Monday, August 27, 2012

Summer movie review and wrap up

Overall this summer movie season has been down. There weren't but a handful of movies that were opening night or even matinee worthy in my eyes. Here's my overall analysis of the 2012 summer movie season


The two best movies this summer were without question comic book inspired: The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. The Avengers had the most action, and The Dark Knight Rises had the stronger storyline. The Amazing Spiderman was also good, but paled in comparison with the other two movies. Also, Men In Black III, and the rock musical Rock Of Ages were both awesome. It was good to see Will Smith back on the big screen for the first time since 2008's Seven Pounds. Rock of Ages was fun, especially for fans of the 80s and classic rock. That is one must have soundtrack.


This would be a longer list had I actually went to see more movies. But of the movies I've seen personally and seen reviews and such on, there are four bad movies that stand out. These are Dark Shadows, The Dicktator, Battleship, and Sparkle. Tim Burton really messed the bed trying to remake a classic drama from the 60s. The Dicktator was corny, and showed why Sacha Baron Cohen needs to stop making movies. Battleship tried too hard to be like Transformers.Peter Berg, a favorite director of mine, simply failed in his attempt at box office magic or a good storyline out of a movie based off a popular board game. Sparkle was actually the better of these four. However, the plot and storyline were predictable. Only the music, Whitney Houston's final appearance, and Mike Epps's superb acting made this movie watchable.


There were some watchable movies and some that didn't completely stink. Some of the watchable ones were That's My Boy, Expendables 2, The Campaign and Ted. The Campaign and Ted were the "filthy"comedies of the summer and both were laugh out loud funny. That's My Boy also was. Adam Sandler has been hit and miss lately in his movies, and this one brought back a glimpse at why he has been highly regarded for years.

I saw Snow White and The Huntsman and was not impressed, but it wasn't terrible. The animated movies Madagascar 3 and Ice Age Contininental Drift did pretty well, although I have yet to see either one. Disney's Pixar annual summer movie Brave is also one I haven't seen, but it suffered from poor reviews and low box office numbers.
I also saw Tyler Perry's Witness Protection and it was better than I expected. It is not his greatest work, but its far from his stereotypical, Madea movies. It's a nice crossover.

I also did not see Magic Mike, had no desire to. But the movie was obviously popular among women, and even former and current male strippers. Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaghey, and the other guys really captivated that aspect of nightlife that is typically ignored.

Here's hoping the Fall movie season offers more flare.

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Summer TV review and wrap-up

No longer does one have to suffer the rerun blues during the summer months. Summer television programming has been going on for years, and really peaked this summer season.  Here's my review of the overall season: the best, worst, and the rest.


It goes without saying the 2012 Summer Olympics in London caught our collective eyes for two weeks. Veteran stars such as Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt continued to shine. Newcomers such as Gabby Douglas rose up. Plus both the men's and women's basketball teams captured the gold. America once again dominated the medal count.

You also had the ending of another successful season of Swamp People. One half of the Guist twins passed after the show filmed, and other drama happened. However, the show was still exciting, fresh, and full of unexpected twists. New shows Black Dynamite, Anger Management with Charlie Sheen and The American Bible Challenge have really been good and been a breath of fresh air. Anger Management will be back for a second season in January.

Without question, the mini series of the summer was The Hatfields and McCoys on the History channel. Kevin Costner returned to TV to recreate arguably the most epic and famous rivalry in American history.


Love and Hip Hop Atlanta was nothing but VH-1s latest coon picnic. It seemed, however, on Monday nights, many people couldn't get enough of the ignorant antics of Stevie "Steebie" J, Lil Scrappy, Rasheeda, and the rest. Soul Man on TV Land was also pretty bad. I could not even get past two episodes. It seems Cedric The Entertainer and Niecy Nash are getting too desperate to revive their careers. The new show Love Addiction on TV One wasn't necessarily bad on a coon level. It was bad because it was predictable and clique. It was mostly good women picking bad men, the women's family and friends getting angry about it all, and then staging a love intervention. By the end of the show, the couple had decided to break up. Different couples each episode but basically the same tired storyline and outcome.

Now before you all think, I'm only bashing the black shows, think again. The remake of Dallas was also a flop. Apparently it didn't matter that JR, Sue Ellen and the original cast still alive were on. The younger generation of Ewings simply failed to wow the audience long term. Some classics should simply be left alone.


My guilty pleasure this summer was Sullivan and Son. It's a lot like Cheers, except with worse storylines and less dynamic characters. Produced by Vince Vaughn, Steve Sullivan decides to give up his high profile job as a corporate attorney in New York to move home to Pittsburgh and buy his family's bar so they can retire (which they really don't). Classic actors such as Dan Lauria, Brian Doyle-Murray and up and comer Owen Benjamin keep you wanting more.

I tried to get into Breaking Bad. Good show, but I feel behind. I think I will watch the show from the beginning so I can fully understand the backstory.

It seems other popular shows in the past summers, such as So You Think You Can Dance, America's Got Talent, and Single Ladies, have started to fade. Single Ladies was already weak and stereotypical. When Stacey Dash didn't return for this season, that made the show even worse.

These are my views and thoughts. Now I look forward for the new Fall TV lineup and of course football.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Suicide: Giving Up On Life, But Why?

Life is tough, always has been, always will be. It seems that many more people, young and old, are ending their lives early. They are throwing in the towel too easily instead of toughing it out.

This is the type of stuff that inspires Facebook drama and Lifetime movies. It also puts gun control laws in question. Suicide is nothing to be taken lightly. One can reach an extreme state of depression and mental anguish and feel this is their only way out. Matter of fact 9/11 is also known as National Suicide Prevention Day.

Depression is definitely a leading cause and reason for suicide. It seems people now, especially the younger generation, are doing it more common. They cannot handle heartbreak, money problems, or even others picking on them or gossiping about them. They feel their way is only one way out. Of course, they are wrong.

The Columbine kids felt this way after shooting up their high school. The same occurred with the Virginia Tech gunman in 2007.

 However, it seems these folks cannot live with the guilt and terror of taking lives, so they end up ending theirs.

Many notable celebrities, such as Ray Combs, former Family Feud host, retired NFL linebacker Junior Seau, novie director Tony Scott , and most recently Robin Williams have taken the most valuable gift there is from themselves. They may have had money and fame, but they are still human inside.

Suicide hotlines and mental assistance are available. One popular one is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Too many have too much pride to seek professional help. What they don't realize is that failure to do this can make them even more insane. Regarding a suicidal scenario, these individuals need an added boost.

Therefore, do not ignore someone that's on the brink of ending their life. You have to at least get them to see why life is worth living. They at least need to see all those that love them and would miss them.

Life is really hard, but precious, and shouldn't be thrown away.  Ending your own life is the ultimate, and it’s unimaginable to me.  However, it does happen, and they need the proper help. They may thank you later when they come to their senses and realize how terrible and senseless suicide is.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Seven Famously Inspired Hip Hop Mixed Drinks

Hip hop and alcohol seems to mesh well together. A rapper's drink of choice goes beyond Cristal, Vodka, or Petron. They love many mixed drinks, which are typically combined with different types of alcohol, candies, and even drugs. Lil Wayne has become very notorious for always having something potentially lethal in his red solo cup. Here are seven popular drinks amongst the hip hop community.
1. Gin And Juice
Like many of these drinks, this was popularized in a song by Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. Hip hop was in in its early stages, and it seemed cool to sip on gin and juice. It was cost effective, easy to make, and popular at parties, bars, and even cookouts. Gin and juice was deemed primitive by today's standards though.
2. Syrup
Three 6 Mafia and UGK made this drink popular in the late 90s. The mix is simple: E&J Brandy, Sprite and Jolly Ranchers, but it can give you an addicting buzz. Rapper Pimp C had some in his system when he passed. This is the drink that helped spawn the others on this list.
3. Purple Drank
This is another version of syrup, and supposedly much more potent. Lil Wayne and his camp love this drink. It seems to be one of the newer, popular ones out. Actual cough syrup and codeine is usually in purple drink, along with different sodas. Think of it as Syrup 2.0.
4. Crunk Juice.
This is a lot like Vodka and Red Bull, except its known not only to get you hype, but intoxicate you quicker. Instead of Vodka, you mix Hennessy cognac. Rapper and producer Lil Jon popularized this and even would carry a giant cup with Crunk Juice embroidered on the front. No wonder Lil Jon and his crew would get crunk and get crunk.
5. Thug Passion
This is another drink that came from the West Coast hip hop scene, most notably from Tupac Shakur. Thug Passion still seems to resurface from time to time.  It was also a song, and the main ingredient was Alize liquor. Like Gin and Juice, it lacked most of the extra ingredients, it was mostly alcohol. Very popular amongst the fellas.
6. Hurricane
Gotta admit, in my research, I didn't realize Hurricanes were inspired by hip hop. But they had their hey day right after Syrup hit the scene.  It is actually a combination of syrup, fruit juice, grenadine, gin, and many other concoctions. There are several different hurricanes.  E-40 is an artist that made this popular in his raps, and many Hurricanes are still made and consumed.
7. Colt 45 Blast
This drink has been under much fire and controversy in the past. Snoop Dogg has been the spokesperson for it. It is Colt 45, but mixed with soda and soda like ingredients, and even some fruit flavor.  It nearly got yanked from the counters as complaints were it resembled a soda too much, and was sold with and near the sodas in many stores.

I'm confident some mixologist is in the lab concocting a potent, exciting drink for rappers to profit from and get intoxiciated. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Metrosexual or Just A Girly Man?

Once upon a time, men were REAL men. They handled their own, took care of home, were strong and protective, and showed little to no emotion. Now in 2012, it seems that is long gone. Many men are so emotional, whiny, and feminine. I blame many factors: lack of a dominant male role model, and pop culture. Drake's whiny lyrics, plus guys wearing skinny jeans have helped to soften up this new crop of men.

Metrosexuality became a craze about nine years ago. Straight men were wearing pink, getting manicures and pedicures, and simply showing a sensitive side. That isn't so bad. It's when they start acting like they are on their period, crying for no reason, and just not properly stepping up to the plate as a man.

Now what should a REAL man do and how much emotion should he show? Well, I have already listed a few traits. Also, this guy must protect, show confidence, and have good rational, aggressive decision making skills. It's fine to show some emotion and even cook, buy feminine products for their ladies, and dress nice. However, balance all of that with controlling and moderating your emotions, being strong physically, mentally and emotionally. Also, show some old school machismo. Don't put down women for being non-traditional, but know your role and play it well. You don't have to be a thug or roughhouse, but stand tall and don't be anyone's doormat. Also, whine less and be more of a man of action.

Real men are simply rocks under pressure, period. Think Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, or even the abrasive Samuel L. Jackson. Women want a man in their lives, not a baby boy they have to raise. A real woman will not do that. They will tell you to go to your mom or dad for that.

So fellas, chill with the excessive crying and whining. It really isn't cool. Women will not always admit it, but they do not want their equal. Stay out of the mirror and dry your eyes. They want to be in control not necessarily of them, but situations. They want you to be able to handle your emotions and theirs.

No one is perfect, but that doesn't mean you should strive to be the best balanced man possible. That certainly doesn't include showing more emotion than masculinality. A healthy, man friendly balance is necessary.

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gabby, Barack, and Tebow: will people leave them alone already?

The 2012 Olympics in London, England are ending tonight. In a few weeks, the 2012 NFL season opens. Also, we have a presidential election in 2012, where President Barack Obama is vying against Republican Mitt Romney to become only the second Democrat since FDR to win back to back terms.

These 2012 Olympics have had several heroes and great storylines. Obviously one of the biggest stories was 16 year old gymnast Gabby Douglas.  She won three medals in her first Olympics, one of them a team gold with the "Fab Five" gymnastics team that became the first Olympic team to win that event since the Magnificent Seven in the Atlanta 1996 games. She is known worldwide and will return to the USA a multimillionaire and a household name. However, many folks would rather focus on how her hair looked during the events, or on how much debt her mother was in. That doesn't make much sense to me. What does any of that have to do with her abilities, talent and achievements?

President Barack Obama has been undergoing similar criticism since he was first elected four years ago. He is the nation's first Black president, and argubably the most scrutinized politican ever. He hasn't been perfect, as he is admittedly inexperienced. Nevertheless, he is doing an admirable job of cleaning up George W. Bush's eight year mess. He is bringing better healthcare, he helped eliminate Osama Bin Laden, the troops from Iraq and Afghanistan are coming home, and the economy is steadily improving. It seems, like Gabby, critics and haters do not want to give Obama the proper credit for what he has actually done. They want to slander him, and say they have yet to see change. There is a world of positive difference between now and 2008 if one looks carefully. Also, everything bad is not his fault either. He is STILL fixing Bush's mistakes, plus Congress makes the laws, and is refuting many bills he proposes. Folks really need to research all sides of an issue before throwing stones.

NFL quarterback Tim Tebow was the league's biggest story last year with the influence he had on the Denver Broncos, the Christian community, and the nation. He coined the term and the meme "tebowing" and gave folks lots of hope. Now he will get the opportunity to do this with the New York Jets, in a tough media market. People criticized him heavily as well, citing that he was too religious, overrated, a novelty, and that the defense carried him. Like it or not, Tebow has won at all levels of his sports life. He just puts that enthusiasm in a person to make you want to play with him. He has a strong love for the Lord and the game of football. It seems people would rather break down his flaws though.

This hating and negativity must end. Gabby, Obama and Tebow are human beings first. They are influences and role models. But they will err. However, remember they wouldn't be where they are without hard work, determination, and fortitude. There was only one perfect person to ever live, and he was crucified. These extraordinary but imperfect human beings shouldn't be crucified as well. One should not put down folks and make false accusations and rumors just because they don't like that person, or because you want to be that person. Instead, ignore these types of folks, and vote for someone you want to see in office. People were fed up with Bush, so they have given Obama a try. Also, look deep within yourself, realize you are not perfect either, and nurture what you are good at. We are all talented at something, and should strive to be the Gabby, Tebow or Barack at that talent.

We are one nation, one family. The patriotism shouldn't end now that the Olympics have. We need to support each other, love each other, and back each other. Negativity is in overabundance, so let's search for more positivity.


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Monday, August 6, 2012

Drug Abuse and Addiction Are Real

Generations ago, it was illegal to even drink at all. This is when prohibition started. Fast forward to now. You have more and more people affected by drug abuse and addiction than ever.
It is more than simply alcohol now. It is crack, prescription pills, Xctasy, and now even bath salts. Certain folks always feel the need to get high and escape to function and cope with life. They feel the need for them like a fish needing water. Of course a fish cannot survive without water. Unfortunately, many folks cannot survive without these drugs, which ironically can end up killing them. At best, your health, wealth, and body are at risk.
Drug addiction is a disease, an evil one, but one that has a cure. It has affected so many people, young and old, and their families and friends. They see this person they once knew as a violent, depressing shell of themselves. They forget not only small, everyday things and tasks; they forget who they really are.  It's truly a tragedy. 
My brother's life was ended early as a result of an accidental drug overdose. Drug abuse is near and dear to my heart not only because I have lost my brother, I have seen other family members destroy their lives as well.
Many celebrities have fallen victim to drugs and died at young ages. These include Frankie Lyman, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Chris Farley, John Belushi, Elvis Pressley, Sam Kinison, and Amy Winehouse. Too many people are losing their families, minds and lives for a temporary high.
Healing from a drug addiction is not easy. Rehab can help. There are also counselors, medications to wean one from their drug of choice, and various support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. However, I've found these such programs work best when that person wants them to work. The addict in question must be ready to make that change.
It is very sad to see a person who knows drugs are horrible and deadly, but cannot shake the habit. These people need your support and love.
There are hotlines and websites to help fight these terrors. Two are The Drug Abuse Hotline, 800-234-8334 and The National Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center, 800-784-6776.
We need to stay educated, at an early age and on throughout life, about the dangers of certain drugs. D.A.R.E. has been active for years in the schools. Our communities must strive together and fight this disease, the same way we fight cancer and paralysis.
Please don't give up this battle. We have stopped too many things as a people, as a nation. Drug abuse can be controlled and eventually curbed. Use your resources, willpower, and make that stand.

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Corporations Can Be Vile and Powerful

Businesses have always intrigued me, even the old lemonade stands children used to have. However, I realized early on there many rules and regulations, often not followed, for a business to be legitimate.

This takes me back to when I was a child watching The Flintstones. Fred and Barney were on the side of the road trying to sell Gravelberry Pies. The police shut them down when they saw them and said they had to have to be licensed to sell pies. Too bad police don't bust more businesses for things like this now.

Businesses and corporations have been under fire for a number of years now. It's been over 10 years since the Enron debacle. Other corporations that are considered evil and vile include Wal-Mart, McDonald's, Microsoft, and even Facebook. Social media has gotten bigger, thereby making Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg more exposed and observed.

On July 11 of this year, (ironically my birthday), Viacom, producer of many television networks such as BET, MTV, VH-1, Spike, TV Land and Nickolodeon, made a brash move. They got greedy and were in discussions with DirecTV to try and charge customers a ridiculous amount to have and view their family of 17 channels. When they couldn't reach an agreement, they pulled their 17 networks on 7/11/12. This spawned an outcry from DirecTV customers and the general public. Viacom has thought to be evil for years for how they have turned channels such as BET and VH-1 into ignorant and buffoon filled programming stations. They tried to exert the power they have on the public onto DirecTV. It didn't work. Less than a week later, Viacom and DirecTV reached a long term agreement. The financial details are still uncertain, but DirecTV has assured its customers that there would be no significant increase to access any station from Viacom.

One would be remissed to leave Chik-Fil-A out of this discussion. They may have been founded on a Christian foundation by Dan Casey and have some of the best customer service you will find anywhere, and tasty chicken sandwiches. However, Casey mixed business with personal by expressing his views on gay marriage. Not only that, it has been reported that Chik-Fil-A has been giving tons of their proceeds to anti-gay organizations for years. This is not as evil and vile as some of the previously mentioned companies. However, if you're a public company , you can get into a ton of trouble if you openly try to exclude a group of people. Discrimination and equal opportunity laws are nothing to play with.

Corporations will do what they can to stay in business. Some will be good, and some will be bad. None will be perfect, however. Just remember that they do hold a lot of power in the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the websites we visit, and the decisions we all make. Therefore, we must choose wisely and have our own minds. Corporations definitely have their own minds, goals, visions, and missions.

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