We SAID: Autumn Money Matters

Staff Writer

The month of September is an annual indicator of change on multiple levels. Kids go back to school, adults go back to work. Vacation season ends and the majority batten down the literal and financial hatches to prepare for the coming winter. September is also the perfect time to revisit your spending habits, and adjust to meet your 2015 goals.

autumnmoneymattersOn average, consumers spend more during the summer months than during the winter, even with the addition of Christmas. Beyond travel and dining out, the cost of keeping cool at home can quickly add up, particularly in hotter parts of the country.

Experts advise taking a hard look at your summer spending, to determine exactly how much you’ll need to adjust to afford the holidays and meet your annual financial goals. As you crunch the numbers, rank your debt by amount, from the highest to the lowest.  Your credit card and store card debt would be first, followed by your line of credit, and then any personal loans.

Prioritize your debt by due date, and be prepared to negotiate if you find yourself stuck between a deadline and a deficient amount of available funds. Tap into potential money pits like monthly subscriptions or memberships to services or places that you don’t frequent enough to warrant the cost.

Once you’ve plugged any immediate financial leaks, start planning ahead. If you  haven’t already, start building a holiday fund. Dedicate a small amount daily or weekly (even as little as $5) to stack a nice bundle for seasonal spending. Build a hard-line budget for regular monthly expenses to carry you through the end of the year, and commit to starting the new year with a surplus from which to set your resolutions. A little bit of planning can go a long way to keeping you healthy, wealthy, and money-wise.

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He SAID: Before the Big Show…

Christopher M. Enis

2015 VMA’s: Here we go..

  1. 7:25—I turn over to MTV and Catfish is on. Wow, Catfish is still around? You would have thought that everyone would be hip to how to figure out that supermodels do not use Facebook to pick up women in Kentucky but I guess not.
  2. 7:30—First promo for the VMA Red Carpet that I’ve seen. Some dude named Prince Royce is being drooled over by three young women whom I’m assuming are going to be hosting this thing. Royce, who is obviously used to women losing their religion over his pretty looks and cold dead eyes, couldn’t give a damn.
  3. First Miley VMA Promo: she flips double birds that are censored by VMA Moonman Awards.   I double flip her back.   Somewhere Prince Royce isn’t giving a damn.
  4. Second Miley VMA Promo: she walking, wearing a thong one piece or something and platform clogs (?) while sticking out her lizard like tongue. Esther Williams is so jelly right about now, no doubt.
  5. Third Miley VMA Promo: she’s riding a cat with wings. Man, it’s going to be a long ass night.
  6. 7:41—Another VMA Red Carpet promo, the ladies are drooling over Austin Butler and in between the thirst fest, they are discussing Miley as if she’s found the cure to Leprosy (Fun Fact: Leprosy is also known as Hansen’s Disease, calling it Leprosy is so Old Testament).
  7. 7:53—Red Carpet Promo. MTV has probably sent the Thirsty Trio off to cool down and towel off. Sway is out here… Sway is still working at MTV? Now I don’t feel like the oldest mofo watching this thing. He’s interviewing Max from Catfish who directed his first movie, We Are Your Friends (currently getting beat down by Straight Outta Compton at the box office… sorry, I couldn’t resist).
  8. Finally the VMA Pre Award Show (official title, I haven’t seen a red carpet anywhere, now that I think about it, also, I stopped looking at the watch…time has lost all meaning for me) and Old Man Sway introduced Walk The Moon who sings a song called Shut Up And Dance. Rude.
  9. Speaking of rude, Old Man Sway cuts off Shut Up And Dance mid song to introduce folks.   Fresh off of insulting Mexicans, there’s Kelly Osborne and (ironically or maybe due to mom Sharon’s spin control PR) Demi Lovato. Oh, the Thirsty Trio have names: Carly, Nessa and Aquafina from Girl Code, the guy who re-designed the VMA Moonman (didn’t know it needed renovating), Jeremy Scott and Charlemagne The God (not to be confused with the ruler known as the Father Of Europe…aiight)…back to Shut Up To Dance.
  10. Kelly is practically French kissing Demi’s ass, going on about Demi’s album.
  11. Now Sway’s kissing Demi’s ass. Not sure if he insulted Mexicans too.
  12. Walk The Moon is now playing something called Different Colors.
  13. Trojan Condoms has a new Bare Skin condom commercial, then Coca Cola shows a commercial with a polar bear. I’m very confused.
  14. Back to the pre-show; Old Man Sway is interviewing the guy who redesigned the Moonman when Chrissy Teigen and John Legend (the couple who never met an award show they wouldn’t attend) show up out of nowhere…blah blah blah, they love each other…okay, I get it. Chrissy’s dress is nice, and you can almost tell what religion she is (again). I ain’t even mad.
  15. The cast of MTV shows, Awkward, Faking It and Girl Code are hanging out with Todrick Hall, the dude who likes to sing in McDonald’s drive thrus.
  16. Kelly is interviewing Miguel. She’s one minority ass kiss segment away from becoming the ambassador to Sierra Leone.
  17. Austin Butler is back and he’s holding a puppy and being interviewed by Charlemagne and Thirsty Trio Carly. I don’t know who’s being punished more… no wait, the puppy. Definitely the puppy.
  18. Todrick Hall is doing a cover of Bruno Mars Don’t Believe Me.
  19. SPECIAL PRE AWARD SHOW ANNOUNCMENT!!!! Britney Spears will be a presenter!!!! I’ll tell you that I’m happy if you want me to.
  20. Now we’re in the product placement portion of the pre-show, Amanda Steele is talking about something to do with Cover Girl.
  21. Kelly is now interviewing the Moonman re-designer guy and announcing the first winner of the night, Fall Out Boy. That award must be one left over from 2006.
  22. She’s now talking to Pete Wentz, who is half-black-Jamaican on his momma’s side. Yep, Kelly is definitely on her way to Sierra Leone!
  23. (Speaking of cultural appropriation) Ryan Lewis and Macklemore are being interviewed in a dressing room.
  24. Old Man Sway is interviewing Nick Jonas who will be singing a song sponsored by State Farm, because them haters from Progressive be rollin’ with Fifth Harmony, ya heard!
  25. Kelly, having filled her quota for the night, is now interviewing white people. First up, Rebel Wilson. Oh, I forgot to mention that Kelly has some scraggly dude acting as her fashion correspondent. The routine is going over about as well as getting nutrition advice from a fat dietitian.
  26. Moonman re-designer Jeremy is interviewing “his bestie” Miley Cyrus. In lieu of clothing, Miley is wearing breast straps to cover up her nips.
  27. Oh look, I mentioned them way back in #24, Fifth Harmony has arrived to the Pre-Show! Followed by (after another Todrick Hall number, don’t ask me what he’s singing, I don’t know) a Fifth Harmony Cover Girl commercial.
  28. Kelly’s back and he’s with Old Man Sway interviewing Big Sean. Ebony Magazine, do y’all need a celebrity correspondent? Kelly knows more minorities than Malcolm X.
  29. Tori Kelly is at the VMAs! I like her, she been out there singing that Blue Eyed Soul since she was a pre-teen. I can’t knock her hustle.
  30. Charlemagne is interviewing Vic Mensa. I wonder what Vic’s IQ really is.
  31. Aquafina and Nessa are announcing another winner of a redesigned Moonman, Five Seconds Of Summer. I don’t know what they won. It seems that MTV wants to give out all those redesigned VMAs awards before the show even starts.
  32. A Tori Kelly Cover Girl commercial. Oh, shocker.
  33. A Beiber sighting….oh, and I guess there is a Red Carpet. I’m so excited.
  34. Nick Jonas is singing his State Farm sponsored song, Levels. It sounds like he’s doing a Justin Timberlake impersonation to a leftover Timbaland track.
  35. Now Nick is grinding on Kelly. I want to slam my head in a car door repeatedly.
  36. Nick is now being bum rushed by teenagers, whom he is now too old to be that close to. I wonder if State Farm has insurance to cover that?
  37. Nicest moment of the night: Nick gives two tickets to a random person in the crowd.
  38. Nice moment is instantly ruined when Old Man Sway announces that the ticket give away was also sponsored by State Farm.
  39. Kelly is now interviewing Taylor Swift and her United Nations crew of girlfriends including, Selena Gomez. Kelly is damn near ready to fall out.
  40. The Pre-Show ends with Old Man Sway giving the racially ambiguous Pete Davidson some love…
  41. Kelly Osborne’s head explodes.

We SAID: #rubbermasking

Staff Writer

Just when you thought beauty treatments couldn’t get any more strange, the latest regimen to hit the United States by way of Korea proves we’re not done quite yet. ‘Rubbermasrubbermaskingking’ involves a specialized powder formula that mixes with water, and dries to a rubberized finish. Once dry, it peels off to reveal smoother, more hydrated skin.

Rubber masks (sometimes called modeling packs) are a regular staple in Korea. Traditionally, the powders are bought and sold in large tubs, which require measuring out a specific amount to mix with water and apply. But an increasing number of companies are selling rubber masks in convenientrubbermasking1 single use packs. Prepare to pay more for the the convenience though, particularly as the trend picks up steam and more retailers get involved in sales and distribution.

Despite the strangeness of method and application, we found rubber masks to be highly effective in sealing hard-to-penetrate serums and treatments. The mask acts as rubbermasking2a barrier, literally forcing treatments into your pores as it dries. Similar forced techniques are used with clay mask formulations,  but the rubber masks have the added benefit of being easy to remove once dried, without the addition of water or scrubbing.

Due to its relatively new introduction to this side of the world, tracking down the right mask for your specific skin type can get tricky. Amazon remains one of the best ways to get your hands on one at present. But we’re pretty sure it’s just a matter of time before you’ll be able to stride into your local beauty store, and stride out for a little #rubbermasking right away.

She SAID: Makeup Makeover

Shahada Karim

Every season, the most clothes-conscious go through their drawers and closets to refresh their wardrobe and prepare for the weather change. Makeup (and skincare) are no different. A few changes in key places can help guarantee that you’ll put your best face forward for Fall.

REPLENISH:

-Your BB Cushion. If you were among the millions who lined up for this year’s offering frommakeupmakeover3 Lancome, it’s time for a new refill. Even if you’re a purist and went for brands straight from Korea (Laneige remains the most accessible and friendly to the widest range of skin tones), those anti-microbal sponges only last so long. Toss them out and start anew with a fresh compact and a clean applicator.

-Your Pressed Powder Compact.

Be honest: how often do you swirl a suspiciously unclean brush (or worse, the makeupmakeover4provided sponge) into your pressed powder and slap it on? How many times have you been mystified by a random breakout or ragged patch after you’ve removed your makeup for the day? The two might be related. If you’ve hit pan on your compact, invest in a new one. If you’ve still got plenty of product left, invest in a cosmetic cleaner (we’re huge fans of Beauty So Clean) that is friendly to powder products. Then toss the provided sponge and clean your brushes.

REPLACE:

-Your Primers. Unless you’ve been using them faithfully all Summer (in which case they should nearly be gone anyway), it might be time to get a fresh blend. Primers are the first makeupmakeover5thing that adheres to your skin, so it’s best to ensure the formula hasn’t separated or gone rank in the summer heat. If you’ve been super diligent about keeping them in a cool, dry place, disregard. Otherwise, take the time to get a new (and more seasonally appropriate) primer. We remain obsessed with Too Faced Hangover Primer. The small container ensures we’ll use every drop, and it’s moisturizing enough to carry into the cooler months beautifully and effortlessly.

-Your Mascaras. Just do it. Mascaras should be traded out every 3-6 months anyway. All thmakeupmakeover6at dipping (and double dipping) pushes air into the container, which dries out the formula. And we won’t even get into the bacteria issue. If you had a favorite Summer mascara, your time is up. Get a new tube. Your eyes will thank you.

REVISIT:

-Your Eyeshadows and Blushes. Every season, companies release new collections that often look like recycled versions of seasonal collections past. Powder products like eyeshadows and makeupmakeover2blushes will last for a ridiculous amount of time, so now is a good time to dig through some of your old favorites from collections past, and determine what works for the near future. Refresh them with a spritz of beauty cleaner, and you’re good to go.

RESPECT:

-The Next. Christian Louboutin released a collection of lipsticks that look more like jewelry than makeup, and it’s probably a good idea to find your perfect shade, and acquire accordingly. Also in the lipstick category, new Matte Revolution Lipsticks from Charlotte Tilbury. With both, we don’t suggest more than a couple of favorite colors; these are still cream products and more likely to turn before you use them up.

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He SAID: Straight Outta Compton

Scott F. Evans

Hi.

My name is Scott F. Evans and I HATE ‘Gangsta Rap.’

Let’s be clear: I love hip Hop… or at least I used to love H.E.R. And it’s no secret that I blame a lot of the genre’s downward spiral on groups like NWA. Not that they purposely or even personally helped drive the genre into the ground. They didn’t. They were artists with a very particular -and in some cases- valid point of view. Whether I liked it or not is irrelevant.   But it was what came after, what NWA helped pave the way for: the nihilistic irresponsibility, the misogyny, and the celebration of drugs and gang culture that spread across my beloved music like a California wildfire. The problem comes when that specific perspective becomes the prevailing one for the entire genre, and by extension, the people who created it. NWA was hugely popular, and unarguably influential. For better and worse, they helped change the face of Hip Hop.

compton9But this review isn’t about NWA. It’s about F. Gary Gray’s Straight Outta Compton.

As biopics go, the film is pretty close to exceptional. It hits all the right notes at all the right times. Gray keeps the paccompton4ing fairly brisk. Even though we sometimes get lost among the faces and events, he knows how to stop down and pull us back in with great character moments. The smartest choice Gray makes is never turning NWA into icons, and allowing them to be humans. There’s definitely some revisionist hero worship here, but he grounds the entire piece with an overall empathy for these characters.  A lot of that credit must go to his solid cast. He wisely cast this with new faces, so we’re never distracted by celebrity. And despite their freshness, the actors all perform admirably. There’s not a phony performance in the bunch.

Straight Outta Compton, produced by Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Eazy-E’s widow Tomica Woods-Wright, is about NWA but the story is mainly focused on E, Dre, and Cube. The other founding compton6members, MC Ren and DJ Yella get shunted off, perhaps unfairly, to supporting status.

Corey Hawkins is solid as Dre. A lot of his work is low-key and internal. Plus he’s often hidden behind a cap pulled low over his eyes so he doesn’t always register. O’Shea Jackson Jr. does a spot on impression of his real-life father Ice Cube. Socompton7unding and looking just like his father helps the neophyte actor over some iffy moments, but director Gray wisely limits the character’s emotional spectrum. Jackson is getting a lot of attention for playing his father, but this film belongs to Jason Mitchell, who turns in an exemplary performance as Eazy-E. Mitchell should at least get a Best Actor nod at next year’s Oscar’s. He’s that good. He takes a character that could’ve easily been misplayed by a lesser talent and infuses him with humanity and dimension. He’s affable and energetic, but never once over the top. Again, compton5Mitchell is that good.

If Straight Outta Compton has a fourth lead, that would be the group’s manager Jerry Heller, expertly played by Paul Giamatti. If you’re unfamiliar with Heller’s role in the group, and how things turn out, Giamatti’s performance keeps you guessing.

Yella, played by Neil Brown Jr. gets in some scene stealing moments, serving primarily as the film’s comic relief. Unfortunately Ren, well played by Aldis Hodge, almost fades completely into the background. He’s in almost every scene featuring the group, but he never gets to shine.

Credit has to be given to Straight Outta Compton’s screenplay. Written by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff, the script crackles with tight, snappy dialogue that flows from the actors mouths with ease. There’s a refreshing wryness on display here that’s usually missing from Black cinema.

compton3Cinematographer Matthew Libatique does OK work on the film. He shows some beautiful movement with cranes and steadi-cams for certain scenes that really serve to increase Straight Outta Compton’s production value. Unfortunately other scenes feature really jarring handheld work that makes the moment feel rushed as if the camera operator was still trying to frame the shot. Many of the scenes feel under-lit as well, losing detail in muddy imagery.

Straight Outta Compton’s music is, of course, amazing. Regardless of what you might think of the lyrical content (even with it being more than two decades old), the craftsmanship is remarkable. And that includes the incidental tracks from all of the different artists who influenced Dr. Dre’s productions.

I went in expecting this film to be a tough sit. A two and a half hour biopic about Hip Hop’s preeminent ‘gangsta’ rappers was going to have to work hard to win me over. And there are some problems. After Cube departs from the group the film starts to feel patchy, rapidly bouncing from episode to episode. There’s still a lot of story left to tell, and the film doesn’t seem to know how to fit it all in. So it rushes to an ending that’s a little too self-congratulatory. But I challenge you to name a biopic that doesn’t have the same issues.

All said, Straight Outta Compton is a terrific film and a welcome break from typical summer fare.

RATING: Theater

She SAID: Autumn Prep

Terri Kennerson

We’re more than a month away from the official start of Autumn, but it’s never to early to hit the ‘reset’ button on too much unfiltered sun, surf, and quintessential summer stuff. Frolicking in UVA/UVB rays have long since passed the point of ignorance; we know far too much about the short and long term effects (although millions of Americans still risk exposure by simply driving in their cars) of sun damage to be so careless. But let’s be honest, some of us still do it, even when we don’t mean to.

SUNSCREEN

Just because the next season is rolling through, doesn’t mean we shelve the sunscreen. If  summertoautumn1you’ve been diligent enough to wear it every day, and reapply as necessary, then you’re already ahead of the game. And if you’re intelligently blocking both UVA and UVB rays effectively, even better. The sun keeps shining all year round, even if we can’t see it. Cloud cover doesn’t mean better skin protection, so keep a bottle handy and reapply early and often.

SKIN CARE

Skin Care shifts are as individual as they come, but it’s a fair bet to say you’re going to need to adjust your skin care needs as the season changes. summertoautumn2This goes for both face and body care. Humidity levels typically drop, prompting a boost in moisturizing needs for all skin types. Even oily types have to think about more moisture, to keep skin from overproducing sebum to try and protect itself. When searching for new skin care, think ‘subtle’ rather than drastic. Massive changes in ingredients, moisture levels or formulations might cause your skin to react negatively.

HAIR CARE

Protect, protect, protect! Jump-start your seasonal hair care routine with somsummertoautumn3ething indulgent like a hot oil or deep conditioning treatment. Hair tends to take a beating over the summer (carefree styles tend to leave hair exposed to harsh environmental conditions), so a little TLC goes a long way to get tresses ready for the cooler months. On average, all hair types tend to be drier and grow slower in Autumn and Winter. Now is a good time to start thinking of richer formulations for shampoos and conditioners, and maybe invest in a really good deep and leave-in conditioner. Whether you go natural or chemical with formulations, tried and tested ingredients like Honey (hydrating), Avocado (protecting), and Olive Oil (moisturizing) are staples to look for in both.