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