I didn't even realize until January rolled around that I actually look forward to this event every year. Maybe it's because come January it's already the coldest time of the year and I'll Make Me a World in Iowa is a refreshing reprieve from the unwelcoming weather. Or it very well may be that I can't wait to see what headliner they brought in as compared to how they did last year. Will get to that one in a minute.
As for the event, I arrived a little later than I normally do. It started at 10am I was there around 10:30. I thought that was still early enough to get a decent parking spot so I wouldn't have to freeze too much walking in the cold. I guess I should be grateful that a few blocks away was the closest I could get. It could have been much worse. I'd hate to see where folks were parking that waited to arrive at noon.
I fully expected our table this year to be much better than it was in the previous years. The worst was a couple of years ago when they had us downstairs away from everything. Last year was slightly better with us being in the main hallway. However, that gets entirely too congested with the restless young folks as the day grows on (we'll get to that in a second too). This year, they were wise enough to have the distinguished men of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. in the main auditorium. Strategically positioned to the immediate right of he main stage. It was the least they could do since we were the only Greeks to buy a table this year.
The one thing I look forward to at each one of the I'll Make Me a World's is the food vendors. They are pretty much the same ones every year but it's really one of the few opportunities that you'll get so much variety of soul food in one central location. I was so hoping that Fat Tuesday would again be running their same special where you get a basket of cajun scrimps for $5. They were there but they weren't doing that. Therefore, I passed them up for a new place called Pattons. Not a bad catfish po boy sammich, but I wasn't feeling the red beans and rice at all.
It looked like the crowd was slightly smaller than it has been in the past. Someone said that at any given time there were 3,000 in that auditorium? Well I'm a terrible judge of numbers when it comes to those attendance things so I couldn't even tell you how accurate that was. All I know is it seems like each year there are fewer and fewer people that I know that are coming out for it. That's probably why the headliners are getting further down on the popularity chart.
Now don't get me wrong....I'm a Ruben Studdard fan. Anyone that follows my site knows that I've always been one of his supporters. But I wouldn't quite consider him an A-list celebrity. Although to be fair it's hard to complain too much about any headliner when they get when admission is free. Ruben actually did a nice job. The best part is he didn't start off the way that most famous Black folks do when they get there with the same ol "There's Black people in Iowa?!" comment. But I am going to need the security folks there stop thinking they're top flight security. It wouldn't have killed them to let me get a little closer to the stage to get better pics.
As for the youth element? This was yet another year where another fight broke out at the end of the event. Just as it does every year. I don't know how many there were this year because I had already left. I drove by there later and saw at least a half a dozen cop cars outside. The problem is that too many "parents" treat the event like their own personal babysitter. They drop their bad arse kids off there unsupervised. It's okay for a little bit, but come 5 and 6pm they're sitting there bored, restless and irritable with no ride to go anywhere. A recipe of disaster. I'm surprised the Convention center still lets the organizers hold the event there knowing that the same thing pops off every year.
I would have liked to take photos for the event organizers. I'm there every year doing it anyway. Alas, they already had somebody contracted to do that. That cat actually had free access to the stage and everything. That's fine though. I still did my yearly photo album about the event. Mine was just much more Alpha slanted. You can see for yourself in the IMMAWII 2011 photo album. I was able to get some pretty okay pics in spite of not being the "official" photographer. Maybe next year...
I always consider myself fortunate when it comes to my schooling growing up. People can make fun of Norwalk all they want but it was a pretty good school system. Especially given the fact that I was only one of a handful of minority students there. We could have had it much worse at a lesser school had we lived in the wrong part of a bigger city. That's why I can certainly understand when a parent does something like what Kelley Williams-Bolar did.
Williams decided to bend the truth about her residency to get her daughters enrolled in a better school district. She used the children's father's address in the Copley-Fairlawn School District where their father lived as opposed to Akron school district where they actually resided. All because she wanted to have her daughters attending a safer school. One small problem with that though: it was illegal since she wasn't paying taxes for that district. When she refused to pay the $30,000 in back tuition, she was sentenced to 10 days in jail.
I can understand the school's argument that Williams may appeared to have been committing a fraud by falsifying her records. I guess one way of looking at it was that her daughters were receiving a quality education without paying for it. However, that would be taking a very literal approach. There were some other factors that should have been considered.
She was using their father's address. So what if they didn't live their full-time? He was their natural father. He was paying the taxes in that district. It's not like his daughters lived out-of-state. They lived in a neighboring school district. His children should be allowed to attend that school as long as he was legally a resident in that district. I don't care if the mother was a resident there or not. At some point the school should have exercised some common sense in that regards.
I certainly don't see any problem at all with what Williams did. She wanted a better education for her than what their current school district could provide. It was evident they didn't want to step up their school system (or didn't have the means to) so she pursued other means to provide for her children. Any good parent would have done the same thing. For that she's okay in my book. I don't consider what she did stealing at all. All she was doing was allocating her resources.
The entities that should be ashamed of themselves is the school district for pursuing charges and the judge who sentenced her. A woman judge at that. If they were intent on punishing her for her actions then they could have easily just given her some type of probation with community service. But nine days in jail AND probation and community service just because she was getting a better education for her children?? There are criminals who have committed REAL crimes who have gotten less.
We already know that several of our school districts around the country are severely lacking. They certainly didn't need something like this to draw more attention to it. They could have very quietly resolved this situation by not trying to make an example of Williams. They should have went the opposite route and tried to help this single mother attempting to raise two children. Kudos to Ms. Williams for doing what she had to do to offer her children a better future. It's not her fault that the state of Ohio apparently cares very little about its future.
G had been wanting this game as a Christmas present ever since he first found out that Michael Jordan was going to be in the game. That alone was enough reason for me to make sure that would be his gift. I wasn't a fan of the 2K games at all, but them putting MJ in the game made it appeal to my son which also meant he would get a chance to watch him play virtually. That was yet another way for him to witness the same legend my generation enjoyed.
It had been a while since I had personally played a basketball game on the PS3. The last one I had was back when NBA2K9 came out. That was a stretch for me because I had always been an NBA Live supporter. But their game that year was very sluggish and a rather huge disappointment. So I went the 2K route instead. Only to find out that I didn't like the controls as much. It was entirely too difficult to make shots which took all the fun out of the game for me. G didn't seem to mind it though. He played that joint on a regular basis so I guess it wasn't all bad.
I decided to pick up the stick and give this one a shot. Afterall, it had Jordan in it so there was no way I could pass up playing. I don't know if it had been a while or what but the controls seemed to be a lot more fluent than their last games. I was able to get back into the groove almost immediately. There was some slight rust but I had that shaken off after just a couple of games. So much so that G and I switched the quarters to 10-minutes as opposed to the 5-minutes they have set at the default.
All of the basketball games have been evolving to the point where the players look more and more like the real thing. Where they always get it right is during the still shots. It's during the action where some of them have lacked. They will most likely give the all-stars all of their moves but not all of the players. 2K11 made sure that EVERY player looks authentic during ALL the action of the game. It's easily the most authentic looking basketball game I've seen to date.
The Jordan factor is easily the high point of the game. They've got MJ in there at every significant part of his career. All of the classic Bull teams of yesteryear are on there. Including his rookie year when he stil had hair. They also made sure that his moves are indicative of that particular Jordan era. The older MJ still has the fluidity that you remember in later years without the same lift he had earlier in his career. But when you play with and/or against the younger MJ he has some of the NASTIEST dunks in that game.
Something nearly equally as good as the Jordan component of the game is the squads from back in the day that they put on there. They made sure to include all of those teams that were Jordan's biggest rivals. Ewing and Starks' Knicks. 'Nique with the Hawks (and a younger Doc Rivers). Bird and the Celtics. Magic and the Lakers. It's too bad that Barkley and the Suns are missing though thanks to him not wanting sign off on it. Or that they don't have the benches from those classic teams. Still, it's so great to have even the classic starters from that era so I can teach G about the greats of the past while virtually showing him how they played.
It's been a while since I've played 2K11. And by a while I mean a few weeks or so. I've just been too busy with work, studying for those licensning exams and getting the XL-Images gig going (which I should probably still do a separate post about) that I haven't been on lately. But the last time I did play I made sure to have one of the players break Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game performance. Ray Allen was able to do it with just 10-minute quarters. Just thinking about that and how fun that game is has me wanting to bust it out again. That means the 2K folks did their job with this latest joint.
I'm going to cheat just a little bit on this one today. I'll be talking about this anniversary that technically doesn't happen until tomorrow. But I'm backdating this post anyway. That means at the time you're reading this the anniversary would have already occurred. Even though it will be posted on the wrong date. So just ignore the posting date and enjoy it for what it is. Now that I have you sufficiently confused...
It doesn't seem like this event really happened a quarter of a century ago. It's funny how 25 year can just sneak up on you like that. Before long you're sitting there thinking about how you can remember things like they just happened yesterday. The truth is that many things do still feel like they occurred eons ago. However, there are events like the launch of the space shuttle Challenger that stick with you forever. It doesn't matter how much time has passed you will still very clearly recall where you were and what you were doing when it occurred.
For me I was in Mr. Mineart's Science class at good ol' Norwalk High School. I could be wrong about his name but I know I'm pretty close. I also remember that he always reminded me of Bluto from the Popeye cartoons with his appearance. He made sure to take a detour from the day's normal curriculum and have a tv brought into the classroom so we could watch the launch. Probably because not only was it science-related but also because it was the first time there was a civilian teacher on board. That was a rather big thing to all the teachers back then.
It started off like any other normal space shuttle launch we had already seen before on the news. Nothing out of the usual at all. They could have replayed any other launch from any other space shuttle prior to that and we would have never known the difference.
Until that 73 second mark.
When that explosion occurred I remember a couple of things rushing thru my mind simultaneously. First and foremost was that that clearly was NOT supposed to happen. The other was that I was almost certain that the astronauts had to have escaped in an some type of an escape pod. Maybe they knew something was going wrong onboard before we actually witnessed it and they were able to get out. I had watched enough sci-fi movies at that point to know that there was ALWAYS an escape pod. Not in real life though. Although the guy doing the play-by-the play of the event made the same comment so it was nice to know that I wasn't alone with that train of thought.
I can't honestly say I was terribly affected by the events of the day. I was only 15-years-old. Also, remember this happened in 1986 which was during the thick of the slasher craze in the movies. We were pretty much desensitized to seeing gore, violence and death. And I didn't know those folks at all. So it was just a little difficult for me to be emotionally vested. Plus, I think all of us were more awestruck by what happened more than anything else.
NASA has of course recovered since then. They've sent up countless space shuttles without incident. However, I don't ever remember another one being televised on a nationwide scale like Challenger was. They may have been back on track but they weren't running the risk of making that mistake again. I could be wrong about my recollection of that but I do know for a fact that there would never be another time they would ever interrupt class for us to watch a launch. That would be the first and last live one we would see as students. It was one that none of us would ever forget.
I think the reason even caught my attention in the first place was because of the title: Nursing Home Talent Show. Nursing homes actually have those? How cool is that?! There's no sitting around playing cards and watching "Wheel of Fortune". These folks are too busy putting time in to make sure they bring it come talent show time. And I'm not mad at them at all...
I know I am constnatly talking about those movies that come on that I have literally seen a million times yet I'm drawn to them to watch them yet again when they come on. Even though I even have the dvd as well. We all have those movies that are special to us. Not necessarily because it's your favorite movie, but it's definitely one of them. You're inclined to watch it because it brings back fond memories. That's how "School Daze" is with me.
The obvious reason it has sentimental value is because of its subplots dealing with what it's like to go thru the pledging process. I remember watching it for the first time before I pledged so I could prepare myself for what I would have to face. Director Spike Lee may have exaggerated some of it; however, he got the essence of it correct. Still, watching a movie could never fully prepare you for the rigors of such a process.
I wouldn't trade my experience at Iowa State for anything. Having said that, this movie had me imagining what life would have been like at an HBCU. Then, of course, came the television equivalent in "A Different World" that added to that. The wonderful thing about ISU, at least during the time that I was there, was even though it may not have been an HBCU, there was still somewhat of a feel of it. The brothas and sistas were all tight with one another (even if we didn't always get along) and when we weren't in class, we were around each other frequently.
Another thing that made "Daze" special is the plethora of untapped talent it had in it. Several actors that would later go on to do even bigger things graced that film. Tisha Campbell, Laurence Fishburne, Jasmine Guy, Daryl Bell, Kadeem Hardison, Bill Nun and even Giancarlo Esposito. Oh, and let us not forget this is the movie where Samuel Jackson got his start. There were even other actors I felt should have gotten chances at bigger roles even if they only played bit parts for years to come, like Leonard Thomas who played Big Brother General Patton.
It was clearly more than just coincidence that Spike patterned the fictional Gamma Phi Gamma frat after Omega Psi Phi. I had read somewhere that he either thought about pledging Q in college or he did and dropped. I will give him his props though that the fictional G Phi G's in this had some of the tightest frat gear I've ever seen. And as far as I'm concerned, the only color combination better than black and old gold is black and silver. I don't know if any of them did, but if I had been in that movie, I definitely would have kept one of those sweatshirts and/or jackets as a souvenir.
Speaking of his choice of frats, at least Spike got it right with his stepshow scene. The best scene in the movie. It highlights the men of distinction...the first of ALL Black Greeks. It's funny watching that now seeing how far stepshows have come since then. It's also pretty sad that shortly following that, Vanilla Ice would gain fame biting one of our oldest chants. We really should have trademarked "Ice, Ice, Baby". It's all good though. People know who the originators are.
There's also much to be said about how well Spike portrayed the conflict between dark-skinned and light-skinned brothas and sistas. He even revealed that he made sure the tension between the two factions was as real as possible by dividing the cast members in separate hotels during filming. Whatever nuances he used, it certainly worked.
It's evident Spike was at his best with this one. He got off to a hot start as a young director and could do no wrong. "Schol Daze" was a shining example of that. I doubt that Spike will ever be able to make another movie that an connect with me on so many different levels as this one did.
Folks tend to use that term "guru" rather loosely. I can honestly admit that I'm guilty of it too. In this instance, I was referring to the fact that the last "guru" to leave us was THE Guru just last year. Well this cat definitely deserved the title of "fitness guru" so it's too bad he had to leave us.
World renown fitness guru Jack LaLanne succumbed to pneumonia this past Sunday following a brief illness. He was 96-years-old.
LaLanne may have only been 5'6" but he made sure he was the epitome of what a fit physical specimen should be inside out. The inside part came about in his later years when he started hawking those juicers. His way of reminding us that eating healthy was just as important as sculpting. He may have unintentionally been a co-founder of the first infomercial in the process.
There was that and then there was that amazing feat he pulled in 1984. At the age of 70. That's when he had himself shackled and handcuffed and towed 70 boats 1.5 miles in Long Beach Harbor. There I was at 14-years-old unable to swim a lick and this senior citizen was pulling boats thru the water. You would have thought that would have been an inspiration for me to at least learn how to swim. Not so much, but I did admire his uncanny agelessness.
I hate to admit it but the one thing that always comes to mind when I think of LaLanne was those jumpsuits he insisted on wearing all the time. I have no doubt that they were fashionable at one point in time. We have the vintage news reels to prove it. I just don't remember seeing anyone push them so far into the 20th century as Jack did.
The fact that he was able to make it to 96 was clearly his living testament that living healthy pays its dividends. Of course George Burns made it to 100 and he smoked like a chimney for his entire adult life so you just really never know. At any rate...
I didn't care how many critics were calling this one of the best movies of 2010. I was already on board from the first moment I saw that first trailer. You all know I love me some heist movies. It's been quite a while since we've had a good one so I was feenin' for one just as much as your next heist-flick junkie. Maybe that's why the critics were slurping "The Town" so hard? Maybe that's also why much of this looked a little familiar.
In "The Town" Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) and his bank robbing crew have always been the best of the best in their criminal profession. However, they find a chink in their armor when they take a bank manager (Rebecca Hall) hostage. Doug feigns a chance meeting with her to ensure she can't identify them and ends up falling for her. Fellow crew member Jem (Jeremy Renner) sees that the new found relationship could change the surrogate brother he's known for years and doesn't want to see it happen. But Doug's determination to part ways with his criminal past is just too strong.
I don't know about anyone else but I clearly got the wrong impression from the trailer. I thought it was going to be about Doug having leading a double life. That he didn't want to tell his straight-laced girlfriend that he was a hardened criminal so he had her thinking that he was legit, until the one time they happen to rob her bank. It's not entirely bad that that wasn't how it played out. It still worked the other way as well. It wasn't even that far off from what the trailer implied.
What I couldn't shake was the fact that "The Town" was a little too much like the DeNiro/Pacino classic "Heat". Affleck was in DeNiro's role where he was struggling between trying to find a way out of a life of crime so that he could be with her. But to their credit, "The Town" was actually more cerebral in that aspect than "Heat" was. That final shootout scene in "Heat" was one of the most epic EVER and it was clear that "The Town" wanted no part of trying to live up to that type of action.
Something I couldn't understand was how the FBI finally caught up with Doug and his crew. It was never fully explained. Actually, it wasn't explained at all. These guys were very meticulous about every job they did to make sure they left no trace. Then all of the sudden the FBI was able to pinpoint the whole crew as suspects? There should have at least been an "Aha!" moment like in "Point Break" where we see the FBI finds that one clue they were looking for. Nothing like that. It was a rather huge plot hole in the story.
This flick is another example of how great Affleck can be when he applies himself. He sometimes gets knocked for being too one-dimensional (which I have honestly never understood). Well he certainly puts that to rest here. He's engaging from the minute you first see him until the very end. He brings the intensity thru in the myriad of emotions that his character goes through. I actually forgot for a minute that it was Affleck I was watching.
But you know what really got me as I was watching this? It was the very end when the credits rolled. How did I not know that Affleck also directed "The Town"?! The fact that he was able to direct such a powerful movie wasn't the surprising part. He already surprised us with that with the phenomenal "Gone Baby Gone". He was directing only though. It takes a special breed to deliver a strong performance AND direct a great movie. Well he did it.
Now would I go as far as to call "The Town" one of the best movies of 2010? Looking back on the films that I selected as my picks of the year, I can't see it cutting line in front of any of those. It wasn't quite THAT powerful. Something about those Boston accents not sounding quite genuine was a little distracting. Atlhough it wasn't distracting enough to keep this one from being one of the best movies I've seen this year.