Tag Archives: review

If You Want to Laugh, Watch The Duds

The Duds, a mockumentary short film created, produced, and written by Sean White (the handsome actor, not the red-headed snowboarder from the 90s)  premiered on Friday, April 9th on Youtube. 

I should put a disclaimer on this post about my deep love and appreciation that I have for two of the people in this production (because I know them personally, and they also happen to be married to one another). 

What got me really excited about this short film that made me want to write a piece to get you all to watch it you may be wondering?

For me it was how well the characters are brilliantly written – and the way the actors that portray those characters deliver the words that will have you cracking up from beginning to end. Why wouldn’t you want a chance to chuckle non-stop?

The build up to this mockumentary pulled me in right away with the faux instagram profiles that were made for each character (taken from Sean White’s instagram: @seancwhite): 

*As appears in slideshow: Rosamund played by Zoe Richards, Jared played by Jeremy Konopka, Iris played by Chloe Mollis-Mcbride , Percy played by Sean White*



So I’ve pulled you in with the comedy of the characters backgrounds, but what about this short film is worth pressing play for? Well I’ve already mentioned the fabulously hilarious acting. What I haven’t mentioned is how well the execution of this short film pokes at true crime interviews. Which is a bonus for folks that are true crime fans, but not a necessity in order to appreciate the humor all the way through.

Sounds like a must watch and you’ve probably stopped reading this review and clicked on the link to watch (I wouldn’t blame you…) But if you’re still reading and you’re not yet convinced I want to highlight words from Sean himself on why you should take a moment to watch The Duds:

 
“I’m so proud of this project, especially having made it with the help of my husband and friends. I’m a huge fan of true crime and I got this idea when I started thinking about if there are ever any people who give interviews that don’t make the final cut. I think people should watch it because it’s a fun mix of two genres and I hope everyone has a nice laugh!”
-Sean White

Click here to watch The Duds!

If you are eagerly awaiting the next production..a recommendation of something to do after you’ve watched The Duds on repeat and you’re wanting more: Check out Jeremy Konopka’s (who played Jared Jacobs) hilarious Ron Weasley and Wanda Vision impressions to hold you over in the mean time on Tiktok (jeremykonop) Or Instagram (@jeremykon).

Waiting at the Bus Stop

By- Tray Taylor
(IG – allusiontoreality)

Is there any science behind January always feeling like 3 months within a month? I guess I could have researched before actually typing that sentence out…

Seriously though, it seems every January always feels so long in a short amount of time and then we blink and it is March. 

Whatever you are doing this week, may it be focused on taking care of yourself and staying safe. I live in DC and it is a bit surreal right now – I feel like I am inside a movie of The Purge. *I wrote this sentence a couple of weeks ago, just for clarification*

While the earth feels like an over shaken snow globe on fire, I have been trying to rethink back to times when I felt the most connected to music when I was younger. Trying my best to remember times when music sucked me in so deep that I felt extremely connected to what I was listening to.

All I could imagine was a younger me, waiting at a bus stop with my one chosen CD to listen to for the duration on my disc man. 

So yeah, that gives me the opportunity to introduce the musical choice of a younger me on a format that still exists but is rarely chosen over streaming. 

The Jackson 5 (The Best of Jackson 5)

I went through a phase when I was younger when all I wanted to listen to was “older” music. The moment I got my hands on the greatest hits of The Jackson 5 I was thrilled. There was a brief moment in my youth where this was the only CD I listened to. I used to watch the miniseries/movie on VH1 The Jacksons: An American Dream whenever it was on tv (yes, the one with Angela Bassett). The infatuation ran deeper than a greatest hits CD.

All American Rejects

This album triggers one of the most vivid memories I have of standing at the bus stop when it was absolutely freezing out – flurrying almost, and listening to All American Rejects through my discman. Going back and listening to this album now I am impressed with how well I know every song, but also how deeply I felt these lyrics at such a young age. I can’t even lie, I was obsessed with this band and this album. Here are a few favorites: My Paper Heart, Swing Swing *this was their most popular song at the time*, Time Stands Still, One More Sad Song, Why Worry, Happy Endings, The Last Song ….okay I think I just named the almost the entire album…

Dream Street

Most people have never heard of this boy band, but they were my …obsession. I was a member of the fan club, and I even had a Dream Street dedicated wall in my room (yes…this is true..). They were also one of my first concerts at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City with my best friend in the 6th grade and my Dad took us there (still grateful that he was willing to sit through this for me). Anyway, I know this album from beginning to end and I still remember the dance to “It Happens Every Time” but younger me had some embarrassment around my love for them in public. Whenever I would bring this CD to listen to on the way to school I would bring another CD case in my backpack so people didn’t know what it was that I was listening to. Unfortunately one of the members passed away this year from COVID – rest easy Chris Trousdale.

2GETHER

I think one of the funniest things about this band is the fact that they were supposed to be a joke manufactured by MTV. However, people (ahem – me) fell in love with 2GETHER after the movie aired. From the movie, to their albums, to the TV show – I was hooked. I even had my Dad listening to them in the car when I would get dropped off for basketball practice (back when I thought my future was the WNBA…pipe dreams). Anyway, does anyone else know their calculus? Do you further know that U + ME = US?

Taking Back Sunday (Tell All Your Friends)

The moment I got this album I was in awe. An instant flashback to middle school, I remember holding this beautiful teal jewel case album in my hand – I was infatuated. My best friend and I in middle school would listen to this CD on repeat and knew almost every song by heart. I wore this album out going to and from school – plus away games for sports (because that was a thing). And of course as an adult, when I eyed this album on vinyl there was no question on whether or not I had to add it to my collection.

Damian Marley (Welcome to Jamrock)

Growing up I had a deep appreciation for the Marley family – it started with Bob though, of course. Then, as I always tend to do, I did a deep dive within to discover the other musicians in the Marley family. I was a big fan of many of his children- Damian and Stephen especially. I listened to Damian’s album on repeat all throughout high school. Side fact: my first concert in Philly was seeing Damian and Stephen on South Street (this was either in high school or right after I graduated…)

Saves The Day 

Would I be a true millennial from NJ if I wasn’t a fan of Saves The Day? I first got into them because my sister was a fan. Then somewhere along the way I became a bigger fan of the band and now still own almost every CD they have ever released (as well as vinyl records). There was like this section of bands that were emo/punk/pop and that was 100 percent my favorite genre in high school (see above: TBS). Their lyrics felt like poetry to me when I was in high school and I overplayed almost every album of theirs. A few favorite songs I’ll share if I had to narrow it down: At Your Funeral, Shoulder to the Wheel, You Vandal, As Your Ghost Takes Flight, This is Not an Exit, Sell My Old Clothes I’m Off to Heaven, Hold, Jessie & My Whetstone, The Way His Collar Falls, Take Our Cars Now!, Z, O….. okay that list was longer than expected & that was me cutting it short.

….mixed CDs

It doesn’t feel right to write a piece about music of my youth without pointing out how much mixed CDs ruled my younger years. I still have stacks of CD books in the closet of my apartment somewhere…but who owns a CD player anymore? (says the person who owns a record player….)

So…what were you listening to when you were younger? Was it on a cassette player, walkman, discman, stereo sound system, boombox, record player, 8-track player…?

Music is Meditation

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

Poetry has always felt like meditation in a way, from my perspective. Words that paint a landscape for us if only just for a few stanzas. 

When I write my poetry I feel like I am in a zone of only my thoughts and for those moments – I am at total peace. 

I have tried to bring meditation into my everyday life for the past few years (recommendation from my therapist, and just something I thought would be better for my mental well being). I started to keep track of the days I meditated back in December, then a good friend invited me to do a meditation challenge for 15 days. *which I was doing well with, until the weekend hit* 

Music does something similar – it gives us different perspectives into different worlds if only for a few minutes in a song. 

I’ve been trying to think of the songs I turn on when I need to just get lost in the music and be present in reflection. These were some of the songs that came to mind right away for myself:

World Spins Madly On – The Weepies

I don’t know exactly when I fell in love with this song, but I think it happens every single time I listen to it. As I type this and have this song playing in the background – I am reminded how similar poetry and music are. Lyrics are poetry, and I think this song is a testament to that. “And the world spins madly on…” 

Baby Can I Hold You – Tracy Chapman


Oh Tracy Chapman, how I could listen to her sing for hours upon hours of any day of the week. When I need to really “feel” I will put on certain songs of Tracy’s. “Baby Can I Hold You” is the song I like to play when I just want to get lost in her voice and her lyrics. A perfect three minute meditation of Tracy Chapman.

Brace feat. Rainsford – Twin Shadow

A couple of years ago I used to listen to this song on repeat on my way to work whenever I was trying to channel myself into a good headspace. I went through a solid few months where I only listened to Twin Shadow. If you’ve never listened to them, I highly recommend adding them to your playlist. I like to seek songs that remind me I am not alone in the way I am feeling, and Twin Shadow tends to have those lyrics I need in the right moments.

Tilted – Christine and the Queens

This is a song I had on repeat for awhile after discovering it on the season finale of Better Things (have you seen this show? Go watch it. Pamela Adlon is a treasure). Mostly because that scene brought me so much joy, but also the lyrics (that are originally in French) are like damn yes a message we all need 100 percent.

Ship to Wreck – Florence and the Machine

I didn’t fully appreciate Florence and the Machine until I saw them live a couple of years ago with a few good friends. It was a special night that I really needed at the time, and I’ll say they were the right group of friends to experience this concert with. I fell in love with this song that night. Also grew a greater appreciation for Florence as an artist. This song pulls me into myself for a couple of minutes and allows me to sing out loud in meditation to cleanse my soul & feel my heart beat a little louder.

Runaway Goliath – Mantaraybryn

No clue how I found this song, I assume it was from a Spotify rabbithole that I tend to go down. For a whole year I had this song on repeat (because my self esteem needed it bad). I loved getting lost in this song- and I still appreciate getting lost in it every now and again. The beauty of music is the power it has of reminding us of our worth or it can just give us hope that darkness isn’t meant to be permanent.

A Better Son/Daughter – Rilo Kiley

Jenny Lewis is everything and Rilo Kiley is a musical gift. There are many Rilo Kiley songs that I like to play, so it’s difficult to choose just one. This is a song that, if you aren’t a huge fan, many people don’t know. I think my favorite part is hearing the emotion of Jenny Lewis in the song, how it breaks from her speaking in the beginning and then her emotion continues to build throughout the song. And you can feel it – in the lyrics and her voice.

I Got a Name – Jim Croce

My favorite artist to listen to on vinyl is Jim Croce. I love almost every single one of his songs and know them all by heart. “I Got a Name” always brings me back to my college years and listening to this record in my old apartment when I didn’t know what the future held (I mean, do I know now? No..but you get what I mean). I’ve always been a dreamer, and I think this song sums it up for me….”Like the fool I am, and I’ll always be/I’ve got a dream, I’ve got a dream/ They can change their minds, but they can’t change me.”

Do you have any of those kinds of songs that you find putting on in time when you need to recenter?

A Friend of Dorothy

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

I’m fascinated by all of the code names people used to use to communicate that they belonged to the LGBTQIA+ community.

Lately I’ve wanted to know more about the history of the Queer community, so I’ve been seeking out a lot of literature that can help me to understand how far the community I belong to has come.

I had never heard the phrase, “A Friend of Dorothy” until recently – but as soon as I did a let out a laugh. Then I tried to comprehend how terrifying it must have been back then to have to use coded language to connect to others.

For all the times I have fantasized to want to grow up in a different time, I am grateful that I live in the here and now (even in the pandemic times of 2020). I could not imagine not being able to live my truth out loud, or never having the chance to meet my chosen family out in the open. *note for those not in the LGBTQIA+ community: I do experience hatred on a regular basis, and sometimes exist in fear of living so outwardly. I think that’s important for folks to know.*

One of my favorite things about myself is my Queerness – I am a friend of Dorothy, just like the other Queers before me.

The phrase left me curious to go through some standout LGBTQIA+ musicians from the past. Some I have listened to before, and some recently discovered (I suppose nowadays it would be a friend of Beyonce, Cher, Whitney or Britney….or still Dorothy because, she’s still relevant).

You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) – Sylvester

This is actually one of my favorite songs to play when I’m in a dancing mood or need to pump myself up. I imagine if I was alive when Sylvester first came about in the late 70s and 80s I would’ve been a huge fan. For some reason I picture myself walking into a Gay bar on a weekend in the Castro just to see Sylvester perform. Queer history really had some fabulous figures within it.

Galileo – Indigo Girls

You may be thinking since I grew up in the nineties I listened to the Indigo Girls – but I never did. The funny thing is I grew up on a lot of different music, but never remember listening to the Indigo Girls. I know they are recognized as the very gay band of the nineties (Lilith Fair and all…). When I got into the Indigo Girls it was actually around the time I came out (stereotype, I know) and I started to watch the series the L Word (…the stereotype keeps doubling). This is one of my favorite songs by them, and I of course will always appreciate “Closer to Fine” because it is the first song I heard of theirs (and yes it was the scene from the L word when they are all in the van…).

Million Dollar Bill (Frankie Knuckles Radio Mix) – Whitney Houston

Frankie Knuckles…this was a fun discovery of mine – I had never heard of Frankie before, but there’s a lot of information out there about him. They referred to him as “The Godfather of House Music” and he was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1996. Of course after listening to a few songs this song stuck out to me because, Whitney.

When the Party’s Over – Janis Ian

How funny it is that it always seems that those within the LGBTQIA+ community tend to gravitate towards one another without realization. Like in elementary and middle school – how many of my good friends from then are now living life happily out of the closet (as if I had my own gaggle of gays back then, without any of us realizing…). Anyway, I consider the same with music. I remember listening to Janis Ian after getting into collecting vinyl as a teenager and feeling drawn to her music in a very deep way. Funny to think years later I’d be writing this piece about LGBTQIA+ musicians within history and reminiscing of the first time I listened to Janis Ian feeling connected, and yet still not knowing myself.

Karma Chameleon – Culture Club

When MTV and VH1 played music videos once upon a time I used to be glued to the TV when this song came on. I was entranced by Boy George and “Karma Chameleon”. Now this song makes me long to go back to times when dancing in the streets for Pride or Outfest or in Queer bars was once a thing (pre-2020).

Watch Me – Labi Siffre

At first I thought I had never heard of Labi before, and was excited to discover his music. Then I started to listen to a few of his tracks and was instantly like “hey..wait a minute…” Eminem and Kanye have both sampled his tracks for their songs – as I am sure many others have as well. Once again, remember how I mentioned the incredible coincidences where LGBTQIA+ people are somehow drawn to each other without realizing? Labi’s story is intriguing and his music is soul soothing. Important to note he has been out- openly gay throughout his career too.

City Girl – Joan Armatrading

The first time I listened to Joan Armatrading was just last week. I was trying to find more artists that had a similar sound to Joni Mitchell, and Spotify led me to Joan Armatrading. This was one of the first songs that pulled me in. Her voice reminds me of Tracy Chapman with the feel of Joni Mitchell. When I looked her up I realized she was also a part of the community (which instantly makes me appreciate an artist or frankly anyone… a little bit more). I’ve been pretty hooked on her music ever since, and this album particularly.

Tutti Frutti – Little Richard

For no reason for which I can remember I listened to Little Richard a lot as a kid. I loved his music and he was just so fabulous – almost hard to resist. Sadly I think my appreciation for him took a bit of a backseat in my life up until his recent passing. I began to revisit his music more and learn more about his history with being underappreciated within the industry.

Fast Car – Tracy Chapman

One of my favorite songs when I was younger has held true into adulthood. As an adult I feel I have related to this song in different phases in my life and somehow the same words in a song have had different significant impacts to various stages in my life. I love Tracy Chapman and I could listen to her all day long.

Main Event – RuPaul

The Brady Bunch movie was the first time I saw RuPaul on screen and I was mesmerized. That scene stuck with me for years (the one at the pool with Jan). Then Rupaul’s Drag Race was a thing, and I fell in love with the Queens of season 2 and so many seasons later – it’s still my favorite. This album is my favorite of Rupaul’s and the world outside of the LGBTQIA+ community needs to know more than just “Supermodel” and “Covergirl” exist.

References and Further Reading:

How the LGBTQIA+ Community Has Influenced Music

Pitchfork

Rolling Stone

LGBTQ Music Icons