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#ShareBlackStories: 4 Book Recommendations

I cannot recommend these books enough:

Hunger by Roxane Gay: a raw memoir about the culture critic’s painful childhood which led to an experience living in a body she calls “wildly undisciplined.”

This Is Kind of An Epic Love Story by Kheryn Callender: The non-binary author dedicates this story about a Seattle teen who falls in love with his childhood best friend to “#QPOC everywhere.”

Dinner for Two by Mike Gayle: A 30something music journalist loses his job and becomes an advice columnist for a teen magazine where he receives a letter from the teen daughter he never knew he had.

Becoming by Michelle Obama: The former First Lady beautifully details her life before and after becoming a part of a historic and groundbreaking chapter in American politics.

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I Miss So Much

I miss hugs.

I miss sitting in a crowded restaurant, enjoying a delicious dinner and several glasses of wine with several friends, grateful for having made a reservation ahead of time.

I miss going to the movies at least once a week, smelling that popcorn as soon as I enter the theater lobby, my Pavlovian response kicking in.

I miss hosting an impromptu movie night at home, having several friends gather in my living room, passing around a giant bowl of popcorn.

I miss game nights that didn't require our phones or clicking on a link and huddling over my laptop.

I miss attending a live performance by an artist I love and respect.

I miss boarding a plane at least twice a year and the subsequent excitement and joy of flying off to a destination to unwind and escape demands of my job.

I miss ordering some guilty pleasure food at a mall food court.

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I miss this. All of it. A post shared by H I K O (@thefirstecho) on May 19, 2020 at 3:25pm PDT

America is a Cocky, Unruly Teenager

I recently revisited Can't Hardly Wait, the seminal 90s teen comedy about the various members of the Class of '98 coming together for a giant house party, one last hurrah before they all go on their separate paths. The movie has a special VIP section roped off within the chambers of my heart because I too am a member of the Class of '98. Watching it in the theater back in June of that year was the first time I had watched characters my own age go through something I was concurrently experiencing.

Like most mainstream teen movies, Can't Hardly Wait features an array of stock characters, most notably the pompous jock, the socially anxious nerd, and a posse of popular pretty girls. There is wild and reckless behavior, fueled by the requisite drugs and alcohol, along with an inevitable reckoning and several lessons learned by everyone. Like most mainstream teen movies, its characters are focused on the here-and-now, uncertain about their future, yet full of naive hope. An…

BURNT: The 2020 Summer Playlist

Before we all start brainstorming nicknames for the Summer of 2020 (Coronasummer, Summer of COVID...), let's take a moment to appreciate and be thankful for what we already have. And one of those things is the gift of music, songs we can blare during these next few months to help us lift our spirits and keep our asses moving.
Seriously, there are some tracks here ("Rain on Me," "Hallucinate") that'll make you long for the days of dancing in a crowd on a hot summer night. Others will surely conjure up images of backyard barbecues, pool parties, and outdoor concerts (R.I.P. Hollywood Bowl's 2020 Season.) So go ahead, press play, and make sure to revisit this playlist as I'll be adding more goodness to it over the next month. 
Because every summer, no matter how shitty things are, deserves a spectacular soundtrack.

How to Get Away with the Most Inclusive Casting on Network TV

When it premiered in the fall of 2014, How to Get Away with Murder followed in the footsteps of uber-producer Shonda Rhimes's other buzz-worthy drama, Scandal, by putting an African-American woman front and center as the lead of a primetime drama on a broadcast television network. And not only was she black; she was a woman of certain age (nearing 50) and black. It's both sad and frustrating to see how those seemingly simple traits were considered groundbreaking just six years ago, a time when the other majors were still picking up pilots centered around (mostly) white male doctors, cops, and lawyers.
But after a first season that proved to be as refreshingly compelling as any cable drama and earned star Viola Davis a well-deserved and historic Emmy, the drama about law professor Annalise Keating and her students getting embroiled in countless murder plots...went even further. Not only was Annalise middle-aged and black, she was also bisexual. (We saw her sleep with her white…

Music Therapy: Words of Wisdom from the Spice Girls

Sometimes you need some late-90s disco accompanied by flutes and frog ribbits to help you temporarily forget the dire state of the world. And "Never Give Up On The Good Times" from the Spice Girls is that retro jam we all need. It's all there in the song's title, a seven-word slice of advice that carries so much hope.

And if this track from their 1997 sophomore album, Spiceworld, doesn't lift your spirits or make you want to hop on the bed with a feather boa...then please take your soulless self somewhere else.


That Time Raven-Symoné and I Kicked Some Game Show Butt

In case you missed my performance on 25 Words of Less back in November, the entire episode is now available on the game show's YouTube channel. Feel free to watch me and several celebs compete in some wordplay. (And you know I love me some words.)

Semi-spoiler alert: I made it to the final round, but did I win the grand prize? Click to find out: