Saturday, March 31, 2007

Vacation time or wedding season?

If Jay-Z’s right and 30 is the new 20, than I’m technically 17 and that’s fabulous.
Unfortunately, in real time I’m a grown working woman who’s free time is precious.
So I’ve always made it a goal to live it up each spring and summer. It’s my time to travel, visit friends and just have fun.

I start in the spring because I still get that spring fever and unfortunately I no longer have spring break or even summer break for the matter.
So it takes a lot of careful planning to make it all work, but it’s possible.
There’s only one kink that can mess up all of that: The wedding.

I’m all about love and holy matrimony, especially when it comes to my dear friends.
I've been going to friends' weddings since 2003. I swear in 2004, I attended at least one wedding a month – No joke. And I'm not talking about just local weddings, no I'm talking about out of town, all over the place.

On one hand it’s fun because it’s usually like a mini-reunion. I mean for that one day you get to re-live fun college days, see sorority sisters and friends. And there’s nothing like the wedding reception – Shoot, in my opinion that’s what the day is really all about for guests, you know?
And of course, you don’t have a wedding reception without the electric slide, Harlem shuffle or whatever the heck you wanna call it.

But I swear, I think I need some kinda detox from weddings this year. So far, I only have four to attend, thank GAWD! And three out of four of those are already on conflicting dates, so I’m not sure if I’ll even make all of them.
And I mean, I have very good reasons for missing some of them. VERY good reasons. Very important reasons.

So does that make me less of a friend for skipping some of these nuptials this year? I mean I’ll send a gift – Isn’t that all that really matters? If any of my friends are reading this that happen to be getting married, I’m not talking about you, of course…

Friday, March 30, 2007

Storms aren't always bad

It's that time of year, and sometimes bad weather can be a little scary (like the tornadoes we've seen in Bossier and Webster parishes in the past month or so).

But here are some pics I took off I-49 that wouldn't have been nearly as cool without some serious clouds and heavy rain.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A house fit for a "King"

LeBron James is building a new home near his hometown of Akron, Ohio. And if something providential intervenes (as I pray it does), I'll soon be getting my invite to the house-warming party.

Check out this spread.

The NBA star is building a 35,000-square-foot home that will have a two-lane bowling alley, barber shop, aquarium, sports bar, a recording studio, a six-car garage, a two-story walk-in closet in the master bedroom and, get this, a casino. Wow.

There might have been more to James' super sized crib, but I got tired of using commas. The home is, to borrow a bad phrase, fit for a "King."

What possible reason could have ever have for leaving his house, except for game days with the Cavs and groupie searches? Will he have full-time employees staffed in the casino and barbershop? Why did he only build a two-lane bowling alley and six-car garage?

Certainly he could afford to have more than two people bowl at a time, and he's got to have more than six cars.

This development is almost enough to have him supplant Jay-Z in my cool rankings. If he can start dating the equivalent of Beyonce, he'll move to the top.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

No Foul Play???

It's already been said the most shocking thing Anna Nicole Smith did in her life was die.

Now what's even more shocking (at least to me) is there was no foul play involved in her death. As it turns out, she died because she had way too many pills mixing in her system.

Check out a full copy of her autopsy report.

It is a very good thing that all of the people arguing over who'll get custody of Anna's daughter and her money didn't kill her.

I'm suprised and I'm sad she's gone.

For some reason I loved Anna and all her craziness. I hope her soul gets to rest in peace.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Chating it up with a homegirl (A Day in Hollywood South, Part 2)

When I met award-winning actress Lynn Whitfield at Southern University at Shreveport’s 3rd Annual Economic Forum several weeks ago, I didn’t know what to expect.

She was one the featured speakers during the luncheon portion of the event which focused on the budding movie business in the area and discussed ways to turn into a long-lasting film industry. Whitfield was so gracious and nice and she looked elegant as always. Forever classy, she was wearing this sleek black suit and this chic sheer blouse with a ruffle collar, her hair, streaked with light brown highlights, cascaded past her shoulder

I can only hope to look so fabulous when I’m her age. I was mesmerized, taking it all in. Thank God, I didn’t revert back to my lame-brain Erykah-Badu-interview days.

I mean, this is the same woman who dazzled us with her portrayal of Josephine Baker in “The Josephine Baker Story,” captivated us alongside Oprah Winfrey in “The Women of Brewster Place,” and entranced us in “Eve’s Bayou.” Then, showed us black don’t crack in her most recent starring role in “Madea’s Family Reunion.”

And even though the woman is a Baton Rouge native, I just never thought I would meet her.
Amazingly, Whitfield was just as taken with our city.
“Even though I’m from Louisiana, I’ve never spent time here before and I’m just so amazed at how glamorous the city is,” she said. (Glamorous? Really?)
“I had to leave here and go to places like Toronto just to get a chance in Hollywood and now people can do that right here,” she said.

Whitfield comes from an aristocratic family in Baton Rouge and throughout her speech at the luncheon, she spoke of how especially her parents’ supported her decision to be an actress when she was a child, even though they weren’t too crazy about the idea.
“I don’t know how or why I knew I wanted to be an actress. It was something God deposited in my spirit,” she said.
She shared how this longing to be an actress stayed with her, despite rarely seeing brown faces like hers on TV and in films during her childhood.

“It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to do what Audrey Hepburn did,” she said. “I would only see splattering of brown faces here and there, like Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Rosalind Cash, Diana Sands, but I was really optimistic like ‘Here I come. Ta-da!’” she said, as the crowd laughed. “And they were like Ta-da? Ta-what?”

Whitfield talked about how her daughter Grace has been bitten by the acting bug and she hopes to show her “What a wonderful place she comes from,” referring to Louisiana.

“We may be at the bottom for a lot of negative things, but Louisiana is the most exotic, most authentic state in the union,” she said, her voice transcending into a tone similar to that of a preacher in mid-sermon and the crowd was right there with her. “People can say the hurricane changed New Orleans as we know it. That it took away the city, but they can NOT take our stories,” she said to a chorus of amens. “If we don’t tell our stories and preserve them on film, they may not ever know.

I’ve always admired Whitfield’s talent, gracefulness and elegance, but after meeting her and hearing her speak with such pride, I also came away admiring her state pride.

She’s a proud homegirl who doesn’t just talk it, but wants to be about it.
“I’m going to hang a shingle in this state and bring productions here in this state and preserve our state,” she declared as she concluded her speech.

I hope she doesn’t let us down.

Monday, March 26, 2007

File those taxe returns yet?

The federal ones are due Apr. 17, and the state ones May 15. Sure, for those of us who are procrastinators that is awhile away. But why not get an early start?

If you're lucky enough to get a refund, you'll be that much closer.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Oh yes, it's Friday

I'm sure the last thing many of us want to think about at this point in the day is our job, but here are some good tips from about how to do it better. And I think they probably apply whether you're a reporter, a teacher or a banker.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Like Stephanie said on In...

You might be sick of 'em, but the Molly Ringwalds are back here tonight at Sidekicks either way.

Some of my friends who went to LSU are big fans of the Baton Rouge-based band, and they are worried the show will sell out. I don't know. I tried to call the club, but I keep getting that disconnected message...

It's your call. The Awesome '80s could await you... or not.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

You never know who you'll meet in Shreveport

I meet all kinds of folks covering the crime beat. Many are interesting, but some are noteworthy.

Today I met three people who are from other countries but are staying in Shreveport. The fact that they have citizenship somewhere else is not that special. It's the countries they are from. I mean, it's not too tough for a Mexican or a Canadian to get here. And I've met people around here who are from the UK and China.

But Petrus Nene (top photo) and Christopher Pretorius (middle) are from South Africa, and Ola Moberg (bottom) is from Sweden. The three are here working for an international company that sprays special coatings onto various types of metal. Sounds kind of technical and scientific, huh? I have never met anyone from these nations.

Anyhow, these guys were fortunate or unfortunate enough to be interviewed by me today at the Super 8 Lodge on Monkhouse Drive, where a Suburban crashed through the front door. No, none of these guys was the driver.

It's so interesting to think that someone from one of these faraway places would find any kind of job here. But like everyone is saying, we're living in a global economy.

It's just funny to hear accents like theirs in Shreveport. Ola was trying to tell me the name of his hometown, which starts with a J, but sounds to me like a K. And, of course, it's always fascinating to see how the British influence has shown through for so long in the South African accent. (We won't even get into the other ways colonialism has affected that country in this post.)

They had only been here for three days, so it was tough to come up with a characterization of this place. But I hope the stay is a little more pleasant now that the SUV has been removed form the lobby.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What does Jesus look like?

Groups or individuals who claim to know exactly how Jesus looks scare me.

OK, maybe they don't scare me but they do concern me--a lot.

There was an advertisement atop our web site with a picture of some man with long brown hair, wearing white robes and standing in front of a cross. The man has his arms outstretched. The type on the ad says: "I Love You This Much."

Since the man looks like all the other men that people say is Jesus I can only assume that the ad is trying to tell folks that Jesus loves them. I guess that's good.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, drive to the corner of East Kings and Youree Drive and look up. The advertisement is fairly large. And I commend Broadmoor Baptist Church for exercising their right to pay to put it there and on our site.

But how do they know what Jesus looks like?

We didn't have any pictures of Jesus in my church in Nashville because my pastor said there wasn't a clear enough description of God's son to make any definite pictures.

I'm not a historian but I don't think Jesus looks like the man on the ad. And I'm not trying to pick a fight with Broadmoor Baptist but the man on the ad looks like a hippie. I don't think Jesus was a hippie at all...

I'm not one of the people that thinks Jesus is a Black man or a woman. I don't know what he looks like so how do they?

I don't know.

Just my thoughts. Please share yours.

Monday, March 19, 2007

We've already embarrassed one crawfish-eating newbie

So why not another? Here are some photos of Janelle eating crawfish for the first time. I'm sure this was on her list of things she had to do when she moved to Louisiana.

If you missed the video of Ashley's first time, just scroll down or check the archives for February.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A day in Hollywood South

I never thought I’d hear the day when names like Samuel Jackson, Meg Ryan and Martin Lawrence would be mentioned in the same sentence as Shreveport.
Would’ve called you a bold-face liar even five years ago if you'd told me Shreveport would be recognized on the NBC Nightly News as “Hollywood South.”
I would’ve laughed in your face if you told me Shreveport would be mentioned in the "New York Post" or on a nationally syndicated gossip radio show like “The Wendy Williams Experience” in New York City for its celebrity sightings.
New Orleans, yeah. Maybe even Baton Rouge … But NOT Shreveport.
And yet that time is now and it wasn’t more clear to me than when I covered Southern University at Shreveport’s 3rd Annual Economic Forum on Friday which focused on the film industry.

As usual, I found myself hustling through traffic to get to the Clarion Hotel in time to cover the afternoon portion of the forum. After spending forever trying to find a park, I’d finally made my way inside.
That’s when I saw a friend of mine, who was familiar with the SUSLA event. After we hugged, I told her I was looking for the event chairwoman Arcenia Anthony, who I’d communicated with the day before.

“Oh she’s in the hospitality room with all the celebrities. Do you wanna go up there?”
And before I could answer yes, she’d grabbed my hand placed me on an elevator and the next thing I knew I was in the hospitality room standing less than a foot away from THE Lynn Whitfield!

(OK, quick review for those who may be in the stone ages and don’t know who the award-winning actress Lynn Whitfield is. Think: “The Josephine Baker Story,” “Madea’s Family Reunion,” “Eve’s Bayou,” “A Thin Line…” “The Women of Brewster Place,” the ABC miniseries “The Wedding,” CBS’s “Without a Trace.” Ringing any bells yet? Well, Lynn Whitfield starred in all of them. And she's straight from the boot. That's, she's a Louisiana native, born and raised in an aristocratic family from Baton Rouge.)

Y’all she looks even MORE fabulous in person than she does on TV and in pics like that one. But it would be awhile before I could actually meet with her since everyone was clamoring to talk to her, and understandably so.

So I got a chance to chat it up with actors Sean LeSure and Algiers native Clyde R. Jones. OK, their names may not ring a bell, but you may have seen their faces. Sean has appeared in “ER” and “Family Matters” just to name a few. Jones is a Broadway actor who’s also appeared in “Moesha,” “The Fantasia Barrino Story” and more.

Both were cool, down-to-earth, fun guys who immediately set me at ease. And they were both passionate about helping local residents to take advantage of the booming movie business in the area.

Then, I spotted another familiar face kind of standing away from the crowd: It was Carl Winslow! OK, really he’s Reginald VelJohnson, but if you’re like me, you recognize him better as “Mr. Winslow” from the now defunct sitcom “Family Matters.”

One of the things that immediately struck me about him was how different he looked in person. I mean, we all age, so the hints of gray in his mustache and hair weren’t a big deal to me. But I think maybe it was his demeanor that stood out the most.
It was cool, seasoned, laid-back, relaxed. A far cry from the easily-flustered, hot-tempered Carl Winslow that was always screaming for Steve Urkel to “Go HOME!”

Mr. VelJohnson was serious and kind. I even took a pic with him on my cell phone. (Hey, I had to cease the moment and didn't have my digital camera, of course.) He told me how he was there as a favor to his friend Rod Phillips, a Shreveport native, who runs a film production company in L.A. and North Carolina and is looking to bring production opportunities back home.

VelJohnson told me how he’s seen Shreveport become the hot spot for many actors.
“I ran into James Earl Jones, Cedric the Entertainer and Mo’Nique at the casino last night,” he said.
He said he hopes that the city, especially the young people will get in on the buzz and take advantage of it.
When I asked him if he thought Shreveport could sustain the momentum, he said “I hope so. I don’t see why it wouldn’t. I visited Booker T. Washington High School yesterday and I saw so many young people that are ready for something like this.”

And for those wondering, yes he’s still got his foot in Hollywood. He said he just wrapped up three films and just started taping for a TV program. “I’m still out there,” he said.

Oh well, I have plenty more to dish about my visit with Lynn Whitfield, but I’ll save that for another post. So, stay tuned …

Friday, March 16, 2007

Serial adopters trying to save the world

I had to choke back chunks of vomit when I read Angelina Jolie had adopted her third child.

Sorry to be so graphic here but I just don't get it. It's Jolie's right to adopt whoever she chooses but this trend of adopting overseas is annoying at best. Madonna, Mia Farrow, and even Josephine Baker come to mind when I think of the cheesy, "We are the world", rainbow and cookie-cutter families.

Maybe these people have good intentions but it seems as if Jolie is working hard to become the poster child for the serial adopters. She's making me sick.

I understand that this is what some people do to help others. They believe that by adopting these indigent and otherwise hopeless children they will be giving the adopted a better life and in turn the adopter will be given a clear conscience by doing their part to make the world a better place.

These serial adopters are doing some good by taking in children from across the world to give them better lives. But what about all of the poverty-stricken, ill educated and abused children in the nation? Don't they deserve a chance too?

I interviewed a woman in Nashville who had given birth to five children. Her husband and family were wealthy and they lived a life of white privilege and luxury. I guess she got bored one day and decided to get some more kids, ones that hadn't been given the same opportunities she had been given.

She adopted a black boy, a Hispanic girl, and two Chinese children: one boy and one girl. The adopted children were a bit younger than the ones she birthed and in order to keep up with all of the families activities she kept a three-inch, three-ring binder that served as a gargantuan to-do list. Her intentions were to treat those children just as she treated her children but that didn't happen. Since they were different, she had to treat them differently. The Nashville woman did what she could to shield her brood from life's harsh realities but once they leave the nest I don't know if this will do them more harm than good.

But for some reason the Nashville woman's intentions seem more noble (just a little bit more)than those of Jolie's.

I wonder if its coincidental that the public almost never sees Shiloh, the offspring of Jolie and her partner Brad Pitt. But Maddox and Zahara (and now Pax) are always in front of cameras. Zahara is always on Jolie's hip with Maddox not too far behind. Where's Shiloh? Is she purposely shielded from public view and are her older siblings just props to show the world that Angelina Jolie isn't crazy and that she does have heart to save the world?


Or maybe I'm just sick of hearing about her.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

And another one...

So I stopped by Best Buy on my lunch break to pick up the new Musiq CD ($9.99, thank you very much.) and lo and behold, who else did I see with a new CD? One of my other faves - Norah Jones!

I'd heard for some time that the multi-Grammy award-winning songbird had a new album coming out soon, but I didn't know when. Anyway, I could not get enough of her debut CD "Come Away With Me," but I have to admit, I wasn't feeling her second CD "Feels Like Home." It just didn't grab me the same, but since she's Norah, it's OK.

I can't wait to see her at Jazz Fest in April! Her sweet, sleepy voice feels like a calm, soothing breeze on a hot COUNTRY day. And Lord knows we get alot of those down here! So, I couldn't resist it. While I was there, I grabbed her new CD, "Not Too Late" too.

And while we're talking about all this music, what's pumping out of your mp3 or CD player these days? If you heard either one of the two new CDs I've mentioned today, tell me what you thought about it.

Loving Musiq

I don't know about y'all, but I cannot WAIT to get my hands on the latest CD by Musiq Soulchild. For those Musiq fans who may not have known, his fourth CD “Luvanmusiq” just came out Tuesday.

(If you’re a fan and didn't even know he dropped a new CD, don’t feel bad. As usual, the good stuff always flies under the radar. I just happened to hear it on Wendy Williams when he was on there for an interview. Oh, and if you have NO IDEA who I’m even talking about, you might want to stop reading now…)

I’d already been jamming to his latest single, “Buddy,” for months, despite its cheesy name.
(I mean, maybe I’m missing the deeper meaning, but I hadn’t heard the word “buddy” used in common vernacular since, like, middle school. Even then, it was only used in reference to someone who was uncool. But I digress…)

But thanks to a throwback beat, smooth flow and tight hook, the song won me over so much that I made it the current song on my myspace page. Truthfully, I’m such a fan that he could be singing the alphabet and it would be my JAM. I’ve already seen him in concert twice – the same number of times I’ve seen my absolute favorite current artist, John Legend.

For me, Musiq’s musical style just personifies coolness and his songs always make me think of good times. His first album was practically the soundtrack to my senior year of college.

I remember when I first heard his debut single “Just Friends (Sunny).” It was the fall of 2000 and I was a college senior attending a mass com conference at Howard University. We were riding around D.C. when the song came on the radio and I remember thinking “Who is this guy singing all behind the beat in that low voice?” Before I knew it, I was bobbing my head going “Hmmm, I think I like it.” It was so different from anything I’d heard in R&B at the time and I’ve been hooked ever since. And so was everyone else: His first two albums went platinum, while the last one was gold.

Even the way he spells his album titles are cool, though they might drive an English teacher crazy: “Aijuswanaseing” (translation: I Just Wanna Sing); “Juslisen” (translation: Just Listen;) “Soulstar” (translation… Well I think that one’s pretty obvious;) and of course his latest “Luvanmusiq” (translation: Love and Musiq.)
Not only is his musical style unique, but so is his fashion sense. I remember so many folks trying to rock his trademark headscarf thing that he used to wear when he first came out. There was one guy who actually tried to transform himself into Musiq Soulchild, which was kinda weird, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Some folks call his style neo soul, but ultimately it’s just good music, period. And just like most performers of good music, he doesn't usually get the props he deserves.

Anyway, it’s been WAY too long - 4 years to be exact - since he released an album, making this latest CD one of my MUST-HAVE purchases for the week and I’m just hoping it doesn’t disappoint. He usually doesn’t.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Battle of the Sexes, Part 2: Relationships 101

The minute my editor sent an email out to the staff a couple of weeks ago seeking a volunteer to cover an upcoming forum on relationships, I couldn’t send my response back fast enough!

The battle of the sexes is always fun territory to me because - As I’m sure is the case with many women out there - I gladly welcome any chance at trying to understand the minds and actions of the opposite sex.

It doesn’t always mean you’re going to get something enlightening back. Or maybe I should say: It doesn’t mean you’ll always like what you hear.

I mean, this is one of those discussion topics that prove that, regardless of race, socio-economic status or age, at the end of the day “We’re just ordinary peeeopppllllee,” as one of my favorite singers John Legend would say.

And for me, yesterday’s forum “Relationships 101,” held at Southern University at Shreveport in conjunction with the YWCA of Northwest Louisiana’s 21st Celebration of Women Week, did not disappoint in entertainment value, if nothing else.

For instance, one of the high points of the energetic discussion was when panelist and popular radio personality Quenn Echols responded to the question: “Why do men feel they can cheat, but when a woman does it, it’s considered wrong and the man never let it’s go?”

His response: “Y'all want the truth? We’re not built for pain like y’all are. Emotionally you guys are built for more pain than we can take.”

Say what?! I burst into laughter when I heard this response. I mean is he kidding me?!

Of course, it is possible that I could be TOTALLY wrong, but here’s how I intepreted Echols comment:
“You women are so strong that you're meant to take more pain than us men. So that’s why we can cheat and cheat and hurt you over and over again, knowing that you'll likely forgive us each and everytime, because you can handle it. But when you cheat, even once, don't expect the same forgiveness and understanding from us. When you cheat that's much worse. In fact, it's unbearable and unacceptable and if it happens we’re done.”

I don't think cheating is justifiable ever, regardless of gender, but for some reason I was thinking I'd hear a response more along the lines of: "Because sometimes we as men can be pig-headed, selfish, egotistical jerks."

But again, I could be wrong.

One of the other entertaining-yet-interesting responses came from the question: “What are the signs when a man is ready for a commitment?”

Each panelist gave the expected responses like “Less hanging out at the clubs, more talking,” said panelist LeMar Flukers or “When he takes you to his parents’ home or takes you to the club with him,” replied panelist and student Roderick Meaux. Flukers and Meaux were among the younger guys in the group.

However, it took older panelists like Major Brock and Richard Cornelius to break it down with that old school wisdom.
“See you have to first realize there’s commitment and then there’s sophisticated game and sometimes they can be very similar,” said Brock, EOC director. “First you look at the percent of time y’all spend together. How does he spend that time with you? Secondly, when you all talk, does he speak in future tense?”
Cornelius, a SWEPCO employee whom the moderator and CEO of the YWCA Roxann Johnson dubbed as the player of the group, offered this: “He’ll go down to one person. You’ll be asked earlier for dates…”

Can’t argue with any of those points, I thought to myself.
But a battle of the sexes is not complete until you have the women firing back and these women were not shy at all. When they didn’t like a response, they let it be known whether they had a mike or not. And the longer the men took to answer the question, the more hot water they were in.
“What kinda guys are y’all talking to?!” Echols finally asked at one point.
“Boys!” a woman yelled from the audience. Hmph, I couldn’t have put it any better, I thought to myself.

But I have to give these guys credit. I mean it takes a lot of courage to sit in a room full of mostly women and take on all the heated questions they probably should be asking their boyfriend or spouse. Bless their hearts. I mean how would you answer questions like this with a mike thrust in your face, sitting before a crowd of inquiring women?

Except for the occasional blank stare or pause-and-pass of the mike, these men rose to the occasion with ease.

This is what I want to know though: How would the rest of you fellas, have answered some of these questions mentioned?
What about these other questions the ladies asked:
-How long should a woman stay in a serious, monogamous relationship without a proposal?
-What are some ways for a woman to help maintain a serious relationship?
-Do you prefer younger women or mature women and why?
-Would you date a plus-size woman?

I'm so fortunate...

Sometimes I get so caught up in my financial irresponsibility I forget about how fortunate I am.

We got paid last Friday.

Over $1,000 (with mileage and overtime--we reporters aren't rich) was deposited into my account but since my account was waaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy overdrawn, I had a little under 75 percent left.

It sucked. Big time. I had so much to do with that small amount of money. I didn't know how I was going to make it.

I sat in my car during my lunch break on Friday thinking about all my bills and other stuff I had to pay when a man approached me.

I swear God sent that man to me. He was on a bike and visibly homeless. He told me that he was trying to get bus fare to get across town to get to work. He promised, emphasized, and crossed his “heart hope to die” to me that the money wasn’t for gambling, drugs, or alcohol. He lives at a homeless shelter. He was skinny and weak--too weak to ride a bike across town to work. He said he just got a job driving some old man around, like Missy Daisy except it’s a white man, not a white woman.

Clearly this man is doing way worse than me. I have a job. I get money. I have a car ( a nice car) and I don’t live at a homeless shelter. I’m so fortunate.

I gave him the $2.50 for the bus fare despite all of my own financial woes.

I just hope that we both get blessed enough to get our lives together.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Springing forward early

I’m still yawning from losing that hour of sleep, but that’s the only thing not perfect about this beautiful day.

I absolutely LOVE daylight-saving time.
In fact, it’s the only reason a born and bred Southerner like myself, familiar enough with the sweltering heat to know better, still proclaims spring and summer as my all time favorite seasons. Yes, I did say that the hot, sweating-in-the-morning-on-your-way-to-the-mailbox summer is one of my favorite seasons.
Longer days mean more time to play, which gets a little more challenging once you enter that point of no return called adulthood and the bulk of your daily schedule primarily consists of one activity: work.

But that doesn’t faze me. Getting those longer days practically a month earlier makes me as ecstatic as winning extra bonus points on a Super Mario Bros. game (OK, I know I just dated myself…)
Fortunately, my computer clock adjusted itself, but I had to manually adjust my cell phone and my Comcast digital cable box is still “falling back” an hour.

Did you remember to spring forward?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

To be or not to be an a--hole...

(Note: Profanity is used in the following post solely in reference to a book title and its contents.)

I was riding along, “channel surfing” my saved radio stations when I caught the end of this interview on NPR with this author named Bob Sutton.

He was talking about how rampant “meanness” is in today’s culture. But even moreso, he said, it seems to be confused with smartness.

In other words, there’s this myth that says “The meaner you are, the smarter or more successful you are.” He pointed out the wild popularity of folks like “American Idol’s Simon Cowell who’s trademark harsh, callous comments are often regarded by contestants and viewers as the true standard of talent validation in comparison to the comments of his nicer counterparts Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul. (Of course, it could be argued that there are a number of reasons Cowell's comments are taken more seriously than Jackson's or Abdul's comments, but that's a whole 'nother post.)

My mind wandered to this book I purchased at a silent book auction a couple of years ago called “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers” by Lois P. Frankel. I admit that, even to this day, I haven’t even cracked the book open yet, but I spent my buck on it based on the notion indicated in the title: You have to be the opposite of nice if you want to get ahead.

Sutton disputes this myth in his book “The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t.” According to Sutton there are two simple, quick tests that can determine whether or not someone in your workplace is an asshole.

Then, there are the temporary assholes and the certified assholes. We all have been temporary assholes at some point or another, Sutton asserts, but the certified asshole is the one that you really need to look out for. And if it turns out to be you, you need to correct it.

You should really check out this excerpt to take the test yourself. I found myself thinking of a couple of certified, ahem, characters I’ve encountered along the way, (Disclaimer coming in 5...4...3...2...) None of which are at my current place of employment, of course. (You never know who's reading this!)

But at the end of the day in the battle of good vs. evil, nice vs. asshole, do the assholes really win?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Holy cow! Emmylou's coming to the Revel!

In case you couldn't tell, I'm pumped. I love Emmylou Harris -- an awesome songwriter with a one-of-a-kind voice. To me, she is one of the most exciting creative geniuses around.

And she's coming to Shreveport. There are several inks to her recordings with Stephanie's article today. I admit I didn't start diggin' her until about 2000, but anything I've heard her do is usually a knock out.

I've been lucky enough to catch her twice: once at Jazz Fest and later at a stop in Chicago with Elvis Costello. Both times she was excellent. You have to appreciate someone who has no trouble coming up with her own musical masterpieces but can play a tourmate's songs like they are her own.

Be prepared to be in the presence of greatness. I can't wait!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I got sir-ed

Twice. Yes, I made up a word. Please do not confuse sir-ed (my word) with sired, which means procreated.

What I mean is that I was told "Yes, sir" on two recent occassions. And neither were at fine dining establishments, where that would be expected.

One was at the Multicultural Center of the South, where I was shooting a video about making Japanese hina dolls. The girl who sir-ed me was 10, so I guess at 24 I may have looked and seemed like a bona-fide old person.

The more recent one is the disturbing part, though. I was told "Yes, sir" by a college student when I asked if I was in the right auditorium. Maybe she was a freshman, but I really didn't think I looked out of place at the ACLU panel I covered tonight at Centenary. Granted, I had a lap top and was wearing a button-down shirt with khakis while most in attendance were in jeans and T-shirts.

I know this is the South and that we're taught to mind our ma'ams and sirs. I guess I just wasn't ready to be minded myself.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Well, I'm back...

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on here and I’m not sure why. I mean, I always ALWAYS have something to say, but for the past couple of weeks, I just hadn’t really wanted to say anything.

I’m not sure if it’s connected to the fact that the last time I posted on here was right before my grandma passed. I was sitting in her dining room, checking email on the computer that was nearby. As usual, everyone was there: my mom, dad, aunts, uncle, sister and some of my first cousins who had driven up from South Louisiana that weekend to visit.

This had been my daily life pretty much for the past couple of months, especially in those final weeks before her death.
But fortunately, it wasn’t time that was spent being sad or depressed. No, grandma was always a happy person, so we all chose to stay upbeat, optimistic and keep things, well, happy.

I mean, grandma’s house has always been the center of joy, fun and laughter for our family. Even after grandpa died six years earlier, it was so very hard, but we still managed to gather there and eventually laugh and smile again. So why change it up now, when she needed our positive energy the most, I thought.

I wouldn’t know until after her death just how bad things really were. That was my grandma. Didn’t want the grandchildren to be depressed and distracted from their lives and careers so she made her children promise not to tell us what was really going on.

And, not knowing, I remained hopeful.

And part of remaining hopeful is resuming life as usual, right? Tuesdays and Sundays were always the staple gathering days, but as things got more serious, my mom and aunts and uncle became 24-hour caretakers and my sister and I wanted to be there as often as we could to help out and share those moments with her. Lunch breaks, after work, late nights, it didn’t matter to me. I was going to be there.

I wouldn’t have had it any other way for the woman who kept us during all those summers while my parents worked; the woman who always snuck my sister and I shopping money behind grandpa’s back “Shh, don’t tell your grandpa,” she’d always say with a sneaky smile; the woman who demonstrated to me what it meant to be strong and brave, yet elegant and graceful; the woman who always said “Boys and books don’t mix!” a mantra that she first passed down to my mom as a child and then onto my sister and I; the woman who, unlike some older people who tend to have antiquated ideals, never pressed me about being career-driven instead of married with kids. “Enjoy being single and doing what you want to do. Spend that money on yourself. You’ll have plenty of time for marriage and kids later;” the woman who, through her and my grandpa’s marriage, along with my own parents, showed me the meaning of true love and devotion at an early age.

No, I was going to be right there for her. And I’m thankful that I spent that time with her, told her how much I loved her and got to hear the words that every grandchild wants to hear: “I’m so proud of you.” I’m even more grateful that it wasn’t the first time she’d said that to me.

Death is the one part of life that’s a given. Even in the three weeks since my grandma’s death, I know of at least four or five other friends, colleagues, former co-workers and church members who’ve suffered equally if not greater loss.
And there’s something that happens when you watch a loved one die. I don’t know, maybe it depends on how you handle things. For me, among many other things, the experience made me more silent, contemplative, introspective, at least for the time being.
And maybe that’s why I could never bring myself to “talk” on here because nothing else seemed even remotely important to me as that moment.

But another given is that life goes on. And as always, I still have things to say. And since that’s what this blog is all about anyway I guess that can only mean one thing: I’m baaaack. I guess I just had to get a few things off of my chest first.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Here's a precarious situation

This article details a legal battle about speech. The incident it's based on seems pretty cut and dry. The ramifications aren't.

A high school student in California uttered the phrase "That's so gay," the Associated Press says. She got a note put in her file, and her parents are suing. School officials say they are abiding by their duty to protect gay students. The parents say they are protecting their daughter's freedom of speech.

This is one of those situations where you ask yourself about whether some words are in good taste. But then you have to ask whether taste should determine legality. You parents telling you not to say something is one thing. The same action by the government -- even if it's through the school system -- is a totally separate situation.