Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 is gone already?

That's right kids its time to feel old. We're ten years into the new millenium, the 21st century and what have we accomplished thus far? Let's run down some of the highlights of the past year, in a little tribute to one of my favorite movies.

The Good

Lets start with one of the recent headlines.

Some German doctors cured AIDS. Seriously...if that's not something doesn't go down in history as beng important this year, I don't know what will. AIDS. Despite what you may have been led to believe by Magic Johnson's amazing life, AIDS kills people. And while they haven't found THE cure, they did manage to cure AIDS. Its a step in the right direction.

The Saints won the Superbowl. I know, I know technically they won the 2009 Superbowl, but they won it in 2010 so...I'm counting it. They brought hope and happiness to a city that had undergone so much trying to rebuild. But that's only a drop in the bucket of what that win meant. The Saints had never won a SuperBowl. Drew Breeze managed to do something Archie never could. And in the process, I think completely cemented his place in the HOF. He's definitely a first rounder.

Staying in the world of sports, here's the good. Blake Griffin has begun his rookie year, and he started it by becoming the king of the highlight reel. Don't know who Blake Griffin is? Allow him to reintroduce himself. The sick part about the kid is that this should have been his sophomore effort, had it not been for a season killing knee surgery that took place before he even got on court. After seeing so many explosive athletes get taken under by injuries, its good to see one succeed, especially one as ridiculous as Blake "The Great Light Hope" Griffin.

2010 was the year of the domesticated rapper, with Drake and Kid Cudi leading the way. No more verbal threats and stories of drug deals gone wrong. Now suddenly rappers are talking about being depressed, lonely, the struggles of trying to be successful, and how they just want to be happy. And you know what? It's refreshing. I personally don't really relate to rappers who talk about slanging rocks on the corner. Its a new century, and the majority of rap's listeners don't respect the dope boy like they used to. So what if you sell drugs? Can you spit these bars? Big up to the lyricist movement (Charles Hamilton, J. Cole, Big Sean, Wale, B.O.B.) coming in with this, with more rappers being openly jovial and intelligent about the world and how they choose to disseminate it.

Kenan Thompson on SNL has finally hit it big...well SNL big. He's finally found his niche and he is killing it. Don't believe me? Watch this and tell me you don't laugh.

The Bad

This was a bad year to be a head coach in the NFL. Two coaches lost their teams and lost their jobs, and there are at least three more in the hot seat. What happened? Well the Cowboys came out and just flat out underachieved. There's not excuse for that, for them or for Phillips. And the Vikings pretty much let Brett Favre throw their coach's job to the other team, not to mention anonymous players in the Vikings organization coming forward to ESPN to bad mouth their coach. Maybe its the upcoming CBA that has all the players riled up against the coaches, or even against THE MAN!

Waka Flocka Flames. I will not dedicate more than a few sentences to this dude. But he...just wasn't good. I can't label his music ugly though, because those beats are fire! Its hard to hate a dude when his songs get you so amped. I'm sorry, I can't.

And...the Ugly

First on my list of ugly, one Mr. Antoine Dodson. He, in and of himself, is not an ugly person. But he has made some decisions to land him squarely on this list. First, I understand that he was just doing an interview and somebody heard it, autotuned it and made him an web sensation. I'm not mad about that. I think it was funny, even though I will say it appears to be funny at the expense of Mr. Dodson and impoverished, uneducated black people everywhere (much like blackface) but that's not why this is ugly. That's simply bad. Here's the ugly.

That...is so...I can't.

Let's just move on.

SNL...What happened to you? You used to be so beautiful. And now all of your sketches are flat, your homerun hitters are dialing in performances, and the people who YOU held down because they weren't "ready" are the only bright spots in your show. The best sketch on a show that has Live in its title really shouldn't be prerecorded. Speaking of which, I hear Justin Timberlake wants to join up. I want to see him on the show, but I'm afraid even his buoyancy won't be able to pull the Titanic that is your show out of the ocean of mediocrity. And I know that analogy isn't fair. Because at least the Titanic could blame a glacier. What was your glacier?

A man walked into a school board meeting and opened fire on the people he believed to be responsible for taking his wife's job before eventually taking his own life. Why? I think the ugly part about all of this is that it was caught entirely on tape and of course it was all over youtube and the media. If I post a snatched video of a mainstream artist, it gets pulled down in minutes, but you let this man's last insane minutes stay up? Sure we don't see him kill himself, but we see him discharge a firearm at the school board members. I'm guilty of adding to the spread of that video, since I posted it here and on Twitter, but in retrospect, I wish that we could've respected that man and his life and never let that video into the public eye.

Honorable (or dishonorable) mentions:
Leann Rimes got pregnant by another woman's husband and is marrying him? UGLY!
Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett Johanson are divorcing after only two years of marriage. Bad.
Healthcare bill passed but may still not make it because of the party shift within Congress UGLY
The sudden surge and swell of the Tea Party members? UGLY!
Scott Pilgrim vs the World (the Movie) didn't recoup its budget in the box office despite being ambitious, well-made, having an established fan base, and a 81% fresh Rotten Tomatoes rating. This is why good movies continue to not get made. You people deserve an UGLY for this one.
Tyler Perry promises to rebuild an 88 year old grandmothers house in Atlanta after it catches fire...Good and yes it does pain me to say it. That house is being paid for with blood money.
Shanahan benches Donovan McNabb for not being physically or mentally sharp enough to run his system? UGLY

And finally:

Kanye replaces his bottom row of teeth with diamonds...diamonds, ladies and gentleman. I can't even label that.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I can't say this enough:

violence is never the answer. I don't care how bad your life is. Stop the madness.

Don't be this guy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

April 06, 2005

Don't Sweat The Small Stuff

You know how people talk about the glass being half full or half empty? I personally don't agree with that particular illustration of pessimism and optimism, but it does help us to understand that there is more than just one way to view things. For instance, if I'm a waiter, that glass of water signifies more than just water and air. That's the walk I'll have to take to get the pitcher of water to fill it up some more. Maybe I'm an athlete who's just finished working out. That's a glass that I'll want to drink. Maybe I'm a basketball player holding the glass on the bench. That glass signifies either my remaining rest from a hard night's work, or something for me stare at in shame as some younger guy takes my job from me. Hey, different strokes for different folks.

The same thing can be said of just everyday life in general. Some people swear that nothing ever goes their way. And honestly, I can relate. Life is full of small events that add up to larger events, and while a large event may go well, a handful of small events going bad can ruin an entire day. All of us have had what we'd call, not-one-of-our-days. Days when nothing's going your way. I know I've had those days. I've had those weeks, and maybe even those months. But its really all in how you look at it. Sure some things really are bad, but you know what? Most things can be looked at positively. So you spilled your soda on yourself? So what, it'll dry, you can wash it out, and being embarrassed about it only needs to last a minute afterwards. Car accident? That's why you spend all your money on car insurance. If you're alive enough to worry about it afterwards, and if you're not hurt congrats. You just won a new (to you) car. Granted, you've paid for it with your own money, but take the check and go find a car you like. Get fired from your job? Yes, but chances are either A)you deserved to get fired, in which case, you now have time to really introspectively think about that, or B)the job was unfair, and even then why would you want to work at a place that unfair anyway? Got laid off? Make a resume, turn it in, and use the extra time between jobs wisely.

My point is, sure life is hard. There's a lot of harsh realities that we have to face everyday. So why sweat the small stuff? Sure I had to clean pink lemonade outta my car today, but at least I got it clean. And yeah, I paid two bucks for Gatorade at Samuel Walden's Market, that the cashier never bagged or handed to me, even after I specifically ASKED her if she gave me everything. But so what? That's why I work, so when money goes away, I earn it back. In the long run, I'll still get my gatorade, I'll just have to pay more for it. Its all in the outlook. I'm not saying see the world through rose coloured glasses, and that there's nothing bad at all in the world. Oh, no, things like death, poverty, terminal illness, and immorality are indeed bad. And being robbed isn't fun, but if you live through it, they didn't take what mattered. And that's your life.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

All the "-Ism's" Are NOT Alike

Why is every case of discrimination in America compared to racism automatically? Am I the only one that thinks this marginalizes what the black race has been through, and continues to go through on a regular basis?

I feel like I should first start this post off by saying that yes, I am biased. That's right. I'll admit that I'm human and I'm more sympathetic towards certain types of people. Everyone is. I honestly can relate more to someone who is in the same position as I am economically, physically or emotionally. For instance, in a conversation where parents talk about their children and how hard it is to be a parent, I have no input and truthfully I can't relate. My entire opinion on the subject is, "well maybe you shouldn't have had children". That's it. I'm single, and that same line of reasoning occurs when a friend calls me and complains (this doesn't happen much anymore either) about how much his wife is getting on his nerves. Well, maybe you should've thought about that before you got married. Those are the breaks. So when it comes to bigger overlying social issues, I am willing to admit that, yes, I am biased in how much I can really empathize with people who are dissimilar to me. However this knowledge means that I personally feel that I should put forth more effort to learn about how hard it is for people who are not like me, so that at the very least, I can have an informed opinion, and not just say something ignorant or biased.

As a black man, I am well aware of the many social struggles of my race. As a child, I was told first person accounts of the fight for integration, and of how even after segregation was no longer legislated, it was still enforced in a much more covert and subversive way. Am I scholar on the trials and tribulations of the black race as a whole? No. But I do have a thorough understanding of what happened in that time period. So when I see articles where some pundit comparing a form of discrimination to the struggle by black people for equality in America (a fight that is still ongoing)it bothers me a little. Here's why.

I didn't choose to be black. I was born black. I can't pretend that I'm not black. And most importantly, there's nothing I can do about being black. If you can't insert your discriminated against group into all those sentences, then their plight is not similar. Am I saying that these groups don't have the right to equality, that they don't have has hard a fight? No. What I am saying, is these groups are cheapening the struggles of black people by using them as their rallying cry.

What started me on this rant is an article i read in The Week (which by the way is one of my favorite news journals. Its fairly objective. In my eyes at least). In an article speaking about fattists and how a growing number of people are being discriminated against because of being "overweight" or "obese" (which coincidentally, fat people activists, or fativists, feel are socially loaded terms) it quotes Josh Shahryar as saying letting a former anorexic write about a television show depicting fat people is "like asking an on-again-off-again KKK member to critique Roots." (Read his full statement here)

Really? So discrimination against fat people is comparable to what black people underwent? Really Josh Shahryar? I don't think a history lesson is in order, but I have yet to see anyone hang a fat person. I don't think anyone's burned a cross in the yards of the new fat neighbors. Am I saying they're not being discriminated against? No. I agree wholeheartedly that we as a nation really do come down hard on fat people, and they are mistreated. My race is much maligned, but right now, being black is far more accepted than being fat. So I get it. But a KKK member, to this day, would tie me behind a pick up truck and drag me behind it until the asphalt ran red with my blood. To compare being fat to being black in this context is to cheapen what black people have gone through, simply to prove a point, which didn't even require an example that extreme to prove.

And last I checked, being fat was a health issue. It may very well be genetic. But you know what? There are procedures and programs to help people who are fat to come to terms with weight control. I don't care how much I run, work out, or have surgery, I'm still going to be black. I'm not black because I've gotten too black to try to lose some of this black, I was black when I was born and I'm going to be black when I die, which coincidentally could probably be at the hands of some racist police officer who didn't like the fact that I'm black. So, Josh Shahryar before you start shooting off your pen and writing in uprage about how much like racism fattism is, remember this: racism isn't some history book chapter that we can all look back on and laugh. Racism is still happening. And to belittle it so that we'll take mistreating fat human beings as equals more seriously is even more offensive than a cross burning in my yard, or a job not hiring me because they don't feel comfortable around black people. Its the same type of ignorance, and for someone who is a self-described activist you sicken me.

To fat people who have stumbled on this blog, I say, I respect you as human beings, and as long as you are humans, I won't make fun of you, judge you, or discriminate against you. But please understand this: my struggles as a black human are not your struggles as a fat human. They are not lesser or greater, they are simply not the same. Please don't cheapen what I go through, or what my family members went through by asserting that they are the same.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Auburn vs Oregon

I've got to be blatantly honest with you. I've been looking forward to this day ever since Alabama took a loss, and it became evident that Auburn was going to have the best chance to represent the SEC in the national championship game. I am an Alabama fan first, and an SEC fan second. I really don't like Oregon, and I hate how much every sports analyst and writer can't seem to stop praising their speed and their "explosiveness" and how they are the best team in the nation, ad nauseum. First let me state, that Oregon is a great team. They do have a lot of quick offensive players, and they are ranked number one in the nation. The question remains, though, can Auburn beat Oregon? Let's take a look at their record shall we?

Strength of schedule doesn't count, I know, but you can measure how talented any undefeated team is by looking at how well other teams have fared against the teams they've beaten. Oregon played New Mexico, Tennessee, Portland State, Arizona State, Washington State, Stanford, UCLA, USCalifornia, Washington, California, Arizona and Oregon State. They've outscored their opponents 529 - 221, meaning an average game score for them is 49 - 18. That's just impressive. I can't deny that. But as you scroll through their opponents you'll notice something interesting. As a whole, Oregon has only played two top ten AP team (Stanford and Arizona) and was ranked at least top 10. Defensively, you can only claim that Stanford was their true defensive test. Stanford's defense allowed 17.8 points per game for their opponents. Oregon, even though they have a considerable number of shutouts, has only managed to allow 18.4.

I don't want to miss the point that Oregon put up 52 points on one of the nations top ten rated defenses. (Check the stats here) Auburn, as a contrasting example, played Alabama (14.1 pts/game) LSU (17.8/game) and Clemson (17.8) and managed to win by seven points or less in each case.

Statistics show that Oregon can put up points, and that tends to make who they're playing one-dimensional, as the other team struggles to keep up with the Duck's offense. Speaking strictly statistically, Oregon should win this game. The only edge I can give to Auburn is they have faced truly stout defenses and beat them on several occasions, while Oregon's closest game came against the Golden Bears, a near loss which came in large part due to the Golden Bears running game shredding the Ducks smaller defense, which really reveals their only true weakness. If Auburn's Cam Newton, who has shown that both his arm and his feet are valid weapons in any situation, can do what he does best, the Tigers may very well be putting a bittersweet end to the Duck's season.