Sunday, August 20, 2017

I believe I may have alluded to this in another blog post, but the worst part of being a parent (and to be clear, that list is quite short) is attending kiddie birthday parties. I just attended one yesterday, and it felt like I needed a saved bank of small talk to break out among these parents. The topics of discussion ranged from the summer camps our kids attended, church, the upcoming school year, etc. Half these parents were so busy have dick-measuring contests with each other, that they were barely watching their kids---which is something I make it my business to do with an eagle-eye.

Not only does the laser-like focus I have on my child and others allow me to always know what the hell my kid is up to, but it also serves as the perfect misdirection away from chatty ass parents. Yes I know that parents either feel supremely confident or woefully inadequate, and talking that shit out among other parents can be therapeutic. However, if I don't respond or participate in that, you should be able to successfully take the hint and carry your ass to another room or area. This is the social contact we have one another. You have two (three tops) topics to introduce to someone and if they aren't nodding their head, asking following-up questions, or bringing up subjects of their own, you abort the mission and find another victim. But I digress.

The way these kiddie obligations begin is via an evite, which lists all the basics: time, location, length of the party, whether or not a gift is required, and my favorite phrase, "You are welcome to drop off and come back". I never want to attend these parties, but I also am doing my best to win the parent-of-the-year award, which means I have to please my son at all times. So I always RSVP for three(me, the wife and the son) and mentally prepare myself for the torture party

Last week, I received a particularly interesting evite. Allow me to share part of what was written:

Come help us celebrate [name redacted] Birthday as she turns the big 0-5! This party will feature 1.5 hours of structured parkour play, followed by pizza and cake. Parkour (if you don't already know) is basically an obstical course just for kids. It is super fun, and non competitive.

Unfortunatly you must be 4 years old to participate- so while we are happy to have siblings come watch, and eat cake!, they can't join in unlesss they are 4. Parents must sign a waiver upon arrival, but you are welcome to drop off and come back if you'd like!

Now, I am not really the type of person to be mean-spirited for the hell of it, and I definitely don't hold it against folks when they commit an error or two in their writing. I catch errors in my current and past blog posts all the time. It happens and when they are found they must be corrected immediately.

However, if I know I am about to send out an invitation to parents of kindergarten-age kids, I think I am going to pull out all the stops to make sure this message is error free. I know for a fact that the parent who sent this invitation out has a husband and other friends, and there is no reason (aside from no one really caring) that this woman could not have said, "Hey can you read this over for me right quick?".

Instead of taking that extra step, she sent out an invite with misspelled words and misplaced punctuation. I was embarrassed for this woman and I don't even know her that well. I wanted to send an email to her to let her know, but my wife shut that down. So what will end up happening is that all the parents will be giving her the silent, judgmental eye at the party. At that point it won't matter because the parents will care more about their church, the camp their kids attended and putting in their bid for the parent-of-the-year award. But I'll be in the corner somewhere watching my kid trying to keep myself from bringing it up...

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

So this past weekend I attended a cookout with my wife, my wife's sister and her sister's husband. They did us a favor by watching our son over the weekend and then Sunday afternoon my wife and I joined them for a little grill action. The weather was perfect, the water was warm, my son was getting himself tired in the hot son, and there were copious amounts of food and spirits.

During the second half of the cookout, my in-laws were nice enough to let me DJ via my Tidal account, but during the first half of the cookout I was subjected to all kinds of trap music. There were all these songs on the radio that I did not recognize and they all had common traits: The beats were fast, the lyrics were mumbled, there were lots of drug references and the shit was wack.

The song I posted to start this blog was one of the ones that everyone at the cookout (including my son) knew except me--and I was mildly embarrassed. I could not figure out if Future was saying Percocet, Mascot, hurt your self or what. The beat was addictive as hell but Future was rapping like someone who was contractually obligated to spit four words at a time, and the last one had to rhyme. There was no attempt to rhyme two words in an eight-word line like Big Daddy Kane or Black Thought would do, and Future seemingly had little to no obligation to flex his rhyming prowess to his peers or fans. He just kept mentioning drugs, his lack of love for ladies (or bitches as he called them), and performing his best minimalist impression over the beat. I felt old and out of touch, but I refused to act like I was a fan of this non-rhyming ass Future character.

Then the second half of the song came on, and rapper-of-the-moment Kendrick Lamar came on and rescued the song. He shunned the four word per line rap style and decided to focus on more cohesive and complex sentences which is one of the things I've always loved about Lamar. After four or five lines, I started to wonder why Future would even let a dude like Kendrick--a dude who could completely upstage him in his sleep--on this remix. It wasn't the best I had ever heard Kendrick rhyme, but compared to Future, who came off like Tito to Kendrick's Michael (Jackson), he was a genius. I didn't love the song, but I decided that it was decent enough to finish listening to while I was in the pool. Then, the inconceivable happened....

When my family and I drove home, I could not get the damn chorus out of my head:

Percocets, molly, Percocets
Percocets, molly, Percocets
Rep the set, gotta rep the set
Chase a check, never chase a bitch
Mask on, fuck it, mask off
Mask on, fuck it, mask off
Percocets, molly, Percocets
Chase a check, never chase a bitch
Don't chase no bitches

I don't even like the damn chorus due to the drug and bitch references, but here I was in the car wishing my son would go to sleep so I could play this song in the car without him hearing the cursing. Then I slowly realized that this is how the kiddies get reeled in to buying and loving the song. In my teens, 20s and very early 30s, rappers reeled me in with rhymes, beats and maybe a good hook (in that order). But these days, the order seems be the beat, the chorus and then the rhymes. I quickly snapped out of the catatonic state I had been suckered into, and I extracted the elements of the song I really liked. First I played the instrumental, then I played the remix again and fast forwarded to Kendrick's rhyme to justify my infatuation with this song.

The second half of the cookout, I made everything right with the world by playing The Jacksons, A Tribe Called Quest, Usher and Michael Jackson. Everyone danced and smiled, and at least for 40 minutes, no one longed for the wack ass musical stylings of Future and anyone who sounded like him. Advantage Rashad

So how old does this blog entry sound? Should I have added a get-off-my-lawn paragraph?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Last night as I watched the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers battle during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, I sat on my couch contemplating whether I wanted to go to work today. As an aside, I am finally able to enjoy the Celtics/Cavs series without thinking what a goddamm shame it is that my beloved Washington Wizards were prematurely (at least to me) eliminated from playoff contention. I haven't written a single solitary word since the playoffs ended, which will change shortly. More on that later. I digress.

Anyway, as I sat on my couch I tried to convince myself that I should go to work. I don't have a hell of a whole lot of leave, there is definitely plenty of work to be done, and given that a three day weekend is upon us, taking off on a Wednesday is just plain greedy. On the other hand, there's nothing more enjoyable to me then taking the day off, grabbing my laptop, and heading to my local coffee shop to catch up on sports articles and my writing. If I could get paid to do just that, I'd be a happy young man.

So that was the choice, go to work and be responsible or stay home and be spontaneous. Needless to say, I am blogging to you live and direct from a coffee shop. I"m a slacker.

The primary reason I am taking today off is so I can watch some WNBA games--specifically the Washington Mystics. Starting with Friday's game against the Chicago Sky, I will be covering home games and I am equally excited and nervous.

The last time I attended a WNBA game was back in 2010 when Marion Jones and President Obama were there. That was a fantastic experience but I was a man on a Marion Jones-interview mission that night. By and large, once the Washington Wizards season is over I have no desire to write anything, let alone cover yet another team. But this season, I felt like I was in a decent groove writing-wise on the Wizards finished their season, and I thought that covering the team would be a great way to maintain that momentum.

So in preparation, I am watching the last two Washington Mystics games, reading some background info on the other team (the Chicago Sky), and trying impersonate a journalist on my day off. I'm nervous but I am also excited about stepping out of my comfort zone to try something that will broaden my horizons and strengthen my writing chops...I hope

Thank you for humoring me as I typed that out..

I dedicate this next song to Nyles, who is learning the days of the week:

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Last October I was playing basketball at a playground my son frequents and I jacked up my ring finger. If I'm being honest, I shouldn't have even been playing basketball, because the wife and I were supposed to be watching my son run wild a little bit before bed time. But once I saw that my son was knee deep in his playing duties and my wife had firm control over her monitoring duties, I allowed my mind and body to veer over to the basketball court.

I wanted to play a game, but these dudes preferred to play "21" so I obliged. I shot the ball, saw that it was going to be short and I immediately followed my shot (the way a coach would instruct me to do) and as soon as the ball hit my left ring finger, I felt it bend all the back. I immediately started to pull it out (pause) and although that wasn't helping, the adrenaline kept me going and I ended up winning that particular game of "21". But when I got home, took a shower, ate dinner and drank my red wine, I felt like anything but a winner.

My finger began to swell like nobody's business and I was SO glad I was smart enough to take my ring off before I even began playing ball. I used tape to bond my ring and middle fingers together which I thought would reduce the pain and stabilize the finger while I slept, but it did nothing. I went to the doctor the next day, and x-rays were negative--I just had really bad sprain, which prevented me from wearing my ring.

Fast forward a couple months later, the swelling in my finger had subsided, but the area around the middle of my ring finger was still swollen which mean I could get my wedding halfway on, but not at all the way down. As you can imagine, this caused my Mobley-household approval rating to plummet a great deal. The wife could see my finger was still swollen and intellectually she knew I couldn't get on my ring, but emotionally she felt like I was running around town like a single man...she was joking though...I think. I made an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to see if something was wrong, and then my mother just suggested I buy a bigger ring, which made sense too.

When my wife first bought me a ring before marriage, I asked her to not buy me anything expensive because I don't tend to do well with jewelry. I've lost about 7 watches in my adult life, and I didn't want the pressure of losing an expensive ass ring--so it was nothing for me to purchase a new, larger version of the ring I could no longer wear due to my mutant finger. It fit, I shunned the surgeon, and life was good. As time went by and my finger went down even more, the ring was a little loose, but that only meant I couldn't swim or play ball with it on..which brings me to last week.

Last week I removed my ring before my morning swim and of course I walked out of the gym without it, leaving it on a shelf in a locker. I called later that day and no one found it. I went back to the gym the next morning and no one found it and when I told my wife I had lost the ring that had replaced the one my mutant finger prevented me from wearing, she gave me the evil eye--as you can imagine, my approval rating again plummeted to the sunken place. I was dragging my feet in purchasing yet another ring hoping it would be found, and this morning when I went to the pool, the lifeguard located it. But the way he told me he found it was weird:

Lifeguard: Hey Rashad, how much did you pay for the ring?

Me: Around $100, why?

Lifeguard: One of the cleaning people found it and I saw it in her area, and I asked for it because I knew whose it was, and she told me she'd give it back if I took her to lunch

Me: **blank stare**

Lifeguard: So I gave her $20 for it, so how much are you going to give me?

Me: What?

Lifeguard: You should give me some money..ok just kidding I'll go get it

Me: I'm going to swim first, then I'll come get my ring

I was so damn mad that this mother f**ker was trying to bribe me for my own damn ring, but I didn't want to get sidetracked and go without a workout. I swam for 30 minutes, got out of the pool and asked him for my ring back. He again repeated how much he paid to get it back from the person who found it, and again he asked me how much I wanted to give him. I repeated that I didn't and I asked to give me my ring, and then he asked me was I sure, and at this point I stepped slightly closer to him and asked him to give me my fucking ring. He obliged but acted like it was a chore to hand it over. And as my wife observed, how do the cleaning people have "an area"? What does that even mean?

I wanted to report his ass but I changed my mind because I'm selfish I don't want anything messing with my morning swim. I have known this dude for almost 8 years now. I made him a damn R&B mixtape (an experience I spoke about at length in this here blog), I've helped him with computer issues, and I even helped him with paperwork to get his wife in this country from Morocco. I did all those things free of charge, and so for this dude to have the balls to ask me for money for my ring, because the woman who found it didn't have the smarts to give it to her boss (the head of security) who could have called me, is enough to still piss me off. But again, I"m not going to report him, because chances are if a dude is working as a lifeguard and he's over 40, he needs this job. But I will be talking to his ass tomorrow.

The bottom line to this long ass story? The ring is back on my finger and all is well.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I just heard that Charlie Murphy died. I know the Chappelle show is where his reputation blew up beyond belief, but I appreciated his understated, but funny role as a bouncer in Spike Lee's, "Mo Better Blues":

Friday, April 07, 2017

I was in my room getting dressed for work this morning, when I made the necessary decision to turn from MSNBC — where they were chattering incessantly about the United States bombing Syria — to ESPN where they were talking about something decidedly more sanguine: A tradition unlike any other…the Masters.

Initially, the Masters coverage was just white noise as I continued to put on my casual Friday gear for work, but I stopped in my tracks when I realized ESPN was looking back at the 1997 Masters — also known as “The Tiger Woods Coming out Party”. Via interviews and old footage, ESPN covered the 1997 Masters round by round letting the viewing public know what Tiger was thinking and more importantly what his impact was on current and older golfers. Of particular interest to me were the words from Lee Elder — the first African American golfer to play in the Masters.

Right before Tiger’s final round in the ’97 Masters, Elder talked to Tiger and told him that this round would be the most difficult round he ever had to play. Not because he had 18 more holes to endure and not because this was his first major tournament, but because this victory wouldn’t just be about a green jacket, it would be about representing older African-American golfers who had been had been denied access to August National where the Masters Tournament was played. Elder also remarked that the much of the Augusta staff (cooks, maids and groundskeepers) were also African-American, and stopped what they were doing to fully take in Tiger’s triumph.

At this point, I was no longer getting dressed, I just stood half-clothed in front of the television completely transfixed. They showed Tiger’s signature fist pump after he made his last putt to win the Masters, then they showed him take that methodical walk to his father Earl, who had been teaching Tiger to play since the age of 3 (he was 21 when he won the Masters). Tiger got to his dad, hugged him tightly, and then they both started crying.

And then I did the same in my half-clothed state.

The wife saw me crying and gave me a hug, which was both needed and appreciated. As I explained to her later, I wasn’t crying because Tiger and his dad were crying, and I wasn’t crying because Earl Woods has now gone on to glory. I was crying because I’ve been there before.

I’m no professional golfer and I am certainly not an elite athlete, but at numerous points in my life, I’ve accomplished things that made me feel like a champion. And since I credit my father with arming me with so many of the tools I use in life on a daily basis, he is usually the person I want to interact with first when I achieve those personal milestones.

That’s not a slap in the face to my mother, my wife, my brother or my friends, it is just the ultimate compliment to my father, who is still very much alive and teaching me lessons. So when Tiger won the Masters, and made that beeline to his dad so they could share that cathartic moment, I felt that emotion too. I cried 20 years ago when I first saw it, and I’ve cried every time I’ve seen it since then — including this morning.

But this morning those tears were more plentiful than usual because my mind went to another dark place, which isn’t easy to discuss. I allowed my mind to jump to the future and what I would do if I achieved a moment of great personal triumph and my dad was no longer around to share it with me.

I thought back to the 2006 British Open which was Tiger’s first major tournament after his father’s death. Tiger was stoic and surgical during the tournament, but the minute he won, he went to his caddie and broke down crying.

Afterwards Tiger admitted that not only was he emotional because his father had passed away earlier that year, but he was also sad because winning without his father around was a personal milestone, and he wished his dad was around to share in that accomplishment as well.

I’m not an overly morbid person, but I know that type of moment is coming my way sometime in the future, and although I don’t have to handle it publicly the way Tiger did (and still does), I hope I conquer those moments the right way. The way my father has prepared me for my whole life.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Last Sunday after a glorious afternoon filled with whimsy, brunch and mimosas, I made my way to the record store to do a little digging in the crates. The wife had left me momentarily to go thrift store shopping and my initial intent was to hit up a sports bar to watch some NBA basketball while I waited. But lo and behold the record store caught my eye, and I simply could not pass up the opportunity to build on my collection.

Usually when I walk into a record store, I like to block off 30-45 minutes of time to look at each and every record to make sure I'm not missing on any hidden gems. But this particular record store had copious amounts of heavy metal and alternative records, which isn't bad music at all, but I'd prefer my vinyl to be old soul music. I know that sounds weird, but I equate vinyl with my father's collection, and he had jazz, smooth jazz and lots of R&B. Now I certainly have made some exceptions (Sting and the Police come to mind) but for the most part I stay in my narrow lane. I digress...

All of the R&B-ish records were in the first three rows of records, and I was able to whip through them in about 15 minutes and I made three choice:

1) Around the World in a Day - Prince

2) The Manhattans - Greatest Hits

3) Migration - Creative Source

I almost bought an Isley Brothers album too, but I couldn't remember whether I already had it in my collection, so I didn't want to chance it. (**sidebar** I really need my whole collection on some type of organized list so I can reference it whenever I go to the record store. Perhaps I'll make my son do that on a rainy/snowy day ***sidebar off***). I took my three records and walked up the cashier so I could meet back up with the wife.

When I got to the counter, the guy behind the desk said it was unofficial store policy that all the patrons tell a story behind each of the albums they wanted to purchase. I'm sure some folks resent having to take an extra step before spending their money, but this request was right up my alley. In fact, there was a time in this here blog, when all I did his pick records out of my newly-acquired-from-my-dad collection and tell back stories behind them from my point of view. Not only that, when I picked out the three aforementioned records, I had specific memories and thoughts in my mind. Allow to share:

Prince - Around the World in a Day

First and foremost, this was Prince's first album after the giant Purple Rain, so similar to Michael Jackson's Bad album, expectations and stakes were sky high. Michael chose to make an album with the intent of topping Thriller, and he fell woefully short--even though Bad is a great album (except for Just Good Friends). Prince decided to take a sharp left turn and make an album that was nothing like Purple Rain and he succeeded. My favorite song on the album is "Condition of the Heart and my favorite lyric in that song--a lyric which used to drive my main man Sabin crazy with in college--was, "I'm blinded by the daisies in your yard"

Besides it being a great album, my dad used to play "Around The World In A Day" every time he took my brother and me to soccer practice/games. He played it front to back over and over again, and I thank him for that.

The Manhattans - Greatest Hits

Whenever my parents were feeling amorous, which meant my brother and I had to go bed insanely early so we wouldn't hear them being disgusting--the evening would begin with my father playing The Manhattans. He would cue them up and playfully sing to me and my brother, and then turn his attention to my mother. He'd sing, they'd dance and my little 8-10 year old eyes wanted no parts of the sight. But clearly it made an impact because I am still a big fan of the group to this day. Years later I dated a cousin of Gerald Alston (the lead singer), but that was nearly as beneficial as it should have been.

My favorite songs on that album are "I'll Never Find", which reminds me of sitting on a beach with clear skies and an adult beverage and "Don't Take Your Love", which in the last 18 seconds, features some of the most fantastic levels of begging you've ever heard:

Migration - Creative Source

I'm sure this is a fantastic album, but I bought it for one song which contains a five second passage, which was sampled in one of my favorite rap songs ever. The Creative Source song is called "I Just Can't See Myself Without You", the section that was sampled comes around the 2:10 mark:

Just in case you were unable to figure it out, the song is by Freeway, Jay-Z and Beanie, and it is called "What We Do". I challenge you to listen to this song without nodding your head in violent fashion:

Anyway, the dudes at the record store we impressed by the detail in my stories and they "let" me buy the records sans incident. I appreciated their level of snobbery and it reminded me of a scene out of my favorite movie High Fidelity: