Saturday, May 25, 2013

My Review of "The Great Gatsby"

Friday, I saw "The Great Gatsby" with a mix of emotions. Yes, it's one of my favorite novels of all time but I was scared that director Baz Luhrmann would bloat it with too much pizazz and not enough soul. I was also nervous that hearing modern music would distract me from being in the 1920's.

Can you blame me though? I've dissected this book twice - in high school and more thoroughly in college. It holds a high place for me because of F. Scott Fitzgerald's writing, the themes I can relate to and the idea that it's made for film. I've seen the 1970's version with Robert Redford/Mia Farrow and I loved how Redford played Gatsby with restraint and charm.

So I had a lot riding on this movie and tried to keep low expectations. I quickly reread the book two weeks ago to refresh my mind. My verdict: I was surprised.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Best of Biggie: My favorites from Chris Wallace

Three years ago, I honored the Notorious B.I.G. in this space and I said that I couldn't do a Top 10 list of my favorite songs. I'm going to try to do it now and while it should be easy because Biggie only has a small catalog of music, it's hard because I enjoy most of his music and as a writer, I love his wordplay and rhyme schemes.

Without further adieu, here goes my list.

Unbelievable - My favorite Biggie record is perfect in every sense. Juicy is perfect too but this one is a great marriage of Biggie's easy flow and DJ Premier simple yet creative and funky beat. The R. Kelly sample in the middle is a great touch. I just love the feeling I get when I hear it.

The What - I love how Biggie and Method Man trade verses. Love how Biggie mimics a hiccup in the middle of his 2nd verse. Love Easy Mo Bee's beat coming smoother than a river.

Review: Big Boi & Killer Mike at the House of Blues

The last 2 weeks have been a blur for me. Got to witness my sister receive her law degree in Atlanta and my mother get her doctorate in Educational Leadership in the same week. To end it all, I returned to Atlanta somewhat when I went to go see Killer Mike and Big Boi at the House of Blues.
I hadn't been to the HOB on Sunset since 2007 when I interviewed Chuck D and sadly had to leave before Public Enemy took the stage. Yes, I chose a date over seeing PE up close and personal but if it makes you feel better, I had seen them a week prior at Rock the Bells.

Anyways, I got there right before an opening act started. Fishhawk was a pretty cool band but the sound made it hard to appreciate them until their last two songs. Their lead singer definitely was a character on stage with his curly hair and stage antics but I dug their sound. I may give them a listen on Spotify to see more.

Then it was time for Killer Mike. Soon as I heard the opening seconds of "God is In the Building" Mike came out spitting his opening verse from "Big Beast", the lead single from last year's "R.A.P. Music."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Memo to the Tea Party: Welcome to the Club

I've been rolling my eyes at this news that the IRS secretly targeted Tea Party organizations in 2010 and 2012 and even more so at the overwhelming reaction from people to it. The uproar has some people treating this like Watergate II and all I can do is sit back with a smirk.

Memo to the Tea Party, their supporters and others who are outraged by this. Have you ever studied American history? Better yet, American domestic policy?

Let me educate real quick. The FBI under J. Edgar Hoover created a little something called COINTELPRO. During 1956-1971, they investigated and infiltrated political groups they deemed subversive such as the NAACP, SCLC, CORE, Students for a Democratic Society and other civil rights organizations. Their tactics included surveillance, spies, spreading false information, working with police officers for illegal raids, and in some cases, murder with aid from various police departments.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Barnes @ Work (May Update - 31 LBS and counting)

I started this journey on January 3. Here I am on May 9. Four months into this transformation and this is where I stand. A weight I haven't purposely seen in over a decade.

I'm currently 180 lbs. I started at 211 lbs. 31 lbs shed in four months. A state of mind renewed. Looking slimmer in pictures than I think I have since high school. I can't believe it!

Let me say that again. THIRTY-ONE POUNDS LOST. I went from averaging 14-17 mins a mile in January to 13-14 mins/per mile when I started running at the beach in February to now averaging 11-12 mins.

I got to reconnect with Cleveland Cavaliers coach (and fellow USD alum) Mike Brown last month, who I first met in 2010. But I'm just amazed how slim I look in this photo.
April was such a good month for me. I forced myself to run further and push harder than I thought I could do. I went from running 5 miles one week to chasing six the next. Last week, I ended April and started May running 6 miles, 3 days a week.

I'm now running from the beginning of Redondo Beach to the beginning of Hermosa Beach. It blew my mind that it's a 3-mile run and when I hit the Hermosa border, I almost get giddy and want to keep going even further because I can't believe I've run into another city.