you try that for a while, you’ll probably realize that you’ve not been chewing. Not chewing leads to digestive problems like acid reflux, and not fully absorbing your nutrients. Chew your food to get the value it contains and release its life force. It’s your fuel – if you’re not making the most of it, it can’t help you function. Slow down.

4. Take a nap. A good nap is worth a lot. A late afternoon nap can give you a few more clear-headed hours each day to work or do tasks. A tea nap is good – drink a tea (with caffeine), nap, the caffeine kick will wake you. There’s tons of research on naps and how effective they are.

5. Get at least 10 minutes of sunlight every day. This is not hard. Even if it’s raining, or cloudy, the sun is still lighting the day. Get out in it. Our bodies need this to produce vitamin D. Don’t wear sunglasses – absorbing sunlight through theeyes is effective and also has benefits you won’t get just through the skin. The sun is still our best source for absorbable vitamin D – and it gets up every morning to shine on you.

6. Meditate. I’m both a huge believer in meditation and a hater of it. I find it boring, I’m sure I could be doing something else. But I do it. Because I know it is a problem-solver, a stress-reliever, and a tool for healing. It’s like hitting the reset button on your day. Start slow – 5 minutes. When you stop fidgeting, go to 10. Most people suggest 20 minutes as a good target. If you feel a panic attack coming on, or anxiety, sit down and breathe. There are many forms of meditation and many guided meditations available. Many places have centers that offer free training. Mostly, you need to sit comfortably and breathe. Even doing that for five minutes will change your day. Most of us don’t breathe properly much of the time. This gives you the opportunity to deepen and relax the breath, letting it oxygenate the body and improve function.

7. Have a self-care date! Sure, why not? In The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron suggests Artist’s Dates for nascent creatives. These are powerful tools to open up the imagination, fuel the fires of creation, and gain new perspectives. Even if you’re not an artist, these dates can improve your daily life. So, I’m calling them self-care dates here. Schedule one per week. Just you. Alone. At least an hour. It can be as simple as taking a bath, watching your favorite show in peace and quiet with a glass of wine or tea, a walk around a new neighborhood, a hike with a scenic view, a trip to a local museum or farmer’s market, a morning movie, a craft project, a yoga class, playing your favorite instrument, reading a good book! Just you. At least an hour. Schedule it and don’t break the commitment to yourself.

8. Take breaks. Every hour. We sit too much. It is not good for our bodies. Research has shown that taking breaks has positive effects. I work on a 50 minute hour – ten minutes each hour, I make sure to get up. In truth, I’m better when I do a break every 30 minutes, but it’s pretty hard to stick to that. Sitting for long periods causes me stiffness and pain. When I find myself getting stuck in the activity I’m doing without truly moving forward or finding a solution, the answer is always to stop, get up, move around and do something else. Something simple – a chore. A breath of air outside. Get some water or tea or coffee. A snack. But stop sitting and staring at the computer screen. Move your limbs, circulate your blood and refresh your mind.

9. Take it half-speed. On film sets we often do a half-speed rehearsal if a shot or a scene is complicated and has many cues. It’s more than a walk-through, everyone’s doing what they are going to do, saying what they are going to say, full out, but just half as fast. This allows all the parts of the whole to get it right. The camera department can get its marks, the electric department can see the actors move through the light, any bumps in a dolly move or blocking cues get smoothed. Sometimes I pretend life is a half-speed rehearsal. I tend to go too fast as a rule, so slowing down is often what’s called for. I get a chance to let myself off the hook a little, react more slowly, hopefully more proactively, not stress myself out, not move so quickly, I gloss over details or hurt myself. When you find yourself feeling uncoordinated, or bumping into things or not being able to get your brain and mouth in sync, or even misrepresenting your own thoughts, try going half-speed. It can make a big difference.

10. Take a day off - a WHOLE DAY! I know, I know - sounds insane! We are all 24/7 available for that work email or that quick change, last-minute edit - whatever it is. But I was told in no uncertain terms, to force myself to a whole day in 7 of non-work. Not work work, not project work, not creative work. It's tough. I mostly don't do it. But when I do, I come back to tasks refreshed and with new perspectives. Try it. A companion to this could be unplugging for a whole day - you know getting off that internet thingy...

11. Listen to Your Body. Of all the things on this list, this is the only one that’s not easily quantifiable or put into proactive. If you’re in need of self-care, chances are you’ve been ignoring your body in some form or another, for a while. Or maybe you’d had to take special care of some aspect of your phsyical self, and thus neglected others, which fell out of alignment and are causing problems. If there was ever a time you were athletic in any way, then you may already have the pattern imprinted onto your brain of listening carefully to the body. In that case, you may just need to tune back in. If not, it’s a great thing to cultivate. Meditation can help, especiallythe technique known as body-scanning. Watching the breath at various moments in the day – when you’re moving, when you’re feeling stressed, when you’re feeling great – can help you check into your body when it’s under varying states of pressure.

Stress, pain, fatigue, illness, they all tap your senses and your energy. They change your level of ability in activities, your level of awareness, your ability to just be present. Monitoring the body, becoming attuned to its cycles can help you rest before you become too tired, fall asleep exactly when you are tired, instead of delaying and ending up with insomnia. It can help you eat when you’re hungry, instead of when your blood sugar has plummeted and your mood gotten edgy with it.

It will also tell you what works for you and what doesn’t. Does sleeping more really help you? Is three meals a day enough? Do you need more physical activity or less? Is the “self-care date” helping you to remember how to laugh and making you feel like you want to be more social? Is taking breaks making you more efficient and focused? Is going half-speed giving you insight into positive modifications you can make.

Listening to the body should begin to come naturally if you practice the other nine steps; if you make it an intention, then it will become stronger. It can make all the difference between well-being and not being so well.

Zestyverse Editor/Publisher E. Amato has woven a creative life that moves fluidly between words, stages, film, and practical activism. She was a member of the 2011 Los Angeles Slam Team and has competed at Poetry Slam Nationals and WOWps. In 2010, Zesty Pubs released her first collection, Swimming Through Amber, her Kindle book 5 in 2012, and her second poetry collection, Will Travel, in 2013. In 2007 and 2008 Down Home traveled to the Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, garnering 5-star reviews consecutive years – a rare honour. She recently produced Homeless in H

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Quote of the Week - Chabon

"Men could be broken more terribly than he had ever imagined; but they could also be repaired."

Not sure how I missed Michael Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road: A Tale of Adventure
when it came out, but I'm so happy it found me! A great tale of adventure with the usual Chabon pithiness and bits of arcana thrown in for good measure.  This was one of the many lines that stood out for me. I suppose it is, after all, a tale of resilience and living life for its own sake.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Responsible Kinky: 10 Films to Watch Instead of 50 Shades

by E. Amato

My first film as a fellow (yeah - gender-bias) at the AFI was about a dominatrix. I took a lot of shit for it. I developed it into a feature, won some screenwriting awards, but no one would finance it. They were afraid of the material. And if they were excited by the material (which was always a red flag), they were distinctly unexcited by the fact of a female director. I actually heard the sentence:

You can't direct -- you're a woman.

And that was from someone who actually consented to meet with me about producing the film I had written, attached talent to, and planned to direct.

Some things have changed. Some things haven't. Dominatrix plotlines have appeared on network TV shows like Desperate Housewives and women directors are slipping through the cracks to quietly notch up more and more movies.

But women as sexual objects in films has not ceased, nor even slowed. And now we've got 50 Shades. I've not read it - I won't. I've heard enough to know it's about uninformed, non-consensual sex that includes dominance. In the real world, we call this sexual assault.

Consensual between adults is the mantra to be embraced in exploratory sexual relationships.

I still haven't made my film, but that doesn't mean you can't benefit from my ongoing research! Here are some films that do a much better job of handling both sexual relationships, relationships of power and dominance, and knowing where the line is and the consequences of crossing it.

Also - they are probably a lot sexier than that other movie.

1. Belle de Jour - This classic housewife getting her kicks as a professional movie is the French flipside of bored suburban housewife melodramas from Valley of the Dolls to The Stepford Wives. This is Paris! What does a slightly bored, happily married gorgeous woman do? Why, she daytimes as a prostitute! Also - did we mention she's Catherine Deneuve?

2. Fetishes - This documentary directed by Nick Broomfield explores NYC's BDSM scene via entree into one house - Pandora's Box. While not a comprehensive view, and only offering a look into the professional realm, it's filled with real people doing real things. See also the very good doc Sacred Sex, if you can find it!

3. MAITRESSE- An early Barbet Schroeder film, this stars Gerard Depardieu as a man drawn into a relationship with a Dominatrix. I've no idea how you missed it, either.

4. Preaching to the Perverted- I only recently discovered this film - a bizarre 90s romp into a sexual underground centering on a sexual icon played by Guinevere Turner. It's got a midnight cult film vibe, but there's

5. The Films of Radley Metzger - Okay - this is more than one film - it's a treasure trove! Back in 2001 we programmed a mini-retrospective of these films at the Silverlake Film Festival. This is smart-person's porn, just pick your style - b&w arty schoolgirl movie or faux scifi and you're on your way. Here's the entire film Therese and Isabelle on YouTube!

6-8. Last Tango in Paris/Besieged/The Dreamers - These three Bertolucci films are just sexy.  They all deal with intimate issues of power, manipulation, and dominance. While the relationships can be compromised, Bertolucci doesn't shy away from the issues he brings up - in fact, it's why he's making these films.

9. Live Nude Girls Unite! - Julia Query and Vicky Funari's documentary explores the efforts of exotic dancers in San Francisco to form a union. It presents compelling arguments for sex workers to be organized and decriminalized.

10. Secretary- This little indie gets better and better over time. A psychological romance between an emotionally fragile young woman and a domineering, sort of OCD, anti-social older man played perfectly by Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader, it shows the dynamics of a power relationship being born, as well as the healing possibilities inherent in a positive one. It's filled with examples of messy filmmaking, like breaking the 180-degree rule (a different kind of crossing the line!), but it wins my heart every time I see it.

This list is already over 10 films, and I reserve the right to add to it as soon as I hit publish. I"m sure I've forgotten a lot of good ones. I'd honorable mention Louis Malle's Damage - starring Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche, with a script by David Hare from the novel by Josephine Hart. While not BDSM, or necessarily a power relationship, it's pretty damn twisted.

(We've compiled a little book list, too --- click to read.)

Zestyverse Editor/Publisher E. Amato has woven a creative life that moves fluidly between words, stages, film, and practical activism. She was a member of the 2011 Los Angeles Slam Team and has competed at Poetry Slam Nationals and WOWps. In 2010, Zesty Pubs released her first collection, Swimming Through Amber, her Kindle book 5 in 2012, and her second poetry collection, Will Travel, in 2013. In 2007 and 2008 Down Home traveled t

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The First Taste: Iced Coffee Ice Cream Float Recipe

by Alicia Ying
Today my friend visiting Australia posted a photo of her afternoon snack: an iced coffee ice cream float.
OMG -- it looked SO GOOD! It was just like a root beer float, but with coffee instead. Why didn't I think of this??
Root beer floats take me back to my childhood days when my dad would always make them for me on those hot summer Saturdays when my mom was out shopping. They were our secret delicious treat that I thoroughly enjoyed, each and every sip.
My dad always preferred to make them at home himself rather than order them in restaurants. He claimed that the restaurants were stingy with the amount of ice cream they gave you. I had to agree. The proportion of ice cream to root beer is essential! "2 scoops of ice cream!" I would always squeal. My dad would scoff. "Only 2?? No!! Must have 3!!" Hey, if you're gonna splurge, SPLURGE.
As an adult now, and knowing how many calories are in a pint of Haagan Dazs (and how much a pint costs-- $4.49?! For ice cream?!), here's my take on a healthier and more affordable way to create your own Iced Coffee Ice Cream Float!
Ice cream
(if you make my vegan version: coconut cream, honey, ripe banana, vanilla bean, vanilla bean extract, almond extract)

Step 1: Brew your own iced coffee at home
- I make coffee everyday, so I always have coffee on hand. I get an organic bean from Trader Joe's. Costs about $5.99 for a whole can. Makes at least 30 cups of coffee. 20 cents a cup? I can do that!
- I personally use a slow drip or french press to get the highest quality of coffee and flavor from the beans. Use a coffee maker if you have one.
Refrigerate the coffee overnight or for at least 4 hours until nice and chilled.
YES TO THE YING TIP: Pour the remaining coffee into an ice cube tray and stick in the freezer. That way you won't have watered down coffee when you stick the ice cubes in!
Step 2: Make your ice cream
- Option 1: buy your favorite ice cream from your local grocery store
- Option 2: make your own. My vegan ice cream recipe is my favorite and it's so easy! You don't even need an ice cream machine! Just blend coconut cream, frozen bananas, truvia (or agave or honey or whatever sugar substitute you want), and your choice of flavoring (for this recipe I used organic vanilla beans, vanilla bean extract, and almond extract). Put it in the freezer until frozen.
Step 3: Build your float
- Put 2-3 of your coffee ice cubes at the bottom of the cup
- Scoop your ice cream into the cup. I fill the cup up 2/3 of the way
- Pour your chilled iced coffee on top til it reaches the top
- Grab a spoon and enjoy!
YES TO THE YING TIP: Drizzle some chocolate syrup on top for an extra depth of flavor! To make, simply put 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips in a bowl. Microwave for 10 seconds. Stir melted chocolate until a smooth consistency. Pour over ice cream. Devour!

Step 4: Grab a spoon and dig in!
What's your favorite summer drink?
Much Love, Alicia
More recipes on my blog:
Alicia Ying is a professional baker, born and bred in sweet, southern Georgia. A world traveler, Alicia enjoys eating delicious global cuisine and savoring a good cup of coffee. Also a blooming actress and producer, she has been seen on "Days of Our Lives," "Young & The Restless," independent films, and multiple web series.

Alicia's passion is to create dishes that are healthy and affordable. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. More adventures in food and travel on her blog: adventures in food and travel on he

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Quote of the Week - Wilder

"Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. " 
~ Thornton Wilder

I love Thornton Wilder. I love that I share a birth date with Thornton Wilder. I love that people are rediscovering his writing. I love that Our Town is being reconsidered and presented for new audiences. His ideas feel very modern - instead of the quaint they ddi for so long. Ideas of community and sustainability pervade his work -- The Skin of Our Teeth happens amidst an Ice Age calling into question our ability to innovate and adapt to severe climates. 

There is a boldness to the way he embraces goodness and wonder in the simplest things. There is great subtlety in finding beauty in tiny places. It is something we are returning to after long abandonment. It's nice to know someone's left us a map of how to return.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Finding Truth in Fiction: Boyz N the Hood

by Bunmi Hazzan

Before seeing Boyz 'N The Hood, I was under the impression it was a gangster movie, or more specifically a ‘gangsta’ movie. As a 14/15 year-old obsessed with violent films; that pretty much sold it for me. After watching Boyz N the Hood, I was still under the impression it was a gangster movie. Then something happened some years later, a moment of clarity, if you will.

When I say ‘obsessed’ with violent films, I mean, I watched RoboCop(1987) for the first time at around 9 years old. It was easily the most violent film I had seen at the time, so much so, that the first time, I could barely keep my eyes open. But the second time, and subsequent (at least) one-hundred more times I watched it, I embraced it, and the violence, fully.

This obsession led me to watch such works as Scarface (1983), Goodfellas, and the aforementioned Boyz N the Hood. But it was while watching Hard Boiled that I began to see films in a different light. Seeing how beautifully choreographed the violence was, let me know there are other things to look for in a movie. Realising there’s much more to films than what’s on the surface, and coupling that with my obsessive nature, I find myself watching films differently, and re-watching films I’ve seen before, to know what I’ve missed.

All films transcend story; Boyz is one of the best examples of this super power. It isn’t a gangsta movie -- it’s a demonstration of how under-privileged neighbourhoods are damaged by external greed. It shows the systematic mental destruction of people in those areas. It shows that it is hard (not impossible, just hard) to make it out, not only from an academic standpoint, but from the pressure of peers:  even those who do everything right, can still fall victim to circumstances.

Boyz resonates with me more than the other films, because it is very close to the reality of where I grew up. People who I went to school with going to prison for murder, some being murdered themselves. Boyz opened me to the realisation that it isn’t just a problem with the people, but a problem with what is being introduced to the people. “How you think the crack rock gets into the country?” said Furious Styles. Gentrification is addressed in Boyz, as well, something that many cities are going through or have been through. To its credit, the movie doesn’t just point out what all the problems are. It also offers potential solutions, namely becoming more socially aware, educating oneself, and supporting community and local businesses.

I once told someone Boyz N the Hood was a cry for help. I don’t think it is anymore; it’s more of a wake-up call for people in these communities to help themselves, because either others don’t know, don’t show, or just don’t care about what’s going on in the hood.

BH the Uncivilised, some call me Bunmi Hazzan, but a time traveller has many names. I've existed for over 10,000 years and lived over 9000 lives. Travelling through time, space and multiple dimensions and writing about my experiences and observations. Or, in other words, I analyse art, and create art. The driving license I hold in this realm claims I have residence in London, England. The truth is I spend most of my time in upper regions of my cerebral cortex. I am, that poet.