Thursday, April 30, 2009

Could We Please Retire The Word "Swagger"?!?

If you didn't know, there's a reason why CNN is dead last (Yes, even behind CNN's own Headline News) in the ratings. Consider this Exhibit A.

I ain't looked at TJ Holmes the same way since he cold carried my alma mater during CNN's pointless Black In America orgy last Spring. Combine him with CNN's chronically out-of-touch Kyra Phillips, and you have the year's most cringeworthy cable news moment yet.



Yep. Time to add "Swagger", "Swagg", "Swaggin'", "Swag" to The AB.com Retired Slang List, which is not to be confused with The Broken English Hall of Shame.

Caption This Photo.

Yet Another "Grown & Sexy" BET Channel?!? I'll Pass.

Time has a strange way of healing old wounds. As much as BET has generally annoyed me in the past, I now find myself watching it on a regular basis. There's no real explanation for why, but AverageSis and I suddenly find ourselves enthralled by 106 & Park's Freestyle Fridays segment, and now tune in every week to see who'll win. If the thought of two suburban thirtysomethings tuning in to watch a "freestyle rap battle" where a couple of suburban wannabe rappers spit obviously prewritten "battle raps" is puzzling to you, then welcome to BizzaroWorld.

I can't say I watch anything else on BET, but that 10 minutes a week gives it a leg up on it's main competitors for urban eyes, Cathy Hughes' TVOne and BET's own "grown & sexy" offspin, BET J. While I was a stan for TVOne initially, the furor has definitely quelled. I have no idea what they show there anymore, because everytime I hit the channel guide, all I see is Good Times marathons and lousy 80's B-movies like The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (whoaaa whoa!). I'll pass. Ditto for BET J, which seems to always be showing that damn Best Shorts or shows like My Two Cents which have abominable public-access cable grade production quality. At least someone finally dug some episodes of Caribbean Rhythms out the New York Avenue archives, so I guess it's good Rachel is getting a check. In any event, these two stations, which were supposed to be geared to my lucrative 35-44 (ouch!) demo are little more than a snoozefest of bourgeois ambition and scented candles. Epic. Fail.

Not to be deterred, Viacom has yet another trick up its sleeve.
Viacom, the owner of BET, is forming a new cable television channel for middle-aged African-Americans, heightening the competition for the minority viewing audience.

The channel, to be named Centric and scheduled to make its debut in October, will be formally announced at an event for advertisers Thursday night. Centric will complement BET, executives say, by appealing to an older and more affluent audience.

The 29-year-old BET, available in 89 million homes, is the dominant network for black audiences. It attracts roughly four times as many viewers as TV One, its main competitor, which is owned by Comcast and Radio One and available in about 47 million homes. BET, with its reality shows, movies and music videos, primarily draws a teenage and young adult audience.

Cable channel start-ups are rare. With hundreds of channels already in operation, new ones often struggle to earn a spot on cable lineups, but Viacom said it would be able to assemble 45 million homes for the premiere of Centric.

Viacom executives would not comment on whether BET J, a small music-oriented offshoot of the network, would be affected by the formation of Centric.

As Viacom considered the 25- to 54-year-old target demographic for Centric, it realized that “a perfect example would be” Barack and Michelle Obama, said Scott Mills, the president of BET.

Centric will be operated jointly by the BET and MTV Networks divisions of Viacom. Viacom’s channels include Nickelodeon and MTV. Doug Creutz, an analyst for Cowen & Company, called the niche strategy valid but incremental. “They’re not going to hit any home runs doing this, but it can grow their reach over time,” he said.

Mr. Creutz said the African-American adult audience had “been underserved,” and pointed to the series of successful movies by Tyler Perry as evidence that “there’s money to be made at targeting that audience.”
If the final sentence didn't tell you what sort of random f*ckery Centric is destined to be, I have no idea what can.

Conspicuously absent from the entire press release: News. The word ain't even in there a single time. In the age of Obama wouldn't something more than cooking shows and spoken weird poetry be a fresh and original idea?

Upon further research (cause you know I'm all about journalistic integrity and whatnot), I dug up more info on the programming for this bold new channel. Witness.
Viacom's VH1 Soul and BET J Networks are combining channel resources to create a new program outlet called Centric. Set to launch in October, the new network will take aim at Comcast/Radio One-owned TV One in targeting the 25-to 54-year-old African-American audience, while reaching out to other multicultural viewers.

BET J originally launched as BET on Jazz and features reality series and music-programs. Both BET J and VH1 Soul will continue as stand alone channels in addition to Centric's programming; Centric will start with BET J's distribution and annex channel slots allocated to VH1 Soul or possibly some other small MTVN service, rather than merge.

Centric will initially feature some original entertainment and reality shows, like "Model City," a reality show revolving around African-American models in New York City and "Keeping Up With The Joneses," which follows the exploits of a Houston-based family of entrepreneurs. R&B singer Monica will be starring in her own reality show entitled "Monica: Still Standing," set to air in October, and comedian/actress Mo'Nique will have her own nightly talk/variety show. News and public affairs programming are said to be added in the near future. [Riiiight!]

The network will also reinstate the "Soul Train Music Awards," as well as demo-targeted content - including movies and music programming from MTV, VH1, BET and other MTV Networks outlets.
Yeah, sounds like some ole' bullsh*t basically.

There may be some light at the end of the tunnel, but it could be a train for all we know.
Centric would be one of a number of African-American targeted network announcements issued over the past year.

In November, Urban Television was announced by BET founder Bob Johnson and NBC Universal's ION Media Networks.

Also last year, music rap heavyweight Master P (Percy Miller) announced Better Black Television, a more family-friendly network. More recently, Houston-based Black Broadcasting Network announced plans to launch an urban-targeted entertainment network in 2009.

In April 2008, Black Television News Channel was announced from former Congressman J.C. Watts. With a cable operator deal in tow from Comcast, it's set to launch this year.
We'll see if any of these ambitious startups actually pans out, but the lack of substance in the offerings is troubling anyway you spin it. I suppose I understand why "urban" networks go for such programming rather than news. Reality shows and sitcom reruns are cheaper and easier to produce and license. Music video shows practically pay for themselves. But still, would it kill these folks to put together just one news/opinion or political commentary show? Seriously?

Thank God for library cards.

Question: What do you think about Centric? Is there even any demand for Black-oriented news & opinion programming, or are the folks at Viacom merely giving the people what they (think they) want?

BET J, VH1 Soul To Join Forces For New Centric Network [BillBoard]

BET to Offer New Channel for Adults [NYTimes]

Poll Position - I'm Makin' A Rap Dance Anthem!!!

Last week, I ran a ludicrously bad music video by some herb named B-Hamp. The song is called "Do The Ricky Bobby", and like most LCD rap music, circa 2009, this ditty included a dance. Personally, I watched the video twice and still do not see the "dance", but that's just my old age talkin'.



Anyways, it occurred to me that if an untalented bama like this can make Middle School-quality rap song and get on TV (I saw the video on 106th & Park), then just how hard is it to get on TV? I've always opined that if I became a GOP Stan, with my good looks and clean, articulate speech, I could make it on Fox News in no time. So, I asked ya'll, since TV is my eventual end goal, what's the quickest way there? Become a rapper, a GOP talking head, or get arrested. AverageNation™ stood up and let its vote count.

So, seems like "getting arrested" it is. Sorry, but it goes without saying that with a wife and two kids to feed, I can't take penitentiary chances just to get a showdown on Hannity's Great American Panel. And until the GOP changes it's messengers, I can't afford to be associated with those vitriolic losers. I suppose elbowing Ron Cristie off the idiot box would be satisfying enough, but I happen to like getting a crisp shape-up and speaking occasional ebonics. I also like Gucci Mane and the occasional . Needless to say, a Black GOP Pundit cannot partake in such tomfoolery.

So, LCD Dance Rappper it is. I am learning ProTools (already know FruityLoops, trying to step the game up) now, and will look to cut my demo by the end of May. That's my goal at least.

One problem. Well, actually two. I need a "hook", and I need a "dance" that ties to that hook. Any suggestions?

Question: What should AB's Dance Rap be about? Winner gets production credits, aka: Cyber CapriSuns™ in lieu of actual royalties.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

AB.com Guest Post: Where Have All The Negro Pundits Gone?!?

[Editor's Note: The Black Snob takes a pit stop from her US Tour (which included an appearance on ABC News Nightline last night) to drop by.]

While at Harvard's Black Policy Conference I got to chat with Democratic strategist and hot guy Jamal Simmons and asked him if he was still under contract with CNN. He informed me he never was. Then I asked him how he was spending his days and he said he was running his own business and initiatives. Yet very few calls were coming from CNN.

I couldn't remember the last time I saw Jamal's handsome baldy up on the CNN. Then I started thinking, "Hey? Where's Amy Holmes? It's been a while since she enraged me and made me still want to be her friend and braid her hair?" And then I began to wonder where all my favorite black pundits were. Was there a pundit purge when I wasn't looking?



While MSNBC seems to still be nurturing the likes of Michelle Bernard and Ron Christie (and for the life of me I don't know WHY Ron Christie, he's the anti-Jamal and I'm not talking politics), CNN seems to be reducing the screen time of every pundit who isn't Roland Martin, who was recently made host of Campbell Brown's show.

I chatted with an insider about what the eff is going on here and they came up with the "theory" that CNN's ratings surge during the election season was really a "black surge." This individual said the network crammed more black people and black related specials on than you could shake a stick at in 2008 and were rewarded with a crush of black viewers. Now they've pulled back as the black viewers have gone away. CNN's ratings have tanked of recent. But which came first? The black viewer decline or the purge of the pundits they enjoyed watching and arguing over?

Yeah. That's what I thought too.

It's not a conspiracy, just the obvious. Obama was elected and CNN went back to the status quo. CNN also fell behind MSNBC in some areas of the ratings. CNN is also pimping things like Rick Sanchez like he's the future of news. If that's the future of news, news is DEAD people.

Los periodicos esta muerto. ¡ESTA MUERTO!*

*(And I didn't do that in Spanish to mock Sanchez, but because it is the only foreign language I took six years of study. I know like two French phrases, but I can scream out "esta muerto" with the best of them.)

So of COURSE all the black pundits saw their time reduced (Donna Brazile and Amy Holmes) or became invisible (Jamal Simmons). Of COURSE. News networks are the slowest to adapt to change. Me, if it weren't broke, I wouldn't have fixed the "black" CNN problem. I would have just put MORE black people on. Screw it. No one else is trying to put more of us on. Start a trend. Create a niche. Bring Bernard Shaw back. Hell, bring them all back. Let's do this thing, CNN. Go the full minority. Hire Lisa Ling. Get Connie Chung out of retirement. Steal folks from Univision. It's about to go bankrupt anyway. Give Suzanne Malveaux more face time. Hell, hire her family and give all those damn Malveauxs face time. Put Don Lemon back on five days a week. Move TJ and Betty to the daily morning show. Get Soledad out of that closet you keep her locked in, tell her to put down those kids and that Top Ramen and GIVE HER SOMETHING TO DO!!!

Like Wolf's job.

I'd even let Rick stay ... as fact checker and hurricane coverage guy. I do enjoy his pompous self blowing like the bag of hot wind he is. But I'll stop. For some reason that Sanchez brings out the meanie in me.

Question: Have you also noticed the gradual re-lightening of cable news pundits? Do you miss DL Hughley Breaks The News? Does anyone, other than DL Hughley's bank account?

More from The Black Snob [Snob Blog]

Grand Hu$tle?!? : Arlen Specter Goes Dem.

As I always tell ya'll here at AB.com, you should read politricks with your 3rd eye wide open. It doesn't matter if it's the Dems or the GOP, reality is, folks wanna stay elected, and will do anything to keep their coveted, very cushy Day Jobs.

So pardon me if I'm a wee bit skeptical about this.
Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter will switch his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat and announced today that he will run in 2010 as a Democrat, according to a statement he released this morning.

Specter's decision would give Democrats a 60 seat filibuster proof majority in the Senate assuming Democrat Al Franken is eventually sworn in as the next Senator from Minnesota. (Former Sen. Norm Coleman is appealing Franken's victory in the state Supreme Court.)

"I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary," said Specter in a statement. "I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election."

He added: "Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans."

Specter as a Democrat would also fundamentally alter the 2010 calculus in Pennsylvania as he was expected to face a difficult primary challenge next year from former Rep. Pat Toomey. The only announced Democrat in the race is former National Constitution Center head Joe Torsella although several other candidates are looking at the race.

The precariousness of Specter's political position -- a Republican in a Democratic-leaning state -- was on display earlier this year when he was one of three GOP Senators to back President Barack Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus plan. That vote was strongly condemned by conservative Republicans and Toomey used that vote as the launching pad for his candidacy.

Because of the shrinking Republican vote in the state, Specter was seen as a dead man walking politically in the primary with polling showing him trailing Toomey by ten or more points. The bar for Specter to run as an independent was also extremely high due to the rules governing such a third party candidacy.

That left a Democratic candidacy as Specter's best option if he wanted to remain in the Senate beyond 2010.
But does he really mean it?

Synopsis: As an independent minded voter, I'm admittedly pleased at Specter's denouncement of the GOP as a party that's "moved far to the right". What's troubling however is the context in which this is occurring. PA (like much of the country) is continually turning more and more Democratic, as voter registrations and the like would indicate. There's also the small matter that Specter wouldn't likely win the GOP nomination in 2010, largely because he's seen as being too moderate. So, the obvious question is, is this guy switching sides because he's genuinely aligned with the Dems, or simply because he wants to be employed another 6 years?

Final Verdict: Grand Hu$tle. Much like a pro athlete who only realizes the folly of dogfighting once he gets caught and convicted, Specter seeing the light when his job depends on it is a textbook CYA maneuver. Had he done this in, say, 2005, I might have been convinced. Jumping overboard when "the ship be sinkin'" isn't necessarily noble, nor laudable. Of course, the Dems will take him with open arms and no qualms because he inches them thismuchcloser to a Filibuster Proof Majority, which was the whole point all along. Chew on that one, Judd Gregg.

Question: What do you think of Arlen Specter's decision to get on the ObamaTrain?

Specter To Switch Parties [WashPost]

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

100 Days, One Schmundred Days!!!

Let the MSM go buckwild with their random, pointless, little 100 Day report cards. Hunned Day report cards are for suckers.

58 Day Report Cards = Kaing Sh*t!

Get like me and peep the post I wrote 42 days ago. Give (or take) a point or two for that Somali Pirate situation.

Revised Overall Assessment Of Obama's First 58 100 Days - B

Question: How do you grade Obama's first 100 days in office?

AB Grades The First 58 Days Of The Obama Presidency [AB.com]

TelePrompter Epic Fail!!!

Yes, I am officially late to the party, but I think "Epic Fail" is my new favorite saying. How else could you describe this classic Obama flub?



And another one...



And another one...



Yeah, I know. All politricians use em'. Barry writes his own speeches. It doesn't diminish the fact that he's a great speaker. Bush was an idiot and couldn't have read one if he wanted. Blah, blah, blah. Just admit it, this is sorta funny/jacked up. There's nothing wrong with calling it what it is.

And since we're on the topic, is Barack really that great a speaker? Really? Lets be honest: he's nice on the stump, but he's always been an iffy "off the cuff" speaker. Those initial Democratic debates were just dreadful. He got better, especially vs McCain, but considering the competition, that isn't saying much.

Having seen him speak in person 3-4 times, I still fail to see what's so great about him as a public speaker. I've seen Jesse Jackson in his prime. Barack couldn't hold Jesse's condom wrappers.

[pause]

I think he gets a little extra boost because of whom he's following ("Mr. New-Cue-Lurr") in office. Just my two cents.

Nevertheless, I'll tell ya'll one thing though, if the TelePrompter Scrolling Dude screws up during tomorrow night's 100 Days PrimeTime Extravaganza (ft. T-Pain & Lil' Wayne), some heads are gon' roll.

Question: Do you think Obama leans on that trusty TelePrompter a bit too much? Does this crutch say anything about his competency? How long before someone makes a TelePrompter Vocoder clip and puts it on YouTube?!?

Are You Actually A Black Republican?!?

The Democrats cleaned the GOP's clock with Black voters last Fall, as nearly 95% of all Negroes cast their votes for The Beige One. While this sounds amazing, it's more or less in line with the percentage (90 or so) that the typical Democratic Presidential candidate pulls. Simply put, the Dems can more or less roll out any ole' mediocre dude (ie: Dukakis) and automatically count on getting a large majority of Black votes. Many say this is unwise since it leads to an "all eggs in one basket" situation. Still, it's little surprise that the GOP didn't even make a token push for the Black vote last year. And it's little surprise that this cost them.

[Editor's Note: Not that Black Americans are alone. A new Washington Post/ABC news poll says only 21 percent of people polled identified themselves as Republicans, down from 25 percent in a late March poll and at the lowest ebb in this poll since the fall of 1983. In that same poll, 35 percent self-identified as Democrats and 38 percent called them Independents. In other words, the Negro vote is the least of the GOP's problems.]

I'm of course an unaffiliated voter, but I can't personally ever see myself voting for a Republican President. Governors? Done it. State Senators? Done it. County Execs? Not yet, but if they could pave streets better, I'd do it. But President? Sorry, just can't bring myself to make that call. Yet.

It's often said that Black folks are perhaps the most Conservative people in America on social issues. From gay marriage, to abortion, to right to free speech. And like most Americans, I doubt Blacks like higher taxes or wasteful spending. Strictly on GP, it would seem like the GOP's message should be good enough to pull at least 50% of the Black vote.

So what's the problem? It ain't the message, it's the messengers.

Simply put, it's a lot more palatable to vote for someone who believes in half the stuff you do and treats you with some modicum of respect than it is to vote for someone who believes in half the stuff you do, yet treats you like the scum of the Earth.

Here's how the GOP's messengers screw up its message.

Political Ads - When it all comes down to it, the GOP would rather lapse into "Us vs Them" style of racial politricks than try and engage voters respectfully. Why the hell would you vote for someone who tries to pull a fast one like this? Witness the infamous Willie Horton Ad.



D-Bag Pundits - The GOP allows talking heads to run roughshod and talk all sorts of greasy about Negroes. Nobody ever puts these fools in check, so it's not unreasonably to assume these folks "speak for the party" to some degree. Do they think Black folks can't find the EIB Radio Network?



D-Bag Milquetoast Black Pundits - Where do they find these Negroes? Why is it that every Black Republican that gets to "speak for the party" is some milquetoast House Negro that can do little more than spit Talking Points and defend "Massa"? I know many Black Republicans who can clearly articulate the party's stances in a less defensive, and far more levelheaded fashion, but they only choose wackos like Ron Christie. And why do Black Republican Pundits always have jacked up haircuts? Are these guys scared to go to the hood' for a shape-up?



D-Bag GOP Politicians - How come everything something racist pops up, the politician of note is almost always Republican? Fellas, get beyond Tamron Hall and watch this.



D-Bag Republican Voters - Who could forget this guy? Yes, we know people like this exist on both sides of the aisle. But the problem is, how come out of the hundreds of other folks at this rally, nobody pulled this fella aside and said "hey, that might not be a good idea"? By simply standing aside (and laughing), they do little to quell the sentiment that the GOP isn't welcoming people of color. Why would anyone in their right mind want to walk into such a rally?



In the interest of fairness, we all know that Hilary Clinton arguably ran a more racially tinged race vs Obama last Fall. And yes, the Democratic Party has its own issues. The difference is, the Dems have enough people of color in house (ie: Jim Clyburn) to call out such nonsense when it happens. The GOP does no such self-policing. In fact, you could argue that it more or less fans the flames by either claiming reverse racism (WTH?), or doing nothing at all.

Again, the sad thing is, black folks (and all people of color. heck, all Americans period) need two viable parties to pick and choose from. This keeps both major parties on their feet. But when one party is so outwardly hostile, and doesn't appear to give a sh*t who gets offended in the process, it makes the decision for whom to vote so much easier. And that's a shame.

This is part of why I decided to fall back and quit ragging on Michael Steele a few weeks back. Yeah, the guy is a Grade-A clown and can't stay away from a camera, but he's probably the GOP's best (and last?) chance to change the tone of the messengers whose message seldom gets across. I want him to succeed, we all should. Whether he will or not is to be determined (my money says he'll be chased away by October), but lets give him a chance.

Seriously, could things get any worse?[1]

Question: If the GOP changed its messengers, do you think you'd be more receptive to their message? Does the GOP even have a genuine interest in doing so, or are they perfectly content/oblivious about their imminent extinction in a continually browning America? Do you think black folks in general are socially conservative?

The Republican Shrinkage Problem [WashPost]

[1] Wanna read something just downright disgusting? Peep this Townhall.com post, and more importantly, its comments. Who would support a party whose followers say such things about a First Lady?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Grand Hu$tle?!? : KFC Grilled Chicken.

I've been thinking about fried chicken a lot lately for some reason. Maybe it's cause I'm overdue for a visit to my Grandma's. Maybe because it's warming up, and hot weather means chicken & watermelon. Maybe it's just hardwired in a black man's DNA.

In any event, last week's edition of Poll Position revealed that you guys have some inexplicable liking for Popeye's Chicken. I really don't get this. I suppose the sides are okay, but Popeye's Chicken is loaded with greasiness, perhaps rivaling that of the diabolical Church's Chicken. KFC, which I figured would win the competition going away, finished a distant 4th.

With this imminent danger lurking, the folks at Yum! Brands (which used to be headed by a brother, BTW) are reaching deep in the batter for tricks just to maintain their market share. And to that effect, we now have KFC's latest invention, the aptly named Kentucky Grilled Chicken.
In the past, KFC has made various tries with rotisserie chicken, roasted chicken, grilled chicken strips and the dreaded skinless, boneless, grilled chicken breast. Need I add flavorless? Chicken breasts are getting away with murder on the American menu board. I’d rather eat cardboard. At least cardboard has some fiber.

Now comes KFC with its new Kentucky Grilled Chicken, prepared with a patented process that super-grills the chicken and keeps the meat flavorful and juicy. The chicken is placed on a grill that goes into an oven. The chicken emerges with grill marks — not fake, drawn-on grill marks. Here’s the blueprint: grilled chicken, with skin on.

Total calories: 140 (one thigh). Fat grams: 9. Dietary fiber: 0. Carbs: 0. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: $3.99 for two pieces of chicken, two sides and a biscuit.

The nutritional comparison between fried and grilled chicken is a kick in the gut. An Extra Crispy thigh has nearly three times the calories and fat as a grilled thigh. And if you stick to white meat, the fat melts away even more. A grilled chicken breast has only 4 fat grams.

The secret to KFC’s satisfying grilled chicken is its new patented cooking process. The chicken is placed on a grill inside an oven. Different sizes and pieces of chicken are cooked on different parts of the grill, so they’re all done at the same time. Don’t ask how they do that. It’s a secret.

The chicken is marinated and covered with six herbs and spices. Here we go again with the KFC secrets. At least we’re making progress — Original Recipe has 11 secret herbs and spices.
I'm sure you've seen the nifty commercials by now. There's the one with G. Garvin...



... the obligatory "the CEO says it's good, so it must be good. Trust him, he's the CEO and he's got a really cool foreign accent and all folks with foreign accents are extra intelligent, so lets go get us a bucket already!" spot.



... and my personal favorite, with BET Alum (and my frat brother) Joe Clair, who seems to be making a pretty decent living off such commercials. Get that money, Nupe!



Sounds good, but how does it taste?

Synopsis: I bit the figurative bullet and tried a 2 piece last week. For all the fuss, I expected the chicken to be lousy, but it was actually very good. Despite being grilled, it was still juicy, yet not overly so. The difference in taste between this and KFC is distinct, if you didn't know any better, you'd swear this was made somewhere else. I suppose the 5 extra herbs and spices do indeed make a difference. Still, you could do worse. You could also do better. Anyone with a gas grill, some seasoning salt, and a basic knowledge of indirect heating could probably top this at home. I do. Routinely.

Final Verdict: Legit. The chicken isn't bad, and thankfully KFC isn't going overboard and marketing this as "healthy" food, merely "different" food. Calling this healthy when the sides are still laden with fat and loaded with calories would be dishonest. Score one for KFC for providing an alternative without getting all sacrilegious in the process. Then again, isn't the whole point of going to KFC to beast-out on some food you know your a$$ shouldn't be eating in the first place? While the initial over-the-top PR blitz[1] will likely sell some chicken, over time, I see this failing for that very reason.

Question: Can you name another food people pay good money for that you could otherwise make at home? Have you tried KFC Grilled Chicken? If not, today is your lucky day, they are apparently handing out free pieces of chicken to all comers, while supplies last. Try not to get trampled in the process, cause that would be one story you don't wanna explain to your kids.

KFC’s Grilled Chicken is delicious and healthy [HoustonChronicle]

[1] Seriously, we have a Black President. WTF is up with all this dancin' for chicken?!?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Popeye's Chicken Epic Fail!!!

How To Get Negroes Really, Really Angry: Exhibit #128.

Sorry, but between the sista with the stunna shades cussin' at the drive-thru, and that grammatically incorrect window sign, I couldn't even finish watching this one.



Damn, they had to call in the National Guard over a $5 bucket of chicken?!?



Seriously, what is this, FreakNik 2K9?!?



If only we were so passionate about checking our kids' homework.

MLK is crying inside.

Damn, That Autotune!!!



Black & Married With Kids: The Movie.

Coming soon from our friend TheDad @ BMWK.com, Happily Ever After: Stories of Black Marriages and Why They Work. AverageSis and I make our film debut in this short trailer. See if you can pick us out. [1]



Can't wait for my copy.

[1] Or not. Just wreally anted ya'll to watch. Sorry for the jokey joke.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dang, I'm Gettin' Old.

Special Ed in 1989.



Special Ed in 2009.



Yep, I'm gettin' old.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Do The Ricky Bobby?!?

So this is what the young folks is doin'? Suddenly, being 35 don't sound so bad after all.



Seriously, is this even an actual "dance", or just some random Negro wiggling? Unlike its predecessors, The Soulja Boy, and The Stanky Leg, I don't even feel jealous bad that I can't do this. Seriously, this B-Hamp dude is too fat and lazy to do his own dance and he created it!!!

And my mama thought The PeeWee Herman was stoopid...

I am now thoroughly convinced that making an LCD Rap Dance Anthem and becoming a GOP Pundit are the two easiest ways for a Black man to make it on TeeVee.

Question: Which should I do? Work on my ProTools, or start memorizing Conservative Talking Points?

AB.com Guest Post - The Billionaire BBalling CarpetBagger.

[Editor's Note: Citizen Ojo is on the soapbox.]

I knew Charlotte was going to get screwed by Bob “Pimping Ain’t Easy” Johnson. I knew this dude would sneak away in the night like a common thief. This (I can’t even think of a name for this dude) went to David “Little Man” Stern begging for the opportunity to own a basketball team. The decision came down to Larry Bird (NBA Legend) and that dude from the booty shaking channel. In order to bring a team to a city, you have to build an arena. BUT the citizens of Charlotte (at least 50% or so) didn’t want another basketball team.

[Side Note: The last bball team owner snuck out like a thief in the night. (You notice a theme here?]

The politicians ended up ignoring the will of the people and built the arena anyway. But we can’t complain about it anymore because the team is here now. We need for this team to be successful in the worst way. We have our tax money riding on this!!! Now this dude is talking about a possible sale. This dude became an owner a year before I bought my first house. Whatever happened to building a family dynasty? This guy is an expert at selling his birthright. The fact that he won’t move the team means nothing to me. He can’t control who takes over the team.



Then to talk about selling it to the same cat who helped pick Kwame Brown in the NBA draft. You have got to be kidding me? Michael Jordan made Kwame Brown the richest bench warmer in history. The blind guy on American Idol could probably put up more points than Kwame. I knew we couldn’t trust this guy. I would start a petition to revoke his kackalack status but he barely lives here.

Bob Johnson gives affirmative action a bad name. He wasn’t even the best black candidate that was qualified. Former NBA player M.L. Carr also wanted to be the first black owner of a NBA team. He ended up joining Larry Bird in order to have a piece of Charlotte’s new team. M.L. Carr has playing and management experience in the NBA. But between Johnson and Carr, Bird has the most impressive resume. I know that people were in shock (including Bird) when Bird didn’t get the gig. The ownership of Johnson was touted as a historic event. But what has been the cost?

Numerous missteps in the short time the team has been in Charlotte. In order to have a good sports franchise, you have to spend money. Playing inexpensive music videos on BET didn’t prepare him for that concept. Johnson also never had a good understanding of how Charlotte works. While the fact that he doesn’t get “us” is not a color issue, it is a management issue. And when the management is black owned, unfortunately it becomes a color issue. I don’t think opponents of affirmative action will use this as a reason to get rid of affirmative action. I do believe that it won’t help the next black that wants to be an NBA team owner. When it comes to being a minority owner, people will always look back to see what the last one did. I’m all for making the game even for everyone (aka: a level playing field). I just want to make sure the right players are on the court.

Question: Was the NBA's decision to give Bob Johnson an NBA team a prime example of when Affirmative Action Goes Wrong?!?

Bobcats will never leave, owner vows [Charlotte Observer]

More From Citizen Ojo [The Desultory Life & Times of a Public Citizen]

Black, White, Or Other?!? - Calling 911 For Shrimp.

Stereotypes are a way of life in America. We feed into them so readily that they take on a life of their own. But just how well do you really know your racial stereotypes?

Black, White, Or Other? lists a particularly heinous crime/news story, with incriminating bits of info omitted for the sake of confidentiality. Your job is to guess whether the protagonist is black, white, or the omnipresent "other", and to tell why you guessed how you did. The best guessplanation wins a week's supply of Cyber CapriSuns. And yeah, you could prolly Google the news story to find out the race of the person, but what sorta loser does that? Seriously. And if you already know about the story, and thus the answer, sit this one out. Be a good sport. Don't cheat.

Anyways, here's today's entry.
A woman who ordered shrimp fried rice at [redacted]’s on Monday afternoon called police when she believed that she didn’t get the extra shrimp she had requested.

[redacted] said Monday that there wasn’t anything wrong with the meal.

"She started yelling, and said that she wasn’t happy," [redacted] said.

The woman left the restaurant in the 4000 block of [redacted] Street and called for a patrol officer shortly after 3 p.m. But when the officer arrived, the woman and her boyfriend were gone.

[redacted] never expected a customer to call police.

"Some customers are happy," [redacted] said. "Some are not.".
Question: Is the 911 caller Black, White, or Other? Why?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

TheSlammer.com - Is This Even Legal?!?

I've spent a good portion of the past month in my home state, and the more I'm here, the more I notice how things have changed in the nearly 15 years (dang! gettin' old.) since I departed the Tarheel State for The DC Metro Urreah.

Raleigh missed the boat when they built the RBC Center out near the fairgrounds, but their new and improved downtown is a nice step in the right direction. Ditto for Durham, whose downtown ballpark district, and glistening new performing arts center are bringin' the Bull City back. Greensboro is comparatively nice as always. I still don't see what all the fuss about Charlotte is, but hey, somebody likes it. When you add it all up, my home state has made some nice strides.

On the flipside, just to prove that this is still the Dirty South, you catch a remnant of the bassackwards, less progressive side of Norf Cack everyy now and then. One such example would be The Slammer Newspaper.



I hadn't noticed it before, so I'm assuming this is a relatively new thing, but if you hit Triangle area convenience stores, you'll notice a Penny Saver-sized newspaper near the register. There, staring right at you, are felons. Lots of em'. Apparently someone got the bright idea of compiling mugshots from local jailhouses, and rolling dozens of them, plus SmokingGun.com style comedic clips, into a sales circular-style fishwrap that goes for a dollar.

You can peep the PDF print version of this monstrosity if you're really curious, but peep the screenshot above, and the website (which features some of the same mugshots) in case you're curious. In addition to the photos, the paper lists the arrested person's full name, DOB, aliases, and what they've been charged with. It's almost like a yearbook for alleged felons. Except it comes out every week. And before you ask, no, I didn't buy it, but yes, I recognized a face or two (or 15) on the cover.

One simple question (okay, two): Who the hell would buy this, and why is this legal?

The website's FAQ makes it clear that mugshots are public domain, and they're obviously correct in this regard. But why glorify/profit off such a thing? Pity the poor kid whose Dad did a crime, and now finds his face prominently displayed in the local QuikMart. Even worse, if you just happen to be innocent, what's the likelihood that The Slammer would print a retraction?

Considering the fact that I've made a feature called Black, White, Or Other a staple here at AB.com, I'm well aware of my hypocrisy. I also pick fun at relatively unknown people's alleged criminal actions. No, I don't run photos, or even names for that matter, but the sentiment is the same. And I'm suddenly wondering if this just ain't right. What do ya'll think?

Question: Is The Slammer just good, clean fun, or should the publishers be ashamed of such rank exploitation of criminals? Even if it's legal, is it tasteful to put folks' fresh mugshots on the cover of a newspaper? Should I get rid of Black, White, or Other in light of this development?

The Slammer Newspaper [official website]

AB.com Guest Post - Can I Get A Loan For My Jail Fees?!?

[Editor's Note: I'm earnin' my paycheck today. Ebonie is back.]

Still trying to wrap my mind around this one.
In a new measure that went into effect last week, inmates in Florida’s Polk County jails will now be charged a $2 fee daily for their stay.

“The fee will help subsidize costs for services such as food, clothing and laundry, deputies say. Sheriff Grady Judd said every dollar collected from inmates is a dollar taxpayers won’t have to pay.

The jail will keep tabs on who pays and who doesn’t. If someone owes money and is arrested again, money in his possession will be applied toward debt. If a person is found not guilty or is acquitted, he will not get his money back, Judd said.

Judd said he hopes to collect $300,000 to $500,000 a year.

If all inmates were able to pay the $2 fee, about $1,825,000 would be collected. But Judd expects that less than half of the inmates will be able to afford to pay.”
I feel some type of way about this new policy.

On one hand, if prisoners are paying for their stay at public prisons, this could offset the costs taxpayers contribute. But the Sheriff already said he doesn’t expect even half of prisoners to be able to afford the fee.

Wouldn’t it be better to work this fee into the labor programs that prisoners already participate in? Or to use another alternative instead of just sticking it on a prisoner’s tab if he or she can’t pay? Instead of college loans, after release, they will have to worry about paying back the cost of imprisonment?

Also, if you’re wrongly incarcerated, you don’t even get a refund. That sucks. What about all those people who stay in jail for years and then evidence appears proving they didn’t commit the crime? In addition to years lost in jail for a crime they didn’t commit, they will also have to pay the tab. Florida has the nation’s third-largest prison system, and has six private prison facilities throughout the state.

For private prisons, if such a policy went into effect, prisoners would essentially be paying into a system that already profits from housing prisoners.
“What is the Polk County going to do when the inmates can’t pay?” wrote a commenter on the Tampa Tribune article. “Cry and say that they don’t have enough money to keep the jail running as it should be? Seriously, how many inmates have $2 a day to stay in jail? If the State and Counties are so worried about budgets, then maybe they should look at salaries of politicians and see where budget cuts really need to be made.”
Such a fee could deter some prisoners from returning to prison, but more likely, it would just lead to more prisoners owing the correctional system.

And this particular policy is promoted as helping out the average tax payer, but who’s really going to benefit from this new daily fee?
Correctional facilities cost state governments nearly $50 billion a year and the federal government $5 billion more. And With more than 2.3 million people behind bars, the United States leads the world in both the number and percentage of residents it incarcerates.
But would the spread of policies such as a daily imprisonment fee deter people from crime, help with the costs that states have to pay for prison operations, or make much of an impact to tax payers in the long run?

Question: What do you think? Should a daily fee for imprisonment become more widespread?

Polk County inmates will pay $2 a day to stay [TampaBayOnline]

More From Ebonie [Whatlookslikecrazy blog]

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Name That Sample - "Forget Me Nots".

Name That Sample is simple: I play the original song, you tell me who sampled it. Winner gets a day's supply of Cyber CapriSuns™. As always, no Googling! Google is for losers.



This classic 80's tune by the underrated songstress Patrice Rushen has been sampled dozen of times. From gangsta rap to R&B, it's been used more than Kim Kardashian's diaphragm. But who can name the most songs that have used these delightful bars?

Question: How many songs can you name that used the "Forget Me Nots" sample? Feel free to cheat and use other commenters' work, but do NOT Google! Google is for losers.

Why Don't Black Folks Care About The Environment?!?

Like most black folks, I don't profess to be a huge proponent of conservation, recycling, or other environmental issues. It's not that I don't care, it's just that I care more about other things. Like my family, the community, my health, etc.

Seriously, on the list of Black Folks' Collective Priorities, I'm guessing The Environment is around #278, sandwiched between Vocoder Eradication, and Saving CW's The Game. We like our greens cripsy & folded, rolled & puffed, or seasoned & cooked with hamhocks.

Carbon Offsets my a$$.

That said, it's never too late to chip in and do your part to save the planet and save yourself some money at the same time. Every small step helps. Here's some very basic tips that everyone can do.
If you do leave your PC/laptop turned on - even while at lunch - try to configure it to go into sleep or "stand-by" mode after, say, 15 or 20 minutes of inactivity.

Compost helps improve soil so it holds more water and plants grow better. Allow grass clippings to stay on the lawn, instead of bagging them. The cut grass will decompose and return to the soil naturally. Food scraps and kitchen waste also make good compost, and you save money on fertilizers or other additives.

The average washing machine uses 40.9 gallons of water per load. To achieve even greater savings, wash only full loads of laundry or be sure to choose the appropriate load size on the washing machine.

Surge protectors consume electricity even when nothing is connected to them, so it's a good idea to unplug items like cell phone chargers and iPod chargers when not in use.

Help protect the environment when you shop. Keep reusable bags on your car seat or near your door so they are easy to grab when you go. And you can even combine shopping bags - just tell the cashier that you don't need a bag, then put all your purchases together in one bag.

A full bathtub requires about 70 gallons of water, but taking a five-minute shower saves water by using 10 to 25 gallons.

Screen saver software does not save energy. It's much better to turn off your monitor when you take a break.

Run your dishwasher only when it's full. Don't pre-rinse dishes - tests show pre-rinsing doesn't improve dishwasher cleaning, and you'll save as much as 20 gallons of water per load.

Don't fertilize before a rain storm. Your fertilizer - along with your money - can just wash off your lawn and down the storm drain. Fertilizer runoff can pollute rivers, lakes, and bays, and cause problems in recreational areas or fishing grounds.
Something I personally plan on doing soon is having an energy audit of my house. This involves a professional home energy auditor who comes to your house to help you identify energy drains, such as holes or gaps in sealing, and energy hogs, such as inefficient heating and cooling systems and appliances, in your home. Even better, in my county, you can get an interest-free loan for all suggested fixes that can be rolled into your property tax bill in reasonably increments. This audit costs between between $300 and $700, but when coupled with the fixes, can save you thousands in energy costs over the years.

Either way, do something.

Question: Why do you think black folks don't get too involved in environmental issues? Got any other energy saving tips for Earth Day?!?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Poll Position - TeaBaggers & Fried Chicken.

Seldom do the results of Poll Position shock me. I have a pretty good pulse on Black America, and since a large majority of folks who frequent this site are, well, Black, I make lots of assumptions. Sometimes, these assumptions prove to be on point. Witness the following.

While I don't agree with the results of this poll, it was predictable given the discourse over a couple of TeaBagger-related posts last weekend. I still think a relatively small portion of those who protested were racially-motivated. I maintain that this was more garden-variety sour grapes than anything else, but hey, we can agree to disagree.

The next poll (I ran then simultaneously, I'm can just multitask like that) however, threw me for a loop. Seriously.

C'mon ya'll. I personally voted for My Grandma's chicken, but outside that, there's no way in Holy Gibblet Hell that Popeye's has the best chicken. Ya'll can't be serious. That crap is awful, and just one degree removed from Church's, which is the worse crap ever tasted. I figured KFC (which is now, oddly serving grilled chicken. go figure) would be the safe choice, but it came in a distant 4th. The "hypertension"/cop out answer as usual garnered its fair share of votes as well.

Too bad Mrs. Winners, which makes me long for those good ole' HBCU days (free iced tea with student ID) is regional. I'm sure they'd have scored better had more of ya'll known about them. Bojangles' (fries are better than chicken) and the aforementioned abominable Church's (at least they have jalapenos) brought up the rear.

Bonus: KFC's Grilled Chicken Commercial. G. Garvin is my dude, but this makes me cringe. It's not quite "MC Hammer Dancin' For Popcorn Chicken" bad, but something about seeing a black man wigglin' for chicken, yes, even grilled chicken, just feels wrong. And BTW, that "grilled chicken" is clearly coated in a few layers of sodium to overcompensate. Why even bother, it's not like this is markedly more "healthy" than fried chicken. You are simply trading one evil for another? Am I right, or am I right?



Question: Who makes the best fried chicken? Why?

Could You Pull Yourself Up By Your BootStraps?!?

Those who criticize the poor always espouse "The Bootstrap Theory", which essentially states that if you wanna rescue yourself from abject poverty, it's as simple as digging in, working hard, saving money, and staying focused. Am equal number of critics say that "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps" overly simplifies the multitude of reasons (health, generational poverty, poor education, the economy, lack of familial support) that cause folks to be poor in the first place.

I suppose I can see both sides of the argument. This is indeed a nation chock full of opportunity, with very few hard and fast obstacles that prevent one from succeeding. Even without a high school diploma, it is very possible to find decent employment (yes, even in this economy) and if you're disciplined enough, you can "make something of your life", by whatever definition you choose. We all know people like this.

On the flipside, your ability to succeed is often shaped by your environment. If the established norm that you grew up observing is living check to check, evictions, WIC, food stamps, dropping out of high school, etc., simply flipping a switch and changing your fate is hardly in minor undertaking.

At the behest of our resident Conservative (you know his name), I recently read the book[1] Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepard. Shepard, who grew up not far from my hometown in Raleigh, NC, decided to skip the usual Corporate route post-college and conduct an admittedly flawed social experiment. Feeling "disillusioned by the apathy he saw around him and incensed after reading Barbara Ehrenreich's famous works Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch, books that gave him a feeling of hopelessness over the state of the working class in America. Eager to see if he could make something out of nothing, he set out to prove wrong Ehrenreich's theory that those who start at the bottom stay at the bottom, and to see if the American Dream can still be a reality." His words, not mine.



Shepard chose Charleston, South Carolina for no particular reason, and caught a train into town with just $25 to his name. He takes up residence in a run-down homeless shelter, gets clothes from Goodwill, eats courtesy of food stamps, and works odd menial jobs that pay next to nothing. His goal was to have a steady job, a car, a home, and $2,500 in savings by the end of the year. His mission would presumably be to prove that by merely working hard and wanting to succeed badly enough, he could reach his goals without calling home for help, and also without using his degree, his personal contacts, or divulging his middle-classed background.

I'm naturally skeptical, so I picked up this book expecting some ulterior motive. Is Shepard some guy with a Conservative bent doing this to decry gubb'ment programs and "European-style Socialism"? Not at all. The foreword of the book announces that Shepard has no political motive. Of course, this doesn't stop the usual suspects from trying to use this unique experiment to their advantage.



He admits the many flaws of the experiment. He knows that few people "start fresh" in poverty. Most have kids, health problems, debt, etc. He is "starting" at zero, whereas many people are "starting" at negative 4,000. He also acknowledges that the mental reality of having an "escape" at the end of the year makes his motivation different than most since this is only temporary, not his actual "life". With those disclaimers aside, it's much easier to settle in and read the book without your 3rd eye. I don't want to ruin the story for anyone, but I'll simply say it's an easy read that's worth a trip to the library.

It also raises a number of very interesting questions.

Question: If you had to "start at zero" with little money to your name, couldn't use you education, or Rolodex, and were dumped in a strange city, could you "make it"? Taking the whole "experiment" out of the equation, why do you think it's so difficult for people to "make it" out of poverty? How much to gubb'ment programs actually demotivate people to better themselves and "make it out"?

Scratch Beginnings [Official Website]

[1] Yeah, I read. A lot. Don't be fooled by all the TeeVee, cRap music, and Negro Nonsense. I get it in at the library.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Name That Sample - "I Get Lifted".

Name That Sample is simple: I play the original song, you tell me who sampled it. Winner gets a day's supply of Cyber CapriSuns™. As always, no Googling! Google is for losers.



This underrated tune by the George McCrae has been sampled to death. Heck, I can name a 1/2 dozen of them off the top off my head. But who can name the most songs that have used these delightful bars?

Question: How many songs can you name that used the "I Get Lifted" sample? Feel free to cheat and use other commenters' work, but do NOT Google! Google is for losers.

What Would You Do?!? Ball Or Crawl?!?

Okay, very, very, very simple question here. As usual, you gotta piss or get off the pot choose either of the two answers. "Neither" or "Both" are not options. Choose a freakin' answer or stay on the sidelines!

[Update: The initial question was apparently too simple, so I changed it slightly. The question is far more detailed and nuanced now. Please ponder the full scenario before answering.]



Would you rather...
1) Ball! Get money and live the high life taking penitentiary chances. Live where you want with endless cashflow. Then absolutely go to prison at age 50 for the remainder of your life. No possibility for parole. Life in maximum security until you kick the bucket, period.[1]

or..

2) Crawl. Stay in completely inescapable poverty your entire life. This means you have no hopes of getting further education. You will be trapped in deplorable living conditions. You must work, but with no chance of escaping a dead-end repetitive job. You have to depend on the gubb'ment for all essential healthcare. But you stay outta jail.
Again, simple question, only two possible answers. Lurkers, join the party![2]

Question: Given the choice of only two options, would you Ball or Crawl?!? Why? Before you logical thinkers start poking holes in each scenario, just take this at face value and answer. No need to overanalyze the question.

[1] For the Ebonically Challenged, "Ballin'" means living a very rich and lavish life. "Crawlin'" isn't exactly a real slang term, but it rhymed. For all intents and purposes, consider it to mean the opposite of "Ballin'".

[2] And yeah, I already know about Cassie's weird half-haircut. And no, she doesn't look better with it, she looks stoopid. Stick to the question, already.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

This Guy Is My Hero!

Here's a good example of how you state your point by dealing with the point itself, not insulting the misguided, misinformed individuals who are marching pointlessly. Ms. Garofalo could learn a thing or two from this guy, who hijacked the Pensacola, FL TeaBag Party.



Seriously, are we supposed to believe this is a "bi-partisan, grassroots effort aimed at reckless gubb'ment spending and taxation"? If so, why'd this Great American get booed for simply telling the truth?

I won't lie to you, when I heard there was a Tea Party being planned for DC, I seriously thought about going for the very same reason. As one of the few Negroes in the crowd, I have little doubt I would have gotten on camera/stage with ease. I mighta done a bit more to reel the folks in before I pulled the "gotcha b*tch!" card, but otherwise, this dude expresses my sentiment exactly.

Well done, sir. Well done.

Question: Who the heck vetted this guy, and how did he manage to get onstage? Would I have caught a beatdown if I'd pulled a similar stunt? Did any of you consider crashing a TeaBagger's Ball with similar intent?

Watch Your Back Ms. Garofalo.

For the record, I didn't really think the TeaBaggers were "racist", I just saw it as an extreme case of Sour Grapes. I think we'd have seen the same protests (albeit with different handmade signs) had Hillary or, God forbid, John Edwards, become President.



She has some salient points (ie: ignorance, anti-intellectualism) but racism ain't one of em'.

Question: Were the TeaBaggers racist or just sour? Should Garofalo watch her back?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Uhhh, Honey... How Bout We Order Papa Johns Instead?!?

Disgusting. And of course, this just haaad to happen in my home state.



Even worse, turns out the chick has a jail record longer than Manute Bol.



Damn. And them oven baked sammiches was pretty good too... I better make sure AverageSis never sees this.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Black Men Can't Jump: The Sequel.

A few weeks ago, I told ya'll my very unfortunate story of being triple reverse-discriminated against during a game of pickup bball. Since I'm trying to mix up the workout routine (4 different activities this week alone, thanks for the tips), I decided to revisit the scene of the crime today at lunch.



When I rolled in, the usual suspects (ie: those very same Asian guys) were there, shooting around. One very cock diesel [pause] black dude was also shooting, so as we picked teams, as was expected that they split the black dudes up, one per team. There is a quota to fill here, obviously.

I am put on a team with 3 Asian guys that I don't know during the first game, vs the other Asians (that I remember from last time) and the cock diesel [pause again] black guy. To save myself from writing any future [pauses], we'll just call this guy Olden Polynice, since he looks and sounds like the former Haitian NBA journeyman (pictured above, in case you're clueless).

Anyways, we predictably get thumped in the first game. Badly, I mean, it was like 15-4. Just like the prior game, I scored nearly all of my team's points, off my usual assortment of flip shots and putbacks. But we lost, which really sucks. And we lost mainly because Olden Polynice, who must be about 6-2, 245 of pure muscle, launches a Steve Kerr-style barrage of three pointers (which count as 2's in pickup ball) over the outstretched hands of my teammate who tried (unsuccessfully) to guard him.

We added another person (a fiftysomething white guy. Shocker!) for the 2nd run, as the opposing team added another Asian guy (notice a pattern here?). I knew that in order to avoid another drubbing, I'd have to take one for the team and guard Olden Polynice myself. Otherwise, he'd just shoot more 3's (which could as 2's in pickup ball. just making sure you're paying attention) and beat us even quicker.

Pickup ball is a lot like chess. Sure, the teams have as many as 5 guys per side, but it's really more of a 1-on-1 game of you vs the guy who you're tasked with guarding. On paper, Olden Polynice (6-2, 245 of pure muscle, just in case you forgot) vs me (5-11, 180-something of average build, but very well defined shoulders, thank you much!) looks like a mismatch. But in real life, a guy like me, with no handle and a very shaky outside "J" can neutralize Olden Polynice for one very simple reason.

I'm smarter.

Some people say pickup ball is all about freewheeling offense and that a guy who tries to play "D" is taking it waay too seriously. Naturally, given my offensive limitations, I disagree. Anyone knows the best way to stop a jump shooter is to deny him the ball. In our second game, I hounded Olden Polynice like a doberman [pause], to the point that this brolic MF'er was slapping my hand away, and trying to undercut me when boxing out for rebounds, all out of frustration.

When he did catch the ball, he started rushing his shots (knowing I would contest quickly) and throwing up bricks. When he tried to put it on the floor and drive, I shuffled my feet so well that I forced him baseline and he dribbled off his feet and out of bounds 3 straight times. A guy who'd just made us look like peons was now looking pretty gameless himself, and I could tell he was pissed.

Meanwhile, the guys on my team finally discovered how to shoot. On offense, I set picks for them, and drew Olden Polynice away from the basket so the lane was open for easy putbacks by my teammates. I only attempted (and made) one shot. We beat them easily, 16-7. I not only won the game on the court, but I beat Olden Polynice in the arguably more important game of psychology. I got in his head, and it cost his team the game.

When the game was over, Olden Polynice was fuming. I could tell this guy wanted to swing on me, and was looking for some getback in Game 3.

Lucky for me, it was already 12:45. I bid the team adieu, and went back to work.

Vindicated.

Question: Do only p*ssies play defense in pickup ball, or is it all about winning, which means having to shut someone down every now and then? Do you personally take pride in playing defense, or is it all about scoring to you? Do you think I got Olden Polynice off his game, or was he just not very good in the first place? Why do dudes who are 6-2, 245 of pure muscle even bother venturing outside the paint? Is my life really this dramatic, or do I just tell a better story than most?

An AB.com MultiMedia Exposé : Are All Stereotypes Racist?!?


Like most boys under age 5, my sons are absolutely obsessed with Disney Pixar's Cars. We've run through no fewer than a half dozen copies of the DVD, and my wife has bought them Cars-related merchandise ranging from bath mats, to toothbrushes, to Easter baskets. The movie probably gets played at least once a day in our house.[1]

While Cars is more innocent kiddie entertainment, and less appealing to adults than, say, Shrek, I actually enjoy watching it myself. It's a great story of selflessness and teamwork that sends a really positive message to young kids. But one thing sorta irks me about the movie: the lack of "minority" characters.

Yeah, the movie is animated, and yeah, it's about talking cars not real people, but it's still pretty easy to deduce the race/ethnicity of the characters. The star, Lightning McQueen, is voiced by Owen Wilson. Grouchy old man Doc Hudson is Paul Newman. Larry The Cable Guy is Mater, the whimsical tow truck.

The "minority" characters are limited to an interracial couple, Flo (Jennifer Lewis) and Ramone (Cheech Marin). There's also a minor uncredited black character who plays a Hummer in the closing credits.

The problem with each of these characters, if you consider it a problem, is that each of them confirms to stock racial stereotypes. The Hummer who appears in a "bootcamp" outtake during the closing credits just happens to sit on 40 inch spinning rims and complains about getting himself dirty when asked to drive an obstacle course. Flo is a sassy, saucy mouthed big body Cadillac who owns the town gas station, which or more or less treated like a bar. Ramone is a lowrider who owns a body shop, and paints himself in the sorta flames and candy paint that you'd associate with an LA gangbanger. Both talk in somewhat exaggerated and stereotypically black and Hispanic tones and voice inflections.

In case you're clueless about all this, peep the following video and fast forward to around the 3:20 mark.




Taken at face value, there's nothing even remotely offensive about any of these characters. Flo and Ramone are a loving couple, and are universally welcomed by the other residents of Radiator Springs. Except for the over-the-top typecasting, there's nothing really bad about this.

So I guess the question is, if we can agree that these characters are stereotypical, does that make the decision to write them in the manner they were written racist? I don't personally think so. But then I'll admit I'm highly offended by the following nonsense in the very next breath.







I guess the puzzling thing is that we can all mutually agree that the proceeding sitcoms dip pretty deep in the well of stereotypical Negro humor. On some level, large or small, each of those shows was either widely ridiculed or downright boycotted by respectable Negroes coast-to-coast. None of them lasted more than one season, and are Exhibits A, B, and C of why more "diverse images" of black folks need to be put on TeeVee.

But what about these shows? Aren't they also stereotypical in some manner?







Other than the fact that we happen to like those 3 shows, how are they really any different or better than the 3 prior? Same stereotypes, just funnier.

Question: Exactly what makes some things "offensive" or even "racist" and not others? Is it context? Is it irony/satire? Is it just general likability? How much does the person making (directing/starring) the stereotypical act determine whether or not it's bad or good?

[1] Save the typing. Yes, they have plenty of books too.

AB.com NewsBriefs.

[Because it's sorta newsworthy, but I gotta work today.]

Obama's Georgetown Snafu. - When President Obama delivered a policy speech the other day at Georgetown University, he did so on a stage above which religious symbols are usually displayed. One problem: The White House called Georgetown in advance and asked that the cross and the monogram "IHS", which comes from the Greek for Jesus, be covered up for the televised event. I'm not really following the logic here. This was a speech about economic policy, not international relations. Furthermore, the cross and monogram were a good 20 feet above the stage, so it's unlikely any of this would have registered on TV beyond the standard blue curtain/American flags backdrop. Thus, all this effort to cover it up seems pointless, and only lends further credence to those who think Obama has some odd vendetta against Christianity. Why did they even bother holding the event at a Jesuit school, anyway? Next time, just go to Howard. Sheesh.

Dow Climbs Back Over 8,100!!! - Feel free to check your 401k statement again! Ballin'!!! Perhaps this Obama guy knows what he's doing with the economy after all.

Right-Wing Extremists Are The New Al Quaeda. - Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security released a report to law enforcement agencies nationwide warning of the possibility of right wing extremists and Iraq war vets possibly being recruited by terrorists. Predictably, the GOP seized on this as evidence that the Obama Administration is out to shut down voices of dissent. This became a key rallying cry during Wednesday's Tea Parties, and further evidence that Obama hates America, hates the military, and hates puppies and walks in the park. One minor problem: The report was commissioned and compiled by The Bush Administration. Doh.

Kevin Garnett Done For The Playoffs?!? - And Danny Ainge suffers a heart attack on same day. Not looking good for Celtics fans.

Texico or Mexas?!? - Texas Governor Rick Perry wants The Lone Star State to seceed from the Union, all because of "excessive spending and taxation by the federal government". Funny how he only came to this conclusion in the past 3 months, not over the past 8 years when his predecessor ran DC into the ground. Lovely. Kiss goodbye to your Presidential prospects, Rick! And get fitted for a tin-foil hat while you're at it.

Ashton Kutcher Becomes The First Twitter Millionaire - No, I don't care that "Kutch" just topped the 1 Million followers mark either, but apparently CNN thought this was newsworthy enough to send out a "Breaking News!" bulletin. I don't personally follow either. I don't care what sorta eggs Demi Moore made for breakfast this morning, nor do I care that Erica Hill is going to be absent from tonight's AC 360. As much as I love my Twitter-friends ("follow" me if you haven't already, it's fun) I wonder if its explosion in popularity means it's going to flame out soon, like every other web phenom before it. AOL anyone?

AverageNation™ Week Is Returning! - It was so good, we gotta do it again. If you've got a personal piece you wanna share, hit me you-know-where and we'll talk.

Double Standards on CNN? - Speaking of CNN and Twitter (yeah, that was a plug for AverageTwitter!), last night on No Bias, No Bull, CNN's Jessica Yellin introduced a segment on Sarah Palin's woes by referring to Levi Johnston as Bristol Palin's "BabyDaddy". Cutesy as Yellin was trying to be, something about that statement rubbed me the wrong way. Why is it okay for a semi-reputable news organization to jokingly marginalize teen parenthood in such a way? We got all up in arms when Fox News slandered Michelle Obama similarly. Why is this any better? Personally, I think it's worse, given the fact that Johnston is being kept from his kid, and is just 19 years old. Let's not forget, Bristol and Levi aren't Miley Cyrus. They didn't ask for any of this, they were just used (unsuccessfully) to make a pointless point. CNN should prolly apologize for this. As for me, I am personally making a pledge to stop using the term here at AB.com. Hold me to it.

Questions: Was Obama out-of-pocket in asking for that cross to be covered up? Were the TeaBaggers idiots for criticizing the DHS memo? Does CNN's Jessica Yellin need to apologize for calling Levi a "babydaddy"? Why aren't you following AverageTwitter yet?

Obama Nixes 'Jesus' at Georgetown [Catholic.org]

George Bush's FBI and DOD documented "thousands" of US military members joining far-right extremist groups [AmericaBlog]