Sunday, January 27, 2013

Shooting and Gun Tragedies: The Real Doomsday

The Mayans were wrong! Well, sort of. They predicted the world to end after 12-21-12, causing most folks to anticipate a doomsday of 9/11 or Y2K proportions. Of course, the world didn't end.

However, a few days before the dreaded 12/21 day of reckoning, we had another tragic school shooting. This time it was at Sandy Hill Elementary School in Connecticut. The biggest tragedy was that innocent little children were injured, killed, and traumatized perhaps forever. That is a true doomsday, and one that is more difficult to anticipate. 

Columbine, the Virginia Tech shootings, and even the DC sniper are all tragic events that revolve around guns and gun laws. Folks take their stands for and against firearms. Those for proudly shout the 2nd Amendment, which is the right to bear arms.

Filmmaker Michael Moore did a documentary about gun control and laws called "Bowling For Columbine". He included NRA rallies, and even spoke with their biggest spokesperson at the time, famous actor Charlton Heston. His famous quote is paraphrased as let them pry it from my COLD DEAD HANDS.

I don't have a clear solution for this abuse of guns, gun control and preventing school shootings. However, I don't feel sane, law abiding citizens should be denied their Second Amendment rights. Guns do a lot of good. You can hunt with them, protect yourself and others, and they are good collectors items. Being an arms dealer is very lucrative. Also, our military uses them.

However, gun usage and security at public places should be heightened to curb these tragedies. We as US citizens cannot fall asleep at the wheel and not anticipate disaster. Perhaps police and security needs to be effective and better paid. We cannot have decrepit, 70 year old men protecting our schools. Crazy is something not to be played with.

Therefore keep the guns, control those who shouldn't have them, and don't punish the innocent. We have already lost enough lives for nothing.

Skating: Still Relevant After Many Decades

I can remember when I was a child, the skating rink was the hangout spot. It was like the club for tweens and teens. You learned how to skate through trial and error, saw all the pretty girls there, and met up with your peeps. Many rinks even had supervised lock-ins on weekends and summer vacations.

Watching the movies RollBounce and ATL with T.I. really take me back to that nostalgic, simple era. Heck I want to go to Cascade on a Sunday night. Of course since I'm in my 30s , I would probably be confined to going during the week when the older folk frequent there.

It appears skating has made a revival amongst young adults. Children still go to skating rinks around the country. But now adults still go frequently and skate the night away. This is especially the case in cities such as Chicago, and Columbia, SC, which is about two hours from where I live.

Admittedly, I never learned how to skate well. I did learn how to rollerblade, and was good at that for a while. Both are good cardio exercise as well.

The Winter X Games is currently underway.  Of course the focus is ice skating, which has never waned in popularity due to the Winter Olympics and hockey. Roller skating and blading have now made their way across many different generations.

My guess is people in my age bracket and even in their 20s simply want to keep that part of their childhood alive. Also, movies that I mentioned earlier have refueled that desire to lace up the skates. I know some ladies that even road tripped to Atlanta and went to the real Cascade. According to them, it was actually as crunk as it was in the ATL movie.

There is a line in ATL "when you find something better, you will put those skates down". That is obviously a metaphor for growing up and moving on. However, it appears skating is an ageless, timeless activity like bowling, riding four wheelers, or even video games. I think it's great also. Let the good times roll, pun intended!

In Loving Memory to my homie and muse Tim Brown. This blog is dedicated to you. I will miss you bro.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Five Party Promoters/Planners I Know

I am not into the club scene much these days. However I do like social gatherings, cookouts, and other such parties. The following party promoters and planners threw some epic bashes in 2012 and I look to what they have planned for 2013. People have raved about the Inaguration Ball, various Super Bowl parties, and are looking forward to the bashes that spring and summer bring. 

1. MAZ Entertainment
They appear to be on the forefront of urban nighttime (and even daytime) entertainment in Charlotte, North Carolina. These two guys, Anthony McPherson and Michael Paul, throw awesome parties every few months, including an All White party, a Halloween party, a Frolic event during the summer, and capping it off with a wonderful New Years Eve bash. Anthony has began having free Friday night parties uptown at Pulse, expanding their brand.  The dynamic duo also always throw a few parties during the week of the CIAA tournament. These gentlemen endeavor to make every function they have as upscale and memorable as CIAA.
2. R Elegance Event Planning.

This is owned and operated by my best friend's wife and my friend also, Rayn Leland Newson.  She organizes parties of all types, upscale and casual in the Charlotte and surrounding areas. These include weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, and even graduation and housewarming parties. Basically, she plans celebrations for every occasions. Ms. Newson endeavors to make every event memorable, with her creative favors and games. She works with the best the Queen City has to offer in coordinators, bakeries, and venue owners. Rayn will undoubtedly give you an unforgettable experience.

3. JC and Short
One final shoutout from the Charlotte area comes from two classmates of mine: Jonathan "JC" Moore and Ryon "Short" Burnside. They don't throw as many bashes as the previous two, as they mostly focus on adult birthday parties and Winthrop University Homecoming events. However they are relentless promoters and know how to bring in the crowds and show them a good time. These two fellas have helped resuscitate Winthrop's Homecoming, once considered mundane and predictable by students and alums.  They care that much about our school and others, and knew it would be up to them if we were going to have more fun Homecomings. Now their annual party has become a staple just as the tailgate, game and stepshow.

4. April ,Clay, and Rita

I've written about these locals before, and here I am again mentioning them. They throw some of the best social gatherings that Cherokee County, South Carolina has to offer. Apri has awesome organizational and delegation skills. Clay and his brother Derrick draw the crowd, especially with Rita, Clay's BBQ smoker. Whether raising money for a charity, a friend in need, or just having fun, they are just exciting to be around, and do not want anyone to leave angry or hungry.

5. The Smith Ladies
These ladies don't have an official name to my knowledge, so I will give them one. This quartet featuring Keyla Land, Queen Smith, Reka Burris, and Aca Jeter usually throws a few parties per year, including a pre Super Bowl bash and Reka's baby gender release party. They are similar to MAZ, or even JC and Short, focusing on birthdays and special holidays and occasions, mostly in the Gaffney, SC area. These ladies all have birthdays close together, so it's no coincidence that they just started having parties for each other. They have had all white parties, block parties, and even a yacht party last year. Whether individually or as a group, these four lovely young ladies really cater to the masses, their respective families and communities. I always have fun at their gatherings and it's good to not have to travel far.

Instagram: Review, Tips, and Tricks

It appears the latest (and currently hottest) social networking app is Instagram. It has been popular with the iPhones for about two years now. Two things happened last April 2012:  Instagram became available for Android phones, and Facebook bought Instagram. They thought it would be great to integrate the two networks.  So far, it seems to be a smart move

Instagram has really captured some of the greatest things about modern smartphones: taking and sharing photos, networking with others, sharing photos with and to other social media outlets, and the ability to simply express yourself. It is photo based, but people use other apps such as Textgram and Versagram to post quotes. Instachat is even available for the iPhone users, and should be available in the Google Play market before long. You can also geotag your photos, allowing folks to know the location of the photos/images posted. Consider it a combination of Facebook and Twitter, or even a more visual Twitter.

Here are some tips I've picked up in my short time on Instagram to help others just beginning, or those already on to improve their overall Instagram profiles.

1. Have a variety of images

Don't just have a bunch of quotes, self-shots of yourself, or pictures of food. Strike a nice, healthy balance.

2. Participate in monthly photo challenges and Throwback Thursday #tbt

This makes Instagram more fun, and makes your IG more diverse and exciting. It can be like a scavenger hunt completing photo challenges, finding unique photos to fill out the month. Also, Throw back Thursday is always nostalgic. You can even post photos of old TVs, shoes, phones, and memorabilia. I look forward to Thursday to see what appears on my news feed.

3. Interact with others.

This is self-explanatory, but show your followers love. Like and comment on their photos. Repost when they have cool images and quotes. Also, when a person likes four or more of your photos in a row, screenshot them in your notifications (if your phone has this feature) , post that as an image, and shout them out.

4. Keep the hash tags to a minimum.

One thing that can be messy and cluttered is those photos with about 30 hash tags, often these being long, random words. Choose your hash tags carefully, and keep them to a minimum of five or six.

5. Remember it is social media so,

Enjoy it and have fun.  However, be careful how you want yourself portrayed. A picture is worth a 1,000 words. Therefore, you want images that are unique to you, but present you in a positive light. You can attract the wrong type of attention, or turn away certain people for your posts. Yes it is YOUR Instagram. However remember there are decorum and a Terms and Conditions clause. You do not want your account being flagged.

Follow me at my popular nickname/handle @drewhouse74. As I say in my headline, mine is an Instagram like no other. I believe I have held true to that thus far.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

QBs and hot women: what a combination

It appears women are simply attracted to athletes, especially the stars of the team or sport and the best players. The most appealing position to women in football is often quarterback. These signal callers seem to always have hot ladies on their sides.

Ever since Alabama trounced my Notre Dame Irish to claim their second straight national championship and third in four years, the attention hasn't been solely on the team. It has been on Katherine Webb, Miss Alabama and lovely girlfriend of Alabama QB AJ McCarron. Her popularity and notoriety have soared since being showed in the audience during the game. Her Twitter followers are now in the 100,000 range, which reportedly include a couple of NFL players and NBA superstar LeBron James. Miss Webb has gotten way more than she bargained for dating the star quarterback of a national college football powerhouse.

Webb literally has all eyes on her at the moment. However research and history will indicate McCarron is definitely not the only QB, or even player, with a trophy lady. Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel "Johnny Football" dates a beautiful model. Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel is with the captain of the UF cheerleading squad. Every quarterback that has ever been associated with the Dallas Cowboys typically has been with 9s or better. Tony Romo has dated the likes of Carrie Underwood and Jessica Simpson. Troy Aikman is married to a gorgeous woman. The list goes on with Brett Favre, Joe Namath, Tom Brady, and even the Manning brothers. Heck they have housewives reality shows dedicated to these beautiful women that have won the hearts of quarterbacks and other professional athletes.

My question is why is this? That is, why does the quarterback normally attract the hottest ladies? Well you have to look at the game of football and into the mind of a woman. The QB is the team captain, leader, calls the plays, runs the offense, and is often held responsible for wins and losses.

Women tend to be attracted to men of power and status. Money is a factor also. Also, women want to be around proven leaders and winners. Often this makes the quarterback a bigger target to females than even to the toughest defenses.

That's not to say that's all women want, or all women like quarterbacks or athletes. It simply gives QBs an edge, makes things easier in the game of dating. However, they can also be groupie and social climber magnets. It may be harder for a quarterback to discern a woman's heart than to read an opposing defense.

All I'm doing is making the case that quarterbacks tend to always pull pretty women easier than the average man. Keeping them and resisting temptation is another matter. Football is the USA's #1 sport, so really any star football player is a target. I played high school football as a lineman so I know a little firsthand.

Nonetheless, all eyes are on the quarterbacks. That's why the position is so tough to play at a high level. That's why the NFL's top paid players are quarterbacks. This is mostly common knowledge, but knowledge that is currently on the forefront.

That being said, could we rearrange the saying "behind every successful man is a good woman" to "behind every successful, good looking QB is a flock of gorgeous women?" It sure makes a lot of sense.

Scandal Review

Network TV dramas seem to be improving and even including more people of color. Ice T in Law and Order: SVU, Tarajii Henson in Persons of Interest. Now you have Kerry Washington in ABC's Thursday night thrilling drama Scandal, currently in its second season.

The main character is Olivia Pope, based on a real attorney. Pope, played by Washington, along with her team of other attorneys and a former assassin, work closely with the President and the White House to fix and cover up various scandals and situations. There is a different one weekly, but they are all intertwined. Each character is multi-dimensional and has a backstory that unravels throughout the series.

I decided to check this out after seeing social media blow up about it from 10pm-11pm every Thursday night. And I was extremely impressed. I still have to catch up on the beginning of this season, and all last season. But I feel engaged thus far. So much that although I DVR the episodes, I don't use the bathroom, get on my phone, or even move when the show is on. It is that intriguing and well written by Shonda Rhimes, one of the minds behind another ABC hit, Grey's Anatomy.

This is not a black show or another clique' crime drama. It is just a good television show period, and is very realistic. However I feel the show's potential is limited being on network television. We can only imagine the storylines and scenes Rhimes could create if the show were on TNT, AMC, or a premium channel.

I have had favorite dramas in the past: The Wire, Friday Night Lights, and the short lived American Dreams. I would put Scandal beside any of those. ABC now needs to realize what they have and promote and nurture it in the same fashion they did Grey's and Lost. Scandal can have a substantial shelf life and be a modern classic if promoted properly. The fanbase is already established and growing.

Therefore I highly encourage anyone not watching Scandal to give one episode a try. If you like it,  catch up on this season and last season via Hulu, Netflix and other outlets available. Quality, buffoon free television does still exist, as evidenced by Scandal.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Making Life Changes: Being Capable And Open To Change

This being a New Year, many folks are in the middle of making many changes to their life. It seems to be the time where many are most open and receptive to change.

People most often make change in their job status, physical appearance, and spending and saving habits. However, one of the main reason that many fall short is they aren't mentally ready for the challenges that lie ahead. They are all caught up in the hype of new beginnings, resolutions, and just everything starting fresh.

You have to be more than an "in the moment" person to make substantial, long lasting changes in your life.  One must be mentally ready and receptive to change and grow.

Here are a few ways that you can prepare yourself for making changes and overcoming obstacles that may arise:

1. Write down your goals, and have short term plans and mini goals for achieving the big picture.

2. Make your changes realistic. Dream big, but remember that positive change takes time. Look at the pyramids. 

3. Stick to it. There will be many things that get in the way: tax season, the first snowfall, the warm weather, and even unexpected setbacks. Be calm and stay the course.

4. Have a clearly motivated reason or why. Doing this will help you and give you more purpose and desire.

5. Take pictures of things that remind you of your progress and post them. Instagram is perfect for this with several monthly photo challenges ongoing.

6. Look up several role models, and see how they achieved their dreams. This is only for the truly serious.

I almost turned this blog into a top seven. However, that's okay. Making changes are never easy, and affect other aspects of your life. One needs support, sacrifice, and self motivation to make proper life adjustments.

Seeing the big picture is very important as you realized that the rewards are worth the hard work, blood, sweat and tears.

In closing, here's a quote , geared towards myself and others getting it in at the gym. "Suck it up now, so you won't have to suck it in later".

Beginning Of The Year Shoutouts

This is my first blog post of 2013. I was asked by some people if I would shout them out in one of my blog posts or articles. I thought what better time to do this than the beginning of the year. Here we go.

- God, making everything I have and do possible.
- My family, who are in my corner through thick and thin.
- My close circle of friends. I wish we got to hang out more, but it seems we always pick back up where we left off.
- All of my readers and supporters. Continue to read and give me feedback.
- My co workers, past and current. I always feel I learn something, and am blessed to be cool with many of y'all.
- My folk in Blacksburg and Kings Creek, where I grew up.
- The good folks at Your Best Body Fitness Center and Day Spa. Keeping me on my toes fitness wise and being like a family.
- Everyone at Daddy Joe's BBQ and Grill, including the staff, anyone I play trivia with, and just the regulars. It's like Cheers, everyone knows your name and is always glad you came.
- My people at The Good Ole Boys radio network. I love seeing the heights you have reached and will reach soon.
- All of my classmates from kindergarten on up. I have bonded with many of y'all in a special way.
- Social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) for allowing me to express myself and keep in contact with many of the people I have previously mentioned.
- The staff of the Gaffney Ledger/Weekly Ledger for allowing my work to be available in print every week.
- Anyone that has invited me to a party, gathering or shindig. I love simply being invited, and having a good time while I'm there

If I have forgotten anyone, I promise I apologize and may do a part two soon.