I Sneak Popcorn into the Movies

Popcorn Wonder Twins

I have a confession. When I go to the movies, I pop my own popcorn and sneak it in.  Not because I’m frugal or can’t afford movie theatre popcorn. Primarily because I refuse to allow anyone to sneak toxins into my diet. How did I start this smart behavior? Well, let me tell you. Several years ago, I decided to buy popcorn at the theatre. I kicked back and relaxed in the comfy theatre style seat. I took a sip of my iced tea which had just the right amount of lemon and stevia. Oh yeah! I hook it up. Then, I ate a handful of popcorn. It tasted like sugar and plastic. I immediately stopped chowing down and pulled out my phone, opened up the web browser and typed in “movie theatre popcorn ingredients.” The trailers were rolling and my phone light was dim so I wasn’t disturbing the peace.

You might be surprised to know that this so called tasty treat is full of crap. Let’s start with the popcorn itself. The movie theatre didn’t share the source of the yellow kernels so I was left to assume they either didn’t know or didn’t understand why someone would want to know. Even though most corn in the United States is genetically modified, the popcorn experts state that popcorn comes from a different seed that has not been compromised. That’s what they say. I’m not sure I believe it. Also, most movie theaters are buying popcorn from conventional sources which means, it’s grown using insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fumigants. Then other chemicals are used to treat the corn.

Back in the day, they used to pop popcorn with real coconut oil but when Americans bought into the low fat craze, they stopped and now they say they pop it with butter. Since I’m not vegan or vegetarian, I would be cool if they popped it with ghee or butter from grassfed cows who were raised eating organic grass and if they had to have supplemental feed, I’d want that to be organic, too. Now, you know the movie theatre charges high ass prices but they definitely aren’t popping the popcorn in real butter. It’s hydrogenated coconut oil which is a trans fat and highly toxic to our body. If the theatre claims they use canola oil, it’s probably partially hydrogenated canola oil, which is also a toxic trans fat. Canola oil AKA rapeseed oil consumption is rumored to be one of the leading causes of heart disease by the way. Just the fact that they had to change the name from rapeseed oil to canola oil to make it more marketable should be a warning sign.

Then there’s the flavoring agent in butter. It’s actually worse than MSG type natural flavors. This crap caused lung disease amongst a group of workers who worked in the factory where it was produced. And you know it also has salt on it. And not the good stuff. No pink Himalayan crystals or Celtic Sea Salt. Oh no, that would be too much like right. It’s that white, poisonous craps that’s on most American tables in salt shakers. Yet another bleached body toxin. And back to that sugar. I never saw the ingredient listed anywhere but it’s in there. Trust me. I’m a former sugar addict and I know sugar when I taste it. I’ve heard from others that they tasted it to so I’m definitely not crazy.

So what’s the solution? I’ve already shared it. Pop your own! You control the ingredients and I’ll let you figure out how to get it in but I’ll tell you this.

Popcorn 2

  • Get it from a clean source. I live in Ohio and we have some nice Amish people here who love to do things the old fashioned way and they just happen to sell popcorn.
  • Use extra virgin coconut oil instead of butter, canola oil, or whatever oil you use. Coconut oil can withstand high temperatures so it doesn’t become poisonous to your body when you eat it. Plus, it tastes like butter. In fact, better than butter. Using this oil makes it so my vegan and vegetarian homies can indulge, too.
  • Use pink Himalayan salt or Celtic Sea Salt instead of white table salt. Need I say more about that?
  • If you like cheese or that fake cheese flavoring, try nutritional yeast. People debate the benefits or lack thereof of nutritional yeast. I love it and so do my husband and children. It’s a staple in our home.

So there you have it. Now you know my movie theatre secret. Thanks for reading my true confession and I encourage you to enjoy this tasty snack.


Black History Hero: Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday was a true artist of her day and rose as a social phenomenon in the 1950s. Her soulful, unique singing voice and her ability to boldly turn any material that she confronted into her own music made her a superstar of her time. Today, Holiday is remembered for her masterpieces, creativity and vivacity, as many of Holiday’s songs are as well known today as they were decades ago. Holiday’s poignant voice is still considered to be one of the greatest jazz voices of all time.

Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan) grew up in jazz talent-rich Baltimore in the 1920s. As a young teenager, Holiday served the beginning part of her so-called “apprenticeship” by singing along with records by Bessie Smith or Louis Armstrong in after-hours jazz clubs. When Holiday’s mother, Sadie Fagan, moved to New York in search of a better job, Billie eventually went with her. She made her true singing debut in obscure Harlem nightclubs and borrowed her professional name – Billie Holiday – from screen star Billie Dove. Although she never underwent any technical training and never even so much as learned how to read music, Holiday quickly became an active participant in what was then one of the most vibrant jazz scenes in the country. She would move from one club to another, working for tips. She would sometimes sing with the accompaniment of a house piano player while other times she would work as part of a group of performers.

At the age of 18 and after gaining more experience than most adult musicians can claim, Holiday was spotted by John Hammond and cut her first record as part of a studio group led by Benny Goodman, who was then just on the verge of public prominence. In 1935 Holiday’s career got a big push when she recorded four sides that went on to become hits, including “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” and “Miss Brown to You.” This landed her a recording contract of her own, and then, until 1942, she recorded a number of master tracks that would ultimately become an important building block of early American jazz music.

Holiday began working with Lester Young in 1936, who pegged her with her now-famous nickname of “Lady Day.” When Holiday joined Count Basie in 1937 and then Artie Shaw in 1938, she became one of the very first black women to work with a white orchestra, an impressive accomplishment of her time.

In the 1930s, when Holiday was working with Columbia Records, she was first introduced to the poem “Strange Fruit,” an emotional piece about the lynching of a black man. Though Columbia would not allow her to record the piece due to subject matter, Holiday went on to record the song with an alternate label, Commodore, and the song eventually became one of Holiday’s classics. It was “Strange Fruit” that eventually prompted Lady Day to continue more of her signature, moving ballads.

Holiday recorded about 100 new recordings on another label, Verve, from 1952 to 1959. Her voice became more rugged and vulnerable on these tracks than earlier in her career. During this period, she toured Europe, and made her final studio recordings for the MGM label in March of 1959.

Despite her lack of technical training, Holiday’s unique diction, inimitable phrasing and acute dramatic intensity made her the outstanding jazz singer of her day. White gardenias, worn in her hair, became her trademark. “Singing songs like the ‘The Man I Love’ or ‘Porgy’ is no more work than sitting down and eating Chinese roast duck, and I love roast duck,” she wrote in her autobiography. “I’ve lived songs like that.”

Billie Holiday, a musical legend still popular today, died an untimely death at the age of 44. Her emotive voice, innovative techniques and touching songs will forever be remembered and enjoyed.

(source: http://www.billieholiday.com/)

Black History Hero: Dorthy Dandridge

Born on November 9, 1922, in Cleveland, Ohio, Dorothy Dandridge sang at Harlem’s Cotton Club and Apollo Theatre and became the first African-American woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for best actress. Many years passed before the mainstream entertainment industry acknowledged Dandridge’s legacy. In 1999, Halle Berry played Dandridge inIntroducing Dorothy Dandridge.


The New Anecdotal Prose Poem versus The 50 Shades of Gray Area in Book Publishing

People tend to be afraid of or unsure about things that are new. New styles of music takes years to get hip, new television shows dealing with powerful themes need to be absorbed by the viewers minds, and even books, unless written by someone already famous, takes a while to catch on.

Like the music industry today, unless an artist has built a platform (a following or fan base), publishing companies won’t pay you any mind. Plus in a city like Miami where street sales, even with a permit to do so is prohibited, unless you aren’t standing stationary, how can an author, even one who developed their own style of expressive writing respected by people with Ph.Ds make leeway?


The anecdotal prose poem is like an essay, which touches on a particular topic, that uses literary and poetic flair in some of the language, with anecdotes and short stories intertwined. As Patricia Ross of Hugo House Publishing (who holds a doctorate in English) said that Dragonflies in the Swamp is like an epic poem with the anecdotes, but it tells solid yet positive messages from a gritty place due to it speaking about the streets of Miami. Now if the author only had the thousands of dollars needed to have Hugo House market the book, then maybe this style of writing can get a shot of being found.

Teachers from Kansas, lawyers in Washington D.C., professors at Florida International University put this work in their libraries, and even publishing houses that has rejected this work showed respect by stating:

“Dear Mr. Brown,

Thank you for your recent submission to Greenleaf Book Group. We carefully reviewed your work and concluded that it does not fit our needs at this time. Our decision was based on a review of the following criteria:

Overall quality
Sales potential

‘Dragonflies in the Swamp’ did not meet our standards in the following areas:

Sales potential” 

– Greenleaf Book Group

For those who don’t know “sales potential” means doesn’t have a following. Great work with much to say, but because the author isn’t a known professor, magazine/newspaper columnist, lecturer on the cross country circuit for he’s finding out how that process works, or a pissy drunk celebrity leaving the club with no underwear on, then his work must sit in the dark for now. The author is finding out that he must go to literary events that are few and far between in South Florida, plus he began freelancing a few months ago, so his funds aren’t up to par enough yet for much promotion and pow wowing.


I spoke to a guy who wrote books a while back. He said that in Miami you must set up events in order to sell or make noise. The author of Dragonflies has done events that were scheduled to be on PBS South Florida (Lip Service), and has done smaller poetry events, and plans to do more. So of course, any bit of help is welcomed, so may this post fly into God’s mind and said to the world that it is good as well.

What more can this person do until he can hopefully find his stride on the lecture circuit and attain serious clientele as a copywriter, ghostwriter, and soon to be writing consultant.

He’s more than just some lone wolf type hiding behind a keyboard or typewriter. From what I understand, he wants to start a company that will not only publish books, but have departments that’ll provide:

  • Proofreading & editing
  • Write content for online usage for people and companies
  • Ghostwriting whole literary projects
  • Consult companies wanting to do their own written projects
  • Consult companies who need content for websites & blogs
  • Market and promote self-publishers with great content
  • Act as agent for self-publishers or authors who have something great they’ve created.

Sex sells, so with 50 Shades coming into theaters soon, I see nothing but horny single women, lonely housewives, and Grey fans checking this out. I guess along with strippers, the author of Dragonflies must write books about rich guys sleeping with freaky chicks who love being controlled S & M style, who has a huge c**k and doesn’t take orders from nobody but the Holy Trinity.

New weapons are being created everyday that get used in battle. New technologies are being funded by angel investors looking to get on board the next app, Google, Apple or even Facebook. New foods and beverages are bought up and sold quickly by food companies and supermarkets. Yet new authors, painters, musicians with amazing skills, who are innovators are left in the dust.

Traditional ways produced legendary artists and bands in music like Michael Jackson, Duke Ellington, The Who, Pink Floyd, Stevie Wonder, Tupac Shakur and the latest in Kendrick Lamar and Adele. But now we have so many one hit wonders, and fly-by-night singers and rappers its a shame. All because these whack artists won a contest on TV or built a fan base. Years ago, artists who got known from just fan base (the Chief Keefs, Kreayshawns, and the latest American Idol alums of the world), they were around, they just weren’t pushed because their quality of work didn’t match with the legends we know today.

Traditional ways produced writers such as Steven King, J.K. Rowling, Ernst Hemingway, and countless others. Many folks have told me that people don’t read anymore. Yet those who claim not to read love to read comments on posts, after they’ve read an article they saw on Facebook, or looked on blog sites where tales such as Twilight get spawned from.


Dragonflies touches on sex, how to motivate oneself, how to get money, how to be a better person everyday, and how not to get your ass kicked by cops. Yet the author must keep finding ways to sell books, be heard, and respected without breaking any laws or told “niggas don’t read” every so often.

Yeah, you can promote and grind yourself, but to do it all takes a team of people who believe in you, and who see that dealing with you brings in money. The anecdotal prose needs to be heard, but it takes funds, fans and word of mouth. You can either buy a book, or order a service, either way, if things don’t get done, know that America had a shot at introducing something new to the world other than Young Thug and stealth drones.

In the long run, Pip N Pens Literary, Copy Writing, & Consulting Company must get the funds to push people, and provide services. It must wait until another author comes in with a book filled with short stories and anecdotal prose poems, hopefully just the prose poems. In the long run, contests will be held for the most epic of anecdotal prose. And in the long run, all genres of books shall be published through Pip N Pens. This new way of writing and business shall see sunlight. It just gotta make its way out of the valley of death filled thinking.

Nicholas Brown, author of Dragonflies in the Swamp and coauthor of So You Want To Be A Stripper?






Welcome to the Swamp BlogTalk:



email:  pipnpens@gmail.com



It’s not often that I go to the movies. Matter of fact, I don’t go to the movies at ALL anymore because 1) There’s no good movies I’d want to go see and 2) On top of all that, it costs too much! I shouldn’t have to decide whether to eat for the week OR go to the movies. Nah, I’m good. BUT last Tuesday, I won two free movie passes in an email from ReelBlack to see the screening of Beyond the Lights before it was released in theaters everywhere that Friday and so, I went with my dear Elder, Baba Ogun at the Pearl Theater on Broad & Oxford. (I actually saw it TWICE because I went to see again on Saturday when I went with my King). 😉 ❤


Brief Plot Summary

Beyond the Lights is a film by Gina Prince-Bythewood (writer and director of Love and Basketball), that gives us a REALISTIC and RAW glimpse of what it’s like to be a female pop star on the rise, all the levels of intense pressures that come along with fame, and even the infamous shade of the music industry. From the over-sexualizing of women (particularly women of COLOR) to the “trapped in contract” situation reminiscent of what’s known to us in real life as the “360 deal,” these experiences through the eyes of the main character Noni Jean (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) made me quickly shift my own perspective of celebrities, including those who I’ve thrown shade at in the past myself.

This film offers a small twist of the classic love story of “damsel-in-distress” and a big, strong, fine hunk of a man swooping in to save the day, this time in the form of young police officer and rising politician, Kaz Nicol (Nate Parker). Both living under their own brand of stress and trying so hard to live up to the expectations of everyone around them, Noni and Kaz both find a kind of solace and peace in each other’s presence. They find out soon after meeting that they can truly “see” one another, and with that….a warm blossoming of feelings come into play.

But in the midst of all this, can and will Noni ever be able open her heart and follow her voice both onstage and off, or will she be just another industry puppet on strings forever drowning in the noise of the world?


Rating (Out of 5 Stars) 4 Stars



All in all, Ms. Bythewood and her crew executed this film with sheer excellence, and I can really appreciate the symbolism used throughout the movie, in particular, Noni’s ever-racy gear topped with “fashionable” gold cuffs and chains all over her body representing her “slavery” to the music industry and circumstances in her life.



Even though the entire movie was breathtaking and eye-opening in general, there are two specific scenes that stood out to me the most: what I’ll just call the Balcony Scene and the Runaway Lovers Scene. In the Balcony Scene Kaz, who was merely there at the hotel to guard Noni’s door found himself playing the hero as he raced inside the hotel room in response to Macy Jean’s (Noni’s mother; Minnie Driver) screams as she watched her daughter sitting quietly on the ledge of the balcony railing, ready to give up on everything around her. This is when Noni and Kaz first  interact with each other. There’s just something so powerful about the fact that a mere stranger managed to reach the hidden, hurting Noni Jean behind the glamorous, rising pop star mask within mere SECONDS of calling out to her.

On the flip side, I view the Runaway Lovers Scene in contrast to the Balcony Scene. After a humiliating and disastrous showdown at the BET Awards in front of millions of viewers worldwide, Noni and Kaz run off together to get away from the media circus frenzy that ensued right after the awards show. Taking refuge in a beautiful, earthy, tranquil spot in Mexico, Noni and Kaz’s relationship reaches a turning point.

These are honestly exchanges you’ll have to see on the screen and experience for yourself to TRULY appreciate the Energy of these particular scenes. ❤


As much as I absolutely LOVED this movie, appreciated the message and lessons this movie taught, having watched it TWICE, I DID notice a quite a few “loose ends” and other things that I thought took away from the movie a little bit. One is the issue of  race. Seeing as the character of Noni Jean is biracial (half-white, half-black), I wish a little bit more could’ve been covered in that aspect. Like, tying in with all the pressures that the music industry puts on women, for BLACK women or women of COLOR in particular, there is an extreme emphasis placed on “lightskinned” and “mixed” women as being the Ideal Woman if one wanted to go anywhere near what’s to be considered a Black Woman. On the same note, we don’t really get much about Macy Jean and her background other than that ONE SCENE where she briefly opens up to Noni about how she came to be. I found it particularly interesting that Macy Jean called Noni a “black baby” instead of a “mixed,” “biracial,” or even (dare I say it) a “mulatto” baby. Interesting choice of words, that’s all. There are other examples that could be categorized under the discussion of race but the depths I wish to go on this goes beyond this review, so…I’ll save that for another day.

One other thing that somewhat bothered me was how Kaz never really said much. As much as I felt the chemistry between the two, I felt like Noni was the one who MADE each scene and Kaz was more of the “stationary reactor.” (The one scene that irked me the most was when Kaz threw his bracelet in the sea after his rift with Noni. I think given the circumstances, THAT was a bit extreme). For a such a firm, righteous, moral man who was a policeman and upcoming politician who lived by inspiring quotations Scarecrow-from-The-Wiz-like…Kaz was a man of little words. Maybe it was part of his character, but if that was the case, I don’t think that translated very well into the movie, which may or may not say something about Nate Parker’s acting in this role. Either way, that part of Kaz’s demeanor made absolutely no sense to me.


Beyond the Lights is DEFINITELY worth the time and money to go see. It inspired ME even more as an artist and as a person. NOT TO MENTION…thanks to this movie, I’ve been listening to a LOT of Nina Simone. The end result of having one specific song of hers on repeat as I rode the bus the next day is….an idea for a new painting! I won’t tell you what it is yet but…yes. This is ALL a chain reaction from seeing this film. So go check it out! You won’t regret it. You’ll gain insight, be inspired, not to mention, feel good about supporting a BLACK INDEPENDENT FILM. ❤

If you’ve already seen it, feel free to share YOUR thoughts and reviews below in the comments section. I’d love to have a discussion with you about it! 😉

~SOULar Lioness XOXO

P.S., If you’re interested in the Beyond the Lights Soundtrack, it’s from Relativity Music Group and you can download it here on Amazon or iTunes.

Check Out This Amazing Trailor from “North East Africa- Hidden Truth”

Dark skinned  people are the original inhabitants of the part of the earth now referred to as the “Middle East”