Dodger Blues

I just got home from the Dodgers game. That's right folks, the 50th Opening Day at Dodger's Stadium, seventy-two degrees, sunny and clear, iced cold Tecate and Dodger dogs. Oh yeah!

Ok, enough of that, now lets get real. The Dodgers organization needs that booty whipped. The parking arrangements are ridiculous and inconvenient (they could really benefit from some sort of shuttle service), the concession stands are mediocre, the restrooms are too few and far between, plus, they're old and poorly lit. Also, the stadium's usher staff is hard to find.

Granted, The Dodgers were victorious and sent the SF Giants packin' with a goose egg, but it was a lackluster experience at best. Maybe I'm just spoiled when it comes to sporting events. I attend my fare share, so I have a lot to compare this to. I also felt bad for my colleague and friend, because he just moved here from the East coast and I think he was expecting more.

The home team's faithful and diehard fans were out in droves, all dressed in Dodger Blue. It was a full house, which means only one thing.........drunkeness. My friend and I commented on how difficult it is to bring children to large sporting events because of all the lewd behavior. Folks really need to pipe down.

All in all, it was a lovely day, and I truly enjoyed connecting with my old friend. He tells GREAT stories that always have me laughing.

I think I'll wait for the hype of the new season to subside before I return to another game (probably when they play my home team White Sox). Baseball can be and should be a peaceful, relaxing experience. Someone should remind the big-wigs in the corporate offices.

The Maven


Will The Real Ruckus Please Stand Up

Ahem....Ahem.....Calling all Drop Squad members!!!!!

The Squirrel below has officially lost his mind!

He is frightenly similar to my truly favorite, animated embodiment of pure, blissful ignorance.......The Boondocks very own, Uncle Ruckus.....

Swing low, sweet chariot.........


On Fear and Living

Good Morning America is my morning show of choice, I wake up to it daily. One of the featured segments today, was an in studio interview with Demi Moore. She spoke about her family and her new movie "Flawless" with Michael Cain. At the end of the interview, Diane asked her what her biggest flaw was. Demi's response stopped me in my tracks. According to her, her biggest flaw is "how much I can allow fear to dictate in my life." "Still?” Diane asked. Demi answered, "Yeah, because, it’s truly I think, a constant overcoming".

I relate to her feelings about fear on so many levels. It has proven to be a great hindrance in my life. I can only imagine where I might be in my journey were it not for fear. Fear of what, you ask? Well, I'm still working that one out. However, I recognize that I am the obstacle that stands in my way. It’s been said that admission and acceptance is half the battle.

So begins my fight.

Am I afraid of success? Am I afraid of true love? Am I afraid of not being "good enough"? Am I afraid of rejection? Failure? Losing? These are questions that I've been posing to myself and the answers, my friends, are not pretty. Certainly, we all have our own insecurities, but they are not always crippling, like say for instance, my fear of water. You see, I cannot swim. The Lady enrolled me in swim class as a child and the instructor (for lack of a better term) insisted that I travel to the bottom of the pool to retrieve a set of keys he purposely dropped. I remember that day vividly. I stood there shaking and trembling, teeth chattering, looking up into the stands for The Lady, hoping she would rush down and spare me the humiliation. It didn't happen that way, of course and as a matter of fact, I think that all parents were restricted from the pool area during class; they could only watch from the bleachers. There are times when your parents have to let you take your lumps. So, I had to take my turn. With timidity and FEAR, I went under the water to get those damn keys. Panic ensued and water was in my mouth and nose, I was flailing and crying and terrified. I could tell the instructor was annoyed, but class continued and I sat poolside, sniffling, whimpering, and wrapped in my towel, until it was over. After class, The Lady came down and got me, and promised me that I didn't have to return. I suppose this is part of the reason why I get testy and standoffish when people push me to do things I don't want to do.

Last summer, at my friend Jenny's house, we were enjoying a lovely summer day, bar-b-queing and having a great time. I got in the pool, on the shallow end, to play with the kids and "take some lessons" from them. Another adult offered to give me a few pointers and I trust him so I followed his lead. Everything was fine until a guest of the party, a stranger to me, decided to come down and grab me to drag me to the deep end. Not a good look. I became that little girl again. I was terrified, only this time I also became enraged and I had my hand around his neck with the intent to crush his windpipe. With my free hand I was swinging at him and begging him to let me go. Finally, I screamed and my girl Dan Belle jumped in to save me, and as they lifted me out of the pool, I was cryin' and cussin'. Our friend Alex had to tell the dude that I could not swim, and he tried to apologize, but it was too late. I was hearing none of that.

In my adult life, I see this fear of "drowning" manifest itself in so many ways. Some days I am fierce and determined, even brave. Those who are closest to me will be the first to say that I am courageous and bold. They use my move to LA as an example. It took a lot of guts to pack up my things and move here with no plan. Looking back, it was not a bright idea, but it worked, and is one of my proudest accomplishments. It essentially removed me from my comfort zone and forced me to be great. Prior to moving here I had an idea of how I wanted things to be, it was a fairytale of sorts, but in so many ways it actually happened. I got the right job, met the right people, had the support of my cousins, made a few friends, and from there everything took off. Six years later, I'm still here. Like Derek Luke's character says in Antwone Fisher, "I'm still standing, I'm still strong." But some days, I have doubts.

I don't want fear to rule nor ruin my life. I can point to a few things that have already suffered because of it. I was once a model, I can still crush a runway, but I was afraid to leave the states and go overseas, where I might have fared a lot better. I once hosted and produced my own sports show for local cable access in Chicago. The show was popular, and I was very good at it. I had plans to attend broadcasting school and become the first black female sports anchor in the city. Ask me what happened..........fear happened. Who knows, I might be like Pam Oliver, Lisa Salters or Suzy Kolber right now, holding it down on set or on the sidelines.

Two friends, both very special to me, have addressed this issue with me on separate occasions. They said things to me that I carry with me on a daily basis. One said, Maven, “fear is not an emotion that comes from God. Don’t give it energy” and the other shared with me a quote I believe he learned while pledging (Omega), it says “Fear is a mind-killer. It's a tiny little evil that envelops me from the inside out. I must face it and learn to control it”. Both of these guys are strong in my mind, they each have incredible stories for which I admire and celebrate them.

I think about my late Grandmothers when I am afraid or down on myself. They lived long, colorful lives, battled their own demons, and came out triumphant in the end. I think about other people who have touched my life, but since passed away, and I know they are looking down on me, always wishing for my success and well-being. I think about my parents, The Lady and Papa, who sacrifice for me, encourage me, and are my biggest cheerleaders, and although my father cautions me not to compare myself to others or measure my successes and failures by that of others, I can’t help but think about my best friends and their journeys and accomplishments; they make me so proud.

If you are out there doing “the damn thing”, I say keep doing it. You never know who is watching you or looking to you for inspiration.

As for me, I plan to learn to swim this summer. I consider it my first step toward overcoming my fears. And maybe while I'm taking my adult lessons, some child who is also learning, but is afraid will see me and it will become ok for them. I’ll keep you posted.

The Maven


A Monday Mind

I woke up this morning and the sun is shining brightly. Praise God!

I hope you enjoyed Easter!

Mondays are rough, but I have a list of things to accomplish and I'm fired up.

I have a Magic Bullet blender and in it I make my morning fruit smoothie. The Magic Bullet is amazing.

CNN reports that Kwame KP has been indicted along with his jumpoff.

CNN also reports that our casualties of war have reached the 4000 mark. I'm still asking, why?

Friday night, I went Steppin'. As usual, the instruction was good, and I had a nice time. My feet were cussin' me, steppin' ladies love to wear cute and sexy heels, it adds to your swagger when you're dancing. Luckily, I had a pair of flats for emergency purposes, and they came in quite handy.

Saturday, I planted Verbena, Alyssum, and some sort of Daisy. The Jasmine and Gardenia are making me anxious. I planted them in November and I am ready for their aromatic bloom. They're still alive so I must be doing something right. Everything else in my lil' garden is hangin' tough. I am happy that my Begonia are coming back. The Lady (Mom) is proud of me. I don't think in her wildest dreams, she could have ever imagined that I would take up gardening.

I also had a nice afternoon with a cousin that I don't see very often. He is planning to attend film school here. He lives back home in Chicago, and we have a substantial age difference (I'm older). We had a nice time. We went for sushi and I think thats the first time we've had an adult conversation.

I found out that my immediate neighbor is moving. This is a bummer because I adore her. She's a lil' old lady who is quiet as a church mouse. Never underestimate the value of a good neighbor. She will be sorely missed.

For me, March Madness has become March Sadness, as my bracket has self-imploded.

Sunday it was 87 degrees. BEAUTIFUL!

I also went to the hospital Sunday to visit one of my tenants. He was groggy and grumpy and basically told me to tear ass. I guess if I were ninety-one and had no family that cared enough to tend to my well-being, I'd be pissed too! That situation makes me sad.

I cooked a really nice Easter dinner. It was delicious. I am getting better at this. I might become a "kitchen bit.ch" one day, after all.

I watched two Trinity Easter services Sunday, live online broadcast. Food for my soul.

The Best Man was on network TV last night. Network TV knows how to screw up a great movie with editing and commercials. Good thing I own the DVD. Terrance Howard is a jewel in this flick!

I'm done. Gotta get back to my grind.

The Maven


Standing Up For What's Wright

This began as a comment to a post over at Dallas Penn. I felt myself getting a little carried away over there, so I brought it home. Be patient with me......

Before moving here to LaLa, I attended Trinity United Church of Christ. I love and admire Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.
I still log on to tucc.org on Sunday mornings to watch the live broadcast, and I've been gone from home for six years! That's how dope this church is to me.

Growing up in Chicago may have given me somewhat of a militant identity. The history of Black folk in The Chi is rich and 'bout it. It is one of the most culturally rich, yet racially and economically segregated cities in our country, and the argument can be made that it is the toughest town around, politically ("vote early and often"). The current Mayor Daley is tough, his father, the cities first Mayor Daley, was rough and tumble. He shut folks down at the ' 68 Democratic National Convention, just because he didn't like what was being said at the podium. The late Mayor Harold Washington was tough, he was our first Black mayor, so that took the strength of Goliath all by itself. My great-uncle, Charles Hayes, born in Cairo, IL, went from being a leader of the meat packer's union to becoming a U.S. Congressman, filling the seat vacated by Harold Washington when he ran for mayor. If you can become a politician in Chicago, you can be a successful anywhere. If you can demonstrate a strong and influential voice in Chicago, you can hold it down anywhere.

With that said, I wish Rev. Wright's introduction to the "national stage" did not come via hatred and harsh scrutiny, but my feathers are not ruffled and my faith is still unshakable. I know his style of preaching well, and like most sermons delivered in a church, his messages are based upon a biblical scripture or religious principle. Like tapestry, he weaves the Word into present life and current events, and I've found myself sitting in awe of his brilliance and swagger time and time again. Is he a firecracker? Damn right. Is his style sometimes brash? No doubt. Is he radical? Some might say so, but I say no. I think he speaks truths that make people uncomfortable. So what? The truth hurts.

Tuesday, Senator Obama shut folks down about Rev with the quiet fierceness of that classic look your mama gives you when you have stepped out of line. It had to come to this, you know? There is only so much negativity one can stand before it becomes necessary to defend oneself and those you love and respect. This pot has been brewing and bubbling for some time now, and before it reached a boiling point, before the lid blew off from the pressure, the issues of race needed to be addressed. I applaud the Senator's bravado. I thank him for taking a stand and "clearing the air", we need to grow, we need to transcend. However, I am a bit pained that he HAD to condemn Pastor Wright's words. But I understand.

We live two lives around here. Our "black" lives and our assimilated lives. We live our "black lives" at church, at home, with our children and extended families, through our "Big Mamas" and "Big Daddies", within our friendships and relationships, our HBCU's, our fraternities and sororities, our music and literature, our political alliances, and through our entertainers and sports figures.

It really trips me out that all of a sudden SOME folks are all up and through the ins and outs of what we do within the confines of our own comfort zones. No one has been too concerned about what we do in our churches, before now. Why bring your news camera now? Jesus has been bringing good news to us every Sunday, where have you been? I haven't seen any overwhelming concern for what goes on in our children's inner-city schools. I don't think people care too much about the high rates of STD's and more specifically HIV/AIDS amongst our women, young and old. It bothers some not, that our boys and men are languishing behind bars nor is there much concern about the reasons they ended up there in the first place. Black and brown crime is only an issue when it comes rollin' down a block where it shouldn't be.

But guess what, we care. The results of the discrimination suffered by blacks run deep like a river. Trust me when I say it hurts. It damages the psyche, casts doubt, and results in anger, yet we always find cause to celebrate and reason to rise above. Rev. Wright exemplifies all of that. I don't feel that he is racist. He is not a "demagogue" or a "hatemonger". He is wise and he has LIVED through some heavy stuff. I don't think he's out of touch; quite the contrary, he's remarkably hip. His views might be a little old school, his vantage point is vast and reflective of his life experiences, past and present. He's a scholar and an intellect. He speaks many languages and can spit some mean lyrics too. He is kind and soulful. And just like other older folks, of any race, he will verbally cut you to the quick so fast that you won't know what hit you.

He is a man, well respected, revered and loved. He means well and has sincere intentions. It appears from those clips, he is not perfect. But who is? When you run up on that perfect person let me know, so I can cross the street.

The church has a You Tube channel, that you can find here. Log on and check out some of Dr. Wright's sermons IN THEIR ENTIRETY. You might learn something, or not. I'll leave that up to you.

The Maven


Gas Is On Blast

Wanna know what's going on in my neighborhood?

I'm getting my thumbs ready.

Happy Saint Patty's Day.


Pac-10 Journey

Yesterday, I spent my day at The Pacific Life Pac-10 Tournament. Big ups to my connect. I've attended in years past, but for some reason, this year, I was more observant of my surroundings. It's tournament time all over the country, but it is an exceptionally exciting time for basketball here in L.A. The Pac-10 Tourney is a "future star" showcase. There is boundless talent 'round these parts, so consider this Conference the land of plenty.

The Staples center was an array of young, old, short, tall, female, but mostly male (did you hear that ladies?) people, of many ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. Of course you had your casual fans, but the highlight of the day for me were the "arena refs", as I like to call them. They call plays, chastise players for mistakes, use profanity, argue calls, and get down right indignant. It's a beautiful thing to see! Then you have the team allegiances, highlighted by the lively bands, some better than others (Cal's band was groovin'), the mascots and the sea of tees, sweatshirts, and hats. During TV timeouts, they showed casual fans in the lobby singing their favorite school's fight song, which was kinda cute, until they booed a woman who had to read the words from a book. She really was pitiful, though.

The atmosphere resembles a glass menagerie when you interject the presence of the "The Life"; this group includes the proud parents, the university big wigs, the pro level general managers and scouts, the agents, the managers, the marketing companies, the endorsement companies, the financial advisers, the sports writers, and the lifestyle managers/personal assistants (wink and smile).

I was in attendance during the second session, which consisted of two games. The competition was varied. USC battled Arizona State in the first game. It was cool of course, to watch O.J. Mayo handle his business, he's smooth. But it was also nice to get an up close look at a few guys whose names are not as "household" yet. I liked the Sophomore guard, Daniel Hackett, from USC, and the Freshman guard, James Harden, from Arizona State. The UCLA-Cal game, was not as good. Actually, it was a blowout. UCLA has the big Freshman Kevin Love, who was a fan favorite. They are lead by the finesse PG, Darren Collison, and showcase one of the Shipp Boys, Josh. I also got the tip from a colleague to keep an eye on the skills of Cal Freshman forward, Ryan Anderson. He's solid all around and should get a good look at the next level, whenever that time comes.

I didn't get the chance to hang around to watch Stanford eliminate Arizona, but I'm quite happy with the outcome. Go Cardinal!

All in all, I had a great day. To those of you who get paid to sit and watch basketball all day, bless you. Can we switch?

The Maven


Hungarian Goulash

Today, an elderly man, a self-proclaimed "Hungarian Jew", dressed in head-to-toe L.A. Laker gear, the largest headphones I've ever seen, and toting two testy Pomeranians, stopped me in front of the Post Office to discuss politics. **Crickets**

As one who has a very soft spot for senior citizens, I reluctantly engaged in this unsolicited conversation. He began by asking me my thoughts on Gerri Ferraro's comments about Senator Obama's perceived racial advantage. He seemed to want me to be as outraged as he portrayed himself to be. In no uncertain terms, he felt Ms. Ferraro was wrong in her assessment. I simply told him that I believe she spoke from her own insecurities about gender and power, at which he nodded, and then commented on how insightful I was. He then goes on to tell me how unlike most folks like him, he understands "the black experience", having family members who were victims of Nazi Germany, and having once lived on 35Th and "Shaw" when he was a car salesman. I asked him to clarify "Shaw" for me, at which time I learned that he was speaking of Crenshaw Boulevard, "you know, the HOOD." Deep sigh. More **Crickets**

He then jumps to the subject of Michelle Obama, and gets a little boiled over her comments about her first time being proud of the country, yada yada, yada. He goes on about how she has benefited from Affirmative Action and how she, herself, supposedly admitted to having been an average student (I don't know anything about this) and that she was able to obtain an Ivy League education because of Affirmative Action, and he had a 4.0 GPA and didn't get "ushered" in like her, so how dare she yada, yada, yada.

He also pointed out how much money she and Barack were making, which to me had no place in our, I mean , HIS conversation. I finally told him, that Michelle's comments, while perhaps not properly delivered, were very relevant, and I understood EXACTLY what she meant. He wanted to know how I could agree when she has benefited so greatly in this country. So........I informed him that he never has, nor ever will live her American life, and that I, being closer to her in age than he was (obviously), equal to her in gender, similar to her in the "black womanhood experience", AND the South Side of Chicago experience, could better identify with her statement. Again he expressed his delight in my insight, then told me I was a smart girl. Surprise! I politely excused myself, told him to (kick rocks) have a nice day and continued on about my business.

Everything happens for a reason. Respect your elders.

Hump Day Music: Obama Edition 3

1608. That number represents Barack's delegate count after decisively taking Wyomimg and the M-I-CROOKED LETTER.

I love how he's cool as a cucumber, don't you?

Anderson Cooper will be profiling Michelle tonight on CNN. Check your local listings.

I think today's HUMP DAY MUSIC selection is perfect. I wonder if Hillary can feel it? HaHA!

Press play.


The Monday Mind

It's a beautiful seventy degree day here in LA.

I spent twenty-five dollars at the pump and in return, I got six gallons of gas.

I am a book store fiend. My trip to Barnes and Noble today, netted me a book by Dr, Ben Carson (which I needed for a writing assignment for a client), two magazines with Barack on the cover (I am collecting all his covers), the current issue of The New Yorker (great, extensive article about Michelle Obama) and this weeks copy of Backstage, an LA trade paper (cover story about the incomparable James Earl Jones).

Speaking of Barack, I'm glad that he put the lid on Hillary's slimy attempts to paint him as her "VP". WTF? Last time I checked, he was leading her in delegates and popular votes. He does not view himself as number two. I do not view him as number two, and her never ending silly antics are verifying that she, Bill, and her advisers are FULL of number two.

The Governor of NY is caught up in a sex scandal. He has been named in a prostitution ring. Just like all the other politicians that get busted on some b.s. involving women outside of their marriage, he too had his poor wife standing up there "by his side", looking all dazed and confused. One day, one of these broads is gonna cold cock a squirrel right upside the head, on camera. I believe this has recently happened in another country, perhaps Asia.

I had to renew my vehicle registration today. This is never a highlight. Why do I have to pay the county to drive my car?

I wish Girlfriends was coming on tonight. I will miss Girlfriends.

I thought The Wire series finale was decent. I just can't understand why, in the next to last episode, Mike dropped Dookie off on the streets to be a dope fiend. I thought they were homies. Mike knew that Dook just needed a head start. He had the brains. He could have made it. Now, Dookie is Bubbles Redux.

I watered my flowers and plants in my garden. They were calling my name each time I walked in and out of my pad. They were saying "Witch, we're thirsty!"

Gotta go.

The Maven


A Do-Over

I know about do-overs. When it rains here in So-Cal, the car wash will grant you a do over within twenty-four hours of your initial visit. If one of my braids slips, I can skip back over to Compton and get it redone. If I fail a traffic school exam, I get the opportunity to take it again and again. If mother nature rains on my hometown White Sox while they are here to play my second home LA Dodgers, and the game is called, well shit, I'll just have to catch the make-up game later in the season. All these things make sense to me.

However, just as I disagree with the The League's decision that the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat should have a 51.9 second do-over before their game on Saturday, the mere suggestion that the states of Florida and Michigan should have a chance to Primary or Caucus again, is making me sick to my greedy stomach.

In Atlanta, a stats crew made a mistake calculating the score during a game played earlier in the season. Atlanta won that game. Case closed. This replay seems inconsequential, and I don't think The Hawks should have to waste their pre-game time making up for the flub of some folks who were acting in an "official" capacity. I wonder if Stanford will get a do-over because the ref's bent over in UCLA's favor and called a foul on Lawrence Hill when he CLEARLY made a clean, fundamental block on Darren Collison near the end of regulation in last night's pivotal game.

In Florida and Michigan, the powers that be violated Democratic Party rules by holding their respective primaries too early in the process. The consequence, clearly outlined, reprimands such action by stripping the offending states of their delegates for the upcoming August convention. Seems simple to me. They broke the rules, and they must accept the repercussions.

Senator Clinton and her "people" now want to revisit the issue and are trumpeting for a do-over because it could very well benefit her campaign in the end. I don't know about you, but this is politics as usual. I, for one, am not impressed. I am on the same page as Rev. Sharpton, who feels that if in fact, these two states are allowed a do-over, we should raise hell. While the Super-Delegates have a role and a place in the process, it is the vote of the people that should be heard the loudest. It is ridiculous that a state could vote heavily for a particular candidate, only to see their will trumped by the decisions of a few politicians with padded pockets. Even if it were Senator Obama who was pulling Hillary's stunt, I would still cry foul. The rules are the rules. The mere thought of this is as silly as The Football League's Commissioner wanting to implement some stricter rules on cheating. Newsflash, pretty boy, ITS TOO LATE. The sweet has already turned sour.

I tell you what, if this voting mess goes down, and these states have their delegates seated, and Hillary becomes our nominee, I will have to reconsider my vote. I will strongly consider passing altogether, casting my vote for Ms. Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party, or taking a deeper look at crusty McCain and his Stepford wife.

As more evidence that some in the Democratic party are willing to do anything to put Hillary in office, I saw some fraganackle bull on CNN today. I watched one particular bald-headed, spectacle wearing Democratic pundit suggesting that the campaign's of both Clinton and Obama should take fifteen million dollars out of each coffer to pay for a damn do-over. Flick that! If you donated money to either candidate, is this what you had in mind? Hell no.

The citizens of Florida and Michigan should be pissed at their "leaders." I say, let this farce be a lesson to us all........know your rights, participate in the political process, know your representatives and hold those Squirrels accountable.

The Maven


We Can Change The World


I am lovin' these Will.I.Am videos for Senator Obama.

Hit me in the comments section and let me know the ways in which you are stumpin' for Barack's campaign.