Thursday, December 30, 2010


- Antoine Dodson, WTH???
- Alvin Green. C'mon man, stop trying to run already, and just get a regular job. Somewhere, anywhere!
- Nikki Haley. South Carolina, how in the world did she get voted in? Makes me wanna move to North Carolina with the quickness.
- Lady Gaga (and that meat dress). She just keeps getting stranger and stranger.
- Blockbuster. Y'all in trouble, Redbox and Netflix are eating your lunch. Y'all better get it together in 2011!
- Alltel in Gaffney, great service, signal, but refusing to merge with Verizon. What are y'all going to do when they get the iPhone, the new Droid, and 4G coverage?
- Brett Favre (again). Dang man you keep messing up and causing trouble. Just go back to Kiln, MS already and enjoy your retirement.
- Dallas Cowboys, y'all always seem to underachieve. Thing is, this is a pretty good team this year, y'all just lack effort and consistency.
- Carolina Panthers. Y'all just need to cut everyone and start from scratch
- Drake. Dang man you're all over the radio, every frikkin hour. Plus you sold out. You're a much better rapper and artist than you're showing. Young Money is making you a borderline coon.
- Award shows. They're waaay too many, especially country music shows. There's, what, like 6 of them alone/year?
- Health insurance. It's just rising waaay too high, and gets to where you can't even afford medication now. C'mon healthcare reform, take effect!
- The Shake weight. I'm sure it gets some results, but really? You can't take that seriously as an effective way to sculpt your arms.
- Phaedra Parks (of #RHOA). Seriously, did you think anyone was going to believe that you were full-term pregnant at 7 months? Why don't you just admit that your baby was conceived a couple of months before marriage?
- Minnesota Vikings. Y'all are just a halfway house and a hot mess right now. Y'all seem like the Raiders at the moment.
- Cam Newton. C'mon dude, how can you risk your college and pro career like that? Have you not learned from Marcus Dupree, the SMU debacle, and most recently Reggie Bush? You had a second chance already at Division I college football. SMH!
- Dr. Laura, you should have known better. Once again, a person that failed to learn from recent history.
- Lebron James (and "The Decision"). Maan talk about narcissist! All that aside, I'm glad you're going somewhere where you have a decent shot at a championship ring.
- Dan Gilbert. You acted like a scorned lover and an all-around crybaby over the Lebron situation. Granted, he left the Cavs high and dry. But you weren't making any moves to try and cover your behind in case he left.
- Waka Flocka Flames: c'mon man, stop rapping, just stop talking period. Go to Sylvan!
- Bishop Eddie Long. Another example of a corrupt, crooked minister, smh again
That's all folks! I enjoyed blogging this year, and wait and see what I have for 2011. Until then, Happy New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Don't forget the milk and bread and stay off the roads, it's inclement weather!

I've grown up and lived in the South pretty much all of my life. Therefore, it's typically mild to humid most of the year except for mid-November to early March. During this time, this is when the winter weather warnings can wreak havoc on vacation plans, work schedules, and just being able to get out of your house. Whether it's snow, sleet, ice, or freezing rain, inclement winter weather can either be refreshing, a buzz kill, or just a distraction.

Winter's not even officially here yet and already in this season we've have two threats of winter weather in the past few days. This past Thursday, there was sleet and freezing rain, forcing a two-hour delay for the local schools and from my job. Saturday, there was sleet and light snow flurries. Nothing major came of that. However, I had plans to go to Shelby and hang out but those were deferred.

I remember being back in school (and even working for the state of South Carolina) that it was almost always exciting when winter weather came through. You were out of school and/or work, and it was a big party basically. However, if it prolonged for too long (the weather) and too much school was missed, you had to make it up in the spring and it would cut into Spring Break. Not cool.

If you work for any organization (school, bank, post office, etc) that deals with the government and/or state, you're pretty much set to go far as days off from work. You're off from work and you don't have to worry about not getting paid, your pay getting cut, or even using any of your vacation or sick time. However, if this isn't the case and you don't have any vacation or sick time at work, then that can hurt. I'm currently out of all of my available time. I only lost out on two hours this past week, which wasn't too bad. However, I'm praying that any severe winter weather will subside until January since I cannot afford to miss any time or hours from work.

The winter weather is also not exciting for me to even play in. When I was a child, I would make snow angels, build snowmen, get into snowball fights, etc. The only REAL thrill now regarding snow is when there's enough of it to make snow cream. Now that's the business!! I believe folks that live up North take having snow cream pretty much on a weekly basis for granted. However, typically when it's bad weather and I can't leave, I'll lay around my house and sleep. I may watch TV, movies and eat in between, but I'm basically staying in the bed. Just can't get into all of that weather.

So while many of you look forward to this type of weather for various reasons, especially right now hoping for a White Christmas, you go ahead. Don't expect me to share your enthusiasm. Give me that good Fall-like weather anyday, the type of weather that I can ACTUALLY go out driving in without a greater risk of sliding, crashing, and dying. I do not own a SUV or a 4-wheeled drive vehicle and even if I did, I doubt I would be cruising in horrible weather. What's the point?

And finally, about everyone buying up the milk and bread. I can't get the fascination, especially for households that barely consume milk and/or bread. I prefer to stock up on supplies I actually use regularly and may not be able to get for a couple of days. Sometimes that is milk and bread, sometimes it isn't. However, out of shear habit, you best believe that if the National Weather Advisory is calling for winter weather, there will be a run on milk and bread.

So whenever we receive more of this terrible weather, enjoy yourselves with whatever you do. Get out in it. Drink some liquor and wine to stay warm. Just don't call or text me and expect an immediate answer. I'll be catching up on my ZZZs until the weather improves, which fortunately in the South isn't usually long.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Friday Night Lights: the best show NOT being watched, period!

These days of reality television such as American Idol, Survivor, Dancing With The Stars and Bad Girls Club has wreaked havoc on certain quality shows, almost killing off traditional sitcoms. However, hour-long dramas are still relevant. HBO and TNT has been featuring these for years. Now the CW has followed suit. Shows such as True Blood, NCIS, and the now-canceled 24 and Lost captivate the main-stream audience. Episodes of such dramas contain so much info, action and suspense that each week is almost like a movie. Well the 5 year old drama Friday Night Lights definitely falls in this category. Problem is, not many folks are taking note of it, or paying it any attention.

If you could put a single series right now under the word "unsung" in the dictionary, it would definitely be Friday Night Lights. It is the best show currently on TV, bar-none, and gets little to no respect. It premiered in October 2006 on NBC from the brain of Peter Berg and adapted from the 2004 movie of the same name. It started out being just about a small town in West Texas and their beloved football team. But now the show has evolved into sooo more. This show has covered subjects and issues such as abortion, rape, rehab, teenage romances, dementia, interracial dating, infidelity and much more. Plus you throw in football, which keeps the football fan's attention. The first season was a success despite low ratings. The second season fell short in quality and length, due mostly to the infamous Writer's Strike of 2008. NBC was then set to pull the plug on the series. They then struck a deal with DirecTV. DirecTV would get exclusive rights to air the 3rd season first, then NBC would air them towards the end of the programming season (April-August) to allow ratings titans such as The Office and new shows room. The deal worked out so well DirecTV agreed to a 2-year deal, with this being the 5th and final season.

It goes without saying that if you are not watching this show you are definitely missing out. Kyle Chandler (Early Edition, Lyon's Den) stars as the show's head football coach Eric Taylor. He deals with several challenges on and off the gridiron. As many real-life coaches do, he has to play father to many of his teammates while balancing home life as a husband and a father of a college-age teenager and a toddler. Many notable acting names have either had starring roles or cameos. These includes Connie Britton as Tami Taylor, Eric's wife, Brad Leland as Buddy Garrity, notable town businessman and booster, Jurnee' Smollett, as Jess Merriweather who dated the nerdy kicker but now is dating the star QB, and has went from dance team member to rally girl to equipment manager. You also have Michael B. Jordan (some of you know him as Wallace from the HBO series "The Wire") as Vince Howard, star QB in this season and the previous season. Other names include Steve Harris, who played Virgil "Big Mary" Merriweather, Jess's father, and owner's of Ray's BBQ, and Grey Damon (from the aforementioned True Blood) as Hastings Ruckle, a basketball star-converted wideout. Quality TV at its finest!

Some of you are probably like "Well I'd like to view it, but I don't have DirecTV." No problem. While the series had a very short-lived run on ABC Family in syndication, there are DVDs available of all four seasons for purchase and rental. Many of you may be buying the DVDs once you rent them from Netflix. Also, season 5 will be premiering sometime in May. Don't miss it, it's the final one!

The thing is, this show simply goes against the grain, is very realistic and dramatic, and simply exciting. I often find myself watching episodes 3-4 times to make sure I didn't miss the smallest detail. Plus it's so easy to relate to the characters as they experience real, everyday problems and express many emotions. There is also plenty of eye candy for both sexes. Connie Britton, Jurnee' Smollett, Madison Burge, just to name a few for the fellas. Michael B. Jordan, Matt Lauria, and Grey Damon just to name some hunks for the ladies.

Friday Night Lights will most likely be one of those shows that once it does end, people will talk about it constantly and wish it were still here, like "Arrested Development" or other shows of its liking that had loyal fanbases, quality actors and storylines, but low ratings.

It kills me when folks are slaves to ratings, and what's the buzz in TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly and on Twitter. Might I suggest watching what you like for a change, and what's REALLY good? I express some of this in my blog months ago "Keeping it 100?". How many of us REALLY, really like the shows that we watch weekly.

I know I not only like but LOVE Friday Night Lights! Although I think 5 seasons has been really good for this show, it still hasn't gotten the respect it sorely deserves. But I like it, will miss it, and will continue to watch the episodes long after it's gone. Who's with me?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Getting in shape, working on your fitness goal: why the time is NOW!

There are less than 30 days left in 2010 which means it's almost time for folks to begin making New Year's Resolutions. One of the top ones every year is to lose weight, get in better shape, etc. During the first of the year, gyms, fitness centers, and YMCAs around the country are flooded with folks purchasing memberships and joining to work towards their goals. Many of these folks don't last till March. They simply get caught up in the craze and may not have definite fitness goals and motivation, outside of a brand new year. I refer to these types of folks in another blog as "Holiday Hoppers".

My thing is if you want to get into better shape or if you have a different goal, the time is NOW, or even earlier in the year. I personally like to start my new fitness goals around September or October. Many folks say they do not want to try and lose weight during Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays. They feel it defeats the purpose and they want to start anew during January.

I'm a self-proclaimed "gym-rat", working out 4-5 times/week for at least an hour per session (as I've explained in previous blogs). I've been working out for a long time, have had success losing weight, and even giving advice on how to lose weight using traditional tried-and-true methods. It does seem easier to start in January but it really isn't. Between September-December (now), the gyms are actually not as full, not even during the beginning of the week. Come January, you will have nearly every treadmill, bike, ellipitical and weight bench full during many hours, and especially in the afternoons when the larger crowds are present. It's harder in my mind to get into shape and maintain when you can't work out on what you want to, or what you feel really comfortable on.

Also, you get a head-start and you begin to develop a plan for yourself, what works for you, what doesn't. If you're taking a fitness class or you've hired a trainer, you've also had ample time to see how the class is going to work out, and if the trainer/instructor gives you what you're looking for. Think of the final few months of the year as your jump-off point. Then come January 2nd, hit the ground running full blast. It's even possible to lose weight during the holidays, so you can already have momentum and your metabolism flowing, making it easier to reach your New Year's Resolutions. You will then be less likely to drop out of the gym.

I know all too well how hard it is to stick to a diet during the holiday season and even to have time to workout with extra vacation time with family, Christmas shopping, etc. You could just start out very slowly, with a couple of times/week for about 30 minutes/day. Plus, reserve your holiday eating for the ACTUAL holidays and weekends. I've mentioned before this are ideal free days, or "cheat days".

Most importantly, it's crucial to have the right mindset going into achieving your goals. Make sure you're really doing this for yourself. You may want to improve your look, or even your health. However, one must REALLY make sure they want it, or they will not stick with it. It's a tough and a long process. It's easier with a defined goal and a step-by-step, simple plan.

I think it's great people are thinking about their health since the USA is the most obese country in the world. The intentions are there and are great. Now they just need to be timely and more thought out so that long-term results can be gained. And if I can help in that matter in any way, I certainly will. Keep reading guys!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My journey with my finger

This has been the weekend that we have designated for giving thanks for friends, family, blessings in our life, etc. This hasn't been the best year of my life in many aspects, but it has been far from my worst. One of the things that I've been giving thanks for the past two months has been the speedy recovery of my dislocated right pinkie finger that I suffered over Labor Day weekend.

Many of you know by now that I pretty much live in the gym, doing a wide variety of activities from weight lifting, cardio, basketball, aerobics and most recently ZUMBA. On the Friday before Labor Day of this year, I was playing a 2 on 2 pickup basketball game at the gym. It was getting pretty rough and intense. I couldn't hit water from a boat, shotwise, but my defense was on that day. I was going against one of the best outside shooters that comes to our gym and I was shutting him down. I was making him drive to the basket. We both went up for a rebound and our hands collided. When I came down, I felt a little pain in my right pinkie. I figured it was a little bump until I looked at my finger. It was disfigured and bent the other direction. I held it up and asked the other guys what they thought and they were all like "WHOAA!!!!" I immediately left and went to the emergency room. That's when the pain started subsiding. They put my finger in a splint, prescribed some pain meds, and left me with a lot of concern as to what I was going to do next.

I didn't know how long I was going to have to be out of work, the gym, and if I was going to be able to play in the upcoming alumni football game I was helping organize. I really was doing a lot of praying during this time, especially that Labor Day weekend. I never really realize how valuable my pinkies were until that moment right there.

Since it was Labor Day weekend, I went to the doctor on Tuesday after I went to work and informed my employers of the situation. The doctor performed another X-ray, and took my finger out of the splint. I still couldn't move it much without any pain so the doctor recommend that I take it light on my finger until I could move it and see him again in a week. If I couldn't move the finger any better, I would have to undergo therapy. I stayed out of work for a week, dissolving the rest of my vacation and sick time (that's the policy at my job if you take leave and it's not their fault). It turns out I had just enough time to cover just that time fortunately. I only worked out three days before I saw the doctor again, only cardio and abs. By Saturday, I could move my finger much better, but I still couldn't make a fist. Nevertheless, that next Tuesday, the doctor was pleased that I could move my finger without any pain, and cleared me to work and do more activity.

During my personal research and diagnosis, I was told that my injury could take 3-6 weeks or longer to heal. Well, inside of 4 weeks, I could make a fist. By 6 weeks, I had very minimal pain and was basically healed. I still experience a little pain, but nothing serious nor substantial. I had to baby my finger for so long and I do get cautious about it, especially when I bump it accidently. However, I'm more confident in what I can do with my finger, and grateful about my recovery.

It could have been much, much worse. I could have broken my arm or leg, or have had required surgery that would have kept me out of work for weeks and lost myself money, even with my company's short-term disability plan. I look back now at what happened and smile. I'm glad things turned out the way that they did. I now practice even more safety measures, especially with my style of play on the basketball court. I plan on using my vacation and sick time more carefully (which I usually do anyways) when I receive it again in January. Moreover, I'm doing my best not to take ANY of my limbs for granted.

Once again, this hasn't been the best year for me but I know things could be far, far worse. Now I'm grateful for the little things, like being able to type this blog with ALL ten of my fingers, give someone a firm handshake without pain (which took almost all 6 weeks to be able to do), and for a newer perspective on life.

Someone reminded me on Facebook that there are 33 days left of 2010. I will do what I can to make these 33 the best I can, and to make the most out of 2011. I've had worse setbacks than the one I suffered almost three months ago now, I'm a strong-willed, determined person. I'm not gonna let anything keep me down for long. I will enjoy life and what it has given and taken from me.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Black (or Whack Friday): is it REALLY worth it?

Thanksgiving is almost here, which means the morning after (or in some cases, the night of) is Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year. I commonly refer to it as "Whack" Friday because it's a huge, violent, crazy, adrenaline-rushed mess.

Black Friday has gotten way out of hand over the years. Stores release their catalogs a month or two in advance so folks can see all of the specials available on that day. People will leave their families full from turkey, dressing, gravy, collards, and rolls, and often even camp out in front of shopping malls, Wal-Mart, and other stores, ready to shop as soon as the doors open. And it often gets so insane and cut-throat. People fighting over $10 Blu-Ray players, $50 laptops, and other brand-new items marked considerably down. I hope this isn't what our society has come to? Willing to risk jail time, sleep, and your life just for significant discounts? It doesn't seem worth it to me.

I've actually been out on a couple of Black Fridays, although I've usually come as late as 7 or 8am once the crowds have cleared some. The crowds usually peak around 4-5am. By 6:30am all of the heavily-discounted items are typically gone and it's like a regularly crowded Friday at the stores. You would have to guarantee that I would save a bundle, plus pay my gas money and an extra fee to get me out of my warm bed on Black Friday. You can take that to the bank.

There are many other ways to save money and get huge discounts around the holidays. First off, there are discounts throughout the year, especially online. Shopping online will save you tons of money in the long run and you don't even have to leave the house. Plus the Monday after Thanksgiving is a good alternative to Black Friday, commonly called Cyber Monday. Many stores will post specials online that you can purchase. Best thing besides not leaving the house and wait in the cold November weather? No lines or fighting! Now that's cool with me. And then of course there's eBay, Craigslist, etc. Hey don't feel like you're too good to utilize these outlets. There are many quality, almost brand-new items at unbelievable prices.

I believe many people just love to shop, period, it's almost a sport and recreation to them. And Black (Whack) Friday is like the Super Bowl to them. I know folks that are prepping their outfits and agenda for that day. Really, are you kidding me? Well, I'll be laughing at you from my bed and couch while I hear of you going through all the unnecessary stress, heartache, and freezing just to save a few bucks.

So don't expect to see me at a Black Friday sale in the near future. I just don't see how it is worth it, literally resorting to violence and danger just to save money.

Feel free to shop away, complete your holiday shopping. Just don't expect me to accompany you, or even support the fact that you're going out on this cold, crowded, dark day.


BONS BLOG: 2010 American Music Awards

-Is that a bathrobe that Rihanna is wearing?
- What is that she's sitting on, a tree?
- Rihanna isn't the best singer but she sure is fiiine!
- Man that was a loong performance
- Waddup with Heidi Klum's hair?
- Usher, smh
- OK get off the stage already Usher, you thanked everyone but your maid and driver
- Is Lady Gaga not present tonight?
- Dang Jenny!
- Of course the Black-Eyed Peas (i.e, Fergie, Will, and those "other" two guys) won!
- Will I.A.M., is that hat made of Leggos?
- There's one of the gays from Modern Family
- Lasers are getting sooo played out
- Was that John Mayer in the audience?
- OK Miley Cyrus are you yourself or Hannah Montana?
- Are they trying to summon the ghosts of music past with all of these candles?
- And Miley, Grandma Moses wants her wardrobe back
- OK so now Diddy is called Diddy Dirty Money?
- Who was that gal singing b4 Diddy came on?
- Diddy's son looks just like him
- I'm Coming Home, I'm Coming Home!
- Oh snap, Jessica Alba's gonna be on Little Fockers!
- Taylor Swift wins an AMA. Protect the stage! #Kanyeshrug
- Taylor looks anorexic
- Samuel L. Jackson, you MFers!
- Kid Rock can actually sing! #WOW
- He's not as scruffy anymore either
- Christian Milian, my homie's crush! What a short, sexy skirt!
- Can't wait for that new Black-Eyes Peas album, even with all of the autotune!
- This performance makes me wanna see Tron now
- Why has Katy Perry got a Children's Choir behind her?
- Katy sounds a little off-key right now
- WHOA Katy!! Look at that red catsuit!
- Does Nicki Minaj thinks she's Lady Gaga, Lil Kim or both?
- OK Nicki that was an EXTREMELY inappropriate promo for your new album #epicfail
- Wait, Rihanna doesn't have soul!
- Time to change the channel, it's Justin Bieber, complete with his golden mic
- Mandy Moore, where have you been?
- I thought country singers wore black cowboy hats, not white
- Bon Jovi, still at it!
- Loving those lightning bolts!
- The crowd is REALLY feeling Bon Jovi's performance, especially Jenny McCarthy!
- It's My Life!
- Justin Bieber, award #1
- There's the much slimmer Kelly Osbourne!
- Pink always brings her A game at awards shows
- I'll bet Pink's baby daddy Carey Hart helped design that performance set
- Now we have Ne-Yo trying to bite off of MJ's dance moves
- OK Ne-Yo are you gonna do that gal on stage?
- Taylor Swift's on, time to be bored
- Keri Hilson is sooo beautiful!
- Justin Bieber, ANOTHER award!
- Now I believe I wanna see Burlesque
- Some of this material is NOT even appropriate for adults, let alone children
- Lady Antebellum has broken through!
- Swedish House Mafia? *blank stare and face*
- I haven't heard of any of these alternative groups
- Train is sooo old!
- And Train actually has soul sisters hopping on stage
- And there's Michael Buble', haven't heard of him since the Grammys
- Now the awards show is starting to go in the can. Ke$ha? WTH?
- They're putting a lot of old, classic artists on this year's show. Looks like halftime of a Super Bowl. Mostly coonery and foolery free though
- Santana is a beast on that guitar!
- And NO awards show is complete without Ryan Secreast!
- NOOOOO Bieber!!! This show should be renamed the Justin Bieber awards
- Good gesture Usher!
- Been waiting on this performance. Backstreet Boys are still better!

Monday, November 15, 2010

WU Homecoming: different from your average college homecoming but not necesarily a bad thing.

I felt I needed to address and blog on this subject after a few folks had low expectations about Winthrop University's (WU) Homecoming festivities due to how lackluster they have been in the past. There's typically not enough activities to do outside of the game, stepshow, and tailgate, and most of the parties are for the younger crowd (25 and older). When you get into my age group, we want to see some more variety, some grown and sexy affairs, and preferly some things off-campus. This year, ALL of that took place. Some WU alums took matters into their own hands and planned a bevy of parties. Plus the recent opening of the brand new DiGiorgio Campus Center, complete with a Popeyes Chicken in the food court and a stadium-seating movie theater drew more alums to come see what the current students are enjoying. I believe all together, between Friday and Saturday, there were at least 6 different parties going on. I'm still looking at FB status updates, Twitter feeds and talking to friends that attended these parties. But so far, I've found they have been a success.

In the past, Winthrop has always had their Homecoming activities in February, and often on the final weekend of February, when the CIAA basketball tournament was taking place in Charlotte. For those that are unfamiliar, CIAA is a four-day event of nothing but basketball, night and day parties, excitement everywhere. Stuff for the younger crowd and for those in their 30s and 40s. It is the type of event that has brought even more exposure and notoriety to Charlotte, NC, and it is the place to be the last weekend of February. Many WU alums were choosing to go to CIAA events instead of WU's Homecoming due to the greater appeal. The administration has never directly stated this, but it appears that Homecoming was moved to the Fall to try and not interfere with CIAA in any way. No one outside of the WU administrative circle knows the true reason though.

Now although WU's Homecoming was one of the most successful in recent history, it still is NOT an HBCU Homecoming, a CIAA, or even a homecoming like they have at larger schools with football teams (Clemson, Carolina, UNC, UGA, etc). And it's not meant to be this way. Winthrop is a smaller, liberal arts university that does not have a football team, is not a traditional party school, and therefore structures their festivities differently. It is in the form of USC-Upstate, Lander, and Francis-Marion, schools similar to Winthrop. They just started having the pre-game tailgate a few years ago, which has become a huge success and a staple for WU alums to attend. Before, the two major events to attend were the game and the stepshow, and that's honestly about it. The University used to organize parties at the Shack, and other social gatherings, but those were more conservative, mixer-type events. These are good for professional settings, but not what normal Homecoming activities typically entail.

HBCUs such as SC State, Howard and NC AT&T focus on partying, the football games, concerts, after-parties, stepshows and just a whole three-day slate full of events to attend at your choosing. Many folks that didn't even attend these universities still go to their homecomings. Larger schools such as Clemson and Carolina have a variety of events as well, with folks also wanting to catch tailgating and football games. People already come out to college football games in the South in droves, often just to tailgate. College homecomings brings on an entirely new light. I went to Duke University's homecoming with some friends a couple of years ago when they played the University of Miami. Now Duke is hardly a football school, but that was a huge crowd at that game, at least for them.

CIAA is the answer/alternative to the HBCU atmosphere. It compromises many HBCUs, plus the Charlotte and surrounding areas have been on the forefront for years. There are hotels that are already sold out, and people have put in vacation time at work and are planning their CIAA parties and wardrobes, It's crucial around these parts.

Now when I made the tweet about the hype that WU's homecoming was receiving was similar to CIAA, that's what I meant: similar. WU's Homecoming, again, is a different type of affair than CIAA. However, with the variety of activities, parties, and the hype and enthusiasm from WU alums to ACTUALLY attend, it is a happy medium between the more relaxed activities normally held by schools such as Winthrop and the HBCUs and CIAA. I hope I have made my point clear.

I thoroughly enjoyed the WU Homecoming activities I attended this year. Morever, I enjoyed seeing folks I haven't seen ever, in years, or since last year. I also enjoyed seeing folks I see every couple of months. It was like a huge family reunion, which is what Homecomings are supposed to be. I had lots of fun, and I'm hoping that the WU alums will continue to step in and make sure that other WU alums will be able to enjoy coming to Homecoming and want to come.

It is doubtful that Winthrop will EVER be a party school, it's not in its nature and tradition. It's not the reason I chose to attend there anyways. But it does seem the younger generation sees that some changes needed to be made and did just that. With all of the nice new buildings, changes on campus, and the improved Homeecoming, now the WU just needs a football team. The alumni wants it, and hopefully within the next two decades, it will become a reality. I believe that will really help out in everyway possible. Winthrop University already strives in excellence in many areas, sports included. A football team is the next logical step.

Either way, I still love Winthrop, I cherished my time there, and I'm glad I can enjoy going back even more now. Even if its activities aren't the caliber of Howard, Clemson, or anything during CIAA.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

BONUS BLOG: Blacksburg High School 2010 Black v. Gold Alumni Game

It's coming up soon, and this is one of the places to get info about it. It's the 2010 Blacksburg High School Black v. Gold Alumni Game. The game will featured Blacksburg High School football alums squaring off against each other, reliving old glory days, albeit for one night. It will be Even year grads ('96, '98, '02, etc) versus Odd year grads ('91, '93', '97, etc). Some big names in Blacksburg High football lore are expected to play in the game. These include Daniel Farris, Nesbitt "Banky" Black, Brit Dawkins, Anthony Garrison, Mike Smith, Lamont Sutton, Stanley "Dunnie" Watts, and many more. Blacksburg, Cherokee County, and surrounding areas, you know you want to come out and see these old (no pun intended) stars strap it up and knock heads once again! The game will be on the Saturday after Blacksburg High School's varsity season ends. It will be at T.A. Campbell Stadium in Blacksburg, SC at 7pm. Admission will be $5 for everyone. It will be incorporate every high school varsity rule and regulation, except on punting and punt returns. These will be free kicks. This game has been in place for a while and myself, Shawn Corry (class of 1997, co-organizer) and Josh Batchler, (class of 2003, current BHS assistant coach) are very excited about the ordeal. Coach Mickey Moss, head coach at Blacksburg High School, Principal Jim Touchberry, and athletic director Robbie Blanton have been very good about working with us and giving us all the resources available to make this a quality event. Look out for the game on Saturday, November 13, 7pm at Dr. T.A. Campbell Stadium in Blacksburg, SC!!

Frequently asked questions:

Q: Why was there no date for the game yet?
A: Blacksburg High School's season was still going on and we are using their equipment. We needed to wait until the season is over to play the game so we can have access to their equipment, uniforms, etc.

Q: Who will be coaching?
A: Coach Mickey Moss and his current staff (minus Josh since he's playing for the Odd team) will be assisting. Also, Coach Moss has been talking to former Blacksburg High School coaches like Johnny Gibson, Danny Fulton, Steve Wilson, and Tommy Pruett to get them in on this deal. Unsure at present time which coaches are coaching which teams.

Q: How did you determine whom is eligible?
A: You have to be a graduate of Blacksburg High School first of all, playing at least one season of varsity football for BHS, and been out of school for at least 5 years. This means the class of 2005 is the last eligible class to be able to play in this year's game. Also, a waiver has been prepared by one of our classmates/teammates who is currently an attorney covering the school's behind in case of any injuries. EVERY player must sign the waiver before even practicing. Shawn, Josh, and I have worked diligently to get interested folks to sign the waivers in advance because we don't want folks just walking on the day of the game.

Q: What about having the cheerleaders and the band
A: That's a great idea but not something that Shawn, Josh or myself is dealing with. We're simply focusing on the players from each squad

Q: Where do the proceeds from the game go to?
A: Blacksburg High School athletics

Q: Why are you guys not partnering with Gaffney High like the Peach Festival used to do in the past?
A: We may do this in the future, depending on how well this game goes. We simply want to keep this a Blacksburg thing for now since it is our first year and we only need to focus on finding Blacksburg players.

Q: How and why did you guys decide to put this game on?
A: I was talking with a bunch of my former teammates (Shawn included) one night and we were reminiscencing about our old times playing for BHS. Shawn was talking about how Spartanburg and Dorman High School both do alumni games and that we should try to organize one. I told him I would be in and I would help out wherever I could. Since I know Josh Batchler, I went to him with the idea and he put Shawn and I in touch with all the people necessary to approve the game. Once the game was approved, we simply had to plan and get the most important part: the players. Many guys are excited about it as well and are ready to get back out there again.

Q: Who's black and who's gold?
A: Black and gold is simply the name of the game since Blacksburg's school colors are black and gold. Blacksburg High School simply has only black and white jerseys. There was a coin flip back in August, and the Odd team won. They chose to wear the black jerseys, and the Even team will be wearing the white jerseys.

Q: Who all is playing?
A: I have posted rosters on my FB page, under my notes. If you wish to be tagged to the note for easier access, please let me know.

Q: Will there be EMS/emergency staff at the game?
A: This has been the 2nd most FAQ lately and yes we will have ambulances, EMTs, and plenty of volunteer fireman on staff at the game.

Q: Will Doug Bolin (arguably BHS's greatest player ever) be playing?
A: As of current, that answer is no. That could change though so stay tuned.

If there are any other questions or comments, hit me up on Facebook, I will personally answer further questions, and make sure I put you on the invite list when I send out the FB invite.

Hope to see as many people as possible there!

VOTE! But do it for the RIGHT reasons.

Election Day is on Tuesday, November 6th, and one of the most important presidential elections in recent history.  Our nation’s first Black president, Barack Obama, is vying with Republican and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney to become only the second Democrat since the FDR administration  (Bill Clinton was the other) to serve a two term administration.  Many have been excited about it for months, watching and talking about the conventions, the debates, ads, and the overall hot button issues. 

However, voting for other offices is also important, especially in the non-presidential election years.   These years are where the Senate, House of Representative seats are being filled, as well as state and local office elections. These are the offices affect us more on a daily basis and the issues that we deal with and live under.

My hope is that many folks, especially the ones that have been voting since early voting opened a couple of weeks ago, are voting for the right reasons. Voting is not a fad or the cool thing to do. It's the right thing to do. Just like the old saying goes "If you don't vote, don't complain." I do understand that many black, Hispanic, and gay voters feel more of an obligation and confidence in the voting system now that President Obama is in office. However, I'm still not so keen on the idea on voting just because someone is running, or now that someone is running.

My beloved late grandmother, Myrtle Lanier, stressed voting and exercising constitutional rights to me at an early age. I still remember going with her to the polls when she voted in the 1988 presidential election. She was very active in watching the debates, the issues, and which candidates would do the most for her life and needs. She told and taught me not to vote based on popularity, looks, race, or often not even party affiliation. She stressed to stay on the issues and the type of character they are.

Let's not forget about voting for law changes, tax rates, etc. That's where stuff really matters, especially for issues such as gay marriage,  foreign policy, the economy, and even firearm laws.   You must make your voice known if you want improvements made in your voting district, and in our country.

Therefore, it doesn't matter if you voted on October 22 or November 2, just get out and vote. And continue to cast your ballot, even if your candidate doesn’t get into office.

Otherwise, keep quiet regarding certain issues. Silence can be golden.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Whoreish Halloween!

Halloween is this weekend and of course that can mean a variety of things. For children it means trick-or-treating, gathering up enough candy to last until Valentine's Day. For many grown-ups, that means haunted trails, and going to Halloween costume parties.

Halloween parties take on a different meaning for females. Males simply try to be creative and may dress as a ghoul, a superhero, or even a celebrity. For females, this is the one time/year where they get a pass to dress like a whore or slut without fear of judgment. Many women wear catsuits, tight leather, or simply lingerie. Some of the more popular female costumes are police officers, naughty nurses, devils, cats, rabbits, and superheroes such as Wonder Woman, Catwoman or Storm from the X-Men.

As a male, I personally enjoy looking at women dressed scantily clad. I usually attend at least one party that I pay admission to, and then go to a free party or bar/lounge to check out the eye candy. I then log onto Facebook and for two straight days look at the various pictures that have been uploaded it. It sounds perverted, but it's a joyous occasion.

I believe it enpowers many women to be able to express themselves sexually. Many women feel shy about showing off their bodies, especially for fear of judgment or folks (especially men) thinking they're easy and are saying "come and get it boy". Halloween, everyone is neutral.

Masquerade balls and parties are a happy medium. Women and men dress up, but often the women aren't looking extra sexy or whoreish. It's more of an alternative to the typical adult Halloween parties. I've attended these before, but I believe I prefer the Halloween parties where the women have it all hanging out. Don't judge me please.

Men and women will pay upwards to even $100 for that perfect, sexy outfit. They are getting together their outfits as I type this blog. Personally, I plan on having a clever, creative outfit, but well under my budget. I don't judge others, but I cannot see the purpose of paying more than $30 in this economy for an outfit you probably will only wear once or twice. Costume shops are making a killing around this time of year. I utilize my own clothing collection, Wal-Mart, thrift shops, Goodwill and Salvation Army to assemble a quality Halloween costume. Can't wait to see how it turns out.

So ladies, I'm looking forward to the Halloween fashion show. Of course I'm not expecting you to just be ready to sleep with any man based on your attire. It's Halloween weekend and you're exempt from the usual rules of society. That is, until November 1.

Until then, Happy Whoreish Halloween!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Grieving: been there, done that, and what you shouldn't do

Losing a loved one can be devastating, even destroying your whole world and those in it around you. It's always toughest when you lose a best friend, sibling, parent, or the ultimate nightmare, one of your OWN children.

I've watched my mother suffer through the latter, ever since January 28, 2006, when my younger brother, Adam, passed away from an accidental drug overdose. That was the worst and toughest day of my life, and my toughest loss to date. It's like not only did I lose my only sibling, I lost a part of my mother. She's been strong (as I described in an earlier blog) but there's a part of her that can never be replaced, even with a future grandchild.

Along with my brother, I have lost best friends, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, and even my own father (although I wasn't old enough to remember that one).

When someone you know suffers a tragic loss such as this, the natural instinct is to come to their rescue. Visit them, call them, bring money and food to their homes. Come around everyday until and during the wake, receiving of friends, and the funeral. I know folks that actually spend their weekends going to funerals. Morbid if you ask me.

Personally, I will comfort the grieving family during their loss and before the funeral. However, I'm not one to pretty much stay around the family unless they're extremely close to me. The grieving folks need their space, they're in extreme shock, tired from dealing with funeral arrangements, family, friends, etc, and often working on limited sleep.

The two main things I try to do (if possible) is make either one or all of the three: wake, receiving friends, and funeral. That's the least anyone can do. But that's when the grieving really begins and many folks fail to realize this. It's after all of the people have gone home, the body's in the ground or the urn is in safe keeping that one can truly begin the often-long process of moving on with that person they've grown accustomed to having in their lives.

Here are some basics dos and don'ts from a veteran griever and comforter on how to approach, talk to and even nurture the hurting loved ones.

Dos: Definitely keep in touch with the family, let them know you will be there for them. Although it's not my preference, call, visit with them prior to the funeral. Send money, food, peace lilies, etc, to show your good will. Show up for the funeral if at all possible. Most importantly, give the folks a few days to a week after the funeral. Then make arrangements to visit them and just talk with them, see how everything is going. Let them do most of the talking. Give kind comforting words, but only when necessary. Be comfortable as possible when dealing with these situations, especially for the mothers that have lost children

Don'ts: Call everyday, go to the house EVERY single day. You're only drawing attention to yourself, and honestly the grieving parties aren't going to remember you as well as you think. Make your visits few and far in between, and brief. Also, don't tell any false stories or memories about the deceased. If you two so much as never watch a TV show together, don't try and say "I remember how their laughter was. They loved to hang out". Silence can be golden also. Saying little to nothing is better than saying the wrong thing. Don't forget about the grieving family also. Stay in touch with them, especially in the early going, but again, don't call them or visit everyday. They need their space to be alone, think and grieve in their own, healthy manner. Also, be genuine and sincere in your comforting. As I mentioned earlier, do not feel the need to suddenly be in touch with them, try to take them out if you haven't really hung out with them. Lastly, do not try to force them into grieving a certain way, or into crying (or not crying). Unless you are their parent, sibling, child, bereavement counselor, or otherwise grief professional, that is not your place. It's best to stay out of it.

Grieving is a tough process, but one that's smoother with the Good Lord, faith, family, and friends. If one basically gives the comfort and assurance of letting the grieving folks know that they are behind them, that is a huge step towards recovery and living out the remaining days in peace and harmony.

Monday, October 11, 2010

ZUMBA: One of the newest fitness crazes

I gotta admit, I'm a fitness buff, enthusiast and a gym rat. However, I've never gotten much into dancing, salsa or the like. I will, however, try anything that will help keep me in shape, improve my form and coordination, and just give me a good workout period.

A year and a half ago, a classmate of mine kept speaking of this ZUMBA class she teaches at the Y in Rock Hill. I asked her if I could come to one of these classes one Saturday since my gym (Your Best Body Fitness Center and Day Spa in Gaffney) didn't have them at the time. She said yes. When I saw some ZUMBA videos on YouTube, I was intimidated and concerned that I wouldn't be able to keep up and may even get worn out. That was definitely not the case. One of the big slogans of ZUMBA is that it is "one big party". And that it is. It's a lot of fun, and arguably one of the more exciting ways to mix fitness, fun, and great music since Richard Simmons and "Sweatin to the Oldies".

I immediately went to David and Lisa Fink at YBB and asked them when would we be able to get ZUMBA at our gym. Lisa said they would work on it. Well, a year and a half later, it FINALLY happened. There are now 4 ZUMBA classes going on at YBB, and everyone is having a good time, even the few guys that decide to show up.

I attend 2 classes/week myself because it is good, fun fitness, plus the instructors, Carrie and Alleigh, each add their own style and personality to make it great. Carrie's a more traditional ZUMBA instructor, does a lot of the salsa, and is more step by step with her instructions. Alleigh mixes ZUMBA with some fast-paced, dancing moves and even some cheerleader dances, techniques and spins. It sounds intimidating and metrosexual, but trust me, it's a good workout.

I have REALLY improved my coordination, balance, and mobility in the past month. I'm still not a dancer persay, but again that's not the purpose of ZUMBA. The purpose is to get you moving to the music in a coordinated but fun and relaxed way.

The folks at YBB are really riding the ZUMBA wave currently. The classes average about 25-30, even on Wednesdays, and that's one of the slowest periods in the gym due to it being church night. It's a new craze not only for Gaffney, SC but for America. I don't see it slowing down anytime soon either.

Carrie and Alleigh are keeping the routines and music fresh though, as folks will catch on very quickly to most any fitness routine. I believe I will recommend "All Night Long" by Lionel Richie and "Caribbean Queen" by Billy Ocean. I could see some good ZUMBA routines coregraphed from those songs.

I encourage anyone to contact your local gym and/or YMCA to see about getting into a ZUMBA class. It really is fun, a good workout, and it's cool to be able to move your body well, especially for your overall health and wellness. Join the craze and don't judge or knock it till you've tried it!

Monday, October 4, 2010

The case for Chase Hames

Many sports pundits around the state of South Carolina and even the USA have heard about Blacksburg High School's star running back, Chase Hames. He's a 3 year starter, and also plays wide receiver, defensive back and a little linebacker. He has racked up phenomenal stats this season, and is currently one of South Carolina's leading rushers at over 1,400 yards currently with 4 games to go (and a possible playoff game). He even had an eye dropping 350 yards rushing and 7 touchdowns against Latta in week 3, following that up with 437 yards rushing against Liberty. He earned National Player of the Week honors for that performance. I haven't seen many RBs do that against many folks, in that capacity. And I've seen many, many great running backs. The question is now, will (or should) Chase be selected to play in this year's Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas?

My answer is a resounding YES! Take away the fact that I'm a Blacksburg High alum and former football player myself, I know himself, his family and his brothers, and that his head coach, Mickey Moss, is this year's head coach of the Shrine Bowl. Chase has earned this honor not only this year, but throughout his 3-year varsity career at Blacksburg. His sophomore year, his offensive numbers weren't stealing the show, it was his prowess as a cornerback. He was All-Region and had the difficult task of covering current University of South Carolina receiver Alston Jeffery when Blacksburg played Calhoun County in the 2008 Class A playoffs. While Jeffery posted huge numbers himself (200 yards, 2 touchdowns), Chase didn't back down, even intercepting a pass in the end zone. Junior year, Chase had another All-Region year on both offense and defense. His offensive numbers were slightly better, 618 rushing yards, but again it was his defense that sealed the deal. This year so far, it has been all offense. He has been doing it up, gaining yards, touchdowns, and leading Blacksburg to victory. Mickey Moss and the rest of the Shrine Bowl coaching staff, take note. Put this guy on your roster!!!

Now here's some other drawbacks for Hames. He is very smallish, 5'7'', 170, plus he doesn't have blazing speed. However, if you watch him in practice and games, not many players on any level leave it on the field like he does. Plus this year he's gained big time yards against a much softer-schedule (one school, St. Joe's High School, is in its 1st year of varsity football). Also, Coach Moss apparently REALLY wants him on the roster as well. As head coach, he can take one of his own players by default. By matching him up against teams that can't tackle as well as other teams or have proper depth/experience, it allows young Chase to gain big numbers easier. The old formula SKILL + OPPORTUNITY = SUCCESS also comes into effect. Mickey Moss's offense is basically built around Chase as he runs the ball 25-40 times a game. Now anybody that knows football knows that if you have a decent offensive line and unless the defensive isn't the 1985 Chicago Bears, a back with good skill should average 150 yards/game at least. And Chase is definitely doing that, and then some.

I can't say I completely blame Moss for what he's doing to justify possibly choosing Chase for the game, and for his collegiate resume'. He has huge tests coming up in the next couple of weeks: this Friday at undefeated Christ Church, homecoming against Landrum, and a potential first-round playoff game. I'm not sure he will gain 200, 300 yards rushing, but he will do well as long as the line blocks and the team passes some (to his younger brother Nick possibly) to allow him to be a factor.

Given all of this, the kid deserves to be in the game as much as anyone I've ever known, and everything's in place for his selection. National Player of the Week. 1,300 rushing through a 4 week stretch. On pace for a 2,000 rushing season. Defensive stalwart as well. Hard worker, tough player. Irregardless of the schedule and other players, he has EARNED it.

There are several, DOZENS of former Blacksburg High School players that have make equal and greater accomplishments than Chase and were snubbed from the Shrine Bowl. These include: Shon Dawkins, Mike Smith, Mark Striewing, Joe Patterson, Stanley Watts, Randy Huskey, Fred Parker, Matthew Hale, Daniel Farris, and Nesbitt Black. The Shrine Bowl game is a game of politics, where mostly 3A/4A players make it merely off of competition, ability to perform in the big stage/games, and the ability to play many positions. This appears to be the year that Chase Hames and Blacksburg High School beats these politics and variables. There have been only 2 Shrine Bowlers in BHS history: Danny Fulton in 1972 (my former offensive line coach), and Doug Bolin in 1986 (arguably the BEST player ever to wear the Black and Gold of Blacksburg). Doug was also the last BHS back to rush for 2,000 yards. That has been 26 years since a Blacksburg player has accomplished the latter or the former (2,000 yards or the Shrine Bowl). Chase, all of Blacksburg is rooting for you, if nothing else for all the other players throughout the years that were omitted.

I like to watch these "once in a lifetime" athletes. Chase is not only one of these, but a once in a lifetime person. He will be successful at whatever he does in life. I just hope and pray that when the Shrine Bowl is played the 3rd weekend in December, he will be suiting up for that game. I've made my case. Does anyone else think he shouldn't play? If so, that's fine. However, he may be Blacksburg's best shot at a Shrine Bowler at least for two more years when Nick is eligible for the game. The time is now, Blacksburg, and anyone that knows high school football), let's stand behind this young man now, and not after he earns more hype.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Checkout line etiquette: rudeness, hypersensitivity, or both?

This topic was inspired by one of my Facebook status updates a while back.

 A couple of years ago, I went to a store and I picked up an item really fast and went to check out. This lady with a buggy full of stuff turned around, saw me with the single item, and then turned back around. She did not say "You can go ahead of me, sir". I also did not ask if I could go ahead. However, that was not the point. Some folks can be rude, insensitive, and/or just inconsiderate and unaware of what is really going with other folks.

Basically, when one is at the checkout line, it tends to make better sense if you allow someone with one or two items to go ahead of you. It's polite, it's cool, and it will come back to bless you.

When I updated my status on Facebook, telling this story, I was met with a bevy of answers. All of them ranging from "that woman was rude", "Drew, you're just sensitive, people don't have time to let everyone with one item go in front of them", "You should plan better if you're in such a hurry", and "It's different with women. We have children, housework, etc., on our minds".

The latter response was especially interesting.  However, a couple of other women (one that's actually a cashier at a retail chain store) and one that's a mother of four understood where I was coming from. If it's just one person behind you with ONE or TWO items and you have a buggy full of items, it won't hurt you or delay your schedule if you let them in front of you.

I even asked the cashier (and tested my theory when I went into her store a few days later) how long does it take the average item to be scanned, 30 seconds or less? She agreed. Therefore, what's half a minute out of your schedule, people?

Personally, if I see a person (notice I didn't say people) behind me with way less items than me, I let them go ahead of me. Whether I'm in a hurry or not is hardly the issue here. It's about caring about others and being considerate. That seems to have gone out of style along with cassette tapes, pay phones, and leather football helmets.

Of course you are not necessarily rude if you choose not to do this, nor are you hypersensitive if you think one should let them go ahead in line. It's just a matter of common courtesy and respect. I believe it's all in how you respond to it, though. If you say something in the nature of "sorry, I don't care if we're the only two in line, I don't have time to let them pass. They should have gotten there faster", I would say that sounds rude, and rather childish. Especially for those that have children of their own and they see this. Granted I'm not a parent, but I was raised with morals, consideration and manners. If you are too insensitive to consider letting someone in front of you at the checkout line, well you may want to take a second look at yourself and others.

Also, you should not also complain or expect others to let you in front of them when you only have one item and they have a buggy full. Granted it is the right thing for them to do. However I feel you should act the way in which you want to be treated.

My belief is it rarely (if ever) hurts to be nice to someone and do a good deed. You never know what the person on the other end is thinking, or undergoing. Your act of kindness could make their day, keep them from in turn being rude to someone else, and actually make you feel good. So why not do good folks?

Just take a look next time you're in the supermarket, Wal-Mart, Dollar General or even in a department store. See how many folks actually practice what I've been talking about. My guess is not very many will. However, you may want to take a special look at the few folks that actually do.  It may actually make you feel good about yourself. 


Monday, September 20, 2010

DEATH PENALTY: You kill someone, and you get killed back. Is that really our philosophy, America?

And I'm being dead serious with this title.

From the time I was a child and I read in an article from the early 1900s where my great-great grandmother's ex-husband, Tom Harris, was hanged in Gaffney, SC (I believe he was the last person to be hanged in Cherokee County, SC), I was always mortified by the death penalty that our country has for hardened criminals. I mean, we've had Jack The Ripper, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dalmer, Timothy McVeigh, Malvo (the DC sniper), and Stanley "Tookie" Williams, just to name a few of the murderers that have either been executed or were set for execution.

Many folks love westerns such as Bonanza and Gunsmoke. Maybe that helped bring in the persona that folks who "kill" deserve to "be killed" themselves. I won't even get started on war movies and shows such as M*A*S*H. It just seems that especially in conservative red states such as Texas, if you kill a person in cold-blood, you have given yourself a death wish.

Personally, I do not think it should be the state's responsibility to end the life of a murderer. Granted, I understand that it's rough on the family, friends and other survivors. However, that type of self-defense is not going to bring the murdered persons back. Furthermore, it is inhumane, hypocritical, and non-Christian to simply put someone on death row for 5-30 years and then kill them. Doesn't it say in Exodus "Thou shalt not kill", one of the Ten Commandments? If Christian folks are making this law, what is the rationale and motive? This certainly seems like a poor example to be setting.

I've always been a proponent of rehabillition and second-chance. Granted, I don't think some folks can be rehabillitated and should remain in prison or a mental institution for life. However, that doesn't mean they should necessary be murdered themselves. That is NOT even trying to help that person, irregardless of the crime.

Certain laws may try to further justify the death penalty by saying how they have soften up the method of killing that person. After hanging was declared cruel and unusual, the electric chair became popular. However, that actually was much more ineffective, and folks have lived through this execution. Then lethal injection and the gas chamber came about, with the former being the preferred method for execution. Killing is still killing though!

Now don't get me wrong, even the death penalty has an exception. I'm not talking about if a prisoner is sooo dangerous that he/she manages to escape, and even hurt fellow inmates, guards, etc on a regular basis, and that is the ONLY recourse (think Gerard Butler's character in the movie "Law Abiding Citizen"). It should NOT be the main objective for someone who commits violent crimes though.

Generations are changing, folks are becoming more open and liberal to alternative punishment (the older folks would say they're getting softer). I say they're getting more compassionate. At the end of the day, these folks are human also. I do not condone violent, heinous crimes by ANY means. However, there are other solutions available. We just have to be creative, have an open heart and mind, and get to work on these alternatives.

Meanwhile, I wonder if children will continue to play Hangman? That is actually how Wheel of Fortune originated. I admittedly loved that game, but given my thoughts on the death penalty, find it hard to play every now and then. It is more fun than, say, a lethal injection game. Maybe that's another reason it's so hard for folks to let go of the death penalty, who knows?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tatted up: Tattoo studio, private artists, and even tattoo parties

OK first off, I will say I've never had a tattoo in my life, and never plan to. However, seeing folks getting them at a higher rate, posting the pics on Facebook, and even advertising about controversial (and possibly illegal) tattoo parties prompted me to blog about this subject.

I did, however, gather some views and feedback from folks that have been "tatted up",researched some tattoo studios, and even a couple of folks in the medical profession. The three most common ways to get a tattoo are: 1. Going to a tattoo studio (that is the actual term for a tattoo shop such as Ink Link, City of Link, etc) 2. A private, licensed artist that comes into your home, or you go to his/her private studio or home and get your tattoo. Finally, there's 3. Getting your tat at the suddenly popular "tattoo party". This is a huge extension on the private tattoo artist, as many folks at once are getting tatted up by sometimes just one person, in an environment that may or may not be as safe or clean as a studio.

Tattoo studios are required by law (sometimes stricter laws, depending upon the state) to be cleaner than many restrooms and restaurants. Needles must be sanitized constantly, and reputation is important. One should do their due diligence and research when choosing a tattoo studio. It should be about more than just price, or how nice the tattoo will come out. Obviously this is important. However, your health and safety should be #1 priority. Know the types of ink they use, see how their clients feel, even years after the tattoo, if they have any awards, bad reputations, etc. Also, you may even want to sit in on a session yourself to see how the whole process goes. If anything looks unprofessional or sketchy, think twice before choosing that studio. I mentioned City of Ink and Ink Link earlier because these are two reputable, award-winning, sanitary, and safe studios that I know about. Many of my friends and relatives have been to one or both of these studios. Ink Link has two studios that I know of near me, one in Shelby, NC, and the other in Gastonia, NC. The City of Ink is located in Atlanta, GA.

Having your own tattoo artist give you a private session can give you the best of both being in a studio and at a tattoo party. You can do it in the comfort of your own home if your artist sees fit, it can be often cheaper (and more flexible) than your average studio since they don't have tremendous overhead and such, and it's a more personal experience than in a shop getting marked up by a complete stranger. However, the same rules still apply. The artist should be reputable, professional, and clean. Tattoos are permanent, but you don't want minor side effects such as a rash or infection, or something major such as an STD due to a dirty needle. Exercise careful judgment, even if it's someone you've known your entire life. It may only be the two of you, but that does not exempt them from being hazardous to your skin.

Now the most cautious, controversial, and the method that I WOULD NOT recommend is the tattoo party. It's basically what it implies. One or more tattoo artists comes into a person's home, they throw a party, and have folks come over and receive tattoos. They pay the artist(s). It is often the most affordable method of the three, but also the riskiest. When you're doing many folks en masse, artists often do not take the time to properly clean their needles (or even make sure their surroundings are clean according to appropriate state laws). It can basically mirror drug addicts sharing drug needles. Sharing needles is the most popular way to spread blood-related diseases such as hepatitis, and even AIDS. It's quite a shock value, but it can be very, VERY dangerous. Again the rule of thumb applies, far as knowing the artist, making sure everything's clean, etc. But when it's an environment such as a tattoo party, the sanitation factor is often ruled out, adding to the risk. I've found that not many reputable tattoo artists will even do private sessions, let alone tattoo parties. I'm not being judgmental here as times do get tough, both for the person wanting the tat and the artist trying to generate business. However, I am being rational and cautious. There's honestly not a 100 percent guarantee that something will not go wrong in a studio or a private session. That risk is heightened when you go to a tattoo party for a tat.

I know some of you are behind me all the way on this, others of you (just like in many of my blogs) are shaking your heads in disgust. To the latter I say this: I'm not a gambling person. I may not have any tattoos to speak of, but if I were to get one, I want it to be from the safest source possible. And that would be in a studio with licensed, bonded, experienced, reputable professionals. I'm not trying to eat at a restaurant than has a filthy kitchen. Therefore, I would want to get my tattoo from an artist in a studio that is sparkling clean, guaranteed.

I only hope that whichever avenue you choose in which to get a tattoo, you exercise careful reasoning and judgment.

Monday, September 13, 2010

BONUS BLOG: 2010 VMA Comments

- Bring on Eminem!!!
- That looks like the shelter from 8 Mile, and it's Rabbit!
- Eminem's age is really showing now
- That's a lot of drummers on stage
- WTH Rihanna? She looks like a red-headed She-Ra from the 80s
- Rihanna needs to quit trying to perform live #epicfail
- Is tonight's theme "fire?"
- OK yet another awards show in LA *side eye*
- Why is everyone backstage trying to smack Chelsea on her flat butt?
- Lindsay Lohan? Oooookaaay
- Chelsea really needs to drop Barbie's dreamhouse.
- Hey is that only one dove? And that was a pitiful ONE at that
- Chelsea sounds hoarse but she can't be worse than Russell Brand, can she? Someone please give her a cough drop
- There's Jane Lynch in the audience. She's blowing up lately
- "Turn this mother out" died out 10 years ago
- Everyone will be saying "leotarded" tomorrow
- Where's Beyonce'?
- Did she just call Kanye a "big black elephant?"
- Waddup with the red Power Ranger?
- OK now Chelsea gets a ride off stage by Rick Ross on his, uhh, wheelchair?
- Thus far this awards show favors the Gay Pride parade
- Lady Gaga or Katy Perry has this award in the bag. And it's Lady Gaga! I actually like "Bad Romance"
- OK the first curse-word of the night just got bleeped out
- Katy Perry looks kinda upset
- What is that on Lady Gaga's head? She looks like a peacock
- And now Chelsea is thanking the gays
- That lineup of new artists is disgraceful, except for Jason Derulo. Is this our musical future?
- Justin Bieber looks like Richie Cunningham with that get up. Was the Fonz unavailable?
- There's gonna be a Jackass 3D?
- They just pimp-slapped Bam Margera in that preview
- I'm glad 30 Seconds to Mars won, they're very talented
- Wait a minute that dude looks like Charles Manson
- Dang Kim Kardashian even has booty from the front!
- Justin Bieber, the 1950s want their clothes and car back, please and thank you!
- His voice is hurting my eardrums. I'm muting the TV and checking the score of the Cowboys/Redskins game
- Now I thought this was supposed to be a show from the future. It seems the other way around
- OK I see on stage what appears to be the Apollo kids and the backstage dancers from High School Musical
- This ain't New Year's Day, so why the red streamers?
- Ke$ha and Trey Songz, two of the young icons/heartthrobs
- Ke$ha's dress is made from trashbags #fact #OMGfacts
- And here's Usher. MJ, you ain't, so stop trying!
- This must be the futuristic performance they promised
- Hope no one that's epileptic is watching this performance. There is more flickering during Usher's performance than an 80s video game
- However, Usher always does have the sexiest stage dancers
- This song sounds like a remix of "Kernkraft 400"
- B.O.B. looks like Mick Lowry, I just now noticed this
- Now Chelsea is cracking on Farnsworth Bentley. I need to google this cat and see what happened to him
- Hearing Nicki Minaj's voice is making my IQ drop a few points
- YEAH!!! Eminem won a VMA!
- I believe Disney is gonna sue MTV for the fake Mickey Mouse (i.e., freaky Mickeys)
- Didn't know Jason Derulo was a black guy. And autotune is getting really played out.
- Florence and Machine? She really looks drunk
- These ladies sound too familar, like a 90s Lillith fair group
- Dang Travis McCoy, that cat in the background looks like it's trying to get you
- Is that Danny Devito up on the platform?
- OK now I know I REALLY must watch Glee
- Looks like Lady Gaga's gonna dominate these awards
- I believe Gaga borrowed Ke$ha's trashbag dress and added some extensions
- Lady Gaga is totally biting Chucky V's hairstyle right now
- Was that really Rosario Dawson?
- Taylor Swift appears to have gone back to the 1940s
- This song is dragging out too long
- We all know that's a hairpiece Justin Bieber!
- Can't wait for that FB movie "The Social Network" to come out. But Justin Timberlake? Interesting
- Mary J performing? This should be good
- Did they take those outfits from the cast of "Takers"?
- I like Drake, this song is ok, but I REFUSE to go around saying "You fancy huh?"
- Wait a minute, professional VMAs?
- Does Jason Derulo have a Glo-stick on his hand?
- Did Chelsea just call the cast of Jersey Shore "America's Greasy Sweethearts"?
- Heck yeah it's Sofia Vergara from Modern Family! Can never get enough of Al Bundy's new TV wifey
- Eminem wins again!
- Did Selena Gomez and Ne-Yo intentionally coordinate their wardrobes?
- Gotta love Bruno Mars's hair
- B.O.B. is hollering like Fat Joe or PUN
- OK we now know what happened to Eurthymtics. Remember "Sweet Dreams" from the 80s?
- Victoria Justice is quite the cub #thatisall
- NOOOO!! Bieber won Best New Artist!
- Now's there some good music: Linkin Park!
- But what's the deal with the green fog? Looks like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' lair
- CHER???? Does she always come out half-naked?
- Lady Gaga, just as I predicted earlier, dominated tonight's VMAs, and nabbed Video of the Year
- Lady Gaga's new album is entitled "Born This Way". Really, you were born that odd and weird?
- But she is dang talented
- Here comes Kanye FINALLY!
- Kanye looks like Satan with all of that red on
- So Kanye, according to your song lyrics, you're toasting yourself? Still got quite the ego
- These ballerinas are creeping me out
- Why is Kanye doing autotune now?
- Chelsea was silly and dingy, but still a better host than Russell Brand
- Awards shows, especially musical awards show, are just not the same anymore

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hateration defined

Hateration, I'm definitely not a fan of it. It falls right there with jealously, and just being evil. One should not hate when someone is excelling and doing their best. Unfortunately, that's when we usually know when we're doing things right, when we have haters.

Let me describe the difference between hating and just disliking something (or expressing dislike). Hateration is basically when you don't like something or someone for no good reason or when you're simply jealous. Dislike is just what it states, showing your true feelings in a sincere matter and your matter of preference.

This blog comes about from various places, one with the impending start of the NFL season. I cannot, and I mean I CANNOT STAND the frikkin Dallas Cowboys. Half of my family are Cowboys fans, and many of my friends. I HATE them (but I don't hate on what they've accomplished in the professional football realm). I also dislike the Duke Blue Devils in college basketball, the LA Lakers in the NBA, and the NY Yankees in the MLB (please don't win #28).

For fans of any or ALL four teams, here's why I don't like these teams. The Dallas Cowboys are simply annoying, arrogant, and a bunch of troublemakers (historically) with a false sense of entitlement. They believe that since they won 3 Super Bowls in the 90s, 5 in all, and because they were dubbed "America's Team" by a film producer at NFL Films, that everyone should like them too. OK granted I love my Packers for many reasons. I don't feel I'm better or worse than you if you don't like them, it's a matter of preference. I feel similarly about the LA Lakers. They have won 16 NBA championships, have dominated two decades (and our on their way to dominating a 3rd). And arrogance they have in Kobe Bryant. Read my blog about Kobe + Lebron doesn't equal Jordan for more about him. Granted, I did like Magic, Kareem and Worthy (not just because he was a Tarheel). The Lakers style of play just isn't my own, too finesse, and not enough rough and tumble play. Black folk believe just because they're one of the first NBA teams with a predominately black roster to win so many championships that you should automatically be a fan. That burns me right there because I root for who I want to root for, NOT who someone tells me to root for. You have to choose your OWN team, that's what being a fan is about.

Now far as the Duke Blue Devils, the root of my dislike is more natural. Being a UNC Tarheel fan, that is our biggest rivals (and one of the biggest sports rivalries in the country). But beyond that, it's because Duke basketball just can't compare to UNC basketball overall. We've been doing it big for over 60 years, and have 5 national championships, numerous ACC titles, and several big-name NBA players (Jordan and Worthy to name a couple) to boast of. Duke is getting there, but still has a ways to go. They have 4 championships, only about 3 decades worth of consistent, dominating success, and their players are typically perennial busts or journeymen in the NBA. Carlos Boozer, Grant Hill, and a couple of others are relevant, but are NOT in the same company with Jordan and those. Coach K is a great coach also, but he does not employ the system that allows many of his players to excel at the next level. If you're truly a well-rounded college basketball coach, you should be able to do both.

The New York Yankees are a different kind of hate. Teams seem often intimidated by the Yankees for no good reason. They have been dominant, but the whole pinstripe persona and the fact that their players are often clean-shaven prima donnas annoys me. Also, their players are extremely over-paid. The late George Steinbrunner thought he could buy a dynasty. He bought a few championships, but no dynasty yet. His acquistion of A-Rod has only gotten the Yanks one World Series title to date. That's another sign of arrogance, that just because you have money that you can buy anything, including wins and championships. These things must be earned the old-fashioned way. At times many teams, including the Yanks, have forgotten about this.

If you notice, many of this is off of personal preference. If we don't like the same things, that's fine. I don't want to be persecuted for my thoughts and feelings, though. This is America, we have free speech rights, and that's all I'm doing is expressing these rights. This is NOT hateraton. At times I may pick around and say "BOOOOO!!" when folks mentions these teams or things I cannot stand. That is NOT hateration, though so please do not confuse.

With that said, let's get on with the NFL season. Gooo Packers and booo Cowboys!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

BONUS BLOG: 2010 Emmy Comments

It's taken forever for me to post these. I was also delayed by the Presidential Address tonight. With no further adieu, here are the comments:

- How many SNL alums host awards shows? My guess is wayyy too many.
- Does Fallon even have a career now?
- $300 for Emmy tickets? WTHeck?
- This Glee opening spot already seems lame
- Who's this blonde named Kate?
- Betty White is everywhere!
- That Jane Lynch don't play around!
- Tina Fey is fine but still doesn't have much of a rack, even after getting red Kool-Aid spilled on her shirt
- Jane's tatas are even smaller though
- Wait is that Victoria Justice?
- OMG, Randy Jackson is rocking out
- Jimmy's really out of breath after that performance
- Conan O'Brien, waddup with the hobo beard?
- Amy Poehler, now there's a set of hooters!
- Dang I don't recognize hardly any of the comedies in this clip
- Jon Cryer gets nominated every year for Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, but rarely wins
- Did Eric Stonestreet of Modern Family originally play on The Sopranos?
- Clown? Really, Eric? More like Ralph Kramden or a mobster
- Why do the Emmys need a color commentator?
- Here's a presenter instruction: get someone that wasn't an SNL regular
- Sofia Vergard is BANGING! Jim Parsons, too bad you're gay!
- Trying to be funny isn't sexy, but trying to be sexy is funny!
- Modern Family appears to be dominating the awards so far and deservingly so. Funny show, nice cast, and hard to go wrong with Al Bundy
- OK these acceptance speeches are too long, where's that "get the heck off stage" music?
- I still say Stephen Colbert looks like Bob Saget
- There's Tom Hanks!
- Jane Lynch deserved that Emmy, long time coming
- Wow, Jane's from the South side of Chicago? She does talk and act tough
- Ryan Murphy looks like Bruce Willis
- I knew Jane was gay, but she has a daughter?
- Fallon, that was a terrible six degrees of separation!
- Matthew Perry has a show coming out called "Mr. Sunshine?"
- Aiight Neil Patrick Harris and Betty White received guest appearance Emmys. Betty White is milking her post-Super Bowl comeback fame
- The Bruce Willis clone just won an Emmy!
- Glee seems like a great show after all. Let's see how long NBC will keep it on the air. Lately they have a history of canceling their better programs
- Stewie!!! Loved that Al Bundy crack!
- And Al, waddup with the Terminator shades?
- LL Cool J looks like a cab driver
- Jim Parsons (Sheldon from Big Bang Theory) won an Emmy! Well deserved, dude carries that show. Kaley Cucomo (Penny)'s looks only go so far
- And I believe Jim thanked everyone but the curtains on the stage.
- Julia-Louis Dreyfuss = cougarlicious!
- Edie Falco has been acting forever!
- This is such a random acceptance speech by Edie
- Jimmy, please, please, put down the guitar!
- Strangely enough, I recognize many of the reality show clips
- Top Chef beat American Idol, whoo hoo!
- Dang that's a huge cast!
- Is that a Native American woman amongst the cast members?
- OK y'all really need to get off the stage already
- Ernst and Young does the accounting for EVERY awards show. I wonder if they're hiring. I'm an aspiring accountant!
- I also cried when I learned Jimmy Fallon was hosting this racket
- OK now they're showing the names of the shows in the drama highlight reel
- HBO and TNT REALLY do know drama
- OK and why am I just now hearing about Mad Men?
- Now it's winning the Best Writing Emmy
- Zach Gilford from Friday Night Lights should have been nominated for an Emmy. C'mon now!
- One good thing about having a DVR: fast-forwarding through commercials and these long acceptance speeches.
- Wow I forgot about Sharon Gless from Cagney and Lacey
- Lots of 1st time Emmy winners tonight
- There's old Edie again, presenting this time
- Bryan Cranston winning best actor in a drama? Wasn't he the dad (Hal) in Malcolm in the Middle? Kyle Chandler was robbed!
- Boris Kodjoe is on, I guess the ladies need eye candy also
- I also haven't heard of The Good Wife
- Ann-Margaret has quite the alto voice
- Oh heck naw Jimmy is doing Elton John #epicfail.
- Now he's murdering Boyz II Men and another 90s singer. Dang it Fallon, leave the 90s alone, that's my decade!
- Fallon's gone completely ADD, and I'm disgusted. I hope Comedy Central chooses him to roast in 2011.
- Hey I'd date Tina Fey, even in that horrendous dress
- Connie Britton, another Friday Night Lights nominee, also got robbed of an Emmy! No respect for an awesome TV series.
- Waddup with the Alice in Wonderland dress, Kyra Sedgwick?
- You know it's not the Emmys without Jeff Propst from Survivor. He's a much better host than Fallon.
- Ricky Gervais is suprisingly funny, and he appears to have lost weight
- Wow and he's even giving out beer to the audience members!
- Does anyone actually play the accordion for fun?
- Bucky Gunts? Ricky, I believe you were a little TOO happy when you read that Emmy
- Short, sweet speech, nice Bucky!
- Congrats on that humanitarian award George Clooney
- Julianna Marg looks like a grown-up Miranda Cosgrove
- It's Captain Picard now!
- Bob Hope was the man #thatisall
- Jimmy Fallon, please go home!
- The Office is soo gonna crash and burn this upcoming year without Steve Carell
- Claire Danes is lovely, very lovely!
- What now, another female song? Jewel? This ain't the Grammys or the AMAs
- That was a terrible tribute to the folks that have passed on this year
- OK does anyone even still watch mini-series or made-for-TV movies?
- Good seeing Claire Danes again
- Ahh the True Blood cast members
- Al Pacino's still winning awards
- I can't look at Larry Fishbourne and NOT think of Montana and Brian Pumper
- I gotta see You Don't Know Jack
- These ladies from Temple Grandin are sure letting their breasts wiggle
- Tom Selluck, where have you been? Hasn't aged much since Magnum P.I.
- Modern Family ran the table almost, 14 Nominations and 3 Emmys!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fantasia: Still got a ways to go

The hoopla over former American Idol winner, Color Purple musical star, and platinum selling musical artist Fantasia Barrino has reached a fever pitch this month. Therefore, I felt the need to blog about this young, troubled lady earlier than I expected.

Many folks have seen the interviews, the Behind The Music special, and maybe even more things than the average person (or average Fantasia fan has). I will not make this a blurb detailing her entire background and personal bio. I'm just going to reference certain parts of her life as part of the point I'm headed towards.

Honestly, I was initially planning on only bashing and lambasting Fantasia in this blog. I'm taking a more diplomatic approach, especially after watching these many interviews, reading other blogs, and watching the Behind The Music special on VH-1.

Fantasia's life has been quite a roller-coaster. She has overcome rape, teenage pregnancy, lack of education, money, and now a suicide attempt to succeed and have plenty of support from fans irregardless of her past. There is nothing wrong with that. We should be supporting someone instead of tearing them down all the time. Folks have real problems (celebrities included), it shows they are human. We have to encourage them.

However, there is another end of this spectrum that cannot be ignored. The mere FACT that Fantasia does have many character flaws that she has yet to work out. Her overall behavior towards life, her work, mothering, family and the regard for her own life. Prior to her failed suicide attempt, her 2nd album didn't sell as well as the 1st album. That can be chalked up as a sophomore slump. She started out well again, playing "Celie" in Oprah's Broadway nationwide production of "The Color Purple". However, about a year or so in, she was missing performances, practices, etc. She was in Oprah's doghouse and was dismissed for a few performances. She came back from that, however, and delivered beautifully until the show wrapped.

Fantasia then had a reality show on VH-1 "Fantasia for Real " (which has been renewed for a second season). Now that was just one big coon-fest and buffoon-filled mess. It portrayed Fantasia just how she acts at times, a ghetto-hood rat from the South, making the South look bad. VH-1 is known for this, as I briefly elaborated in my coonery blog in May. Her family and brothers were even worse, as she was keeping them all up, and many of them were lazy bums. She was in the process of completing her GED during the show's filming. She had the nerve to say that GED stood for "Grown Educated Diva". Who does that? She made herself look like a complete fool after another chance to get her career back on track post The Color Purple.

August 2010 has been traumatic for Fantasia. First she's been messing around with a married man on the tail end of his divorce, a controversy wrapped in an enigma. Then comes the suicide attempt. Granted, most folks (myself included) are happy that she's still with us. But why would you OD on aspirins? Better yet, why OD in the first place. It showed America that Fantasia has some deep demons to fight, and a long ways to go yet still.

I have said some harsh things about Fantasia. I still believe that if she wasn't blessed with that wonderful voice that she would be regarded as a basic, coonish, hood-rat and would be chilling on the corner in High Point, NC and not many folks would care. I caught flack for that. However, Fantasia HERSELF made a similar comment about herself to George Lopez on his show. She said that had she not won Idol that she would most likely still be stuck in High Point and doing the things she were doing before.

Nevertheless, my compassion and sympathy for this young lady has blossomed. She needs our support and prayers. Fantasia is the type of woman that was persecuted early in life, picked on, has been raped, has issues with her father till this day, and has had many issues with men. Many times when a person seems ignorant, it is deeper than that. They just have become so confused and screwed up by life that if they do not subscribe to God or a higher power and don't get proper help, they only get worse. I certainly do not want to see Fantasia go down even further.

I only hope Fantasia does realize where she's at, where she's headed if she doesn't learn from her mistakes, and where she has to be. Her music career is back on track, her show (albeit not a good move for her) is still ongoing, and she recently received that coveted GED. It is up to HER, Fantasia Barrino, whether or not she wants to succeed and have a positive image for herself. She just needs to break stereotypes, stay healthy in EVERY way possible, and make better life decisions, including regarding the opposite sex.

Fantasia already has God, a loving family, a daughter, and much of America behind her. Now the ball is in her court. I honestly hope the next blog I write about Fantasia will be 100% positive on how she made a complete 360. Time will tell that tale.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My photographic memory

I've known about it all of my life, heard about it, saw others wow over it. It's been my claim to fame, one of my most identifiable traits throughout my entire life, especially in high school. It's my amazingly good memory.

Over the years, I have memorized many, random facts about information. Many of them for school, many just for the heck of it. This is the type of thing that has helped me excel in trivia competitions (see the previous blog for that) Stuff about the U.S. Presidents, high school and college mascot names, children's names of friends and co-workers, birthdays, songs. The most amazing and perplexing (even in my mind) is when I memorized nearly everyone's schedule back in high school. I accomplished this feat for 6 straight years at Blacksburg High School (it is an extremely small high school and was 7-12 back in the 90s with around 600 students).

Many have asked how I did it. I was honestly never 100 percent sure how. I know it wasn't a mathematical formula, quadratic equation or the like. I then decided to break down how I did it.

I was extremely close with the guidance office and guidance counselors. I initially had access to student schedules, which faciliated the process. That was then evasive and a little trivial for me. I then used another unorthodox but less creepy method. You see, the guidance office had a matrix/grid of all the teachers at Blacksburg High School, their schedules persay. What classes they taught, the classes offered, when they taught them, and when their planning period was. There were 8 periods at BHS: one being homeroom and another one being lunch. Therefore, each student had 6 classes (or 6 periods to occupy 6 classes, one could even be an early dismissal period in the 8th period). The teachers actually taught 5 classes/day, with the 6th period for them being their planning period.

Having this information in hand, I would then be able to construct a student's schedule in my mind. I basically used this information and the process of elimination to see which classes they had, did not have, and could only have during a certain time. For example, if they were taking French II and French II was only offered during 2nd or 8th period, I knew then which class they had for one of those timeframes. A schedule was easier for classes such as band, home economics, or an AP class, since only one of those were offered. I then knew the ONLY time they could take this class and when the class would take place. Of course I would have to know a little about the student also. The small school aspect worked well for me here since pretty much everyone knew everyone else. You knew who the smart kids were, the band students, vocational school students, so you knew what types of classes a student would take typically. There were certain curriculums for college prep students and for vocational students. The only dilemma then was fitting in the electives and various other pre-requistes they needed to graduate and such. Once I would figure this out (this would take anywhere from 2 weeks to a month of just random observation, NOT stalking, and talking with folks about classes and listening to them talk about teachers and such). I would then know their class schedules and would often not forget them for that school year, or years to come.

So there it is BHS classmates (and anyone else interested). That's how I memorized the schedules. It was said that I had a photographic memory, meaning I could automatically retain what I saw. This was often not as easy as someone like me that could retain hundreds of student schedules would make it appear.

I'm truly blessed at 32 to be able to remember what I can. I can no longer remember too many student schedules anymore. I do still remember U.S. Presidents stuff and other random information though. Many of the schedule information was retained and learned over 14 years ago. Consequently, it is since been discarded from my mind and memory. People would be amazed over it and still are. There are teachers that to this day tell their current students about me. My former classmates (some of you reading this blog) would tell their friends, spouses, and children. It was definitely an amazing ride.

I have found, however, that NOT many folks outside of Cherokee County understood or were amazed by all of this. Sure they thought it was great that I could remember all of this info. But they were creeped out about it. Like "how does he know this about a person and why?" I guess it was a BHS thing, I'm not sure.

My mom once asked after my 10-year high school reunion when that's all folks could discuss regarding me was the schedule thing "Is that all they remember about you?". I would like to think not. Once again, I believe it was my claim to fame, and my identifying trait. I felt that's how I left my mark in Blacksburg. I don't see it as a negative thing either. Not to be judgmental, but I would rather be remembered for that than for being a thug, rapist, hoodlum, slacker, or not be remembered by all. In short, I'm cool with being remembered for remembering stuff.

I really want to keep the good memories of my past close to my heart, as this world is filled with enough negativity. I think back to those times with fondness, as I had a gift, and folks recognized it. It was a cool time to be young,and it's good that I was more highly regarded than I ever thought I would be years ago.

Now if only my blogs would be remembered like that. But hey, that's another story for another day. I'm just thankful for the positive things that people do identify me with.

Monday, August 16, 2010

CHURCH: not what it once was, and not what it's supposed to be

Being that this is Sunday and the Lord's day in many eyes, hearts, and minds, church is a major part of Sunday. Some folks, regardless of their relationship with the Lord, pack churches mainly out of habit. They've been doing it for years, and they feel weird when they're not there.

I can't chalk it up to getting older, the church and overall way folks have changed in the 21st century or both. But the modern church has changed now and NOT for the better. It is become more of a business, very corporate, flooded with crooked ministers, shady, hypocritical members, and more drama than the WWE, Facebook, and combined. It seems God is no longer on the forefront. And folks wonder why I don't currently attend church. I will come clean in this blog and explain why I PERSONALLY do not choose to attend church.

First, I have to explain how great church was, and still can be. I grew up in the church. My late grandmother was a devout, religious Christian, attending church every time the doors were open. She never made me attend church, but highly encouraged it. And I loved it then. The fellowship, playing with the children before and after services, Sunday School, VBS, church dinners, etc. Church was soo great then and people were loving and God-fearing. Then I grew up.

I remember how one church had wronged my grandmother over and over again, even after she became disabled. The pastor came to my grandmother's house just weeks after she suffered a stroke and talked down to her like she were a child. My grandmother was a Sunday School teacher (a dang good one too) and she basically said some things in her lesson that stepped on some toes. She didn't call anyone out, but sometimes the truth hurts. Anyways, some of the "inner circle" inside of that church complained to the pastor, and the pastor took their side. My grandmother then left that church. However, my mother still went to that church a few years later. She felt more comfortable in that small, country environment, rather than the bigger church my grandmother and I were now attending. She was disrespected and ostracized by the members and the pastor because she couldn't attend all the time, and judged wrongly due to petty issues. My mother no longer felt comfortable there as she felt the wrath of the inner-circle and favortism working against her.

I then experienced problems of my own within the church. You see, I try to avoid drama at all causes, and my focus was (and still is) worshipping the Lord and receiving His message. However, when I can't do either peacefully and openly, there's a problem. The church I was at was (and still is) a good church. I was there for years. However, it was my family church, therefore most of my family attended that church. It seemed like I couldn't raise my hand in worship at a certain time without getting snotty looks, judgments, or a phone call to my mom and grandma. As the young folks say now, #wheredeydothatat? Also, I had been undergoing changes for a while. You see, I grew up Pentacostal, in the Church of God. Yes that's right, the shouting, speaking in tongues, fire-breathing sermons, so on and so forth. However I began to realize that denomination shouldn't be the reason you worship God. It's about his love, his lessons and teachings, and the fact that he sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins.

Having all of these thoughts in my head, I left my family church and became non-Denominational. I just couldn't belong to a church where 90% of my family belonged, were in my business all the time, plus subscribed to a certain denomination. You see, Christianity has become a big joke now. You have Pentacostals, southern Baptists, independent Baptists, AME Zion, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc. What people fail to realize is WE ALL WORSHIP THE SAME GOD IN CHRISTIANITY!!! When you lose sight of that and your spirituality, you are missing out. Your heart might be the right place, but your mind must wake up.

When my beloved grandmother passed in 2004, I decided to give church another try. I went to a non-Denominational church that was all I was asking for: free and open worship, not subscribing to a religion, getting away from traditional church service but not the traditional message. I even knew the minister and liked him. However, that church lacked structure and organization. It appeared an inner-circle of few tried to take over the church once the Pastor left. They even had it rationalized since one of them was an ordained minister. However, none of the church members voted on it. Heck I was there 7 months and they never even made me a member. That was very sad. I wasn't kept informed on much of anything: church happenings, gatherings, prayer meetings. Basically, if it wasn't in the church program, I didn't know about it. I got tired of that mess and left by the end of the year.

I then tried another church a couple of months later. It appeared to have the elements I mentioned earlier, plus a lot of more organization and order. Too much order, as I would later learn. This church was quite a piece of work as I would also learn later. The pastor and his wife were evangelists so they would, in addition to Sunday morning worship and Wednesday Bible study, often have services out of town 3-4 nights a week. These services would be as far away as Forest City, NC, and they expected their members to attend. Now at the time I was evaluating the church to become a member, I didn't realize the church was like this. It seemed once I became a member, it was completely different. It was difficult for me to make certain services as I lived 30 minutes away from the church. Plus they had funding issues at the building they were at, and would always ask every Sunday for a $20 offering from everyone, in addition to tithes. When that was ineffective, they toyed with the idea of making folks bring in their check stubs and tax statements to ensure that they were tithing properly.

The pastor there was also quite a piece of work. He was a talented, charismatic minister, teacher and musician. However, he had an attitude problem and was very aggressive. He got sooo ridiculous that used to get onto me for using the restroom during altar call (by get onto, I mean publicly call out for the ushers to block the doors so I couldn't get out). That's when I just about had it. I mean, seriously, how and why can you tell an adult NOT to use the bathroom during services? That never did sit right with me. I let that persist for a couple of more weeks, even sought the advice of some Christian warriors in my life. Within a month, I left that church.

Some of you are probably thinking "well Drew you just haven't found the right church, you can't give up on God, etc, etc". I say well back the truck up there! I have NEVER given up on God. Just because you don't attend church doesn't mean you've given up on the Lord! Give me a break! I have just grown tired of being around hypocrites, crooked ministers, unfocused, fake Christians. That's not what God intended for his church to be about. If one reads carefully in Matthew, it says nothing about these things being part of the church, nor does it say you will be condemned for not attending church. Personally I read my Bible daily (especially Proverbs) thanks to my Bible app on my BB, I watch Joel Osteen weekly, I pay my tithes to charitable organizations and other Christian avenues that need them. Lastly, I associate myself not only with Godly folks, relatives, friends, and ministers alike, but REAL, HONEST folks who I know I can trust and aren't hypocrites. I've already did a blog on "Keeping it 100?" so by now you should know that honesty is important all around for me. It is no different in regards to the Lord.

I'm ashamed of how the church is now. Corrupted by inner circles, Aunt Esthers, crooked ministers, the mega-church system, hypocrisy, prejudice, and I could go on (Heck I already have). It is frustrating to me to see how church is now. I do attend a few live services a year, but I feel that my way is good as well. Only God can judge me and my spirituality.

By no means am I trying to get anyone to stop attending church. I just get tired of folks looking down their noses at me and feeling I'm a heathen just because I'm not in church every time the door is open. Well to you I say this in closing. I know who I am, my relationship with the Lord, my Bible, and I do what is required of me, in spirit and my heart. Please sweep besides your own front door first before coming to mine. Thank you and good night!