Wednesday, August 31, 2011 Open Mic Wednesday.

Here's your open mic. Use it or lose it.

Question: What's on your mind today?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Laugh Break - Jemmerio Jemmerio.

Classic Comic View routine from one of my favorite comedians of all time, the infamous Jemmerio Jemmerio. Unfortunately this guy's love of recreational drugs and state-paid vacations prevented him from ever becoming a household name.

His style is (obviously) crude, but his subject matter isn't too far removed from another comic with his own substance abuse and incarceration issues, Katt Williams. Anyways, Jemmerio Jemmerio is a free man right now. Here's to hoping he stays out the clink and keeps us laughing.

Monday, August 29, 2011 Open Mic Monday.

Here's your open mic. Treat it nicely.

Question: What's on your mind today? Is Officially On Vacation.

Okay, so this is take two. Thanks a lot, Irene.

By the time you read this, my wife and I will hopefully be enjoying some icy drinks somewhere in/near the photo above. After 10 years of matrimony, I think we both deserve the break.

In the meantime, ya'll know the drill. I'll run Open Mics. Drop links. Police yourselves and any trolls. The show goes on.

See ya'll in a week (or so).

- Jay

Friday, August 26, 2011

Are You A Runner?!?

Our own Molly recently wrote a guest post over at our blog-bros site The Urban Politico. It's great stuff, go have a look.

As anyone who puts up with my occasional Twitter Rants knows, I started running a few months ago, and now find it an obsession of sorts. This coming from a guy who does crazy cardio work in the gym, but always swore his knees were too bad to run outdoors. I started very slowly. The first week I could barely do 5 minutes without dry heaving.

I gradually added a few mins to each run a week, and now I can comfortably run about 3.5 miles per session without stopping. I recently signed up for my first 5k, which I'll do in early October. Next year, I want to do a 10k. At some point in my life, provided Jesus grants me the time, I will run a full 26 mile marathon. I will.

Running has literally changed my life for the better.

In addition to Molly's sage advice, I'd add a few tidbits of my own for new/curious runners:

Start Slow - A common mistake of new runners is trying to do too much, too soon. Crawl before you ball. Start out doing 5 minute runs the first week, then graduate to 10 mins the next, and gradually add 5 minutes a week until you can comfortably do 30 minutes. Alternate walking and running if you need to. You're not racing anyone but yourself. Moderation is the key.

Learn The Technical Stuff - An undisciplined runner (like I was initially) will probably eventually find him/herself injured or discouraged when they plateau. You have to study and practice proper stride. You have to adequately stretch. You need to sufficiently hydrate. Some of this seems like overkill, but doing these "by the book" steps will make your runs easier, and allow you to extend your distance. If you don't, you'll either plateau (and probably quit) or get yourself hurt (and definitely quit).

Track Your Time/Distance - While you should initially focus on just running for a period of time, eventually you should shift to monitoring distance. There are all sorts of watches and pedometers out there to help with this, but an easier way is just using an app on your smartphone. iPod Touches/iPhones have the Nike Plus app already installed, and it's amazing. It logs your route (iPhone only) and distance and you can even post your in-run progress on Facebook so your friends can cheer you on (Note: I don't do this myself! I could only imagine the distraction.) as you try to set a new record. Either way, logging your progress helps you set and attain your goals.

Dress Properly - Get some actual running shoes before you even attempt to start running. Running in basketball or tennis shoes is a surefire recipe for disaster. Dry fit shirts, running shorts, and compression undergarments can also keep your comfortable while running. The last distraction you need is a wedgie.

Mix It Up - Don't run the same route everyday. Just like running on a treadmill, this will eventually get boring. Try new parks, city blocks, neighborhoods, etc. Running is supposed to be fun, not a chore. Take in your surroundings. You'll probably notice a million places and things you never saw everyday you drive by. Beware, running on sidewalks puts the most strain on your body! Whenever possible, run on the road itself, since asphalt is much more forgiving than concrete. You'll notice an immediate difference.

Rest - Don't kill yourself. Set your own pace. If your body is hurting, listen to it. Running in pain will only result in longterm injury. Take days off when you need them.

Enjoy - Again, running is supposed to be fun. If it's beginning to feel like a chore, switch things up and go biking, back to the gym, etc, then come back.

Question: Are you a runner? Why/why not? Got any advice for novices?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Laugh Break - The Uptown Comedy Corner.

Be forewarned, there's LOTS of bad language and several utterances of the dreaded N-word here. Hot Topics - 8.25.11

Here's the daily rundown, with headlines taken from links you sent in/suggested.

Irene Is Coming - Hide ya' kids. Hide ya' wife. Hide ya' summer beach home, assuming Bank Of America didn't already take it back. While I'm definitely happy we were able to delay our trip to the Bahamas, I find it equally sad that the East Coast will probably be pummelled this weekend. Let's pray this doesn't turn out as badly as it could.

Steve Jobs Steps Down - I think AppleManiacs™ had to see the writing on the wall when Jobs kept showing up at product rollouts looking thinner and thinner. Sadly, it seems like The Big C has caught up with one of America's most innovative minds, so yesterday's announcement shouldn't have been a shock. We obviously wish him the best. In the meantime, it's fair to wonder what this means for the company's future. Is Jobs really the mastermind behind Apple's dominance or merely the public face. We'll see.

Tea Party Official Wishes The Obamas Would Just Die Already- In an more sane political climate, news that The chairwoman of the Sumter (SC) Tea Party posted an anti-Obama joke on her Facebook profile would be shocking. But in 2011 America, it's just lame, and sorta expected.
Shery Lanford Smith posted the joke on her public profile Thursday afternoon, according to a screen-capture taken by the Sumter Item's Nick McCormac. Smith removed the post after being asked about it. In the joke, the Obamas' helicopter pilot says to his co-pilot, "I could throw both of them out of the window and make 256 million people very happy!" Smith also posted, "If you're one of [the] 256 million, pass it on," implying she herself would be happy to see the Obamas killed.
Stay classy, Mrs. Smith. And BTW, the joke doesn't even make sense? 256 million? Why such an arbitrary number when the US population is about 312 million? Then again, what do TeaBaggers know about actual facts? Or maybee she was just subtracting all the Negroes. Yeah, prolly so.

MLK Memorial - Assuming Irene doesn't literally rain on the parade, the MLK Memorial will open this weekend with huge celebration and as many as 400,000 visitors to its prime Tidal Basin location. Props to everyone frequenting this site who didn't ignore my numerous posts and gave money to get this thing built. We went to see it last night (it's sorta open now) and I was awestruck. While I don't agree with all the critiques being leveled at it, one thing that's slightly disappointing however, is the overall size. At just 29 feet tall, and no real "shrouding" (think the cubist architecture of the Lincoln Memorial), MLK's statue seems a bit small for such a larger than life figure. Still, it was a proud moment to see him take his rightful place among those responsible for making this country all it can be. Well done.

Eddie Long Victims Speak Out - Just when you thought this story was dead. It ain't.

Redskins/Ravens - Only people in the DC/B'More corridor will care, but tonight's game (assuming it happens) will be interesting. The Skins are 2-0 so far in the preseason, and are looking much more potent on both sides of the ball than anyone suspected. Is this a mirage, or are we actually looking at an improved team? Tonight will be a good test.

Question: What do you think about these issues?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Should The President Really (Still) Be On Vacation Right Now?!?

While we'd love to think that politics is all about policies, great ideas, and legislation, common sense dictates that it's seldom that complex. In a country where most people only (pretend to) care about their elected officials every 4 years, reality is optics play just as much of a role in how a candidate is perceived as whatever laws they're able to pass. If you think I'm kidding, consider how more media attention has been given to Rick Perry's hair and voice than the trickery he is trying to pass off as "The Texas Miracle".[1]

I've long contended that President Obama's unwillingness (or tonedeafness) to do sweat the small stuff has only fueled the perception that he's "not like Real Americans". From not wearing lapel pins, to refusing to go to Ground Zero on 9/11, to getting involved with the Chicago Olympics bid, to waiting weeks to visit the Gulf after the oil spill, to this 27 hour mini vacation to Florida waaaay after the fact, to Michelle-O's trip to Spain, it does seem like The Obamas either don't care about public perception, or are completely oblivious.

So while I obviously think President Obama is entitled to an occasional vacation, I can't help but think that given his current approval rating, a different time and place might be wise.
President Obama was golfing Tuesday as an earthquake rolled across the Eastern Seaboard. Though immediate reports of damage and injuries were minimal, Obama held a conference call with top homeland security and federal emergency management officials an hour after the quake occurred at 1:51 p.m. EDT.

Tremors from the 5.8-magnitude quake centered in Virginia were felt on some parts of Martha’s Vineyard on Tuesday, including in Oak Bluffs, where the small group of reporters traveling with the president's motorcade were waiting for him to finish his game near the Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs.

The White House did not immediately release any information about whether the president felt the quake or if he cut the golf game short after the quake struck.

At the time, Obama was golfing with his Chicago friend Eric Whitaker and White House trip director Marvin Nicholson -– who are part of his usual foursome -– as well as lawyer Vernon Jordan, a close confidante of President Bill Clinton who has a vacation home on the island.

During the 2:50 p.m. conference call, top advisers told the president there were no initial reports of major infrastructure damage. Administration officials are monitoring airports and nuclear facilities, but White House officials said they had not received any requests for assistance.
Yes, I already know. Dude is being briefed everyday. Yes, I know he is holding pressers while on vacation. Yes, I know Congress is in recess. Yes, I know every past President has taken a similar number of trips. But guess what? I don't care.

Reality is, the economy is in the sh*tter. Just because Obama is certainly entitled to take a 10-day, $50k/week vacation, that doesn't mean it's a good idea. And please don't mention the words "George Bush". He isn't the President, and he'd be equally tonedeaf if this was him taking a similar trip at such a crucial juncture.

I'm sure someone's gonna confuse this as "hateration", and some clueless nitwits are gonna stumble on this site and accuse me of being a Tea Partier. Reality is, I've been the biggest Obama Apologist© there is when he's been worthy of defense. But this trip deserves no such defense. Not when unemployment is a persistent problem, the market is on a roller coaster, and your approval rating is approaching the Mendoza Line. If Obama had a single person with an iota of common sense in his inner circle, maybe he'd understand how this looks to working (and non-working) stiffs.

Why not just take a short vacation to somewhere much less exclusive, say the Outer Banks? Or why not just send the fam on vacation and keep working? I'm just sayin'.

Question: Do you find Obama a bit clueless when it comes to optics and ceremonial gestures?

[1] Seriously, go watch this, and try not to toss your laptop out the window before the segment ends.

The Official Is On Vacation Open Mic.

I'm still home in the Bahamas for the until next week. Luckily we purchased insurance[1] for our trip, so we were able to push it back a week. Hopefully Irene will be long gone, and there will be sun & fun at Atlantis. I'm even back on the Day Job for the time being.

You guys are on your own. Here's your open mic, treat it nicely. And behave while I'm gone.

See ya'll later. Much later.

Question: What's on your mind today?

[1] If you're ever going to the Caribbean during hurricane season, be sure to insure your trip. It's not very expensive, but can save you the headache of natural disasters, blown money, and ruined 10th wedding anniversaries.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthquake Armageddon Open Thread.

Yes, I'm still here. Yea, I felt it. Did you?

Question: Where are you, and did you feel The 2011 Quake? How long before Obama gets blamed for this?!?

Probably The Corniest Movie Scene Evar, From The Corniest Movie Evar.

The seminal 1979 film The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh holds a lot of sentimental value with me. My Pops (RIP Daddy) used to literally make my and my brothers watch this movie everytime (every. time.) it came on Home Box Office[1]. I thought it was corny then, and when I saw it playing on NBA TV the other night, I thought it was corny still. And yeah, I tried (unsuccessfully) to get my kids to watch this with me. You know, on some circle-of-life sh*t. They wanted to see Ni Hao Kai-Lan instead.

Kids nowadays.

If you've never seen this movie, I'd recommend Netflixing it. It's so horrible, it's actually good. And no scene typifies the awful greatness of this movie better than the infamous playground scene where Dr. J seduces a sweet young paramour with some signature dunkage.

Let's examine the pure terrible brilliance of this scene, shall we?
The woman tells Dr. J she's concerned about him influencing her little brother to play ball at the expense of studying. He replies to her by... wait for it... dunking, of course. Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

This bama is dunking in slacks and dress shoes.

What's up with that music. It's great, but it has nothing to do with the scene.

Clearly this would have been better accomplished as a bonin' scene. I mean, the slow mo, slow music, and dunking of the ball as about as sexual as you can get.

Well, she looks satisfied. Eff' the little brother.
Bonus Clip: Here's the championship game team intros. Some NBA team should try this. And that music for LA is freakin' awesome!!! I also love how they're just called "The Los Angeles Team". No Lakers. No Clippers. No Kareems. Just "The Los Angeles Team". Gangsta. BTW, anyone else catch the hip-hop sample here?

Question: Do you remember The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (whoa whoa)?!? Got any other particularly bad movies your parents forced you to watch?

[1] It's not TV, it's Home Box Office.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Who's A Guy Gotta Lynch Around Here To Be Called "Racist"?!?

As a general rule of thumb, I don't do "hate crime" stories here at It's not that I don't care, it's simply that there's usually nothing I can add to said story.

This isn't really as exception to the rule, but it's such a callous and brutal crime that hasn't really registered a blip on the national radar that I felt it needed to be mentioned here.
On a recent Sunday morning just before dawn, two carloads of white teenagers drove to Jackson, Mississippi, on what the county district attorney says was a mission of hate: to find and hurt a black person.

In a parking lot on the western side of town they found their victim.

James Craig Anderson, a 49-year-old auto plant worker, was standing in a parking lot, near his car. The teens allegedly beat Anderson repeatedly, yelled racial epithets, including "White Power!" according to witnesses.

Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith says a group of the teens then climbed into their large Ford F250 green pickup truck, floored the gas, and drove the truck right over Anderson, killing him instantly.

Mississippi officials say it was a racially motivated murder. What the gang of teens did not know was that a surveillance camera was focused on the parking lot that night, and many of the events, including the actual murder of Anderson, were captured live on videotape.

The group of teens that night was led by 18-year-old Deryl Dedmon, Jr., of Brandon, Mississippi, according to police and officials.

Dedmon led and instigated the attack from early in the evening, he took part in the beating of Anderson, and Dedmon was also the actual driver of the Ford 250 truck that would serve as the murder weapon, according to officials.

As the teens were partying and drinking miles away from Jackson that night, in largely white Rankin County, Dedmon told friends they should leave, saying "let's go fuck with some niggers," according to law enforcement officials.

Then, the gang of teens climbed into Dedmon's green truck and a white SUV Cherokee, and drove 16 miles down Interstate 20, to the western edge of Jackson, a predominantly black area.

The teens would have seen Anderson immediately as they exited the highway, as the parking lot where he was standing is just beside the exit ramp.
Here's the CNN report, which contains the video of the beating. Please be forewarned, this is not for the faint of heart. You might not want to press that Play button.

Unlike many other stories of the sort, there seems to be little chance that the suspects will get off on this one. The county DA just upgraded the charges to capital murder, and The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation to determine whether or not this was a hate crime (well, duh!).

So much for post-racial America.

Question: By a show of hands, how many of you were even aware of this incident?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Do You Care How Many Other People Your Mate Has "Been With"?!?

[Editor's Note: Be forewarned. This is a sensitive, and possibly even sexist topic. You might wanna step back if you're not up for it.]

I don't watch Kim Kardashian's reality show, and even though I'm a hardcore NBA fan, I can't say I've ever watched her husband to be play ball. Still, they are getting married this weekend, which is apparently big news to some people.

Anyways, I'm listening to the radio this morning, and one of the DJ's is going on and on about how many dudes Kim K was with prior to this guy she's about the marry. The list was admittedly pretty long.

Nick Cannon, Reggie Bush, Ray J, Miles Austin, Nick Lachey, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gabriel Aubry, Michael Copon. And those are just the guys with "names". I'm sure there are a couple of Sizzler dishwashers and dudes who work at Kenney Shoes mixed in there for good measure. Throw in the list of people she is alleged to have also dated (ie: Kanye West) and it's a pretty daunting collection of past paramours.

But if you're her soon-to-be husband, do you really care? Dude is a lightskinnded NBA player. He's not a star, but he is tall. I'm pretty sure he's had his fair share of groupies too. Should she care? Should anyone?

I obviously have my thoughts on this subject, but I'd rather her yours. Speak on it.

Question: Fellas, would you be slightly less interested in a woman if you found out she's held more n*ts than a Snickers bar? Ladies, do you care if your man was a SuperHoe™ before he met you? What does the (expected) disparity in how men and women will these questions say about the double standards of dating?

Kim Kardashian's Loves & Hookups [Ranker]

Thursday, August 18, 2011

R. Kelly Lead A Back To School Parade?!? No, Really. This Happened.

I couldn't make this sh*t up, no matter how hard I tried.
A man who admits he cannot read and famously beat child-porn charges might not seem the most obvious honorary grand marshal of a children’s back-to-school parade.

But there was nothing but love for superstar R&B crooner R. Kelly at the Bud Billiken parade. Families cheered for Kelly — who has been recovering from throat surgery last month — the entire parade route. As his sexually charged tunes blared from a sound system, he smiled and waved back.

“You’re still my baby, no matter what you did!” yelled one fan, Leslie Kaizer, 36. Most parade-goers agreed, maintaining that charges that Kelly filmed himself having sex with and urinating on a 14-year-old should have been forgotten after 2008, when jurors couldn’t be sure it was him on the infamous tape.

“Isn’t that what justice is in the United States?” said Tiffany Levy, 38, a mother of two girls.

Kelly, 44, acknowledged his literacy problem in 2009, telling an audience, “I don’t even read really, and I’m not afraid to say that. My cousins and brothers used to tease me ‘You can’t even read right.’ ” But his supporters Saturday said that didn’t harm his role in the pro-education event.

Kelly asked to participate in the parade, said Beverly “Earth Momma” Reed-Scott of Chicago Defender Charities. And while most celebrities “wave from a float and go home,” Kelly visited with youths whose training in green technologies is supported by the parade, Reed-Scott said.
Look, I'm all for people getting second chances and whatnot. This country is built on redemption. Falling down, and getting back up again is the quintessential American dream. And of course, Kelly was never convicted of said crime.


What the f*ck black, folks?!?!? Seriously?!?

Wasn't Jennifer Hudson available? Derrick Rose? RhymeFest? Was Kells really the best hometown hero with an open spot on his calendar? Did the word "irony" even register on the minds of the parade organizers? And BTW, this story seems to indicate that some of Kelly's "sexually charged tunes blared from a sound system" as the parade progressed. Really? Are the inmates running the asylum in Chi-Town? Jesus.

Naturally, I don't blame R. Kelly for this, just like I didn't blame him when Negroes went buckwild and forgave all (alleged) past sins when he dropped the "Ignition" remix. Good music can atone for many a sin. Crank that "Happy People", chali.

We're just fickle minded like that.

Question: Is there anything wrong with a man once accused of child-pRon charges leading a back-to-school parade, or am I just being my usual elitist, judgemental self?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rick Perry's "Big Black Cloud" Comment, And The Problem With Mangled Racist Soundbytes.

Few people would deny that even in post-racial America, this country still has issues with race. This issue persists in all areas of American life, so it's no surprise it pops up in political campaigns. The GOP routinely uses an "Us vs Them" tactic to scare rural whites into supporting them. The Democratic party often plays the "white guilt" card to scare whites into not wanting to be associated with the GOP, and thus vote Democratic.

We saw a million and one variations of this tune back in 2008, both during the Democratic primaries and in the run up to the general election. The rise of The Tea Party and such numbskulls as Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich only kept the ball rolling. And inevitably, as the 2012 race heats up, we'll see more.

This incident, however, doesn't fit the bill. Sorry.
Barely days into his official presidential campaign, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been a gusher of controversial quotes, calling President Obama’s patriotism into question, making vaguely threatening statements about Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, and now, making what some see as a blatant reference to President Obama’s race by saying that “a big black cloud” is hanging over the country. AURN White House Correspondent April Ryan, for one, wasn’t shy about calling Perry out.

ABC News’ Michael Falcone and Arlette Saenz report that Perry made the remark at the Iowa State Fair on Monday, while delivering remarks at the Des Moines Register Soapbox:

“He says he’s on a listening tour,” Perry said, “so I’m going to talk to him.”

“Mr. President, you need to free up the employers of this country to create jobs.” Perry called on Obama to “free up this country” from “stifling regulation.”

“I’m a pro-business governor, I don’t make any apologies about it and I will be a pro-business president.”

Perry warned that a “big black cloud” hangs over the country.

The quote has been held up as a not-so-veiled reference to the President’s race.
The Mediaite story goes on to quote a handful of black bloggers and journalists who happily took the bait without hearing the "black cloud" comment in its full context and ran with it. I'm not going to mention those bloggers by name, I'm actually so embarrassed for this folks that I'd rather not do them the disservice. Go over to the link to read them yourself, but come on fam, let's be a little less sloppy with the charges of racism here. It sorta defeats the overall purpose.

Ya'll know how much it kills me to use anything associated with Andrew Breitbart to prove a point, but if you listen to the full context, it's clear Perry isn't talking about Obama specifically, just the debt/deficit that he (unfairly) associates the President with racking up.

Look, there are more than enough perfectly valid reasons to think Governor GoodHair would be a terrible choice for President. He's a little too anti-gubb'ment to be leading the country (ok, a LOT anti-gubb'ment). He deliberately distorts his "job creation record" in the state of Texas. And he used the very Stimulus dollars he publicly mocked to make his state's deficit situation appear far healthier than it actually is. An examination of any of those things would make perfect sense. I mean, damn, it's easier than shooting fish in a barrel, or however than cliche goes, if you just do a quick Google search. Sheesh.

Pulling a reverse Shirley Sherrod to discredit a guy when his own track record is sufficient enough is just plain lazy though. Seriously, black folks. Come the *uck on.

Do better.


And on that note, I'll take a dose of my own medicine and commit to not running these sorts of trivial asses stories about official 2012 candidates here either. I've obviously wallowed in this same sort of drivel in the past. It's easy work, and usually results in a flurry of comments, which is blogger gold. But these sideshows seldom educate readers about the more pertinent issues (ie: a candidate's actual record/platform). It's all empty calories.

So I, for one, am committing to weaning myself off these types of stories for this campaign cycle and I'm hoping my fellow ObamaBots black bloggers will too. I'm sure I'll occasionally fall off the wagon. Feel free to correct me by pointing to this very post when I inevitably do.

Question: Was Perry's comment racist, or was the "black cloud" statement merely misconstrued? What are the dangers of incorrectly identifying something as racist when it actually isn't?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Why Does Hollywood Keep Making Movies Like The Help?!?

I'm busy clearing the deck this week so I can go on vacation[1] in peace next week. In the interim, I'll probably be throwing up a bunch of posts like this, where I simply give you a news story of interest and have you chime in, sans my usual commentary. Hey, it's better than nothing. Here's today's story.
American historical films are forever refighting old wars, congratulating themselves for being on the right side, and encouraging viewers to pat themselves on the back for being on the right side, too. They view the war from the general's tent up on a distant hill and imagine that they're right in the thick of it. That's how Paul Haggis' "Crash" swept the Oscars in 2006 -- by serving up a contemporary story of Los Angelenos who said and did brazenly racist things in public constantly, as if it were 1967 and everyone was wearing love beads, Afros and hard hats. The characters seemed crude and primitive, lacking in self-awareness, unenlightened; this made them easy to label, judge and dismiss. A variation on this strategy has enabled another race drama, "The Help," to become an instant hit, a likely Oscar contender, and yet another reminder that when mainstream cinema depicts discrimination, it tends to ask the same two questions: "How did this affect white people?" and "Aren't you glad you're not bigoted like the creeps in this movie?"

Based on the 2009 novel by Kathryn Stockett, and endorsed by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, this civil rights-era movie about a young Caucasian writer telling the harsh but true stories of African-American domestics appears to grant the stories of its white and black characters equal weight. It even gives the voice-over narration to one of the maids, Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis). But the pretense of dramatic equality collapses if you look at what's actually happening on-screen, and what got marginalized or omitted.

And so, yet again, for what seems like the zillionth time, a heart-tugging Hollywood film transforms a harrowing and magnificent period of African-American life into a story of once-blinkered white people becoming enlightened. The black characters' struggles are sensitively rendered, magnificently acted, and sometimes heartbreaking sideshows. Although Viola Davis' subtle performance anchors the movie, and will likely earn this perpetually underrated actress an Oscar nomination, giving Aibileen the movie's voice-over won't fool anybody. This is Skeeter's movie. She's the one who sets the plot in motion. Without her youthful idealism, these downtrodden black women would have continued to suffer in silence.

I've heard somewhat sheepish arguments to the effect that the white folks' stories take center stage in these films because they're more clearly dramatic. Why? Well, you see, it's because drama -- commercial mainstream drama, anyway -- is about people learning, changing and growing, and the non-white characters' stories are less dramatic because they already know discrimination is bad, which means their "arcs" are inherently less interesting. No, I promise you, some moviemakers really do think this way. The only proper response to this kind of thinking is to smack one's forehead -- or better yet, the filmmaker's -- with a tack hammer. At least it's offered timidly and rarely, and as a commercial rather than an artistic defense.

Even more problematic is the overriding sense -- conveyed not just in "The Help," but in so many historical movies -- that the era being depicted is tucked safely away in the past, a closed chapter, and the collective insanity that gripped society has dissipated thanks to the efforts of good-hearted people like you, the viewer.
Chime in below.

Question: Why do movies like The Help keep getting made? Why are these stories seldom told from the victim's point of view?

Why Hollywood keeps whitewashing the past [Salon]

Melissa Harris-Perry: ‘The Help’ movie ‘ahistorical and deeply troubling’ [RawStory]

[1] 10th anniversary. Bahamas. 7 Days. Eff' yo' recession!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Caption This Photo.

Best caption wins a week's supply of Cyber CapriSuns™ and one stick of deep fried butter. Open Mic - 8.15.11

I'll have some fresh blog for you later. For now, here's your open mic.

Question: What's on your mind today?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Iowa Straw Poll/Random Weekend Nonsense Open Thread.

Apparently there's an event with (some sorta) 2012 political implications going on today in the Hawkeye State. Apparently a certain guy from Texas is also making an announcement with 2012 political implications today. Apparently a certain ex-governor is also back to her attention-seeking ways in Iowa today also.

I'm not sure I care about any of the above statements since it's the weekend, and I'm probably watching football. But just in case you do, here's your own floor. Have at it.

Question: What do you think about the Iowa straw poll results? Does Rick Perry have a real shot?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Is Interracial Dating The Answer To Black Women's Economic Woes?!?

[Editor's Note: Since the source being quoted for this post is a bit incoherrent, this post itself might be a bit incoherent as well. This post's title is definitely incoherent. But it's Friday. Love it or hit that X button on your browser. It is what it is.]

I haven't done many stories on The Lonely Black Woman Industrial Complex™ lately, mostly because much of the MSM's analysis on why sistas can't get hitched is repetitive and seems like a kneejerk reaction to there being a married black couple in the White House. It's not like the New York Times and Washington Post really cared much about the plight of single sistas before Michelle-O came on the scene, so why now? The explosion of stories on this cultural phenomenon in the past year was so blatant it lead to me coin the aforementioned phrase in bold.

Trademark pending.

Anyways, I woulda happily overlooked this story as well, but it was emailed to me only about 400 times this week alone. It's not a particularly new topic, but since it appeared in the Wall Street Journal and has somewhat of an economic angle, I figured why not discuss it. Plus, it's Friday. Sooooo....
Nearly 70% of black women are unmarried, and the racial gap in marriage spans the socioeconomic spectrum, from the urban poor to well-off suburban professionals. Three in 10 college-educated black women haven't married by age 40; their white peers are less than half as likely to have remained unwed.

What explains this marriage gap? As a black man, my interest in the issue is more than academic. I've looked at all the studies—the history, the social science, the government data—and I've spent a year traveling the country interviewing scores of professional black women. In exchange for my promise to conceal their identities (in part by using pseudonyms, as I've done here), they shared with me their most personal experiences and desires in relation to marriage and family.

I came away convinced of two facts: Black women confront the worst relationship market of any group because of economic and cultural forces that are not of their own making; and they have needlessly worsened their situation by limiting themselves to black men. I also arrived at a startling conclusion: Black women can best promote black marriage by opening themselves to relationships with men of other races.

Black women lead by far the most segregated intimate lives of any minority group in the U.S. They are less than half as likely as black men to wed across racial lines. Only about 1 in 20 black women are interracially married.

Part of the reason, again, is the market. Numerous studies of Internet dating confirm that black women are the partners least desired by non-black men.

What would happen if more black women opened themselves to the possibility of marrying non-black men?

To start, they might find themselves in better relationships. Some professional black women would no doubt discover that they are more compatible with a white, Asian or Latino coworker or college classmate than with the black guy they grew up with, who now works at the auto shop.

By opening themselves to relationships with men of other races, black women would also lessen the power disparity that depresses the African-American marriage rate. As more black women expanded their options, black women as a group would have more leverage with black men. Even black women who remained unwilling to love across the color line would benefit from other black women's willingness to do so.

It's hard to resist the paradoxical possibility that, if more black women married non-black men, then more black men and women might, in time, marry each other.
The story, written by a black college professor is rambling and somewhat incoherent, but the general premise is that since marriage is a good economic move and black women aren't getting married because there aren't enough brothas available, wouldn't black women (and by extension, the black community as a whole) be better off marrying white guys? It also asserts that instead of black women treating black men like a rare commodity, intentionally dating white guys would trigger a power shift that will have brothas come running back, engagement rings in tow.

Or something like that. Again, it's Friday.

Just go read the WSJ story, and come back here to share your general thoughts.

Question: Would dating white guys put black women on a more even playing field, and thus help them regain some of the leverage lost with black men?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ashy Or Classy?!? - Tyler Perry's MadeaTV™ Cable Channel.

Ya'll know how I feel about Tyler Perry: I'm not a personal fan of (most) of his work, but I can't hate on the man's Grand Hu$tle. I wish he'd stay out of dresses and pumps, and keep making solid movies like Why Did I Get Married?, but I don't dislike him like some people do. If I have any criticism of him, it's that his success seems to have stifled to progress of other black directors and producers. In short, if you aren't using Perry low budget "Christian" dramedy formula, you probably aren't getting greenlit.

That said, I'm a little iffy about Perry's latest money grab.
Lionsgate is betting that Tyler Perry has the star power to carry an entire cable channel, Oprah Winfrey style.

That movie studio and Mr. Perry — whose flourishing African-American fan base consistently turns his plays, television shows and films into hits — are forming a new venture called Tyler TV, according to an industry official briefed on the matter who requested anonymity because the plans are private.

The partners will initially stock the channel with reruns of Mr. Perry’s sitcoms and movies, including the popular Madea series, in which he appears in drag as the title character, a gun-toting grandmother. They also plan to buy third-party content that meshes with Mr. Perry’s Christianity-tinged brand.

The days when media companies could easily introduce channels have long passed because of a clogged cable dial and competition from the Web, among other factors. Mr. Perry has always focused on a narrow and loyal niche: African-American women. His fans have a history of following him across the entertainment spectrum. Mr. Perry’s stage performances sell out in minutes. His two TBS comedies, “House of Payne” and “Meet the Browns,” have generated solid ratings, and a third series, “For Better or Worse,” will begin in the fall.

And Mr. Perry’s movies, which range from the campy “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” to the highbrow “For Colored Girls,” have sold more than $522 million in tickets.

Lionsgate and Mr. Perry are exploring three routes for distribution, according to the official briefed on the matter. One involves rebranding all or part of the TV Guide Network, which is available to about 80 million homes. Lionsgate owns 50 percent of that channel; One Equity Partners controls the rest.

Lionsgate and Mr. Perry also could buy a small cable channel that has a complementary audience — the Gospel Broadcasting Network comes to mind — and move to rebrand and expand it. Another option involves Comcast, which extracted approval from government regulators for its recent takeover of NBC Universal by committing to provide more minority-run programming.
It's a bit ironic that a man responsible for perpetuating some of the worst stereotypes of Black life if probably going to benefit from gubb'ment regulations for minority-run programming. I'm sure that's exactly what Rebb'n Al and Co. had in mind when they were trying to extort Comcast/NBC.

Much like Centric/BET/TV One, I suspect I'd only occasionally tune into MadeaTV™, provided he's got the obligatory awards coontastic show.

And loses the dresses and pumps.

Question: Ashy or Classy?!? Would you watch MadeaTV™?!?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Is The Michelle Bachmann Newsweek Cover Sexist?!?

One of the unfortunate tradeoffs of running a high profile Presidential campaign is the intense media scrutiny that a candidate receives. Past voting records, business deals, tax and criminal records, even personal relationships are all suddenly fair game. Of course, this is a double edged sword. The scrutiny sucks, but it also legitimizes a candidate as a serious threat. When's the last time you heard anyone talking about Rick Santorum or Herman Cain?

Michelle Bachmann is no stranger to media scrutiny. Even before declaring herself as a candidate for the GOP nomination, she frequently was the butt of many jokes for her numerous gaffes and far-out-there stances on issues like gay marriage and light bulbs (yeah, really). Her ascent to the frontrunner in this weekend's Iowa Straw Poll has only intensified the media criticism. Some of it (receiving farm subsidies and applying for earmarks while she's vilified both) has been fair. Some of it (the tsk tsk rumors about her husband's sexual preferences) hasn't been.

As far as this latest story goes, well, it's somewhere in the middle.
Newsweek's latest issue features a Michele Bachmann cover that's sure to stir up controversy.

The cover shows Bachmann standing against a stark blue background, looking directly into the camera with a wide-eyed expression. The headline advertising the magazine's story reads, "THE QUEEN OF RAGE."

"Rage" is a word that doesn't appear in Newsweek's actual profile of Bachmann, though author Lois Romano does criticize what she calls the "radical" nature of the Tea Party that Bachmann champions.

Conservative websites are already crying foul over the cover, with some saying it makes Bachmann look "crazy" and one blogger asking, "Can anyone really say with a straight face that the mainstream media is not totally biased against conservatives?"

It's not the first time Newsweek has faced conservative backlash for a cover. In June, the magazine portrayed Mitt Romney as one of the stars of the Broadway show "The Book of Mormon." And, of course, it drew widespread criticism for its infamous Sarah Palin cover in 2009.
You could look at this two ways.

The cover is somewhat sexist because it doesn't paint Bachmann is the best light. Given the number of snaps your typical photographer takes for such a high profile cover, it's fair to assume there were better pictures available to choose from. Pairing an unflattering picture with an unflattering caption (and a very unflattering story... which should be the real story here) only advances the notion that Bachmann is too batsh*t crazy to be taken seriously. It's also unlikely they'd treat a man like this, so it must be sexist. Even NOW agrees.

On the flipside, having observed Bachmann in person, close up, I see this a bit differently. Quite honestly, she just isn't a very photogenic woman. Period. I'm not calling her unattractive (I personally don't care) but she is somewhat awkward looking. Her head/body radio is waaay outta whack. She does indeed have that strange Psycho look to her, even when she isn't on camera. It's just who she is. Newsweek could have been trying to capture the true essence of the woman, and this might have been their attempt to do so. That wouldn't really be sexist, since Newsweek has given a similar treatment to both Obamas. It is what it is.

To Bachmann's credit, she's been a big girl about this, and has played the obvious "I haven't even seen it" card when asked her thoughts. Of course that's entirely untrue, but I give her credit for not playing the "woe is me!" victim card like you know who would. I don't agree with a single one of her opinions (not even one) but she gets my respect for that at least.

Question: I think we can all agree that the Newsweek cover photo is unflattering. But is it really sexist, or just an accurate depiction of the candidate?Is this Newsweek cover Open Mic - 8.10.11

I'll have some fresh blog for you later. For now, here's your open mic.

Question: What's on your mind today?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Could The Redskins Actually Go 0-16?!?

After months of waiting in limbo, we've finally got some real sports to watch. The 2011 NFL preseason officially kicks off this Thursday when the Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots face off in Foxboro. If I were a betting man, I'd probably go with 888 bingo instead of placing a wager on this one, but since I've gotta choose, let's say New England in an early blowout.

Speaking of bingo games, I'd probably rather watch a bunch of seniors in a VFW than the Redskins. Has there ever been a team that looked more likely to go winless on paper? One inexperienced QB with a mullet (Beck) and another (Sexy Rexy) who looks like he spent the entire lockout at Fuddruckers. Combine that with a corps of untested running backs, a collection of washed up/never been receivers, and a defense that was ranked near the bottom of the league in every category last season. Yep, 0-16 looks very doable here in DC.

No need to lie, I'm not the biggest of football fans, but with the NBA lockout showing no signs (not even remote signs) of being resolved and half the players already making plans to go overseas, I guess I have to do something to satisfy my sports bug. This includes the annual practice of playing fantasy football with a bunch of work buddies. Why I still do this, I have no idea. But I shall.

If you forced me to make Super Bowl predictions, I'd go with an all-green everything match up of the Eagles vs the Jets. Both teams came thisclose last season, and both teams made the necessary free agent upgrades to keep themselves in contention this year. I'm sure the brains of many an animal lover would explode at the thought of Michael Vick winning a ring, but given all the man's gone through, it would just seem somewhat poetic.

Question: Who will win it all this year? Do the Skins have a legitimate shot at going 0-fer?!?

Rick Perry (And Some Other Guy) For Prez.

In news that's certain to satisfy at least two Lone Star State residents of AverageNation™ it looks like Texas Governor/George W. Bush On Steroids Rick Perry is gonna throw his hat in the ring for 2012.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry will be joined by his family in South Carolina this weekend for a major speech in which he will strongly signal his intention to run for president, two GOP sources told CNN.

Perry is not expected to make a formal campaign announcement on Saturday in Charleston, but people familiar with the planning say that Perry's speech to the RedState Gathering, a convention of conservative activists, will erase any doubt about his presidential ambitions.
No need to lie, I don't know much about Perry other than what my Mom (who lives in Houston, and doesn't hold him in very high regard) tells me, and of course, those ignoramus statements (which he later retracted) about wanting Texas to secede from the Union.

All things considered, even with that flub and the specter of last weekend's eerie Praise-A-Thon to his discredit[1], Perry can run on the premise that Texas' economy (for many reasons, most beyond his control) has weathered the economic storm of the recession. Given how prevalent the economy is right now, that could very well be a good enough formula to escape with the GOP nomination. I suppose we'll see what happens. Or Spool will probably just weigh in first.

And oh yeah, looks like Donald Trump is prolly running too. Not that you, or the American People, actually care. Since she know shall remain unnamed (too busy gettin' paid), Fat Chris (too busy worrying about Corey Booker) and that other Bush kid will probably not run, it's fair to say Perry (who will immediately siphon away much of the evangelical and Tea Party support from Michelle Bachmann) and Mitt Romney present the biggest obstacle to another 4 years of Obama.

We'll see how that turns out.

Question: Does Rick Perry present a serious challenge for Romney? How about Obama? What's Donald Trump trying to sell this time?

[1] Considering all the guilt-by-association many on the right still levy at Obama because of Rebb'n Wright, will a candidate like Perry who is essentially running a religious campaign be forced to justify the past statements of those who shared the stage with him last weekend? Or course not. That's a rhetorical question.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Jumping The Broom, Now Available On DVD.

I was sent a screener of the movie Jumping The Broom to review in advance of tomorrow's release on DVD. Clearly that didn't happen, so I'm putting up a friendly reminder for anyone who didn't get to see this (surely) great movie during its theatrical run.

Eventually I'll get around to watching and reviewing this. Till then, enjoy the trailer, and go hit Redbox/Netflix/Blockbuster.

Question: Did you see Jumping The Broom? What did you think?

Just Another Black Man With Bad Credit.

Sure, this post is about 3 days late, but hey, I've been scrambling to protect my assets from the onslaught the market is surely about to witness. The Dow's down another 200 points as I write this. Clearly, The Tea Party wanted us to either default or be downgraded. Congrats, Baggers, you won. Now pop some bubbly. It's a celebration!

Yes, your eyes saw what your brain thinks they saw. These fools are literally celebrating the fact that their own 401k's are tanking and their credit card interest rates are spiking. This really happened.

Face it. These people won. And we're f*cked. Royally.

Question: Who is (most) to blame for the credit downgrade? Which party will this hurt most come 2012?

Watch The Throne Open Thread.

A web-centric event of epic proportions occurred this morning. I'm not going to fill in the blanks for those of you who are clueless. For those who aren't, surely you've already obtained your own copy, and sure you have an opinion. Share it below.

Question: What are your random thoughts on Watch The Throne?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Would President Hillary Be Doing A Better Job Than Obama?!?

[Editor's Note: The thoughts below are mine and mine only. To those outside blogs who like to sometimes like to link to my stories, please note that this does not reflect the opinion of "liberals", "blacks", or "black liberals". This is just one black man's opinion. As always.]

My biggest qualm with President Obama has been the same from the start: his style of leadership (or lack thereof) leaves much to be desired. He's sought compromise when it wasn't necessary. He leads from behind. He delegates waaay too much to Pelosi & Reid. He seems to shift positions when politically expedient. He still doesn't know how to clap back. His ability to control "the narrative" is nonexistent. I'll still vote for him in 2012 for the obvious reasons[1], but to say I'm uninspired by his first term would be a massive understatement.

That said, with the 2012 campaign rolling into high gear, what better time to pointlessly revisit the past? I chose Obama over opponent Hillary Clinton in 08' because both candidates had essentially identical views, but Obama's overall temperament seemed better suited for the White House. Hillary repeatedly revealed herself to be untrustworthy, petty, reactionary, and brazen. By comparison, the cool, levelheadedness displayed by Obama seemed like the right mix of traits for a country in economic freefall.

Three years later, I'm wondering if this was somewhat shortsighted. Given the level of partisan bickering, childishness, and blatant fallacies (ie: death panels) that seem to define Washington today, would Hillary actually be better equipped to handle the Presidency than the decidedly milquetoast Obama? A recent story explored this hypothetical question in depth.
As liberals rail against the debt limit deal and Barack Obama’s choices leading up to what they see as an epic capitulation, it seems fair to wonder if a different president -- someone with, say, a reputation for toughness and savvy and with a history of combating Republican obstructionists -- could have produced a better outcome. Someone like, oh, I don't know ... Hillary Clinton?

That, after all, was the premise of Clinton's Democratic primary campaign in 2008 -- that Obama might be able to inspire the masses, but that only she had the experience and know-how to get results. And now here's Obama seemingly validating it -- and hardly for the first time in his presidency. Can we now safely say that Democrats made the wrong choice three years ago?

Presidents are also constrained, at least to some extent, by commitments they made during the campaign. Those commitments may be substantive, or they might be symbolic.

And presidents are constrained, of course, by events. Obama surely would not have started his presidency by pushing for a large economic stimulus bill if the economy had been thriving; indeed, responding to the economic crisis (including possible stimulus, TARP management, the auto industry crisis) would have moved to the top of the agenda of any president.

Of all of these constraints, the only one that would have been even somewhat different for a President Hillary Clinton than it has been for President Barack Obama has to do with their symbolic commitments during the campaign. I’ll take that up in a bit, but I’d first emphasize how little scope there is for those differences to matter; in many ways, Clinton and Obama would be identical presidents.

Now, for the differences. Sometimes, it really does matter who the president is. The president’s personal policy preferences might matter. His or her skills at handling the presidency can make a difference. And, yes, personality can affect outcomes.

Unfortunately, at this point everything gets very speculative. How good a poker player is Obama? How good would Clinton be? There’s no way of knowing. Similarly, while it would be a real mistake to say that personality can’t matter, that’s a long way from being able to say that personality does matter…in this particular way, in this particular instance. Nor do we have access to what Obama (or Clinton for that matter) “really” thinks about issues. We can only infer – guess – from hints we get when presidential actions or statements don’t seem to square with the incentives and constraints that we can observe.
I'll lay off my own opinion here (for the moment) and simply allow you guys to chime in on the question below.

Question: Would President Hillary be doing a better job of handling the situation in Washington than President Obama? How differently would things be under McCain? Theoretically speaking, which 2012 GOP candidate would be best equipped to handle the past 3 years?

[1] Go ahead, Daedalus. Tell em' what "the obvious reasons" means.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl - Episode 7

What more can I say about this excellent web series that hasn't already been said? The more I watch this, the more I admire the nuanced performances[1], the pop culture references[2], and overall production quality[3]. Press play and prepare yourself for 11 mins of well done black entertainment.

Props to Issa Rae and Co. for another cliffhanger. We'll see what happens with Fred and J next time.

In case you're clueless about the brilliance of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, catch up on prior episodes, here.

[1] The actors are seriously underrated. Watch how the ex-boyfriend zones out when the girl is singing.

[2] Fresh Prince of Bel Air, check. Spoken word poetry, check. Donald Glover, check.

[3] On the flipside, this episode lacked some of the low budget grittiness of prior eps. That's a good/bad thing. Open Mic - 8.4.11

I'll have some fresh blog for you later. For now, here's your open mic.

Question: What's on your mind today?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Soooo, N*ggas Rappin' Bout' EBT Cards Now? F'Real, Sonn?!?

Sh*t like this makes we wanna join The Tea Party. Seriously.

Question: Is this some weird genre of performance art, or is this n*gga serious?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Post-Armageddon Open Thread.

I'm back. And oh yeah, I got a few things to say about this "deal".

Obama - If you supported this guy back in 08', what reason do you really have left to support him in 2012, other than the obvious?[1] The economy hasn't improved as much as it needed to. His "bipartisan style of compromise" hasn't helped improve the piss poor state of relations here in DC. He couldn't come out on top of a negotiation if we was bargaining with a 4 year old about sleep times.[2] His "lead from behind" style of "leadership" is both infuriating and tiring. He hasn't delivered on many campaign promises. Again, what's left to like here? Other than, the obvious of course.

Democrats - It shoulda never gotten to this point. The Bush tax cuts, the budget, and this debt ceiling BS should have been handled last year when you were still in power. Blame yourselves, Dems.

Boehner - Forget the final outcome. This was still a loss for Speaker TanMan, either way you spin it. Despite being a reasonable moderate, he too was taken hostage by the TeaBaggers and ended up having his own leadership undermined. Loss.

"The American People" - Congrats! Student loans are more expensive. Medicare will be cut. Entire government agencies will be slashed. Government contractors will take a huge hit. Millions will probably lose their jobs. But hey, some billionaire in The Hamptons gets to keep all three of his yachts! Do you feel patiotic? I do!
Winners (By Default)
Tea Party - Honestly, if you look at the sheer amount of cuts (just around $3T over an entire decade) it's hard to say these guys really won either. If they'd been willing to throw in some revenues, this number could have been much bigger. And wait till constituents get a clue about all the cuts coming their way. You can't blame all this on Obama, because he probably wouldn't have cut anything without the Tea Party pressure and overinflated emphasis on the debt/deficit. It's easy to say they won on the surface, but the true cost of passing actual legislation is gonna bite these folks in the a$$es when all's said and done.

Congressman Doug Lamborn - Refers to the President as a "Tar Baby", apologizes to anyone who "was offended" and claims he didn't even know the term "Tar Baby" had racist connotations. In true Tea Party form, I expect him to paint himself as a misunderstood victim of the liberal lamestream media and use this for fundraising purposes very soon. So, it's a net-win, basically.

Congress - Congrats! You basically did nothing for 7 months, and now you get a cool 30 day vacation at the expense of Real American taxpayers. Enjoy Aruba, I hear it's lovely this time of year.
To Be Determined
Super Committee - Sorry, I don't buy the spin that the forthcoming Super Committee will be Obama's backdoor method for increased revenues and repealing Bush tax cuts for the rich. I'd love to be proven wrong. I doubt I will.
Question: Now that all of this is (presumably) behind us, what's your read?

[1] "The obvious" is so obvious I'm not even going to type it here. Please state "the obvious" in the comments section.

[2] In all fairness, me neither.