Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Shock-less Start

I came home from work last night, upset that I had forgotten to TiVo game one of the WNBA Finals between the Sacramento Monarchs and Detroit Shock. My displeasure quickly faded when I went to the Shock website to check the score: SAC 95 DET 71.

A 24-point beat down on our home court, The Palace of Auburn Hills. A huge disappointment after watching Detroit beat back Connecticut on the Sun's home court to get to The Finals. Now, just like the Pistons did in their NBA Eastern Conference Finals series with Miami earlier this year, the Shock have handed home court advantage to the Monarchs and created for themselves and uphill battle.

I took a look at the box score and came to the conclusion that it was a 5-on-3 game because of Detroit's starting five, Swin Cash and Ruth Riley didn't show up. Coming off of a stellar 16-point game three performance against Connecticut, Cash went scoreless against Sacramento last night. Riley scored just two points and grabbed not a single rebound. Not good for a center. I realize Cheryl Ford is the queen of rebounding for the Shock, but come on Ruth!

The Monarchs were the true queens at The Palace last night. The headline in this morning's Detroit Free Press reads, "Shock caught napping." I hope head coach Bill Laimbeer and assistant Rick Mahorn, both members the Detroit Pistons from the Bad Boys championship days, can light a fire under the ladies to wake them up for Game Two.

Oh, Good Evening!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Excuses, Excuses...

A dear friend, who shall remain nameless, recently suffered a medical setback and is going through what we hope is a temporary disability. He's been to see doctors and is currently going through a physical therapy routine.

It's an extremely frustrating situation for him because he's used to being independent and now relies on others to help him get around. I understand that frustration. He complains, almost daily, that his recovery isn't happening fast enough and that he thinks he should be better by now. I tell him he'll have to have patience. Things aren't going to be back to normal overnight. His mother has been shuttling him back and forth to medical appointments and therapy sessions. He's also been spending most days at his mother's house before returning to his home for the night.

Now-- here's what I don't understand. I was speaking with my friend this morning and found out that he hasn't been taking the medication prescribed for him according to the doctor's order. He is supposed to take the medicine every 12 hours. I asked him why he wasn't taking it like prescribed. His response floored me.

"They don't get me home in time to take the medicine ontime," he told me.

"Why don't you take it with you to your mom's house," I asked.

"Because I only have the use of one hand."

"What does that have to do with you taking the medicine with you?"

"I can't carry everything I have to carry," he said. "My phone, my lip balm," he continued.

Now, here's where I got a little agitated with him. I told him the phone can go on his hip in its holster, the lip balm can go in his pocket, so I again asked, "what does any of that have to do with you taking the medicine with you, which I'm assuming could also go in your pocket?!?!?"

"I just think I should be back home in time to take my medicine."

I say- and I'm sure his doctor would agree- that he should keep the damn medication with him so that wherever he is when he's supposed to take it, he can!!!!!!! (Can you tell I'm not pleased?)

Oh, Good Evening!


This photo of me with my HUMMER H2 was taken on Sunday, July 17, 2005 in the parking of my friend Errin's Atlanta apartment building. I had signed the lease papers just four days earlier and obviously could not wait to take her on a road trip. (LOL)

I love driving the H2 because it's such a cool looking vehicle. There is nothing else on the road quite like it. Big, boxy, and bodacious, with unique little features including perimeter lighting and side hood latches. It's definitely an attention grabber. When it comes to HUMMER vehicles, most people either love them or hate them. Very few fall in the middle. Kids seem to fall in the "love it" category while adults are split. After a year of ownership, it's apparent to me adults who hate the H2 keep their opinions to themselves and only adults who like the vehicle actually talk to me about it. And, their number one question is, "how much does it cost to fill that thing up?"

Yes, Miss HUMMER drinks some gasoline. The truck has a 32 gallon tank and averages a little more than 10 miles per gallon overall. If I'm light on the pedal- keeping the speed under 70 miles per hour- and a bit lucky, I might get 12 miles per gallon on the highway. At today's prices ($2.83/gallon in SC), the tank holds about $90 worth of gas and a round trip between Columbia and Atlanta (450 miles) costs about $116. And, that's just getting there and back. That does not include gasoline burned while driving around the city. That begs the question, "why drive one of these thirsty beasts?" For me, the answer is simple-- it's so cool!

That said and considering the operating costs, I am very glad I still have my car for road trips and running most errands around town. The HUMMER is very handy for things like grocery shopping, trips to Best Buy for boxy purchases, and driving to the airport with large luggage. It's also great for taking the occasional curb, tailgating at football games, or parking at the State Fair. And, another big reason I like driving the H2-- people move out of my way!

Oh, Good Evening!

So, now that you know why I love my HUMMER, tell me why you love your vehicle.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

That Was Then... This Is Now

I found this on a friend's blog and decided to lift and edit.

1996 vs. 2006

1) How old were you?
THEN: 32
NOW: 42

2) Where did you work?

3) Where did you live?
THEN: Quail Run Apartments/Columbia, SC
NOW: Candlewood Subdivision/Columbia, SC

4) How was your hairstyle?
THEN: Short and disappearing
NOW: Shorter and still disappearing

5) Did you wear contacts?
NOW: No, but I should

6) Did you wear glasses?
THEN: Sometimes

8) Which of your pets were still alive?
THEN: Coco, my beloved Shar Pei
NOW: May he Rest In Peace

9) Who was your boyfriend/girlfriend?
THEN: Didn't have either
NOW: Still don't have either

10) Who was your celebrity crush?
THEN: Too many to list
NOW: Still too many to list

11) How many piercings did you have?
THEN: Are you kidding?
NOW: My pain threshold is ZERO!

12) How many tattoos did you have?
THEN: How many Black men have been elected POTUS?
NOW: How many Black men have been elected VPOTUS?

13) What was your favorite band/singer?
THEN: The Artist Formerly Known as Prince
NOW: The Artist Once Again Known as Prince

14) Had you smoked a cigarette?
NOW: Trying cigarettes and a cigar or two have reaffirmed my hatred of all things tobacco.

15) Had you gotten drunk?
THEN: Oh, yes!
NOW: I've never met a good vodka I didn't like.

16) What kind of car did you drive?
THEN: 1992 Honda Prelude
NOW: 1999 Mercedes-Benz CLK320 & 2005 HUMMER H2

17) Looking back, are you where you thought you would be in 2006?
In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would still be in Columbia 10 years after arriving.

Oh, Good Evening!

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Shock-ing Truth

Last night, the Detroit Shock proved what some folks have been saying for the entire WNBA season-- they may be the best team in the league this year.

In the deciding Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Shock dismantled the top-seeded and two-time defending conference champion Connecticut Sun, 79-55, on the Sun's home court. Detroit won the series 2-1, earning the team's first trip back to The WNBA Finals since 2003 when they won the championship.

At 23-11, Detroit didn't have the best record in the WNBA this season. The Shock finished third behind Connecticut (26-8) and Los Angeles (25-9). But, I have my fingers crossed the electrifying ladies of Motown, the Princesses of the Palace, will be able to do what their princely counterparts, the Pistons have failed to do twice-- RECLAIM THE TITLE! The Shock now face the defending WNBA champion Sacramento Monarchs in the five-game Finals series beginning Wednesday night. All games can be seen on ESPN2.

GO SHOCK! Bring the trophy home and change the address in Auburn Hills to Five Championship Drive.

Oh, Good Evening!

More Idlewild

Most of the professional critics who reviewed "Idlewild" gave it poor marks. One to one-and-a-half stars was the average. Amateur critics-- folks buying tickets to see the film-- seem to like it much more.

Even though I saw the movie at a preview in Indianapolis, I went to the theater and paid to see it again Sunday afternoon so "Idlewild" would get credit for another ticket sold during its opening weekend. (Box office estimates placed "Idlewild" in ninth place with $5.9 million, less than one-fifth of the final production budget.) I went to the Regal Sandhill Stadium 16 cinema where a decent sized audience viewed the 4:15 pm showing. It was clear to me, early on, my fellow audience members were enjoying the film because they were laughing at the jokes, marveling over the effects, and snapping their fingers to the music. Also, when the movie was over, more than half of the audience remained glued to their seats for the initial credits which ran over a music performance by Andre' Benjamin.

On the way out of the theater, it was nice to hear people talking to each other about how much they enjoyed the film. One lady recognized me from the news, said hello and, "wasn't that good?" I spoke to two other people in the parking lot. When I asked them if they enjoyed the movie, the gentleman-- who appeared to be in his 50's-- replied, "I give it an 8 and that's high for me." "It wasn't completely where I thought it should be. A couple of scenes were in there just for show, but it was good," he continued. The woman he was walking with told me, with a big smile on her face, that she really enjoyed it. She also said, "when the critics give it a one, I have to see it." That about sums it up for me, too.

I love going to the movies and over the years, I have found that whenever the critics don't like a film I'm interested in seeing that I end up thinking it's great. At the very least, I leave the theater feeling that I did not waste my money. The enjoyment factor was up to my expectation. For me, that makes a movie good.

Is "Idlewild" an Oscar caliber film? Not really. Though, I can see it garnering a few nominations for things like special effects, costumes, and music soundtrack. And, the music honor is highly possible. Don't be surprised if Andre' and Big Boi are standing on the Kodak Theater stage on February 25, 2007 holding the coveted golden statuette just as Prince did for "Purple Rain" in 1984.

Oh, Good Evening.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

It's Hott in Herre!

I was at a party last night, hosted by well known Columbia attorney I. S. Leevy Johnson and his wife, Doris, to celebrate the special achievement of a friend and colleague, Emmy Award winning WIS News 10 anchor Craig Melvin.

There's nothing quite like good company, good food and drink, and good conversation. In this case, the good food included an appetizing spread of shrimp, beef tenderloin, barbecued pulled pork, fresh strawberries, and more. The good drink included top shelf liquor, margaritas, and pina coladas. The good company included local movers and shakers, young and, well.... also young! I can be really bad with names, but some of the faces I remember include Luther Battiste III, Kelly Seabrook, George and Michelle Johnson, Chris Leevy Johnson, Bryon Gipson, Anton Gunn, Dawndy Mercer, Tara Robertson, Chris Hart, James and Cynthia Bennett, Kerry Abel, Walt Tobin, Tiger Wells, Alan Wilson, Stephanie Ramos, Felicia Smith, Susan Aude', Sharranda Neal, Stephany Snowden, and more! (How in the heck did I get on the invitation list?) This was truly a great way to spend a Saturday night in late August.

Mr. and Mrs. Johnson have a beautiful home, perfect for entertaining. An open and inviting floorplan inside; a lovely and spacious yard outside. There were tables and a bar setup outside, but from the time I arrived-- around 6:45pm (the party started at 6:00pm)-- until the time I departed-- around 9:15pm-- there never seemed to be more than five people in the yard. It seems the humidity and some pesky flying insects known as gnats and mosquitoes made most guests ventures outside short. Everybody was inside and boy were we generating some heat.

At one point, Craig's mother slipped by me saying, "I'm going outside to get some fresh air." To which I replied, "it's just as hot out there as it is in here." But, Miss Betty continued toward the door optimistic that, "it's got to be cooler outside." She couldn't have been out there long because I turned to speak to another friend, posed for a couple of photos, and looked up to find Miss Betty right back-- or still-- in the living room mix.

Kelly Seabrook asked, "is it just me, or is anybody else feeling warm?" And, I remember commenting to Tiger Wells as he was saying his goodbyes, that I was happy not to be the only one walking around periodically wiping beads of sweat off his brow. Of course, none of us was making a bee line for the door to leave. I guess we'll all endure a little heat to enjoy good food, good drink, and good company.

I did joke with Craig that I. S. must have spent so much money on the food and liquor that he couldn't afford to turn on the air conditioner. Craig responded with his distinctive laugh then told me that if people stayed too long, I. S. would turn on the heat, for real, because, "that'll be the only way to get rid of folks!"

Oh, Good Evening!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The More Things Change...

It seems the more things change with the Detroit Lions, the more they stay the same. I know the season hasn't even started yet, but after three preseason games, my beloved team doesn't look any better than it has the last few years.

I was looking forward to watching the delayed broadcast of Detroit's Friday night exhibition against the Oakland Raiders. But I knew it wouldn't be an enjoyable experience when I looked up the score last night before heading to a late night birthday gathering for a friend. Midway through the second quarter-- DET 0 - OAK 21. Not good.
The next time I check the score, it's midway through the third quarter-- DET 0 - OAK 21. Still not good, but no worse. The final score-- DET 3 - OAK 21. Pathetic. After defeating the Denver Broncos 20-13 in the preseason opener and losing to the Cleveland Browns 16-20, the Lions have managed just 39 points in three games from an offense that should be the Greatest Show on Turf II.

Why can't this team win? Why can't the offense produce more than 3 points? Why can't the defense keep opponents from producing points? For 2006, the Lions have a new head coach in Rod Marinelli; a new offensive coordinator in former St. Louis Rams head coach Mike Martz who was the archetecht of the Greatest Show on Turf I; and a new defensive coordinator in Donnie Henderson who, last year, held the same position with the New York Jets. In the last four years, Detroit has exercised several first round draft picks to select quarterback Joey Harrington (2002), wide receivers Charles Rogers (2003), Roy Williams (2004), and Mike Williams (2005), running back Kevin Jones (2004), and linebacker Ernie Sims (2006). That's five offensive players and one defensive player, all first rounders selected in the last four years. Rookie Ernie Sims is having a good preseason and looks promising. We'll give him the benefit of the doubt here. But the rest of them?

Let's break things down:
  • Joey Harrington: The Harrington Project didn't work. Joey is now backing up Daunte Culpepper with the Miami Dolphins.
  • Charles Rogers: The former Michigan State star showed promise in his first four games in 2003 before breaking his collar bone in Week 5 and missing the rest of the season. He broke the same bone in Week 1 (Chicago) in 2004, again missing the rest of the season. In 2005, he was suspended for four games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. (Which actually means he tested positive multiple times because the league issues warnings before actually suspending a player.) He played in nine games, starting just three.
  • Roy Williams: Shows great promise. Roy has the potential to be the best receiver the Lions have had since Herman Moore. He just has to stay healthy and stop dropping balls.
  • Mike Williams: Played in 14 games his rookie season, starting four times. Has great size (some say too much size) and based on his years at Southern California, great potential. We just didn't see that potential materialize into great plays last year. It seems he needs to check his ego and get his head in the game.
  • Kevin Jones: This guy really blossomed in the second half of his rookie season. It was great to see the Lions have a real running game again. Jones was finding holes and making moves like Hall of Fame great Barry Sanders. He was even named a Pro Bowl alternate as a rookie. Then came season two and the dreaded Sophomore Slump. (Not to mention a case of the "big head.") We're hoping for a rebound this year.

With the departure of Harrington, the Lions signed two quarterbacks in free agency: Jon Kitna formerly with the Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals; and Josh McCown formerly with the Arizona Cardinals. Kitna has earned the number spot on the depth chart and has started each of Detroit's preseason games. With his experience, a potent receiver corps, and legs to run, Detroit's offense should be running like a Corvette Z06 engine! I'm sorry. I forgot to mention, the offensive line still sucks! Oh, well.

Metro Detroit is on an athletic high in 2006. The Red Wings (NHL) finished with the best record in hockey. The Pistons (NBA) finished with the best record in basketball. The Tigers (MLB) have the best record in baseball. The only downer has been the failure of the Red Wings and Pistons to win their respective league championships. (We'll see how the Tigers do in the playoffs for the first time in years.) The way things are shaping up in the preseason, it doesn't look like the Lions will even come close to joining that club.

The Lions have hosted two Super Bowl games (XVI in 1982 and XL in 2006) but have never played in one. Detroit won NFL championships in 1952, 1953, and 1957. The Super Bowl wasn't created as the championship game until 1967, three years after my birth. It would be nice to see Detroit play in a Super Bowl in my lifetime. But, I'm not holding my breath.

Oh, Good Evening.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Passing Lane

When it comes to worldly possessions, my house ranks #1. Coming in at #1.5, my vehicles. I have a 1999 Mercedes CLK320 and a 2005 HUMMER H2. Most of us drive out of necessity. We have to get to and from work, go to the grocery store, take the kids to soccer practice. (I don't do the kids thing, but let's assume you do.) For some, driving is a chore. For me, it's a joy, a thrill, an exciting part of my daily routine. That is, until some slow poke gets in my way in the passing lane on the freeway.

I grew up in Detroit; the Motor City; the car capital of the world, though not for long. I love cars. I've been driving since the age of 13 even though I could not officially take driver's education until age 15. My father started teaching me the basics of driving early. And, unbeknownst to him, my great-grandmother, whom we called Grannie, allowed me to serve as her chauffeur on many occasions. She had a blue Pontiac Sunbird that was small enough to make me look a few years older behind the wheel. Both of my parents worked and Grannie was our combination babysitter/housekeeper and anytime we had to go someplace, I would ask to drive. I guess it was my charming personality that always seemed to convince her to hand me the keys. Ok, it was the temper tantrum I threatened to throw if she didn't hand me the keys. Mmmm, that wouldn't have worked either because Grannie had no problem keeping me, or my brother and sister in line when necessary. The real reason she would let me drive-- she didn't want to. Driving with Grannie was fun and it put me ahead of the curve when I did take driver training in high school. I passed with flying colors and got my driving permit allowing me to legally drive with adult supervision. On my 16th birthday, I promptly went to the Michigan Secretary of State's Office and took the test to get my first driver's license.

That's enough background. I have always been a fairly safe driver, but one who does not like to drive slowly. Yes, I have more than a little lead in my right foot. And, I have always enjoyed driving cars that allow me to flex that heavy foot. I often refer to it as, "driving a car the way it was designed to be driven." When I get on an interstate highway, I'm ready to move. So, it goes without saying that slow drivers work on my nerves. Slow drivers on entrance ramps; slow drivers in the passing lane; slow drivers in any lane. But, let me focus on the entrance ramps and passing lanes for a minute.

When entering an interstate freeway, I was taught, at the ripe young age of 13 by my father, that you need to get up to speed-- on the entrance ramp-- so that you can seamlessly merge into the flowing traffic. That notion was reiterated by my driver's education instructor, Coach Rodriguez, at Detroit Catholic Central High School. Unfortunately, there are many drivers who apparently never learned that lesson because they like to enter freeways doing 40 mph when the traffic is flowing at 60 mph and faster. Just last night, in fact, I was on my way home from work and somebody in front of me in a Ford Explorer SUV decided a good speed for getting on the highway was roughly 45 mph and there was no other vehicle ahead. (MAJOR FRUSTRATION!!!!) But my lead foot and the 215 horsepower engine in my Mercedes CLK wanted to get on up to 55 mph (actually, faster than that!) and we didn't feel like waiting on Mr. or Ms. Slow Poke. (It was dark and I couldn't see into the Explorer's window, but I did look.) Unfortunately, another pokey was in the right lane and I could not immediately go around. Then, the Explorer driver starts hitting the brakes as if to say to me, "slow down and get off my ass!" To that, I said.... well, I can't really print what I said but suffice it to say that my right foot pressed the accelerator and I slid around that idiot and moved on.

Another early lesson from Dad and later, my driver's education instructor, was that slower traffic is supposed to stay to the right and the left lane(s) are for passing. Now, I will admit that it took me a while to fully appreciate and embrace this rule of the road, but it's like Gospel now. Unfortunately, not every driver feels the same way. If I had a dollar for every time I have encountered a driver, in the passing lane, who refuses to move over for faster traffic, I could retire yesterday! JUST MOVE OVER!!! It's not that difficult.

I'm truly on my soap box now and I'm going to step off. I have to believe that if you've read this far, you understand where I'm coming from. If more people would just follow the rules of the road-- enter freeways at the flow of traffic and clear the passing lane for faster traffic-- we could reduce road rage dramatically. And, for Pete's sake, read the road signs and follow directions. If a sign says keep driving and merge into traffic after you turn, DO THAT! Don't stop and wait to turn. (I encounter that daily, too.)

Bottom line-- you can drive slowly if you want to. Just don't do it in front of me!

Oh, Good Evening!

Thursday, August 24, 2006


A cinematic rarity hits the big screen on Friday, August 25th. A period film made by and starring African Americans. And it's pretty good! "Idlewild" is the film and I had a chance to catch a sneak preview in Indianapolis during the recent National Association of Black Journalists convention.

Going in, I didn't know much about the film other than the OutKast connection. I thought it was going to be about the historic Idlewild resort community in rural northwestern Michigan, developed in the early 1900's by African Americans who could not visit other popular Great Lakes resorts because of segregation. (The likes of Madame C. J. Walker, Langston Hughes, Marcus Garvey, and Zora Neale Hurston were among frequent vacationers. W. E. B. DuBois and Dr. Daniel Hale Williams owned homes in Idlewild.) But I was wrong. During the Q&A session following the screening, Felicia Henderson, features editor of the Detroit News, asked co-producer Erika Conner about any connection and her response indicated that Andre' Benjamin just "made it up," and no research had been done on the name Idlewild. Interesting.

Conner told interviewer Patrick Riley, chair of the NABJ Arts and Entertainment Task Force, that "Idlewild" started out as project for HBO with a budget of $1 million. However, as it progressed the budget ballooned-- repeatedly-- until it hit a final number in the $30 million range! AMAZING! They'll need a huge opening weekend at the box office if we're to see anything like this again. But, the "R" rating may hurt the numbers.

Here are my thoughts in a nutshell:

  1. Andre' Benjamin and Antwan Patton definitely sing better than they act. But, their acting is pretty good. I was pleasantly surprised.
  2. The photography (Paschal Rabaud), special effects, and editing (Anne Goursaud) are all fantastic.
  3. The cast is impressive. (Ben Vereen, Cicely Tyson, Patti LaBelle, Terrence Howard, Ving Rhames, Malinda Williams, and more.)
  4. The costumes (Shawn Barton) are great.
  5. The choreogrphay (Hinton Battle) is exhilarating!
  6. The music is OutKast, but it's mostly previously released OutKast.
  7. Sitting through the preview, I felt like the film was about 10-15 minutes too long. (I think Ms. Conner told us it was just under 2 hours, however theaters have it listed at 1 hour, 30 minutes)
  8. How many times can Terrence Howard play the same type of role?

There is a good mix of music, drama, comedy, violence, sexual inuendo, animation, and more. The way everything came together in the film my final impression was that I had sat through a sort of hip-hop version of "Purple Rain."

Oh, Good Evening!

Other Reviews of "Idlewild" Foul-Mouthed Musical Isn’t All That Jazz by Scott Holleran (Entertainment Weekly) by Owen Gleiberman

Orlando Sentinel Boi, Oh Boy Are They Bad Actors by Roger Moore

Village Voice About a Boi by Michael Atkinson