Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 End Of Year Cowbell List

2013 is basically done, and with that, here is the End Year Cowbell List. Long time, loyal readers of my blog know how it goes. It is the bad, ugly and worst from this year since July. My list of repeat offenders continues to get shorter.  Beyoncé and Kobe Bryant, congratulations, you stayed off my list this time. Continue to do so in 2014 and beyond.

Repeat Offenders:

U.S. Justice System: It continues to fail us in many ways, especially depending upon where you live. I don't think I want to move to Florida or Texas now.

Kanye West: Dude you are about to receive your own personal award. Why would you release that type of horrible album?  It appears someone stays caught up in their feelings.

Royal Family: Why must we continue to care if Prince William and Kate had a baby, and what his name is? I'm glad I don't live in England either.

DMX: OK why have you not been deported yet?  I realize you are a troubled human being, but you do not need to be around the general population at the moment.

Atlanta Braves: All of those offseason moves, dominating the regular season, and still choking in the playoffs.  You are the Minnesota Vikings of the MLB. 

Suh: You are now worse than Albert Haynesworth.  I sincerely believe after the Lions fire your head coach, Jim Schwartz, they should release you next.

VH-1: Your awful programming continues, and even your best movies have casting flaws. KeKe Palmer as Chilli, and Evan Ross as Dallas Austin? Do better VH-1.


Amanda Bynes: Yes you have made amends for your poor behavior.  But you must continue to act well before you start a dangerous trend. 

Miley Cyrus: Not much to say that hasn't already been said. Just please put on some clothes, stop acting like a whore, and seek Jesus.

Wild Wings: You guys were already overrated, and now I'm done with your mediocre wings and awful customer service.

Yahoo! Mail: What's up with your inability to keep your mail secure and site and apps fully functional? Many have already switched to Gmail. Perhaps you should get it together before you become irrevelant like Hotmail or AOL.

School fundraisers: Please schools, STOP pimping these children to raise money to make your school better. Their job is to learn. And if any parent thinks that selling candy, doughnuts and poinsettias is going to send your child to DisneyWorld or DC, you need a reality check.

Congress and the federal government: You need to stop your childish bickering and come together as a nation again. Forget about party affiliation, race, class, and the leader of the free world and think of the American people, for once. China already basically owns us.

A-Rod: Apparently too many athletes think they're invincible and above the law. You may not play baseball again, or be enshrined into Cooperstown.

Riley Cooper: When you cannot control your liquor and your inner demons, you should stay inside and be quiet.  It appears to be a Florida Gators curse. I hope Joe Haden isn't next.

George Zimmerman: You are pulling an OJ. You got off with one of the most unjust murders of our era and you still can't stay out of trouble.  You should take DMX and hide out for good.

All of football: The game has attempted to become safer at all levels. It has become softer and less competitive.  A balance needs to be struck. 

Miami Dolphins: There is no good reason why an NFL locker room should get this bad, this fast.  You lost two key players, which could have helped you make the playoffs. 

President Barack Obama: Mr. POTUS, I still support you. But you cannot be taking silly selfies with another woman, while your wife sits by in disgust. You appear to have a good marriage so don't ruin it now.

Jason Kidd: Really Jason? You arguably had the worst cover-up of 2013. It's like you're asking David Stern to fire you.

Kandi Burress: You will never be able to keep a good, decent man like Todd if you don't stand up to your mother. You're in your late 30s, put on the big girl panties and grow up.

Peaches (TLC's first manager). Ok you haven't been revelant since gas was $1/gallon. Now you want to try and bash TLC as they're making a comeback and sue people? Give me a break! Please return to the cave you crawled out from under.

3-D Movies: OK this is completely out of hand now. Every single movie does not look better in 3-D!

Turn Up: This is one expression that I hope leaves with 2013, and goes in the graveyard with swag, real talk, and all of those other whack sayings.

Happy New Year to you all and thanks for reading my work every week!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Black Cinema Is Back On The Rise in 2013

It appears my cries against mediocre and coonish movies is finally being heard. This has been a good year for black cinema.

Now you still had your buffoon pieces such as Tyler Perry's run of biannual movies, the most recent being Madea's Family Christmas.  Baggage Claim can also fit under this category. Tyler is still making fools out of his own people. However, not all directors and writers want their race portrayed this way.

The movie 42, based on Jackie Robinson's rookie season in Major League Baseball, was very heartwarming and inspiring.  A few months later, Fruitvale Station and The Butler were released. The Butler without question is one of this year's best films. It has even been re-released in theaters for the holiday season. 

Just in the past month, a bevy of movies with predominantly black cast have hit the big screen and all of them have been quality films. You have 12 Years A Slave, Best Man Holiday, Black Nativity, and Nelson Mandela's biography The Long Walk To Freedom, set to release Christmas Day. I was planning on seeing Long Walk even before Mandela passed. Idris Elba is a favorite actor of mine, plus I love Mandela's story.

It feels good to look back at a movie and see it just as a good movie and not a blatant racially themed flick that caters to the lowest common denominator.  I remember in the mid to late 90s when black people were cranking out blockbusters left and right.  It's nice to see this making a comeback despite bootleg movies, the expensive prices at the theaters, and directors tempted to follow Tyler Perry's formula since his movies are so popular.

I'm awaiting another good release from Spike Lee or another quality performance from Denzel Washington.  Beyond all of this, I just feel proud as a person of color, and a film critic, to see good movies that everyone can speak positively about.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

2013 Christmas Letter

2013 has been a year of ups and downs for me and mine, and perserverance.

It got off to a rocky start when my mother broke her ankle after a freak accident, pushing me into the role of caretaker. Both of us channeled strength we didn't realize we had. My mom has made virtually a full recovery, despite needing to replace her glasses and complications with a ruptured ear drum.

There were also plenty to celebrate, and lots of changes, gains and losses. I attended two weddings this year, one being my younger cousin Brittany, and another being my co-worker Rodney (whom was featured back in September. )  I also lost a few dear loved ones: one of my long time friends Tim Brown, my beloved cat Tiny, and two uncles, Robert Costner and Junior Dover. Uncle Junior recently passed last week after a short battle with lung cancer. 

There were also losses of another nature. I said goodbye to three restaurants that I adore greatly: Papa G's Restaurant, Huckleberry's Cuisine and Spirits, and Fish-Tales Fish Camp. I had personal ties to all of them, which hurt more to see each of these close.
I celebrated 10 years with my company this year.  I gave up my column with the Weekly Ledger. However, my writings can always be found right here, and hopefully many more outlets in 2014. We were still on short time much of the year, but through some extra funds and my writings, I was able to take care of some bills, raise my credit score, and spoil myself a little. I bought myself a new grill with a smoker for my 35th birthday, a laptop, tablet, went to my first ever NASCAR race, and my first ever MMA fight. Finally, I completed my man cave for now. Of course that is always an ongoing process. 

I also left Alltel's phone service and got with T-Mobile. The purpose was to have 4G LTE coverage, no contract, upgrade flexibility, and access to newer phones, like the Samsung Galaxy S4. Additionally, I said goodbye after many years of working out at Your Best Body Fitness Center and Day Spa and joined Anytime Fitness. They are a corporate, 24/7 gym, with over 2,200 locations worldwide that I have access to, including five locations within close driving distance. Both of these transitions were not easy, but have made a huge difference in my life going forward.

Overall, I feel very blessed. I have built a strong network of family and friends, and I seem to have a party, gathering or a shindig to attend almost every week.  There were folks I had to distance myself from this year for various reasons. However, this made me appreciate the ones that truly value my time and presence.  I've learned to invest my time and energy in those people and things that leave me the happiest and energized.

I pray that myself, and all of us, have continued happiness as we go into 2014 and beyond.  Happy Holidays everyone and I'm so grateful to all of my loyal readers.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Making Football More Safe and Competitive

The sport of football has underwent some serious changes this past season at every level. This is in an effort to keep the game safer for the players. 

Concussions and other career afflicting injuries from football have many former players filing lawsuits. Two of the most notable ones are Jim McMahon and Tony Dorsett, both whom suffered concussions that were not properly treated. 

Now all leagues have extensive concussion testing and policies.  This is all well and good, don't get me wrong. My problem is how soft the game has become. There is no defense now due to contact and tackle rules, or lack of tackling. Consequently, you have all of these football games that turn into shootouts, and the final scores look more like that of a basketball game.

So how can we strike a balance between safe and aggressive competition? Well, first we need to look back into history, when there wasn't as much equipment, back to the leatherhead days.

During the 1960s and prior, players played aggressive and knew how to fundamentally tackle. They were not spearing, or using their bodies and heads as human missiles to make tackles and big hits. They were simply bringing the ball carrier down. Complications didn't start until the mid 1970s when players used their equipment (helmets, shoulder pads) to make vicious and dangerous hits. Fundamental tackling slowly began taking a back seat.

About 10 years ago, many more teams starting running the spread offense, requiring a player to be a good defender in space.  Also, tackling and hitting drills were performed less in practice due to possible injuries.  Now you have the game of football as it currently is: a few steps away from flag football. 

Returning to the football of old (and I mean really old) will require deeper focus on fundamental tackling and blocking. Players need to learn to use their hands, arms, feet and hips again, rather than their helmets. Also, teams need to tackle in practice a minimum of twice/week. I was always told that one often practices just like they play. The evidence is supporting my claim. 

We could also take a lesson from rugby. They have minimum equipment, but still perform aggressive, fundamental tackles without the long term side effects. Rugby is a tough sport, and one that requires lots of safe contact.

Therefore, hard nosed, smash mouth football does not need to be sacrificed for safety. Players and coaches have to be smarter in their teachings, practices and performances. That will keep the players fired up, safe, and the fans will enjoy the end result.

Every problem has its own solution. And often that solution comes by looking into the past, learning from the good and bad, and making better decisions as the sport moves forward. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Celebrating Birthdays for a whole month vs Celebrating Christmas Early

Christmas season is in full swing, well has been since the end of October. And it irritates me.

Not the holiday itself, mind you. It is the fact that people forego the entire month of November holidays (Election Day, Veteran's Day, and finally Thanksgiving) and began celebrating Christmas. Many folks have completely lost sight of the reason and meaning for the holiday.

Now many are aware of my month long birthday celebrations. I was challenged as saying that what I do is no different than folks celebrating Christmas early and being called a narcissist. Well for those folks that don't get it, let me break it down for you all.

1. I began celebrating my birthday the first of July (no sooner) and do not overlook any holidays in the process, especially not the 4th of July, Independence Day.

2. I celebrate, but I don't make a huge spectacle of my birthday.  I usually do the majority of my postings and stuff on that day (7/11) or a couple of days following. Most of my celebrating involves a private party or two, taking advantage of birthday freebies and maybe a road trip. My celebrating is very low-key. Plus I usually only take a couple of vacation days for my birthday, and have often worked on that day.

3. I haven't forgotten the significance or importance of being alive and seeing another year. That is important, and we should be thankful for everyday.  People celebrate Christmas early for all the wrong reasons: often to make them think of happier times and even positive things such as giving and family.  However, Jesus Christ is the reason for the season. 
4. Christmas is so commercial and corporate nowadays. Traffic is all over even the slowest roads, shopping centers and malls are packed. Many go broke just over Christmas and trying to impress others. None of that takes place during my birthday.  I'm taking advantage of free and discounted items, many of which take the entire month. Plus,  I'm just having extra, but not more expensive or annoying fun.

5. Jesus deserves more than one month,
or even a couple of months. He should be honored year round. However, it shouldn't be at the expense of a holiday that has gotten out of control. I won't let my own birthday get like that.

Here's the simple principle; celebrate each holiday as they come, and don't overdo any one of them, including your own birthday.  Remember what is important to others and yourself, and make them all good seasons.

Monday, December 2, 2013

College Football Positioning in the BCS's final year

The college football season just got more exciting this past weekend.

Two time defending national champion Alabama appeared headed back to Atlanta and the SEC title game when Auburn spoiled that in the Iron Bowl with a stellar running game and returning a missed field goal 108 yards for a touchdown with one second left. Now Florida State and Ohio State appear headed to Pasadena for the national championship, should they win their conference championships.

FSU's biggest obstacle is not a resurgent Duke squad. It's the off field antics of QB Jameis Winston. Should he be convicted of rape, that could make a difference in the national championship.  Florida State has enough athletes to beat Duke, so you can almost lock them into Pasadena.

Ohio State is a another story, however. They have played in a weak Big Ten, and haven't exactly dominated.  They also face a tough Michigan State team. If they lose and Auburn wins, Auburn will be the #2 team. If both lose, Alabama could be back in the mix based on computer rankings. Remember in 2007 when LSU made it to #2 with two losses but had a tough schedule?

Now if Ohio State wins and Auburn wins, Auburn could still pass OSU based on the aforementioned stronger schedule and the SEC's reputation.

Basically if you're a Crimson Tide fan, you are rooting for both Ohio State and Auburn to lose, especially to help deal with that heartbreaking Iron Bowl loss.

Now far as the other BCS bowls, it appears Stanford and Michigan State will be headed to the Rose Bowl, while Oklahoma State, Northern Illinois, and Auburn/Alabama/Clemson will be representing their conferences.  Baylor could grab at least an at-large bid with a win against Texas. Outside of conference champions and #1 v #2, it's a bit of a crapshoot.

But FSU and OSU control their destiny by simply winning.  Auburn needs to win also, but worse than the two teams ahead of them.

It doesn't matter whether you're a fan of the BCS or not. This final weekend of college football before the bowls should be intriguing.  Hope you have your popcorn and drink ready.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The NBA: a month into the 2013-2014 season

The NBA is in full swing, along with the NFL, college football and basketball.  In just a short month, there is a lot to rave about. 


Bulls PG Derrick Rose is injured yet again, this time it's his other knee. He may do like Thomas Davis or Adrian Peterson in the NFL and make a full recovery, or retire early like Brandon Roy. It would be a shame to see him go, as he is very talented.  Nets coach Jason Kidd made a lame move to try and stall the game, just after coming off of suspension himself. He played a long time in the league, and he knows David Stern doesn't play around. Therefore, he should have did better.

Meanwhile, the Heat are still good, but not the hottest team in the league right now. That would be the healthy OKC Thunder, the underrated Spurs, or the upstart Indiana Pacers. The Pacers are a bunch of blue collar playmakers that could very well end the Heat's reign in the Eastern Conference.


The mighty Boston Celtics are rebuilding under a new coach and an inexperienced squad. The Knicks are really missing an inside presence and are underperforming. Kobe Bryant has been cleared to practice and signed a contract extension. Nevertheless, it could be too little, too late for the Lakers. The Clippers are now the dominant team in LA. Many other teams appear to already be donning the slogan "Riggin for Wiggins" referring to Kansas player Andrew Wiggins, who is expected to be a high draft pick in 2014.


The Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Houston Rockets are all much improved. Dwight Howard has appeared to find a good fit in Houston.  The Timberwolves are playing fine ball right now also, and Golden State are trying to establish themselves as a Western Conference power. It also appears Philadelphia's Michael Carter-Williams is the rookie of November, and could be the NBA Rookie of the Year.

It would be nice to see the Pacers, Thunder, Spurs or another team give the Miami Heat a serious challenge come playoff time. The Christmas Day games will be here before we know it, and many will be watching.  It will also set the stage for All-Star Weekend.

Maybe this year there will be more exciting dunks in the Dunk Contest and well-known players. In any event, stay tuned for more news regarding the NBA season

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Review of Eminem's MMLP2

Hip hop and music has had a decent year. It appears the lyricists are returning and it's not just ignorant anthems about sex, partying and drinking. Eminem restores our faith once again in hip hop with his newest release, the Marshall Mathers LP 2.

Being a hardcore Eminem fan, I wasn't the least bit skeptical that this album would be successful.  The deluxe edition is 21 tracks, and most every track is worthy of a second listen. You can get the basic CD for about $10 if you don't want to pay the extra $6 for the deluxe.  Even at a $1/song (5 tracks on the 2nd CD), it is still worth giving Slim Shady your hard earned money.

He has his usual bizarre and scary lyrics, with an ill rhyming style almost hard to emulate. He mixes his cameos and samples well with the varying styles of songs.  The cameos include Rihanna, Nate Reuss, Kendrick Lamar, and newcomer Skylar Grey who kills it on probably the best track on the entire album "***Hole". Renowned producer Rick Rubin produced most of the album and was criticized, especially for his incessant sampling on tracks such as "Rhyme Or Reason" "So Far" and "Love Game" . However, I believe his beats and samples blended well with Eminem's. It's just different with Dr. Dre, that's all.

While "***Hole" may again be the best song, the released singles are nice "Berserk, Rap God, and Monster". Em's slow melodies were also a winner, especially "Legacy" and "Headlights"  I feel "Bad Guy" was too long and drawn out though.

Nevertheless, this is another timeless, four and a half mic classic for Shady. You can let it play and not be easily tempted to skip songs. Some of his verses are worthy of repeating, just so you can get the full meaning of his cypher.

Eminem has definitely matured over the past couple of decades, but is still an artist at heart. I would definitely suggest picking up either version of MMLP2. Real hip hop and Eminem fans should not be disappointed. 

Locker Room Culture Throughout Sports

There are just a few weeks left in football at all levels. The NFL, and the Miami Dolphins has a locker room hazing and bullying scandal so extreme it would take Olivia Pope to fix.

Many out there are familiar with this Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin saga that continues to develop and unfold daily.  There are many schools of thought, suggestions, excuses, and remedies.

My question is this: why are we not looking at the locker room of the Miami Dolphins?

Often when something like this happens on a sports team, especially a professional one, there's a lot of dysfunction and a lack of leadership in the locker room.

I have played sports, and I will tell you the locker room encompasses a variety of things.  Confidentiality.  Teamwork. Unity. Fun. Game planning. Harmless playing around and bantering occurs at every level in every team sport. Usually when it gets out of hand, it's up to the team leaders and captains to settle it on site.  The objective is not to let anyone outside of the team find out what is going on: no coaches, no family members, and definitely no media.  The unwritten rule is to go to the coaches only when it is at such a dangerous and harmful magnitude.

It appears the Miami Dolphins failed on all of these counts.

Now the coaches I had were in tune with their locker rooms. That was mostly because of careful observation and good leadership.  The Phins are going to have to develop these traits in order to repair this mess.

I saw a nearby high school team become ruined recently due to extreme hazing in the locker room. It leaked to parents and the outside media and the fallout equaled that of an earthquake. Nearly a dozen guys were thrown off the team, and the jayvee squad was dissolved and promoted to varsity.  A year later, the head coach left. Up until late this football season, this team had a losing streak dating before that debacle. 

Will the Dolphins have something similar happen? Yes many can agree that Martin could and should have handled it better. Incognito should never been allowed on the team again. However, it starts from the bottom up. The proper leadership must be developed to prevent this behavior going forward.  Incognito has had a horrible disciplinary record since his college days. He would not survive in a stable, functional locker room.

Many athletes know how locker rooms can and should be. The consensus is you want peace, comfort and tranquility. This is how you build a winner, and keep the media from reporting on you, night and day.

Let's hope sports teams everywhere learn from the Dolphins, especially in this anti-bullying era.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Succubus: Don't Be A Victim!

This is not intended to be masogonetic or to slam women. Rather this is to inform my fellow man about the dangers of the woman that is a succubus.

A succubus has many monikers and images, like that of a beauty queen or a  whore. A prominiscious personality like a trollop, scrumpet, or demon. She is plain evil and controlling. Succubus literally suck the lives out of unsuspecting men. They prey on their generosity and kind nature through manipulation and sex. The man is often so drawn in he cannot see straight.  She has him under her spell.

Now there are women that will go to dirty lengths to win the man they want, including tricking and harming the man. They almost brainwash fellas. They no longer associate with friends and family anymore. It's as if the man is different, as he is completely under the evil influence of this she-devil.

Gentlemen and ladies, do your part and do not let the good men fall prey to a succubus. If you sense the man is in harm's way, it may be best to intervene right away. However, this can harbor resentment from the guy, and this demonic female. An intervention may be in order. 

Now you can't control the lives of others, like a succubus does. However, you should protect and love whenever and wherever is appropriate.  Stand tall against any demon that makes all females look bad, and destroys the few good men left.

Kevin Hart's Secrets Behind His Success

Many of you already know how I feel about comedian/actor Kevin Hart. He's annoying, obnoxious, overrated, and seemingly everywhere. There are not only folks in the urban comedy scene, but in comedy period that are way funnier than him. This was the subject of a blog from last year.

Nevertheless, Kevin's tours, shows and specials sell out like hotcakes, he does a lot of hosting gigs, and now he will be in two movies in the next two months. He has honestly worked his butt off and did what others aren't willing to do to be successful.

Yeah I realize a lot of entertainers work hard and have a good set of people around them. But what makes Kevin different?

1. Separation of personal and professional life

Kevin embraces his struggles, dealing with marriage then a divorce, and being diminutive.  He uses his weaknesses on stage as his strengths. He also doesn't do anything to have TMZ, MediaTakeout, or the tabloids talking.  He is hustling period.

2. Goes the extra mile by taking corny and major roles alike.

He does not mind being the lead man or the straight man. He simply wants to work and act and has a thick skin. He saw what Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock did, and is following that blueprint. He may be selling out, especially in Dave Chapelle's eyes (who gave up 50 million plus because he wasn't going to be Comedy Central's puppet).  Like it or not, Kevin continues to get work due to this attitude.

3. He is familiar and derivative.

Many critics, myself included, accuse Hart of being unoriginal and derivative of comedians from the past such as Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, and even Chris Tucker. Audiences and fans like that though and Kevin and his management were smart enough to see that. That what turns him from the annoying cousin to an elite entertainer in the eyes of many.

4. He is very professional.

He shows on time for performances, shows and rehearsals and rarely, if ever, cancels. That is a strong trait to have and he is basically someone you can trust to do the job you pay him for.

5. He has no major challengers.

I named seven that could give Kevin a run for his money. However, even those seven, plus Katt Williams, Vince Morris, and Christopher Titus have other things distracting and hindering them. Ten years ago, things may be different.  Present day, Kevin is head and shoulders above all in the comedy game.

Some will agree, some will disagree with all or part of this blurb. But when I realized it, Kevin has earned his fame. It does not make me one of his millions of fans, but I can't knock the little man's hustle. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Nap Time Is A Good Time

Uncle Si from the hit reality show Duck Dynasty may be onto something. Among other traits, he is known for his frequent nap, even during work. Based on my personal experience, naps can be great, refreshing, and healthy.

Research and studies have indicated that proper naps daily can refresh you, make you more alert, and even lower blood pressure. A good 30 minute-1 hour nap can make you into a new person. Power naps of about 15-20 minutes are also effective.  I have been a heavy napper like Si since I can remember.  Therefore, these studies intrigued me.

The value of napping has caught on so that many companies and corporations have incorporated naptime into the workday. Many of these places even have beds.

Now you can nap too much, or nap ignorantly. For example, a two hour nap on a workday may not be ideal. This could make for a long night. Also, many folks get sleepy after a huge meal. It's not good to nap then either because of potential weight gain.

However, it's hard to go wrong with a good nap. I know it always refreshes and recharges me. It's nice to see there are healthy benefits from simply resting your eyes and lying down.

Think about this the next time you second guess taking a nap. It could be just what the doctor ordered

Top 10 Signs You May Be A Scandal Addict

It seems two of my more popular topics in the past year have dealt with addiction and Scandal. Yes the show has grown more in popularity in its third season, gaining more and more fans. Shonda Rhimes and Kerry Washington are simply on top of the world right now.

There are many signs that you may be a Scandal addict or fanatic and here are a few right here. 

1. You talk about it constantly on social media, especially during the episodes, every single moment. #Scandal has become one of the more popular topics on Thursday nights.

2. You write blogs, notes, blurbs about the show. Guilty as charged.

3. Your Halloween costume was Olivia Pope and you were immediately recognized by her trademark white coat.

4. You collect every print media piece (People, Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide, and Ebony) regarding Scandal and/or Kerry Washington. 

5. Olivia Pope isn't the only character you know and dissect like a biology frog.

6. You and your circle of friends have formed your own team of "gladiators"

7. You watch all the old episodes on Netflix and your DVR, repeatedly, so not to miss anything.

8. Not only are the main characters discussed but also plots, storylines, potential characters, and such. It's a new type of social media/barbershop chatter.

9. Your career ambition has suddenly become being a political fixer. 

10. You begin to talk and act overly dramatic like the cast, with accompanying background music.

So are you a self-admitted Scandal addict as well?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mental Illness: Still A Real Horror?

You may see all types of horror during Halloween season: goblins, zombies, ghosts, clowns and even chainsaws. To many though, mental illness can be greater than any and all of these.

A mental illness can destroy the lives of yourself and those around you. Nevertheless it can be like any other medical condition given the proper treatment and medication.  One must take good care of themselves, and have a strong support system.

Here are some of the more common illnesses.

1. Paranoia Schizophrenia

The name itself is enough to strike fear in most. This affliction can cause one to see and hear things that do not exist, and can become dangerous if not properly treated.  It can be hard to function with schizophrenia but definitely not impossible. 

2. Bipolar Disorder

This is also called manic depression.  Many of us know those people whom have rapid mood swings like Jekyll and Hyde. This is part of it, but much more.  Many with this disorder also have an inflated sense of self, sleep less, and in a manic stage, can become very dangerous to others. Extreme depression can kick in, and one can become suicidal. 

3.ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder/ Hyperactivity Disorder)

This is two of the most misdiagnosed disorders. It is basically where one has problems staying focused on one thing or subject. You see this more common in schools. A child can be a little energetic or rebellious. Next thing you know, they are being prescribed meds for ADHD. There is a difference between being bored and hyper, and simply not being able to concentrate. 

4. OCD

OCD (or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is actually more mild than most of these diseases. However, it can also get extreme. There are folks that always have to do things in a specific order or have items in a particular place. Being overly clean is also a symptom of OCD. 


This is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, common among those who have experienced tragic events, including rape, murders, and specifically war veterans.
A PSTD victim definitely needs assistance and counseling, and it needs to be ongoing, not much different from these other disorders.

6. Anxiety Disorder

This one can also be mild but life threatening. Panic attacks are common among anxiety victims, and it can be a challenge to simply cope with daily life. The treatments are often simpler, as are the conditions of staying stable.

The common thread in all of the listed disorders is proper care. This can be through medicine, counseling, and overall support. One can live a normal, functional lifestyle if they take care of themselves. There is no difference from any other medical condition in this regard. You can't ignore it, or be afraid to seek help.

Visit your local mental health center or health department for further information, and Google mental illnesses to see these and others. is a great place to start.   Knowledge is always power, and knowing more about these supposed "horrors" can help you realize there is hope. No need for anyone to hide in the closet or basement anymore.

Two Great Haunted Adventures Right in Blacksburg, SC

Blacksburg, SC doesn't have much to call their own except for its collective pride and sense of community.  However, every Halloween, there is always a good haunted house or trail right in Blacksburg that can scare and keep visitors entertained.

Two such places are The Fear Farm and Booger Jim's Hollow.

1. The Fear Farm

The owner behind this 8,000 square foot haunted house, along with a zombie room, additional scare houses and side shows;  and even vendors, has really brought attention to the Iron City. Most people within an hour radius notice the promotions, from the professionally printed signs, to the old cars placed around Cherokee County with spooks and goblins coming out of them, covered in blood and having the "Fear Farm" emblem emblazed on the hood.

This haunted house is very well lit and easy to find, off of 99 Island Road. Inside, the place is well constructed, with mazes, monsters, clowns, a cemetery, and many other horror movie images and icons guaranteed to scare you. General admission is $13, $18 for VIP line skip, and up to $20 for access into the additional rooms and houses.  Fear Farm was featured in a magazine as one of the best haunted houses in the Upstate. To get further information, visit Bring friends and be ready to be entertained.

2. Booger Jim's Hollow

This trail based on the urban legend of Cherokee Falls resident Booger Jim is more generic than the Fear Farm, but is equally, if not scarier than The Fear Farm.  This is located in the woods of Cherokee Falls, behind Cherokee Falls Missionary Church. They have a waiver you must sign due to the scary and number of hills on the trail. They also have a guide/narrator. The price of admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children.  I will say Booger Jim's is worth that price. The trail delivers in all facets: monsters, clowns, narrow traps and paths, and an appearance by Booger Jim himself.  The creators, however, are more low budget. They employ flyers and social media to get the word out. However, their signs are homemade and dark. The trail is difficult to find as their is no lighting leading up to Booger Jim's.  Nonetheless, people love the legend and the trail. Visit for more information.

So if you live in Blacksburg and don't want to travel to Scarewinds or to a larger city to get scared, no worries. These two will provide that portion of Halloween that you sorely desire. Heck the locations are less than five miles apart. You and your group could hit them both on the same night for under $30/head. Now that's a good price for quality, family entertainment. 

So when you come down Hwy 5 and on to Hwy 29 in Blacksburg, look for the signs, visit the websites and ask around. The Iron City has thrills and horrors, but hasn't become a dead ghost town.  Fun is guaranteed for all.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Women: You Deserve MORE, PERIOD

Ok this is usually the time of year where men and women alike start trying to get that special someone for the colder weather.  I've written about this from several different angles. Here is another one regarding a woman's self-worth.

Alicia Keys wrote and recorded a song over a decade ago "A Woman's Worth." The gist of it is that women will lower themselves to the lowest common denominator just to have someone. They will be with a mate that abuses them physically and mentally, neglects them, and simply doesn't have much to offer in return.  They pretty much prefer to be committed and miserable than single and lonely.

The title is simple my females: you DESERVE MORE!!!

Now I'm not just talking money, jewelry, or other material possessions.  It's always nice when someone can take care of you financially.  However, love yourself and know your worth. Make that person want to love you as well, show you affection, laugh with you, be your best friend.  That's what really counts in the end.

Now I'm not one to reference Steve Harvey often but he was right in saying sometimes you have to require more of yourself from suitors. That's right, raise and adjust those standards. Get the man that will go the extra mile. Have that person that will stand tall for you and not back down when the going gets tough. You need you a warrior on your team.

It's time to stop complaining about the lack of good men when you are dating the same "type" of man. Look within yourself and see what you attract. Often you will find you're better than that.

So ladies, please don't settle, simply settle down when that real love comes along.  Leave the games on the playground and go get what is yours!

Dating and Candy Crush Saga: How They Are Similar

The current popular cell phone game is Candy Crush Saga. People log many hours and data to play this game.  They connect through social media to get more incentives such as lives, tickets, etc.

However, the game itself is often more luck and chance based than skill. It's more about opportunities and spending money on the power-ups. Without these, people will be stuck on levels for weeks and months.

So what does this have to do with love and dating? Well, often dating can also rely on a little luck, circumstance and other such factors. Here are some ways that dating and Candy Crush are similar.

1. Both are addictive.

Most every stage and level of dating: meeting, talking, courting, sex, and just being together is hard to pull away from. We have all been victims of it, especially in the early stages. Candy Crush is no different. People play it from dawn until dusk, and every free minute in between. 

2. Putting out money gives you an edge.

It's sad but true with both.  When one dates, you may only put out small amounts for dinners, movies, candy, and gifts, and larger amounts for jewelry, vacations, and holidays. Candy Crush players know that having those powerups simply make any level easier.  This is why there are so many of them and they sell like hotcakes. 

3. Making the right moves at the right times is key

Of course in Candy Crush (especially the jelly levels), combining the right candies and avoiding some of the quick combinations can help you clear the level quicker.  You only have a certain amount of moves.  In the game of love, it's like chances. A good person will only give another so many times to screw up or say the wrong thing before they're doing like a Candy Crush addict and begging for more chances (lives.)

4. Power in numbers

Whether it be lives, moves, or friends and contacts, both rely heavily on outside assistance.  It can be a village mentality. You help set up your friend on a date, talk them up, just as you would be sending a ticket to a fellow Crusher so they can unlock another episode.

5. You get into ruts and get stuck.

At times, even in committed relationships, you can feel you're stuck in a slump. No dates or very little affection. This can be no different than being stuck on a level for days and weeks. Often you have to walk away and come back to it fresh.

6. Jealously and self-doubt can set in.

You see many people getting married, having children, and living happy love lives. The feeling can equal when you're stuck on level 53 of Candy Crush, and everyone you know is in the high 200s, or even the mid 300s. You want to know why and how they did it, and why are you still stuck on where you're at.

Of course, love and dating are real and Candy Crush Saga is simply a game. One should not make dating into a game. Rather it should be a journey, where you're patient and you focus on yourself and your own progress.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Seven Sexy Halloween Costumes

This is a fun top seven for most. It's Halloween season and as I've mentioned before, the one time of year where women can dress like a complete whore and not get judged or slammed for it.

Here are some of the common costumes you're liable to see at Halloween parties this year, outside of women simply wearing lingerie or body suits.

1. Cat.

Hard to go wrong with the sexy cat. Tight, with black leather or spandex. Always guaranteed to get a lot of looks and likes.

2. Policewoman

Usually women that wear this costume have the billy sticks, handcuffs, stilettos, and Daisy Dukes squad shirts with their uniforms. It can give off the S&M vibe as you may wanna be cuffed and beaten.

3. Nurse

Common but still sexy. Heck the fantasy itself is alluring. Most of us men flirt with the hot nurse at the doctor's office or the hospital. Given the right body type, skirt and shoes, this outfit is typically a winner.

4. Devil

Again the naughty image, plus the tight leather/spandex costume is sensous. Plus red is simply a sexy color.

5. French Maid

Like the nurse, simple, but never goes out of style. The shorter the skirt, the better.

6. Bumblebee. 

I can't explain it, but there is something very appealing about those stripes and that stinger. You also hope that maybe the young lady has some honey.

7. Miley Cyrus

After Miley's deplorable twerking at this year's VMAs, one can expect to see Miley'a outfit worn as a costume.  Hopefully the women that choose this one can actually fill it out.

Visit Party City, or even Victoria's Secret, see your sewing machine or tailor and get to work. I always love seeing the sexy creativity year in and year out.

My Personal Instruction Manual

Most of us have heard the saying "that person should come with a warning label or instructions."  I definitely feel that applies to me. I got this idea a while back and decided to do an instruction manual myself appropriate for anyone who may frequent Lowes or Home Depot, attempting to fix or build something. 

Also, I'm doing my best to make this a thorough but quick-start guide.  You may even learn more about me in the process.

1. Please do not judge me in any type of way. Getting to know me is the true adventure. 

2. Respect me as you would respect yourself, and act the way you want to be treated.  Don't expect me to be nice to you if you don't return the favor. 

3. I truly value honesty. I like the ugly truth more than a slick lie. Also, I'm going to be me and tell it like it is. If you cannot handle that, then perhaps you shouldn't associate yourself with me.

4. When I post something on social media or write about something, remember that belongs to me, NOT you. It's not like it's a proclamation or a legal document.  I welcome opinion but I was a child a long time ago. Please do not tell me how and what I should and shouldn't say or post.

5. Also, talk to me like an adult, not at me or down to me like a child. You will usually get a much better response if you talk to me like I'm a human being.

6. Please refrain from yelling at me. I realize I am a loud person myself.  But I'm not the type of person that deals with foolery and drama of any type.  So come correctly if you have a problem with me.

7. If you like or don't like me, let it be made known. I should know exactly where you stand with me.

8. Four things I don't like others dealing with: my family (including close friends), food, finances and personal life. If I choose to share this information with you, then that's fine. Otherwise don't probe or pressure me about it.

9.  I am who I am: kind, unique, intelligent and loving.  I like self improvement and not forced change.

10. I like to joke but I have my boundaries. Don't dish out what you can't take, and I will do the same.

11. Beyond what you already know about me, don't try to figure me out or understand everything I do. There's a method to my madness. Just be understanding and accepting of me.

Follow these instructions and you will have one of the best people around. It's not that complicated and neither am I.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Andropause: The Little Known Hinderence

You're probably wondering why your male friend, uncle, father, or co-worker is suddenly crabby and moody. Whiny and emotional and even prone to outbursts.  This could be a variety of things.  One people often forget about or omit is andropause.

Andropause is simply the medical term for "male menopause." Approximately 5 million American men suffer from this past their 40s and beyond. Now maybe you see why men are more prone to mid-life crises, decreased sex drive, and just a complete change in mood.

Often when a man has andropause, it is due to a lack of testosterone and hormones. Being exposed to environments or elements high in estrogen can also contribute. Outside of rapid, cranky mood swings, you may also note fatigue and erectile dysfunction as common systems.

Very much like menopause, there aren't any real cures to andropause.  You should be patient with a man undergoing this battle, as you would a female with the change. Exercise, hormones, and testosterone supplements have been known to ward off andropause. Many men come out of it on their own, but it can lead to more serious dangers, such as Alzheimer's Disease.

I would encourage all to do further research on andropause as many of us know a man that's going through it. It's real, no joke about it, and needs to be treated as such.

You want to be as healthy and happy as possible when you enter the middle and latter stages of your life. Staying aware and ahead of these such afflictions is an excellent starting point.

Interrupting Phone Conversations: Ummm, Excuse You!

I was raised with a high standard of decorum and manners, that stretched beyond "please and thank you."  My mom wanted her sons to be polite, respectful gentleman, period. She especially stressed that with phone conversations. My brother and I both l learned at an early age when Mom was on the telephone, not to interrupt her,  and to be quiet so she could hear the other person.

Technology has changed this paradigm in a major way. I will be on my cell phone in public and people will not only say hi or hug me (both are fine) but they will try and have a conversation with me. Sometimes if the call is not important, I will call them back and talk with the live person. However, I have been known to give people the side-eye indicating "I'm on the phone, please do not interrupt. "  That matters not to many people. 

It does seem to be a learned behavior also. Children see their parents interrupting people's conversations in public, so they see nothing wrong with doing the same. One of my best friends has a five year old daughter and he's teaching her the old school manners that we both grew up learning. We were on the phone once and the young child kept hollering and screaming for her daddy. My friend used a stern tone and said "baby I'm on the phone right now, please wait a minute. ". If only more parents did this.

Each year brings a new piece of technology.  Windows 8. Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.1. And now the iPhone 5c and 5s. With each new piece of technology comes more features to make personal communication obsolete and irrevelent.

However, being kind and considerate and simply treating others like you want to be treated should never go out of style.  If you see someone on the phone, signal or wave at them, then wait until they get off the phone. It's that easy. Rarely does anyone interrupting have a true emergency anyways.

Now even with Blutooth and hands free devices, it often may be difficult to see if someone is on the phone or not.  However, once you realize it, the same rules apply.

People don't often realize how much something affects them until they experience it and that's sad. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Home Schooling: Should You Do It And Why?

Home schooling has been a controversial and even touchy topic for years on end.  Many factors in 2013 have caused parents to teach their kids at home. These range from bullying to more personal attention to better test results.

Now it's hard to argue against the raw data of home schooled students versus private and public school students. They typically perform five times better than their mainstreamed counterparts.  These are the types of kids that score high on the SATs and win the National Spelling Bees.

However, everyone is not meant for home schooling. It all depends on the individual needs and abilities of the student. Some thrive in this environment, and others suffer from it. Even the students that excel tend to lack in social skills and can develop introverted, even erratic behaviors.

Two of my cousins have home schooled their children. One just mainstreamed her son after years of home school and he's adjusting well. He has already been socialized, being heavily involved in church and Boy Scout activities. The other child just became home schooled after being in public school his entire school career. This cousin has found problems that the public schools overlooked.  He struggles with certain basic school skills that should have been mastered years ago but were never addressed. Talk about a child being left behind.

There are many problems with education already.  One is in standarized testing. Everyone doesn't test well on them, yet they're still a benchmark and a vehicle for schools to receive extra funding. Consequently, many schools teach to these tests, rather than making sure their students actually learn fundamentals and skills.

I'm not degrading all teachers and parents by any means. I know plenty of really good parents, teachers, and those that are both. They must work together, however, to ensure the student is receiving the best education. 

A balance is definitely in order.  I believe a student, given the ability, should begin their school career mainstreamed with other students in a classroom. Later on, if it is determined that home school is the best alternative, then that is what should happen.  Either way, the child should develop strong social skills through organizations, youth sports, volunteer work and the like.  There is life after high school which may include higher education, the military, and eventually the workplace. You can become someone who works from home. However, you still need to know how to properly socialize and talk with others. Social media and texting have already robbed our youth from interpersonal interaction. Not many people talk primarily on the phone or visit others anymore. We cannot allow any school system to do this also.

True education includes learning proper academic, study, and social skills, as well as discipline and a good work ethic. These are universal tools that one cannot and should not be about.

So if home schooling your child is the best, then that's great. Just ensure that your child still receives the proper well rounded education that everyone deserves.

Betrayal: The Evil Cousin Of Loyalty

Many may remember my loyalty piece that has been twice published. I strive to say true to my loyal values, despite being betrayed so much throughout my life.

Betrayal is indeed the evil cousin of loyalty. People that will turn on you in a second, including those you least expect and love the most.

Heartbreak is all a part of life. One thing is when you live long enough, you experience both. You not only have your heart crushed romantically, but by someone you care a lot about. It could be family, friend, or your own parent or child.  They went against their word and basically made you feel unwanted and unworthy. 

Family will sting you the deepest. You don't automatically expect that someone you share a bloodline with would do you dirty. I'm blessed that most of my family aren't like this.  However, we have all been disappointed by relatives to say the least.

Friends will come and go. I've had many good ones for over 10 years, a few for 20, and a rare select few for 30. I have had to distance myself from those that acted more like foes than friends. I'm forgiving and will not hold grudges. Like family, you must often keep them at a distance. 

When discerning betrayal of any kind, you have to make sure your standards are up to par. Remember to consider yourself like a corporation or team. If someone isn't doing their part on a team or a company, they are no longer necessary.  That includes simple stuff as answering a phone call or a text, or showing up for an appointment you have set up. Being there is often just enough. 

There are only so many times one can betray you before you have had enough.  You just have to realize what you're willing to tolerate and from whom.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

School Uniforms: The Pros and the Cons

The school year continues to pass as the Fall season is in full swing. Last month, many parents were in a hustle and bustle to buy their children school clothes. While some parents struggled and bought what they could, other parents turned it into a competition: buying the hottest clothes and name brands. The newest Air Jordan sneakers, Polo, Ed Hardy, and other hot and expensive brands. Facebook and Instagram turned into a two week fashion show for the school children.
This can often showcase the haves and have-nots, and also those who spend above their means just so their kids can keep up with the latest styles.
Now what if every school required uniforms? You would definitely cut down on shopping and other factors.
This topic drew lots of discussion and feedback on Facebook. It also prompted me to sharpen my research, as is often the case when I write. 
Here are some pros and cons to uniforms in school based on my findings:
1. It will level the playing field for the have-nots, and not make them feel out of place for not wearing the latest brand or style.
2. Promotes unity and teamwork, as indicated through research and studies. Both genders could wear the same generic colors or styles, and learning would be placed back at the forefront. 
3. Bullying would lower in this area. Children have been persecuted for years because they didn't have nice clothes and shoes for school. Also, the ones that do are also targets. Jealous, mean children like to criticize and even try to steal clothing from more affluent children.
4. It is good preparation for the workplace. Many jobs not only enforce a dress code, they require some sort of uniform clothing.  Think about the corporations that only allow blue and black suits and pantsuits. Isn't that similar to uniforms?
1. School uniforms can be pricy, often more than regular clothes.  You especially run into this problem with schools that have shirts with their logo and crest embroidered.  Possible isolation could still occur.
2. You could always have students that may not be able to afford a week's worth of uniform clothes, and still get bullied. And even if they could afford them, what if their clothes, or themselves were smelly? Also, even in schools that require simply generic white T-shirts and khakis, there's potential for problems. One kid could feel out of place if their khakis are old, faded, or aren't a top-notch brand.
3. School is an awesome vehicle for students to express themselves via fashion. Although they could still do so on the weekends and after school, they see most of their peers during school hours.
4. Everyone is not going to like the uniforms, parents and children alike. Schools run the risk of losing good, prominent students.
Overall, I believe uniforms could do more good than harm. The numbers are out there. Discipline and learning needs to go up, and bullying needs to decrease. Ensuring your school isn't a fashion show can be a great step forward. It can be as good as you can make it.
Every student should be given the equal opportunity to learn without distraction.  Those that care more about their attire than an education can quickly be identified.
Therefore, think twice and evaluate both sides before you think uniforms are best for your child, student and school. However, it can be worth a test drive or a trial run. Sometimes every experiment doesn't turn out bad, and change can be good and beneficial.

Seven Effective Fundraising Tips For Your Group Or Cause

School has been in session for weeks now. Even if you don't have any children in school, you have seen the various fundraisers. Candy bars, doughnuts, etc. Many are competing for prizes and vacations in school.  Unfortunately, these fundraisers don't always pay huge dividends in adult arenas. At some point, adults have to understand that selling candy isn't going to send your child to New York or Washington, DC. 
Being experienced in fundraisers as treasurer of many organizations, here are some more effective ways to raise the green.
1. Working pro and college sporting events
These events take more legwork, but offer more of a payday. Contact your local pro and college teams near you, they are often helpful and could use the help. 
2. Theme parks
Carowinds and other parks such as Six Flags and Busch Gardens offers similar deals. You could work in the park for a day and receive a free ticket and money towards your organization. 
3. Dinners/fish frys
Having these events all day long in a remote indoor location can be profitable. Promote effectively in the weeks leading up to the event and the public will come. You can't wait to the last minute and you must be efficient.  Have side sales, such as desserts and consignments.  I've seen the local high school bands and fire departments do this and they always make money. 
4. Small formal party/dance
People get to dress up, dance, and have fun, and you can make money from admission, food, beverages, and photos.
5. Pageants
I saw this idea in the 90s and thought it was brilliant.  Getting advertisers and sponsors is key here. Participants can be those who are actually using the money, and it can be child friendly. Even the men get involved in either all male or woman less pageants.
6. Small carnival/festival
These are a staple in the South, big and small. You could do a Fall Festival, Christmas, or even Spring. Have games, food, and prizes. Again lots of legwork but greater profits. 
7. Race (bike, road race, derby).
People will definitely come out to see and participate in these.  Now setting courses, getting sponsors, and even contacting organizations such as Strictly Running can be a challenge. However, it can be well worth the effort.  I've seen it firsthand.
Other methods: gift baskets/bags for holidays, birthdays,  and yard sales.
Basically, to execute any successful fundraiser that doesn't involve just direct sales, you need a good crew, organization of your monies spent and made (assets and liabilities in accounting terms) and the willingness to work. So think outside of the box and start raising some real cash for your cause.  The money that jingles is nice, but we all love more of the kind that folds. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A League Of Their Own: The Growing Number Of Ladies Playing Fantasy Football

The NFL is in full swing, as is fantasy football. Approximately 33 million people play the fantasy game since it became popular with the Internet nearly two decades ago.

And it's no longer a man's game.

Over 6 million women play as well. Some of these women have even started their own leagues, just for females. One such is based primarily in Charlotte, NC. It's called Vick In A Box, named after Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick.

These are 10 very serious ladies. They know the sport and are very competitive. Andrea Harper started the league in 2011 as she had prior experience and wanted to play in an all-women's league. She thought it would be a great opportunity for them to learn more about the game through fun and friendly competition.   Of the 10 ladies in Vick In A Box, 8 live in Charlotte, one lives in Asheville, NC, and the other in Mumbai, India.

As is the case in many fantasy leagues, the Charlotte players hang out sometimes, and love to talk smack. They all have T-Shirts with their league name and a logo they collectively designed.  They have been seen tailgating at Carolina Panthers home games wearing their league shirts.

Tonja Turner and Chinette Stevenson have won the past two championships. However, Carolyn Benton has her sights set on the gold this year.

Carolyn, like most of the other ladies, is very competitive and began playing when Andrea started the league. She has a bronze trophy for 3rd place, but wants to be the next champion. 

She has had fun and learned very much about the sport of football.  Carolyn already knew the basics going in. Thanks to fantasy, she knows more about team defense, why certain teams run certain plays based on field position, can analyze weekly matchups well, and knows that many players and teams play better at home.

The sport and game have grown from women just drooling over the players or getting beers and wings for their boyfriends and husbands. Many women of different backgrounds and walks of life are playing and are doing well, even in leagues with male counterparts. 

It also seems the ladies of Vick In A Box are following the precedent Holly Robinson Peete set years ago when she became an avid fan because her husband, Rodney, was an NFL quarterback.  She showed women how to enjoy and understand the sport. Now women of many leagues such as Vick In A Box are showing other ladies that they also can be competitive and have fun like the guys.

Fantasy football will continue to grow and so will the number of all-female leagues. Expect to see more women curious about the buzz and want to compete also. It could get interesting in social, professional and even romantic circles. Nevertheless, it's always good natured competition. 

The 90s: What I Like About This Decade

This is one of my more fun posts. I'm taking time to honor a decade that always gives me fond memories: the 1990s.  This is when I was in my teen years and early 20s and became a legal adult.

I'm going to talk about cultural, historical, and personal things that affected me in the 90s.


This is when I got into sports heavily, mainly football, basketball and baseball. It was a good decade for the teams I rooted for. My Atlanta Braves won the 1995 World Series, the UNC Tarheels won the national championship in 1993 with help from Chris Webber's historic timeout, and the Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre won the Super Bowl in 1997.

The NBA was extremely exciting as the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan dominated the decade. I'm a New York Knicks fans, and we were a very physical team back then, making it to three NBA Finals. No one was better probably ever than those Bulls of the 90s, especially the 1995-1996 team.

I also played high school football during this time. They were some of the best moments I've had and taught me a lot.


I was just getting into hip hop, and loved alternative and R&B. The radio was worth listening to then.  I would tape songs off of the radio, and even record entire CDs onto cassette.  Man the cassettes I had! I was just getting into CDs. I loved my dual cassette, CD player stereo. It lasted me the final half of the decade. The artists and groups that defined the decade for me includes Hootie and the Blowfish, Third Eye Blind, Live, 2Pac, Biggie, TLC, WU Tang Clan, Bone Thugs N Harmony, Boyz II Men and Jodeci. The music then was so soothing and real. No autotune and everyone was talented. 

Entertainment and technology:

Many people didn't have cell phones and the Internet was in its infant stages as well.  You actually had to use pay phones and read real newspapers in the 90s. Kids played more outside and didn't hang around on the laptop or phone. We did play video games though.  I loved my Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis and N64. Zelda, Techmo Super Bowl, and Street Fighter 2 were some of the popular games to play. On TV, the only reality show was The Real World. I loved watching In Living Color, Martin, Boy Meets World, The Wonder Years, and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The Simpsons were still popular also.  And two of my favorite movies, Friday and Forrest Gump, were released in the 90s. I still have both on VHS.


It was quite a groundbreaking decade for the media also. The news wasn't as watered down and political. Bill Clinton was President, and the economy was booming. He was caught cheating on his wife with a White House intern, and people still loved him. Of course you had the infamous OJ trial. People watched the trial and verdict nonstop.  Most my age remember where they were when the OJ verdict was read, or the tragic events at Columbine High took place. Racial relations, gangs and rioting skyrocketed also following the Rodney King beating. Anita Hill helped changed sexual harassment in the workplace. Things were so affordable back then. You could rent a video, get a pizza, and still have gas money all for $20.

My personal achievements

The 90s is where I came out of my shell and became a man. I graduated high school and experienced the real world.  I was on my own for the first time and enjoyed the freedom. I was developing more self confidence and swagger. I realized there was a bigger world outside my small town and I wanted to see it. Most of my family was still alive and I got to enjoy time with them. I hadn't yet experienced a lot of deaths so I was still in a state of innocence. I also started writing poetry and eventually did poetry slams. I felt more educated and cultured. 

I love the 1990s and I often relive many moments from those years. We all have special times in our lives and mine was this span of 10 years.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Rodney and Keia: An eight year journey of love

The institution or idea of marriage is not taken seriously anymore. The divorce rate is climbing daily, weddings are highlighted more than the marital union, and over 50 percent of black women never get married in their lifetime.

Now enter young black couple and soon to be newlyweds Rodney Davidson and Keia Dawkins. They have a wonderful and long love story worthy of talking about.

Rodney and Keia first were acquainted in 2005. Keia was working at Winn Dixie and Rodney happened to stop by her register one day. She initiated things, asking if he had a girlfriend and wanted his phone number.  Rodney played hard to get and a little cool at first, but they ended up exchanging numbers. Three months later, they were a steady couple.  Rodney started bringing Keia around his friends and family. This is always a sign that you're serious about someone, especially since they were only 18 at the time.

Four years later, in 2009, Rodney realized that Keia was the one for him and he eventually wanted to marry her. According to him, when you get that feeling, you simply know without a doubt. 

Their engagement was also nice as well. In October 2011, Rodney was at work on Keia's birthday. She was with friends and family celebrating at Broncos Mexican Restaurant.  Little did she know, Rodney had a special suprise for her: a proposal. He came by the restaurant on his break and popped the question. She of course said yes, and now it was time to plan their wedding and life together.

Rodney said one of the biggest challenges during the engagement was getting his credit score high enough so he could get a house for him and his new bride to be. He and Keia have always been hard workers, both often working two jobs to get what they need and want. They recently closed on their house, and their wedding is right around the corner.

Eight years is as long as many marriages last. These two have stuck it out through the temptations and tough times. Their love and trust prevailed throughout the years. Rodney advises anyone wanting to make a relationship last a long time to put God first, trust Him, and trust your significant other with all your heart.  There shouldn't be any doubts or secrets. It's common but golden advice that many people do not follow.

Now Rodney and Keia are nearly ready to simply enjoy being husband and wife, and live each following step as they have during the course of the relationship.

True, long lasting love is still possible, as proven by this story. It takes love, trust,and hard work.   You must be equally yoked, and be patient in the good and bad times.

I'm confident that when Rodney and Keia become one, their marriage will have a long shelf life. They are not taking this lightly and want to continue to love each other.  Life can be simpler when we're willing to listen to our instincts, follow our hearts and be trusting.  It's risky but can be very rewarding. 

Brunch: More prevelant and tasty

Breakfast is seemingly not only the most important meal of the day, it is often the most delicious and versatile. Therefore, many like to eat it at all hours of the day, not just morning. This thinking helped spawned brunch and fuel the popularity of brunch buffets.

Brunch is a combination of breakfast and lunch, usually eaten around mid-day. It dates back to the mid 1800s in Europe. It took a few decades to pick up in the States. However, by the 1980s, brunch had become a worldwide delicacy.  Many restaurants such as Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles, Waffle House, IHOP and Dennys boomed in popularity as a result.

Present day, you have more and more weekend brunch buffets opening up.  These are mostly in larger cities such as Charlotte, Atlanta, Chicago and New York. However, people in high numbers frequent them. It's also usually a diverse crowd. Once upon a time, it was mostly upper class and women having brunch. Now it's not common to see a working class, blue collar man enjoying brunch.

Personally, I think it's an awesome thing. Although after 1pm, it's technically lunch, the concept is still awesome and delicious.  There have been many successful combinations in food history. Peanut butter and jelly. Ham and cheese. Heck many items with peanut butter or cheese. But combining breakfast and lunch is sensible and genius.

So don't get defensive or even clown anyone for having brunch.  If you're having a ham omelette at 11:30am, technically that's brunch.

Let's just stop with the labels and debates and enjoy delicious meals. It is still a meal, regardless of the time

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Self-Love: How Important Is It?

The summer is almost over and we're getting into what many consider "boo season". The leaves start falling, the weather is cooler, and people are suddenly seeking companionship.

Now before any of you single folks jump into a relationship or even a fling or date, ask yourself this simple question: Do I love myself? If the answer is no, you need to find out why not, and work on loving yourself first.

I see all these articles, blogs and posts about love and relationships. Nicholas Sparks and Eric Jerome Dickey both make lots of money writing about romance. However, few, if any, touches on self-love.

Many wonder why that good looking gentleman or that gorgeous lady is over 30 and single. Sometimes they are simply working on themselves so they can be ready to love another soul. This can take time and patience.

So what are some ways that one can love and appreciate themselves? Here are a few.

1. Find out what you enjoy best and do it at least once/week. Go hiking. Take a road trip. Have a day where you either read your favorite book or watch your favorite show.

2. Surround yourself with people in your close circle who love and appreciate you for you. They will give you clarity and help you to see the beauty inside and outside.

3. Take yourself out on the town. Yeah you read that correctly. Go on a movie, a dinner date, to a game, or have a Netflix/Redbox night. Appreciate yourself so that others can appreciate you.

4. Smile often and keep laughter in your body. It is the best medicine. It has been said if you're not laughing, you're not living.

5. Step outside of the box and try something new. This can help test your trust, mostly of yourself. If you take a chance with you, you can work towards taking a chance with others.

Self-love is paramount to a successful romantic relationship. You can give more to your significant other when you feel the love inside. Often we all must start from scratch and do baby steps. Let loving yourself be a part of this.

So if you see someone you're interested, don't necessarily ignore them. Simply exchange information, and give them the proper time when you're ready and open for love.

Seven Dynamic Summer Movies of 2013

The 2013 summer movie season of 2013 is ending and a fine one it has been. Most every week there were movies, heralded and non heralded, that were noteworthy of seeing. Here are seven such movies that I enjoyed,plus some more that I would enjoy seeing at some point.

1. The Butler

Lee Daniels, director of 2009's "Precious" put together a masterpiece that is sure to guarantee Oscars. Forrest Whittaker portrayed the story of a black butler who served in the White House through seven presidencies. This is a must see for all ages, races and classes.

2. Man Of Steel

This is perhaps the best Superman movie since the Christopher Reeves series of the 70s and 80s. It has definitely set up a good series of future movies under a new and exciting storyline.

3. Fast Six

Just when you think you've had enough of the high speed chases, kills and cops, this movie keeps you wanting more, and adds more clarity to the entire series. Vin Diesel, The Rock,Paul Walker and the rest make an awesome action movie team.

4. Ironman 3

This movie kicked off the summer season and in fine fashion. It wrapped up the trilogy nicely, and we saw Tony Starks in a more humble and vulnerable state. Marvel simply knows how to crank out quality comic book movies

5. Hangover III

This movie didn't receive a lot of respect due to the success of Fast Six and the lackluster nature of Hangover II. Nevertheless, it was awesome. Many of the elements that made the first Hangover a classic were reprised, and again the Wolfpack provided the nonstop entertainment.

6. Grown Ups 2

Adam Sandler has found a powerful movie series and a comedic team, and he's staying with them. I went into this film with low expectations, but was very impressed. It was better than the first, and kept things fresh, minus Sandler's regular cast member, Rob Schneider. Will he return for Grown Ups 3?

7. The Internship

Another comedy that received low ratings but had big laughs. Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn returned to the big screen as two middle aged men around a bunch of college co-eds. The antics were original, hilarious and fresh.

Other movies I want to see:  World War Z (although I'm not big on zombie or doomsday flicks), Fruitvale Station, and The Wolverine

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Brotherly Love: What It's Really About

One thinks of brotherly love and may reference three things: their blood-kin brother(s), brothers/friends from a fraternity or other similar social organization, and of course the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania which is dubbed "the city of brotherly love."
I won't name all of my friends and family that I consider brothers as there are many and they are all special to me. I will mention my only brother, Adam.
Many of you know I lost him in 2006 to a drug overdose. However, we had that inside connection and bond that can be taught, but is usually formed naturally. We shared some of the same feelings regarding life, education, fun, movies, and of course family. Adam and I both loved our mother, and that was the main thing we bonded over. She raised us both to be men, and we would (and still will) do anything for her.
Proverbs talks about Christ being a friend that sticks closer than a brother. On another side of the spectrum, rapper Styles P once was paraphrased as saying the first thing learned in the hood is homeboy love. I can honestly say that when I started going to school and church, I learned about the love for my friends and homies outside of my family. Many of them became more than family over the years and I'm grateful for them, especially since my brother is no longer with me..
The bond you share with your brothers, friends, boys, etc is like no other. They know you better than you know yourself. When you're serious about a woman, you bring her around them to see how everybody interacts. You have fun together, laugh, and often just chill.  Jokes are often cracked and debates and arguments arise. However, the brotherly bond really shows when one is in need or in trouble. No one outside of the circle will mess with you, talk bad about you, or cause you harm. I have this same feeling towards my brothers.
I have been faced with a lot of changes and transitions over the past year. This has involved getting closer to those that appreciate my time and attention, and distancing myself from those that do not deserve it. This even included some family that weren't treating me as such. As I was going through my phone and social media lists, it became clearer who my friends and brothers were. I could contact them at anytime for any little thing, and I didn't have to question their loyalty in the least.
This post is geared for the fellas, but I feel women can also apply it in their friendships and sisterhoods. You want people that are in your corner, will love you unconditionally, and will tell you what you need to hear, rather than what sounds good.
Times change and so do some people. I feel blessed at the bonds and connections I have gained. When I was looking at my various friend and contact lists, I came to realize how close I am with so many people, and that the bonds were often so strong we could go without talking for months and pick back up where we last left off.
It's not always macho for men to show and express their feelings. However, loyalty, a firm handshake, and simply fun times are some great ways to show your fellow man that he is appreciated.

Seven People and Stories That Should Be Highlighted on SEC Storied

ESPNU has a program they air frequently called "SEC Storied". It speaks of the lives and careers of athletes and coaches from SEC member schools.
The Southeastern conference has risen in notoriety over the past few decades. Here are some more stories that should be on SEC Storied, if not already in production.
1. Steve Spurrier
The Ol' Ball Coach is as associated with the SEC as anybody or any team. He was a Heisman winning quarterback in 1966 for the University of Florida, later went back to Florida as a coach and won several SEC championships and a national title. After a brief stint in the NFL, he took over the football program at the University of South Carolina. He has made them one of the top programs not only in the SEC but the entire country. Several school records have been broken under Spurrier, and many more may be broken this season.
2. Candace Parker
She was perhaps the most talented female basketball player ever to suit up for the University of Tennessee and the legendary coach Pat Summitt. She was the first female to dunk in a game, led the Lady Vols to a national title, and won several individual awards. She is now a wife, mother, and a successful WNBA player for the Los Angeles Sparks.
3. Joe Namath
Alabama's football program is once again a dynasty. However, many forget one of the most decorated players to play for the Crimson Tide: Broadway Joe. He was more known for his NFL career, being one of the top quarterbacks of the 60s and 70s, and leading the New York Jets to a Super Bowl title. Namath has appeared in TV and commercials since his Alabama and pro ball days.
4. Michael Oher
Yes that's Big Mike from the movie "The Blind Side." His story of overcoming poverty and discrimination to receive a scholarship at Ole Miss and later be drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, the defending Super Bowl champions, is an awesome one. There are plenty of other angles to Oher.
5. 2006-2007 University of Florida basketball team
This team became the first repeat NCAA champs since Duke in 1991-1992.  Four of the five starters roomed together during their time at Florida. Six players were drafted from that team and three of them continue to have continued NBA success: Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer.
6. Ray Tanner.
This is essentially the man that broke the "Chicken Curse" in South Carolina. South Carolina had never won a national championship in a major collegiate team sport until Ray Tanner lead the Gamecock baseball team to back to back NCAA College World Series titles in 2010-2011, and a return appearance in 2012. He is now athletic director at South Carolina, ensuring that all of their programs remain competitive in the SEC.
7. The Manning family.
The entire Manning family of Archie, his wife Olivia, and their three sons, Cooper, Peyton and Eli, are storied in SEC lore. Archie and Eli were both star quarterbacks for Ole Miss, Peyton for Tennessee. Olivia was once Homecoming Queen for Ole Miss, and Cooper was probably the best athlete in the family until his career was ended by a spinal cord injury. Archie had a good and long NFL career, but Peyton and Eli both appear headed to the Hall of Fame. Peyton has several NFL passing and touchdown records and a Super Bowl ring. Eli has earned two rings with the New York Giants, and appears to improve yearly.
Honorable mentions: Ryan Lochte, Jay Cutler, Hines Ward, Chaminique Holdslaw, Lou Holtz, Terrell Davis, Pat Riley

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Being An Animal Lover

I have loved various animals for as long as I can recall. Dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, fish, and various other types of animals, varmints, critters, etc. Chalk it up to growing up in the country and always having animals around.

My grandpa used to have dogs and chickens all around. The dogs and puppies were easier to get attached to. Then we got cats and that was another attachment. I would always take it hard when one of my pets would pass away. I would dig them a shallow grave and all.

Many animals do not scare me as I have been around them for so long and show them lots of love. I have found them to be more loyal than many humans. They don't talk or argue back. Rather they simply cuddle and listen.

I have grown closer to cats these past nine years through having my pet cat, Tiny, then through feeding my mom's animals when she was injured. Tiny was like a family member to me. When she passed away suddenly from flea infestation, it really hurt me. I am still getting used to the idea of my sweet black and white cat not roaming around my couch while I try to relax, or even blog.

You have to not only love animals, but have love in your heart, to understand the pain I have experienced. Having pets taught me responsibility as well as compassion coming up. I love seeing puppies and kittens become tame and growing up.

Animal control and the Humane Society has to take in too many animals due to negligent owners. I have often found myself treating mine like human beings. Therefore, I cannot fathom mistreating an animal.

It may be a while before I have another inside animal, but you can bet I will always find one outside to adore and spoil.

Seven Cell Phone Games Of Note

One of the things that have made smartphones and tablets popular have been high quality games with awesome graphics. They can easily pass the time at a restaurant, social gathering, waiting room, or simply at home after a long day.

Here are seven such games available in the Google Play store that provide this excitement.

1. Candy Crush Saga

This is without question the most popular and addictive cell phone game of the year. Thousands download and play it everyday. It's advantageous to have friends to send you lives, unlock episodes and such. I am not currently playing it because I feel it's based a lot on luck and chance, plus the developers try to trick you into buying the tools that help you to complete each level easily.

2. Family Feud and Friends

I have always been a fan of Family Feud and of course of trivia and surveys. This game is my current addiction. It mirrors the real game in that friends can help each other complete Fast Money Rounds and gain levels.

3. Poker

Card games seem to never go out of style. There are several variations and versions of Texas Hold Em Poker that many still love to play. There are some that play for money, but many do it for the fun.

4. Angry Birds

Even with four different versions of the game, the original Angry Birds continues to be very popular. It's based on skill and a little luck. You want to beat every level on the game, not unlike many other games. Angry Birds has become a cultural phenomemon, which is where Candy Crush may be headed next.

5. Words With Friends

This game also continues to be popular, whether or not you use cheat codes. It's very similar to Scrabble, and people love testing their prowess on words and puzzles.

6. Temple Run

This game is really exciting as you move through levels in a 3rd person view. You jump, dodge, slide and glide your way to victory.

7. 4 Pics Games

You have these various games where given 4 Pics, you must choose 1 word, song, or other such item. These games are addicting and challenging. I haven't seen many master these games yet.

So what is your favorite cell phone game? Could it be Fruit Ninja? Bejeweled Blitz? Subway Surfers?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Hookah Craze: More Than A Bong?

Hookahs and hookah lounges have been taking off in the US since the 70s and 80s. It seems they have become more prevelant in larger cities.

Many would think on the surface they are like marijuana bongs. However, they are more than that.

Hookahs have been around for hundreds of years. They were created in a similar design to bongs. However, they had tobacco instead of cannibis. Middle Easterners really popularized them. Then they spread to Asia.  By this time, hookah lounges were popular.  Years later, they would come to the US and people were intrigued.

However, regulations had to be enforced for many lounges to stay open. They could no longer use simply tobacco or flavored tobacco in their hookahs. It had to be a tobacco substitute. The tobacco used prior already had different fruit flavors and such. Now there couldn't be any pure tobacco.

The secondhand smoke and toxins released into the body have proven to be just as harmful as smoking three cigarettes. This goes for the hookahs that don't have traditional tobacco.

I believe hookahs have gotten popular for the novelty alone. People are always looking into the next craze or what's cool. It goes back to the playground as a child either. For the most part, hookahs are not harmful. However, if you have one and are using it every night, or if you visit the lounge every weekend, you could have a problem.

Since they have been around for hundreds of years, I hardly see them as a fad. However, I do see them as something that FDA and other health officials could be keeping a closer eye on. Like anything else, moderation needs to be in order.

2013 NFL Preview

The first preseason game of the NFL season, the Hall of Fame game, is now in the books. Training camp is in full effect, and the NFL is almost back.

Personally I don't pay much attention to preseason games except for fantasy purposes. I feel they are boring since the starters don't play much until the final preseason matchup.

Now how do you think your favorite team will fare? Here's a preview thus far on the best, rest, and the worst.


It appears the NFC still has the superior talent,  although Baltimore is the defending champs. The 49ers, Falcons, Patriots and the Broncos are the superior teams currently. The entire AFC South minus the Jaguars is worthy of notice, as are the Bengals, Seahawks, Redskins and Packers.


It appears we have several teams that are sleepers or question marks. These include the Giants, Panthers, Saints, Vikings, Lions, Jets, and Chargers. You cannot leave out the aforementioned Ravens.  They have lost key pieces of their defense, including Ray Lewis. Many of these teams' successes will rely heavily on their QB play. The Jets have quite a tussle for QB. The Lions will need to fit Reggie Bush into their system with Stafford and Megatron.


The Chiefs and the Jaguars will continue to struggle this year. The Browns, Raiders and Cardinals will be improved, but aren't expected to make any noise. Miami needs to rediscover a running game, Dallas has lots of adjustments to make, and St. Louis may be a year or two away. By mid-season, it will be clear who has given up and is playing for the chance to have Clowney in 2014.

I didn't mention every team, but the ones of particular note. May the 2013 season be an enjoyable one. I can't wait for it all to begin for real!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Merging GHS and BHS: The Unbiased Pros And Cons

It's almost time for another school year to begin.  In Cherokee County,  SC, this past school year had a tumultous ending. There were several budget issues, which prompted board member Alan McEntire to make some proposals. One of the ones that drew the most attention was merging Blacksburg High School, Gaffney High School and the Cherokee Technology Center into one school. There was also long term talk of combining some elementary schools and all of the county's middle schools.

McEntire, however, needed a quick solution to the budgeting woes, and before the new fiscal year began.  He found that the county was spending thousands of dollars more on Blacksburg students than those of Gaffney. His next proposal really stirred the pot: closing Blacksburg Middle, and moving the students to Blacksburg Elementary and Blacksburg High.

Blacksburg is long known for their strong, tight knit community, especially regarding education. Therefore, they banded together to try and prevent this immediate move. Town residents circulated petitions, made their presence known at three different meetings, wrote letters, and expressed their views via social media.

The smoke cleared and when the budget was approved on June 25, Blacksburg Middle stayed open.

However,as a Blacksburg resident and an employee in the city of Gaffney for 10 years, I don't think this matter is over.

The simple fact is there are people in Gaffney that want to see the schools merged and have for a while. Now someone (McEntire) has come forward with a plan to do so.

I'm going to explain as simply and as unbiased as I can why a merger would not be in the best interest of the county.

1. It would be most beneficial to Gaffney and not Blacksburg. For years, it has been a case of the haves and have nots in Cherokee County. Gaffney has the bigger, nicer schools, state of the art sports facilities, and simply the upper hand. Meanwhile, Blacksburg did receive a new gym and a 9th grade wing. However, the football stadium hasn't received anything in over 30 years but a new concession stand, bathrooms, and cement poured under the dilipating visitor's section. Also, the baseball field is at the elementary school.

Both Blacksburg and Gaffney stand to lose what they have, especially Blacksburg. And the Gaffney Indians wouldn't even be called that anymore. It would be something like the Cherokee County Indians.

2. McEntire clams that mergers and closings would save the county money long term. But what about now? It will cost millions of dollars to build a new high school, not to mention the extra wear and tear on the school buses. The residents simply cannot afford that gamble right now.

3. The district lines need to be redrawn before any talk of a merger begins. Many students that attend both schools would potentially live much farther away from the new school, especially those in outer rural areas.  These such students should be given an option to enroll in a closer school in a town such as Cowpens, Chesnee, York, or even Shelby.

4. Both communties pride themselves on their schools and sports programs. You would have way more division than anything else. Change doesn't come easy in small cities and towns, and it shouldn't come at harming the students and communities long term. Mergers have been successful at other places and counties. However, those places had different agendas and circumstances.

5. It's always about the money, often in the form of the sports programs. Gaffney has one of the top sports programs in the state. They have been luring Blacksburg players for decades to come and play at the larger school. Merging the schools could potentially mean more revenue, and ensure that the powerhouse football program stays in the largest classification, the Big 16. Of course the community as a whole would have to fall in and show support. This could be more trouble than it's worth.

Well this is my piece. I would honestly like to see the best happen for the entire county. However, the school board needs a good, long term plan for saving and budgeting money, and not go for the quick fix.