Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Let me tell you, there is nothing more terrifying than a bird flying directly at you. Your first instinct is to just stand there trying to act unfazed, because in your irrational mind you think that this rational bird will obey the unwritten rule. This rule states that I will fly over and around you and if you humans come towards me while I'm walking, I will scurry and fly away as well. Birds follow these rules 90% of the time, and even though they let a little excrement slip out on to unsuspecting cars, clothes and hands (shoutout to my brother Jamal), we let it slide, because they don't attack. But in that 10% of the time, when they choose to fly in the(my)face of conventional wisdom, and put the fear of death of in you at high speeds, it is no joke.

Just before I came in the building, I noticed two birds hovering over a piece of bread, and after a brief struggle, one bird emerged as the breadwinner. It instantly flew away at a high speed, and the loser of the bread fight, was right behind him..picture a Coyote/Roadrunner situation. Well it just so happens, both birds were flying at me pretty damn quickly, but I kept my cool gait going, because I thought these were 90% birds, not 10. But the notion that these birds were crazy was quickly revealed unto me, and I literally had to duck to get out of their way. I looked back, and the birds were zigging and zagging all over the damn place...It was an outrage. By the way, I wonder if people across the street, who only saw me ducking, bobbing and weaving, and not the birds, thought I was crazy and insane..Like when a bee or a gnat is buzzing around, but the people from a distance don't see this, they just a crazy person flailing around..

I also would like to mention my dream last night so that someone smart can interpret this for me. The dream started off with my lady, me and the realtor, sitting at a table, closing on a house. This wasn't just any house though, this was the last house my parents, my brother and I lived in as a family. I remember walking in the house and being overcome with various emotions. Then I told my lady I was going for a run, and during my run, I ran by at least 20 dogs being walked by their owners. None of the owners said a word to me, but all 20 dogs spoke to me. Some said hello, others complimented me on my new house, and one dog asked me how my lady was doing. The crazy part of this dream is that it didn't bother, surprise or startle me one bit that these dogs were talking to me in very articulate voices (on a side note, maybe the guy who delivers dreams, sent this to me by mistake, instead of his intended target, Michael Vick). Anyway, the dream ended when a guy with a one eye and a dog, looked at me and starting yelling, and then I abruptly woke up. What the hell does this mean?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Just last week I wrote about how disgruntled I was at the notion that I had to work at my regular job, during a notable Washington Wizards related event. As disgruntled as I was then, I was very happy and gruntled yesterday while covering Washington Wizards Media Day. Read all about it here. I had a great time, and I am excited as a straight man should be about watching other men play basketball.

While I was at that event, a gentleman who also covers the Wizards and reads my blog, asked me why I even bothered writing a blog in addition covering the Wizards. In his opinion (not mine I swear), I did excellent writing for Hoops Addict, and he thinks I am well on my way to being a successful writer with a lucrative career (a bit ambitious but I'll take it). On the flip side, he said that my blog, while entertaining and funny, almost undermines any sports writing that I do. And in his view, if someone who reads my basketball writing happens to stumble on my blog, they may get a different impression of me or get offended, and then stop reading my basketball writings. These were all very fair points, and its something that I've talked about with editor at Hoops Addict, my lady and others. The bottom line? I'm not giving up the blog.

One of the things I admire most about some of my favorite sports personalities (Tony Kornheiser, Ralph Wiley, Michael Wilbon, John Feinstein etc..) is their versatility. I love hearing their opinions on any number of sporting events, but I also like hearing what they have to say about "regular" events away from the world of sports. I like knowing that my "heroes" don't simply operate in a sports vacuum, and when I get glimpses of how they feel about other issues..whether they be important or mundane, it only enhances their sports articles. Now I don't know if I even come close to achieving the lofty praise I'm heaping on my idols, but that's what and who I am aiming to be.

So, if I want to write about a a text message involving a handjob, the greatness of Michael Jackson or a devastating fire, I should be able to do that. It shouldn't detract from my sports related articles, it hopefully just shows people that yes Rashad likes writing about basketball, but he's also crazy and likes to write about that. And yes, I've elevated myself into that rare third person air.

Legend - Nelly Furtado

Saturday, September 26, 2009

So yesterday around 3pm, I started getting chills at work. I couldn't figure out whether it was related to the falling temperatures or the fact that the AC in my office was coming out of the vents full blast, but I knew something was off. I rarely get cold, and even in the dead of winter, I keep the fan on me, because I can never get the heat set at the right temperature. So for me to have chills when its only in the mid 60s outside was peculiar. So before I walked home from work, I stopped at Starbucks, got me a Caramel Apple Cider, and let that warm me up. By the time I came through the doors of my apartment, I felt better. Or so I thought...

Over the next 4 hours, I just felt terrible. My temperature went up to 100.7, and I felt cold, and then it would go back down to 98.6, and I felt hot. I didn't have a sore throat, a runny nose, a cough, nausea, or any of those other typical flu symptoms, I was just sleepy and trapped in that hot/cold cycle. Still, instantly I got paranoid that the swine flu had found its way into my body. My lady gave me some alka seltzer to help with the fever, and for the next couple of hours, nothing improved. Finally, about 11pm, I just took my ass to bed hoping everything would go away. I normally sleep in the nude (thank me later for the visual), but last night I slept with a t shirt and sweatpants. Whatever was wrong with me, I wanted it out of my body, and I was sure that I could sweat it out. And I was right.

This morning I feel like my normal healthy self, although I am trying to be cautious with my actions. Still, I cannot believe how paranoid I was that the swine flu had gotten a hold of me. I haven't gotten a flu shot since the 80s, and the thought of getting a swine flu vaccine (which will probably come out the same time D'Angelo next cd comes out) is very scary for me. But I can't be paranoid when I get sick, holding my chest like Redd Foxx, wondering if this is the big one. Does anyone else have this phobia or is it just me?

Friday, September 25, 2009

I have nothing today. Nothing at all. Just a good video/song from 1984.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Today, at 2pm, Ernie Grunfeld, team president of the Washington Wizards will be meeting with members of the media. He will be discussing the season ahead for the Wizards, personnel moves that were made in the off season, and his personal expectations. These types of press conferences typically involve lots of cryptic, obtuse answers, and the media is left to put their own spin and/or opinion on what was said. Its a cat and mouse game that you get used to playing after awhile, and to be honest, its a game I enjoy immensely. But its a game I won't be playing today, and I'm pissed off about it.

My co-worker has to attend a funeral today, so he took off work, and I totally understand that. But for the second time this week, work has interfered with me attending a Wizards related press conference and I am totally and completely verklempt. Press conferences prior to the season like this one, allow me to get back into the swing of things... Hobnobbing with other journalists, smelling the bowels of the Verizon Center, getting nervous before I ask pointed questions, fumbling with my recording device, and then transcribing the audio, so I can write an article on Hoops Addict. These are all things I thrive on and enjoy. And with the season starting in a month, I need to work myself back up into a basketball related lather..but my paying job prevents from me doing so this week.

Now don't get me wrong. I respect and love my paying job. It bought me these glasses that enable me to see the screen, it enables me to pay rent, watch 793 cable channels, and maintain the lifestyle of my high maintenance diva girlfriend (kidding). But working at my paying job does not match the rush of adrenaline I get covering a basketball game, and you know what, that's fine. The balance of the two keep me sane. But this week, the scales have been tipped in favor of my paying job, and the side gig is suffering, so I am imbalanced and angry about it. I don't want to take my anger out on anyone, so I am writing (without editing I might add).

This job related anger is totally upstaging the fact that I got a haircut early this morning, and I was successfully able to dodge my usual negligent barber, for the newer one who makes my hair come alive. My normal barber comes in at 9, I was in and out of the shop by 8:30, and no one got hurt, unless one of the barbers snitches, which is entirely possible. Still for now I will attempt to put aside my job related anger, and celebrate my mini barber coup.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Right now, in the middle of my kitchen floor by my shredder, is a crock pot. My lady let it be known early last week, that they were on sale, and it was absolutely paramount that we make this a new member of our crowded kitchen. I am naive to the wonders of crock pot cooking, so I blindly followed. While were in the store, I honestly saw about 67 different brands of crock pots that looked exactly the same, but the prices ranged from $15 to $100..I mean how much do you really expect out of a damn crock pot? We rescued the $15 one from its misery, and now its in our home.

Now during the ride home, my lady pumped me up by dazzling me with the possibilities of this wonderful crock pot, and I must admit I got a little excited. The only food I've ever eaten out of a crock pot is meatballs during a potluck Christmas party, and I ate them up the way Macy Gray eats testosterone pills. If the crock pot could make all my food taste that good, then I'd be all for it. But as of yesterday, the crock pot was still in the box and that really wouldn't be a big deal, if I hadn't accidentally kicked the damn thing. That was the catalyst for me going on a five minute rant (directed at my lady) about the crock pot's lack of usage, and how it was a waste of time, and she had basically hoodwinked me. My lady calmly and rationally explained that it was only Tuesday (it was purchased on Saturday), and there was plenty of time for it to be used and abused. A very valid point. I still want it gone and replaced with...

A Pro-Line Black Waffle Iron. Its double-sided, so if I am so inclined to cook waffles, both my lady and I can eat at the same time (aka a "69" situation). Its non-stick, it has a timer on the front that glows in the dark, which comes in handy when the electricity goes out. Plus, who doesn't enjoy a waffle for breakfast, dinner or post hangover? I know we live in a world where crock pots and waffle irons can co-exist peacefully, but I would feel better and more victorious if we could uproot the crock pot in favor of the waffle iron. I'm sorry a BELGIAN waffle iron.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In the very first blog entry I ever wrote back on July 21, 2006, I mentioned that I was having barber trouble, and a switch was in order. The only problem was, I was switching barbers within the same shop, which is an absolute no-no. Luckily for me, I was able to pull it off, because the barber I cheated on, ending up leaving the shop to become a bus driver...a logical progression indeed.

Two years later, I wrote about how I switched barbershops altogether, because I found one that was a 5 minute walk from my house, rather than a 30 minute train ride. The other reason I felt compelled to switch was related to my barber Dexter who worked in the old shop. He would run his mouth on the phone, talk to other barbers, go smoke a cigarette, try to talk to girls, and this was all while I was in the actual chair. I would be in the barbershop for 2 hours total, for a haircut that should have only taken 15 minutes tops, and then I had to pay $20 (tip not included). He was the model of inefficiency, and I was so glad a closer shop revealed itself unto me. Now a year later, I am again in a bit of tight spot.

Two weeks ago my barber left early due to a family emergency, but I was in dire need of a cut, so I let one of the other barbers cut me--and he did an impeccable job. The beard trim was sharp, he cut my hair the right length, and after every clipper/scissor movement, he'd check with me to make sure he was doing the right thing. That level of attentiveness is what I look for in a barber, and here he was doing exactly that, and it was at a higher level than my usual barber. Still, considering this shop only has 6 barbers, it would be highly ill-advised for me to switch. In my mind, I would just tell my usual barber to be a little more attentive (in a gentle way of course).

Last Thursday my regular barber was back at the shop, and I gave him specific instructions: I told him that I wanted my hair and my beard even, and I only wanted a little taken off. I instructed to take a little off, and then check with me, and said no problem..but he said it the way Theo would say it to Cliff Huxtable, so I was a bit concerned, but he earned the right to get the benefit of the doubt. But as soon as his clippers met my head, I realized he didn't get the message. My barber went crazy and cut my beard and hair too low, and by the time I realized it, it was too late to bitch and moan. I sat in my chair with an Ice Cube like scowl, and I tipped him less than I normally do. So now I don't know whether to pull off the switch once again, or just find another shop to avoid dissension. Or maybe I should learn to cut my own hair but I'm too old for that I think.

To make things worse, last night I had dream that I saw my old barber Dexter walking down the street, and he was all hurt that I left him. Clearly I have upset the barber gods.

Bobby McFerrin - A Night In Tunisia

Monday, September 21, 2009

Torture is when you stay up eating, drinking and having lively conversations on a Saturday night after Mayweather's dismantling of Marquez. Torture is also trying to watch the Hampton/North Carolina A&T game that you recorded earlier that day, at 2am. Torture is thinking that staying in bed until 4pm Sunday afternoon to offset staying up late the night before, is smart, not realizing that it means you won't sleep Sunday night. The funny games your head and stomach play with you the morning after a night of imbibing and eating spicy wings is a special form of torture that can make it challenging to watch football (but I pulled it off). Torture is getting in bed at 1am, not because you're sleepy, but because you know if you don't at least try to take your ass to sleep, Monday will be a larger struggle than usual. And then when Monday arrives, and you MAYBE slept two hours the whole night, and you're at your desk at 8am with your eyes barely open, that's torture. And finally, when you remember that you have a 90 minute training to conduct at 9:30, you realize that your 36 hours of torture is complete. But what makes it all better? Monday Night Effing Football.

Friday, September 18, 2009

No words today. Just a good song..

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gilbert Arenas part deux
I'm about to bitch and moan about the lifeguard who was on duty while I was swimming this morning, so if this annoys you, please change the channel.

Each and every morning I get to gym at around 5:57am, and the security guard/front desk person lets me in the building. I go to the locker room, I change, I use the bathroom then I shower, and by the time my body hits the warm water of the pool it is usually between 6:05 and 6:10am. A couple of times, the lifeguard at my pool sees me coming in the gym before 6am (which is when the building technically opens) and tells me that I cannot get in the pool before 6, and I tell him no problem. Not ONCE, in the 7 months I have been swimming, have I ever gotten in the pool before 6..I am aware of the rules.

So two weeks ago, the friendly woman who works the front desk, pulls me aside and says that this jackass lifeguard has been complaining that I arrive too early. He went on to say that he is not responsible for me and my welfare before 6am, and I annoy him by coming before then. I tell the lady thank you, and I decide to take the high road, and not say anything. Never mind that I wouldn't even be able to get into the damn building if someone didn't let me in; never mind that I don't set foot in the pool until 5 or 10 after the hour; and never mind that during the time when he's "not responsible for my welfare", all I'm doing is stripping down to my swim trunks and showering..hardly risky business. Still, my lady and others tell me I'm too confrontational, so I decided to relax.

So yesterday while I'm swimming, I decided to step things up and swim at a faster pace for 45 minutes without stopping. During the first 35 minutes of my swim, the lifeguard is nowhere to be found. Then, as the pool gets more crowded, he comes poolside and watches everyone swim...something he should have been doing all along. Now mind you, I have been swimming pretty damn fast for 35 minutes, and I am tired, but I'm determined to finish strong. The jackass stops me as I am making the turn to swim to the other side, and the following convo goes down:

Him: I noticed your left arm is dragging a bit, you need to lift it out of the water a bit you know?
Me: Blank stare
Him: Look at that guy (he points to some other guy who just got in the pool) and look how high his arms are, that's what you need to do buddy, lift and push*
Me: Blank stare
Him: Just give it a tr...
Me: Already swimming to the other side

*Not to be confused with lift and separate which is what you when you're behind your lady mid coitus

Now, back in February and March, I needed his advice, because I was scared, clueless and lost in the pool. But I'm 6 or 7 months deep in this swimming game, and I am relatively well schooled in the art of navigating my ass through the pool. But I was in the midst of trying to swim faster and harder for a specific period of time, which meant as I tried my mechanics would suffer. I wasn't concerned about that. But I don't owe this fool an explanation. Once I finished swimming, he tried to give me part two of his swim lesson, and I tactfully and politely said, "Man I got this", and walked away.

This morning when I got to the pool at 5:58, he saw me, said good morning, then looked at his watch, and it is at that point, that I decided to abandon the high road. I didn't go into the locker room right away, and this convo happened:

Me: You want me to sit out here in the lobby until 6? I know its early
Him: Oh no no no, you can go in, it cool
Me: Are you sure, because I don't you to be prematurely accountable
Him: Its cool man, its cool
Me: Will I hear your colleagues tell me otherwise later?
Him: Just don't get in the pool before 6am, that's all I ask
Me (getting closer to him): Since I've been coming here, have I ever gotten in the pool before 6?
Him: I'm not sure, but I don't know
Me: I haven't, so why are you so damn uptight?
Him: Look, I'm just doing my job
Me: And a fine job you do my friend

End of convo.

I shouldn't have this kind of anger when all I'm trying to do is swim and get svelte, but I do. I know how irrational this may seem to some people, but my attempts to be responsible and mature on the high road, failed miserably. Speaking of annoying pool people...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Last night my lady and I were sitting on the couch watching television, when she began to scroll through the channels trying to see what else was on. At one point, I saw that The Notebook was on and I cringed. She made me watch that damn movie in November of last year, and I enjoyed it, but it was a one and done situation for me. I never need to see any part of that movie again, but my lady will watch it over and over and over. Also on her "over and over" list? Dirty Dancing, Pretty Woman and the Sound of Music. All great movies, but I dont need to see them again.

So I decided to come up with a list of my own "over and over" movies. These are movies that no matter when they are on, or what part of the movie I happen to start watching, I stop everything and watch. I could make a list of 20, but I'll just do five. You'll notice that the Star Wars movies are not on this list. I need to be in a certain mood to watch Star Wars, because I break them down and analyze them the way Glenn Beck does an Obama speech.

5) Casino. If you've seen the movie, you really don't need to ask why its on my list. There's Deniro, there's Pesci, there's Sharon Stone, a creepy acting James Woods, Don Rickles, and just good solid story telling. My favorite part? Right after Sam and Nicky argue, they just happen to show up at the same club. Nicky's crew is already sitting down, when Sam's crew comes in. One of Nicky's boys comments that Sam and crew are having a good time. Nicky, with a straight face while staring directly at Sam from across the room says, "Yeah so are we!"

4) Dead Presidents. Although the Hughes brothers classic, Menace II Society gets much more play and recognition, I prefer Dead Presidents. They do an excellent job of contrasting the characters pre and post Vietnam, the imagery is great, and it seems like great detail was placed on casting. Plus any movie with Keith David (even though he has two first names) in it is worth watching in my opinion. My favorite scene in this movie? The one you see below...start at the 1:00 mark, and stop at 3:21.

3) As Good As It Gets. I'm a huge Jack Nicholson fan, so I suppose I could have picked any of his movies, but this one always gets me. People who know Jack say that this movie represents how he is all the time. He's mean, he's neurotic, he's not fun to be around, but every now and then he displays enough kindness for you not to get rid of him completely. The other good thing about this movie? There's a decent wet t-shirt scene with Helen Hunt. I don't really have one favorite scene in the movie, the whole thing is great.

2)Jerry Maguire. I can admit that when I saw this movie, I was alone and sad over a breakup, so of course I cried. I didn't bawl or boo-hoo cry, but some tears slolwy streamed down my face. In the 809 times I've seen the movie since then, I haven't cried, but this movie still does it for me. Maybe its the Bruce Springsteen song played throughout the movie, maybe its the skillful direction of Cameron Crowe (who has an impressive resume), perhaps it was the scenes with Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding..I don't know. But when this movie comes on, as it does so frequently during football season, I watch the entire thing, and I never regret it. My favorite scene is easily this one:

1) The Fugitive. This movie is just action packed from beginning to end, I don't know what else I can say. Tommy Lee Jones is ruthless and persistent in this movie, but he has a Columbo-like, aw shucks humor, that makes you forget that he's trying to kill Richard Kimble. Harrison Ford (Richard Kimble), who was 51 when this movie came out, does an excellent job in what had to be a VERY physically taxing role. This movie is a pure adrenaline rush, and I could easily watch it every damn day, and never tire of it, even though I know the whole script. I could pick any scene as my favorite in this one, but I chose this one:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gilbert Arenas video
I am almost ashamed to admit this, but my football stamina clearly has taken a hit in this my 29th year of watching it. I watched three games on Sunday, and two games last night, and I was just in a daze before I went to sleep last night. This reminded me of last summer, when the Olympics were seemingly on 24 hours a day, and I could satisfy my sports jones at any time. But there wasn't just football on this past weekend. There was plenty of tennis, and a golf tournament where Tiger Woods was dominant, so I had that to contend with as well. Then my boy came over for a little bit on Sunday, and we kicked it a bit, so you think that would have been a pleasant diversion, but even with him there, I STILL couldn't pull away from sports. And finally, I had to walk that delicate tightrope between pleasing my lady, and satisfying my sports quota for the weekend. This has been a long, rambling paragraph, but I do believe I have talked myself out of my stamina issues. I'll be fine next week.

Speaking of tennis, I waited a few days before I really formed an opinion about Serena's meltdown this past Saturday. When something of this magnitude happens in the sports world, there seems to be such a rush for folks to have knee jerk reactions, instead of waiting to form semi-intelligent observations, and I am guilty of that sometimes (but not this time). Serena had an Artestian moment at the wrong time, and she deserves to be fined and suspended. But I agree with my main man David Aldridge who said that a small part of the outrage over Serena's behavior is related to the fact that we aren't used to seeing a woman lose her cool like that. We see it from men in sports all the time, but if I challenged you to come up with a list of top five meltdown moments from women, you'd be hard pressed to do it. This doesn't excuse Serena, it just gives the entire situation least to me it does.

I also think that Venus, as Serena's big sister, probably scolded Serena way worse than anyone else on this Earth. And knowing the sibling dynamics the way that I do, I bet it hurt Serena deeply that her best friend/sister had to talk to her that way. Conversely, if Venus had lost her cool (which older siblings rarely do), and Serena had tried to giver life lessons, Venus would have politely told Serena to GFY. That's just how these things work.

By the way, my brother's name is Jamal and I'm Rashad. There's an Ahmad Jamal and an Ahmad Rashad, isn't that special? I thought so.

Ahmad Jamal - Swahililand
This whole song is good, but the recognizable part come at the 7:30 mark (as Dilla fans already know)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

There is a podiatrist in the lobby of my apartment buildin, who works Monday thru Saturday, which means sometimes while I am waiting for my elevator, I see patients come in and out of there. Since most of them are elderly, I make it a point to say good morning/good afternoon, hold the door, and then wish them a good day. I would do the same things for my grandparents, and as far as I'm concerned, elderly folks are an extension of them. My parents are headed towards wearing the elderly title, and one day soon, I will be there as well, so it's little skin off my back to be polite.

This morning, as I got back from my morning swim, there were three older black ladies coming from the podiatrist. They were all walking with canes, they were all moving slowly, and they all looked like they had visited the hairdresser VERY recently. All three ladies said good morning to me, and I returned the favor. Right before the first lady walked in front of me, I pushed the button to the elevator, and I waited. The second woman said, "Good morning young man", and again I returned the favor. As the third woman walked by with her good morning salutations, the elevator door opened, and I got ready to walk towards the elevator, when out of nowhere the third woman stopped to dig in her purse. This is where the trouble began..

Because I was in a hurry to catch the elevator before it went back up, as soon as the last woman had walked a millimeter past me, I headed towards the door, or at least I tried to. But when she stopped abruptly, it caused me to accidentally (and i do mean accidentally) brush my hand right up against her ass. As soon as this happened, I jerked my hand away, apologized profusely by touching her shoulder, and I had to let the elevator door go, since clearly a more elaborate apology was in order. The following conversation went down:

Her: Young man are you getting fresh with me?
Me: Not at all ma'am, I didn't realize you were going to stop, I'm so sorry
Her: Well why were you so close to me anyway?
Me: I was trying to catch the elevator door, again, I am so sorry
Her: And then you touched my shoulder on top of that
Me: That was just part of my apology, I
Her (interrupting): I just don't understand why you have to touch me at all, just apologize and be on your way
Me: I'm sorry ma'am
Her: What is wrong with you?
Me: I don't know, it was an accident, I assure you

The other two ladies she was with were giving me the dirtiest of looks, and as the woman who I touched walked towards them she said, "Did you see what he did to me?". I just put my head down and walked on the elevator. It'll be my luck that their kids or grand kids will hear about this story in a couple hours, and come back here to rough me up...There's a part of this that's hilarious, but I must admit I feel bad too.

Heatwave - Star of a Story

Friday, September 11, 2009

The morning of September 11th, 2001, I was in my office at the HUD, in Washington DC. I was listening to sports radio, when the mentioned that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center. At the time, the thought was that a pilot has lost control and crashed a plane accidentally, and the radio hosts I was listening to made a joke to that effect. A short time later, these same sports radio hosts mentioned another plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, and then immediately, the sports talk show switched from ESPN to ABC radio, and I knew something was going on.

I attempted to call my girl at the time, but the signal was busy. I attempted to call my parents, my son, my brother, and I was unable to get through to anyone. Not on the office phone and definitely not on my cellphone. I tried to email folks, but clearly that wasn't working either, because no one was responding and I wasn't receiving anything either. Then some of my co-workers started running into my office saying a plane had crashed into the Pentagon, and there were terrorists on the Mall (that was later proven false). HUD had urged everyone to evacuate the building, and at first I grabbed my things to roll out, and then I thought better of it. Based on what others were saying in my office, the subway and buses were packed, cabs were hard to come by, and most people were just walking on foot away from the downtown area. From my window (which allowed me to see the Pentagon in the distance) I saw smoke and sirens everywhere, and I knew I had to get home. But still, I didn't move..

I knew that no planes were going to fly into HUD building, because it was physically impossible, considering it was between two other buildings. So I sat down, turned my computer off, and just listened to radio coverage for a good 90 minutes or so. I heard people urging me to leave and go home, but I had no desire to navigate monstrous crowds, so I took my chances in the federal building. Finally, at about 11am, I walked out of the HUD building, and the security guards tried to upset that I was still there, but they really weren't. I walked out of the building and down to the subway, and it was EMPTY. The entire 30 minute ride home I saw 2 other people on the train, and that was it. When I got off the train, and walked towards my apartment building, I didn't see anyone on the road or the street, except for homeless folks. There were tanks going down main streets and police officers urging citizens to go home and stay there until further notice. I finally got to the apartment my brother and I were sharing at the time, and we hugged each other, and we just traded stories about what had happened over the past couple of hours. Then we both sat in front of the tv, and just watched the whole thing unfold.

Later that day, I was able to speak to my son and my parents and my girl, but no one really wanted to talk. People were fixated on the television. I remember being sick of the coverage, and wanting to watch some kind of sports, but there were none to be found on that day, the next day and the day after that. It was just 9/11 news all the time on every channel, which just magnified the seriousness of the situation. I never feared for my life at all, which was odd, I just remember saying to myself, "This is going to change things in a big way".

I really started to avoid writing anything about this day, because tributes are being done all over the damn place, including right here in my home city. But I'm off today and I have nothing but time on hands, so I simply couldn't help reflecting.

Fragile(live) - Sting
Sting performed this song live on September 11, 2001 in Italy.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I do my best to not color all of my observations with a sports paint brush, but dammit sometimes it just fits perfectly (that's what she said). Last night I'm listening to Democrats declare victory after Obama's health care speech, and Republicans do the same. Meanwhile, a resolution to this issue seems miles away, and ultimately the American people are left to suffer, while the Congress plays partisan games. This type of posturing goes on in sports all the time. The players want one thing, the owners want another, and both parties go to the media blaming the other. But when these issue arise in sports, they get things done, and how does this happen?

In all labor disagreements that I've seen in sports, the two sides get into a room, and decide we aren't leaving until things get resolved. Neither side really wants a strike or interruption of play (although this has happened and will again) so there is a tremendous amount of urgency on each side. Even when there are strikes and interruptions in play, they never last longer than a year, but eventually a resolution is found. There are arguments, heated discussions, and hurt feelings on both sides, but an agreement gets down. Someone once said that you know a negotiation/resolution is successful when both sides only get 30% of what they want. That means that every has the same amount of happy and unhappiness, and there's a level playing field if changes ever need to be made down the road. It sounds simple, because it is. But in politics you have to posture, play mind games, and drag things out until you get re-elected and its exhausting, and both sides do it. Obama's speech came across as, "look I'm trying to do this, but the other side is holding me back". And the rebuttal by the Republicans sounded the same with less fanfare and audience applause.

So I think the Republicans and Democrats should go on a retreat to Miami or something, sit in a conference room with an endless amount food, drink, alcohol and snacks, for a week, and fix it. Politicians have healthy egos, and nothing feeds an ego more than making history and creating a legacy. Everyone at that retreat who was responsible for designing and influencing the ultimate health care program, would be celebrated for years to come. That supersedes any short-sighted partisan game that can be played. But this is fantasy talk I know. What will happen instead is that we will watch both sides stand firm, antagonize each other, all while assuring tax payers that it will get fixed, when it won't. I could go on, but I'm boring myself here.

Anyway, back to more important matters. The football season starts tonight AND I'm off tomorrow. Good times.

Tell Me All About It - Natalie Cole

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

When the great John Madden retired earlier this year, there were numerous positive comments uttered about his personality, his accomplishments and his abilities. Some folks praised his video game, some admired the way he could simplify an NFL game for the casual viewer, some strictly praised him for his success as head coach, and others just said he was a great guy. But there was one compliment in particular that stuck with me, and that comment was uttered by my main man Tony Kornheiser who said, "Madden always knew the temperature of the room and acted accordingly." What does that mean?

It means that Madden always knew how to find the balance between being gregarious and understated. It means that he could talk football with the best of them, but he could also talk about world issues and politics if the situation called for it. People like this always know the right thing to say, they know how to act, and they are usually well liked but more importantly well respected. At one time I aspired to be like this at work, at home and all around. And then I got a blog, and realized that it feels much better to antagonize and manipulate the variables some times. Hopefully maturity will win out sooner rather than later, and I will get back to striving towards claiming Madden's title as "top temperature in the room guy". But that's not why I bring this issue to light.

This morning while I was walking into work, I saw one of my former co-workers in front of me. First let me back up and set the scene. Its raining outside, everyone is carrying umbrellas and walking fast and I am no exception. I also have my headphones on, so everything about me is saying, I am moving fast, I don't want to be bothered, and I GOTS to get to work. So when I see this former co-worker, I am hoping to avoid her altogether, but she turns around and sees me, and waves.

Now given the scene I have laid out (rain, umbrellas, headphones no my head) you'd think that this woman would take the temperature of the situation, and be satisfied with the wave we shared, so we both can get to work and out of the rain. But no, no, no that is not what happens. This woman reaches out touches my arm, and starts speaking to me, but since I have headphones on, I cannot hear her. So then I have to readjust my bag so i can get my headphones off, and in the process I jerk the headphones out of my ear accidentally and they fall on the ground. While I am reaching down to get the damn headphones, I drop my umbrella, and I get all wet trying to get it back up. When I bend down to pick up the damn umbrella, my ipod falls down, and now I'm angry and flustered. Meanwhile, this dumb ass woman does not offer to help me pick up anything she just keeps talking about what's going on in my former office as if nothing happened. When I finally stood back up with all my fallen things in tow, she goes back to touching my arm and talking. I touch her arm right back the following exchange goes down

Me: I mean no disrespect, but I just lost all my sh*t, and I just want to go to work, we can email each other later
Her: Ok...well..Rashad I was in the middle of a story
Me: Again, its raining, I just dropped all my things, let me just go and talk to you later
Her: Ok Rashad, have a good day, I see you still haven't learned how to talk to people
Me: F**k you (in my head only) Oh yeah I'm real friendly via email (what I actually said)

Now she said something after my last sentence, but at that point I had already turned around and I was already stepping with purpose towards my office. I realize I was abrupt and maybe a bit rude, but oh well. I blame her for not quickly assessing the total situation, and sticking with a minimalist type greeting, so we could both get out of the damn rain. And then I blame her again for not offering to help. This is a long ass blog entry to explain the importance of room temperature taking..oh and she can keep waiting for that email, because it ain't coming.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

For the past 10 years, whenever he is on the radio, I have done my best to listen to my main man Tony Kornheiser. He does what I consider to be the perfect radio show. It centers around sports, but he certainly doesn't limit himself or his guests to just that. He'll talk about American Idol, he'll talk about politics both national and local (DC), he'll make fun of Ann Curry (who is very annoying), and many other things that I cannot remember. Tony has a core group of guests who he is comfortable with, and rarely does he venture out of that comfort zone. And the most important aspect of his show is that he does NOT interview athletes. In his very valid opinion, most athletes are boring to interview, and 90% of what they say is littered with cliches (giving 110%, taking one game at a time, it is what it is, at the end of the day etc). He wants people with substance, and it just so happens that his friends have that and more. So why am I going to great lengths to mention this?

Today, after a 16 month hiatus, Tony is back on the radio with his great show. And guess who will be missing the show? Me. The show streams live on the Internet, but they block that kind of thing here at my job, so that strikes down the first option. I meant to bring a radio from home so I could listen to the show, but I was in such a daze this morning, because it was the first day after a holiday. So now I will have to duck and dodge certain websites I usually visit, so they won't mess everything up by mentioning the particulars of today's show. I hate missing out on the fun, but it certainly looks like that's how its going down today. I suppose I could go purchase a cheap clock-radio, but that seems like a waste of time. But if anyone would like to donate on to me, that would be terrific.

One of my favorite Chaka Khan song/videos..

Monday, September 07, 2009

This rainy, cool, Labor Day signifies the end of summer, which means the video I'm posting below is in order.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

I have made a concerted effort over the past 6 or 7 months to carefully monitor my food intake. I've cut out the fried foods, cut down on sweets, drank more water and less drinks with sugar, and it has been successful, since I've lost 25lbs since January 1st. However, every now and then I miss the old way I used to eat, and the carefree nature with which I used to do it. Today was one of those days, and so my lady(it was actually her idea) and I ventured over to the historic Florida Avenue Grill in NW DC.

If you haven't heard of the Fla. Ave Grill, they are famous for having some of the best soul food in D.C. Once you set foot in that place, you can forget about staying faithful to any diet you've been adhering to, and that's exactly what I did. I had salmon cakes, macaroni and cheese (which was kind of lackluster), greens, cornbread with butter not margarine, and lemonade full of sugar not Splenda. I topped off the meal with a healthy serving of sweet peach cobbler. And you know what? There was not an ounce of guilt in my body, just lots of fatty foods and I am glad I did it. My lady and I left there, and made that 13 block walk back home just to work off the food, but again it was worth it. I'll resume healthy eating tomorrow.

While my lady and I were sitting there we both commented that we didn't know how the hell people ate like this every day. All the sugar, the calories, the cholesterol, etc. But we all know people who do just that, and end up having health issues from their late 40s and beyond. Then we started talking about which family members we could visit to enjoy this type of meal every now and then, and we realized that pool is dwindling. Family members have died, are in poor health, or they simply don't have the energy to drum up a spread of food the way they used to. And people like my grandmother didn't write down ingredients or use measuring cups, they just whipped things up from memory, which makes duplication next to impossible. Those talents just die with the person and it sucks...but I digress. The point of this entry was to gloat about my soul food even as I type this with my stomach poked way the hell out, I am still happy.

Friday, September 04, 2009

I have officially completed an hour long yoga class for the first time, and it feels good. The class only had 7 people in it including me, so there was a nice, intimate feel to the proceedings. I met Sophia the instructor prior to the class, and informed her that I was a neophyte, and she said it would be no problem at all. She told me to simply follow her instructions, and if that was not sufficient, I should just watch her, which certainly sounded easy enough..but it was not.

Once class began, it was painfully obvious that I was the sole yoga beginner in the class. When the instructor would call out poses and positions to everyone else, they would immediately hit them. When I heard the poses I'd say, "what the f**k" in my head and then I would watch the instructor and attempt to mimic her. Any notion that I was doing a good job was quickly corrected, when Sophia would come over to me and move my hips, arms and legs into the correct pose. This went on the whole class, but I did not get frustrated or angry. I was in relax mode. The only pose that I absolutely could not hit was towards the end, when she asked us to lay down, lift our legs up, hold our back, and hit a pose like this. Now everyone else in the class, including the two other men, hit this pose like they did this everyday in their sleep. My attempt to hit this pose was so futile that at one point, I just laughed out loud, totally disrupting the tranquil atmosphere. The good thing is, at the end of the class, Sophia gave me an alternative pose to hit next time that is just as effective for less flexible folks like myself. Eventually though, I want to hit that original pose..there is also someone else I'd like to get in that pose as well.

So I have no complaints about the class, the other participants or the instructor. It was a totally positive, relaxing experience, and I will definitely partake in this next week and beyond. Well I do have one minor complaint, and that is the other class members staring at my feet. I have no problems admitting that my feet are jacked, and at various points during the class, I caught my classmates looking at them incredulously. I wanted to yell out, "Yeah, and?" but again I was in relax mode, and the only alternative to not wearing socks is to wear socks with traction, and that is just not happening. I'll just have to get over it.

Since Michael Jackson died, I have been gradually rediscovering songs of his that I either hadn't listened to in awhile, or I had just plain forgotten about. Today's song that fits that description can be seen below. At the 1:18 mark of this video, MJ realizes his zipper is down and he stops singing, smiles, zips it back up, and then resumes the song all one swift motion. Very smooth.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Tomorrow morning at 7am, despite my bruised hip and nervous feelings, I will be taking my first ever yoga class. As you may recall me mentioning last week, I initially wanted to take the class at this yoga spa right next door to my job. The lady who was trying to recruit me was persistent and creepy, but I still was willing to give it a chance, because it was so close to my job. Then one day when I finished swimming at the JCC, I saw a sign that mentioned there was a sunrise yoga class every Friday at 7am. The most important word of that sign was "free", which is possible because I am a paying member of the JCC. That's a win-win situation.

So I called creepy lady, explained to her the free yoga was much better than creepy-lady-in-my-face-everyday-yoga, and I would have to pass on her enticing offer. She then attempted to dazzle me with a 5 minute oral presentation over the phone (that sentence could have gone horribly wrong) about how good her spa was, and how free yoga was almost sure to be inferior to what she was offering. I threw her a bone (also a minefield of a phrase) and told her that if my free yoga failed to tickle my fancy, I would consider her spa as an alternative.

Now, I have a few concerns about yoga. One, I was worried that I would have to purchase and then carry a "yoga mat" to class. I walk/run to and from the JCC when I go there to workout, and I'd do the same for yoga class. But what if I were walking down the street with a damn yoga mat on my person, I would surely lose all of my dwindling street cred. Secondly, I've been told that yoga poses can be pretty unintentionally erotic and sexual. I could see a pose, think dirty thoughts and BOOM, erection time!!!! That'll get me kicked out of class, arrested or maybe even cause me to receive unwanted offers of sexual favors. All those choices are bad news. And I know that sound immature, but hey, this is me we're talking about. I have other concerns that involve having to endure yoga induced, random passing of gas from class members, yoga attire, and looking like a damn fool, but I'll spare you all for now.

Tomorrow's entry and report of day one at yoga class should be pretty damn hilarious. In the meantime, please watch the video directly under this entry. The video is slightly depressing, but the song is great.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Foreign Exchange feat. Muhsinah - "House Of Cards" from The Foreign Exchange on Vimeo.

Not feeling very chatty today, so I'll just post a video. Although the whole thing is funny, I suggest you just skip to the 5:40 mark. If you don't think its funny, that's really too bad, because I fall out laughing each and every time I see it.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

My favorite first day of school was back in 1989. I had just finished junior high the previous school year, and now I had graduated to 10th grade, which meant I'd be in my first year of high school, but I wasn't at all nervous. 1989 was to be the first year my high school was to include a ninth grade so I was not at all worried that I would be picked on as the lowest grade on the food chain. Also, I knew the students who were going to be in the 11th grade, from when I was in junior high, so i felt like high school was going to be a breeze. Then there was my first day of school attire.

Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing had come out during the summer, but the movie and the soundtrack were still on my mind by the time school started. I had a fresh Do the Right Thing t-shirt I wore on the first day, and I distinctly remember listening to Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" during my walk to school that day.

The shoes I had on that day were especially important, because it had taken me all damn summer to find them. I was a huge James Worthy fan back then, so it was imperative that I had his shoes. Back then everyone seemed to be obsessed with Jordans, so I thought I would be cool if I rocked the Worthys. Plus my father wasn't paying for $100 Jordans, so I really had no choice. So when the first day of school came, and I had these on, you couldn't tell me I wasn't cool.

Of course because I am old now, that is all I can remember about the first day of school. But I do remember that 10th grade year being very significant for me personally. I made the basketball ball team, I wrote for the newspaper, I played in the jazz and marching bands, and I had a girlfriend for about a week. But the first day still sticks out, only because that's the day that takes the most thought and planning.

I've Got It - Ledisi