Friday, October 30, 2009

Congrats to the good people at Hoops Addict (mainly Ryan, and me to a much lesser extent) for getting a shoutout on ESPN's Sports Nation yesterday.

Back when I was in high school, there was this guy named Dermaine who made a habit out of talking down to me. He was taller than I was, he was more polished, and he definitely had more ladies than I did (I had none). He made it his business to basically tell me that, "one day you'll be good as I am, but not now son." At the time, I really didn't have much of a rebuttal, because I was a scrawny kid with no game and no confidence. Throughout the years, I'd see Dermaine around DC, and we'd shake hands, half hug and catch up with one another. I wasn't quite as powerless as I had been in high school, but he still saw fit to take subtle shots at me, and I let it slide. At that point, I thought it was just silly that he still saw fit to do this, and it wasn't worth me getting irate.

A few years back, when MySpace was all the rage, Dermaine found and befriended me, looked at my page, and typed me a message that said, "I see you have women on your page, i'm glad you're finally talking to girls." I ignored it though, because I was willing to chalk it up to gentle ribbing. I even ignored it when he tried (without my permission) to talk to a female friend of mine on my page, without clearing it with me first to make sure I wasn't involved with her (I wasn't but still, there are rules). At this point, there were a laundry list of offenses by this dude that warranted me getting in that ass, but I continued to play the "he-knows-not-what-he-does" card.

A year later, he mentioned he was looking for writers for his entertainment website, and I volunteered because it was an area where I had little to no experience, and I wanted to expand my repertoire. Plus I looked at the site, sized up the writing as mediocre at best, and I figured I could make a minor dent. He looked at my writing and had the gall to say no thank you, which burned me the hell up, but I had to respect his [wrong]decision. But there was no way my writing was worse than what was already on there. Bear with me, I'm building up to something....

So now Dermaine and I are facebook friends (why you may ask? I like to keep people who I don't like, but don't know that I don't like them, close to me. its sad, petty and not very good for kwan, but I do it anyway), and he recently organized a mini-reunion of all the black people who graduated from my high school between 1989 and 1993 (there were like 20 of us), and I really wanted to go and catch up, but the fact that he was organizing it just annoyed me, so I skipped it...which brings us to yesterday.

Yesterday, Dermaine posted this article. (I know my readers usually ignore my hyperlinks, but click on that so you have some damn context) on comedian Tony Woods. I clicked on the article to see how his writing had grown, and what I saw was a joke. There were no paragraphs, numerous typos, simple sentences, and frankly I couldn't believe that an editor had ever laid eyes on this prose, let alone publish it for public consumption. After I stopped laughing, my first inclination was to say something mean and condescending to him...not because I like seeing people fail, but because I liked seeing HIM fail. Then, after talking to my lady and a friend of mine, they advised me to take the elusive, yet seemingly crowded high road. My compromise? To do something in the middle (that's what he said).

I left a message on his Facebook page that said, "Good stuff. There are some typos in there though, let me know if you want me to edit for you." Now the article was not good stuff, but a good backhanded insult does not work as well without a false confidence builder. And I really will edit for him if he wants. It would make me happy to get my proverbial red pen and mark up the page. Judging by his writing, I'll never run of reasons to use it Plus, lord knows I rely on my editors (hey Nichole and Ryan!!!) to help me look fact all writers do. But even on my bad, writer's block, non productive days, I never put out a product like Dermaine did yesterday. I wouldn't even want my name attached to such a thing like that, out of fear that someone I know, love or hate, would reprimand me or write a blog entry about me.

Is this mean? Yes. Do I want him to read this and respond? Hell yes. Am I normally this vindictive? Not at all. Am I the best writer in the world? Not even close. And can I keep answering my own questions? I think I can.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

If you have become apoplectic over my continuous genuflection towards Michael Jackson, then you may want to turn the channel, because I plan to go deeper into it (that's what he said) right about now. I will now write about my journey yesterday to see Michael Jackson's, "This Is It". I will bring it down minute-by-minute..

5:30pm: I left work, put my headphones on, went to "artists" on my ipod and scrolled down to Michael Jackson. I figured if I was going to see a movie with this man in it, I might as well get my game face on by playing his music. The first song I turned to, "Another Part of Me".

5:45pm: I'm on the train, and I know my headphones are loud as hell, this time blaring MJ's, "I Can't Help It", and I can feel the eyes of the other passengers all on me. Usually I turn the volume down a bit on crowded trains, as to not offend anyone, but on this particular evening I was on my way to see Michael F**king Jackson..they'd get over it.

6:00pm: I pick up my movie tickets, peek around the corner, and I see a line of about 30 people, who have arrived early just so they can get a good seat in the theater. The movie is scheduled to start at 7, but there is another group in the theater from the 4:15 show, so we had to wait. At this point, I was a little annoyed, but I kept it together, because this type of crowd on opening night was to be expected.

6:05pm: I get in line, and I attempt to call about 90 people in my phone to help distract me from the foolishness all around me, but no one picked up the phone. So if you're reading this, and you ignored my call, I put a spell on you.

6:06pm: This dumbass lady and her 8 family members behind me, have the novel idea to start singing MJ songs in line, and the other 30 people in line blindly follow along. So we have everyone in line singing "Wanna Be Starting Something" and I'm sitting there furiously dialing any and everyone to talk to me, but nothing is happening. Where do these people come from? And why do they think its cool to sing songs in a f**king movie theater? seriously. I was beyond angry, not only at the singing, but mainly at the 8 or 9 seemingly straight guys in line who were singing at the the top of their lungs. They needed the Saw treatment.

6:10pm: At this point I start looking around for things to distract me and I noticed not one, two or three, but FOUR women holding babies that looked to be 3 months old or less. The babies were crying and they just had looks of absolute bewilderment on their faces as the volume of the voices singing MJ songs got higher. If you can't get a babysitter on a Wednesday night so you can spend 2 hours to see MJ, then perhaps you need to wait for a little thing we like to call the DVD. I know the movie is rated PG but 3 month old babies don't belong in the theater.

6:15: The previous movie crowd starts to filter out of the theater, and who do I see coming out? Mr. Dick Gregory He had a hat on and a rather large coat, but his beard was a dead giveaway. I politely asked the singing MJ crazies to hold my spot, and I went up to Mr. Gregory and introduced myself:

Me: Hey Mr Gregory, how are you?
Him: Damn, how did you know it was me?
Me: I mean your beard gave you away
Him: But how are you even old enough to know who I am?
Me: I'm 34 sir, and I've seen you on tv, in books and all that, I know who you are, and I respect your body of work
Him: I'm still mad you recognized me despite my disguise, but thank you very much young man, I appreciate that
Me: How was the movie?
Him: Dynamite, just dynamite
Me: Ok I'll let you go, nice meeting you
Him (giving me a firm shake and looking me in the eye): You too..uh what's your name?
Me: Rashad
Him: You too Rashad

6:30: The cleaning crew finally lets us in the theater, and these ass clowns start running into the theater like MJ himself is on stage already. I calmly walked in, got my seat, and saved the one next to me for my lady, who was running a bit late

6:45: These three teenagers down in front of me sit down, and immediately put their feet on the back of the seats in front of them. That's just rude I'm sorry. You have your feet dangling over an area where someone has to sit, and you think its ok..where does that sense of entitlement come from? I wanted to relocate my seat in front of them just to see what they'd do. But I stayed put.

7:00pm: The first of what seemed like 679 rounds of applause started, when a "commercial" for MJ's "This Is It" soundtrack ran. These fools clapped for 30 seconds straight as this commercial played. Again I stayed calm.

7:15pm: The movie started, MJ appeared for the first time, and there was more yelling, clapping, etc. This time I said loudly, "Are you f**king kidding me?" On cue, right after I said "you", the applause stopped, and the "f**king kidding me" part of my sentence was heard throughout the theater, and a good 40 or 50 people looked back and had the nerve to shush me. I looked at all of them and said, "where was this need for quiet 2 seconds ago when you all were clapping?" Then MJ came back on the screen, so the applause restarted and all eyes were on him, and I was just angry.

7:15-9pm: I'll stop bitching for a second to talk about the movie. Yes MJ's face was scary. And yes during the some of the performances, you could tell he was holding back because these were only rehearsals. But damn if MJ wasn't in rare form. He directed the band, he danced, he instructed the background dancers, he looked at film, and he just blew my mind. This is an MJ I didn't see enough of..the on-the-stage, behind-the-scenes MJ is way more appealing than the creepy-interview-in-my-Neverland-ranch MJ that was shoved down my throat during his last few years. He's a musician/entertainer, and I want to see him entertain. This movie gave me that opportunity, and I was left sad because he's gone, but satisfied that he left this footage behind. BUT...

There was constant talking in the theater, there was cheering, there were numerous "I know that's rights" yelled out, and I was just totally blown. At times, the audience was so loud that I missed some of MJ's lines--and MJ doesn't exactly have a talking voice that carries. Plus there were a lot of people younger than 20 in the theater, and they have the attention span of some of the 3 month babies being held, so any lull in the movie had them talking, giggling and texting. So there are parts of the movie that I flat out didn't hear, so I will be buying the DVD when it comes out. I know I got dirty looks when I left the theater, because of my foul mouth, but I don't give a good goddamn. MJ is the star, and we are all witnesses, not participants. But I'm happy though, because I saw the movie.

Michael Jackson (featuring Shaquille O'Neal) - 2 Bad
From my useless Michael Jackson knowledge file. For this song, MJ wanted to channel his inner Sly Stone, so the beat and background vocals are remisicent of vintage Sly Stone. And so his voice would be a little grainy and raspy, MJ stayed up all night, then recorded his lead and background vocals at 5am. So listen for that...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This morning during my walk to work, an older gentleman came up to me and asked me for directions to Rhode Island Ave NW (in DC of course). He was seemingly using a GPS function on his fancy phone, but it was failing him miserably, so he turned to me for help. Now, I usually shun such inquiries on my way to work because a)I'm busy and very important and b)I'm usually knee deep into whatever podcast is blaring through my headphones. But this guy looked utterly clueless and friendly, so I said what the hell. Since he was on foot like I was, I gave him the clearest, simplest route, he said he understood, and we parted ways..kind of

Usually when you give someone directions, you go your separate ways, and part of you continues to wonder if this person really understood, are they going to get lost, or are they going to ask 45 more people until they get to their destination. But I had the unique privilege of walking the same direction as this guy, so I decided to follow him..from across the street of course. If I walked on the same street he may have wanted to a)keep checking with me or b)small talk me to death, and I was not willing to take that chance. I was however, willing to look creepy from across the street as I tracked the strength of my directions. I was going to be deeply offended if he didn't trust the stellar directions I had bestowed upon him, and asked someone else for directions. At one point he looked unsure, and he started looking all around for help, and I basically willed him not to ask anyone from across the street, all while trying to stay out of his field of vision. Then, as if my thoughts came to his rescue, he saw the very street I told his ass to turn down, and he got to his destination.

When I saw that he arrived where he needed to be, I literally did a Tiger Woods fist pump in the middle of the street--not just because my directions were successful and the guy arrived where he needed to be, but because once again, I had done some good for the community. And ultimately, that's what I'm all about.

Oh and please Take some time to listen to this podcast I participated in talking about the Washington Wizards, who won last night. Thanks to Mike and Kyle for having me.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

As my brother said when he sent me this...this is real hip hop:

It was Monday, August 31, 1987, and it was the night before the first day of school for me and my brother. My family had just moved from Connecticut to Potomac, MD, and of course I was nervous as hell about starting a new school in an unfamiliar city. Usually on the night before the first day of school, my parents made my brother and I go to bed insanely early, and I don't know about my brother, but I'd never go to sleep. I'd toss and turn for hours thinking about what was to come. But on THIS particular night before school, my parents didn't make us go to bed, because there was a special event coming on tv. That event? The debut of Michael Jackson's Bad video

If I remember correctly the video debuted on Fox, and it was a HUGE deal to me, because this was MJ's first offering since the groundbreaking Thriller. And even though I was only 12 years old, I still could appreciate the enormous amount of pressure MJ had to be under to duplicate and/or surpass that album. The debut of the video was the first step towards accomplishing that goal, and it didn't disappoint. Sure MJ was a bit effeminate in the video at times, and yes his outfit looked like some S&M experiment gone wrong, but none of that mattered. MJ was back on television and he was dancing, spinning, singing, etc. I remember not being able to sleep once I finally went to bed, and that next first day of school EVERYONE was talking about what they had seen--some folks even feebly attempted to imitate MJ's moves. It was like Motown 25 all over again, and it totally ease any first-day-of-school fears I would normally have.

I mention this long winded story, because I have that same type of excitement and anticipation about the release of Michael Jackson's "This Is It" movie. I'm mad there are people in the fine nation of ours who get to see it before I do on Wednesday night. But I'm exciting that I will be able to see something new from MJ, after a long 8 year wait. I am even more excited that we get to see some behind-the-scenes MJ for the first time really since the "The Making of Thriller". During the last 8 years of MJ's life, so much was made of his appearance and his odd behavior, that people forgot about the genius and the music, and I'm hoping this movie kind of places the focus back on that where it belongs. I sound like a crazy fanatic here, but I am. I have been since '82 really.

And I swear if I go to the theater, and some is loud or talking over the good parts, I will strike down upon those with great vengeance and with furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my experience.

Monday, October 26, 2009

First off, let me say that I'm off today, and if you are off too, then congrats, if not, I am not-so-silently mocking you.

Now, about a month ago, I openly mocked my lady's purchase of a brand, spanking new crockpot. She had mounted quite a persuasive campaign for why we needed a crockpot, and since I am pretty much naive to such things, I agreed thinking exciting things were going to be produced out of this device. However, for a good month, the crockpot simply sat in our kitchen. I kicked it by accident several times, I put my drink on it as a resting place, and I even sat on it one day as I typed on my laptop. All these uses were certainly valid and creative, but I was pretty damn sure this was not its original intent when it found its way into my damn apartment.

While my son was here, I suggested to my lady, that we have chili for dinner, and she took it one step further by suggesting we (meaning she) make it in the crockpot and I agreed. For whatever reason it didn't happen until yesterday, and man was it worth it. Around 11am, after she cooked breakfast (by the way I do cook and I have cooked, so this isn't a one-sided, Betty and Don Draper situation), she gathered all the chili ingredients (ground turkey, no beef) and put them in the crockpot. For the first two hours or so, I actually forgot something was cooking. But right around the end of the first quarter of the 1:00 football games, I started smelling the chili and getting hungry. It reminded me of Thanksgiving day, when you can smell the turkey cooking during football. And then once we ate the chili (with cornbread) it was a beautiful thing. Everything tasted lovely, and while I'm sure non-crockpot chili would have tasted grand, for the purposes of this blog entry, I'm going to act as if the crockpot version was better--because it was.

So I can no longer clown my lady about this damn crockpot. It works, its real and its spectacular.

Pat Benatar - Love is a Battlefield

Sunday, October 25, 2009

First off, I'd like for you to go read my Washington Wizards Season Preview

Second, I'd like to encourage you to go buy Eric Roberson's cd Music Fan First Even if you've never heard of him or his work, just trust me and go buy it, I wouldn't steer you wrong. I went to see him perform last night, and it was just a stellar performance. And as a fan of music, I feel like its my unofficial duty to spread the word.

Thirdly, I'd like to say that cab drivers should not be allowed to talk on their cell phone loudly and in another language. It doesn't exactly put me in the mood to pay for my fare, let alone tip your rude ass. On my way to a show last night, this cab driver had an earpiece in his ear, the radio down low, and he was talking loudly. No consideration was made for us the passengers AT ALL. Isn't that just common courtesy? I don't expect constant banter, but some small saluatations are in order I would think...

But yeah that's all for now. I must prepare for a day of football now.

Eric Roberson - Pretty Girl
This video is worth watching if for nothing else, than to see Mr. Roberson sing over Slum Village's song "Fall in Love" at the 5:30 mark.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

So one of your favorite authors is going to be in town at a book signing, and initially you're excited. you've read books, online articles and chats from this author; you've listened to their podcasts and radio appearances; basically you're a borderline fanatic, but you don't mind because rarely does their work let you down. but book signings can be hit or miss. rarely is there time for pictures or extended conversation. just a hello, a handshake, maybe a joke or two, an autograph and that's it.

Would that be enough for you to attend, or would you pass?

My favorite author, Bill Simmons, is going to be in town for a book signing on Monday night, I don't know whether I want to go or not..

Friday, October 23, 2009

So one of the people I actually like in my office had a birthday yesterday, so for once I did not mind contributing $10 towards her cause. In fact, not only did I not mind, but I was in charge of both sending out the email and collecting money. Two people gave me their money last week, one person gave me their money on Wednesday, and the last person said they would give me their money yesterday. Now before I continue, it is worth noting that the birthday girl and the last woman to give me her money do NOT get along. Keep that in mind.

So, yesterday afternoon, after spending a good 10 minutes with my boss, I go back to my desk, and I hear Leslie(the woman who owes me money) call my name. Now to paint a picture, there is a rather tall cubicle separating Leslie and I, and we often talk to each other over it, but not too much. So since I heard her calling my name, I answered her back, and she told me that she didn't feel like walking over to me to bring me the money...Before she could get out the "y" in money, I noticed that she had thrown an envelope with her money in it over the cubicle and on the floor about a foot from me. Let me repeat, she THREW the money at me.

Now, we were at work, and as furious as I was, and as many curses as I wanted to utter, I had to keep in mind that professionalism is first and foremost--even when there is no trace of reciprocity. So I chuckled, told Leslie she was a class act, and took her f**king money. Then, I proceeded to talk to my lady and two other people who are more mature and cool-headed than I am to see what action I could and should take. There were a few options on the table

1)Put everyone else's money in the birthday card, and just pocket Leslie's $10 (my idea)
2)Put everyone else's money in the birthday card, and leave Leslie $10 on the floor where she threw it, and ask her to come get her money (also my idea)
3)Put every one's money in the envelope and pull her aside later (not my idea)

So I begrudgingly opted for option #3, I put every one's money in the card, and kept it moving..kind of. During the course of the day, Leslie had to bring me work, and I would say, "Oh you got your legs back under you.." or "Will you be making it rain again?" and she would get this evil look on her face, and I was daring her to say something..but she said nothing.

Then at the end of the day, I was in the copier room with Leslie and one other guy. As I was making copies, Leslie gave me the tried and true bullshit apology which goes as follows, "Sorry if I offended you by throwing the money at you Rashad, but I didn't feel like getting up." Now, when someone hits you with the "sorry if I offended you but" you know instantly that a)they don't mean it and b)the second half of the sentence is where the truth lies. The following exchange ensued. Please keep in mind that Leslie is heavily in the church and does not curse at all

Me: I'm not easily offended Leslie
Leslie: good
Me: But that was a jackass move and you know it?
Leslie: excuse me?
Me: You acted like a jackass, but you knew that, otherwise you wouldn't have offered up that bullshit apology
Leslie: My apologies are not b.s., and you need to check your tone
Me: My tone is calm, your apology was some bullshit, but I accept it nonetheless
Leslie: Again my apologies are sinc-
Me: We're done here Leslie, go on home, and tomorrow we can act like it didn't happen
Leslie: whatever man

Now, perhaps I was wrong for peppering my sentences with expletives..perhaps I should have continued to take the high road and just accepted her apology. I don't really know. But I do know that I STILL feel like she got away with murder, and I feel like I need to be petty for another week just to even things out. But I've been told by my mature coalition, that I cannot do that...I can't make any promises. I CAN promise that I will no longer be contributing any money to any birthday. They can kiss my ass.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

During the past year, I'd say I've done 10 basketball-related podcasts/interviews. Each of them require preparation, lots of note-taking, sometimes a glass of wine, and the calming of my nerves. Once I get the interview started, I calm down, and do the best I can for 10-15 minutes or whatever. Yesterday, two colleagues of mine, (Kyle and Mike) who also cover the Washington Wizards asked me to be on their podcast(audio/evidence of this will be posted at a later date), and per the usual, I prepared, I wrote notes, I got nervous and I calmed down and ran through it in 15 minutes. But after last night, I came to the same conclusion, I've come thru after the other 9 podcasts/interviews I've done..I suck at it.

I'm not saying I suck at it because my self-esteem is low, or I'm trying to use reverse psychology to get my confidence up, I'm saying I suck at it, because I really do. I am a writer. I can sit down, think on something for a bit, then write it down in a clear, concise, typo-ridden way. That's when I am in my comfort level. When I am put in a position where I need to talk on the spot, things change a bit. I ramble, I cut sentences short, I ignore my notes, I mangle words, I mix metaphors, and I fight the urge to curse like George Carlin. And my voice, no matter how enthused I really feel, sounds like I'm going to sleep. And to make things worse, as soon as I end the interview/podcast, I think of 45 things I could have said but didn't..then I look at my notes and realize that 43 of those 45 things were written right there. Its just one big bag of wrong.

Of course I'm going to continue to work at it and get better, and to my credit no one has overtly told me that I suck, but its an internal feeling that I have. I feel like I need to write the article of my life now, just to offset another bad performance. But unfortunately, there's no room for pouting or complaining, because tomorrow I have yet another interview to conduct. Maybe the 11th time is a charm...

By the way, I had a great run this morning, and what made it so good? It wasn't the fact that I felt strong and finished it 7 minutes earlier than I usually do. It wasn't the warmer temperatures or the two rats I saw during my run. It was the fantastic play list that was on my IPOD. I shall list the songs in the order they were received, so that you too can have an inspired workout.

1)Nas is Like - Nas
2)Another Victory - Big Daddy Kane
3)Diamonds Are Forever - Kanye and Jay-Z
4)Think About It - Snoop Dogg
5)The People - Common
6)Tha Shiznit - Snoop Dogg
7)Daytona 500 - Ghostface
8)Roc Boys - Jay-Z
9)Revolutionary Generation - Public Enemy
10)On the DL - Pharcyde

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

So when my son was here last week, he asked me to assist him in setting up his own email account. Prior to that, I would send him emails, and then his mother or stepfather would communicate the message to him that way. It was less than ideal, but we made it work for awhile. I pushed both his mother and stepfather to allow Carlton more access to the computer, since kids his age and younger are doing that all around the world, but they didn't share my sense of urgency. But the very fact that he asked me to help him in that department last week means that he knows how important it is too. Hopefully they are monitoring his computer usage, so he doesn't roll up on the same adult sites that I frequent early in the morning or when I'm home alone.

Anyway, my son now has a gmail account, and its been mutually beneficial. When he was here, I had him read Washington Post articles, then write me summaries and he'd send them via email. Once he left I sent him some pictures via email, and he thanked me for them in a return email. If you're familiar with gmail, you know that once you trade emails with someone more than twice, they're names appear in your contacts. This means that you know they when they online (except if they are invisible). Last night, while I was waiting for an email from Jay Williams (we call that name dropping in the business), I noticed that my son was online. Immediately I wanted start chatting with him via gchat, but I used restraint, and I decided to wait and see if he'd reach out to his old man first. I had showed him how to use the gchat function while he was here, so I was hoping he'd put it to use. At the very least, if he didn't use the gchat function, maybe he'd at least return the email I had sent to him yesterday. But he didn't.

This son of mine stayed online doing god know what, for about 15 minutes then he logged off without saying hello or returning my email. In my mind, I tried to rationalize his ungrateful behavior by saying that he probably was asked to get off the computer prematurely, but that was a flimsy excuse given he was on there for 15 minutes. I was hurt (not really), but I won't throw a fit over it. He's getting dangerously close that age when parents are not cool, so there's a time for me to be aggressive in trying to talk, and a time to pull back. I just wish it wasn't so in my face last night..damn this technology

Eric B and Rakim - What's On Your Mind?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Is it me or are Monday morning workouts more difficult to finish than any other day of the week? I barely got up this morning, and it was 30 degrees, I only got 3 hours of sleep, and I still dragged my ass to pool and swam. But I only got thru 20 minutes of the swim, before I said f**k it and came back home. My rationale? 20 minutes of a workout, while not as good as the usual 45, was still better than nothing.

I went to see the great Rachelle Ferrell last night at Blues Alley, and this was a momentous occasion for a couple reasons. First of all, the Philadelphia Eagles had not played on national tv all year until yesterday, so the concert caused me to miss the entire second half. Second of all, Sunday night is a great night of tv, starting with Sunday Night football, then moving to Curb Your Enthusiasm, then there's Mad Men, and then I finish my evening with more football and/or football highlights. Last night, for the first time in a long time, I switched it up and enjoyed a Sunday date with the lady..and it was great. Except for a 15 minute stretch where she talked too much, and another 10 minutes stretch where she sang happy birthday to 3 different people, Rachelle was dynamite. She hit notes high and low, she played off the band beautifully, and she reminded everyone in that small room that real singing/music does indeed exist. Her 70 minute set went by way too fast, and if the 10pm show wasn't showed, I'd have lobbied to stay for that. If you don't have any of her work in your collection, I highly suggest it.

I let my barber cut my beard off Saturday morning, and it feels weird. My beard and I had been together since October of 2006, and now my face is smooth, with the exception of a goatee. I look younger, which is nice, but I think I want my beard back...I would snap a picture of my beardless, goateed face, but that just seems pretentious and self-centered, and that's not what Rashad is about.

Rachelle Ferrell - Waiting

Friday, October 16, 2009

I've watched this Where The Wild Things Are trailer a grand total of three times, since it started airing. Twice on my television, and once in the movie theater while I waited for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to start, and my conclusion remains the same: It is creepy. What made the book so good when I was younger, was not just the words, but the pictures, and then my own imagination of how the story should be interpreted. It never seemed creepy to me at all. Now I'm much older, and I see this trailer, and I think to myself, there is no way in hell I'm watching this in the movie theater in 3D. Each of the "Where the Wild Things Are creatures" look like giant Snuffleupaguses running around like crazy animals, and it just disturbs me. I'm sure the movie is sweet and touching, but I am very glad my son deemed it as too much of a kids movie for him. Perhaps they should have just animated it..

I have purchased my tickets for MJ's, "This Is It" movie that comes out in a week and a half or so, and words can't describe how pumped I am. I have ordered the soundtrack on vinyl, I have done my very best to memorize the choreography in the This Is It trailer, and I've played the "new" single over and over again. However, there is one thing about this movie trailer that deeply disturbs me. MJ does NOT look sickly at all. He doesn't look frail, his movements don't look labored, his voice doesn't bad for 50 year old guy, and to be honest, he looked WAY more animated than he had in his public appearances leading up to that point. It makes the way he died look that much more shady, and as good as it will feel to watch him on the big screen, there will be some sadness on my part too. But I'll still be there on Wednesday, Oct 28th like the MJ fanatic I am.

Oh, and I think my lady sleepwalked last night, and I am now afraid. Very afraid.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

From 8 years old up until I was 11, I used to cry every time my father used to go out of town. He would only be gone for a few days at a time, but I'd get really upset and cry for about 20 minutes after he left, and then I'd be fine. When he arrived at his destination, he'd call me, and after we hung up there no crying. There was no crying in the days in between when I would not hear from him, and there were definitely no tears on the day of his return. But for 3 years, the first 20 mintues of his departure was simply devastating to me. My father was and still is my hero, and things just felt safer when he was around, and I didn't like anything altering that, even on temporary basis. I loved my mother and all, but it wasn't the same. And at that age, my brother was still under my tutileage, so he really couldn't help me manage my emotions at that time; however, for whatever reason, all that crying ended for some reason once I started junior high school.

The same type of tears come whenever I drop my son off, but for very different reasons. As I have typed in this space before, it is not natural for a father to send his son somewhere away from him. Nothing about it feels right, and although I know damn well it has to be like this for now, it doesn't make my emotions any easier to get a hold of and control.

My son heads back to Arizona on Saturday, but today he headed back to Hampton, VA to spend some time with his other grandparents. He's a big boy, and he's flown cross country solo a few times, which means he could definitely handle the 3 hour train ride down there by himself. So this morning we went to Union Station, bought a ticket, and then we were escorted to the train. The two train conductors sat Carlton and I down and talked about the rules he was to follow during the trip. Then I pulled one of the conductors aside and asked him to keep an eye on my son in between his other conductor duties, then he gave me his word that he would. I went back to my son, hugged and kissed him, gave him about 455 other sets of rules, one more hug, then the conductor politely asked me to get the hell of the train so they could leave.

From the time the train slowly left the station, to right now while I am typing this, the tears kept coming. I'm sure the people who saw me en route to work thought I had been smoking the sweet cheeba, because my eyes were red, but I kept wiping away the tears, so no one would see me. I held it together for the most part until I sat down at my work desk, and then I just completely lost it. All week my son has been on the left or right of me, and now he's just gone until the next time, and I can't say that I like it. But I'm grateful that we got some quality time in, and I'm grateful that we've created yet another memory for him to reminisce on when he gets back home. Still, that doesn't make the few hours it takes for the tears to completely go away any easier..

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This morning, I gained even more respect for those parents who have to wake their kids up early each and every morning. I woke at 5:30 to do my normal swim, and I got 20 minutes into it, when I realized I could not do my normal routine, considering my son was with me. So I got out of the pool 15 minutes earlier than I normally do, and I began the journey back to my apartment. Once I arrived, I got him up (which was surprisingly easy), told him to shower, got him breakfast, showered my damn self, and this all happened in 45 minutes. We got out of the door, walked to train, survived the dreaded work introductions, and now here we are at my desk working.

I sat down, and instantly a large wave of fatigue hit me, because of the added activities I had to perform this morning. But I had 50 emails to wade through, and other work needed to be done. That same wave of fatigue came over my son, and now he's over there sleep with his head down. And when he wakes him, he has a whole list of tasks to complete until we leave. But I digress...

I wonder how evil and tired I'd be if I had to do this every morning. It's a "problem" I'd definitely like to have, I'll tell you that...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Today, my son and I went to the National Portrait Galley, to get a general tour, but to specifically look at a Civil War Exhibit. He informed me that he will be studying the Civil War in his social studies class when he goes back to school next week, so I figured we'd get a jump start on things. But before we got to the Civil War portraits, we did the grand tour of the museum which was very informative. There were 13 total people on the tour, and Carlton and I were the only black people--which wasn't a big deal, until...

One of the pictures on the tour was one of Paul Lawrence Dunbar. The tour guide was going on and on about the accomplishments of Dunbar, and Carlton was taking notes and listening intently. But neither one of us could ignore the fact that every damn person in the group was looking at us. It wasn't a continual stare, but it was definitely obvious. Carlton kept looking around confused, and I kept looking at the tour guide, until finally we moved on to the next picture. Before the Dunbar picture we got no looks and after the picture, we got no looks..only at that one picture of a black man.

As we moved on to the next picture, Carlton said to me (and not softly), "why was everyone staring at us daddy?" I told him that since Paul Lawrence Dunbar was black, and we are black, that people stare because a)they want to see our reaction and b)they are aware this is one of the few black people on the exhibit. He then said to me, "That doesn't make any sense", and I agreed with him, but I explained to him that it happens, and he can either look the people in the face or ignore them. The normal Rashad would have been annoyed the whole rest of the exhibit, and I probably would have said something smart or mean to the offending parties. But the parental Rashad just kept it moving and took the high road..I don't like parental Rashad.

By the way, "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" is boring. The 3-D was cool, but it was kind of boring. Tomorrow is bring-your-son-to-work-day for me, so that should be interesting...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Day 2 with the son observations

1)My son is physically built JUST like me..not like the way I was built when I was his age, because I was a skinny child, but he's built the way I'm built now. We threw the football around yesterday, and I was amazed at his speed and his strength. I won't jinx him by saying collegiate sports are in his future, but collegiate sports are in his future

2)At 12 years old, he requires periods of solitude and I get and respect that. A couple times yesterday, he wanted to go into the room by himself and watch tv or read the newspaper, and I TOTALLY got that, because I was the same way at his age and even now as an adult. The kneejerk reaction was for me to get offended that during this limited amount of time with me, he wanted to be alone. But I get it and understand it.

3) There is no greater feeling, than watching football all damn day with your son, and having eloquent discussions about the intricacies of each game. There will be time for reading, educational activities, and spending time with extended family, but yesterday was all about football, and we had a ball.

And at the end of the day...

he crashed..

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Carlton's 1. I took 2 pics the whole damn day. I'll do better.

Friday, October 09, 2009

It is kind of sad to admit this, but for the first time in over 3 years, I will have my son with me here in DC for an entire week. I've had him regular weekends, holidays weekend, and even extended four day weekends, and I do my best to squeeze everything in my power into a such short period of time. But starting tomorrow, and ending on the 17th, he will be here with me, and I can barely contain or curb my enthusiasm. I have a fun filled week planned starting with tomorrow's Hampton/Howard football game, which he specifically requested to attend. So if over the next week I sound like an annoying parent who would rather post pictures than worse, forgive me and get over it. You'd do the same.

Please give a listen to this interview I did with former NBA star Jalen Rose. I've gotten some excellent constructive criticism so far, and I need more. I don't worry about whether I can write, but my confidence in conducting oral interviews is still a little shaky, so give me some pointers please.

Give this song a listen:

And then watch the video below. I've posted this video before, but stuff like this is fascinating me, so I'm sharing it again.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

My interview with Jalen Rose
Two months ago, while I was on vacation in Miami, I bought my first ever pair of sunglasses. Despite the obvious benefit of preventing the deadly sun from penetrating my eyes and making me blind as all get out, I really had not seen the benefit of making such a purchase. But the sun in Miami was relentless, and my lady convinced me that I could no longer walk around squinting like a crazy person. I made the purchase, and amazingly, I could not part with the damn glasses. When I got up in the morning, I'd grab my keys, my beach towel, my flip flops and my sunglasses. I kept them while was on the beach, while I ate, and even as it was crystal clear that dusk was coming, I still kept them on my tanned face. That's how important they were.

But once I returned from vacation I was unsure how I would incorporate them into my everyday life. The DC sun does not hold a candle to the one in Miami. And during my walks to and from work, the sun really isn't a major issue, especially in the colder months. Occasionally on the weekend its necessary for me to wear them, but even when I do that, I feel like a pretentious ass. I'd much rather squint.

This morning when I left out of my apartment, the sun jumped up and hit me right between the eyes. I mean as SOON as I opened the door, I was on squint mode, and I literally said "damn" out loud. I kept up this ridiculous squinting for about 10 more minutes while I walked, until finally it hit me that I was carrying my sunglasses in my briefcase (along with my rhymes, crackers and some fruit). I pulled them out, put them on my face and instantly I felt like a superhero. I had a pep in my step, the music I was listening to sounded better, and all was well with the first.

But then I starting noticing people roll their eyes at me dismissively. At first I thought it was in my mind, but I noticed a few people looking at me in a friendly, good morning kind of way, and then they quickly rolled their eyes and shunned me when they saw my spectacular sunglasses. Instantly I had a Luke Skywalker in the cave moment, and I thought to myself, damn I have become one of those people. I am walking to work in a non Miami environment with sunglasses on at 7am. After the fourth or fifth person walked by me, I took the sunglasses off, and resume my more natural squinting disposition...And then I was like you know what? F**k them, and f**k this, I am putting them back on..and that's exactly what I did. The sad truth is no one probably noticed either way, but I'm not believing that.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Last night, ESPN aired the first installment of a series entitled 30 for 30. Since this is ESPN's 30th anniversary, they decided to pick 30 compelling stories from the past 30 years, find a director who is passionate about the subject, and then present it to us the fans. It was the brainchild of my main man, and favorite writer, Bill Simmons, and the beauty of this series (to me at least) is that it is palatable to everyone, just not hardcore sports fans. Each story has a strong human element attached to it, that supersedes the sport they are discussing..aka I can get my girlfriend to watch (although she didn't last pressure though).

The first installment last night was on Wayne Gretzky, and I thought it was beautifully done. It did leave me wanting more, but that's just me being greedy. I also thought that there should have been a round table discussion after the show with all the parties involved in the story to discuss everything the documentary could not cover. In fact, in my humble opinion, after documentaries air in general, a round table discussion should be mandatory. The reality is, due to time constraints, not everything can be included into a story, movie, song or whatever, and a separate discussion with those involved, goes a long way in filling in some of the gaps. Plus, people love behind-the-scenes type stuff. That's why DVDs with deleted scenes and interviews are so popular; that's why shows like Inside the Actors Studio have been so successful, and its why movies like This Is It will be such a hit (and yes I bought my tickets already). Folks want to see what's going on both in front of and behind the camera. That's what was missing last night..I went way off on a tangent.

So as I came into work this morning, I found myself wondering who would I do a documentary about? Who do I feel strongly about, to do the level of research necessary to produce some sort of documentary. Off the top of my head I can only think of two people: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who I can't seem to nail an interview with to save my life and the late, great writer, Mr. Ralph Wiley. Considering I know Wiley's son, Cole, I could probably pull that one off, more than I could the Kareem one. But realistically, I am probably a couple years away from being able to pull that off the way I'd really want to. But last night's program has inspired me to keep it as a realistic goal.

I feel like I just rambled and rambled for a few paragraphs..

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

During my 25 minute walk into work this morning, I listened to Michael Jackson's, "I Can't Help It" five consecutive times, and around the third time I decided that I would attempt to break down why this song is great. I've done it with Marvin Gaye's, "I Want You", I did it with Questlove's remix of Pharrell and Snoop Dogg's That Girl, and I've done it with Michael Jackson's, "Stranger in Moscow". So allow me to do the same again.

The first thing that jumps out at you in the first 18 seconds of the song, is the depth of Michael Jackson's voice. Mind you, in most of MJ's music prior to Off the Wall, his voice was high and child-like, and there was nothing wrong with that. But twice in 18 seconds, MJ impressively went down to the lower register, and that combined with the jazzy chords, lets you know that this will be a different type of MJ song.

Then at the 21 second mark, he starts to sing, and even the phrasing is much more mature and jazzy than anything he had sung up to that point, and considering Mr. Stevie Wonder wrote the song, it should come as no surprise. Michael sounds comfortable holding notes, hitting the high register, and then going back down to his deep voice..and then the chorus comes at the 56 second mark. And for me, the best part of the chorus is not necessarily Michael singing, "I Can't Help It" over and over again, but its the horns that gently play in the background as he's singing. They are very subtle, but they serve as a perfectly compliment to MJ's voice.

The drumming is also a quiet, yet strong element in the song. Because this is a light jazzy tune, it seems like the drums were intentionally played softly, but at two points during the song, they particularly stick out to me. The first time is at the 32 second mark. Michael sings, "I can't help but see you..", and the you hear drummer switch is cadence up, and hit the bass drum three times in a row, the snare once, and then subtly open up the high hat slightly, before Michael starts singing again. The drummer does the exact same thing at the 1:58 mark of the song. Its pretty me at least

Now for the first 3:29 of the song, MJ is singing jazzy and restrained, and it fits the mood of the song. But at that 3:30 mark, almost as if the director said to Michael, "ok now cut it loose", MJ kicks it up into a higher gear, and sings the chorus louder and with a fuller voice. Then at the 3:49 mark, almost as if he felt like the listeners could not handle more of him singing in the mode, MJ goes back down to the voice he had been using for the majority of the song, and he continued in the mode until the song faded out.

My favorite part of the song comes at the 3:01 mark. MJ's sings, "And IIII'm so glad I found you...yeah", and then he does his traditional MJ grunt that you so prominently hear in MJ's music, then he finishes the lines by saying, "you're an angel in disguiiiiise." That part has always been beautiful to me.

I do believe I could break down about 5 or 6 other things about this song, but I think I've done quite enough. This may seem a bit creepy to you, but frankly, I don't give a good goddamn. I do these types of breakdowns in my head all the time, I just had to get this one out in written form. I feel like I should have a cigarette and some scotch while explaining this...

And now, without further ado, I present the song in its entirety.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Its 3 days late, but I will attempt to do a review of the Maxwell concert on Friday evening. First off, it amazes me how much people can both over and under dress for these types of shows. I saw men dressed like they just lifted weights, and I saw other men dressed like they were headed to the President's Inauguration Ball. I saw women dressed like they en route to an adult film shoot, and other women dressed like prom night was upon us. Men had wandering eyes, and the woman were hell bent on making other women jealous of their outfits. And it wouldn't be a black concert experience without not one, but TWO airbrushed pictures available for people to take pictures in front of...good times indeed.

The lady and I arrived at the Verizon Center about five minutes before the show started, and stopped at the cash bar to purchase a bit of the wine, which meant we missed most of Chrisette Michelle's set. Still, from what I heard while I was line for wine, she was not impressive. Granted, I don't know her music that well, and what I have heard is underwhelming, but still her set was just boring. There was no showmanship, no audience interaction, no vocal acrobatics, no wardrobe malfunctions, and no back and forth with the band. She can't even blame the lack of an exciting performance on the lack of a real crowd, because the Verizon Center was VERY full while she was performing. She definitely needs to work on having more of a stage presence. I give her a C-.

Next up was Common, who was backed by the talented singer Muhsinah, and the even more talented singer Bilal. Common was everything Chrisette Michelle was not. He had enough energy for three people, he interacted with the crowd, and as he usually does during a show, he did a little breakdancing. Common also let Bilal sing solo on a couple of numbers, which I found particularly entertaining, since Bilal is criminally slept on in my humble opinion. The only drawback about Common's performance, as I suspected would be the case going in, was that he yelled his lyrics so loud that they were hard to hear. Also, he didn't do a single song from his first 3 cds, which would have appealed to his older fans. Still he made up for all that by doing a 2 minute freestyle, in which he incorporated the names of Gilbert Arenas, Obama, and Howard University. Not many established rappers do those types of on-the-spot freestyles. I give Common a B.

It was at this point in the show where I realized that pianist Robert Glasper was NOT performing on his own, but he was performing as a member of Maxwell's band, which made much more sense. But anyway, Maxwell came out with a full band, a horn section, background singers, and special effects (totally not necessary). I can readily admit that Maxwell is indeed a smooth brother, and he is one of the rare singers who manages to sound better live. He seamlessly switched between his regular voice and falsetto, he never got too loud or out of control. He knew when to dance, when to stand and sing, and when to interact with the crowd. He even displayed his smooth side, when prior to the song Bad Habits, he danced a little too hard, and lost his balance. He stopped the song, made a joke about it, told the crowd to get a little more pumped up, then he started and killed the song. My only complaint about Maxwell, will come off as hating, but there were too many damn slow songs. Then I remembered Maxwell is about the ladies, from what I saw and heard, the ladies (including mine) were loving the show. Most of the men were sitting patiently or just flat out sleep..although this one straight man in front of me, kept jumping up and down at both the slow AND fast songs. His man club card was promptly revoked after the show. Maxwell gets a B+.

Overall, I give the show a B. It was entertaining and exciting at points, but it was not worth the money I paid. Also, I enjoyed Maxwell much more at the smaller venue, when I could hear everything better. I appreciate the rock star element of performing at a large venue, but I still think he needs to stick to smaller ones. I should have written this review on Friday night while I was still pumped up and apologies

I'd also like to take this time out to apologize to all the people at the show who I know and saw, but ignored. Its nothing personal, it was just too loud and too crowded for small talk.

Friday, October 02, 2009

A few months ago, my lady said she saw Congresswoman Maxine Waters outside of our apartment, and we both found that odd and fascinating at the same time. But to be honest I really hadn't thought too much about it..until this morning.

This morning I left for the pool at 5:40 am, and as soon as I stepped outside my apartment, I noticed an older black woman trying to hail a cab on the corner. Initially I was just going to walk past her, but then she turned around, and it was Maxine Waters!!! I took my headphones out of my ear, and I went up to her and said, "Hello Ms. Waters, how are you?". I don't know whether I looked angry, or if she was just startled to be getting groupie love at 5am, but she didn't look very pleased to see me. She said in a very stern voice, "Hello young man!", and she attempted to walk right past me, but I wasn't going out that easily. I mean how often is there a Congresswoman just wandering outside your apartment at 5am??? I then asked her, "Do you want me to catch a cab for you, its not safe for you to be out here solo?" Now, after I asked her this, that hard look she had previously given softened a bit, and she smiled and said, "That's very sweet of you, but I'm ok." She then asked me if I lived in the area, and I told her I lived in the building right behind her and she just said ok. Then her cab came, we said our goodbyes, and I headed towards the pool, and she waved at me. You'd have thought that I had just seen Michael Jackson or something, because I was smiling all the way to the gym. And she looks damn good for a 71 year old woman.

In hindsight, I should have given her my card and taken hers. Knowing people like her can only assist in my goal to be famous and take over the world.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Tomorrow night, at the Verizon Center, I will be attending the Maxwell concert. Also in attendance will be rapper Common, singer Chrisette Michele, and jazz pianist, Robert Glasper.. The music fan in me appreciates the fact that each artist brings something to the stage, which shall make for a fun-filled night of music. The analyst in me thinks this particular combination of artists in a large venue like the Verizon Center is a complete disaster. Allow me to explain.

I'll start with Maxwell. I enjoy his music, his voice and his showmanship, but with an artist like that acoustics are everything. Last November, I went to see him in Constitution Hall , which is a much smaller venue, and seats about 17,000 less people. There was no echo in the building, and there was a very intimate feel to the show. He performed there five nights, and each one was sold out. Now, he's attempting to move his show to a huge venue that doesn't really play to his strengths as an artist. Artists like U2, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Michael Jackson and the Rolling Stones could get away with a huge venue, because their sets and their bands allowed for it. Maxwell? Not so much

Next we have Chrisette Michele, who I really can't say a whole lot about, because I don't own any of her music except this collaboration she did with the Roots. She has an above average voice, and I don't have a problem with her music, I just think she falls in the Maxwell category of being better suited for a smaller venue. But she has a slight advantage over all of the other performers, because she'll most likely be the last artists to sing before Maxwell. That means that people will be so excited to see Maxwell, that they will cheer and hype themselves up during Michele's set.

Common will have the second most difficult job of the night, because he is the only hip hopper on the billing. Now I wish I could say that fans of Maxwell, are fans of Chrisette Michele, and are naturally fans of Common, but it doesn't always work like this. I've known and followed Common since 1992, and I basically own his own catalog, but I wonder the masses will know and follow his lyrics. And even though he performs with a lot of energy and he's a veteran performer, in the Verizon Center (as opposed to smaller clubs where he usually performs) the tendency will be to yell, which will make it hard to hear how good his lyrics really are. I'm not saying he can't pull it off, it will just be a tall task.

And last but not least is Robert Glasper, who in my opinion, has the most difficult job of the evening. Jazz artists typically make a name for themselves by performing in small clubs with loyal followers. The last jazz show I attended was at a club called Blues Alley, which probably seats 50-75 people. Jazz fans make for sophisticated audiences. They know when to clap, when to shut up, when to recognize a great solo, and when something is awry. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the Maxwell type of crowd won't get and understand those little nuances. And the full, rich sound that a pianist and his band get from performing in a jazz club, might be lost in a huge venue. And it sucks because Robert Glasper and his trio are GREAT..not good.

I am not trying to be negative here. In fact on Saturday, if the concert is bad, I will write a line-by-line rebuttal. I just worry that this experiment is not the way to go. Someone should have consulted me, so I could show them the way to go.

J Dillalude - Robert Glasper