Archive | June, 2010

You’re in Good Hands…Oh Wait, You’re with the Quirky Chick

30 Jun

I was totally prepared to craft an awe-inspiring, thought provoking and witty post today, but after stopping at the grocery store on the way home from work and happening upon some rather unbelievable auto carnage, my powers of creativity and levity have escaped me.

For the longest time, I thought that my SUV was indestructible.  I mean, take the day before Thanksgiving last year, when  this impatient man  accelerated backwards right into Black Beauty (yes, I still name my vehicles; don’t judge me).  Not only was there no damage to my ride, but Speed Racer was the one who incurred all of the damage to his shiny pick-up, complete with 30-day temporary tags.  So, to go from no destruction at the hands of a reckless demolition derby driver, to a rogue side swipe and busted side reflector that I can’t pin on anyone, surely you can understand my ire. 

With that said Pack Faithful, make sure that you thank the rude motorist who deflated my writer’s spirit today, stifling my otherwise insightful ruminations and leaving me to brood over the fact that I now have to drive around in Black Beauty with this unsightly blemish because I refuse to pay Flo and ‘dem a $500 deductible for a repair that will cost half that (which I am also not willing to pay…we’re in a recession man!). And while you do that, I’ll be wishing on said motorist and his/her offending vehicle a copious pigeon fecal paint job (I know…I’m still a work-in-progress with the whole “letting it go” concept).

Cool Under Pressure

29 Jun

While I am not a “fanatic” of any one celebrity in particular, there are a select few for whom I root and am quite fond.  Sure, sure, it goes without saying that these individuals are rich, famous and practically have the world at their beck and call but honestly, none of that really moves me.  More than anything, to me it’s their ability to maintain a sense of awareness and an unflappable demeanor when presented with a hairy situation in the very public eye that is most admirable. 

One such master mistress of “poise in public” is undoubtedly The Black Eyed Peas’ front woman, Fergie.  If only more celebs were this composed and less reactionary when things didn’t go their way (*cough, cough Kanye*), there’d likely be far less intentional smut published in gossip rags about them, and the ever nuisance-sy paparazzi would have no career-ending EXCLUSIVE candids to capture, relegating themselves to forestry and wildlife photography just to earn a paycheck.

It is for this reason that I offer to celebrities (free of charge) a three-step, fool-proof instructional post on seamless public mishap recovery…

My Tribute to MJ: The Way You Make Me Feel

25 Jun

My world didn’t stop on June 25, 2009.  It did however shift on its axis a year ago today. 

When I first heard that Michael Jackson had been rushed to a hospital, my initial assumption was that he’d succumbed to exhaustion while preparing for his highly regarded “This Is It” Concert and Tour.  I was at work at the time trying to juggle balance sheets and any breaking news I could find on the internet that would reveal MJ’s condition, but was sure that by the time I got home, I’d be able to tune-in to any of the many news networks to not only learn of the details leading up to the moments before the paramedics arrived at Michael’s home, but to also discover that he would be fine and was likely resting comfortably in an insanely expensive hospital suite.

Never in my wildest dreams nightmares did I imagine that while updates began surfacing all over the internet, network television and basic cable that MJ had actually fallen into a coma, the reality was that The King of Pop had already bid this world adieu…a world that, depending upon the day and which way the wind blew, loved or loathed him, seemingly in equal measure at times.

Before sundown on Thursday June 25, 2009, as I prepared to leave my office for the day, a hauntingly large banner on alerted me to the fact that Michael Joseph Jackson had in fact died.  I don’t recall crying.  I don’t recall who I phoned to see if they’d heard the news.  I don’t even recall if I uttered a single sound.  All I can remember is how I felt.  It was a cross between an immediate and intense sense of grief and feeling as though someone had reached into my chest and literally squeezed the air out of my lungs. 

I collapsed into my swiveled desk chair, realizing that my legs were too wobbly for me to remain standing. Slumping against my desk, I tried to apply logic not only to the shocking news I had just learned, but to my wayward emotions as well.  I didn’t understand how I could have such a raw response to the death of a man that I had never known personally and who only impacted my life indirectly at best.  It took a LONG few moments, but when I felt “present” enough, I collected myself and my belongings and headed home.  Turning on the radio, my entire gridlocked ride  consisted of uninterrupted tributes, remixed medleys and a variety of distraught listeners who called into the station to reveal their fondest memories of the King of Pop.  While I’d love to tell you what all they shared, I was on auto-pilot that day and much of that evening has become a blur.

It wasn’t until many days later that I was actually able to accept the fact that Michael Jackson was dead and not simply disguising himself as a skinny, fair-skinned Tahitian in the Polynesian Islands in an attempt to evade his debt collectors.  It was also during this time that I discovered I was able to answer the question of why MJ’s death had impacted me so.  Michael Jackson was my first dance teacher and the first man (barring Prince) that as a child, I thought was “pretty.”  The Jackson 5 introduced me to black cartoon characters and the fabulousness of a perfectly symmetrical afro.  While to many, Michael was contentedly loony, he was also innovation in motion, a consummate professional and a selfless humanitarian.  He was iconic, and I came to the realization that for all the people who mocked, mimicked or imitated him over the span of his career, there would never be another Michael Jackson.  I wasn’t simply responding to the loss of the King of Pop. I was responding to the loss of the man.

Even now, it is surreal to think that there will be no more new albums from him, no collaboration with him and Lady Gaga for an eccentric remake of “Dirty Diana,” or no Jackson 5 Reunion Grammy Performance.  But for all the pain that his family and the millions of his fans are feeling today, it is important to remember that Michael Jackson left behind an abundant legacy.  While I will always feel sadness in knowing that MJ’s time on earth was far too brief, I will continue to celebrate the man and the legend for the amazing way he made me feel.

 Below are a few of my all-time favorite Michael Jackson songs and MJ-influenced creations.  Long Live The King.

Of all The Songs in my Comprehensive Michael Jackson Collection, the baby-girl plays “Rockin’ Robin” on repeat on the iPod.

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“Dancing Machine” is where we witness the Immaculate Conception and birth of The Robot.

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“Blame It On The Vertigo Inducing Special Effects Boogie”

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I could have done without the borderline heretical “Can You Feel It” video, but the song is pretty awesome.

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While our peers were still trying to master “Thriller”, my sister and I had moved on and were borrowing fedoras and suspenders from our dad’s closet in an effort to twerk-out the “Smooth Criminal” choreography…she had a chipped front tooth from “leaning” to prove it!

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The best Cover this side of the Mason-Dixon!  Thanks to Alien Ant Farm, I was finally able to learn all the words to “Smooth Criminal” (Note too, how the vid has hints of “Thriller”, “Billy Jean” andThe Way You Make Me Feel”.  Classic!).

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 “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough”…if only more musicians would dance and sing in a tuxedo and the Biggest. Bowtie. EVER.

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Mary’s “Just Fine” borrows MJ’s introductory “Woooh!” and pays homage to him with a tuxedoed, bowtie’d freestyle of her own!

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It’s 5 o’clock…Do You Know What Your Kids Are Watching?

24 Jun

I’m normally not home before six, so I wasn’t privy to this bizarre little jewel until a few weeks ago.  Apparently, Adventure Time with Finn & Jake is the “bee’s knees” with the children in The Pack household.  Unfortunately for them, after catching an episode on one of my few and far between work-from-home days, they will be engaging in far less adventurer-ing and way more library-ing (not a complete slay of the English language, give me credit).

Although the show is surprisingly hilarious and oddly entertaining, it is so thick with foolery that I fear that my younglings’ brain cells will fizzle and die if subjected to large amounts of Finn & Jake with nothing to counter-balance the exposure…case in Point, the “Baby Song”/Auto-tune Episode.

*A Thousand years of laryngitis on the house of T-Pain!!!!!*

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There’s More to “Black Film” than meets the Madea

23 Jun


Now as much as people like to jump on the “Tyler Perry is what’s wrong with Black Movies” bandwagon, I don’t necessarily ascribe to that way of thinking. I suppose you can say that it’s because I believe that no matter how humble and modest or audacious and provocative a filmmaker like Perry may be, he had a vision, took a risk and catered his stories-to-tell to a group of people that historically, more prominent and well-known motion picture making juggernauts have consistently ignored (although I will admit that more times than not, those visions usually reach the masses in the form of predictable and under developed plotlines).  But even with TP’s unmistakable meteoric rise to fame, fortune and celebrity over the last several years as a result of his cross-dressing, pigeon-held, pistol packing hijinks; let us be careful not to make him the archetype for what constitutes Black Cinema.  Black filmmaking is more than the ascension from stage productions on the chitterling circuit to mainstream movie making.  It’s diverse. It’s impassioned. It’s raw.  It’s progressive.  It’s reflective.  It’s revolutionary.  It’s angry.  It’s tumultuous.  It’s regal.  Black filmmaking is representative of everything that we are as people of color, everything we hope to be and even some of what we wish we weren’t, told first through the eyes and then lens of brothers and sisters whose daily struggles and triumphs often reflect our own.

Thus, The American Black Film Festival was born.  As posted on its informational site, Film Life’s American Black Film Festival was established in 1997 and has been devoted to embracing, developing and fortifying the black filmmaking community through resource sharing, education, artistic collaboration and career development ever since.  Born out of the need to provide distribution opportunities for up-and-coming and independent Black films in the motion picture industry, The ABFF not only affords aspiring and established Black filmmakers, writers and actors with a venue for project showcases, workshops and networking opportunities, but also provides a strategic vehicle for better exposure for Black Films.

Kicking off today through June 26th in sunny Miami, The American Black Film Festival will undoubtedly be the event of the summer…and surely a heat wave will commence once Idris Elba, the festival’s ambassador this year, steps onto the scene (muy caliente!).  Other notable highlights and events that will take place during the festival include a tribute to Career Achievement Award Honoree Lee Daniels, A Master’s Class Symposium on the Art of Directing facilitated by Spike Lee and Soledad O’Brien’s presentation and sneak-peak into CNN’s latest “Black in America” Documentary: Churched (LADDAMERCY…I knew it was only a matter of time).

But seriously, can you think of a more comprehensive setting for which to host the most innovative minds behind black cinema?  For the past 14 years, the festival has been integral in fostering awareness and collaborations between Hollywood and the black independent film community.  Perhaps if Tinsel Town Execs more regularly sought out the talented and multifaceted artists represented at The ABFF each year, they’d know that at their disposal they’d have a plethora of artistically endowed Black Cleopatra’s simply ready and waiting for casting in their next epic biopic…jussayin.

When It’s Time For Playmates

22 Jun

It is seldom that I blog about my family (only because the stories that I could share would be SO outlandish that nary a reader would believe my narratives and thus regard my every declaration going forward as untruths…but I digress),  but the exploits of my youngest child today were simply too ridiculous not to share.

Let me set up the story:  Because it was my Sunday to lead one of the many volunteer teams at church two days ago, I was able to enjoy a nice little repast between services (one of the perks of giving ones time and talents at my place of worship).  Anyway, after my meal was complete and before I could partake of my scrumptious cookies (2 ginormous chocolatey-chippy confections), I had to get back to my post.  Eagerly anticipating when the twin cavity inducers and I would once again meet, I placed the saran-wrapped goodies in my purse for later.  Well, it wasn’t until Monday when I pulled my checkbook out of my purse to balance it did I realize that I’d forgotten about my cookies.  As I extracted them from my bag and began a painstakingly careful examination for crumble damage, I was immediately met with an ecstatic “Oooh, cookies for me!”  I hadn’t realized it, but the baby child’s “sweets radar” was clearly activated, and he simply would not be denied.  When I explained to him that both cookies were in fact mine, and that he should not assume that everything he saw or wanted immediately belonged to him (a toddler lesson that at present, he has shown no real desire to learn), he gave me the “I’m truly hurt” pout-face and sulked away.

Fast forward to this morning; after I left my sleeping family to head off to work (I still stew in my own juices a bit at the fact that my school-system-administrator-husband and summer-vacationing-children get to slumber until noon while I am up racing the sun on the way to work each morning…but again, I digress) I got a call from my honey who shared that immediately upon waking up, our baby child found my cookies on the kitchen counter and proceeded to tell him, “you can’t have the cookies Da, they are momma’s and me’s!”  Again, the baby child had to be enlightened of whose cookies they were and who would not be getting them…or so I thought.

When I returned home from work, my mother had explained that my honey and kids had already left for track practice and that she was keeping the baby child.  As I got settled in and asked about her day and his, she told me that the baby child had something he wanted to tell me.  When I asked him why his G’ma sounded so foreboding, he looked at me with doe eyes and blurted out “I ate your cookies momma!”  My mother went on to explain that while she was cooking dinner, the baby child must have stealthily entered the kitchen and swiped the cookies off the counter.  Trying to keep a straight face, I explained to the baby child that it wasn’t nice to take things that didn’t belong to him.  When he nodded in understanding, I jokingly added that I didn’t think I wanted to be his friend because he ate my cookies and that if he wanted to keep his friends, he shouldn’t eat their snacks.  Realizing that this may potentially be upsetting to him, I quickly rephrased and ask if he’d rather have friendship or cookies.  He looked me square in the face and said deadpanned, “Your cookies.”

Seems as though I may need to forgo the sweets for a while and set up a play-date or two for the unsociable, sweet-toothed baby child.

Where Has Bilal Been? Plotting Air Tight’s Revenge!

21 Jun

Have you ever experienced a voice so distinctive, so lyrical and so unique that its reverberating fullness, rich tone and velvety texture are immediately seared into your memory?  That is how I felt when I first heard Bilal’s debut album, “1st Born Second” almost ten years ago.  The talent and creativity of this classically trained, one-part neo soul artist, one-part avant-garde jazz musician, all-parts awesome singer has made him a collaborative go-to favorite of popular music stars like Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, Darien Brockington, Boney James, Musiq, Common, Mos Def, Beyonce, Solange, Jay-Z, Tweet, Cherokee and Robert Glasper to name a few.

 So, for Bilal Oliver to be arguably one of the most prolific singers and legitimate talents to grace the music industry in at least the last decade, why then is it that we’ve heard so little of his solo work in that time?  In the crooner’s defense, it was never intentional for his hiatus to be this extended…and it certainly was not to last longer than The Bush Administration’s two-term tyranny time in office.  Thanks to his critically acclaimed first musical endeavor, there were high hopes for his sophomore album “Love for Sale”.  Regrettably however, the project had to be tabled by Interscope Records after being leaked all over the internet.  And although Bilal was undeterred, moving on and performing on a plethora of songs from heavy hitting artists over the years (both live and in studio), compiling those various collaborations into an eclectic mixtape of sorts called “The Return of Mr. Wonderful” and lending his vocals to the best soul revival-slash-orchestraic masterpiece I have ever heard, “The Dresden Soul Symphony”, the void that the falsetto’d, freckled one left with not having released an album of his own in that ten year span, was a vast and palpable one that no modern artist has yet been able to fill or replicate.

 But before the non-believers relegate this highly respected if mainstreamly-obscure creator of musical brilliance to the realm of one-hit-wonder-dom, know that he has not been resting on his laurels.  Having recently put the finishing touches on his highly anticipated and forthcoming masterpiece, “Air Tight’s Revenge” is slated for release on his own independent label Jazzman Music later this year. The premiere single on the album called “Free” reintroduces the listener to the artistry and range that Bilal is known for, and is chocked-full of the instrumental influences that make his work decidedly soul.

 Now admittedly, I am quite biased when it comes to Bilal.  Although I am not the first nor will I be the last to sing the praises of this musician who actually creates the drummer’s beat to which he dances and sings, the brother had me at “Soul Sista”.

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