Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 End Year Wrap Up In News, Pop Culture and Current Affairs, With An Awards Type Twist

Another year is ending and it's time for my second list of the year. Not many repeats but plenty of newbies. It appears ignorance continues to be as big of an epidemic as Ebola was.


OJ/Zimmerman award: Oscar Pistorius. You got off scot free. My advice: run with your artificial legs and hide.
Violent NFL player: (tie) Ray Rice and Suh. Ray, Ray, Ray. C'mon man, worry more about behaving than having to defend yourself when things go south. Suh, this goes double for you.

Dirty Butt award: The Kardashians. As much money as you ladies have, you all could put on some clothes.

Unjust award: The U.S. Justice System. You will continue to receive this award until matters improve. People have had enough of this unjust violence and killing.

Network that needs to be canceled: VH-1. The awful programming and TV movies continues. You are not a quality network at all when Hit The Floor is arguably your best show.


Corporate rant: Krispy Kreme doughnuts. When you all have a special, you need to staff and plan properly. I work in a packaging environment and your sluggish work ethic would not be tolerated. Perhaps you need the motivational manager from Target to come in and put some fire in you all.

Fake out award: Josh Shaw. C'mon man I know you're just a young man. But you should have learned how not to lie long ago, like kindergarten.

Troubled athlete: Jameis Winston. You're down to your last strike. Go ahead and go pro before you taint yourself further

Television rant: One Hour Premieres/Finales. This breeds an attitude of laziness and lack of creativity. I know you're required to produce x amount of shows/series. A two parter should neither be the premiere or finale. Cliffhangers have long been played out also.

Ratchet behavior: black weddings. Please, my people, try not to keep hungry guests waiting at the reception. And have everything organized. Here's a suggestion: ensure that the ceremony and the reception are at the same venue or close by.

Show Me The Money: Todd Gurley. You were on your way to the Heisman. The only honorable thing you did was being honest about breaking the rules.

Restaurant rant: TGI Fridays. Your endless apps promotion is like false advertising. You should make it more clear that it's one appetizer per person per visit.

Questionable behavior: these new names for children. It's like parents are being too creative. Some of the names are even hard for the adults to spell. Follow the KISS principle and stop trying to make children bigger targets for bullies.

School rants: excessive teacher workdays and awards days. I don't care what anyone says, the students are out of school now more than they ever have been. And all these excessive awards shows is doing is giving them an extra sense of entitlement.

Cell phone rant: Alltel to AT&T. You guys have NOT handled these merger well at all. You all better pray that I am not contacting the FCC in a few weeks.

Arrogant athlete: Brad Keslowski. You win one championship and you think you're the best in the game. Sit down somewhere and get back in line.

Overpriced accessory : athletic watches (Garmin, Fitbit, etc). How about RunKeeper, or one of the many other smartphone apps out for free and give me that $200?

Government issue: Roads in South Carolina and North Carolina. They haven't been properly maintained in over five years and people's vehicles are being destroyed. I suffered three flat tires over a weekend, unacceptable!

Ignorant outspoken one: Elizabeth Lauten. You should know you can't come after the President's children.

The what the what: Malaysian plane sonars. Ok this is two missing planes in a year's time. Get it together please!

Happy New Year and continue to live a life that will keep you off of lists like these

Monday, December 22, 2014

Greta Prince: Discover Her Greatness And Unique Style

Local R&B singer Greta Prince has slowly been making a splash since opening for legend Mary J. Blige at the 2012 Essence Music Festival. She even released a single shortly thereafter "You Should Know." Now as 2014 closes out, she has another single "Forever" , an album in the works, several local and Christmas concerts and performances. Also book your tickets for the 2015 Essence Festival as Miss Prince will once again be there.

I met this sweet down home young lady with big brown eyes over 10 years ago. I knew she was studying music but I didn't realize how talented she was until I heard her sing. She had/has those unique, strong pipes and vocals that you don't hear often. Greta showed me back then that she would be someone special.

She decided to pursue her music full time a few years ago when she was laid off from her job in Charlotte, NC. Now Prince resides in Atlanta, GA and has come along well. She has gained numerous musical and performing opportunities since her first Essence appearances and continues to grow as an artist.

Her biggest musical influences are Patti LaBelle (her absolute favorite) and the aforementioned Mary J. Prince loves strong, powerful, but versatile voices. She  loves Mary J. Blige's style; passion when she performs, and her music. Greta also love opera, so African American opera singers Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle have influenced her with their grace and poise.

Greta performs in Atlanta weekly at a few more intimate spots, plus she puts on her own concerts with the band she works with for the major holiday.

Prince's EP is expected to drop sometime early next year.  She loves hip hop, especially from the 90s so it'll have some hip hop influences track wise.  Greta also loves acoustic music, guitar and piano in particular so she's working on something that features these instruments and vocals.  She also wants to sing about love and relationships in a positive, healthy way.  This was her style in "You Should Know." as she doesn't male bash, and her songs are very positive and uplifting, from the vocals to the lyrics.

Greta and her band play at a few spots in Atlanta weekly for several months now.  She was recently a guest performer at a jazz Christmas concert.  Additionally, she is hard at work on her EP and the 2015 Essence Music Festival performance.

Greta would like to give thanks and honor to her Heavenly Father first and foremost. Second, her mom for sacrificing for her and her brother:  pushing Greta to continue to pursue her dreams,utilize her talents, and for just being there.  Next is her big brother for all of his guidance in helping her maneuver through the business aspects of the music industry and being her biggest supporter. Also she shouts out her church families in Georgia and North Carolina for their continued prayers and support.  Finally, her lil niece for making her auntie Greta feel like a superstar already and ALL of her family.

Greta is definitely a rare talent, and a very grounded , humble , positive and family oriented young lady. She is taking the positive and clean route in her music: proving you don't have to be trashy and negative to make it in the music industry. She is taking us back to a happier time in R&B and in music.

Connect with Greta Prince via Facebook, www.facebook.com/greta.prince, Twitter: iAMgretaprince and Instagram @iamgretaprince and on reverbnation www.reverbnation.com/gretaprince. Her songs and performances can also be found via iTunes, Google Play and YouTube. Please check out this young lady and stay encouraged as good wholesome music still exists.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

2014 Christmas Letter

This is the piece I honestly look forward to writing each year. I get to wish everyone associated with me a Happy Holiday season. Many prefer cards and that is fine. I prefer the letter format because it is more extra personal, and it is available at anytime. Plus it ensures I don't leave anyone out.

2014 was a resurrection year for myself in many ways: physical, mental, social, and spiritual. I finally got back on track with my fitness goals after a year at Anytime Fitness. I lost over 50 pounds but more importantly, I gained tools to help me sustain my weight loss better. I am eating more cleanly and loving it. Additionally I have made several fitness connections in the Spartanburg and Rock Hill areas, including my running club. I plan to continue toning up in 2015, and running at least one half marathon.

I attended two weddings this year. Both were coworkers of mine and were both different but enjoyable. My day will come but until then, I will enjoy the happiness of others.

Having a strong social circle has been a blessing to me as I get invited to many outings and events, and almost always feel welcome.

I have learned to do more cooking this year, including my own hash and macoroni and cheese recipes. Hopefully these and my grilling skills will help me to return the favor and host more gatherings in 2015.

Service organizations were big for me this year. I was still heavily involved with Smokin Rita and Friends, then became involved with Save Our Children Movement Inc and The Nemo Group. Service to others and helping young children are both near and dear to my heart.

Employment wise, I completed my 11th year at the Robert Allen Group. I was more successful with finding side income, including reconnecting with two of my long time mentors.

My writings were strong, diverse and aimed at covering many hot and controversial issues. I plan on starting an e-book and continuing to find ways for folks to take me seriously as a writer.

Family wise, everything is overall well. There were plenty of new additions. My mom decided in her 60th year on the planet to learn smart phones and even joined Facebook, which she loves most days. For the first time in 20 years, I was able to take her out for her birthday and Mother's Day. She still prefers the comforts of her home, but she made more of an effort to reach out in 2014.

Life hasn't been perfect, but it has been good. I can sit back and reflect on a lot of positive things from 2014 and carry them over into next year.

Happy Holidays to everyone out there! I love you all and I feel grateful for those that allow me into their presence. God bless each and everyone!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Learning Statistics Through The Board Game Monopoly

The holiday season is usually when many of us gather with our close friends and family. A popular family game has always been Monopoly. This game is available in dozens of different versions, including even an electronic version.

It is fun, but it also educational. One can learn plenty about aspects of business, specifically finance and statistics. Look at some of the characteristics.

1. The game is based heavily on how the dice rolls. Seven is your most common number between two sets of die, whereas it is less rare you will roll two ones (snake eyes) or two sixes.

2. The properties most commonly landed on are the orange and red properties. This is mostly due to the fact that they are the closest proximity from jail. Some of the least landed on properties include Boardwalk and Park Place. Perhaps you should think twice before buying this expensive property.

3. Luxury Tax and Income Tax are very likely spots as well, depending upon how many players you have.

4. This is in reference to #1. One can think of Monopoly in the same fashion as a crap game or even a game of dice. Since the game is heavily weighted on where and what you land on, it's once again all about the roll.

5. It is rare, and rarer when there is four or more players, to land on all three properties of any color group and actually own them. Therefore, be ready to fight, negotiate and reason with your opponents.

Knowing a few of these basic facts and stats can make you a better Monopoly player, and help you to understand statistics better. There are a few tables online that actually shows the probabilities for landing on certain spaces, and a top to bottom ranking far as which property is highest in frequency depending on a few factors.

Therefore it wouldn't hurt to improve at statistics this holiday season so you can increase your chances of being your Monopoly house champion.

How much of Monopoly do you think is chance? How well can you control the results of your dice roll?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Bill Cosby: Up and Down, then Down Again

Wow how the mighty has fallen.

Actor/scholar/comedian Bill Cosby has been getting a lot of attention for someone in their 80s whose heyday was supposed to have passed by. Many of you know of the rape allegations and the dark cloud that is over Cos currently.

Isn't it coincidental that these allegations and such come right when Cosby is making a resurrection of his once-dormat career? Seriously though? Many of these supposed sexual assaults occurred more than 20 years ago.

This indeed seems to be quite a convenient time for anyone to come after Cos. A successful comedy tour, back out on the road, had a couple of television deals in the works. All of this is now meaningless without much proof at all. TV Land has even pulled the popular "The Cosby Show" from syndication in the wake of this debacle.

It definitely seems like these victims were out to get a piece of him while he was back on top, and everyone else is kicking him while he's down. No one is seemingly coming to his rescue.

Now while Dr. Cosby has paid off one of the women before, and cheated on his long time wife years ago, that is not a direct connection to this case. Apparently innocent into proven guilty isn't holding up well.

My thing is we are all humans and we are all fallable. I'm not personally saying Cosby is guilty or innocent. I'm simply saying let's allow all of the facts to come out before we hastily accuse him. Thus far, it's mostly been here say.  It would be unfair if Cosby's side of the story holds up, and then no repair to his longstanding image is restored.

Let's look at all of the raw details and evidence first. Someone will always be out to capitalize on an opportunity or to bring someone down. We should all make sure it is more than that first and foremost.

Do you think Bill Cosby assaulted those women? How do you view him as a person?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Standing Your Ground Is Brutal and Possible

I definitely can't breathe right now and it's more than just the continuous unjust murders of Black men by crooked law enforcement officers. It is the way it is being handled, the fallout and the fact that I have yet to see any effective action or plan to finally corral this madness.

Many people of all walks of life are sick and tired of either hearing about , seeing it or all the above.

I noted some possible solutions in my article I wrote when Troy Davis was unjustly executed a few years ago. The U.S. Justice System and law enforcement alike should be looked at more seriously as this is a dangerous pattern. I mean, really what will it take for this to come to a head? Will a person of great wealth and prominence have to be murdered first?

One thing is for sure, this type of thing has been going on for decades and even centuries. Sure things have improved but some things remain the same. Certain people have too much authority and abuse it.  They are power hungry and get an emotional high from flaunting their position. That should come as very little of a surprise to many.

However, here are some more points and observations I have made over the past few days.

1. One of the biggest problems here is the same things keep happening because the right people aren't doing the proper things to prevent it. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. Rioting and looting are violent, protests are often too peaceful, and boycotts are typically ineffective. There needs to be some proactive NOT reactive solutions made. We cannot complain and such after the fact. Action starts now before something tragic can happen again.

2. Although this problem appears geared towards blacks against crooked police and the justice system, keep this in mind. There are ignorant, violent and corrupt shells of humans in every profession. Good and evil always coexist. They make it bad for the ones that are good and actually serve and protect. Also, this transcends race, class, religious or political affiliation. It is an AMERICAN problem. That being said, we cannot get anything done until we have UNITY among like minded, positive people. History has proven that this is doable. We simply have to organize as a country and come to a consensus that this is a nationwide problem, like a virus.

3. History can be changed and made. It also repeats itself because of the aforementioned insanity going on. We fail to see where we are ineffective; therefore bad cops continue to murder whom they want, and the justice system is still broken.

4. Going back to unity, we need to agree that this violence is enough. No one wants to bury their loved ones, especially for unjust purposes. Change never comes easily and often takes time. However now is the moment for baby steps and for all of us to discover common, middle ground.

The streets can once again be safe, and stand your ground laws can mean something. You just have to be proactive in your approach to the powers that be, and have as many movers, shakers and heavy hitters as possible. Refuse to take no for an answer until we reach a point of greater peace. Then perhaps in 2015 or in a few more years, we can breathe a sigh of hope and relief again.

These are my thoughts and I am entitled to them. I wanted to think outside of the box because that seems to be most effective right now. We are trying to end a growing, ongoing problem. Therefore, we must do things out of our comfort zone that we have never did before. Our forefathers and ancestors did it to improve our generation. It is our turn now. Basically, be history or make history.

I gladly welcome all feedback and thoughts.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Orange Is The New Black Review

It's a feeling of accomplishment in this era when one is caught up on a TV show series. Netflix, DVRs, and the vast pallet of choices of television shows and movies can cause one to be behind on a sitcom or drama for months and years, then quickly catch up. 

This past weekend, I finally got current on Netflix's first original drama series Orange Is The New Black. And I have to say it was well worth it and I'm ready for season 3, set to be available in June 2015.

The setting is Litchfield Women's Prison in Wisconsin. The protagonist/star is Piper Chapman, played by Taylor Schilling. She is serving an 18 month stretch for a white collar crime caused by her lesbian lover Alex Vause (Laura Prepon from That 70's Show). Each episode digs and delves into the back story of many of the inmates. You see all sorts of personalities, stereotypes, and even of those on the outside, like Piper's fiancee' Larry (played by Jason Biggs of American Pie fame).

This is an extremely well written, well scripted, raw and gritty show. It is highlighted by an awesome theme song "You've Got Time" by Regina Spektor.

Viewers can see how in prison, one typically sticks with their own type, culture and race, and how they are humans also, many of which simply made that one wrong turn in life. The corruption and politics in prison administration is also shown, including even power hungry guards and wardens. One must be careful not to step out of line or you will either get a shot or sent to solitary confinement "the shoe."

This is a series geared towards women, but I feel all mature audiences can enjoy it. Episodes are also available on YouTube if you don't have a Netflix account.

Have you seen Orange is The New Black? What are your views on it?