Sunday, April 28, 2013

When @SwetaSpeaks, You Should Listen!

Follow her on Twitter at @SwetaSpeaks
We all need inspiration now and then. Something that makes us toughen up and focus on a goal. It's not always easy which is why having an outside influence is not uncommon for people who achieve greatness. Now, greatness can come in many forms. It can come in the form of a personal goal like weight loss or in the form of higher success like being the President of the U.S.

Regardless of what pinnacle you seek in life, it's important to have a plan.  Some people achieve financial success from being right place, right time (lottery winners, YouTube overnight trenders, etc.) So, a plan is not required, but it's important.

The role of parents include teaching a child how to plan, but in today's society, parents are working so hard just to keep the lights on, that maybe that gets neglected.

That's why it's nice to have an option such as someone like Sweta Patel.  Sweta has spoken to young people all over the world to help them deal with the things that maybe others have not broached.  She teaches them how to have a plan to get through college and life with as little-to-no difficulty as possible.

Sweta experienced some trials and tribulations in her life in regards to not getting along with her father to almost being consumed by college party life.  I will speak to her on Sunday, April 26th, to discuss how young women can enjoy their early years of life (college age), remain financially responsible and avoid heartbreak.

Stream the podcast here and learn more from Sweta and how to obtain her "Watch Out Books!"

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I Just Saw A Spider

Here in the Deep South, the warm weather tends to bring out the creepy-crawlies.  Today, I saw my first snake and spider of the new Spring.  Luckily, the snake was dead and not in my neighborhood.  However, the spider ran right across the floor in front of me while I was checking e-mails.  Unfortunately for me, he was way too quick for me to murder him before he reached the safety of my entertainment center.

"I'll definitely see you before you see me!"
Now, I'm normally not afraid of either as long as I see them before they see me.  However, the element of surprise that comes from an unseen snake or spider can have your adrenaline rushing for hours!  Snakes are very good at camouflaging themselves.  I'm pretty sure that there have been plenty of times in my life where I've stepped right by a snake without knowing it.  Because of this fact, I tend to stay away from certain areas where it's hard to see them.

Spiders, on the other hand, are a bit more different to deal with at times.  They can hide almost anywhere and can get into your home a lot more easier than snakes can (or so I hope).  They are also so stealth in nature that it's almost impossible to see one until its basically right on you.

What makes it even more of a challenge this year to spot them will be the fact that I have new carpet in my home.  What was easy to spot a spider on beige carpet is now next to impossible on dark gray carpet.  In fact, I never would have seen the one I saw today had he not decided to panic and make a run for it.  He was already in the middle of the floor and I hadn't noticed before he did a Usain Bolt impersonation.

So, I guess it's that time of the year for me to wage war against the bad guys.  Dag.  Is that a wasp nest being built above my front door?  (Sigh)  I'm pretty sure that I'm going to have nightmares after this post.

What animal / insect is a nuisance in your part of the world?

Snakes are masters at hiding.

Monday, April 22, 2013

"42" Isn't Black History... It's American History

I recently saw the movie based on Jackie Robinson's life, "42."  For those born under rocks, Robinson is credited with breaking the color barrier in America's Game, Major League Baseball.  Now, I'm not one to do movie reviews, but this movie was so important to me, that I felt compelled to blog about it.  I grew up a Los Angeles Dodgers fan in the 70's, not even knowing what Jackie had done as a Brooklyn Dodger in the 40's.  In fact, I was almost in my teens before I really knew the story of Jackie Robinson.

I'm not going to literally break down plots or spoilers of the movie, but I do want to discuss what the movie represents: "42," written and directed by Brian Helgeland, didn't simply present the movie as a focus on Robinson's life.  He presented the movie from multiple perspectives so that anyone could appreciate it.  "42" isn't black history, it's American history.

If you go to see this movie, and I hope that you will, then be prepared to pay close attention to everything.  Not just what Jackie went through, but how it affected everyone around him from family to teammates.  By the time the two hours and eight minutes are up in this film, you will have experienced the following:

  • How Jackie felt just simply trying to play the sport that he loved as a black man.
  • How black people once encouraged one another to succeed.
  • How athletes once inspired youth based on their on-the-field play and not their off-the-field style.
  • How many white people wanted to see change in the U.S. in regards to racial equality.
  • How a man benefited from and showed love to a loyal and confident wife.
  • How racism is a learned behavior.
  • How Jackie's teammates unfairly suffered simply from being on the same team as a black man.
  • How one man's bravery literally changed the lives of millions.
Now, that's saying a lot, but that's exactly what I got out of this movie and more.  Will the movie win an award?  Well, Harrison Ford wasn't too shabby and may be considered for an Oscar.  Chadwick Boseman was great as Jackie Robinson and Nicole Beharie was flawless as his wife, Rachel.  My longshot to win an award is the sportswriter, Wendell Smith, played by Andre Holland.  I truly enjoyed his role in the movie.

Jackie's life didn't just change baseball.  It changed the country, just as a lot of historical moments in sports have.  We may not have seen Arthur Ashe or Tiger Woods had it not been for Jackie Robinson.  Sure, someone would have broken into those sports, but it may not have been them.  It may have come later had Robinson not already set the stage.  

In fact, one reason I'm not a fan of Tiger Woods to this day is because of Jackie Robinson.  Back in 1997, Tiger was invited to be the speaker at the 50th Anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball.  President Bill Clinton invited Tiger to attend the event with Jackie's widow, Rachel, and be the guest speaker.  Tiger refused because he was going on vacation with his friends.

Excuse me?

Jackie Robinson was the difference between Tiger Woods putting on grass instead of cutting the grass.

Reread that sentence again and think about it for a second.  Robinson paved the way for people like Tiger and to me, nothing short of Armageddon should have prevented Woods from standing on that podium next to Rachel Robinson and honoring the man who set the standard.  Tiger can play in a white man's sport and win an event, which is ironically called "The Masters," because Jackie opened the door.  In fact, Tiger had won The Masters just two days before the Robinson anniversary.  The timing would have been perfect.  But, he was "tired" and wanted to relax.  For that, I will forever smile when he loses a Major event on the PGA Tour.

I have a poster of Jackie Robinson that will go up in my man cave as soon as the frame arrives for it.  I'm not a new fan of Robinson.  I've had his jersey for as long as I can remember.  But, this movie not only made me a bigger fan of his, but it rekindled my affection for baseball as well.  A sport that I'd left for dead after the 1994 strike.

Jackie Robinson became much more than a player.  He became a hero.  He became an icon.  He became a source of inspiration.  America can still be a great country if we simply had some people brave enough to spark change.  That includes removing the teaching of racism in this country.  Pee Wee Reese, Jackie's teammate, once told him that, "maybe someday, everyone will wear number 42 so that we can't tell each other apart."

He never knew those words would be prophetic.

Every April, every team wears #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson

Friday, April 19, 2013

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

Well? Do you? Do you believe in things that go "bump" in the night? I'm not just talking about paranormal activities. I'm talking about urban legends, Bigfoot, etc. Why do people put so much time and effort into trying to make sense out of things that they don't understand? Or why they spend so much money chasing something that has never actually been seen?

I watched a couple of episodes of "Finding Bigfoot" and I just didn't understand the logic. I can only assume that this is a fictional show set up for entertainment purposes only because these people can't be serious, can they? Some of the people on the show are "experts" on what a Sasquatch (affectionately called a "Squatch") eats and where it sleeps, but they've never seen one in-person. With all of the technology that we have in the world, I'm sure that one could easily use infrared to find any large mammal in the woods.  So, I'm not buying four people with high-powered microphones walking through the Appalachians.

I remember reading the story of the Loch Ness monster when I was a kid.  I remember thinking of how scary it would be for a monster to live in a lake near my home.  These types of stories are great for telling kids, but how do adults get sucked into it?

Now, this is not to say that the supernatural doesn't exist.  I do believe ghosts exists, but only because I saw one as a child.  My father sent me to bed one night (I was in 2nd or 3rd grade) and I got into the bed with my back to the door.  I felt as if I heard someone enter the room, so I looked over my shoulder and said "good night."  My peripheral vision caught a shadowy figure that looked like a human, but was much taller than my father or my brother.  It spooked me enough to sit up in the bed and turn all the way around only to see nothing.

I jumped out of bed and ran down the hall back into the room where my father was.  He was still on the couch watching TV when I asked him if he'd come back to my room.  He said, "no."

I told him that I saw someone in my room and he didn't pay me any mind.  He figured I'd drifted off and started dreaming or something.  However, when I described the man that I saw (about 6'4", big hands and slender), he sat up on the couch and turned white as a sheet.  I was describing my Uncle Bo.  Uncle Bo used to babysit me as a kid.  I was less than a year old when he died, so I never knew him or what he looked like.  I just remembered hearing about him taking care of me.  He was a special needs adult and died at a pretty early age (in his 20's, I think).

My father knew that I wasn't old enough to remember what he looked like, so he knew that's who I saw because I described him so well.  He told me how Uncle Bo used to check on me when I was napping and he was obviously still checking on me.

So, don't think that I don't believe in the unknown because there are a lot of things that can't be explained.  However, I don't believe in every show that I see on television.  Remember back in the 70's and 80's how everyone was seeing UFO's (Unidentified Flying Objects for those under 30)?  Now with cell phone cameras and the ability to take photos within seconds of seeing things, no one is spotting UFO's any more.  Is that because technology has advanced to the point of being able to recognized fake photos?  Probably so.  It makes me wonder if any those sightings that I remember hearing about as a kid were all a hoax.

If you like "Finding Bigfoot" and shows like it, then by all means, watch them.  I'll admit that it is very entertaining to see how those people talk about "Squatches."  However, please don't try to sell me on the fact that they exist.

Do you believe in Bigfoot, the Boogeyman and the likes?

(Click here to discuss it in my chat room on 4/21 @ 10 PM EST)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I Can't With Movies

"Stop with the saturation, creep!"
Back in the Summer of 1987, I had my driver's license and freedom to pretty much go to the movies as I pleased. There were 44 movies released in the Summer of '87 and I saw quite a few of them: "Predator," "Dragnet," "Robocop," "Superman IV," and "The Lost Boys."

 Well, fast-forward to 2012 and I don't go to the movies as often as I once did. Mainly because I'm older and I'm sick of crying babies, cell phone conversations and people talking to the screen.

However, even if I did want to attend more often, I wouldn't know how I would keep up with all of the movies that are being released these days. Like I said earlier, in 1987, 44 movies were released for the entire summer (from June 1 - August 31). Just last year, there were 44 movies released before June 13th! 

44 movies in 13 days?  How in the world am I to keep up?  I like having options, but only if they're quality options.  Choosing from three quality things is more satisfying than choosing from six mediocre things.

I subscribe to HBO, Showtime, Hulu Plus, Netflix and Crackle yet I can't find the time to watch the movies that are being released week after week, after week.  So often, people ask me things like, "Yo, Q, did you check out the latest "Final Destination?'"

Me: "There's more than one?"

I can't keep up!  Not only are there a lot of movies, but there are a lot of sequels to these movies as well.  Do we need multiple versions of movies like "American Pie" or "Scary Movie?"  I just found out today, when researching for this blog, that there was a 4th "Jaws."  I had no idea because when it comes to keeping up, I can't with movies.

Everything is becoming so saturated these days.  1,000+ TV channels to watch with most of them sharing some of the same programming. Thousands of internet radio options with different versions of similar genres.  Jazz, Smooth Jazz, Classic Jazz and Metro Blend?  Really?

Double digit number of talk shows from "The View" to "The Chew."  Even the names aren't creative any more.  FOX created FX and now FXX?  That's flat-out laughable.  Even shows that I once enjoyed like "Law & Order" (4 spin-offs), "C.S.I." (2 spin-offs) and others just couldn't get by with only one.

I can't keep up with it all! The reason we're not as good as we used to be in this country is because we rarely take the time to perfect something. We get it started and once it's up-and-running, before maximizing it's abilities, we move on to something else to make more money.  That's why Pizza Hut started selling chicken wings and your car only gets 22 miles per gallon, but will allow you to check Facebook messages.

Do you think we have more quantity and less quality in entertainment these days?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Shop-Shaming @GameStop

I'm at GameStop on Monday to buy a new game called "Injustice: Gods Among Us."  Although, I'm not nearly the gamer than I was a decade ago, I still get games from time-to-time to play my god son.

As I get ready to cash out, the guy asked me if I was a GameSpot Rewards member.  I was a member, but mainly because the guy was so pushy the last time that I bought a game for my god son that I decided to do it.  Besides, if I can save a few bucks now and then, then I guess it's not such a bad thing.

I didn't like the fact that the guy shop-shamed me into buying it, but I figured that I would make my money back on it.  What is shop-shaming?  That's when someone tries to guilt you into buying something you don't need or they try to upgrade a purchase into something that you don't need.

I didn't think much of what he did before (basically hounding me to get the Rewards card at $14/annually), but, like I said, I figured it would pay for itself.  However, the same guy took things way too far this time with his pushiness...

Me: I would like to pre-order Injustice.

Him: Okay.  Two things you'll need with that...

Me: (looking puzzled)

Him: You'll need the strategy guide ($25), which I can give you $5 off of today, and you'll need the Season Pass ($15) which will give you access to new costumes and arenas.

Me: No, thanks.  I just want to pre-order the game.

Him: Maybe you don't understand.  The strategy guide is $5 off and you will definitely need it.

Me: I don't use strategy guides.  That's cheating, if you ask me.

Him: (obviously offended, dude scoffs) I beg to differ, sir.  But, with the Season Pass, it allows you to have access to all of the additional downloadable content thus saving you roughly $40 if you bought it on Xbox Live.

Me: No, thanks.  I don't need all of that.  I don't care about extra costumes.

Him: (rolling his eyes and sighing in disgust) You're really doing yourself a disservice, but I'll go ahead and give you what you want.  You're going to need those things though.

By this time I was clearly agitated and was on the verge of walking out, but luckily he stopped talking.  He actually seemed offended that I didn't want all of those extras that come with the game.  Dude, I'm not as into the games as you are, so why are you coming down on me for not wanting Wonder Woman's extra suit and stuff?  Really?

I know that salespeople have a rough job, but don't try and shame someone into buying something.  I was the only customer in the store at that time, but I'm sure that the conversation would have been a lot different had someone else been present.  Because if someone else would have been there, I would have been much more defensive and soon on the offensive with my responses.

Who would have thought that I would be a victim of shop-shaming at GameStop?  Geesh!

Have you ever been shop-shamed?

(Also, today would have been the 11th wedding anniversary for me and The Mrs.  Unfortunately, she passed away last year after a nine year battle with breast cancer.  I still miss you and will always love you, Bre.)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

No More @SkyDigg4? Say It Ain't So!!!

I'm a huge sports fan.  I'll generally watch anything where a ball is being used, someone is being timed or there's a race.

Last night's Men's Championship was one of the best championship games I've seen in a long time, but unfortunately, my Michigan Wolverines came up short.

I really looked forward to the Women's NCAA Championship just as much as I did with the Men's NCAA Championship.  However, Skylar Diggins and the Notre Dame Lady Fighting Irish are not playing in the championship game.

All season long, I wanted to see Skylar take on Goliath (Brittney Griner) and the Baylor Lady Bears in the final game. Unfortunately, that will not happen today. Baylor was eliminated last week in a close loss to Louisville (who ironically won the men's championship as well). A few days later, UConn eliminated the Lady Irish.

No more Skylar Diggins?  Say it ain't so?  Just like Kevin Ware was the favorite son of Louisville with their "Ri5e to the Occasion" t-shirts, Sklyar would have been the same in the women's championship game.  I waited all season long to see her hoist a championship trophy and she's not even in the championship game.  What's so sad about it is that I'm a Michigan fan.  I hate Notre Dame by nature, but how can you not pull for SkyDigg?

Why am I into Skylar Diggins, you ask?  Well, because she's smoking hot on top of being a top notch basketball player.  The WNBA not only needs more skilled players to enhance their game, but it won't hurt to have someone who can be the new face of the league as well.  Skylar is that face (and body).

Good luck on the next level, Skylar! 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Ri5e to the Occasion

I'm on the fence when it comes to exploitation.  I rarely feel as if a consenting adult can be exploited.  An easy example of this is a porn star.  If he/she decides to do the horizontal mambo for cash, then how can I say that the director of the film is exploiting them if they're grown?

However, I hate to see kids exploited.  This include college kids who get the shaft every year by the NCAA and other companies.

Kevin Ware is a 20 year old basketball player for the University of Louisville.  Last week during a game, he jumped out on defense and landed awkwardly on his feet.

This resulted in his leg collapsing and him experiencing one of the most gruesome injuries I've seen in all of my years of sports viewing.  You can view it here if you have the stomach for it.

Along comes Adidas with a dollar an inspirational idea in mind: why not create a shirt with a motivational quote using Kevin Ware's number? People will feel sympathetic towards him and will buy this shirt despite the fact that Kevin won't see a dime of it.

It's nothing new.  College kids in athletics have been exploited since the first TV contract was signed.  Sure, some people say, "well, they get scholarships, so that's their payment."

That's an understandable, but ignorant statement.  The scholarship would be an even trade-off if these kids were able to lead normal college lives like other students.  However, they can't.  Football and basketball players aren't allowed to work.  So, if they can't have jobs when playing, then how can they have money to do things that college kids do?  A Criminal Justice major isn't prevented from having a job, so why should a linebacker be?

These big schools pluck these college kids from inner cities and basically imprison them inside of a weight room.  The fact that these kids can't make any money is why you hear of so many scandals of boosters paying players.  And who gets punished when these kids take the money offered to them?  The kids.  Even if the coach gets caught up in the scandal, they can easily resign and find another school to coach.  The kids are levied stiff penalties that are even inherited by incoming freshmen who had nothing to do with the incident.

And people wonder why kids leave college early to go pro.

Football and basketball bring in millions to colleges each year in ticket sales and merchandising.  They could easily place some of that money into an account and hold it until the players graduate.  That would encourage the players to get their degree and be rewarded after graduation for their service to the school.  The players who decide that they want to go pro instead and not graduate waive their right to the fund.  Besides, they won't need the allotted funds anyway since they're now able to earn their own money.

The fund would be for kids like Kevin Ware.  Kevin may not get a chance to play professionally after suffering such a tragic injury, so having a savings waiting on him after graduation could be a huge boost for him.  He would get some of the money from the shirts that Adidas wants to make.  It would be a win-win except for the fact that those old men wearing the brightly-colored suits at the bowl games want all of the money for themselves.

After the controversy started swirling around the shirts, Adidas offered to donate the money to the Louisville scholarship fund.  A nice offer that would undoubtedly benefit a needy kid, but still not Kevin.

That "fictional" player looks just like Blake Griffin when he was in college.  Hmmmm...
Former UCLA basketball player, Ed O'Bannon, is suing the NCAA and EA Sports for using his likeness in a video game.  I hope that he is granted class action status so that it opens the door for student-athletes to finally be rewarded for the sacrifices they give to their schools.  They need to stick it to the NCAA and other companies that exploit them since they all refuse to "Ri5e to the Occasion."

Do you think these kids are being exploited or you think that everything is fair as-is?

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