Friday, July 29, 2011

1) The wife is four months and one week pregnant (17 weeks to be exact)
2) I waited this long because we lost the baby the last time she was pregnant back in '08. This time around, everything looks damn good.
3) We learned today it is a boy
4) I wanted the name Melvin, but the wife shot that down...
I have heard many times over the years, that one of the keys to losing weight, staying healthy, and maintaining an overall positive lifestyle is sleep. 8 hours is the desired number, and that allows your body to properly shut down, before it gets called into work again the next morning. Sounds easy enough right? Not bloody likely.

My body is a cross between a college student and a card-carrying AARP, senior citizen. Monday through Friday, I usually go to bed 'round midnight, and I'm awake around 5:30. Yes I usually set my alarm at the time, so I can wake up and workout, but I usually wake anywhere between 5 and 30 minutes beforehand. On the weekends, I can go to bed as late at 3am, and you can bet your bottom dollar (never knew what that really meant) that by 7am I will be awake, no matter how much I try to go to sleep. The only time I seem to be able to nap successfully is late Sunday afternoon, and of course that causes me to be up until 1-2am, but then I still wake up at 5:30, which means I'm Mr. Angry Man all Monday long.

So I guess my issue/question is how do I train my body to go to bed earlier, so I can get these elusive 8 hours of sleep. Do I force myself to go bed at 10pm every night, only to find myself awake and staring at the ceiling? Do I just hope that this 8 hour rule is a myth and ignore it? Do I drink two glasses of red wine around 9 or so to aid this process (actually I tried that before and it didn't work)? I need guidance by some of you people who hit that 7-8 hour mark.

I never, ever get sick of hearing Mary J. Blige channel her inner Anita Baker in this song...never!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A short while ago I was walking home from work, when I saw someone I thought I recognized, but because I wasn't 100% sure, I made it a point to keep walking. Then I saw this person trying to get my attention, and she started to walk towards me, and I still did not know who the hell she was. Then she insulted me by asking me if my name was Jamal, and I said no, that's my brother, and finally she pointed at me, and said "Rashad right?", and I said "Bingo!".

Her name was Charisse and my mother was one of her professors at George Mason University about 10 years ago. She remembered me from my mother's going-away-ceremony at George Mason 4 years ago, and she told me that my mother would talk about me and my brother non-stop. On top of that, Charisse had developed an outside friendship with my mother, so she was keenly aware of who I was, what was going on with me, etc (she didn't know my name though, but I let that slide)

Charisse was walking towards the metro, and I was walking towards my house, so we did not talk for too long, but she did give me her card, and she told me to tell my mother I said hello, and I said I would. The last thing she said was congrats on the wedding, and I thanked her, and then she said that she remembered my wife from the George Mason event, and I told her that was not my wife, just a friend of mine who wanted to meet my mother. She was a bit embarassed, but we shared a laugh, we said our goodbyes, I flicked her business card and said "oh yeah! (an inside New Jack City joke), and I went on my merry way.

I passed along the message to my mother, who said she would reach out to Charisse, and then I emailed my friend Michelle (the woman who Charisse thought was my wife), and told her the funny story, and then I got lost in my own life, and forgot about the encounter.

Yesterday, about five minutes after I ate dinner, my mother sent me an email and said that Charisse had died of a heart attack after a bout with walking pneumonia--and she was only 32 years old. I immediately called my mother to make sure she was fine, and she was understandably shaken, but she held it together. I was a little freaked out that someone I had just sent and interacted with, was now dead and gone. On top of that I found it weird that my friend Michelle (the one Charisse thought was my wife), who I had reached out to after seeing Charisse, had a heart attack of her own at age 33 back in 2008 (she survived). I'm really not intelligent enough to decipher the symmetry in all of this, I just know that her untimely death is a bit sad. At least we left off on a high note by laughing...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I hate to be negative after the inspirational blog post I put up yesterday, but balance (and people) make the world go round, so all is well.

So this morning I get to the JCC at 5:56am--a full four minutes before the building was to open. I was the only one standing there so I decided to tug at the door to see if it was open, but it was not, so I stood right in front of the door waiting. Two minutes later, another gentlemen walked up behind me, ignored the fact that I was standing right by the door, and tried to open it as well, but of course it was locked. He gave me a goofy smile, and said, "I had to try right?", and I gave him a stoic look and said, "What you thought I was standing here for the hell of it?" Then there was uncomfortable silence.

I hate people like that, I gotta tell you. These same people will see the "up" arrow lit at an elevator, and they will roll up and hit the button one, two, three even four times, as if that will magically summon the elevator from its hiding place. These are the same people that will be stuck at a light 11 cars back, and STILL beep the horn frantically, even though they have no clue what's going on ahead of them. I would like to cut all of their eyelids off, and give them copious amounts of Ambien. Be patient and wait like everyone else has to.

I would also like to take a bit of time to send a shout out to the brother in the Range Rover this morning, who was on the corner of Connecticut and Q St in DC. You didn't care that it was 7am, and usually the only noise on that street is from people talking, cars and trucks going by, and birds chirping. You felt the need to have your windows rolled down, while some terrible Lil Wayne song was blaring through your overblown speakers. Then you had the nerve to be leaning way back in your seat, as if anyone except my annoyed ass was paying attention to you. Why is all that necessary so early? No women were paying attention to him, and even if they were, it was 7am, they aren't awake enough to be receptive to all that.

Anyway I'm done. If someone could tell me when apples are back in season, I would appreciate it. I'm tiring of eating peaches and grapes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Every now and then I like to give my readers an update on my main man Brian. Brian is one of the fine PR guys for the Washington Wizards who had brain cancer and has battled back (his story can be read here). Brian has been extremely helpful during my three-year career in covering the Wizards, and reading his blog during that time has been scary and inspiring all at the same time.

Well in the past couple of months, Brian has become a father, which means his blog has gone from him wondering about his own mortality, to enjoying his second chance at life, to he and his wife creating a young life. It may not be a big deal to you, but it is a pretty big deal to me, so I'm sharing. The tales of he and his young son can be seen here.

Friday, July 22, 2011

For any Brand Nubian fans out there, the time to listen is at the 14 second mark. For the James Brown fans, just listen to the whole damn song.
Last night as I watched tv with the wife, I took time out of my precious evening to concoct a mixtape for lifeguard at my pool (read that sentence about five times, and I promise you that the ridiculousness of it will kick in around the third time). All that stuck in my head was that he wanted some smooth R&B and some smooth rap. Initially I was having a devil of a time trying to designate what was smooth, what was jagged, what was hard, etc. Then, once I realized no sex, money or fame was going to result from the success of this mixtape, I smartened up and just picked some songs that I saw fit for him to have.

So this morning before I did my mile swim, I delivered the mixtape (on cd), and his eyes lit up like he had just won the lottery. He thanked me for remembering, and then he said, "So it's smooth right?", and I said, "Absolutely it is smooth!". Then he asked me if there were all kinds of music on there--which completely went against the strict smooth guidelines he had previously laid down--and I said there was R&B, and there was hip hop. He was visibly disappointed by this news, so I put on my mixtape scientist hat and explained to him that mixtapes with multiple genres on them were no good and a bit confusing. I stupidly told him that if he wanted different types of music, that I could make him another mixtape, but this particular one was all smooth, all the time. He bought it and the smile returned.

He did not saying anything good or bad about the mix after my swim, he just told me to have a nice weekend. I have no clue whether he'll like it or not, but I did my best...I did my best. Here's the mixtape I gave him:

1)Here I Stand - Usher
2)Looking for Another Pure Love - Stevie Wonder
3)Can't Get Over You - Joe
4)Find The Way - Eric Roberson
5)My Peoples- Raheem Devaughn
6)Just Like That - R. Kelly
7)Crush - Zhane
8)Pretty Young Thing (Demo) - Michael Jackson
9)House of Cards - Foreign Exchange
10)The Newness - Eric Roberson
11)Want You to Know - Vanessa Marquez featuring Justin Timberlake
12)Umi Says - Mos Def
13)Nag Champa - Common
14)Gettin Up - Q-tip
15)Electric Relaxation - A Tribe Called Quest
16)You Got Me - The Roots
17)Climax - Slum Village

I probably could have done better, but oh well

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The picture you see below is flyer from my father-in-law's church. I know I should not clown the Lord, the church, my father-in-law, the beach (I got married on one) or the idea, but damn if this isn't the funniest thing I've seen in awhile. If I was asked to, I couldn't even hand this flyer out with a straight face. And, as an added bonus, if you stare at this long enough, you'll see a third person rise out of the water holding a bible...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Here is an ESPN article I had a small hand in producing.
I did not sleep very well last night (2 hours of sleep max), so when my alarm went off at 5:30, I really started to hit the snooze button so that I could be properly rested. But, since I have in the midst of a good run workout-wise, I decided to get my ass up and head to the pool for my mile swim. I arrived at the pool at 5:58am, I changed, I walked to the pool and the door was locked. 10 minutes later I found someone who told me the lifeguard was running late, and 20 minutes after that he finally showed up and unlocked the pool--but only after telling me that 1)he had only been late twice in 15 years (someone else verified this) and 2)there was a bad accident on I-95. Rather than being a cranky ass, I said it was no big deal and I kept it moving, and did a 30 minutes swim.

Then I moved to the basketball court to do my 15 minutes worth of working out over there, and there was this older man walking laps around the court. Now technically on the gym schedule, it says that from 6-8, the gym is reserved for walkers. I've been going to this gym for 3 years, and I have never seen a walker until today. I tried to shoot the ball and do my little drills, but two out of my four shots hit the elderly walker. Both times he let out a combination of a yell and a groan that made my error seem way worse than it really was, and I apologized profusely. But in fairness to me, dude wasn't even walking with his head up, even after he got hit the first time. He just kept his head down and kept right on walking, so in reality I could have just ignored the basket, and thrown the ball directly at his precious head of white hair, and he'd have been none of the wiser. But I did not. I simply apologized again, exited the gym, and left the man alone with his thoughts while he walked.

THEN, right before I left, the I've-only-been-late-twice-in-15-years lifeguard stopped me and had the following conversation with me:

Lifeguard: Hey Rashad, can you make me a cd?
Me: Excuse me?
Lifeguard: Yeah man I always see you with headphones on, so I know you like music, so can you make a cd?
Me (hesitating): kind of music do you like?
Lifeguard: I like rap, r&B, rap(yes he said it twice), you know all kinds, what about you?
Me: I listen to all kinds to, jazz, hip-hop (yes it was snobbish to play synonym card), R&B, soft rock
Lifeguard (interrupting me): yeah yeah, I think I want smooth rap, and smooth R&B
*** As an aside, I still have no clue what the smooth part of that equation really means, but I rolled with it***
Me: Oh no doubt. Smooth right?
Lifeguard: Yes yes, something very smooth
Me: I got you man, I'll bring it on Thursday.

So the question I now have, how the f**k do you make a mixtape for a 40-45 year old dude? I mean seriously..

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My main man Neil has his own graphic design firm, and you can take a look at it right here.. Neil (aka sixfive) has been reading my blog since the beginning, and he's a cool dude.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

First off, let me say this picture was taken by my main man Kyle in February of last year--my friend Amy taught me the importance of giving photo credits. Secondly, this is one of my favorite pre-Wizards game pictures. It isn't just because it perfectly captures the madness around pre-game press conferences, and it isn't because I'm starved for anything basketball-related during this NBA lockout. The main reason I like this picture is that I am standing next to one of my favorite writers, Michael Wilbon. His big yellow head is in the bottom left hand corner of the screen, and my smaller head is to his left. We briefly talked before and after this picture was taken, and I'm always taken aback at hoq humble and helpful he is every time I see him, despite his fame. I want to be like when and if I get famous..or infamous, I'll take either one.

Thank you for listening. Oh and if you haven't read Toure's article on Dave Chappelle, go read it by clicking right here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Here's an article based on the crime I discussed in the previous entry..
There's this United Colors of Benetton store that is a little more than a block away from my house, that has been broken into twice this month. The first time was about two weeks ago, and the most recent time must have happened this morning. I was returning from the pool when I saw one of the female employees sweeping up the glass that was strewn all over the sidewalk. I removed my headphones and walked up to this woman and said, "Damn again?", and she just shook her head and said, "Yeah this is pretty f**king unbelievable.".

Now, the retort I SHOULD have come out of my mouth with was, "I'm really sorry, good luck to you all" or something to that effect, but I suppose that would have been too much like right. Instead, as I walked away and put my headphones on, I decided to say, "You all must have some really good stuff in that store." The woman shot me a look that said, "You're a real class act buddy", and I knew immediately that was the wrong thing to say, but my headphones were already on, and it would have been awkward for me to go back to her and undo my stupidity. I felt bad that I didn't put my need to smooth over an awkward/weird moment with humor and just have a bit of compassion. Then I wondered how sincere I really felt, because I made ZERO effort to apologize..or maybe I'm over thinking..

One more thing...about a month ago I went to a cookout at my main man Greg's house, and instead of bringing the traditional beer or liquor over, I decided to bring a nice Port. It wasn't one of those bottles that is over $100, but it was a decent bottle, and I chose that because a)I wanted to drink it and b)I thought I would get props (or at least an ego-boosting compliment) for doing something different (like I did last year at this fight party, when I brought a Chikfila platter--no such luck this year).

Anyway, because I had to drive home from the cookout, and Port tends to be a bit strong, I drank very little of it--unfortunately the same could be said for everyone else in attendance at this cookout. The wife and I stayed at the party almost 2 hours, and there were at least 40 people there, and nobody helped themselves to my Port. I saw folks pick the bottle up and put it back down, but nobody had the chutzpah to try it, and it pissed me off (not once did it dawn on me that no one likes Port or it didn't fit at a cookout). Of course I asked the wife if I could take the bottle back home when we left, but she shot it down quickly. But is that really so wrong to take my gift back if no one seems to be feeling it?

Personally, if someone brought something over to my house that I didn't take a shine to, I would give the person the option of taking it back from whence it came. It is the equivalent of letting someone out of a contract with no hard feelings. "I didn't like your stinking Port, so please take it home, because I know you like it anyway.." If I'm good enough to get an invite to your party or vice versa, we should be able to be honest about the gifts, beverages, food, etc..That's the kind of world I want. I don't have the heart to ask Greg whatever happened to that bottle I brought, but it has been on my mind for a month now..

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

About five minutes ago I read this interview with Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest and Michael Rapaport, who is director of the documentary, "Beats, Rhymes and Life". The movie is finding its way around this fine country of ours, and I will be going to see it this weekend, but in the meantime, I have to whet my appetite by listening to old music and reading interviews like the one I linked above.

However, one of Phife's answers in regards to whether A Tribe Called Quest would ever get back together and record annoyed me:

The fans might want it like that, but they have to understand that we can’t just get together as far as recording is concerned and put out anything. It has to be correct and right because the consensus will be that, ‘We waited 13 years and all you came up with is this crap.’ I’d rather not do it and have people say we tarnished the legacy. So I’m happy the way things are right now; people still love us and hopefully if we do decide to do an album it will be one we can be proud of.

I literally said "what the f**k?" out loud when I read that quote, and it reminded me of the kind of talk I heard when Michael Jordan said he was coming out of retirement in 2001. Back in 1998, he had done this to win his six consecutive championship:

NBA writers, other players and fans thought that shot was the ideal way to end his career, and no matter what he tried to do from there, he could not top that. Some people even went as far as to say, that if he did ever come back, he would not be the same MJ everyone knew and loved, and the greatness he had spent 14 years establishing would disappear. Michael basically gave them the middle finger and said, I'm going to continue to play until my health gives out and they have to drag me off the court.

MJ came back, and had flashes of his former brilliant self, but he also had plenty of embarrassing moments that the old MJ would never allow to happen, like missing wide open dunks. Two years later he retired, a few years after that he made the Hall of Fame, and today, he is still regarded as one of the best players in NBA history--and more importantly his legacy has gone unscathed.

So what the hell is A Tribe Called Quest's problem? Every album (yeah I'm dating myself by calling them albums) can't be "Low End Theory" or "Midnight Marauders", but your fans don't expect that anyway. Your fans want to hear you all together touring and rapping again, and they know that you all would not put out anything that was terrible (although some people who bought their last two offerings may disagree). And what is so hard about making good music that both you and your fans enjoy? If you tell me your heart isn't in rapping anymore that's one thing, but to say you don't want to make a cd after 13 years because of how your legacy it might be tarnished? That pisses me off..

My dad has been a Temptations fan for over 40 years, and he will tell you that in that span, they have put out some classics and they have put out some crap. There were some albums he played front to back with ease, and there were others that contained two good songs, and the rest were garbage--but he always bought their albums. Even today in 2011, when all but one of the original members are dead and gone, my dad STILL buys Temptations albums, and I asked him why, and he says, "I'm a fan for life, through the good and bad". That's how I feel about man up and make me a goddamn cd.

And now switching gears totally, here is a beautiful song by Minnie Riperton and the Rotary Connection called, "We're Going Wrong". I didn't even know this was on my iPod until yesterday morning, and now I'm hooked.

Monday, July 11, 2011

My fellow blogger-in-crime Brokey McPoverty had this hilarious entry today, which you can read right here
My son has at least 5 books that are on his 9th grade reading list this summer, and the first (and easiest I might add) one we are going to tackle is "Call of the Wild" by Jack London. I don't remember what grade I was in when I originally read the book, and I damn sure don't remember any important details about the plot, but I do remember my father buying it for me some time in the 80s--which means I am absolutely no help to my son in terms of recalling details.

So I gave my son a writing assignment based on the first 50 pages he's read that is due on Wednesday, and I realized that I had to be a bit more hands on than just reading his work. I have decided to put aside the three other books I'm trying to read right now, and tackle "Call of the Wild" all over again. This left me with an interesting, but minor dilemma. In order to obtain the book I could:

1)Buy the book (which I realistically would only do at a used bookstore, because after I read it again, I really have no desire to keep it around).

2) Go to the library and check it out (not only do I not have a valid library card, but I have not set foot in a library since January 9, 2007. How do I know remember the date? I wrote a blog entry from the library that day, and in that entry I made the ill-advised decision to split up with the girl I was dating to go back to my ex, who I ended up leaving a couple of months later. It was just one of the many examples of the dumb things I did before I got married. But the bigger point is, the library and I aren't compatible--which is kind of sad

3)Read the book online (I've never read a book via google books or anything else, because I think books are sacred and should be bought, not read on Kindle, an iPad, or listened to while driving..)

Any suggestions here? And yes I'm making this more difficult than it has to be, but a decision has to be made before Wednesday, when my son sends me his assignment.

Friday, July 08, 2011

I'm 9 years late, but this song came on my Pandora today, and I loved it. It is from Christina Aguilera's 2002 Stripped album...

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Background: One of my co-workers (Sam) is leaving early, so she's training everyone to do what she does until we find a replacement. My training was today, and my co-worker Jordan has a training tomorrow.

The Conversation

Sam: So I'm training you today right?
Me: Yes
Sam: That's right, you're today, and Jordan is tomorrow. I wish I could do both of you at the same time
Me: That's what she said

It never gets old (to me at least).
As I sit here and write this blog entry it is 5:35am, and I have been up since 3:45am, after going to bed at 11:30. I had every intention of going to bed early (yes 11:30 is early for me), so that I could wake up at 5:30 and head to the pool for a workout, but now that isn't happening. If I were to go workout after such a paltry night of sleep, I would be struggling to stay awake at work, and that's no good given the day I have ahead. Since 3:45, my wife has awakened two times, and then immediately gone back to sleep, yet I've had no such luck. I really and truly wish I had that talent, but I do not. She can kiss my ass.

Also, don't you hate when someone goes out of their way to point out something you did wrong, wait for your reaction to what they said, and THEN tell you that it's no big deal? I don't know what kind of world you live in, but in my world, when something is no big deal, I don't bring it to the person who has irritated me. I just choose the passive aggressive route, and I blog about it like (ir)regular people do. But to bring something up so just you can get a reaction, and then say, "It's no big deal, it's cool", is about as irritating as it gets. Just shut up and let it eat at you internally, or come out and make a really big deal about it so the other person feels guilty. Don't just bring it up, and then back down..

This is the type of cranky blogging a skimpy night of sleep produces..

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Thanks to my brother for sending this to me:

So this morning I was in the shower listening to sports talk radio, when I heard a commercial for an establishment called, "SportClips". If you have already heard of this place, I apologize to you, because this morning was my first time knowing this existed. It is basically a sports bar, where you can also get your hair cut, your beard trimmed, and maybe even a shampoo. I sat there thinking to myself, "Damn that's a good idea", and I couldn't wait to get online to look this place up on the internets.

It's not like I am terribly unhappy with my current barbershop arrangements, but I do think some changes can be made. My barbers claim to be sports fans, but the only time I saw sports on the TWO flat screens is during the Men's World Cup last year. Other than that, the TVs are off, and there is reggae music blaring through the speakers, whether it is 8am or 7pm. Now, I love reggae music and all, but I love sports more, and what is the point of having TWO flat screens if their only function is to collect dust? I don't get it.

So I looked up this SportClips place, and I noticed that the closest location is in Waldorf, MD, which is about 20-30 minutes away from me. Considering my current barber is a five minute walk from my house, that's just too big of an adjustment for me to make. But what troubled me about this SportClips place, was that I saw NO ONE who looked like me on the ads. I just saw lots and lots of white men, but no brothers, and that was a bit discouraging. I know in a perfect world anyone could cut any one's hair, but the truth is that does not happen. When I was younger, I walked into many a barbershop with no black barbers, and I've heard the "Well I've never really cut a black guy's hair" speech before, and that was cool. Only half of the black barbers in my current shop feel comfortable cutting white people's hair. It isn't racist, it is just about comfort. That's how these things go..

But SportClips is a damn good idea, and there are locations all over this fine country of ours, and their ads are telling me that my kind cannot be accomodated--I dont know if that's true or not, but the ads hint at it strongly. So now, in order to prove myself right or wrong, I have to 1)ask someone who looks like me if they've been there or 2) call SportClips and have that awkward, do-you-cut-black-hair conversation. I think that's a risk worth taking though..

Finally I would like to send a shout out to my kindergarten-bound nephew Nazir, who graduated from pre-school last week. The picture you see below says, "I'm Nazir, I'm a graduate, and I'm important!"

Friday, July 01, 2011

Last Wednesday I went to see Rakim and the Roots at the Blue Note in NYC. Talib Kweli showed up, the annoying Toure' did interviews, and Mr. Dave Chappelle was in the audience (I also ran into him in the bathroom..and it way less suspect than it sounds). It was a great show, a great night, and it was worth the trip. I took a picture of the set list, but it sucked, but my friend Janelle took a GREAT pic of it, and here it is: