This year's I'll Make Me A World in Iowa event got off to a bad start with me. I had initially been looking forward to it for at least the past few weeks. Then I got the news that three of my favorite vendors would not even be in attendance. See...this event can almost be a reunion of sorts for some folks. So when friends of mine who are also vendors don't show up, that's a big let down.
Things started to look up a little bit when Broderick informed the bros that they wanted to have a stroll-off exhibition this year. They did an impromptu one last year that went over well so I guess they decided to step it up this time around. Almost. They somehow couldn't get things coordinated enough to allow for any strolling at all. And the bros and I even went thru the trouble of practicing the week before to make sure we didn't disappoint. Oh well. I guess that's just more strolling for the Black and Gold Ball coming up next month.
Mr. Biggs commented that the turnout didn't seem as big this year as it had been previously. At first, I didn't think that was the case. There seemed to be a huge number of people in attendance. However, the more I thought about it and looked around, it didn't look quite as busy. I can remember last year it was so crowded that you could hardly get around both upstairs and downstairs of the convention center where it took place. There wasn't that same thickness this year. That was rather odd considering it was actually an extremely nice day weather-wise.
One of the headliners this year was actor Boris Kodjoe. He was scheduled to speak at 3:45pm. I figured that if history was any indication, that meant he would actually go on around 4:30pm. They flipped the script on me and went early instead. It was quick too. Dude must have only been on stage for a few minutes and was slick about it. He didn't enter or leave thru the main entrance which is where all the Greek tables were located. So we never saw him.
I can't blame Boris for not wanting to stay long. What Hollywood star would want to be in Des Moines any longer than they had to be? Especially in the middle of one of our coldest winters ever. It sure would have been interesting to have a conversation with him to get his genuine thoughts on being here. Although honestly, it would have been better if the IMMAWII folks could have swung a package deal and gotten his wife, Nicole Ari Parker, to attend as well.
The one thing that didn't disappoint as usual was the food vendors. That north end of the second floor had some pleasant aromas coming infiltrating our nostrils all day. I found it difficult to narrow my choices so I tried two. The first was a chicken dinner from a church. I think it was Corinthian Baptist Church? Unfortunately, it was a little disappointing. The chicken and greens were both rather bland. The cornbread was good, but cold. The mac and cheese was the best part, even though Mr. Biggs tells me his is better. That still remains to be seen.
The one meal that was quite tha bomb was Fat Tuesdays. They were selling a few different items with one of those being a basket of cajun shrimps. Those jokers were DELICIOUS. I was so tempted to go back and get another helping. I should have actually gotten two of those instead of that chicken dinner. I don't know how I missed their cajun shrimp on their menu the last time I went to their restaurant, but you can bet I will be ordering it the next time I go.
I didn't stick around until the end of the event. I had been there since 9:30am so by the time 5pm hit I was ret to go. I would have liked to catch at least some of Montel Jordan's performance just to see how he would do. However, the later it gets at those type of events, the more rugrats start to come out. And show out. All of those unchaperoned kids running around were working my last nerve. That was my cue to jet.
I managed to get a new photo album from the event but you'll have to excuse the quality. Some of the pics didn't turn out as I would have liked due to our location. We had jockeyed to have the frats and sororities put on the main floor where there was higher traffic. It did get us more interaction, but it also put us against the window where the light upset any decent photo. You can still check them out in the I'll Make Me a World in Iowa 2010 album.
Overall, I would have to say that it wasn't one of the better I'll Make Me A World In Iowa events that they have had. The number of vendors had dwindled since last year. The local entertainment wasn't as good as it has been in the past. And it may just be me, but a headliner should be up on stage longer than just a few minutes. At least I got to see my friend Bill who I hadn't seen in years. And let us not forget those scrimps!
The concept of "Gamer" appeared to be something that would be mildly entertaining to me. Not near enough to go see it while it was in theaters though. Gerard Butler's inclusion was enough for it to only drop one level to the 'wait for dvd' tier for me. Then Earl mentioned that he liked it so I moved it up a little on the dvd list. Unfortunately, I was off on my Netflix timing so I had to resort to going to Redbox.
In the not too distant future, mind-control technology allows humans to
control the actions and movements of other humans, allowing reclusive
billionaire Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall)
to create the ultimate video game called "Slayers". It's a
mass-scale, multiplayer online first-person shooter that's as
controversial as it is popular. In the world of gamers, teenage gamer Simon (Logan Lerman) is a rock star and his avatar Kable (Butler) is just as big.
The problem is Kable is a living and breathing human. He was framed to be imprisoned so that he could eventually be another guinea pig for the game. He realizes his only hope of ever seeing his family again is to somehow escape the game, reclaim his identity and expose Castle's dehumanizing technology live on television.
"Gamer" ends up borrowing from a couple of different movies. One was the same concept "Death Race" where they not only use prisoners to participate in gaming to entertain the public, but also how Kable was framed because of his skills. The other I give them a pass on and that's the similarity to "Surrogates". These films were released right around the same time. We all know that Hollywood has a penchant to put out flicks that have similar themes at the same time. I still haven't figured out why they would want to though since it's going after the same market simultaneously.
I have no doubt that we will see some genius video game makers in the future come up with innovative games that will be worldwide sensations. Of course they will end up selling millions and making even more. However, it was a pretty big leap of faith for them for them to hypothesize that someone will end up being richer than Bill Gates by doing so. No way I can see that happening. Not from a video game.
What I did like about the movie was this "Slayers" game reminded me of a real-life version of a game I used to play back in the day called "Counter-Strike". They even had the options to add modifications to the game just like CS had. They actually formatted "Slayers" closer to the FPS games that are popular today. The ones where the action moves faster and more frenetic than a regular video game. That same type of style created some dizzying camera work that was a bit of a headache at times.
The biggest problem I had with "Gamer" was how it abandoned some basic logic near the end. For a guy that was supposed to be so smart, Castle put himself in a compromising position in his face-off against Kable that made little sense. The finale wasn't all bad though. I did very much like how they worked in a Sammy Davis, Jr. dance number. I SO did not expect that in a movie of this caliber. That alone pushed this flick to being just slightly above average.
The first tweet I saw about this made little sense. One of my friends was calling out Pauly Shore for the things he said about Haiti. Well he was a comedian who wasn't very funny. Maybe he was saying something that was offensive in another effort to be humorous? Or in an effort to be relevant possibly since we haven't heard from him in so long? Turns out it was neither. They had the wrong person.
The person they were referring to was actually Paul Shirley. The name wouldn't mean a lot to folks who don't follow sports. Even less if you didn't follow the NBA. However, many of us ISU grads knew it fairly well. He was a former Cyclone who became a journeyman in the NBA. He was just an average NBA baller whose greatest claim to fame was some semi-entertaining blog entries that allowed him to make a name for himself. He made the wrong name with his latest inflammatory comments.
Shirley chimed in on the Haiti tragedy by trying to explain why he would not be donating any money to the relief effort. You can find the full context of his blog here. What he essentially says is he won't give Haiti any money because he's not confident they will spend the money wisely. He equates the entire nation to a homeless man on the street. He even went as far as to sarcastically congratulate them for developing the poorest country int he Western Hemisphere, asked them to use condoms once in a while and signed it "Sincerely, The Rest of the World".
First of all, it was bad enough that this idiot made all these insensitive remarks. But to have the unmitigated gall to sign it "The Rest of the World" as if there are millions of people who feel the same way was down right asinine. With close to $100 million raised to date for Haitian relief, it's pretty safe to say that Shirley is in the minority with his thought process. The "Rest of the World" isn't full of callous people like himself. Fortunately, not even the "Rest of ISU" is like that.
Secondly, by Shirley taking such a stance, he may have very well aligned himself with the Pat Roberts and his line of thinking. I still don't know if it was intentional or not. Shirley doesn't come out and say that the Haitians deserved what they got because they made a deal with the devil. However, he comes close enough. There is no remorse in his tone at all because he expresses that they pretty much got what was coming to them. It is their fault that one of the most deadly earthquakes ever caused so much devastation? The bounds of Shirley's stupidity knows no ends.
ESPN made the right move by quickly severing ties with Shirley as soon as his comments emerged. They rightly knew that associating themselves with such a narrow-minded moron would not be healthy. To have an opinion is one thing. To have a total disregard for the demise of innocent human life is another thing altogether. Shirley crossed the line. As a result, he deserved any type of career consequences that come along with that.
I will give Shirley credit for one thing: he never once mentioned race in the context of his letter. Folks have been trying to call him a racist because of what he said, but he never brought up the issue of skin color when he bad-mouthed the situation. But would he have made those comments if the tragedy occurred in a place with a 95% white population? If their economic conditions were the same, I believe he would have. He's not a racist. He's just a moronic waste of DNA.
I probably have done about three or four obits on different Tuskegee Airmen since I started this joint. Not a single one of them rang a bell with me whatsoever. However, because of everything they have accomplished, I will keep recognizing them. Now another is added to the list.
Lieutenant Colonel Lee Archer died Wednesday at Cornell University
Medical Center in Manhattan from coronary complications. He was 90 years old.
Various articles that I had seen on him referred to him as the only Black ace pilot. I don't know about any of you, but I wasn't 100% certain what an "ace" pilot was. I thought I knew. I was always under the impression that it was a pilot who was EXTREMELY good at shooting down the enemy. If that was the case, that title would apply to all of the Tuskegee Airmen. So how could LtC Archer be the only ace?
Well it turns out my definition was partially correct. An ace pilot is indeed a military aviator who is credited with shooting down several enemy aircraft during aerial combat. The part I was unaware of was it's the number of air victories that makes one an "ace". It is generally considered to be five or more. That means that as good as the other Tuskegee Airmen were, LtC Archer was the only one who had five or more aerial victories. However, we are talking about the days when racism was at a an all-time high so there probably were other Airmen who had five or more but had their numbers lessened so the military could belittle their accomplishments.
LtC Archer was able to turn his military success until business success later in life. After he retired from the armed forces in 1970, he joined General Foods Corporation. He would go on to become one of the era's few Black corporate vice presidents of a major American corporation. Not only was he a trailblazer in the skies but he did so in the board room as well. The exploits of the great Tuskegee Airmen simply never cease to amaze me.
It has to be one of the most underrated jobs out there. It ranks right up there with garbage collector. They are part of those collective of jobs that you could never see yourself doing and probably wouldn't want to. Yet you end up appreciating the heck out those type of roles once they have completed their tasks. Let one of them go without doing their job and you'll find out exactly what I mean.
As for the snowplows are concerned I secretly admire the work they put in. Every snow storm that we have had they have been working overtime to make sure the streets are drivable. No matter how hard it's coming down, they are out there braving the worst elements. What's even more surprising is when you count all the vehicles that are in the ditches on the side of the roads you NEVER see a snow plow as one of those.
I can't even imagine what type of dedication those guys must have to do that job. Most of our snow storms have been starting at night. They would generally carryover until the early morning. That means these guys (and possibly gals) are out there working the worst hours possible. When the rest of us are refusing to go out in horrible conditions, they don't have a choice. It's their job to do so and they do it without fail.
Today is one of those days that I have an even greater appreciation for the work these cats have done. Actually, the last few days have been like that. Although we've had some subzero temperatures, the snow has given us a temporary reprieve. There are still semi-mountains of snow on the sides of the road, but the roads themselves are absolutely clean. Not so much as one drop of precipitation on them. That comes from the snowplow folks going at it nearly around the clock to make sure that all of us can enjoy hassle-free travel.
Don't get it twisted...I still cannot stand the cold. I don't care how well the DOT cleans the roadways it's still not going to change the fact that I'm sick of this weather. However, the fact that they do have the roads so spotless does make it a little easier to bare. But I would still trade all of that for a climate with warm weather all year round in a hot second.
Okay...it may be a bit of stretch to call it a curse when the movie was released almost 30 years ago. It's probably even off base to consider it a curse at all, but I can't help that that's what came to mind when I heard this latest news.
Zelda Rubinstein, the actress best known for her role as the diminutive psychic in the classic film "Poltergeist", passed away Wednesday in Lost Angeles. She was 76.
Some of you probably don't even recall the so-called "curse" that I was referring to so allow me to enlighten you. Shortly after "Poltergeist" was released, there were stories that all types of strange happenings occurred on the set. As if a real poltergeist was around during the filming. That was nothing compared to what would later transpire.
Dominique Dunne, the actress that played the eldest daughter in the film, was strangled and killed by her boyfriend the same year the movie was released. She was 22. Heather O'Rourke, the little girl who made famous the line "They're heeerre!", would die six years later from intestinal stenosis. She was only 12.
There were also rumors floating around during that time that Zelda had passed away as well. This would have been before the internet as we know it today so there was little information available to refute it. The news of her demise seemed didn't come as quite a shock though because she was so much older. Come to find out now that not only was she still alive, but she wasn't near as old as many of us thought she was.
"Poltergeist" was full off some memorable scenes not to mention some very quotable lines. Few horror flicks can make that claim. It would turn out that Zelda was responsible for one of them. It was just after she had exorcised the house-- or at least thought she had. Things had finally calmed down and she very coolly declared "This house is clean". That's the first thing that comes to mind whenever I see an image of her. It's what helped make her an iconic figure in horror movie history.
I must readily admit that I use the word "great" based on hearsay alone. Everyone and their mom praise The Catcher in the Rye as one of the greatest books of all-time but sadly, I never knew ye.
J.D. Salinger passed away Wednesday from natural causes at his home in New Hampshire. He was 91-years-old.
I have read some incredible books throughout the course of my formative
years. All necessitated from the classes I took in high school and/or
college. They included greats such as Lord of the Flies, The Invisible Man and Blueschild Baby. Sadly, The Catcher in the Rye
was never one of those. I have no clue how it never creeped up on any
reading list of any of the literature classes I took, but it didn't.
My first exposure to this book came thru a movie. Big surprise, huh? It was in "Six Degrees of Separation". Will Smith's character made reference to the book when telling the story of how a couple of different crazy people used The Catcher in the Rye
as the defense of their actions. The quotes he provided from the book
and the analogy used made it sound interesting enough for me to read
it. I still never got around to it though. I will one of these days.
admired Salinger for how he went about celebrating his fame: he
didn't. Dude didn't go out on book tours, do the speaker thing or do
any of that we commonly see associated with celebrated authors these
days. He resorted to being a recluse because he didn't like all the
phony people that wanted to associate with him due to the popularity of
his novel. His hermit-like existence was certainly something I could
What was most impressive about Salinger is Catcher in the Rye
was the only book he ever wrote and it became a literary masterpiece.
He had the skills to churn out more, but recognized the greatness he
had created and left folks wanting more. Then again, when your one and
only book has sold over 60 million copies, why bother writing another?
Not bad at all for a one-hit wonder.
My evening after-work routine had been going along swimmingly. At least on those days where the inclement weather didn't disrupt things. I had it down so that I would leave the office at 4pm every day. By the time I am nearly to the Guthrie exit, DeDe has just started her 'Five Things You Should Know Right' now on the Doug and DeDe on the Ride in the Afternoon Show on KJMZ. They would finish that up just as I started to get out or range on my trek to Ames.
All that changed at the beginning of the year.
Someone at KJMZ had the infinite wisdom to stop carrying the Doug Banks Show and pick up the Michael Baisden show in its place. Maybe I should still be grateful because at least we still have some Black programming in the afternoon, right? Not so much. There is a HUGE drop-off between the two shows. It only takes one listen to tell how much inferior Baisden's show is.
I first heard of Baisden when I had Directv and he was premiering his new weekly tv show Baisden After Dark. Had no clue who he was but thought I would give him a shot since he had Morris Day as the band-leader. That in itself was pretty special since we all know Morris can't play an instrument. Yet that ended up being about the only good thing about the show. Baisden came across as extremely phoney. He was trying WAY too hard to be funny and genuine when he was just the opposite of both.
His radio gig was even worse. The only people on the show are him and comedian George Wilburn. Another cat I had never heard of. I don't know how Wilburn's stand-up is, but he's not that impressive as a sidekick on the radio. The two of them together end up being quite chauvinistic. You would think I would be able to appreciate as a guy. It's tolerable in moderation, but not to the extent that it occupies an entire show.
One of the reasons I had grown attached to the Doug Banks Show was because of how Doug presents himself on the air. He had a much more natural tone. He doesn't sound like he's always talking while trying to perpetuate one of those cheesy fake smiles the entire time. It's a much more conversational resonance rather than that of sarcasm.
Another plus is Doug's co-hosts are just as personable as him. Although I couldn't have picked out Rudy Rush was also entirely foreign to me, I warmed up to him quickly. He plays well off both Doug and DeDe. It certainly doesn't hurt that DeDe sounds like Tasha from "Why Did I Get Married?". She's loud but in a controlled way. Not to mention she provides a perfect balance in the studio to keep the atmosphere even more grounded.
So far both Baisden and even Tom Joyner have tried to transition their shows to television. Both failed miserably. It wasn't because they did it on the tiny TVOne network. It was because their radio shows don't play well visually. For TJMS it's because the folks off their show have faces (and bodies) made for radio. For Baisden, it's because neither he nor Wilburn have the charisma to effectively entertain a television audience. The Doug Banks Show, on the other hand, has both of those assets. Someone needs to recognize that and give them a shot on the small screen.
I have now altered my afternoon routine thanks to the KJMZ developments. I listen to the Doug Banks Show online at my desk up until quitting time. Instead of taking off at 4, I usually stick around until 4:15ish to hear the hourly 'Five Things' update before I leave. I try to stomach the Baisden show for as long as possible once I'm in the car. That usually doesn't even last the 20 minutes it takes for them to get out of range. Maybe someone at KJMZ will come to the realization they made a mistake and give the Baisden Show the Conan O'Brien treatment. Of course that would still mean that we're stuck with it for another 6 months.