Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Yesterday marked President Barack Obama's 100th day in office and news outlets across the country were discussing how he's done so far. CNN, however, also decided to assess Obama's "swagga" in what The Huffington Post said might be the most embarrassing news segment ever.

If you need a good laugh today, check this out:

Ridiculousness aside, how do you think Obama has done during his first 100 days in office.
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Posted by in ,  on 11:00 PM 3 comments

Last night, a dream was fulfilled. Let me share:

7 p.m. - The wife and I arrive at the Louisville waterfront for an outdoor Keith Sweat concert. I have long suffered from the "Keith curse" - over the past 10 years, every single time I plan to see the man live something comes up. This night, even though the forecasters predict rain, I won't be denied.

7:10 - We pick a spot front and center for the concert, more than two hours before the show begins.

What? I told you I wasn't playing.

The stage includes a leather couch, roses, and a bucket of bubbly. I can only hope to be that cool someday.

7:15 - A cigarette-smoking woman yells into her cell phone "We at the Keith Sweat concert...HUH?...I say we at the KEITH SWEAT CONCERT!" And y'all thought I was excited.

7:40 - The wife meets with a woman named Tricia, who organized the event. Tricia agrees to sneak me backstage in an hour or so to meet Keith face-to-face. I have three mild heart attacks and a stroke.

8:10 - Some drunk guy stumbles by me and says he's going to call Keith on his cell phone. He calls someone, lord only knows who, and he points to an airplane flying overhead - he says Keith is on that plane. Uh huh. Then he stumbles off. At least he didn't throw up on me.

8:30 - Tricia tells us to meet her at the front of the stage at 9.

8:31 - 9 - I probably blacked out because I don't remember a thing.

9:00 - We go backstage, only to be confronted by a Ky. Derby Photo Nazi. Photo Nazi says we can meet Keith, an "official" Derby festival photographer will take our picture, then we have to bounce.

9:05 - I met Keith! I'm sure you're wondering what we discussed but honestly I can't remember. It went something like this:

Me - "Keith, what's up playa?"

Keith - "What's up, baby, how you doin'?"

Me - "I'm good, man. Love your work."

Keith - "Thank ya, baby, thank ya."

Or something like that. You get the point. Javacia tries to take a personal photo of me n' Keith but Photo Nazi gives her the evil eye, so we let the Derby photographer snap a pic and Photo Nazi herds us off like cattle. Tricia promises to send us a copy of that pic after the Derby madness ends. I decide to name my first born Tricia, even if it's a boy. He'll just have to have tough skin.

9:20 - The wifey and I shuffle back to our seats and the crowd is now HUGE. Anyone who doubts the power of Keith would be amazed. They're getting restless too, since the show is now 20 minutes late. A woman next to me yells "Keith, bring you a** on stage!" It's funny because I'm sure my visit is partly to blame for the late start.

9:40 - Keith FINALLY shows up and the place goes ballistic. He belts out 17 of his best tracks, from classics like "Make It Last Forever" and "I Want Her," to lesser-known gems like "Yumi" and "How Do You Like It." It's like my iPod exploded in my face.

Some of the highlights:

- Someone throws panties or some type of rag on the stage (I couldn't quite make it out) but Keith says he was afraid to touch 'em. Smart man.

- Before he sing "How Deep Is Your Love," Keith says, "a lot of babies were made to this song!" A woman behind me screams, "Yeah, mine is 16 now!"

- Keith's best quote ever - "I ain't old. Ain't nothin' old but my money." I need that on a T-shirt.

11:10 - The show wraps up. Even the wife had to admit that it was an awesome performance. The only complaint was that it seemed to go on about 15 minutes too long - the old folks were restless near the end. It was probably past their bedtimes. But I could have watched him perform for another hour.

Best night ever!

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Although I work in the media industry, I'm not always up on current events. I blame the long, torturous hours I work, although you can probably factor in the many hours I spend watching "I Love Money."

Because of this I hadn't even heard of swine flu until yesterday. And according to my beloved media industry it is the end of life as we know it. In our newsroom, I sit in front of three televisions which broadcast major news networks. I've never seen so many experts predicting doom and gloom in my life.

I only had two questions: a) Is the virus deadly? and b) Will this keep me from eating bacon?

Actually I eat bacon very rarely, but I'm not going to let The Man tell me when I can and can't eat it.

Anyway, since many of my media colleagues are being irresponsible, it's up to me to calm everyone down. I'll share some swine flu facts that I pieced together from

- Swine flu can be fatal for people with weak immune systems, just like regular ol' influenza. But an infected person shouldn't necessarily start writing his or her will.

- There are no vaccines, but there are medicines to treat it. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention recommend using anti-viral drugs.

- Don't throw away all the pig feet you have in the freezer - you CANNOT get swine flu from eating cooked pork.

There you go. Yes, the rising cases of swine flu are a reason for concern but we're a long way from zombie pigs roaming the streets. It's way too early for mass hysteria.

But perhaps there is a silver lining - maybe black folks will FINALLY stop eating chitlins. We have overcome, it's OK to stop eating that slave food.

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Posted by in ,  on 8:49 AM 1 comment

Monday, April 27, 2009

I don't know about you guys, but I stopped watching BET loooong ago. There are only so many times a man can watch "Prison Song" before he loses his mind.

Most of BET's "original" programming is just stolen from MTV anyway. MTV has a show about annoying rich kids, BET makes a show with annoying black rich kids. MTV throws a bunch of kids in a house and films them, BET throws a bunch of black college kids in a house and films them. MTV has reality shows featuring musicians, BET has reality shows featuring black

And don't even get me started on 106 & Park. It's been unwatchable since they replaced AJ and Free. I despised AJ, so you know things are bad when I rank him above the current crop of kids.

But it looks like BET wants to reach out to jaded old 20-somethings like myself. From The Associated Press:

NEW YORK (AP) — BET, the leading network tailored for black teens and young adults, will be joined by a new channel aimed at an older black audience.

Named Centric, it’s scheduled to debut in October.

Viacom, which owns BET, says Centric will serve black viewers in the 25-to-54-year-old range. It will premiere with an expected reach of 45 million cable homes.

Well, it's about time.

I hope this new channel goes back to the things that made BET so fun years ago.

I'd love to see more old-school sitcoms. I haven't seen "What's Happening?" in years. Same for "227." They deserve to return to the airwaves. And even though they currently show it on about 10 other channels you can't go wrong with "Good Times" reruns. They can even bring back forgotten shows like "Thea," back when Brandy looked like one of the Muppet Babies.

I want to see music videos from more mature artists too. Did you know Chante Moore, Case, Kenny Lattimore and Ginuwine have all released new videos in the past 6 months? If you only watch BET I bet you didn't know. It would be nice to see someone besides Young Jeezy all the time. And speaking of rap, we need a block of throwback hip hop videos. Bring back Big Lez, she ain't doing nothing.

We also need to add stimulating programming. I still don't understand why they pulled the plug on BET News a few years ago - they need to put it back on the air (if they haven't already). And while they're at it, they should make a Teen Summit-type show for grown folks, where adults can discuss community issues. Many of us are more concerned with global issues than watching a chopped-up version of "New Jack City" for the 100th time.

Don't screw this up, BET.

Which types of programming do you think Centric should focus on?

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Posted by in , ,  on 9:21 AM 1 comment
Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage
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This weekend the world of show business lost one of its brightest stars. Actress Beatrice Arthur died of cancer Saturday at age 86.

Arthur became a household name with the groundbreaking '70s TV series Maude but you all probably knew her best as Dorothy from the hit show The Golden Girls.

In my opinion that show was one of the best things to ever happen to television. Golden Girls was hilarious and touching and celebrated female friendship and independence. It's the original Sex and the City only more clever and with more heart.

According to People, Dan Watt, a spokesman for Arthur's family, told the Associated Press that Arthur died peacefully at her Los Angeles home with her family by her side. He remembered Arthur as "a brilliant and witty woman," as do we all.
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Posted by in ,  on 6:00 AM 2 comments

Friday, April 24, 2009

The First Guns blog I wrote about earlier this month inspired my latest "Write Out Loud" column. Click here to check it out.

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Posted by in  on 7:44 AM No comments
April is National Poetry Month and for the past few weeks I've been trying to write a new poem for you guys and gals. But that didn't happen. Sorry. Here is a poem I wrote a few years ago, though, that I hope you enjoy.

The Night Prayer

Just before Amen
I ask for you

I blame you for my reluctance
To call out a fool when I see one
Or snap my fingers to gospel songs
But I'm glad you taught me
How to mend a hole in my shirt
And to wrap God around my shoulders
When the heat bill couldn't be paid

You never taught me
How to make your rice pudding
Or explained why you made Mama
Get rid of the baby
She just knew was a boy

Be sweet
You'd say before hanging up
When I was away at college
So I'd feel guilty
Every time I opened my legs

New friends see your photograph
And say I have your dimples
I don't interrupt with talk
Of my mother's adoption
Because I am certain I have your skin
I have a cheek you taught me to turn
Palms you taught me to press together

I still wake up at 3 a.m.
To check the balance in my bank account
Your obsession with money haunts me
But you refuse to
No matter how much I beg

© Javacia N. Harris. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited.
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Posted by in ,  on 7:40 AM 2 comments

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Georgia Mae news report will be suspended for the next three weeks because I will be caught up in a whirlwind of glitterati and gumbo.

Say what?

Let me explain. Louisville is bracing for the Kentucky Derby, the one time of the year when our little city is transformed into a miniature Hollywood and celebrities from all over the country and rich folks from all over the world come to our town to drink, watch horses run around in a circle, and drink some more. Is it annoying to us folks who live here 365 days a year? Of course! But I'm a journalist so I have to play along and help chronicle it all. (But I will not be wearing a big hat. Sorry.)

Then after Derby is done I'll be heading to New Orleans for a much needed vacation with a couple of gal pals.

I was planning to continue the news posts through this week, but chaos has already ensued.

To the right you will see a news feed that will help you keep up-to-date with certain topics and, of course, if something happens in the news that I think we should be discussing I'll write a post about it.

Furthermore, you can be sure that there will still be plenty other posts during these next three weeks and I'll keep you all updated on my Derby drama and my adventures in the Big Easy.

So keep checking the blog daily for fresh posts and keep spreading the word.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Thursday morning I woke up and grabbed my phone to check my e-mail as I always do. But along with all spam and coupons from Express and New York & Co., on this particular morning my inbox also contained a message informing me that I had been chosen as Venus Zine's Reader of the Week.

I was interviewed by a Venus Zine staff member and got a chance to talk about The Q&A is now posted on the magazine's website,

Click here to check it out.
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Meeting Tania James for the first time felt a lot like delving into the first several pages of her debut novel, Atlas of Unknowns.

Like her quirky yet relatable characters, James is approachable and inviting. She greeted me wearing jeans, no shoes and a big warm smile and insisted on getting me something to drink as she welcomed me into her parents' Louisville, Ky., home.

But after just a few pages into the book, a few minutes into a conversation with James, I knew I was dealing with brilliance.

James' novel hits bookstores today. I had the opportunity to read Atlas of Unknowns and talk to James about her book last month when I was working on a profile about her.

Atlas of Unknowns is a novel about family, about sisterhood. It tells the story of Linno and Anju, two girls raised in India by their father and grandmother after their mother's mysterious death. The novel follows Anju's experiences in America, where she ends up after landing a scholarship to a prestigious school in New York — a scholarship she betrays her sister to win.

Meanwhile, Linno begins to blossom back in Kerala, rejecting a wealthy blind suitor and using her artistic gifts to make her own success. But when Anju goes missing, Linno's life is thrown off track and she's determined to get to America to find her sister.

Atlas of Unknowns zips the reader between worlds -- from India to America, from the present to the past -- and takes you on an emotional rollercoaster with scenes that will have you laughing out loud and others that will have you fighting back tears.

If you're a writer or an avid reader, you'll appreciate James' command of language. She's a natural born storyteller. James has the ability to surprise at nearly every turn of the page and she can move along the plot in a way that seems effortless.

The thing that impressed me most, however, is the fact that Atlas of Unknowns, just like James herself, is both brilliant and approachable. This book is no brain candy. You feel smarter for reading it. Yet it's still a book I would take on vacation.

Click here to learn more about Atlas of Unknowns.

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Posted by in ,  on 11:30 AM 2 comments

Keta Redd started her online fashion boutique Pure EyeCandy not only to give ladies in her hometown of Louisville, Ky., more style options, but also to lend a helping hand to emerging independent designers. And since Pure EyeCandy is a web-based shop, you don't have to live in Derby city to check it out. I had a chat with the 31-year-old style maven about her online boutique and her "effortlessly pretty" style.

How did you get into fashion?

I decided to get involved in fashion after becoming frustrated with the cookie-cutter selections of clothing that is offered to women in Louisville. I wanted to also do something that was different than your average department store or clothing boutique. I decided to do an online site because it gives the customer the opportunity to shop on their own time.

You're also trying to reach out to emerging designers with your site, right?

There are so many talented designers in Louisville, I would love for them to be a part of Pure EyeCandy. I am currently working with two designers, and looking for more there is a link on my website that is entitled "Homegrown" and I encourage local designers to send me their items to add.

What do you think makes Pure Eye Candy stand out?

Pure EyeCandy stands out because it specializes in attire from 00-22W. The clothing in my boutique is limited to no more than two items per size. The clothing is trendy, fashion forward clothing, and affordable prices. The items generally run from $15- $40 and the quality is amazing.

Right now in Louisville everyone is getting ready for the Kentucky Derby. Do you have any items that you think would be great picks for Derby weekend?

I have so many favorites. I would have to say the black and white halter dress, the black bubble dress, and the black and white belted dress. These pieces are so fun and can be worn at the track or to a party Derby week.

How do you define your style?

My style is all about character. Everything in my boutique is just like my closet -- different. When I get dressed for work, an event or just to hang out I always ask who I want to be. Sometimes it is rock and roll, glamorous or my favorite style I like to call effortlessly pretty. Effortlessly pretty is the sexy top, jeans, heals and the natural makeup.

What's next for you?

I plan to release a Pure EyeCandy label by the beginning of 2010.

Do you have a project you'd like to share with Georgia Mae readers? Email me at
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Cassie. The Pussycat Dolls. The girl who sang the "Uh Ohh" song. What do they have in common?

They're all horrible.

Over the past few years, we've been treated to the depressing decibels of some of the least talented ladies on Earth. Today we'll look at Ciara and Ashanti, two I have dubbed the "best" of the worst singers on radio today.

And before anyone asks, yes, they're both better than Rihanna. So there.

Album covers: I can't find much fault with Ciara's cover. I'm sure Aaliyah fans will yell blasphemy for the blatant biting of their hero's style, but I can't hate. If you're going to steal, steal from one of the best. Not a fan of those BluBlockers she swiped from her grandma, though.

This sentence probably will be removed from this post by my jealous editor, but I find Ashanti to be an attractive woman. That being said, I'm not a fan of her cover. The evil demeanor, the vapid stare, the Thundercat hair, reminds me of...

Sasha Fierce herself. But here's the thing - The Declaration was released about four months BEFORE Beyonce's album. Hmmm.

But the point is, both those photos scare me.

Ciara 1, Ashanti 0

Album quality: I purchased The Evolution for the wife's birthday a few years ago. I decided to check it out one evening, just to make sure I wasn't missing out on some heat.


Ever had an album that you loved as a kid and as an adult you decided to give it a fresh listen - only to say "this is horrible! Why did I like this?" I imagine that's what Ciara's young fans will be saying years from now. They can certainly relate to songs like "Can't Leave 'Em Alone," her ode to bad boys, and the energetic Janet Jackson rip-offs "Get Up" and "I Proceed" but they're as hollow as a rotten tree stump. The only thing worth listening to is "Promise," which sorta sounds like a blend of Prince and Aaliyah. It's the lone standout on a pretty shallow album.

Don't look now, but The Declaration is Ashanti's best album to date! That might not be saying much, but it's really not that bad.

I think she took some vocal lessons during her four-year hiatus because she actually holds her own on tracks like "The Way That I Love You." It's not that her pipes have gotten stronger, it seems that she's better able to control them. Or maybe it's because she mostly stays in her lane - on playful songs like "Good Good" and more solemn numbers like "Struggle" she doesn't have to scream like Jennifer Hudson to get her point across. Too bad she falls back into old habits of off-key yelling and super-sappy lyrics on "Shine."

Ciara 1, Ashanti 1

Sales: The Evolution outsold Ciara's debut album by more than 100,000 copies and has reached platinum status in the U.S. She has sold about 3 million worldwide.

Poor Ashanti sold about 86,000 copies of The Declaration the first week and as far as I can tell hasn't even gone gold. Times is hard.

Ciara 2, Ashanti 1

"Best" worst celebrity boyfriend: Ciara dated the highly irritating Bow Wow a couple of years ago, and they collaborated on "Like You," which wasn't half bad, considering that it was a Ciara and Bow Wow song. Ciara soon came to her senses, realized that she was dating freakin' Bow Wow, and cut that puppy loose. These days Bow Wow is focusing on his acting career. He'd better hope someone drafts a script for "High School Musical: Ghetto Public School" or "Honey, I Shrunk the Hood."

Ashanti has, unfortunately, been linked to Nelly for about five years now. I never understood Nelly's appeal - he's like a one-hit wonder that just won't go away. I believe he's still the No. 3 top selling rapper of all time - behind Eminem and Jay-Z - yet I have yet to meet a person who has actually purchased a Nelly album.

And he just looks like the boogeyman to me.

It's only been recently that people have wised up and stopped purchasing his sorry songs, but he's still worth about 20 gajillion dollars, so Ashanti has that to fall back on.

Ciara 2, Ashanti 2

"Best" worst song ever: Ciara's first hit, "Goodies," made me want to toss my goodies. Here are three reasons why it bothered me - it sounded EXACTLY like Petey Pablo's irritating "Freek-a-Leek" song, which was played nonstop around the same time; it featured Lil Jon, perhaps the most overrated producer/artist at the time (The-Dream and T-Pain are currently giving him a run for his money); and she whispered her lyrics so softly that you could barely hear what she was saying. Yet people loved it for some sad, unexplainable reason.

It slipped by me at the time, but I noticed a couple years ago that just about every song on Ashanti's 2002 debut had a one-word title. "Foolish," "Unfoolish," "Baby," and so on. I thought to myself, "that sounds like something a 12-year-old would do." Well, no song better portrays that juvenile mentality than the sickeningly sweet "Happy." If Will Smith's son (the one from "The Pursuit of Happyness") and that little girl from the AT&T commercial who waits for her daddy to come home had a candy-coated baby, it would come out singing that song.



Ciara 2, Ashanti 2

"Best" worst rumor: Did you hear the one about Ciara actually being a man?

A few years ago, one of the kids in my youth group told me that she heard that Ciara was recently on the Oprah Winfrey Show, where she admitted that she had a sex change. Remember the line from "Goodies" where she said "keep on lookin' cuz they stay in the jar?" Well, allegedly her surgically removed body parts were in said jar.

I dismissed the rumor as idle playground chatter (kids talk about sex changes on the playground these days?) until I started hearing it everywhere.

Still, I knew it was false, mainly because at that point in her career Oprah wouldn't give Ciara the time of day, even if her name was once Clarence.

Did you hear the one about Ashanti posing for Playboy?

Yep, late last year word spread that Ashanti was considering doing a, um, spread. But that rumor quickly fizzled out.

I knew it was false because even though Ashanti's star has fallen, she has yet to hit the depraved levels of "if I take off my clothes will you pay attention to me again?"

Check back in a couple of years.

Anyway, that gossip was nowhere near as juicy as Ciara's imaginary jar of genitals.

Ciara 3, Ashanti 2

Legacy: Ciara's career is still going strong. She has a new album on the way and her new song "Love Sex Magic" single is all over the place. Plus she can dance, and people will look past your lack of harmony if you can do a backspin. Just ask Chris Brown, if they haven't locked him up yet.

Ashanti, however, has seen better days. Her last album didn't sell well at all, and she's since gone into hiding. I hear she has a new album on the way, but I think she'll have a tall mountain to climb to reach her previous success.

Ciara 4, Ashanti 2

Ciara wins, for now.
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Posted by in ,  on 8:03 AM 2 comments
Police on Monday arrested 22-year-old Philip Markoff in the fatal shooting of a woman who advertised massage services on Craigslist. The Boston University medical student is charged with killing Julissa Brisman, 26, who was found dead April 14 at the Boston Marriott Copley Place. In addition, Markoff is charged with kidnapping and armed robbery in a separate case involving another woman he met on Craigslist. In that case, a 29-year-old woman from Las Vegas who advertised massage services was robbed earlier this month at the Westin Copley Hotel. CBS News

The sole surviving Somali pirate from the hostage-taking of an American ship captain arrived in New York, smiling for a gaggle of cameras and reporters as federal agents led him into custody to face charges in the attack at a court hearing Tuesday. Abduhl Wali-i-Musi was handcuffed and had a chain wrapped around his waist. His left hand was heavily bandaged from the wound he suffered during the skirmish on the ship two weeks ago. Wali-i-Musi is the first person to face trial in the United States on piracy charges in more than a century. MSNBC

The top cop tracking the government's $700 billion bailout program said today he has opened 20 criminal investigations and six audits into whether tax dollars are being pilfered or wasted. Neil Barofsky, whose investigations could lead to criminal charges, said he wants taxpayers to understand where their money is going.
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Monday, April 20, 2009

Dagnabbit, the wifey scooped me on Susan Boyle. That's what I get for messin' around in Wal-Mart all morning instead of writing.

Know what I hate about Wal-Mart? The greeters. I have great love and respect for the seniors of our community, but Wal-Mart greeters always look at me like I smell like old sauerkraut.

It's OK, I didn't want one of those stupid smiley stickers anyway.

And speaking of the older generation, I wanted to chime in on Ms. Boyle's big showing on Britain's Got Talent. I knew something was up when everyone posted video of her on their Facebook pages. I just figured it was a clip of a woman falling down a flight of stairs or smearing snot on food at a pizza place. But oh no, when I checked the video out the only thing I could say was:

Ms. Doubtfire can BLOW!

Immediately she's become the talk of the town, everyone is prattling on about how we shouldn't judge a book by its cover and suddenly Susan is the next big thing.

Which got me to thinking - this would NEVER happen in the world of urban music.

Why, you ask? Because urban music can be the most shallow form of entertainment on Earth. There is no way a 40-something lady would break through. NO WAY.

Last week my brother-in-law was telling me that his new favorite singer/rapper is a guy named Drake (picture Lil Wayne with a dash of Bobby Valentino). He pronounced this guy the "new" best rapper alive.

And y'all know me - I promptly pointed out about 275 rappers who are better than this guy, with Jay-Z and Nas at the top of the list. His reply was, "Jay-Z and Nas are old news."

I don't know if it's because urban music caters to a younger audience, but once an artist hits a certain age, they're suddenly obsolete. Now granted, some veterans like LL Cool J have passed their primes but most still have gas in the tank. I'd rather hear a 38-year-old Ghostface than a 23-year-old Yung Berg.

Ancient rock artists like the Eagles still tour and rake in millions. In hip hop, guys like the Wu-Tang Clan have to use cell phones to record their music videos because record companies won't give 'em a fair shake. If an artist is not under 20 and rail-thin, they get "demoted" to the oldies station.

I fear that close-mindedness will prohibit urban music from finding THEIR Susan Boyle.

Who cares if Madea wants to rap? If she can flow, I say give her a chance.

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Posted by in , ,  on 11:30 AM 1 comment
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Unless you've stranded on The Island with the Oceanic 6 (shout out to my LOST fans) I'm sure you've heard of Susan Boyle, the 47-year-old woman who become an overnight celebrity after wowing the crowd at Britain's Got Talent.

Some call her an unassuming diva. The unmarried, "never been kissed" woman took the stage with her frumpy dress, frizzy hair and amazing confidence before a crowd of people who were snickering and whispering about the way she looked. Then she shut them all up as she sang her heart out giving a beautiful and powerful rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" that brought the audience to their feet and some to tears.
The media has run wild with the story saying it's just what we need at a time like this when the global economic downturn has everyone feeling blue.

I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but there's something about this story that just doesn't sit well with me.

Why is the world so shocked that Boyle has such an amazing voice? Why would we assume that someone isn't talented simply because she's not young and glamorous?
And Dennis Palumbo brought up another question over at The Huffington Post: What if Susan Boyle couldn't sing? Then would it have been okay that the audience laughed at her when she took the stage?
Just something to think about.

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Posted by in  on 8:40 AM 3 comments
Police in Jamaica have captured an armed man who had barged onto a passenger jet at an airport, robbed passengers and held six crew members hostage. The crew members were not harmed. The hijacker, described as a "mentally challenged" man in his 20s, demanded passage to Cuba when he got on board the CanJet aircraft which was from Halifax, Canada, had made a scheduled landing at Sangster International Airport in the Jamaican resort city of Montego Bay and was scheduled to continue on to Santa Clara, Cuba. The gunman released all passengers and two crew members after boarding the plane late Sunday and the ordeal finally came to an end this morning. CNN

President Obama plans to convene his Cabinet for the first time today, where he will order members to identify a combined $100 million in budget cuts over the next 90 days, the Washington Post reports. The budget cuts, while they would account to a minuscule portion of federal spending, are intended to signal the president's determination to cut spending and reform government. CBS

CIA interrogators waterboarded an Al Qaeda prisoner 183 times and another prisoner 83 times, according to recently released memos the New York Times reported on Monday. The C.I.A. officers used waterboarding at least 83 times in August 2002 against Abu Zubaydah, according to a 2005 Justice Department legal memorandum. Abu Zubaydah has been described as a high-ranking member of Al Qaeda. The 2005 memo also says that the C.I.A. used waterboarding 183 times in March 2003 against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. NY Times

A former head of the CIA slammed President Obama on Sunday for releasing four Bush-era memos, saying the new president has compromised national security. Michael Hayden, who served as former President Bush's last CIA director from 2006 to 2009, said releasing the memos outlining terror interrogation methods emboldened terrorist groups such as al Qaeda.

President Obama's friendly encounter with Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas will be used as propaganda by enemies of the United States, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Monday. Gingrich, the second high-profile Republican to criticize the president's now-famous exchange with the Venezuelan leader in as many days, said countries hostile toward America will view the cordial moment as evidence the United States accepts Chavez as an acceptable leader.
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Friday, April 17, 2009

Have you all seen this?

image via

Yes, this is a Chia Obama and no, it's not a joke. In case you missed it, this "special edition" Chia Pet depicting the president with some kind of freaky green afro was actually out on the market until Walgreens decided to pull it from its shelves last week after bad press and complaints from some consumers who found the plant to be racist. (The Chia Obama will still be available at in case you're dying to have one.)

Race matters aside I just think the thing looks stupid, but I digress.

What this Chia Obama got me thinking about (other than wondering who still buys Chia Pets) is how often people of color have to explain to non-minorities why certain things are offensive. I struggle with this often. When a white co-worker recently asked me if she could touch my hair I know she wasn't trying to offend me, but she did. I couldn't figure out a way to explain that to her in a way that wouldn't make her feel like I was accusing her of being racist. So I said nothing. I know staying silent isn't the answer. But if I launched into a monologue every time someone said or did something racially insensitive around me I'd never get any work done.

So how do you find a balance?

And this isn't just a race issue. In many work places dominated by men sexist comments are as common as coffee. So what's a girl to do? When do we speak up and when do we just let it go?
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Posted by in ,  on 8:48 AM 3 comments
I could have included this in the morning news report, but the feminist in me thought this matter needed its own post.

The Afghan government announced it will change a law that critics say legalizes rape within marriage for Shia Muslims, CNN reports.

President Hamid Karzai, who signed the measure into law last month, said he and others were unaware of the provision in the legislation, which he said "has so many articles."

The law prevents women from declining their husband's request for sexual intercourse and essentially legalizes marital rape, critics say. The measure applies to the 20 percent of Afghans who are Shia Muslims and was part of a nearly 270-page piece of legislation that was written to solidify the identity of the Shia minority in Afghanistan.

Women from various parts of Afghanistan marched in the capital Wednesday to protest the law, which has also been criticized by human-rights groups and Western leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama.

"I think this law is abhorrent," Obama said. "We think that it is very important for us to be sensitive to local culture, but we also think that there are certain basic principles that all nations should uphold, and respect for women and respect for their freedom and integrity is an important principle."

Being sensitive to different cultures is imperative and I do think that we Westerners tend to call things oppressive -- such as wearing hijab, for example -- when we don't know enough about the practice to pass judgment. But rape is rape. Period. So I celebrate this victory for my sisters in Afghanistan.
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Posted by in , ,  on 8:34 AM 1 comment
Five days after being rescued from the clutches of Somali pirates, cargo ship captain Richard Phillips is headed home.The 53-year-old sea captain, who was held hostage for five days after the aborted hijacking of his ship, is expected to arrive in Vermont this afternoon. The crew members of Phillips' ship, the Maersk Alabama, flew into Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C., early Thursday. Phillips, who was originally supposed to fly with them, was delayed when the USS Bainbridge, which was carrying him after his rescue by Navy SEALs, diverted to help another pirated ship. CBS News

After backing Mexico's ongoing battle against drug cartels, President Barack Obama is heading to a Western Hemisphere summit with a sudden spotlight on Cuba. The president was to fly Friday to the island of Trinidad for the 34-nation Summit of the Americas, a gathering to which Cuba, as the region's only non-democracy, is not invited. Obama's move this week to ease travel and some other restrictions for Cuban-Americans brought an unprecedented reply from Havana. Raul Castro, who took over from his ailing brother, Fidel, a year ago, offered to talk to the Obama administration about all outstanding grievances, declaring: "We have sent word to the U.S. government in private and in public that we are willing to discuss everything -- human rights, freedom of the press, political prisoners, everything." FOX News

President Obama, after meeting Thursday with Mexico's president, signaled he is backing away from his pledge to renew the U.S. ban on assault weapons but still wishes to stop the cross-border flow of guns that wind up in the arsenals of drug cartels. The military-style assault weapon ban expired in 2004, and Obama faced an uphill political battle in winning a renewal of the law, which is unpopular in key political states and among Republicans and some conservative Democrats. Obama said Thursday he preferred to focus on enforcing existing laws to keep assault weapons out of Mexico, rather than trying to renew the U.S. ban on the weapons. FOX News

With space in its aircraft cabins tight and passengers complaining about extra-large seatmates, United Airlines says it now will bump severely overweight passengers from sold-out flights. Passengers who are too large to fit comfortably in a single coach seat will be required to buy two tickets on the next flight or upgrade to business class, where seats are larger, if United's flight attendants can't find two open seats for them. United decided to adopt the tougher policy after receiving more than 700 complaints last year from passengers.

Celebrity Ashton Kutcher narrowly beat out CNN early Friday in an online popularity contest to see who could more quickly attract 1 million followers on the micro-blogging site Twitter. Kutcher reached 1 million about 30 minutes before CNN passed the mark.
Kutcher had challenged CNN to the Twitter race, saying he would donate 10,000 mosquito bed nets to charity for World Malaria Day in late April if he beat CNN, and 1,000 if he lost. CNN agreed to do the same. CNN
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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Although 80 percent of you ladies out there hate her for no discernible reason, I always thought Beyonce was destined to take over Hollywood.

Remember when she starred in MTV's Carmen nearly 10 (!) years ago? Yes, it was a horrible movie, but she has the look that Hollywood covets. And after a couple of roles here and there, she finally got her big shot at Hollywood dominance with "Dreamgirls."

I remember her interviews during that time - you could practically see the Oscar statue dancing in her eyes.

Then Jennifer Hudson came and stole all her thunder.

Now don't get me wrong, Ms. Hudson certainly wasn't horrible, but I thought she was vastly overrated in "Dreamgirls." She was a mean, heavy-set lady who yelled a lot - so what? We've got like three of them in my church's choir.

Anyway, poor Beyonce was left out in the cold. Her next chance to shine was as Etta James in "Cadillac Records." The movie was already in theaters THREE weeks before I realized it had been released so you know it was doomed for failure. What was up with the promotion? I see commercials for that stupid "Observe and Report" mall cop movie 10 times a night. And I'm sure Bey would like to forget about Etta threatening to "whoop her a**."

I won't forget though. That was hilarious.

Anyway, I guess Beyonce has given up on an Academy Award. Have you seen the previews for her newest film "Obsessed?" It looks like "Fatal Attraction," except much, MUCH more ghetto.

Check out these choice lines from the trailer:

Beyonce to her husband: "That girl might be a lot of thangs, but she ain't plain!"

Her husband replies: "I wouldn't know, I only have eyes for you."

Beyonce: "She was nekked in yo' ho'tel room?!"

And the wifey's favorite, courtesy of Beyonce: "You think you crazy?! I show you crazy!"

Yep, you can pay $8.99 to watch this Lifetime move in theaters next week. The most hilarious thing to me is that the woman who is after Beyonce's husband in the movie is Ali Larter, better known as Niki from the TV show "Heroes." If you haven't seen "Heroes," Niki is more or less a pissed-off Wonder Woman.

There ain't no way Sasha Fierce can beat Niki in a fight. That's like Paul Bunyan against RuPaul.

I guess Beyonce finally realized that getting an Oscar is a lot harder than getting a Grammy. Seeing that Nelly's towel boy Murphy Lee has a Grammy, she's certainly right. Plus we're in a recession - a sista has to work, no matter now horrible the script.

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Posted by in ,  on 7:51 AM 3 comments
Wednesday’s deadline for filing income tax returns offered some Americans a timely excuse to vent their frustrations as demonstrators attended more than 750 Tax Day tea parties in cities like Boston, Washington, East Hampton, N.Y., and Yakima, Wash. The events were meant to protest government spending, particularly the Obama administration’s $787 billion stimulus package and its $3.5 trillion budget. The idea for the demonstrations grew in part out of a blast from Rick Santelli, a CNBC commentator who on Feb. 19 at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange said that the Obama administration was promoting “bad behavior” in helping people who were at risk of losing their homes and that Americans should protest with a tea party in Chicago. NY Times

The saga of the American merchant seamen who clashed with Somali pirates on the high seas off Africa ended early Thursday as the crew members were reunited with their families. A charter flight from Kenya brought the crew of the Maersk Alabama to Andrews Air Force Base, where they had a private reunion with their loved ones. CBS News

In the first visit by an American president to Mexico City in 12 years, President Barack Obama heads south of the border and will meet with Mexican President Felipe Calderon later today. Over the weekend Obama travels to a summit of Latin American and Caribbean leaders on the island of Trinidad. Just as it was at the G-20 meetings earlier this month, the global economic crisis is certainly high on the president's agenda, but it may be overshadowed by the epidemic of drug-related crime in Mexico. With almost 6,300 killings in Mexico last year, U.S. officials fear that violence will spill over the border. Obama will also face hot button issies such as trade and immigration. ABC News

President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, millionaires from his best-selling books, made $2.7 million last year and paid just under one-third of their adjusted income in federal taxes. While the income was far more than the U.S. median household income of about $50,000, it was quite a decrease from the $4.2 million the Obamas made in 2007. Both years, nearly all of the earnings came from Obama's best-selling books. "Dreams from My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope" — brought in about $2.5 million in royalties last year. Obama earned $139,204 as a Democratic senator from Illinois last year before leaving his seat after winning the November election. Michelle Obama received a salary of $62,709 from the University of Chicago Hospitals, where she was an executive. MSNBC

The Twitter Smack Down!
Ashton Kutcher has challenged CNN to a popularity contest on the social media site Twitter to see who can reach 1 million followers first. He says on Twitter that he will donate 10,000 mosquito bed nets to charity for World Malaria Day in late April if he beats CNN, and 1,000 if he loses. CNN has agreed to do the same. So far, no single Twitter account has attracted 1 million followers, according to TwitterCounter and Twitterholic, two sites tracking the most popular Twitter users. Kutcher's Twitter account can be found at and CNN's breaking news Twitter account is at CNN

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

image via

Apparently some movie critics and filmmakers think so.

In the recently released comedy "Observe and Report," Seth Rogen's character Ronnie, a bipolar mall cop, has sex with Brandi, a makeup counter saleswoman played by Anna Faris, after she gets wasted on tequila and antidepressants and passes out.

Most of us would get pretty pissed if we found out some dude humped our BFF after she collapsed from having too much to drink because most of us would consider this date rape.

But some say it's just a joke. In fact, Time magazine film critic Richard Corliss calls that scene "the finest thing" in the movie. Meanwhile, several feminist bloggers are outraged.

"I think about all the women I know who have been raped, sitting in the theater, thinking they are getting a funny little respite from their serious lives, only to see an experience they've had depicted as a big joke," Courtney E. Martin, who writes for, told
Even Faris told New York magazine that the scene left her feeling uneasy because "it's like date rape" and that she was certain Warner Bros. would take the scene out of the movie. Guess she was wrong.

Rogen argues, however, that there is one moment in the scene that "makes it all OK." At one point Ronnie pauses to take note of the fact that Brandi is unconscious state and she murmurs, without opening her eyes, "Did I tell you to stop mother f-----."

So what do you think? Are people getting all worked up over a harmless joke or does this scene make light of date rape?
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Posted by in ,  on 7:03 AM 3 comments
A U.S. ship carrying food aid foiled an attack by Somali pirates this morning, the latest known attempted hijack by pirates who continue to thumb their noses at the world. The Liberty Sun, which was headed to its port destination of Mombassa, evaded the pirates' attack off the coast of Somalia. The Navy responded to a call for help by the Liberty Sun, which is carrying food aid for CARE and the World Food Program. The pirates fired rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons at the Liberty Sun, which sustained damage. ABC News

President Obama is creating a new border czar position and has chosen a former Justice Department official to fill the post. The new Homeland Security post will be responsible for issues related to drug-cartel violence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is expected to name Alan Bersin to the position today during a visit to the Southwest border. FOX News

The number of African-American drug offenders in state prisons has declined for the first time since law enforcement agencies started the war on drugs 25 years ago, even as convictions of white drug offenders have increased, according to a new study released yesterday.The study, by the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit policy research group in Washington, found that the number of blacks in state prisons for drug crimes dropped 21.6 percent from 1999 to 2005, the last year for which data are available. The number of white drug offenders in state prisons grew by 42.6 percent in the same period. NY Times

Rod Blagojevich has been invited to take part in a reality TV show set in Costa Rica. Based on a hit British program, "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!" is scheduled to premiere on NBC on June 1. The show will see a group of celebrities left in the middle of the jungle, with viewers voting on who should stay or leave. The impeached former Illinois governor, who pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges yesterday, could earn as much as $80,000 an episode, which he believes would help finance his legal defense. Blagojevich's participation is pending court approval. MSNBC
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A couple of weeks ago I talked about Kid Cudi and his hasty decision to retire after the release of his upcoming debut album.

I thought he should be more concerned with his album actually seeing the light of day - we are in a recession after all. The big wigs won't even let their golden goose Lil Wayne release his rock album. And maybe that's for the best. Have you HEARD that "Prom Queen" song?

Anyway, on the subject of retirement, looks like Bow Wow is the next rapper ready to hang it up. From

This is my last album because for me, there's no more that needs to be done on the music side, I've done everything," Bow explained. "And the scary thing is I'm 22 years old and I'm young. ... There's nothing more to accomplish that I haven't seen yet...I feel like now it's time to endure a new challenge...Close the chapter on the Bow Wow legacy.

Heh. The Bow Wow legacy.

Before you ladies snicker, I remember back in around 2000 when he first showed up and y'all couldn't wait until this guy turned 18. The kid was on 106 and Park 24/7. Then after a couple of years he started "smelling himself" as they say down south, and women shied away from his new-found haughtiness. That didn't stop his aspirations to become "the next Will Smith," as he said last year. "Roll Bounce" is right up there with "The Pursuit of Happyness."

But before he leaves the music world, let's look at his career in terms of sales.

2000 - Beware of Dog - 2,470,000

2002 - Doggie Bag - 1,348,000

2003- Unleashed - 797,000

2005- Wanted - 1,599,000

2006 - The Price of Fame - 897,000

2007 - Face Off (with Omarion) - 354,000

2009 - New Jack City II - 31,000

To quote Jay-Z, "you had a spark when you started/and now you're just garbage."

Looks like around 2006, either his fan base grew up, got tired of his attitude (ladies were pretty pissed about his breakup with Ciara) or they stop caring. And what do rappers do when people stop caring? They start talking retirement.

Do you think it's a coincidence his announcement was made a couple of weeks after his blasphemously titled new album, New Jack City II, was released to crickets?

Enjoy retirement, Bow Wow. Can't wait for you to star in "Like Mike 2: Still Not Like Mike."

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Posted by in ,  on 7:02 AM 1 comment
Undeterred by U.S. and French hostage rescues that killed seven bandits, Somali pirates hijacked three more ships in the Gulf of Aden. The latest trophy for the pirates was the M.V. Irene E.M., a Greek-managed bulk carrier sailing from the Middle East to South Asia. On Monday, Somali pirates also seized two Egyptian fishing boats in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia's northern coast, which carried 18 to 24 Egyptians total. ABC News

General Motors Corp. is recalling 1.5 million vehicles because of potential engine fires. GM said there have been no reports of any fires or injuries. The recall includes the 1998-1999 Oldsmobile Intrigue, the 1997-2003 Pontiac Grand Prix, 1997-2003 Buick Regal, and the 1998-2003 Chevrolet Lumina, Monte Carlo and Impala. It involves vehicles with a 3.8-liter V6 engine. The government said drops of oil could fall into the exhaust system and cause a fire in the engine. CBS News

Saving four lives, a passenger landed a twin-engine plane at Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers after the pilot died in flight. The pilot died on Sunday after taking off from Marco Island Executive Airport. The plane was on autopilot and climbing past 10,000 feet when the pilot died. The passenger who took the controls has been licensed for single-engine planes for 20 years, but was not certified to fly the King Air plane, a large luxury model. To instruct him, an air traffic controller called a friend in Connecticut who is rated to fly the aircraft. The plane, which was headed to Jackson, Miss., landed safely. NY Times

Prosecutors say an eight-year-old Northern California girl may have been raped and molested before she was killed and her body put in a suitcase. Melissa Huckaby, a 28-year-old Sunday school teacher, was arrested Friday on suspicion of kidnapping and murdering Sandra Cantu. A murder charge against Huckaby could include the special circumstances of rape with a foreign object, lewd and lascivious conduct with a child and murder in the course of a kidnapping. A conviction on any of them would make Huckaby eligible for the death penalty or life in prison without parole. CBS News

North Korea vowed Tuesday to restore its nuclear facilities and boycott international talks on its atomic weapons program to protest the U.N. Security Council's condemnation of the country's rocket launch. The statement was North Korea's first reaction to the Security Council's unanimous censure of the April 5 launch, which North Korea says sent a satellite into space but the United States and others say tested long-range missile technology. FOX News
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Monday, April 13, 2009

This issue hit the media late last week, but I wanted to address the topic today you guys and gals.

Last week during a House testimony over voter registration legislation Republican Texas state representative Betty Brown suggested that Asian Americans adopt names that are "easier for Americans to deal with."

The comments were made as the House Elections Committee heard testimony from Ramey Ko, a representative of the Organization of Chinese Americans. Ko told the committee that people of Chinese, Japanese and Korean descent often have problems voting because they may have a legal transliterated name and then a common English name that is used on their driver's license on school registrations.

In response to Brown's statements the Texas Democratic Party demanded she apologize as did New York City Councilman John Liu who in a letter to her wrote: "It's outrageous and insulting for you to suggest it would 'behoove' us to adopt another name, to give up our birthright and a part of our own identity, in order to exercise our right to vote."

A spokesman for Brown, however, said her comments were not racially motivated and were only an attempt to overcome problems with identifying Asian names for voting purposes.

Check out a video of Brown and Ko's exchange and tell me what you think.

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Posted by in ,  on 7:12 AM 1 comment
Somali pirates are vowing to retaliate for the deaths of three fellow pirates at the hands of U.S. Navy snipers. The shooting freed American freighter Capt. Richard Phillips, who had been held hostage on a lifeboat off the Horn of Africa for five days. One of the pirates told the Associated Press that, "In the future, America will be the one mourning and crying." ABC News

Relatives of the Sunday school teacher arrested in the killing of an 8-year-old girl found stuffed into a suitcase say they are baffled by the accusations against the woman they know as a loving, single parent. Sandra Cantu's body was found in Huckaby's suitcase in an irrigation pond nearly a week ago. Huckaby is the mother of the slain girl's best friend. The motive in the killing had not been determined. Huckaby, 28, was on suicide watch at the San Joaquin County Jail, where she remained in custody Sunday without bail on suspicion of kidnapping and killing Sandra. AP

America finally has a new first pup: Bo, a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog the Obamas are reportedly adopting, said to be a gift from Sen. Ted Kennedy. The president's daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, have named the black-and-white puppy Bo, according to The Washington Post, because their cousins have a cat named Bo and first lady Michelle Obama's father was nicknamed Diddley. Like Bo Diddley. ABC News

The Treasury Department is directing General Motors to lay the groundwork for a bankruptcy filing by a June 1 deadline, despite G.M.’s public contention that it could still reorganize outside court. Members of President Obama’s automotive task force spent last week in meetings and on conference calls with G.M. officials and its advisers in Detroit and Washington. Those talks are expected to continue this week. The goal is to prepare for a fast “surgical” bankruptcy. G.M., which has been granted $13.4 billion in federal aid, insists that a quick restructuring is necessary so its image and sales are not damaged permanently. MSNBC/NYT
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Friday, April 10, 2009


The Last Kiss (released April 7, 2009)

"Only a matter of time before they notice that I'm an impeccable lyricist/And with the right mechanics I could take over, be clear of this" - Jadakiss, "Letter to B.I.G."

I hesitated to write this review - I wasn't sure if the GeorgiaMae universe cared about Jadakiss.

I know for sure that kids these days don't.

One of the teens in my church youth group wanted to me listen to The-Dream's new album. I replied that I'd rather listen to Rush Limbaugh pass gas in my face for 45 minutes. I told him that I was waiting for Jadakiss' new album to drop, and I got another lecture about listening to "old man rap."

Jada would be disappointed to hear that because it's obvious that he geared this album toward the young'ns. Sort of.

Jadakiss has long been considered one of rap's best kept secrets. He's been around for well over ten years, has released some really good material, but never quite gets the shine he deserves. This go-round, with the backing of Def Jam and Roc-A-Fella, I think he feels he has the marketing tools to finally break out.

But in this sense, "breaking out" means sucking up to the kids. And there is a lot of pampering to the Pamper set here. For instance, "Who's Real" actually has the nerve to steal the chorus from "if you're happy and you know it clap your hands!" To his credit, unlike most ringtone rappers, Jada doesn't dumb down his grimy flow to match the silly song. So in the end, things end up a schizophrenic mess. Likewise, on "Rocking With The Best," it almost sounds like he's trying to make one of those Stanky Legg-like dance tracks, complete with instructions.

And while I don't usually have a problem with rappers teaming up with R&B singers, there's WAY too much of it here. Mary J. Blige, Jazmine Sullivan, Ne-Yo and others make for some sappy material.

The one standout in the R&B crowd is Faith Evans on "Letter to B.I.G.", one of the best tribute songs I've heard for the late, great Notorious B.I.G. Jada even shows Biggie's kids some love: "T'yanna so pretty/and CJ turned into a lil' Biggie/just a lil' lighter but so witty." Jada waxing nostalgic over a Luther Vandross sample on "Things I've Been Through" is a keeper too.

That's how I like my Jadakiss - lyrical like the old days. There are flashes of that here, especially when he teams with Ghostface and Raekwon on "Cartel Gathering." And even though "What If" is a blatant ripoff of his old hit "Why?" he and Nas still bring killer punchlines. I think Jada gets inspired when going toe-to-toe with fellow rap luminaries. Sadly, the tracks featuring his LOX teammates Styles P and Sheek Louch aren't as memorable.

I certainly can understand a talented veteran reaching for a new audience. Jay-Z, Eminem and all the greats did it eventually. But Jada just sounds so out of place when he tries to go mainstream.

Stick with the old man rap, Kiss.

Best tracks: "Letter to B.I.G.," "What If," "Cartel Gathering"

3.5 stars out of 5
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Posted by in  on 7:45 AM 1 comment
The American captain being held hostage by Somali pirates dove into the water during the night in an attempt to escape, but was quickly recaptured. The daring overnight escape attempt by Capt. Richard Phillips was the Vermont sailor's latest bit of heroics. Phillips volunteered to be a hostage after his unarmed men took back their freighter, the Maersk Alabama, from the pirates to avoid a bloody battle. ABC News

President Obama asked Congress on Thursday for $83.4 billion for U.S. military and diplomatic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, pressing for special troop funding that he opposed two years ago when he was senator and George W. Bush was president. The Obama's request, including money to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan, would push the costs of the two wars to almost $1 trillion since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Obama is also requesting $350 million in new funding to upgrade security along the U.S.-Mexico border and to combat narcoterrorists, along with another $400 million in counterinsurgency aid to Pakistan. FOX News

Catholic leaders are outraged at the appointment of Harry Knox to a White House advisory council. Knox lambasted the pope and Catholic bishops in a gay newspaper last month for their support of Proposition 8, the successful November ballot measure that made same-sex marriage unconstitutional in California. FOX News

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

This video was posted on yesterday, but I decided to post it here too to make sure you all saw it.

The video is a short documentary on About-Face, a project that strives to equip women and girls with tools to understand and resist media messages that damage their body image and self-esteem.

Check it out and maybe you'll be inspired to start a program like this in your city. Or even if you can't take on a project like this, think of one small thing you can do to do an "about face" in your life when it comes to body image. For example, if you complain about your body -- whether you think you're too fat or you think your boobs are too small -- stop it! (I'm talking to myself more than anyone else right now). We need to be especially careful about what we say in front of young girls. If they look up to you and you say you're on some fad diet, pretty soon they'll be on one too.

For more information on About-Face or to donate to the program visit

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Posted by in , ,  on 7:12 AM 1 comment
A U.S. destroyer is keeping watch today over the waters where Somali pirates held the American captain of a hijacked cargo ship that was later retaken by the crew in an hours-long, high seas drama. The pirates took Capt. Richard Phillips as a hostage as they escaped into a lifeboat Wednesday in the first such attack on American sailors in 200 years. FOX News

President Obama plans to begin addressing the country’s immigration system this year, including looking for a plan to make legal status possible for an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants. Latino voters turned out strongly for Mr. Obama in the election. NY Times

Ten priests from the order that founded the University of Notre Dame say the school risks its "true soul" and could distance itself from the Roman Catholic church by inviting President Obama to campus next month. The members of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, which helps run the university, asked the Rev. John Jenkins, the Holy Cross priest who is Notre Dame's president, and the university's board of fellows to reconsider the invitation to Mr. Obama because he supports abortion rights and stem cell research. Notre Dame announced last month that Mr. Obama would deliver the university's May 17 commencement address and receive an honorary degree. CBS News

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Today marks three years of marriage for me and the music guru and I wanted to start the day off right with this video dedication. Edd, this is for you. (If this sappy, romantic stuff makes any of you gag, my apologies, but I have to thank him for putting up with me for this long.)

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Ten years after becoming the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean, Tori Murden McClure has published a memoir about her quest and the lessons she learned along the way.

"A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean" (HarperCollins) hit book stores yesterday. I had the opportunity to interview McClure a couple of weeks ago for Velocity Weekly (I promised you a link to the Q&A but it wasn't posted online. Sorry. But I'll share some highlights from our talk in this post.)

McClure is pretty amazing and not only rowed across an ocean but has skied to the South Pole and climbed mountains in Antarctica. She has a master's in divinity from Harvard University and a law degree. She once ran a shelter for homeless women and she now serves as vice president at Spalding University in Louisville, Ky. (Yeah, I felt pretty worthless too after learning all this.)

During our chat McClure told me she had trouble figuring out a way to write her adventure story in a way that would also speak to the female experience. "Folks kept reading it and saying 'You're writing it as a man would write it,'" she said.

Recognizing that the quest narrative is typically told from the male perspective, she saw this as her chance to change that. To improve the memoir she started to share stories of the people who had made a difference in her life, people she called pearls in her storm. And McClure said she hopes that people who read her book, especially those people having a tough time these days, will look around and find that there are pearls in their storm too.

I asked McClure what she learned out there in the ocean. She said she realized that all her life she'd been trying to deny her humanity. She realized that a part of her believed that if she could be superhuman she could protect her loved ones from anything.

"But I can row across the Atlantic -- I can row to the moon -- and there are still going to be things I can't change," she said.

But while she was out there in the middle of the ocean, McClure said she realized that the only thing that makes that reality bearable is love.

"That was the big Aha! for me," she said. "Most people don't have to row across the Atlantic to figure that out."

Click here for more on "A Pearl in the Storm."

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Posted by in , ,  on 8:37 AM No comments
Somali pirates on Wednesday hijacked a U.S.-flagged cargo ship with 20 American crew members onboard. The 17,000-ton Maersk Alabama was carrying emergency relief to Mombasa, Kenya, when it was hijacked. ABC News

The U.S. electrical grid is under attack from Russian and Chinese cyber spies who have inserted software that could disrupt the system, current and former national security officials tell the Wall Street Journal. So far, these spies have not tried to damage the system, but the possibility remains likely should a war or national security crisis hit the United States. In addition to electrical systems, nuclear power plants and financial networks; water and sewage systems are also at risk, officials said. CBS News

One person was killed and three others were wounded during a shooting at a religious retreat Tuesday at a remote campground in southern California. The shooting near the city of Temecula was reported about 7:23 p.m. (10:23 p.m. ET). Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez, public information officer for the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, told reporters officers had problems getting information on the incident because of a language barrier. The retreat was for a Korean group. Police thought the shooter was one of the people injured. Those wounded were in critical condition. CNN

Actor Kal Penn (you know Kumar from the "Harold and Kumar" movies) is leaving "House: MD" to work for the White House. Penn, 31, will be an associate director for the Obama administration's Office of Public Liaison. He says he's not retiring from acting, just pursuing a longtime desire for public service that was rekindled when he campaigned for Barack Obama's election. CNN
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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Back in the 90s, to form an R&B group, all you really needed was one recognizable member who could sing. The rest were accessories.

Remember LaTocha from Xscape?

Probably not. Let me try again.

Remember LaTocha from Xscape? She was the big girl who could sing.

See, you remember now.

LaTocha Scott was easily the most recognizable voice of the group. Other members included her sister Tamika, Tameka "Tiny" Cottle and Kandi Burruss. With maybe the exception of Kandi, I wouldn't be able to pick the other women's voices out of a paper bag.

Although they had three platinum albums, Xscape always got lost in the shuffle among the SWVs and TLCs and Destiny's Childs of the world. Let's check up on 'em.

Their debut, Hummin' Comin' at 'Cha, dropped in 1993. The thing I remember most is that those girls looked ROUGH. Not ugly per se, they just looked like they would jump you in a parking lot for your leather Africa pendant. That's probably because ladies dressed like thugs back then, with the boots and big jeans. Can you imagine Ciara dressing like DMX nowadays?

Anyway, I remember ladies loving the single "Understanding." And I bet 90 percent of you are singing it right now.

Off The Hook was released a couple of years later. It bothered me that the first single, "Feels So Good," sounded exactly like "Just Kickin'," the first single from the debut album. People would be all over them if they tried that these days. This was also around the time when all of Xscape's videos revolved around Tiny's drama with her no-good "boyfriend" Debo.

Hmmm, art imitates life. More on that later.

1998's Traces of My Lipstick was quite the underrated gem for its time. "The Arms of the One Who Loves You" was kinda boring, but I loved "The Softest Place on Earth." Ahem. And their remake of "Am I Dreamin'" is still in heavy rotation on my iPod. And that has nothing to do with Keith Sweat being featured on the song.

Despite the album selling well, people stopped caring about R&B around this time and the group broke up.

About five years ago during a trip to Virginia I got word that the group was reuniting. I even heard a few new tracks on the radio. They were OK, nothing earth-shattering. But I guess I was the only person who heard them because the album was never released.

So what have the ladies been up to?

LaTocha was featured on quite a few singles in the early 2000s and she supposed to drop an album. Back in the day I would have bet the farm she would have been big.

Big as in successful, of course.

Tiny is better known as T.I.'s babymomma these days. I wouldn't wish that on anybody.

I always thought Kandi got too big for her britches. She wrote a couple of big songs ("Bills Bills Bills" for Destiny's Child, "No Scrubs" for TLC - see a pattern?) and ditched the group to go solo with Hey, Kandi in 2000. Her single, "Don't Think I'm Not" made me want to jump out of a moving car. Even worse was that song she had with E-40, "U And Dat Monkey." Ugh. I hear that she soon will be on "The Real Housewives of Atlanta." I won't be watching.

Poor Tamika. I wouldn't recognize her if she was singing "Who Can I Run To" on the street corner. Who knows what that woman is doing?

Should they come back? Why not? I'm sure Tamika would appreciate it. Kandi will probably drag them together to promote her dumb show anyway.

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Rescuers worked frantically in this central Italian city early Tuesday, scooping through piles of rubble with their hands in the search for survivors after the country's deadliest earthquake in nearly three decades. A powerful 4.9-magnitude aftershock sent rescue workers and survivors scrambling. Tens of thousands of people left homeless by the powerful 5.8-magnitude quake are sleeping in makeshift tents. Entire blocks were flattened in the mountain city of L'Aquila and nearby villages by Monday's temblor. The death toll is now up to 207 and more than 1,500 people were injured. Many are missing. CBS News

The suspect in last week's deadly shooting at a Binghamton, New York, immigrant center believed he had been harassed for years by undercover police officers, according to a letter received by a New York television station and purportedly written by that suspect, Jiverly Wong. The package that arrived Monday at News 10 Now in Syracuse also contained photographs of Wong with two handguns, his gun permit and his driver's license. The package was postmarked April 3, the day of the shooting at the American Civic Association in Binghamton where Wong parked his car blocking a back entrance and entered through the front door, shooting two receptionists and then more people in a classroom. In the end Wong killed 13 people, wounded four others and then turned the gun on himself. The letter was dated more than two weeks earlier, March 18, indicating a troubled Wong had considered the act for some time. CNN

Turkish police detained a man after receiving a hoax tip that he was plotting to kill President Barack Obama but quickly released him without charge. The anonymous e-mail gave the suspect's address in Istanbul, but the IP address from which the e-mail was sent was traced to the United States. MSNBC

The Canadian man who led fighter jets on a chase across six states yesterday flew his stolen plane into the U.S. in hopes that the military would shoot him down, Missouri State Trooper Justin Watson told "Good Morning America." Yavuz Berke, formerly known as Adam Leon, wanted to commit suicide, but didn't have the courage to do it himself. Berke allegedly stole a Cessna plane from a Canadian flight school and was pursued for hours across the Midwest by fighter jets before being taken into custody after he landed on a Missouri highway and ran. Berke was apparently treated for depression last Friday and left his girlfriend a good-bye note, Canadian officials told the U.S. government. Berke's vehicle was left at the airport in Canada with the keys still in it. ABC News

Barack Obama wrapped up his first foreign trip as president with a request of the world: Look past his nation's stereotypes and flaws. "You will find a partner and a friend in the United States of America," he declared before a group of college students in Istanbul. "The world will be what you make of it," Obama said. "You can choose to make new bridges instead of new walls." ABC News

Federal officials confirmed Monday they found traces of salmonella in a central California pistachio processing plant that sparked a nationwide recall of the nut. The Food and Drug Administration said state and federal inspectors discovered the bacteria in "critical areas" at Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, Inc., the second-largest pistachio processor in the nation. FDA officials also said they found places at the facility where raw and roasted nuts could have become cross-contaminated with salmonella. Setton Pistachio, which sells its nuts to Kraft Foods Inc. and 35 other wholesalers across the country, temporarily shut down after voluntarily recalling more than 2 million pounds of nuts last week. CBS News

An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday on 8-year-old Sandra Cantu, whose body was found in a suitcase in a dairy-farm pond near her California home. Police found the girl's body Monday, after she went missing March 27 in Tracy, California. Police did not identify a suspect in her disappearance and did not know the cause of death. CNN
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Monday, April 6, 2009

Feminists rejoice! The mighty King has fallen.

I was over at the other day and found out that the infamous King magazine is the latest casualty of the print industry's spiral into oblivion. So sad. Without them, how will ambitious video vixens EVER be taken seriously as actresses? There are only so many reality TV shows and they can't all be as lucky as Tiffany "New York" Pollard.

Oh, by the way, for those not familiar with King, Hugh Hefner once dubbed it "the black Playboy." So there ya go.

I've never purchased a copy of King, but I know plenty of brothers with stacks of back issues in their closets.

I promise that use of the word "stacks" was merely coincidence.

For years, champions of women's rights have taken a stand against the magazine for their portrayal of ethnic women in nothing but their draws. But I think that even if King has collapsed, its legacy lives on.

Yeah, King provides a forum for women to be objectified, but I think the stones have been thrown in the wrong direction. It's up to the ladies themselves to be more than just pinups. There's exposure, then there is exposure, if you feel me. And I wouldn't solely blame the magazine for that.

Think of it like this - if a crackhead has a messed up life, whom do you blame? The dealer or the junkie? They both are at fault, but change first has to come from within.

I promise that use of the word "crack" was merely coincidence.

Do you think King's downfall is huge victory for women's rights, or will things continue as-is?

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Is anyone else sick and tired of the media getting in a tizzy over Michelle Obama sporting sleeveless dresses?

Well here's a new blog that will make America's obsession with our First Lady's arms a bit easier to handle: First Guns, a smart, tongue-in-cheek blog written from the perspective of Michelle's magnificently toned arms, or the first guns.

The blog's tagline reads: Everyone's been writing about us. Now we're speaking out. We're Thunder and Lightning, the First Guns.

Love it!

While the posts are pretty hilarious, they're good for more than just a laugh. First Guns offers updates on Michelle's national and international travels, analysis of news stories about Mrs. Obama and some social commentary on how America is dealing with having an African American First Lady for the first time.

Check out First Guns and let me know what you think.
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