Thursday, December 31, 2009

Electric Relaxation: Goodbye 2000's - Favorite Songs

I really wasn't going to try and do a best of 2000's but after seeing the Songs of the Decade Trend on Twitter and the Rolling Stone list of great songs, I got inspired. This is just some of my favorite songs from the decade, when I got exposed to way more music.

Some of these songs are influential on the decade. Some still sound fresh as when I heard them for the first time. Some are personal favorites for various reasons ("Virgo" anyone?). But anyway here they are. Happy New Year, everyone :)

Eminem - Stan
Jay-Z - Takeover
Jay-Z - Roc Boys
Missy Elliot - Get Ur Freak On
Alicia Keys - Fallin (the true queen of R&B this decade)
Nas - Stillmatic Intro, Made You Look, One Mic, Virgo
AZ - The Essence (f. Nas): The last official partnership we have for now :(
Lecrae - Jesus Muzik
Arctic Monkeys - I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor
The Strokes - Last Night
Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out
Kanye West - Jesus Walks/Touch The Sky/Addiction/Celebration/Everything I Am
The Roots - Rising Down, Long Time
Common - The Light, The Corner
The Vines - Get Free
The Hives - Hate To Say I Told You So
Outkast - B.O.B., Hey Ya, I Like The Way You Move, Art of Storytellin Pt. 4
Mary Mary - Shackles
Tonex - Real With U
50 Cent - In Da Club
Clipse - Grindin, Mr. Me Too

Lupe Fiasco - Kick, Push/American Terrorist/Theme Music to a Drive By
The White Stripes - Fell In Love With A Girl/Seven Nation Army/Icky Thump
Foreign Exchange - Sincere/The Answer
Little Brother - Lovin It/The Yo-Yo/Speed/Hiding Place
Blue Scholars - Loyalty
Usher - Yeah/Confessions Pt. 2/U Got It Bad/U Remind Me
Talib Kweli - Get By/Say Something/We Got The Beat
John Legend - Ordinary People/Save Room (that whole 2nd album is underrated)/Green Light
Cee-Lo - I'll Be Around (how many of yall bought his solo albums?)
Gnarls Barkley - Crazy/Smiley Faces
Musiq Soulchild - Love/Just Friends/Halfcrazy/Forthenight/Womanopoly/Soulstarr
Slum Village - Fall N Love (one of the 1st J Dilla beats I heard after his passing)
Big L - Ebonics
Big Pun - Dream Shatterer
Q-Tip - Gettin Up/Life Is Better

Angels and Airwaves - Do It For Me Now
+44 - Lycanthrope
Bubba Sparxxx - Deliverance (an underrated collabo partner in Timbaland's camp)
Aaliyah - Rock The Boat (if you don't know why, you're too young)
Coldplay - Shiver (hated Yellow)/The Scientist/Amsterdam/Viva La Vida
Craig David - Fill Me In
Craig David - Walking Away
Green Day - American Idiot/Minority/Jesus of Suburbia
Jadakiss - Why
T.I. - Bring Em Out
Nappy Roots - Po' Folks
Incubus - Wish You Were Here/Dig/Warning
Jurassic 5 - Quality Control/What's Golden/The Game/A Day At The Races
Justin Timberlake - Like I Love You/Love Stoned/Senorita
K-Os - Sunday Morning

Run-DMC - Queens Day
Silversun Pickups - Lazy Eye
Sean Paul - Temperature
N.E.R.D. - Lapdance
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Dani California
MIA - Galang/Paper Planes
Kidz in the Hall - Driving Down The Block
Maxwell - Pretty Wings
UGK - Chrome-Plated Woman/Int'l Player's Anthem

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Deconstructing Nicki Minaj

Out of all the things that became nearly extinct this decade musically (the R&B group, the hip-hop group, talent over image), the death of the female MC is something that's been a quiet yet gradual phase. When I interviewed Chuck D for a story that never ran two years ago, he mentioned it as a problem hip-hop needs to address because the only role for women nowadays is the sex symbol.

The only two female MC's I can rattle off the top of my head are Jean Grae and Nicki Minaj. I've been a fan of Jean since 2004 when she outshone Talib Kweli and Black Thought on their respective albums and she's stayed a beast. And then there's Nicki who's doing her best Lil Kim impersonation on the 2009 version of Junior MAFIA.

People are so hyped about Nicki's "skill" that they overlook how unoriginal she is to begin with. She calls herself the Black Barbie, something that Lil Kim perfected by calling herself the Black Pam Anderson. Barbie is appropriate because apparently Nicki has had a bit surgery to make her boobs and butt look bigger. And she's going for the sex symbol route that Kim and Foxy Brown already did and did better.

And as far as her skill - her voice sounds like a Valley girl trying to be hard. Never mind her lyrics (or her choppy flow), if you don't want to listen to say anything, who cares what you have to say. I dare someone to give me a verse of hers that's worth giving props over (that BET cypher doesn't count - a decent freestyle but then again Bow Wow murdered "Oh I Think They Like Me." Anything can happen once in a while)

Here's a list of reasons why she's FAR from the best female rapper alive.

1) She's trying to be Lil Kim but Kim has classics under her belt. Who cares if Biggie ghostwrote her stuff and coached her, she had to still deliver it and she made classic songs. Kim was coached by the best, Nicki is coached by...Lil Wayne? Point made

2) Missy Elliot has made far better music than her. "Get Ur Freak On" will go down as one of the best hip-hop songs of the decade. Her run with Timbaland from 1997-2002 almost turned hip-hop around from samples to electro-sounding beats...practically the style today.

3) Remy Ma rapped toe-to-toe with Big Pun and stole the show on "Lean Back" in 04 (how did I forget that song on my 2004 Music Post). What lyrical heavyweight will Nicki stand toe-to-toe with?

4) MC Lyte today could rap circles around her. Nevermind in her late 80's-90's prime. Peep this song with DJ Premier and tell me Nicki is better.

5) Nicki better than Jean Grae???? Bwhahahahahaha. Jean may never get the mainstream love she deserves but she continues to rip every track she gets on. Peep "Say Something" with her and Kweli.

6) Oh yeah, I forgot about Foxy Brown. Let's see - she rapped with Jay-Z, Nas, Fat Joe (when he was still respected) and LL Cool J and stole the show each time, all before she could legally vote. She's probably one of my favorite female MC as far as flow, delivery goes and Nicki couldn't match her.

*And I forgot Shawnna and Eve? Let me stop there. Shawnna might be the next female MC to blow if Battle of the Sexes ever gets released, just watch her live shows why she reps Chicago.

**For a bonus point, I'll throw M.I.A. in the mix too. Nah, that's too easy. The cynic in me says people might think she doesn't rap despite her flow on "Paper Planes", "Boyz" and "Galang". Too easy.

Listen to them and dare tell me that Black Barbie 2.0 stands a chance. She's better off trying to be cast as a video vixen because I hear dudes talk more about her looks than her skill. I can look at you all day but if you have nothing valuable to say, I'll keep it moving.

But sadly, Nicki is the only female MC who's on the radar. This is the problem with the game today, the lack of talent in the mainstream makes us prop up people as the "best" without them earning it through body of work. A rising tide may lift all ships but not all ships were meant to be lifted so soon.

The lack of quality female MC's out right now means that anyone who comes out with a buzz and makes a few mixtapes could qualify as the best. But in the underground, there are talented female MC's who could serve not just Nicki but a few of these guys. I've seen a few in the L.A. scene alone this past year and who knows what else nationally.

That's why Nicki can't be the best. Not even the best in the mainstream. Female rappers stood out because either they hung their own against good to great male MC's or brought something to the table that was unique (i.e. Missy). To me she hasn't and cramming her down hip-hop's throat will only make me vomit her back out from when she came.

It's sad that the only major progress females made in hip-hop this decade has been the rise of video vixens. It's probably why most fans won't take female MC's seriously unless they get sexed up and talk about sex like Kim and Foxy Brown. And probably why most of you will never hear Jean Grae on the radio. Nicki is just the latest to fall in line with this.

By the way, being a Black Barbie brings up a whole discussion of Black beauty and beauty in general - the idea of being like Barbie (a plastic, skinny doll) as the standard of beauty and Black women (women in general even) feeling like they have to cater to this made up image to be considered beautiful. Child, please. (c) Chad Ochocinco

Anyone who dares mention her as a great rapper should be slapped upside their head. If she's the best, the game has truly gone to crap.

*Enjoy the pics fellas.

Monday, December 28, 2009

VSR: You Play to Win the Game

Work nearly made it hard to get this started but I'm making time since most of my stuff is done at this point. Let's roast a rookie head coach shall we?

So Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Caldwell decided in the middle of a game to rest his starters for the playoffs. There's nothing wrong with that in theory because coaches have done it for years in the NFL. The problem is the timing when you do it - most tend to do it in blowouts (whether losing or trailing.

Common sense says don't do it in the middle of a CLOSE game where neither team has an advantage. I don't care if you are going for perfection or not, don't quit in the middle of a battle. Let the other team beat you.

You can argue it was a meaningless game for Indy and it was. But the first reason we play sports is to win. Nobody plays to lose, you may play for fun but the day I play a sport with the full purpose of losing and not trying my hardest is the day I quit forever. What Caldwell did by pulling Peyton Manning and other in a dog fight is the equivalent of not bothering to try and his team followed suit and laid down in their loss.

You play to win the game. You don't play to lose. Let the other team beat you because they were better, not because you give them the game in the middle of a fight. Had he rested his starters earlier or with the game not in doubt, we don't have this conversation.

(But Mr. Virgo - what about injury risk? What if Peyton Manning wins the MVP holding crutches at the press conference?)

From SI's Peter King: "In the last two years, [Manning] dropped back to pass 1,132 times and been sacked 24 times. That's one sack per every 47 dropbacks. Offensive coordinator Tom Moore and Manning are smart. They could easily have formulated a gameplan including only quick and intermediate throws, to even further lower the risk of injury."

That tells me that the odds against injury are slim. If Peyton Manning hasn't missed a start in years and is having his best season ever, ride out the wave until it crashes. A perfect season may not mean much if you dont win a ring but resting starters never guarantees you get the ring either.

Considering the Colts resting themselves for the postseason has seen them only win one Super Bowl and fall short several times despite home-field advantage in some cases, I'd say stay on a roll and let it carry through in January.

Caldwell has done a great job manning the Colts' ship but he made a rookie mistake by trying to play smart and instead looked stupid in defeat. Playoffs are all about momentum, not the best team. It's why the No. 1 team entering the postseason has rarely won it all and it's why the Eagles and Chargers are the most feared teams to face right now. Now we know why the Colts will lose at some point - my guess, the Chargers in the AFC title game...

I've been a critic of Cowboys QB Tony Romo on here and in conversations for the past 2 years. His inability to win big games and play well in December is well known but right now, i'd say Philip Rivers is the only QB playing better right now.

Come again? Peep his stats the last 4 games. 7 TD's vs. 1 INT. A Completion percentage average of 66%. Translation: he's making almost no mistakes and doing what needs to be done instead of forcing his hand.

We are watching a young QB grow up and start turning the corner into being a consistent player. It's why I'm optimistic that when he gets a new coach/offensive coordinator next year, it could be even better for his development. This is the point of year where Romo should rightly be judged and so far, he's not shrinking under pressure. It's time to avenge last year's 44-6 season-ending loss to the Eagles on Sunday....

I've said this once before but it bears repeating (c) Jack White - NOBODY wants to see the Chargers next month. NOBODY. Don't be surprised if the Chargers and Eagles make their conference finals and are slight favorites.

Anybody seen Andrew Bynum on the Lakers? He's been invisible since Pau Gasol got back and last I heard, he was busy collecting fouls instead of rebounds.

For that matter, has anyone seen our bench? I see Lamar Odom and the occasional Shannon Brown highlight but other than that, the Bench Mob has produced like Da Lench Mob. Nothing significant away from its leader....

Correct me if I'm wrong but I find it weird that the USC men's basketball team has almost more wins at this point (8) than the USC football team (9). I know I can't say anything because UCLA is barely doing jack on the court against real competition (yaaawn Delaware State??). But Kevin O'Neill for Pac-10 Coach of the Year?

But it's time for the Pac-10 season to start and I'm curious to see how good Arizona is when they face UCLA on Saturday. I saw freshman Derrick Williams play in an All-Star game last year and he was the most impressive guy on the court outside of Jordan Hamilton (now at Texas) and Tyler Honeycutt (UCLA).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2004 - Politics (Seeds of Change)

The first presidential election I watched as an adult was a crazy time in America. You had waves of protest music and it was then that I realized as a country we were turning against George Bush for good and his policies. Like I said a few posts ago, "American Idiot" was the soundtrack of that year and people were waking up - myself included - to a B.S. war in Iraq that felt futile even then.

Anyways, the election was probably one of the most galvanizing events of my lifetime and probably one of the most charged since the 1960's but from it we saw some interesting things.

The 2004 DNC introduced us to a Senator candidate from Illinois with an African name and an idealistic attitude. A stirring speech about coming together under one name - American, not broken down by party affiliation. A message of upholding the country to its ideals and an audacity of hope. It's a shame I missed it because of Youth Group - although I did see Bill Clinton's stirring speech the night before.

By the way, that Barack Obama guy turned out pretty well. The shine from that night I think is still shining somewhat right? I remember writing a blog on Myspace in 2006 saying it was foolish to rush him to the Presidency so soon but he was easily the biggest political rookie to make an impact since Bill Clinton. I was shocked then and I am now.

Crazy enough, John Edwards to me was ill-suited to be Vice-President. He should've been the Presidential candidate - a young, energetic man who believed in the cause of the working poor and the declining middle class. He was way better than John Kerry IMO - but thank God he didn't win the nomination because he screwed himself over with his infidelity becoming public four years later.

The mind-boggling thing to me about it all was how George Bush earned re-election by a fairly comfortable margin. I remember talking to peeps on Instant Messenger and them being nervous that night - especially my sister on the East Coast. I still can't believe he won the popular vote and I think we were nervous about what would happen next.

Alas, he won and we all know what happened next - the mishandling of Hurricane Katrina, his Cabinet abandoning ship, and eventually the near-crash of the American economy as we plunged into a recession.

But 2004 was politically an interesting year mainly because it was the rise of Barack Obama as America mostly supported the reign of George Bush (at least percentage wise). And honestly, I think that's when I realized how divided our country was. I noticed coverage that was slanted in one way or the other and things became more polarizing than ever.

Maybe it was my coming of age to see how dirty and messy politics were. But even in the muck, something can at least temporarily unite people.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2004 - Sports Recap (The Foundation for 2009)

It's funny how this year altered several franchises forever. The Lakers, Chargers, Pacers, Pistons, Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, NY Giants and USC can trace almost where they are now back to what happened in 2004.

The biggest sports story of the year was the "Malice at the Palace" brawl between the Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers and the fans at Auburn Hills who added fuel to a smoldering fire. SLAM Magazine has a great piece looking back at it but several things happened as a result
- The Pacers were never the same. A Eastern Conference power to a lottery, rebuilding team
- NBA Dress Code instituted.
- Flagrant fouls punished under a microscopic glare.

Of course the irony is that the Pistons shocked the world a few months by ending the Lakers dynasty and proving team over individual. Their blue collar work ethic kept that team among the East's elite until 2008 and made Chauncey Billups go from a journeyman into a borderline Hall of Famer. As a Lakers fan, it made me hate the Pistons once again but that was a weird year for the team.

You had a super team of Karl Malone and Gary Payton join a visibly shaken Kobe Bryant (dealing with his rape charges) and a slowly declining Shaquille O'Neal. You had Derek Fisher proving his value with the 0.4 shot against the Spurs (still remember screaming in my dorm room when he hit that). Kobe played some great basketball under pressure but some of his worst too - one shot in a half against Sacramento? Taking over Game 4 of the Finals when he didn't need to?

It was the end of an era. Shaq left, Fisher left, Gary Payton left. Karl Malone later got in hot water over some comments to Kobe's wife. And thats when the Lakers became Kobe's team for worse and later for better. A leader who had to learn by being selfish that leading means getting guys to follow you and trusting them to step up.

The Dodgers made it a bad sports year for L.A. professionally all around. They made one of their worst trades ever in giving up Paul LoDuca and Guillermo Mota to Florida for Brad Penny. LoDuca was the heart and soul of that team and Mota was the bridge to the unhittable closer Eric Gagne (who was overworked down the stretch). Let's not forget the Boys in Blue were in first place in the NL and cruising - no need to make that deal and Brad Penny was a solid pitcher - until the 2nd half of the season started.

Of course all of that changed when Gagne and LoDuca were on the Mitchell Report but hey, it was a bad deal then. The last year the Dodgers made the playoffs til 2008 but who can forget Jose Lima pitching a four-hit shutout for the Dodgers' first playoff win til 88. I remember watching that in my dorm with awe. LIMA TIME forever!

Then again who cares about that because everyone will remember the 2004 postseason. The greatest NLCS nobody saw with an absolute classic in Game 5 (Jeff Kent's walk-off ended a scoreless tie). And the greatest ALCS ever leading to the Red Sox finally ending the Babe's curse. Pretty much ensuring we'd hate Boston fans but nobody ever thought they'd win one - much less, TWO - World Series in our lifetime.

The Red Sox became the standard for winning in the decade and running a great franchise. Who knew? And the Yankees ended up going on massive spending sprees as a result to finally field a championship team in 2009. That 2004 ALCS is where it all started - losing the torch and taking it back.

And then there's the Chargers and Giants who swapped picks in the 04 draft and got Philip Rivers and Eli Manning. Yeah that worked out pretty well, the Giants got Super Bowl XLII and the Chargers got four division titles and their first playoff wins since 1995. Did I mention that trade brought along Pro Bowlers Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding to SD?

Oh yeah, Ben Roethlisberger was drafted that year. Drew Brees had a great year for San Diego that paved the way for him to be traded to New Orleans in 2006.

Which bring me back to my city. USC's road as a dominant program in college football started in the 2004 Rose Bowl where they split the national title and ran the table the following year to win the title outright.

To me that 2004 USC team deserves to be ranked among the best college football teams in recent memory - a better defense than the 2005 squad and just as deadly on offense. But that's when the Trojans became the talk of Los Angeles and began establishing their dynasty. One that nearly crumbled this past year.

It was a funny sports year. Tiger Woods and the Williams sisters didn't win anything and were thought to be slumping. At the Olympics, Michael Phelps won 8 medals, Jeremy Wariner showed white guys can win at track, and Team USA didn't win gold in basketball for the first time.

5 years later, this year set up a lot of things that are happening right now.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The only Heroes are on NBC

Tiger Woods' fallout has led to several columns bemoaning the fall of another hero - a role model who fell from his perch like so many have and so many will. But all my life, I've believed that people need to stop looking to athletes for perfection and redefine what is truly worthy of "heroism."

First off, I thought after 9/11 we had a moratorium on throwing around the hero. Heroes don't show off athletic talent, they save lives, make a difference. Anyways I digress.

Athletes have been the target of hero worship since Babe Ruth became the first celebrity athlete of the modern age (1920's). From the Babe to Mickey Mantle to Joe DiMaggio, athletes were treated like immortal royalty - epitomized by the late John Updike referring Ted Williams turning down a curtain call in his final game by saying "Gods do not answer letters."

Blame it on the media for not reporting the dirt athletes did until the 1970's and blame it on the media for building them up to be legends (especially in baseball). It's why Mickey Mantle was a role model despite his alcoholism, the Babe despite his womanizing and DiMaggio despite being a jerk.

As a kid I disagreed with Charles Barkley when he said "I am not a role model" - I figured well yeah you are because you're in the spotlight and have a responsibility (of course I didn't see the WHOLE commerical). Nowadays, I agree with him because if kids look up solely to athletes and entertainers without parental guidance, it's on the parents for giving kids a false hope WITHOUT a dose of reality and relying on someone (a stranger) to do their job.

I looked up to men like Grant Hill, A.C. Green and David Robinson, men who had character and worked hard to maintain it in the public eye. But even then, I was temper my expectations a bit on heroes because people will let you down - they can do great things, but they can also fall

I was a big Bill Clinton fan in junior high, middle school. I remember voting for him in our mock election back in elementary school where he won overwhelmingly. But when he admitted that he lied about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, I was sad but far from devastated. Give credit to my folks for using it as a teaching moment to remember people aren't perfect.

Kobe Bryant showed me this in 2003. He was someone I held in high regard. The 24-year old dynamo with 3 rings and then it all crashed down in Colorado. I remember Dan Shanoff's Daily Quickie on ESPN having a cartoon of a crashed Kobe statue from a pedestal and thinking that's how many felt - crushed.

But again, it showed me people aren't perfect. And when you idolize someone, you have to remember that beyond the mask of sports/entertainment/business (Peep "Wall Street")/life, they are people and you have to "idolize" them for who they are not what they do.

Heroes/Role Models as perfect people is a concept that died when Adam + Eve sinned. I've always said the best role models are those who try to carry themselves the right way, handle their flaws with humility and recover with the same grace/dignity as they did before.

That's why I say that if you're looking for a hero - check your local comic book store, NBC on Monday nights, or the men and women in uniform that protect and serve us everyday. Don't look at people who entertain you because more than likely, they'll fail you unless you expect this going in. Also, if you don't expect perfection from your friends, why expect it from strangers?

Today, I am grateful for the men like my late father, my godbrother Ron and other men at my church who helped mold me into who i am today. I'm grateful to my mom, sister, aunts, female cousins and friends for teaching me how to treat and interact with ladies.

Normal people who do something intangible that's outstanding - shouldn't that be what heroes are about?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thanks for the Memories, John

This is sad news to me that John Frusicante is leaving the Red Hot Chili Peppers again. Even though it was on great terms, it's a big loss because he's a driving force in their creativity.

I guess he still wants to follow his unique musical vision and few artists today can match the skill he has. But its a lot better than when he did in 1992, leaving the band because he was incapable of being a star and dealing with drug addiction.

People don't talk much about it, but his road to recovery is one of the best in recent music history. You can look at videos of him strung out and wonder how someone was probably near death can comeback and reclaim his throne as one of the best guitarists of the last 30 years. A child prodigy turned rock star turned drug addict turned clean visionary.

The Chili Peppers are one of my favorite bands ever and I was anticipating a new album next year and finally getting to see them on tour at some point. But now, it'll just be Anthony, Chad, Flea and hopefully a great guitarist who can capture some semblance of John's vibe.

It's been a great 10 years back John. Thank you for the music and I wish you well with your career.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Single Life - In the Wrong City?

I've been single for the past year and it's given me a lot of time to think about what I want in my next relationship. It's funny, you spend time looking at your friends, listening to girls talk about bad relationships or bad guys and you feel like you have a better of what to be and not to be.

But of course, you also spend time looking at your options and I realized that this year I've gotten closer with more ladies on Twitter than in my own city. My life pretty much revolves around work, home and church and thankfully, I got my bowling crew to make a Friday/Saturday night great. So my chances of dating aren't too great - kinda hard meeting people as a sports reporter.

Then last week I read this article about the dating climate of Los Angeles. It almost confirmed my feelings about how tough it is in the city - especially the distance factor. My last ex was serious when she we were in a long distance relationship (I was in Inglewood, she in Long Beach), it was a 30 minute drive down to her.

It's hard meeting somebody here because the city is so big and if you're lucky to meet someone who lives close to you, you hope that it works. Plus given that L.A. is a car-driven culture with bad metro system - the only time we share a sense of community is on the freeway during traffic or if the Lakers do well.

What it's done is make my wonder if I should give more thought to pursuing my career/life outside of L.A. Maybe there's more options for meeting people in a different city. Maybe being on my own would give me a sense of independence and drive that I had in San Diego.

Being a professional means its tough to meet people outside of your field. I've known this since I got my job three years ago and while I wouldnt mind dating someone related to my business, there's a big relief in leaving work behind and enjoying time with someone who has no ties to it.

So it's almost comforting that I've found people to relate with on Twitter in CA and around the country. But at the same time, it's left me wishing I could have more tangible contact here within my immediate circle.

Part of me is glad that I've sat on the sidelines to watch. And yet I look around and wonder about my chances. But then again maybe I need to take my wisdom and just apply it better around here. Who knows.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2004 - Music (Ushering in the Last Stand)

Like I said, it was the last great year for the music industry as we know it. I've talked with one industry insider this year and she pretty much told me that there is no industry. Credit the downfall to rampant downloading, Soundscan not taking album downloads into consideration, and the lack of connection that'll tie fans to a movement.

That's why I say that Usher exploding with Confessions with the last of a dying breed. It was a monster that combined the rising crunk sound, a 3-year wait between albums and a deeply personal album that involved him and TLC's Chilli (allegedly). It had all the ingredients to be a monster and it was.

1.1 million sold the first week, four No. 1 singles that spent 28 weeks at the top, the last album to sell 10 million in the US - that's why I call it the Thriller of our (this) era.

It was also the year Kanye West said hi. I'll never forget people going nuts over bootlegging it and the day it dropped, someone recited "All Falls Down" at a poetry slam and I thought it was dope without knowing who it was. College Dropout still remains one of the best albums of the decade and one of my all-time faves.

Like I said in my last post, Kanye spoke to me like no rapper had before. Some other music highlights/lowlights

- Conscious rap was supposed to be in vogue but it turned out not to be what we thought. Talib Kweli's album wasn't as solid, Mos Def's album was as inconsistent, The Roots dropped arguably their worst album.

- Kanye's ascent coincided with the last stand of the three rap heavyweights. Jay-Z was in the middle of his retirement album, Eminem dropped his worst album (which still has some gems on there), and Nelly dropped 2 albums, his last major success. I still love Suit and think it showed the direction that Nelly was gonna succeed with.

- Maroon 5 dropped with a dope sound. It's funny cause I remember my friend Vanessa going to see them in Fall 2003 at this local bar in San Diego before they blew up. Then they came out to our campus in 2005. Unbelieveable

- T.I. dropped his biggest hit of the time "Bring Em Out", setting the stage for his rise as the next biggest rapper.

- Franz Ferdinand was a breath of fresh air and dropped one of my favorite joints of the decade "Take Me Out", rock needed a kick in the balls and this song smashed anything else at the time. And then MIA dropped "Galang" and it still sounds as fresh/original now.

- Biggest comeback had to go to Green Day, who changed their sound, elevated punk rock and made the soundtrack to a crazy election year and eventually the recession "Blvd. of Broken Dreams" still sounds relevant today esp. for college graduates and 30-somethings who watch their dreams get re-evaluated.

- "Why?" was one of the best songs Jadakiss ever did. Ironically it may have been the last major hit from NY from a non G-Unit artist. Oh wait, forgot about wack Mims.

- Oh yeah, I also got into Prince a lot more closely. I bought his comeback album "Musicology" in December and I remember enjoying it all over Washington D.C. It made me discover a lot of his music. In 2005, I bought his greatest hits album and "Sign O the Times"

- Still can't believe people tripped out over Britney Spears "Toxic" - might just be the best reviewed single of her career. I actually liked "Everytime" because it was a piano ballad.

- And although I didnt discover it until 2005, one of the most beautiful albums ever dropped. Changed the notion of what I thought hip-hop could sound like. The Foreign Exchange - Connected. An album made with two guys in different countries who never met except on a message board and showed how the Internet could aid in making great music.

It was probably one of the last years we all had a shared musical experience. Everything was going to end up on I-Tunes, rampant downloading and message boards (plus the radio shifting towards a younger audience). Take it for what it's worth. Fond musical memories for me. What about you?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

2004 - One Crazy Year

I know 2009 is winding down but I meant to do this sooner. 2004 might go down as one of the most interesting years of the decade. A lot happened musically, politically, athletically that we are seeing a lot differently with perspective.

Personally it was the year that I rediscovered Illmatic and the opening line of Nas' verse on "Life's a B--ch" that said "I woke up early on my born day, I'm 20 years a blessing, the essence of adolesence leaves my body now I'm fresh in." The fact I turned 20 that year made that song even more personal and I still have the mix CD I made my birthday dinner (the first one I had in San Diego)

It was the first calendar year I had the car for myself. Transitioning between sophomore and junior year meant I'd be in leadership roles at my school for the first time. And all that motivated me was Big Boi's verse on "Y'all Scared" from Aquemini, "Even though we're two albums in, this feels like the beginning," 2 years into college, I felt like I had a fresh start and ready to just be me without fear.

An added bonus was discovering a new rapper that I felt spoke to me. A smart kid who didn't always fit in and enjoyed carving his own map to success. And he dropped the perfect album for someone like me being in college. Enter the College Dropout - Kanye West. Funny how he turned out isn't it?

The Lakers dynasty

The infamous 2004 election swept our campus (and the Democrats were buzzing about some Illinois state senator who made a brilliant keynote address that I missed) and Usher had arguably the last great solo year that any of us will ever see in the music business.

I think maybe I needed 2004 after a sad 2003 of losing my Dad, adjusting to college life and realizing I had to grow up a lot faster as a man. That's probably why I remember it so vividly and it had such a big impact on me - that and being in New Orleans the year before Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast.

Oh yeah, that was also the year a little thing called Facebook blew up. I actually remember the early template for it that looked amateurish and the fact you needed a college email for it. People tried to get me to join all these social networks I never heard of - mainly Friendster and Xanga.

I might challenge myself and do some posts on that year before 2009 ends. I usually do my year in review in January know, after 2009 passes us by instead of waiting til the end of December.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

VSR: The Battle for My Soul (Chargers = Mo Rivera, Cowboys = Brad Lidge in 09))

I had dreaded this week's Chargers-Cowboys game for years. I knew at some point both of my teams would potentially meet and I'd have to choose loyalties. But I expected this moment by going with the team that was my first love - Dallas - and knowing full well that San Diego would probably win.

And there I was, watching the second half in my LaDainian Tomlinson jersey and my Cowboys beenie like I always said I would.

What I didnt expect was a close game between the defenses - a late TD and FG by the Chargers put the game on ice but it was a struggle all game. What I didn't expect was the Cowboys offense - despite struggling to move the ball - not making too many mistakes (although Barber on 3 straight plays from the 1-yard line shows a lack of creativity on coordinator Jason Garrett's part)

If not for Nick Folk missing a FG, that game is tied heading into OT. He's my goat and I'll placing this also at Wade Phillips feet. When a team can't win in December and is psychologically beaten, it's the coach's fault for not motivating his players to push past it.

I'll give my dude Shane his props for calling it close for Dallas (and he offered a great take on this implosion). The Chargers didn't run the ball well and I think we both expected that - but what I expected was Phillip Rivers to move the ball in the air on the Boys' secondary.

(And dont blame this on Tony Romo - he's a QB rating over 110 the past 2 weeks. As much as I criticized him earlier this year, he's doing his best to

For the past 2 years, I've said that the Chargers are what the Cowboys should aspire to - an efficient offense, an aggressive defense and a level of professionalism that allows them to play at a high level in every game. I never would've guessed I'd say that about a Norv Turner-coached team but I give more of that credit to Marty Schottenheimer's influence and Phillip Rivers' growth as a QB.

Under Rivers, the Chargers are 16-0 in December and have won their 8th straight. Under Tony Romo, the Cowboys have lost 7 of their last 9 in December and are down to a scary 2nd in the NFC East.

It's the difference between Mariano Rivera and Brad Lidge. One's the best closer in the game - a model of professionalism and efficiency. The other imploded this past year after a successful 2008 campaign. Guess which ones my teams are.

Now its back to rooting for my teams hard. Nobody wants to face the Chargers right now - especially the Colts - and the Cowboys have to good fortune of facing 13-0 New Orleans Thursday. Great.

(And prayers for DeMarcus Ware, who left the field with a sprained neck. Classy move by Tomlinson to be one of the last people to see him off.)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tiger on Hiatus

From Woods' website
I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so manypeople, most of all my wife and children. I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness. It may not be possible to repair the damage I've done, but I want to do my best to try.
I would like to ask everyone, including my fans, the good people at my foundation, business partners, the PGA Tour, and my fellow competitors, for their understanding. What's most important now is that my family has the time, privacy, and safe haven we will need for personal healing.
After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person.
Again, I ask for privacy for my family and I am especially grateful for all those who have offered compassion and concern during this difficult period.

I personally applaud Tiger for doing this because let's face it. He could stick around and try to play through it like the singularly focused man he is but he did the unthinkable - he put something else in front of his goal of being the greatest golfer ever. The greatest thing any man can do is put his family before himself and considering how bad he screwed up, this is drastic enough to show he's serious about repairing his family.
Forget his image for a minute. He's being real and answering to the only person he has to - his wife. Go away to Sweden, work on your marriage, work on your problems, show her that you're changing and committed to doing better. That's called being a real man and a husband.
Some might say he's punking out, running from his problems. Its possible but could it be that he's also handling it by removing all distractions in America to make it all about him and her? That's how you handle infidelity - if you're going to stay together, put in the work to make it better.

Friday, December 11, 2009

School Daze - Championship Fever

As some of you know, I cover high school sports in L.A. This weekend is probably the biggest in Southern California with the section football championships. I'm just gonna tell you about the LA City Section Final on Saturday.

L.A. Crenshaw and Harbor City Narbonne have met the last three postseasons but when they meet Saturday there's a lot at stake. Crenshaw is trying to be first undefeated City champion in 29 years and be the first City team to qualify for the state bowl championships next week. Narbonne, the defending co-City champs is trying to finish off a magical run and beat the Top 3 seeds in the playoffs (having beat Venice and Carson).

Narbonne's story starts last year. Up 21-7 in the 4th quarter in the championship, they let San Pedro come back and tie the game (no overtime rules back then.) They were crushed but for the first time in their history, they had rings. But it couldn't prepare them for what lay ahead.

This past May, Dannie Farber, a senior wide receiver who caught the touchdown to set up their win over Crenshaw last year in the semifinals, was gunned down in Compton weeks before his graduation. It shocked the school and put a sour note to a year that should've been one of the most memorable in their history.

His team (which lost 29 seniors) dedicated this season to him but they started poorly going 1-3. Then in a rematch with San Pedro, they played their best half of the season and found a way to win. Farber's best friend Melvin Davis (a senior RB committed to Washington) played a big role in the comeback and creditted him with motivation. But they went 2-2 the rest of the way, a shocking loss to former City power Banning sent them from a Top 5 seed to No. 11.

Long story short, they won every playoff game on the road. Beat a Venice team that played nationally ranked Oaks Christian tough for 3 quarters. Beat a Carson team that owned them in their first meeting. And now they're back to do what Davis told me - pick up something they left behind last year.

And then there's Crenshaw - one of the last predominantly Black high schools in the LA Unified School District (2nd largest in the country). Known primarily for their basketball program, the inner-city school lost their accreditation earlier this decade before getting it back. But their football team has done something that hasn't been seen in a while.

They defeated five teams in the Southern Section - something that has never happened. They've done with team speed (junior tailback DeAnthony Thomas is one of the fastest kids in the state and defending City champ in the 100m dash - 10.6) and a blistering defense that wants to maim you. I counted at least 7 kids in one playoff game that left the game due to big hits.

They have probably seven Division I prospects, including one of the top linebackers in the state in Hayes Pullard. But more than their record its how they won. They've epitomized what it means to be a team.

Most championship caliber teams have one player who makes the difference for them. Not with Crenshaw - there's no clear cut candidate for the best player on a loaded team. Everyone plays their role and they focus on one game at a time. It's a well-oiled machine that believes in brotherhood over individual and wins over accolades.

They hang out off the field, they encourage each other on it and on the sidelines - if you dont cheer for your teammates, you get cussed out not by the coaches, but the players. Its a self-disciplined, all-for-one attitude.

They carry the hopes of not just a community but a section that has been overlooked because of its size and supposedly sub-standard level of football. Two years ago, a city team went 13-1, beat Long Beach Poly and still was left out because of that first loss. Now Crenshaw has the chance to not just win the City, but contend for something bigger.

I'll be there Saturday to watch a great game. But there's two great stories that will write the final chapter and this is what high school football is all about. There's other great games in So.Cal to watch (The mighty Oaks Christian with their Gatorade National Player of the Year versus Serra for the 3rd year in a row. A Orange County rematch with nationally ranked Edison and Servite) but its all about the kids and the reasons why they compete.

Tomorrow, one school looks to honor their fallen comrade, the other looks to get one step closer to history. Inner city versus South Bay. Division I talent on both sides. And reasons motivating them that anyone can get behind.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Electric Relaxation: These are a few of my favorite...albums

In a better attempt to answer the question "Who am I?" I'm gonna just post some of my favorite albums since Facebook won't let you and I doubt anyone wants to go snoop around Myspace for me.

A 20 year old wrote this???? He wrote "Halftime" at 17-18??? When the list of prodigies in music come up, this album proves that Nas was one. "Memory Lane" and "Life's a B***h" keep me reflective.

This is hands down, the definitive album IMO of what it was like to be a Black man in the 1980's and 1990's. The first half, Cube is running around being young and dumb and ends up dead. The second half shows him awakened with a newfound consciousness, looking inward at his community causing their own ills. Oh yeah, it also has one of the greatest disses ever in "No Vasoline"

I talked about this with my friend Tracie on Twitter. Stephan Jenkins is one of the great pop songwriters of the last 15 years. He has a knack for being catchy, being cryptic (reread lyrics of Semi-Charmed Life), writing anthems and has the voice to pull it off. This isn't a guilty pleasure pick, I love this album as one of the best alternative albums of the era.

It's a shame Bradley died before this got released. It starts off with a mellow "Garden Grove" and ends with "Doin Time" - and in the middle is just a darn near perfect mixture of several genres. I can't find anyone who doesnt love this album - What I Got, April 29th, Caress me Down, and on and on...

I became a Prince fan late but I had to buy this album despite the high price tag. A rare double album that doesn't suck yet crosses multiple genres and touches on various themes (religion, love, not being worth a girl's time, the big issues of the day, randomness - Starfish and Coffee???). Oh yeah, he practically made this album himself. As much as I love Michael Jackson, he never made an album like this and that's not a knock on Thriller, that's the greatness of this album

One of my teachers in college gave me this album. I'll never forget what i wrote on Myspace when talking about it - "the most beautiful, original album I had ever heard." I knew nothing about Nicolay or Phonte before this and this album made a fan of them/Little Brother. Go listen to "Sincere" or "Happiness" and tell me its not beautiful hip-hop.

This isn't about the best albums ever. People confuse best and favorite albums all time. The best albums are great whether you heard them, like it or not, no bias or BS. Favorite is all about personal preference. So here ya go.

And note - some of these I just heard this year and I immediately got attached to them. This isn't the definitive list of Virgo Kent - just a peek.

Michael Jackson - Thriller
A Tribe Called Quest - Low End Theory, Midnight Marauders (perfection)
Incubus - Morning View
Gang Starr - Moment of Truth (helped me enjoy the first months after graduating)
Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
Red Hot Chili Peppers - By The Way (yes I love it more that Blood Sugar Sex Magik)
Jay-Z - Reasonable Doubt, Blueprint
Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory
Jurassic 5 - Power In Numbers
Kanye West - College Dropout (one of the first albums that I felt spoke to me)
Talib Kweli - Quality
Mos Def - Black on Both Sides
Switchfoot - Beautiful Letdown
Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream
Stevie Ray Vaughan - Texas Flood (One of the greatest debuts EVER)
U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind
Outkast - ATLiens, Aquemini
Common - Like Water for Chocolate, BE
Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique (sampling at its finest)
DC Talk - Jesus Freak
Little Brother - The Listening
Zwan - Mary Star of the Sea (sorry Billy Corgan, I still love this album 6 years later)
Alice in Chains - Jar of Flies (short and sweet, dirty and beautiful - AIC's last stand with Layne)
Matchbox 20 - Yourself of Someone Like You
Lecrae - When The Music Stops (candidate for best Christian Rap album ever)
Cross Movement - Holy Culture

Electric Relaxation: Rusty Cage (Soundgarden)

For the record, Chris Cornell is my favorite singer in rock. I was geeked about Audioslave because it combined one of my favorite vocalists with one of my favorite bands. And I love gaining a better appreciation for Soundgarden - for the record, I don't see any of the Big Seattle 4 as grunge bands, they all had their own style that embodied great rock.

Anyways I discovered "Rusty Cage" this year thanks to my favorite talk radio show Petros And Money, who played it when former NBA player Don McLean came on. I just love it because it's perfect driving music - starts off with a slow intro that builds into a pulsating rhythm that demands you bang your head and get hyped.

A word of advice - listening to this song while driving will make you break speed laws.

It's got three parts and honestly the last part drives me crazy. Its a sludge that kinda drags the song's energy down but its like hammering the final nails home. Hard to appreciate but essential in the long run.

I related to the words especially this year. Sometimes I just wanted to break away from things and just run away. I felt like I was shaking the cage of my life, my job and I was just antsy - hoping I could find something better to just make me free.

"I'm gonna break my rusty cage and run" - thats my theme of hope.

But enjoy the listen. Chris and Kim Thayil just murder that riff in the first part and Chris drives the lyrics home.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Grinds My Gears: The Grammys get it wrong again

Where do I start? Where do I start? First off when eligibility period ends August 31, a lot of great music this year gets screwed and a lot of great 2008 music gets "token noms". I remember in 1998 when the eligibility ended in October/November. At least you got to see the majority of albums from the year honored. But now, so many deserving songs/albums are overlooked, I agree with the LA Times Music Blog...change it to December and make it a true ceremony.

Anyways. On to my reaction to the nominations. *cracks knuckles* had to make this a "Grinds My Gears" edition with a few props. This is the Beyonce, Gaga and Taylor Swift show.

Album of the Year: Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Black Eyed Peas and.....Dave Matthews Band????? I didnt hear much about that album but it wasnt that highly touted. And Black Eyed Peas sold a lot so thats why it's there....garbage as it is. *barfs barfs barfs*

I had said that if Taylor Swift wins this, I will unload a barrage of hate like never before. (Calm down, that venom for the end of this). Sigh. On to the next take

Record of the YR: So happy Kings of Leon got love here. Halo, Poker Face, I Gotta Feeling and some Taylor Swift joint....meh. Maxwell's "Pretty Wings" wasnt big enough to be here I guess.

Song of the YR (Songwriting): I'm happy here. Kings of Leon "Use Somebody", Maxwell's "Pretty Wings" (My Song of the Yr). "Single Ladies" and "Poker Face" was gonna get something here. And of course something for T-Swizzy. Best of the 3 categories

Best New Artist: This is a major joke. How the bleep are my favorite rock band Silversun Pickups a new artist when they've been out since 2006 in the mainstream. They were on Guitar Hero 4 in 2007. They are far from new. Lauryn Hill and Shelby Lynne thinks this is a crock of crap.

I understand being out of touch but how the bleep do you ignore an artist from your backyard!!!!! They live in Silver Lake, not far from the Grammy HQ downtown. Give me a freaking break. Anyways, props to Keri Hilson and MGMT.

Quickie hits
- Male Pop Vocal Performance is nearly all R&B (Stevie, John Legend, Maxwell, Seal) except for Jason Mraz
- Maxwell got robbed. Maxwell got robbed. Can't say this enough. That album was on the level of Voodoo and Confessions for some of the best R&B of the decade and it shouldve been Album of the Year. But I'm glad he got SOTY and Best Pop Instrumental Performance - creativity gets no love
- Rap at the Grammys is always questionable. But two Jay-Z songs for Rap Song of the Year??? Geeez that album was nowhere near American Gangster let alone his best work.
- Ummmm in a historical sense, props to Drake for a mixtape single getting Grammy love. Best buzz since 50 Cent?
- My friend Tracie told me that a gimmick song is in the Rap/Sung Collab category..Lonely Island is a comedy troupe with T-Pain. The annual WTF moment.
- Best Rap Album is a joke. Glad Q-Tip and Mos Def got nominated (Q-Tip was a 2008 casualty here), but Common's whack album? Flo-Rida??? Em was a name that got nominated. Eh.
- Props to Foreign Exchange for a nomination in the R&B category. That album is definitely slept on.
- Props to The Tonic and Da Truth representing Cross Movement Records with Grammy nods.
- Silversun Pickups didnt get a rock album of the year nomination???? Endless fail.

While I'm angry Maxwell got no love for the one of the best R&B albums (and comebacks) in years, it's gonna be Ladies First with Beyonce, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga. Neither of them are really high in my book and I fear Taylor Swift will win Album of the Year here and the Shammys live up to their name.

A freaking teenager wins the award???? Oh the humanity. Beyonce could win it but given what I said about her, I'm ambivalent. Grammys grabbed names but didnt reward enough art. You want to be relevant? Don't just nominate popular people, nominate some deserving people in there too.

It's a shame some artists were left out. But for deserving artists like Kings of Leon (who went old school and got love overseas first), its a great thing for them. I dont hate Taylor Swift but i dont get her appeal - she's a younger Carrie Underwood with musicianship but eh. Not my cup of tea

Alright I'm done with this rant. Yes I'll watch and do another recap blog. But the blandness of the nominees just shows why the show is out of touch.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Arthur Ashe (World AIDS Day tribute)

Twitter is going red today in honor of World AIDS Day. The first post I made at midnight was about one of the most famous victims of the disease, tennis legend Arthur Ashe. Ashe is one of my inspirations based on how he lived his life - a man of deep convictions, quiet strength, thoughtfulness and a fine tennis player who broke barriers for Blacks in tennis.

He made his mark at UCLA helping them win the national championship in 1965. He was the first Black player to win a Grand Slam Tournament. He also championed the start of the ATP, the player's union for men's tennis. He helped the US win the Davis Cup and later coached it

But his biggest mark was how he used his voice. He supported various charities, was a vocal critic of civil rights in America and South Africa's apartheid government after he was banned from a tournament because he was Black.

He was arrested in 1985 for protesting outside the S. African embassy - who cares if he was elected to the Tennis Hall of Fame that year, apartheid was more important to stand against.

"I believe I was destined to do more than hit tennis balls" - Ashe in 1992

He discovered he had AIDS in 1988 as a result of a blood tranfusion during heart surgery years earlier. You can criticize him for keeping it private, but as an intensely private man he had the right to. He did for four years before USA Today pulled one of the biggest punk moves in recent journalism history.

The newspaper threatened to break the story of his illness unless he went public with it. He went ahead and did it but seeing clips of it later was heartbreaking. Here's an intensely private man losing the right to fight his battle in private and decide when to make his cause public - but he turned it into a positive.

1992 was a big year for him. He became a full-on AIDS advocate, going before the UN to advocate for AIDS research. He fought the disease with no fear and used his cause to help others, founding an That was his life's mission - to help others beyond himself.

One of my favorite incidents is how he was arrested that year outside the White House for protesting American treatment of Haitian refugees. He would be dead five months later but it show how deep his convictions ran. The image of him in handcuffs knowing that he was dying says all you need to know about him. Powerful.

After winning Sportsman of the Year in 1992 (a rarity for a retired athlete but a noble gesture for a man who transcended his sport), he died in 1993 of AIDS-related pneumonia. As today winds down, here is someone who you can champion as not a victim of the disease but a reminder to keep fighting like he did and look to a life with purpose.

Quadruple bypass surgery couldnt stop him, AIDS couldnt stop him, racism couldnt stop him. And death for the past 16 years has failed to dim his light as a fine example (to quote another) for his race - the human race.

"I know I could never forgive myself if I elected to live without human purpose," he said, "without trying to help the poor and unfortunate, without recognizing that perhaps the purest joy in life comes with trying to help others."

*Please go read the Sports Illustrated Story on him from 1992 here, a touching testament of his mission*

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tiger Tiger, Burning Bright (Under the Glare of the Paparazzi)

Here's my two cents on what happened with Tiger Woods. A situation that is getting sadder by the minute and shows a clash between privacy and public information.

People looking for Michael Jordan in the NBA have overlooked that it existed in another sport. Tiger Woods is the next Mike - a clutch killer in his sport, a champion and an immensely private individual who has carefully crafted his empire. Everything Tiger is doing is similar to what MJ would've done.

I don't believe we have a right to know what happened between Tiger and Elin Nordgren. I don't believe the media has the right to know either to an extent. And I don't believe Tiger has the right not to tell the police anything.

Anyone who is familiar with law enforcement (or watches crime shows) know that the less you say, the more police will dig. Woods did the wrong thing by ignoring law enforcement for the first two days and because it was a police investigation, you should just give them a story and keep it moving.

That's all he owes. I don't care that the first thing I saw when I looked up his accident on google news was a rumor of an affair. Woods has the right to handle this privately to the public but not to law enforcement who will quickly remind you are a citizen, not a celebrity.

There's plenty of questions we may not know the answer to. Do I think Woods would do himself service by being like Kobe Bryant and holding a press conference. Yes, but remember Kobe was accused of a crime. I only compare the two because both of them were crystallized prodigies of privilege who got into bad situations that became public. Kobe's rep was forever changed and the jury is out on Woods.

My friend Shane has taken the opposite approach in his well-written two cents on this. He made a great point that Tiger deserves the benefit of the doubt here. Where I differ is who I think he should talk to. Stonewall the starving public, stonewall the curious media, but beware how you treat the police.

It's a shame that TMZ and the papparazzi will infiltrate the wall he has put up. But I hope that the truth will come out to those who need to know and nobody is unfairly demonized - its easy to go after Elin but before I call her the Swedish Jazmine Sullivan, I want facts first.

And just think. The biggest story involving Tiger this year was his comeback from knee surgery. Guess not sadly.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Giving Thanks

So I'm spending the holiday in Dallas, TX, with my family and thinking about all that we went through this year, this trip was worth it. For those who don't know, my uncle passed away earlier this year and we all gathered in San Antonio to say goodbye. Since then, we've come together for my cousin's graduation and now Thanksgiving.

I almost didn't want to come. I figured we would be on standby to host it at our house because my cousin that usually hosts it just underwent surgery. Plus I knew we were trying to watch our spending after moving into the house last month. But as always, I'm glad I did.

Nothing is better than watching the Cowboys on Turkey Day - except when you're doing it in Big D when everything shuts down to watch it. Waiting in line for our rental car I counted three people wearing Cowboys gear and I felt like I was home. Next goal: Watch a game in the new Stadium.

This has been one of those years that really shook me physically and mentally. So let me just say I'm thankful for my health, thankful for God still being there when I've fallen away this year, and truly thankful for those people I call friends.

I'm really thankful for Twitter because in January when I started, I really didnt get it. But without it, this year would have been duller and I wouldn't have gotten to know people around the country/world who I've shared a lot with. I've gotten to meet some of them and it's been a great joy.

I'm thankful for anyone who has read my blog, commented on it or discussed it with me. Sharing views isn't easy but whether your feedback was positive or negative, I appreciate it.

Thank you to all. I'm not gonna turn all Alanis Morrisette and start thanking the intangibles but life really is about trying to be as grateful as we can. Hope everyone enjoyed their Turkey Day (Turkey and Chicken Wings on deck to-NIGHT!!)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Newsflash - Albert Pujols is only 29

Albert Pujols won his 3rd MVP award (unanimous) at the ripe old age of…29? Is there any question who the player of the decade is? We are watching one of the greatest hitters of all time and there’s a chance he’s just now entering his prime.

How many more MVP’s can this guy win? He’ll win at least one more, joining him with Barry Bonds as the only 4+ MVP winner. We can’t even compare him to anyone in the game right now – it’s all about seeing where he ranks with the legendary hitters.
Just peep his crazy stats. As a rookie, he finished 4th in the MVP voting (.329, 37 bombs, 130 RBI’s, 194 hits) – overshadowed of course by Barry Bonds’ murdering the record books. That just started the madness in his nine year career.

· Top 10 MVP finisher every year. Top 5 MVP finish in all but one years
· He’s the active leader in batting average (.331), slugging percentage (.628),on-base percentage (1.055)
· He’s led the majors in several categories at least once (home runs, batting average, on-base %, slugging %, hits, total bases, doubles, extra base hits, )
· 30 HR, 100 RBI’s in every season. He’s statiscally had a better career than Joe DiMaggio in 4 less seasons.
In the last 30 years, only Tony Gwynn and Ichiro can rival him as the best hitter in baseball and neither possessed his power. It's ridiculous what he's done in a short period of time.

I decided to look up the greatest Cardinal of them all, Stan Musial. It baffled me as a kid how I would hear how he’s the most underrated player in baseball history but looking at his stats, they are just looney. 3 MVP’s before 30. 24 All-Star Games, 3 World Series rings, seven batting titles, made his debut on my birthday in 1941, .331 career average, 3600+ hits, 475 home runs. 

Who knew that 60 years after his debut, a player would come along who dominated the game the same way. Not flashy but with machine-like productivity. By 2019, we could celebrate Pujols as one of the greatest players of all time and he might still be productive into the 2020’s.

All Hail King Albert. I can only pray this guy doesn't drop off in a new decade like my all-time favorite player Ken Griffey Jr. did.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Hate Being Interrupted - Thank You Adam Lambert

I was gonna talk about Albert Pujols winning his 3rd MVP but this Adam Lambert thing interrupted me. I really hope this is the last time I mention his name on E-TV and I had trouble finding an appropriate pic on Google Images that I could use.

So Twitter and Solange Knowles are upset about Lambert being axed by Good Morning America after his racy performance at the American Music Awards. I saw it - over the top, forced shock value and all - and I guess the West Coast censors didn't show him kissing a dude or forcing a dancer to pretend to give him oral. What in the name of David Bowie was he thinking?

Then Adam tried to claim it was a double standard - bringing up what Britney/Christina/Madonna did 6 years ago. But here's where he was wrong.

1. That happened on MTV. You were on ABC. Major difference in how award show performances get perceived on basic cable.

2. You simulated oral sex!!!! Gay or straight, you can't do that on television. No excuse for that. Kissing a guy is one thing ("Flash Forward" on the same network showed two women kissing) but simulating sex will always come back to punish you.

And if you want to claim double standard, I actually think he got what he deserved - the network cancelling him from his next appearance. That stuff has happened for years and people have been banned for far less (Bo Diddley/The Doors/Elvis Costello were tame compared to what he did).

What he and his fans and Solange seem to forget is that five years ago, Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake did the same thing at an even bigger event and in front of a bigger audience. As a result, Janet was banned from the Grammys and Justin only showed up because he apologized at the ceremony.

So if Janet got banned from the biggest music party of the year for having her boob ripped out, is it a shock really that Lambert was cancelled from only a morning talk show for what he did? If anything, ABC did the right thing because if not, THAT would be a double standard because what he did was far worse than Janet (who ironically opened the AMA's).

This isn't about America flipping out over men kissing (although most will probably never accept that) and no need to turn this into a gay rights issue. It's about responding to what's inappropriate and sex acts at an award show are definitely not.

Now back to my regularly scheduled blogging.