Friday, January 30, 2009

Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes
Eye Legacy (released January 27, 2009)

Is it just me, or am I late to the party on this one? I happened to be messing around online at work (don't act like you don't do it) and I got word that a Left Eye album was scheduled to be released the next day.

Seems that if one third of the record-breaking trio TLC was dropping a posthumous album I would have heard, especially when you consider that Left Eye is one of the most infamous and tragic stars of my generation.

Well, there I go again. When will I realize that no one cares about my generation anymore?

The first thing I noticed about the album is that it has the most random collections of guest artists ever. It's like someone discovered the island where all the one-hit wonders hide from their creditors. Remember Wanya from Boyz II Men? Bonecrusher? City High?!?!?! They're all here. There's even an appearance from Free, the former host of 106 & Park (back when that show was watchable).

Secondly, you won't find any "new" material here. Nearly everything has been recycled from Left Eye's 2001 album Supernova, which was released overseas. It's sorta how Puffy occasionally wedges old Biggie verses between new-fangled production and today's "hottest" rappers.

If you've ever listened to those posthumous B.I.G. albums, you're probably cringing right now, but I'm happy to report things aren't THAT bad. "Block Party" is full of energy as Left Eye reminisces about those summertime parties of our youth and the usually annoying Lil Mama doesn't mess things up too bad. The remaining members of TLC show up for "Let's Just Do It", but it's Missy Elliott who steals the show with her sing-songy crazy flow. It's another of the few genuinely fun tracks on the album.

Most of the other songs, like "Spread Your Wings," "Forever," and "Let It Out" are girl-power anthems aimed at keeping the ladies positive. There's certainly a need for more of these and lyrically they're fine (if you don't mind Left Eye occasionally rapping off beat - it's long been a bad habit of hers) but the corny, whiny hooks and so-so production muck things up. And don't get me started on the crunk track "Bounce." Who still makes crunk songs? At least I got to hear Bonecrusher again.

I was expecting to hear more of the crazy, out of control, smack-talking Left Eye from the late 90s, but she's pretty subdued here. With the exception of "L.I.S.A.", the typical "who cares if I burned down my man's house and talked behind my friends' back, I'm a good person, honest!", there aren't many traces of her troubled past. That makes her death - at a time when she was turning her life around - even more depressing.

The album isn't the disaster I was expecting but like Left Eye herself, it's case of lost potential.

Best tracks: "Let's Just Do It" and "Block Party." Pass on everything else.

3 stars out of 5

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Posted by in  on 12:16 PM No comments
Workers at the Illinois Capitol building wasted little time Thursday night changing the face of state government, shortly after Gov. Pat Quinn replaced the ousted Rod Blagojevich. The Illinois Senate voted unanimously on Thursday to remove Blagojevich from office. After the vote, the "welcome" sign with Blagojevich's face, which visitors saw as they entered the Capitol in Springfield, was quickly brought down. Workers also removed the former governor's official state picture positioned atop a state outline and a silhouette of Abraham Lincoln. CNN

The economy shrank at a 3.8 percent pace at the end of 2008, the worst showing in a quarter-century. Although the initial result was better than economists expected -- economists had forecast a 5.4 percent decline -- the figure is likely to be revised even lower in the months ahead and some believe the economy is contracting in the current quarter at an even faster pace.
ABC News

Exxon Mobil has reported a profit of $45.2 billion for 2008, breaking its own record for full-year earnings by a public U.S. company. The previous record for annual profit was $40.6 billion, which Exxon Mobil set in 2007. Fourth-quarter profits, however, tumbled 33 percent, which isn't a surprise considering oil’s swift 60 percent plunge in the final three months of the year.

For the first time on Tuesday -- $155,000 and a disgraced Korean scientist later -- the Ottos of Boca Raton, Fla., met what they hope is the yellow Labrador retriever they had lived with for 11 years. The 10-week-old puppy, aptly named Sir Lancelot Encore, is a genetic clone created in South Korea by a California biotech company from the DNA of the couple's beloved dog Sir Lancelot, who died last year. The first successful mammal cloned from adult cells was Dolly the sheep in 1996. Scientists have since cloned a growing number of animals, from cats to cows, opening doors that have allowed for the production of life-saving human pharmaceuticals and the creation of dependably hearty livestock. But pet owners have found that while the clone may look like their favorite cat or dog, it does not act like the original. ABC News

Mount Redoubt, the Alaskan volcano expected to erupt at any time, is getting a bit more edgy.
The Alaska Volcano Observatory said in a statement Friday "volcanic tremor" has increased in "amplitude." The activity on the 10,197-foot peak is "more energetic than that of the previous several days. However, it is still less vigorous than that observed last weekend," the observatory said. Peter Cervelli, a research geophysicist with the observatory, told CNN that "every indication is that we're heading toward an eruption." CNN
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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Contributed by: Karie

The arrival of a new year forces everyone to make outlandish resolutions.
At 12:00 a.m., I resolved to stop swearing (that's "cussin'" for those down South).
At 12:48 a.m., I realized I failed. So I decided to be more creative. For 2009, I resolve to try different things to enrich my life as a single lady. (And yes, sometimes a lady needs to swear.)

In 2009, I resolve to do the following things:

  • Be healthier.
  • Find creative ways to entertain friends.
  • Consider Internet dating.
  • Make genuine connections with people.
  • Attend more cultural, sporting, professional, and community service events.

Things I've accomplished since the start of the new year:

  • Stepped outside of my comfort zone and networked with complete strangers at an event.
  • Met a few young professionals at the job.
  • Purchased new clothing that speaks to my feminine classic style.
  • Used my elliptical machine at least 10 times this month.
  • Reconnected with old friends.

Singles, it’s a new year. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

About the contributor: Karie (pronounced like Marie with a “K) is a single, 20-something living in the DC Metropolitan area. Professionally, she works as a technical writer. Outside of the office, she enjoys graphic design, creative writing, reading, and tennis. Please contact her at
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Peanut Corporation of America, the maker of peanut butter linked to a nationwide outbreak of salmonella, shipped tainted product it knew had tested positive for the bacteria, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday. The FDA report said the company's own testing program found strains of salmonella 12 times in 2007 and 2008 at its Blakely, Georgia plant. The problem does not appear to have been resolved. When FDA inspectors visited the plant this month, they reported finding still more salmonella contamination. CNN

After boycotting his impeachment trial for three days, Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced Wednesday that he wanted to address the State Senate on Thursday before legislators begin deliberations on whether to remove him from office. The governor, who has repeatedly denounced the trial as unfair and fixed, will not give sworn testimony or be subject to cross-examination by prosecutors or legislators. Rather, he will address the Senate only to respond to the prosecution’s closing argument. NY Times

Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it lost $5.9 billion in the fourth quarter, but still has no plans to seek federal aid unless economic conditions worsen. MSNBC

House Republicans blocked legislation backed by President Barack Obama that would delay next month’s transition to digital television until June 12. The 258-168 vote was short of the two-thirds margin needed to pass the measure under procedures usually used for noncontroversial items. The Obama administration supports moving back the planned Feb. 17 date, in part because a program to subsidize equipment that some people need to view digital programming ran low on funds and left more than 3 million requests on a waiting list. Republicans said a delay would cause confusion and put off when airwaves are available for emergency workers’ radios and advanced wireless devices. House Democrats, who control the agenda, will probably bring the legislation up again next week using procedures that require a simple majority for passage. Bloomberg
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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The House passed an $819 billion economic stimulus package today. Despite President Obama's efforts to achieve bipartisan support for the bill, no Republicans voted for it. The final vote was 244 to 188, with just 12 Democrats voting against it. The Senate is likely to take up the bill next week. CNN

Why my week has sucked:
A massive winter storm has left at least 11 people dead and nearly 1 million homes across the Midwest without power. Almost half those households are in Kentucky, where 45 shelters have been set up to help residents battling icy conditions. The storm dumped ice and snow on a region that extends from Texas to Kentucky and left "absolutely everything in northwest Arkansas ... at a standstill," an Arkansas police officer said. CNN

It was described as one of the most grisly scenes Los Angeles police had ever encountered: the bodies of five small children and their parents, all shot to death, in two upstairs rooms of the family's home. But even more incomprehensible to some was the story that emerged after the bodies were found Tuesday: A father who, after he and his wife were fired from their jobs, killed all six family members before turning the gun on himself. In a letter faxed to Los Angeles television station KABC before his suicide, Ervin Antonio Lupoe blamed his and his wife's former employer, Kaiser Permanente's West Los Angeles Medical Center, for the deaths. Lupoe wrote in the fax, "after a horrendous ordeal, my wife felt it better to end our lives; and why leave our children in someone else's hands ... we have no job and 5 children under 8 years with no place to go. So here we are." CNN

Massive deficits could force the post office to cut out one day of mail delivery, the postmaster general told Congress on Wednesday, in asking lawmakers to lift the requirement that the agency deliver mail six days a week. Faced with dwindling mail volume and rising costs, the post office was $2.8 billion in the red last year. If the change happens, that doesn't necessarily mean an end to Saturday mail delivery. Previous post office studies have looked at the possibility of skipping some other day when mail flow is light, such as Tuesday. NY Times
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One thing I must admit about women - you find beauty in anything.

A couple of weeks ago, the wife was looking through my high school yearbook, and she stumbled upon a picture of a classmate and immediately said "Ooh, he's cute."

I was appalled - not because she was oogling a 17-year-old, but because it was a guy that nearly all my female friends thought was the finest man on Earth.

Did I mention that this guy looks like a cross between Joe Camel and Chance from VH1's Real Chance of Love?

I've never understood why women find the most physically unappealing men attractive. We dudes are much more shallow. For instance:


Pretty ugly:

See? Simple. But it's not so simple when trying to pry into the workings of the female mind. I'll give you another example. The guy pictured at the beginning of this post, for those too busy watching VH1 (like me) is Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff. At least three different women, of varying ages, have commented on how fine this guy is. Along with the fact that he looks high as a kite, I don't see what's so great about him. Just looks like an old guy to me.

My first instinct would be that it's a fame or power thing. That would explain the bizarre couples of Beyonce and Jay-Z, Janet Jackson and Jermaine Dupri, Ashanti and Nelly and Jennifer Lopez and Skeletor, I mean, Marc Anthony.

But that doesn't explain why my classmate got so much love from the ladies. Trust me, he wasn't ballin' back then and he probably isn't now.

I'm not suggesting that women should become as superficial as men can be (I've known dudes who broke off relationships because they didn't like a girl's breast size), but what are y'all looking at that we aren't? Is it an "inner beauty" thing? Cuz it sure ain't an outer beauty thing.

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Posted by in  on 2:10 PM 2 comments
the Georgia Mae news report will be posted in the evening again today. I'm really sorry but an ice storm, power outages and a busy work schedule are disrupting my blogging routine and causing chaos in my life. Argh!

But stay tuned. Great posts are coming later today.

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Posted by on 8:12 AM No comments

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

President Barack Obama spent more than two hours in closed-door meetings with Congressional Republicans on today, outlining his economic stimulus plan and fielding an array of critical questions. It's considered a rare event for a president, particularly a Democratic one, to sit down with the entire Republican conference and Obama urged his audience to “put politics aside and do the American people’s business right now.” NY Times

A New Zealand man who bought an MP3 player from a thrift shop in Oklahoma found it held 60 U.S. military files, including names and telephone numbers for American soldiers. A New Zealand security expert said the information should not be in the public domain, but that it did not appear likely to affect U.S. national security. The U.S. Embassy declined to comment on the incident.

A FedEx cargo plane after veering off the runway in Lubbock, Texas around 4:30 a.m. today. The plane caught fire but the two crew members walked away from the crash.
Chicago Tribune

The New Life Church, a nationally known evangelical institution that fired its founding pastor, Ted Haggard, in 2006 over accusations that he had had sex with a male prostitute, has revealed another layer to the scandal. The church’s senior pastor Brady Boyd told worshipers on Sunday that the church made payments starting in 2007 to a young male church member who had a relationship with Mr. Haggard before the dismissal. The payments — part of a confidential legal settlement in 2007 that included money for counseling and college expenses — came from insurance money, not donations from members, Boyd said. NY Times
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Girls are taught a lot about rape.

As if rape were something we could prevent on our own, we're told by well-intentioned mothers to never walk alone at night, to never get in the car with strange men and to never wear skimpy clothes in public.

And my mom told me that if, God forbid, I ever was raped that I should under no circumstances be ashamed to tell her.

But what do you do when it's not rape?

This is the question explored in Racialicious editor Latoya Peterson's essay, "The Not-Rape Epidemic" in the book "Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power & A World Without Rape," which also includes an essay by yours truly.

If you're not sure what "not-rape" is, Peterson breaks it down:

Not rape was being pressured into losing your virginity in a swimming pool pump room to keep your older boyfriend happy.

Not rape was waking up in the middle of the night to find a trusted family friend in bed with you - and having nightmares about something that you can’t remember during the daylight hours.

Not rape was having your mother’s boyfriends ask you for sexual favors.

Not rape was feeling the same group of boys grope you between classes, day after day after day.

Not rape was being twelve years old, having a “boyfriend” who was twenty-four and trading sex for free rides, pocket money, Reeboks, and a place to stay when your mother was tripping.

Sadly, most of us have experienced not-rape. And when these things happened to us we didn't know what do because we figured no crime was committed, because we thought no one would believe us or because we feared the consequences if someone did.

There's nothing we can do to change what's happened to us in the past but there are things we can do to help the girls in our lives.

Peterson said we must give girls the tools they need to defend themselves against sexual predators. We need to give them the words they need to describe what has happened to them, words like sexual assault, statutory rape and coercion, she said.

We need to teach them that dating an older man will not make them cooler and that older men can't rescue them from their parents. We also need to encourage teen boys to help keep their female friends away from predators, Peterson recommended.

But Peterson concludes that it's the small things -- like just paying attention and letting girls know they can talk to us without fear of judgment -- that could help the most in the fight against the not-rape epidemic.
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will be posted this evening.

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Posted by on 8:53 AM No comments

Monday, January 26, 2009

Universal Mind Control (released December 9, 2008)

I'm sure this will get me in trouble with President Obama, but I'm pretty resistant to most change. I like my peanut butter with honey, my chicken fried, and my boy Keith sweatin'.

Um, that last one didn't sound too good. Here's a better example:

I love GSN, the Game Show Network. But because Kentucky sucks and it's a premium channel here (and y'all know how cheap I am) I can only watch it when I visit my family in Virginia. But since I only make it home every 6 to 9 months, every time I visit the lineup has changed. Nothing disappoints me more than when I realize that 10-year-old episodes of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" have been replaced by 300-year-old episodes of "Press Your Luck." I hate that show. If I wanted to watch cartoonish demons steal money I'd watch those corporate executives beg for money on CNN.

My point is, why screw with the lineup when you have a winning formula?

And that brings me to Common. He's been on a quite a roll the last few years, dropping the critically acclaimed Be in 2005 and the pretty good Finding Forever in '07. But for his latest release, Universal Mind Control, he strays away from the path of those last two albums, and the results aren't too good.

The most noticeable change is the lack of production from Kanye West. And seeing that Kanye has lost his mind, that's for the best. The Neptunes handle the bulk of the beats here, and unfortunately they don't compliment Com's style. The title track "Universal Mind Control" is tailor-made for the clubs, but the beat drowns out Common's flow. In fact, he seems to be in competition with the production throughout the entire album. That's especially bad when most of the beats sound like N.E.R.D.'s leftovers.

Another thing I've noticed - half the album is concerned with getting into some lady's pants. Common's never been shy about showing his sensitive side, but on tracks like "Punch Drunk Love" and "Sex 4 Suga" he's just begging for the booty. Get this man a girlfriend.

Com eventually returns to form about halfway through the disc. "Inhale" is vintage Common, and he spits with some serious fire and vigor on "Gladiator" - "Though I might have did 'The Light,' I don't run from the dark/the Dark Knight to spark mics and start fights/The warrior archetype like Kimbo Slice" - now THAT'S my boy!

"Announcement," which sounds like something from late-90s LL Cool J, isn't horrible, but it's far from memorable. And in the last verse, he's STILL chasing the ladies in the most embarrassing way - "Broads say 'Are you a philosopher?'/Yeah, yeah, I philosophize on top of ya!" Huh?

Weird new sex addiction aside, I understand Common's need to try something new. There are a ton of artists who would do well to change things up. But I say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Best tracks: "Gladiator," "Inhale" and, um... "Announcement"? I guess.

3 stars out of 5

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Posted by in  on 12:37 PM 5 comments
President Barack Obama is poised to let California and other states set their own more stringent auto emission standards in their drive to slash greenhouse gases. The move could empower states to set tougher standards in targeting emissions, which are blamed for contributing to global . MSNBC

Illinois' beleaguered Gov. Rod Blagojevich said today that when he was deciding who would take President Obama's Senate seat he considered appointing talk show queen Oprah Winfrey. Blagojevich made the revelation to Diane Sawyer this morning on "Good Morning America" on the day his impeachment trial begins, a trial that is expected to toss him out of office. ABC News

Meryl Streep of the Roman Catholic drama "Doubt" and Sean Penn of the Harvey Milk biopic "Milk" won lead-acting honors Sunday at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. The prize for overall cast went to the rags-to-riches saga "Slumdog Millionaire," while Heath Ledger of the Batman blockbuster "The Dark Knight" and Kate Winslet of the Holocaust-themed drama "The Reader" took supporting honors. CBS News
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Friday, January 23, 2009

New York Gov. David Paterson has chosen Democratic Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand to succeed Hillary Clinton as U.S. Senator from New York, multiple Democratic sources told CNN today. Gillibrand, 42, represents New York's traditionally Republican 20th district. She is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of congressional Democrats who hold more conservative views than their liberal Democratic counterparts. She has been an outspoken advocate for gun rights and has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association. Gillibrand supports an extension of the Bush tax cuts and has a 100 percent rating from the American Civil Liberties Union. CNN

The Food and Drug Administration has cleared the way for the first human trials of human embryonic stem-cell research, authorizing researchers to test whether the cells are safe to use in spinal injury patients. The trials will use human stem cells authorized for research by then-President George W. Bush in 2001. The patients will be those with the most severe spinal cord injuries, called complete spinal cord injuries. CNN

The somber, elegiac music of Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and two colleagues heard at President Obama's inuauguration was in fact a recording, made two days earlier by the quartet and matched tone for tone by the musicians playing along. The players and the inauguration organizing committee said the arrangement was necessary because of the extreme cold and wind during Tuesday’s ceremony. The conditions raised the possibility of broken piano strings, cracked instruments and other problems. NY Times
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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Musiq Soulchild

OnMyRadio (released December 9, 2008)

When it comes to Musiq's albums, there are two things you can count on - ballads and poor spelling. Remember his first album, 2001's Aijuswanaseing? It took me weeks to figure out what that meant.

Anyway, while it's no surprise that Musiq still doesn't know how to use a space bar, it was a shock when he released the first single from OnMyRadio, simply known as "Radio." The squealing, rattling beat and dumbed down lyrics sound like it was meant for someone like J-Kwon. Is he still alive?

What happened to the Musiq we knew? Has he totally sold his soul in an attempt to be embraced by radio executives? Thankfully, that doesn't seem to be the case.

OnMyRadio, although bookended by "Radio" and the equally annoying "Backagain", is pretty much your typical Musiq album, for better or worse. The second single, "IfUleave", with Mary J. Blige, is the kind of ballad Musiq is known for - forceful, but not overbearing. Musiq's vocals mesh extremely well with Mary J's, making this an easy standout.

While "IfUleave" leaves an impression, the rest of the album is standard fare. "Until" and "Dearjohn" are OK slow jams, but the lyrics are kinda jarring, like when he promises to love his woman until "2000 and forever" on "Until." Uh huh. A few tracks, like "Deserveumore" and "Someone" fare better, especially when he rocks the Robin Thicke falsetto on "Sobeautiful", but Musiq already has like 15 other songs that sound exactly like them.

If Musiq wanted to broaden his appeal he should have ditched the lowbrow club songs in favor of more tracks like the reggae-tinged "Iwannabe." It's far from perfect, but it's a welcome departure from Musiq's usual repertoire and a lot easier on the ears than "Radio."

Even with a couple missteps, OnMyRadio is far from awful. But if you're planning to compile a Musiq Soulchild's Greatest Hits mixtape you won't find much material here. When Musiq stays in his comfort zone he does a solid, albeit unspectacular, job - poor spelling and all.

Best tracks: "IfUleave", "Sobeautiful", "Someone"

3.5 stars out of 5
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Posted by in  on 7:16 AM 1 comment
President Obama today announced that he is freezing the pay of White House aides making more than $100,000, a group that includes the White House chief of staff, national security adviser and press secretary, according to the Associated Press. CBS News

President Obama retook his oath of office yesterday after Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed while delivering it at Tuesday's inauguration. The second oath was also administered by Roberts and took place at 7:35 p.m. Wednesday in the White House's Map Room. The do-over was aimed at dispelling any confusion that might arise from Tuesday's take -- in which "faithfully" was said out of sequence -- and erase any question that Obama is legally the president. CNN

Caroline Kennedy has given up her bid for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton. Kennedy, who was widely considered the front-runner for the seat, told New York Gov. David Paterson she was no longer interested in the job due to personal reasons. CNN

The Senate has overwhelmingly confirmed Hillary Clinton to become secretary of state. The chamber voted 94 to two to confirm Clinton. Though some Republicans had expressed concerns about conflicts of interest related to Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, they were not enough to derail her nomination. CBS News
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Wednesday, January 21, 2009


(In case you somehow missed it, click here to view a video of President Barack Obama's inaugural speech and here to check out the First Couple's dance at last night's Neighborhood Ball. )

Here's what else is happening in the news:

ABC News reports that soon after being sworn in as 44th President of the United States yesterday, President Obama instructed his advisers to move to suspend the military commission trials for suspected terrorists being detained at Guantanamo Bay. The Obama administration filed papers seeking a 120-day continuance in all cases so his administration can review the individual prosecutions and review the policy for detainees to determine how best to handle the cases. ABC News

Portland, Oregon mayor Sam Adams has admitted he lied about a sexual relationship with a male teenager he was mentoring three years ago. Adams apologized and asked the city to consider it an anomaly in two decades of public service. "I screwed up. I blew it. There's no way to sugarcoat it," he said during a City Hall news conference scheduled after he cut short a trip to the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C. CBS News

As Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, ill with a brain tumor, was hospitalized Tuesday but quickly reported feeling well, according to the Associated Press, after suffering a seizure at a post-inauguration luncheon for President Barack Obama. A statement released by the senator's office said the 76-year-old senator "is awake, talking with family and friends, and feeling well." MSNBC
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

image via

The Georgia Mae Morning News report will return tomorrow.

Today let us turn our ears and eyes to the inauguration of Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States and America's first black commander-in-chief.

As young as I am, I truly never thought I'd see a black president, but here we are. It's amazing to think that if I have a child the idea of a black president will be no big deal to him or her.

But I feel this day is about a lot more than race. It's about the unity and excitement in the air. Words like "hope" and "change" have become cliche. But I do have hope that change will come.

I am hopeful that eventually the economy will get better, that women will receive equal pay for equal work, that health care and a good education will be accessible to all, that race relations really will get better, that more women will start to feel safe in their own skin, that our troops will soon come home and that one day we'll be watching a black woman take that oath of office.

However, it's silly to expect one man to make all that change come to pass. After the party is over, it's time to get to work.

What are your thoughts on this inauguration day? Consider this an open thread to leave your comments about the inauguration celebration, your hopes for the Obama administration and more throughout the day.
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Posted by in  on 6:57 AM 5 comments

Monday, January 19, 2009

Biggie's biopic hit theaters this weekend and I just knew it would break the bank and come in as the No. 1 movie. But noooo, it came in at No. 4, while Paul Blart: Mall Cop took the top spot.

I'm ashamed of you all.

Oh well, guess the bootleggers won this round. Bitterness aside, do yourself a favor and check out the film. I absolutely loved it (and by now, I'm sure you know that I hate just about everything). Although there was a great possibility that Notorious would be a glorified VH1 special, it came off very well.

I won't spoil the film for you - other than the fact that Biggie dies at the end *GASP*! - but here are five things that crossed my mind as I left the theater.

Everyone was well cast BUT:

Jamal Woolard, AKA "Gravy", the dumb rapper who was shot in the butt a few years ago, made me believe I was really watching Big on the screen, full of charm and energy. Angela Bassett was convincing as Biggie's loving but stern mom, Anthony Mackie was as bipolar and irritating as 2pac was in real life and I SWEAR that Antonique Smith looked and sang EXACTLY like Biggie's estranged wife Faith Evans.

But LOL at Derek Luke playing Puffy. Luke did a good job, don't get me wrong, but Puff was portrayed as some kind of moral compass for Biggie, not the Tasmanian-devil-like tyrant we all know he is. Sure, he danced around like a buffoon like his real-life counterpart, but he spent more time giving sage advice than he did screaming and hollering, which is what he usually does. I'm surprised they didn't make Luke wear a mortarboard and monocle.

No wonder Kim was so mad:

If you haven't heard, Lil Kim has been running around for the past month telling everyone in earshot that she wasn't portrayed correctly in the movie. Honestly, I think she was portrayed accurately, but the truth hurts - she looked like a jealous groupie most of the time. And her complaints about Naturi Naughton not looking like her were wrong - sorta. Naughton looked just like pre-surgery Kim. I'm told Michael Jackson wasn't available for the post-surgery scenes.

Lil' Cease was Biggie's butler:

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Biggie's crony Lil Cease. Sure, he's a horrendous rapper but there's a certain charm amidst his wackness. I'm not ashamed to admit that I loved his 1999 album "The Wonderful World of Cease A Leo." While I was very interested to see how he'd be used in the movie, he pretty much came off as Biggie's doorstop. "Cease, get the car!" "Bring him up here, Cease" "Where my weed at, Cease?" "You wash my draws yet, Cease?" Geez, give a brother a break.

Black and ugly as ever/however...:

Biggie was one ugly dude. But he had charisma for days, and I'm glad Gravy was able to convey that. Ever wonder how Big got all those girls? It's because he could sell snow to a polar bear. It's not all that surprising - a man with the ability to create such intricate stories lyrically had to possess a quick wit. As quickly as he could piss you off, he'd make you laugh. Plus, I guess groupies will sleep with just about anybody, no matter how creepy the guy looks. How else could you explain Lil Wayne procreating?

I miss the 90s:
The era of music from 1993 to 1997 or so was just amazing, and listening to the great songs of that time during the film brought me back. Every head in the theater was bobbing to Biggie's performance of "Warning." And when Faith sang "You Used To Love Me" there were about five or six ladies singing along. There were literally classic songs being released monthly. Ah, the good old days.

If you saw the movie, share your thoughts.
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Posted by in ,  on 8:50 AM 3 comments
image via

President-elect Barack Obama has been on the cover of nearly every major national magazine and even a Spider-Man comic book. And last week his appearance on the cover of the latest issue of the feminist publication Ms. magazine made headlines.

The cover features a photoshopped image of Obama ripping his button-down open like Superman to reveal a T-shirt that reads: “THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE”?

Ms. magazine publisher Eleanor Smeal has stated that when she and the chair of the Feminist Majority Foundation board, Peg Yorkin, met with Obama, he said, “I am a feminist.”
Furthermore, Smeal believes that Obama "ran on the strongest platform for women’s rights of any major party in American history."

So for her and others at Ms., the cover just made sense.

Some feminists, however, are outraged and Amy Siskind, co-founder of The New Agenda, a non partisan organization devoted to advancing women’s rights, is in that number.

In an article for The Daily Beast, she wrote:

The current vision of “feminism” is a man striking a Superman pose. Is it any wonder, then, that when The Daily Beast conducted a poll in November 2008, it found that just 20 percent of women are willing to use the term “feminist” about themselves and 17 percent would welcome their daughters using that label. The term feminism is hardly recognizable to itself at this point. It has been hijacked and corroded by those who formed the clique, excluded most of us from joining, and used feminism for their own purposes.

When interviewed by CNN Siskind said: "The problem with the cover is it's a man standing in a Superman pose and thank you, but the women of this country can stand up for themselves."

Other feminists say Obama hasn't done enough to show he has women's best interests at heart and some say the cover just rubs Hillary Clinton's defeat in the faces of her feminist supporters.

I think Siskind makes a valid point. This image could imply that women are waiting for SuperObama to come save the day. But I think this image could be used in a very positive way to spark a valuable and necessary discourse on the role that men could and should play in women's rights.

Most of us agree that one key to improving race relations is to increase tolerance and cultural sensitivity among majority groups. Well, doesn't it make sense to teach men how harmful gender stereotypes can be if we want to improve conditions for women?

We teach our daughters, nieces and little sisters not to walk alone at night and even buy them an ounce of pepper spray. But we should spend just as much time teaching our sons, nephews and little brothers to respect women's bodies, that rape is wrong and that "copping a feel" isn't funny. It's sexual assault.

Yes, men can be feminists. No, men like Obama should not be looked to as our savior, but they can and should be our allies in this feminist fight and I think that's what the Ms. cover was trying to say.

What do you think?

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Posted by in ,  on 7:00 AM 1 comment

There won't be a Georgia Mae Morning News report today. But in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day take some time this morning to reflect on King's dream, a dream many say will come true tomorrow with the inauguration of Barack Obama.

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Posted by on 6:52 AM 1 comment

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Hudson River Miracle
Chesley B. Sullenberger III, 57, the pilot of the US Airways jetliner that had to land in the Hudson River due to failed engines, is being hailed for his quick thinking and deft maneuvers. All 155 people aboard the plane, which lost power in both engines, possibly from striking birds, survived in what is being called the Hudson River Miracle. Unable to get back to La Guardia airport, Sullenberger made a command decision to avoid densely populated areas and try for the Hudson, and had warned the 150 passengers to brace for a hard landing. Most had their heads down as the jetliner slammed into the water, nose slightly up, just three minutes after takeoff on what was to be a flight to Charlotte, N.C. NY Times

Bye, Bye Bush
While delivering his farewell address from the White House, President George W. Bush, looking back on eight tumultuous years, said that his decisions in office have kept the country safe from another terrorist attack as he urged the incoming administration to never let down its guard.
Bush called the approaching inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama a "moment of hope and pride" for the country and said he is "filled with gratitude" for the opportunity to serve.
But he also cautioned Obama to be vigilant, warning that the gravest threat to the country continues to be another terrorist attack.
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Nijla Mumin is not only fully aware of the stereotypes that many Americans believe about Muslim women, she also defies them all. And now she's calling them out.

A 23-year-old grad student in Howard University's film program, Nijla recently completed a documentary on being a Muslim woman in America titled "Without Judgment," for which she interview Muslim women in Washington, DC and the Bay Area. Nijla entered her film in a contest sponsored by One Nation, a philanthropic collaborative with the vision of fostering a national conversation about the common values we share as Americans, regardless of how we choose to express our spirituality. If she wins she could get thousands of dollars in prizes and film equipment.

Before you take some time to view her film (and vote), check out what Nijla had to say about her project and about her experience as a Muslim woman in America.

What compelled you to do a film on being a Muslim woman in America?

I was inspired by my own experience. Some people attempted to put me in a box when it came to my religion and my relationship with God. My dad was a strict Muslim and my mother was a believer in God so I grew up with a multi-faceted perspective when it came to religion and identity. I found that I didn’t fit anyone’s rigid categorization or stereotype and there was so much beauty in that. Thus, I sought out other Muslim women who inhabited similar religious experiences.

Have you had any experiences similar to those discussed in the film? For example, two women spoke about being considered less faithful by other Muslims because they don’t wear hijab. Is this something you’ve faced as well?

Yes, I have had these experiences in my life. While they are not frequent, they do highlight the tendency of people to want to categorize and simplify the existences of others.

What are some of the stereotypes about Muslims that you’ve been confronted with and how do you deal with them?

Wow, that could take a whole day to answer. Specifically, the stereotypes surrounding Muslim women are that we are oppressed, quiet, timid, not vocal, and submissive. As you will see in “Without Judgement,” those stereotypes fit none of the women interviewed and they fit none of the Muslim women I know personally. So the way I deal with the stereotypes is to breathe and exist as myself, and in doing that I defy and call out the stereotypes that are aimed at Muslim women and people. I deal with them by questioning them and their place in our society. As a filmmaker, writer, and photographer, I use my art to show the complexities of Muslim women and people.

What would you say to people who think Islam is oppressive to women?

I would say read the Qur’an. Specifically read Surah II “The Cow” and Surah IV “Women.” It’s also important for people to be careful of how we frame “oppressive” and from what cultural and social lenses we make that claim. There are many social practices in religions that can be considered oppressive, not because the religion or the respective Holy Book calls for that but because people, patriarchy, and injustice becomes merged into them.

Why the title “Without Judgment”?

The initial title of the documentary was going to be "Intersections" because I wanted to show how personal identity and religion merge. I changed the title when I was editing because one of the interviewees stated that Muslim women deserve a place in this world that is without judgement. I felt her sentiments summed up the purpose and the overall tone of the documentary trailer and so it stuck.

Why do you choose to be Muslim?

Islam calls out to me in a way that is indescribable at times. It is an interesting merging of the teachings of the Qur’an, the example of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the beauty in my mother and father’s wedding picture, the smells in the masjid, the excitement of Ramadan, and millions of other examples, experiences, and moments that make being a Muslim a beautiful and ever-evolving state of being.

Check out "Without Judgment"

If you liked what you saw click here to vote for Nijla's film and to view others. You'll have to register to vote, but it only takes a few minutes. Voting closes after today so act fast if you want to support her.
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Posted by in , ,  on 11:00 AM 1 comment
The story on race I wrote that I referenced in the post "We're not all the same and that's okay" is up on the web. Click here to check it out when you get a chance.

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Posted by in  on 8:00 AM 1 comment
CONSUMER WARNING: The Kellogg Co. announced yesterday it is recommending that consumers not eat its peanut butter crackers because they may be tainted with salmonella.The products affected are Austin- and Keebler-branded: Toasted peanut butter sandwich crackers, Peanut butter and jelly sandwich crackers, Cheese and peanut butter sandwich crackers, Peanut butter-chocolate sandwich crackers. Peanut butter produced by Peanut Corporation of America, one of several peanut butter suppliers to the company, has been linked to an outbreak of salmonella poisoning that has affected at least 434 people in 43 states. CNN

Johannes Mehserle, the white former transit police officer accused of fatally shooting an unarmed black man in the Bay Area has been arrested and charged with murder. District Attorney Tom Orloff of Alameda County said Mehserle, 27, had refused to speak to Oakland police or transit police investigators and was charged with murder “because at this point I feel the evidence indicates an unlawful killing done by an intentional act.” NY Times

More than 2.3 million American homeowners faced foreclosure proceedings last year, an 81 percent increase from 2007, with the worst yet to come as consumers grapple with layoffs, shrinking investment portfolios and falling home prices.

Israeli forces shelled the United Nations headquarters in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, setting fire to the compound filled with hundreds of refugees as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was in the region on a mission to end Israel's devastating offensive against the territory's Hamas rulers. MSNBC
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jamie Foxx
Intuition (released December 16, 2008)

It pains me to say this, but Jamie Foxx is probably the most wasted musical talent of our generation.

Why, you ask? For a man with amazing pipes and boatloads of talent and creativity, he sure settles for mediocrity. My hopes were sky-high for his 2005 album Unpredictable, but in fact, it was VERY predictable, filled with a lot of mundane tracks about ballin' and booty.

That's a shame, because I've been down with Jamie since his often forgotten 1994 album Peep This, back when he was better known as Wanda from "In Living Color" than Ray Charles' eerie doppelganger.

Foxx has come such a long way - from bit characters to Academy Awards - so I hold him to a higher standard than the Akons and Chris Browns of the world.

That's why half of Intuition irks me. Remember when I mentioned in the Q-Tip review that he put a new spin on the tired musical formula? Well, Jamie sticks to the script.

Dumb song written by The-Dream ("Digital Girl")? Check.

Song with Lil Wayne over an annoying Just Blaze beat ("Number One")? Check.

Dreadful auto-tune T-Pain song about alcohol ("Blame It")? Check.

Don't forget obligatory radio single featuring T.I. ("Just Like Me") and the Timbaland song ("I Don't Need It") to round things out. These two actually aren't bad, they're just so ... typical.

Luckily, halfway through the album, Jamie slows things down and despite some clunky songwriting, he FINALLY branches out a bit. He shows off his pipes with Ne-Yo on "She Got Her Own" and "Rainman," where he longs for a lost love, is one of the best songs he's done to date. You might want to consider downloading that one. And "Love Brings Change" is the type of song that radio needs - hip enough for the kids yet mature enough for the old folks' radio station.

That's what makes Intuition frustrating. Skip the first 5 tracks and you'll see potential for a great album. I wish Jamie took more time to buck the trend instead of falling in line. I expect more from an artist of his caliber.

Best tracks: "Rainman," "She Got Her Own," "Love Brings Change"

3.5 stars out of 5
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Posted by in  on 2:13 PM 2 comments
Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden has issued a new audiotape urging Muslims to launch a jihad, or holy war, to stop the Israeli offensive in Gaza. Bin Laden also condemns Arab governments for preventing their people from acting to "liberate Palestine." The authenticity of the tape, which was posted Wednesday on Islamic militant Web sites, has yet to be confirmed. But reports indicate that the voice resembles that of bin Laden in previous messages.

President-elect Barack Obama pushed congressional Democrats yesterday for the quick release of $350 billion - the second half of bailout funds to prop up the economy's still struggling financial sector. But since the first half went to banks instead of mortgage relief and since the banks are still in deep trouble, many members of Congress are upset over how poorly the massive bank bailout has been handled so far.

Marcus Schrenker, the financial manager who officials say faked his own death in a plane crash after scamming his customers, has been found after an apparent suicide attempt. Schrenker was found at a campsite near Quincy, Florida, with deep cuts on his wrists. CNN

Mobile's azalea trail maids plan to represent Alabama at Barack Obama's presidential inauguration parade. But the president of the Alabama NAACP thinks the costumes are humiliating and represent slavery and will send the wrong message. County commissioners and trail maid participants disagree, however, and still plan to participate in the event. This year 39 of the maids are white, 11 are minorities. Group organizers argue the group is inclusive, not exclusive. WTVY
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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Next week America will see its first black president take office. Many people see the election of Barack Obama as a sign that race relations in our country are truly changing. But are they really?

This is the question that was at the center of a round table discussion I recently had with a panel of young, black community activists for a big project I've been working on the past few weeks. (I'll post a link to the finished product once it's up on my paper's website.)

As a black woman who grew up in the South, I think about issues of race a lot, perhaps too much, but I can't help it. I haven't, however, experienced a lot of blatant racism.

What I encounter more are well-intentioned white people who think the solution to racism is to assume that I'm just like them. I've had co-workers who assumed that because I have a couple of degrees and because I'm sitting in a cubicle next to them that my background must be the same as theirs. There's no way I grew up in a neighborhood with gangs, drug dealers and gun violence, they think.

I've had white friends who assumed that all of my pop culture interests, family traditions and even my hair care products would be the same as theirs and whenever I tried to explain and have discussions on our cultural differences they didn't want to hear it. Needless to say, we weren't friends for long.

I'm not saying I would have been any happier if they had assumed I did grow up in a rough neighborhood just because I'm black. But what needs to happen is less assuming and more heartfelt conversations to really get to know people.

Convincing yourself of the lie that everyone is the same is not the way to solve racism. Sure, people of different races and cultures will have plenty of similarities and it's important to uncover those and build upon them. But when differences come up we should discuss them, respect them and accept them, not try to pretend they don't exist. You may think ignoring cultural differences is being colorblind, but it's actually just being ignorant. And this goes for people of any race.

What do you think? Do you believe race relations in America are vastly better?
How are race relations where you live?
Tell me about some of your experiences with race.
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Posted by in  on 12:36 PM 2 comments
President-elect Barack Obama is preparing to issue an executive order his first week in office to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay. Though it's unlikely the detention facility at the Navy base in Cuba will be closed anytime soon -- Obama has said it would be "a challenge" to close it even within the first 100 days of his administration -- the order would start the process of deciding what to do with the estimated 250 al-Qaida and Taliban suspects and potential witnesses who are being held there. MSNBC

Senate Democratic leaders said yesterday that Roland W. Burris would be seated as the new senator from Illinois, resolving a conflict that had drawn the Senate into a corruption scandal surrounding Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich. NY Times

An Indiana judge yesterday froze the assets of Marcus Schrenker, a suburban Indianapolis financial manager who authorities say tried to fake his own death by crashing his private plane into a Florida swamp. Investigators looking into his business dealings for possible securities violations requested the temporary restraining order in Hamilton County Superior Court. CNN

Game show host and comedian Howie Mandel was expected to be released today from a hospital where he was taken after he experienced an irregular heartbeat. His publicist, Lewis Kay, insists that Mandel did not have a heart attack. Mandel, best-known for hosting the television show "Deal or No Deal," was in Toronto, Canada, filming segments for a new hour-long prank show, "Howie Do It," which debuted on NBC Friday. CNN

An Alaska lottery held to raise money for a group that helps sexual abuse victims had a surprise winner: a convicted sex offender. Alec Ahsoak, who was convicted in 1993 and 2000 for sexual abuse of a minor, came forward Saturday with the winning ticket for the $500,000 Lucky Time Pull Tabs jackpot. Proceeds of the lottery help Standing Together Against Rape in Anchorage, a nonprofit group that offers support to sexual assault victims. Ahsoak says he will use the money to buy a house and will donate part of it to charity. CNN
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Monday, January 12, 2009

"Notorious," the highly anticipated Biggie biopic, hits screens this Friday - and from what I've heard can already be found at your friendly neighborhood bootlegger. Just this once, I'm asking everyone to forgo buying a scratched-up disc from Junebug n' Dem and to actually go to the theater. That way, Biggie's family can get a portion of the proceeds - that is, whatever proceeds Diddy won't gobble up.

Now, of course there's a great chance this movie will be atrocious, but I'm willing to give it a shot. I spent $10 on that stupid Kanye album, and we all pretty much knew that would be garbage, so you know I'm down with just about anything.

If nothing else, it'll give me a chance to reminisce on the greatest of all time - word to the 4 foot Biggie poster in my office.

It's amazing when you realize that although he might be the most influential rapper of all time, he was in the spotlight for less than 5 years. Most rappers today are lucky if they're remembered longer than 5 months. Whatever happened to the "Party Like A Rockstar" guys? Not that I care.

I firmly believe that had the Notorious One stuck around longer, the world of hip hop would be quite different. Join me as I look in my magic 8 ball:

If the Notorious B.I.G. were still alive:

He and Puffy would have had a falling out
I think as Biggie's presence grew in the industry, he would have tried to distance himself from the glory hound that is Diddy. Think Jay-Z and Damon Dash circa 2004. Biggie would form his own label - B.I.G. and Tall Records or something - and Bad Boy's musical division would fall apart. Which is kinda what happened anyway.

He and Faith would have had a messy divorce
According to her autobiography, R&B star Faith Evans was already sorta dating her current husband by the time Biggie was gunned down. I predict that she would have gotten fed up with Big's creeping and tried to break away, but she would have encountered much resistance. You gotta believe Big loved having a wife and two or three mistresses on the side. The divorce would have been NASTY - and probably as ridiculous as that R. Kelly trial - and Faith's musical career likely would have been destroyed in the process.

The Commission still wouldn't have done anything
Biggie's ill-fated supergroup - which would have included Jay-Z, Charli Baltimore, Puffy and Lil Cease, among others - never saw the light of day. But to think this group would have made an impact even if Biggie was still around would be foolish. Why not? Too many egos and different agendas. Plus, when has a supergroup EVER worked out? Remember The Firm? The Ja Rule, DMX and Jay-Z trio? Lil Kim and Foxy Brown's Thelma and Louise thing? The Jay-Z and R. Kelly partnership? The Commission may have released an album, but even that's doubtful.

Lil Kim would be even more crazy than she is now
Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Kim fan, but the woman is the world's biggest Biggie groupie. It's embarrassing. They had a well-documented love-hate relationship and I think over time, Big would have gotten tired of Kim bugging him. In turn, she would become even more eccentric in an attempt to garner attention. You think Kim looks funny now? Imagine a world where Kim looks like this:

She got it goin' on, wha, wha

Jay-Z? More like AZ
This one's a no-brainer. Jay-Z leaped into the gigantic shoes left by Biggie to become the top rapper in the game, and later parlayed that into an extremely successful business career. If Biggie was around, Jay would be nowhere near the force he is now. For you young'ns out there, let me keep it real for you - hardly anyone paid attention to Jay's classic debut Reasonable Doubt until like 1998 or '99, years after it was released. Poor Jay would be what AZ is to Nas - a respected rapper who never got out of the shadow of his superstar friend.

The Notorious S.L.I.M.
If Biggie made it to 2009, I'm willing to bet he'd be MUCH slimmer than when he left us. Last I heard, Big was close to 400 pounds when he died! I'm not saying he would look like LL Cool J but I think he'd trim down a bit, if for no other reason than to be able to, you know, MOVE. It's hard to rock a crowd when you're sitting on a bench in the middle of Madison Square Garden.

Music would still suck
I like to dream that if a rapper as skilled as Biggie was still making music, the so-called "greats" of today like Young Jeezy and Lil Wayne would be exposed as mediocre and the "Party Like A Rockstar" guys would be nonexistent. Unfortunately, that probably wouldn't happen. Even with Biggie here, hip hop would still become commercialized, and therefore watered down. When the big-wig executives crown Soulja Boy as their golden goose it's not much even Biggie could do, except jump on a track with him. And thank the Lord that Biggie isn't around to have to deal with that.

What do you think the world would be like if Biggie was still around?
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Posted by in ,  on 11:24 AM 4 comments
The Rottweiler that fatally mauled a 4-year-old boy in Chicago Sunday afternoon has been euthanized. Two other dogs in the same household were also put to death.

Videos purportedly shot by Britain's Prince Harry and including offensive language prompted an official apology Saturday from the prince and the royal family. According to the British-based News of the World, which released the videos on its Web site, the videos show British soldiers while a voice presumed to be Harry's calls one solider a "Paki," and in another clip tells soldier wearing a cloth on his head that he looks "like a raghead." CNN

HBO's mini-series about the second U.S. president, "John Adams," swept the Golden Globe television awards on Sunday, picking up four honors on a night that rewarded serious and political shows over lighter fare. But NBC's "30 Rock" broke the mold and won three Golden Globes -- best TV comedy and best comedy actress and actor for Fey and co-star Alec Baldwin. Reuters UK

Meanwhile, "Slumdog Millionaire" was the big winner for movies, snagging four prizes at Sunday's Golden Globes. It won best motion picture - drama, best screenplay, and best musical score, along with a best director award for Danny Boyle. "Slumdog Millionaire," an underdog story some awards watchers think could become an Oscar favorite, features a generally unknown cast in the story of an orphan boy in Mumbai who rises from terrible hardship to become a champ on India's version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," all the while trying to reunite with a lost love from his childhood.
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Sunday, January 11, 2009

One of the stories I was busy with last week was a profile Bethany Griffin, a Louisville area high school teacher who recently had her first book published. The book, titled Handcuffs, is a young adult novel written specifically for teen girls, but it has such great character development that I believe it should be on the reading lists of grown-up girls too.

During my research for the profile (which you can check out by clicking here) I talked to one of Griffin's former teachers whose class introduced Griffin to some of the best young adult literature. She told me that at the end of the class she would always challenge her students to try to one day write a young adult novel of their own. She said she would tell them, "Now, every one of you has a young adult novel in you. Your own life story is a young adult novel," and before I got off the phone with her she challenged me to pen a young adult novel as well.

I'm not sure if my story would make the bestseller list though. High school for me was very atypical. While most people have a major identity crisis in high school as they struggle to fit in, it was during my high school years that I learned it was okay to just be me. I went to a high school for art geeks and math and science nerds and it taught me that being smart was cool. I also made the greatest group of friends a girl could ask for and we're still tight today.

Don't get me wrong, I had plenty of teen angst between boyfriend drama and my worries over my family's financial woes. But I wonder if anyone would connect with my nerdy story.

What about you? Tell me about your high school years.
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Posted by in  on 4:40 PM 2 comments

Friday, January 9, 2009

As I mentioned in today's Georgia Mae Morning News post, a group of people in the Bay Area have been rioting in downtown Oakland to protest the killing of Oscar Grant, an black man who was unarmed when he was fatally shot by a subway police officer.

Why on earth do some people think that smashing in the windows of local businesses is the proper way to respond to racial injustice? Not only is rioting a bad idea because it's illegal and immoral, in my opinion, but it's also counterproductive.

The businesses that suffer in these riots are typically owned by people of color. Furthermore, the riots simply result in more blacks behind bars and, quite frankly, they just make us look stupid.

Don't get me wrong. I am a strong believer in demonstrations in response to injustice and I'm happy to report that there was a peaceful protest at the subway station where the shooting took place. But soon a group of about 200 people broke away from that protest, headed downtown and chaos ensued.

The San Francisco Chronicle article I referenced this morning quotes Leemu Topkawe, the black owner of a local salon who had the windows of her business smashed by the protesters.

"This is our business," she shouted. "This is our shop. This is what you call a protest?"

The reporter also interviewed Nia Sykes, one of the demonstrators, and asked if she felt sympathy for Topkawe. Her response: "She should be glad she just lost her business and not her life."


I understand it's hard to just call and write letters of complaint to the director of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system and the BART police. But trashing cars and businesses won't deliver justice. It'll just land you in jail.
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Posted by in  on 4:55 PM 3 comments
A protest over the fatal shooting by a BART police officer of an unarmed black man mushroomed into several hours of violence Wednesday night as demonstrators smashed storefronts and cars, set several cars ablaze and blocked streets in downtown Oakland. The protesters are crying out against society's racial injustice, yet many of businesses targeted are owned by people of color. (WTF? More on this later.) San Francisco Chronicle

Israel continued its offensive in Gaza on Friday, hitting more than 50 targets, despite the U.N. Security Council's call for an immediate cease-fire. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel is disregarding the U.N. vote because the resolution will not be heeded by "murderous" Palestinian groups. CNN

On Jan. 14, Marvel Comics is releasing a special issue of Amazing Spider-Man #583 with President-elect Barack Obama, a self-professed Spidey fan, depicted on the cover. Inside are five pages of the two teaming up and even a fist-bump between Spidey and the new president. USA Today
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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Though I haven’t been to a class in a while, I love striptease aerobics. The classes I’ve attended were actually pole-free and the hour was filled with learning a high-energy, sexy dance routine.
They were always a great workout and always fun.

As I look for new things to try this year I’m eager to move on to more advanced classes (i.e. one with a pole). But (other than the fact that my body is still recovering from being knocked to the ground by a moving car this fall) there's something keeping me from giving these classes a twirl.

I keep wondering: Are striptease aerobics classes anti-feminist?

If you’d asked me that question several months ago I would have quickly replied, "Of course not!" and went on and on about how empowering these classes can be for women.

I would say they encourage women to take time out for themselves and get some exercise. They make getting fit fun and they help stressed out moms feel sexy again.

But some of the feminists I admire most, such as Feministing’s Jessica Valenti, have argued that the sexiness offered in striptease aerobics classes is fabricated and based on the male gaze.

Even though the classes do have a giggly slumber party-like element, I know many women attend with a man in mind. So it’s not all about the ladies. I don't think, however, that there’s anything wrong with going to these classes to pick up a few ideas to bring home to your partner.

What I do struggle with, though, is the idea of sexiness. When we say these classes make women feel sexy how exactly are we defining that word? Does sexy simply mean men want me or does sexy mean I love my body because it’s healthy and strong and because I can have fun with it doing things like these silly, over-the-top dances.

For me it’s actually the latter that's going through my head during these and other dance-based aerobics classes that I love. So for now I’m sticking to my idea that I can be a good feminist and enjoy a good striptease class.

But I want to know what you think.
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Posted by in ,  on 5:25 PM 4 comments
The Israeli air force launched strikes against about 60 targets in the Palestinian territory overnight. The stepped-up attacks in Gaza came on the 13th day of Israel's assault on Hamas.
In a separate development, four rockets fired from southern Lebanon landed near the Israeli city of Nahariya, leaving two people with minor injuries. There was no immediate claim of responsibility and Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has condemned the attacks.

(Click here for a heartbreaking video that puts a face on the casualty numbers we read in the news.)

The IRS this week released a fact-sheet outlining its efforts to help distressed taxpayers. In that announcement, the agency said it would consider postponing collection actions for those with financial hardships and add flexibility for missed payments, among other things.

Hustler's Larry Flynt and "Girls Gone Wild's" Joe Francis say the adult entertainment industry needs a bailout too. Sales of XXX DVDs are down 22 percent and Flynt and Francis want $5 billion from the government. Congress must "rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America," Flynt said. Seriously? Good grief! MSNBC

Dr. Richard Batista, surgeon based in Long Island, wants his estranged wife to return the kidney he donated to her, embroiled by a nearly four-year divorce preceding. Batista says, however, he'll settle for $1.5 million in compensation. WABC
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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I'm sorry I've been sort of MIA from posting lately, but I'm working on some big projects at work. (I'll tell you all about them next week.)

I had to take a break, however, to talk about a post I read recently on The Huffington Post in which Lisa Earle McLeod asks "Why do women begrudge men a nap?"

The short essay seeks to explain why women get so pissed when they see their men taking a nap on a Saturday afternoon. She argues that while men view their homes as a refuge, for most women it's "the place where the real work gets done." So we get angry when our men nap because it's similar to seeing a colleague sleeping on the job.

Here's an excerpt:

When a woman sees a pile of dirty dishes and laundry strewn about the floor, we don't just see a mess, we literally feel failure. We could have spent the workday brokering world peace, but if our home isn't running smoothly, we feel out of whack. It might not make sense, but it's the way most of us are wired.

For men, home is a place to escape from work. When he walks in, he doesn't see a system out of balance, disorganized supplies or poorly maintained equipment. All he sees is a long soft comfortable surface -- which if you knock the pizza boxes and old newspapers off -- is the perfect place to lay down.

I think McLeod means well, but here's why this post rubs me the wrong way.
Not only is there no discussion of the problematic assumption that women should be in charge of household chores, but when trying to explain to men why they're a big deal to us she compares them to "the project of your life." I'm sorry but cleaning my curtains and bathroom rugs ranks nowhere near writing a bestseller. I'm just sayin'...

Don't get me wrong. I think homemakers and stay-at-home moms are awesome. But posts like these, in my opinion, just foster the stereotype that cooking and cleaning should be our first priority. Sure, there's nothing wrong with them being top priority if you want them to be, but if they're not that doesn't mean you're less of a woman. Just as my husband isn't less of a man because he does the laundry and knows how to load a dishwasher every once and a while.

And for the record, we take naps together.
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Posted by in  on 7:27 AM 5 comments
An audio message reportedly from al Qaeda's deputy chief Ayman al-Zawahiri vows revenge for Israel's air and ground assault on Gaza and calls the Jewish state's actions against Hamas militants "a gift" from U.S. President-elect Barack Obama. In the message
al-Zawahiri addresses Muslims in Gaza and said the violence "is one part of a series of a crusade war against Islam and these air strikes are a gift from Obama before he takes office, and (Egyptian President) Hosni Mubarak, that traitor, is the main partner in your siege and killing." CNN

Slowing tax revenues and a historic bailout of the U.S. financial system will send the budget deficit soaring toward $1 trillion this year, President-elect Barack Obama said yesterday, and the debt stands to get substantially deeper if Obama wins approval of a massive economic stimulus plan. Obama warned that even if the package of spending and tax cuts helps restore the nation's immediate economic health, the government is likely to be left with "trillion-dollar deficits for years to come" unless policymakers "make a change in the way that Washington does business." Washington Post

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee that soon could take up Burris' case, broke with her Senate colleagues Tuesday to support Roland Burris in his controversial bid to assume Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat. Feinstein said Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has the right to appoint a senator despite the allegations of corruption against him, a statement that flew in the face of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's assertion that Burris should not be seated in part because the move would be tainted by the Blagojevich scandal.

The Israeli military is halting its military operations in Gaza for three hours today to allow residents of the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory to obtain supplies. The temporary cease-fire will take place in the "whole of the Gaza Strip" from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. (6 a.m. to 9 a.m. ET) and is scheduled to take place every other day. CNN

The Obama transition team has approached Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, about becoming U.S. surgeon general. (Is it me or is Obama putting together the sexiest administration ever? I'm just sayin'...) Sources say Gupta was in Chicago, Illinois, in November to meet with President-elect Barack Obama on the matter. In addition to his career as a neurosurgeon and a CNN correspondent, Gupta has served as a White House fellow and in 1997 as a special adviser to then-first lady Hillary Clinton. CNN
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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

It's a dog-eat-dog throw down between two of rap's most notorious stars. Both were among the top stars of their eras, both had classic debut albums that almost overshadowed their musical careers and, sadly, both now are caricatures of themselves. Whose bite is worse than their bark?

Album covers: Doggystyle's cartoonish cover is one of the most iconic images of its era. I'll level with you - the cover always kinda freaked me out. Something about cartoon Snoop about to fondle that unsuspecting poodle seemed kinda creepy. That mean ol' dogcatcher in the background is kinda weird too.

It's Dark And Hell Is Hot (what does that even mean?) features DMX looking scary. That's about it. It still works, as it's a visual telling of the grittiness that followed on the album.

Snoop Dogg 1, DMX 0

Album quality: Although some may argue for Dr. Dre's Tha Chronic, I believe 1993's Doggystyle is the crown jewel of the heralded G Funk era and solidified the West Coast's reign of hip hop dominance. Not only does it feature unforgettable tracks - I bet even your grandma knows "Gin and Juice" and "Who Am I (What's My Name)" - it served as a springboard for other West Coast artists like Lady of Rage and the Dogg Pound AND helped launch Snoop into pop culture immortality. You can't get much better than that.

It's Dark And Hell Is Hot was just as influential in its time period. It served as the definitive end to Puff Daddy's "shiny suit" reign of terror and made it cool to be gritty again - at least until Cash Money came out. Anyway, this album had its share of classics, too. "Ruff Ryder's Anthem" was inescapable in the summer of '98. The energy of tracks like "Get At Me Dog," the introspection of "Let Me Fly," the creativity of "Stop Being Greedy" - it was the total package. I think that gives X the slight edge.

Snoop Dogg 1, DMX 1

Sales: Both of these albums were sales juggernauts. Doggystyle has sold more than 7 million copies. It's Dark has sold more than 4 million copies. Today rappers are lucky if they sell 7,000 ringtones.

Snoop Dogg 2, DMX 1

Dog speak: While he didn't invent the term, Snoop popularized the dreaded izzle suffix, which was cute for 5 minutes in 2000 but became annoying as crap soon afterward. When politicians start using it for cheap laughs, it's time to call it a day. Thankfully, I haven't heard much izzle'ing lately. I hope it now resides in the great slang graveyard with "slap me some skin" and "jive turkey."

DMX - a nearly 40-year-old man, mind you - is best known for barking, growling, howling and whimpering like a puppy. I hope he also gets shots.

Snoop Dogg 3, DMX 1

Embarrassing quotes: We could be here all day with this one. Here are just a couple of gems from Bigg Snoop:

"I keep hearing about muthaf***ing Harry Potter. Who is this muthaf***er?"

"Britney would make a better prostitute than Christina. She's thicker."

Oh, it gets better. From X:

DMX: "What the f*** is a Barack?! Barack Obama. Where he from, Africa? ... Ima tell this n**** when I see him, “Stop that bulls***. Stop that bulls***” [laughs] "That ain’t your f***in' name.” Your momma ain't name you no damn Barack."

Interviewer: So you’re not following the race. You can’t vote right?

DMX : Nope.

DMX for president in '12.

Snoop Dogg 3, DMX 2

Dog fight: OK, so I'm standing in a dark alley and Snoop comes shuffling my way. Could I take him? Seeing that years of puffing that Mary Jane has probably screwed up Snoop's stamina - and the fact that he walks around wearing those big ol' King Henry XVIII robes - I'm sure I'm quicker than him. If he starts swinging his pimp cane I'll just pull his Superfly hat over his eyes and yank on his pigtails. I got this.

So, I'm back in the alley and DMX comes barking my way like the Wolfman. I could try to distract him with a can of Alpo, but that probably won't work. My best bet would be to go for his choke chain, but if he's off the leash you might as well write my obituary.

Snoop Dogg 3, DMX 3

Legacy: As I said earlier, you can ask the oldest, most unhip man in America (John McCain?) and you can bet he knows Snoop D-o-double-g. Between his albums, TV shows and public exploits he's become as American as apple pie and violence in public schools.

DMX is more infamous than famous. He'll probably be more known as "the crazy barking guy who kept getting arrested" than one of hip hop's top stars in the 90s.

Snoop Dogg 4, DMX 3

It's Snoop by a nose in a close dog race.

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An Israeli missile struck an elementary school in Gaza City where over 400 Palestinians had taken shelter, killing three men, the United Nations has reported. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency said Asma Elementary school was clearly marked as a U.N. installation when it was hit. CNN

Contending that Bernard Madoff sent at least a million dollars worth of jewelry as gifts to family members and friends last month, federal prosecutors asked a judge on Monday to revoke his bail and send him to jail. Madoff, who has been free after posting bail of $10 million when he was charged last month with securities fraud, remained free after the hearing pending a ruling by the magistrate judge, Ronald L. Ellis of United States District Court in Manhattan. United States Attorney Marc O. Litt asked for revocation of Mr. Madoff’s bail, arguing that the gifts violated conditions that barred him from disposing of any of his assets. NY Times

Leon Panetta, chief of staff in President Bill Clinton's White House, will be President-elect Barack Obama's choice to be CIA director, a pick that surprises many given that Panetta has little hands-on experience in intelligence. Retired Adm. Dennis Blair, who formerly headed the U.S. Navy's Pacific Command, is expected to be tapped as director of national intelligence. CNN

A source close the family of John Travolta and Kelly Preston tells PEOPLE that the autopsy on their 16-year-old son Jett revealed his death was caused by a "seizure disorder." People

The Twitter accounts of President-elect Barack Obama, CNN anchor Rick Sanchez, Britney Spears, Fox News and 29 others were hacked Monday according to the microblog site, leading to false and inappropriate messages being posted on their accounts. CNN

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Over the next few weeks, I'll be catching up on all those albums that were released late last year. And don't even think about asking me to do those Plies and Soulja Boy albums. Ugh.


The Renaissance (released November 4, 2008)

This might surprise a few of you, given my fuddy-duddy tastes in music, but I was never a fan of A Tribe Called Quest. Growing up, I was drawn to the aggressive lyrics and production of guys like LL Cool J and Wu-Tang Clan. In most cases, Tribe's jazzy beats, frankly, bored me.

And let's be real, Q-Tip's 1999 hit "Vivrant Thing" was pretty stupid.

I did appreciate the group as trailblazers. DJ Khaled should thank them for "Scenairo," which set the standard for the "posse" rap records. And "Bonita Applebum" is one of the first hip-hop love songs I can remember.

Tribe frontman Q-Tip's second official solo LP, The Renaissance, looks to bring that old school feeling back. On the album's first track "Johnny Is Dead," He admits that he "kinda digs" today's music, but realizes the need for a change. And Tribe fans will be in for a treat.

Consider the album an old school approach on today's rap. The first single, "Gettin' Up," isn't much more than the tired ol' rapper-flirts-with-an-unlucky-woman track, but it's vintage Tribe - smooth, feel-good music. We've all heard 10,000 musical takes on the war on terror, but "We Fight/We Love" puts a different twist on things - putting war side by side with conflict in a romantic relationship. The track gets a big boost from another old head - Raphael Saadiq of Tony! Toni! Tone! fame. And "Shaka" is more than just a shout out to deceased homie J Dilla, it's about finding strength in loss.

See, if other rappers put this much thought in their work I wouldn't complain half as much.

And speaking of complaining, despite the strong messages every track, Q-Tip still irks me in some ways. His mellow flow, combined with the laid-back production, sometimes lulls the listener into a kind of a hypnotic state that makes it easy to tune out the lyrics.

That's especially true on "Won't Trade." While I love the concept of the song - a sports star working to achieve fame - I feel myself having to strain to pay attention by the third verse. That, combined with a couple irritating hooks, slightly mars the experience (Norah Jones on "Life Is Better," I'm looking at you).

But that's nit-picking. Q-Tip's attempt to revitalize the genre is pretty successful and The Renaissance is a must-have for Tribe fans.

I think I'm missing the chromosome that allows hip-hop fans to fall in love with Q-Tip, but I can still recognize a good album when I hear it.

Best tracks: "Gettin' Up," "Move", "We Fight/We Love"

4 stars out of 5

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