Saturday, April 11, 2009

The birds, the bees and backbeats

As promised in a previous post, I'm in the midst of compiling a proper list of springtime, babymaking, nighttime mood music.

I'm probably going to save it for Monday, with Sunday being Easter and all. Just seems like the right thing to do.

But I'm also going to enlist the services of the First Lady. That, too, just seems like the right thing to do.

Our musical tastes are very similar, though she's probably more of a fan of Motown-era music while my tastes run a little more modern. We both love Off The Wall-era Michael Jackson. Erykah Badu. The Isley Brothers. It should be a fun process.

And no matter what, this song will definitely be on the list.

More later. Continue Reading »

Tea Parties

Can't say that I'll be going to one this weekend. What about you?

Without being too impolite, I'll just say that from afar - waaaay afar - the "tea party" movement seems to be devoid of any real ideas.

Are the protesters against a return to Clinton-era tax rates? Against government debt? Against bank bailouts? Against a popular, democratically elected president? Against those "brainwashing books"? All of these?

I haven't been watching Fox News lately, so I'm out of the loop on this one.

That said, they seem to be lacking in good musical taste:

If they're looking for a real theme song, they should try this one.
Continue Reading »

Friday, April 10, 2009

Random Acts of YouTube

Glass Joe > Brian Sutherland.

h/t Zen. Continue Reading »


After hilzoy's moving post on the reasons some women stay in abusive relationships, professional online turd Steve Sailer had to chime in with some ugliness:

"the two most common times for violence to start were the honeymoon and the first pregnancy."

Honeymoon? Yeah, right ... What percentage of domestic abuse cases are even married? What century are you talking about? The 19th? Three out of eight babies born in 2007 were born out of wedlock.

They're just yanking your chain with their honeymoon stories. The violence started long before.

Look, it's mostly really simple: these women have sex with violent men because they find violent men sexy."

He's clearly a man in serious need of attention or therapy. Or maybe he's bad at telling jokes. But what do you expect for a guy who's most recent book is titled: "America's Half Blood Prince: Barack Obama's Story of 'Race and Inheritance'"?

Either way, don't let it detract from hilzoy's post. Consider it a must-read. Continue Reading »

Rhythm Nation

Deep into the comments on Ta-Nehisi's post about where colored folks get all that rhythm, one of regulars wonders "isn't it possible that black people, generally speaking, are just better dancers than white people? Maybe it's just the way it's been ingrained in me, but black people really DO seem to have better rhythm."

In general, I try not to indulge in this line of thought. Because if black people, as a whole, are better than whites at dancing, then it follows that we must be worse than whites at something.

Like thinking. Or speaking. Or reading.

You get the idea.

But this isn't the time for that. TNC, maybe with tongue in cheek, strikes upon an interesting theory:

Dude, do you know how this happens? When you're like two, at family dinners, the old folks drag out the kids and then make them dance. Seriously, mo-fos can sometimes keep a beat before they can talk--or around the same time. If I took a kid from Helsinki and raised him like that, he'd be able to dance too. It's tragic and hilarious all at once. And so, ultimately, just human.
In my personal experience, there may be something to this - or not.

Before I was old enough to know any better, my mother would lead my aunts or uncles or her friends into my bedroom, put Janet Jackson's "Control" on the record player and encourage me to bust a move. This happened a lot.

But even with all that experience, I'm something of a mediocre dancer today. I can keep a beat. I can summon a little rhythm. I once could do the Kid N' Play and Hammer and Running Man and the Cabbage Patch with ease. I won't embarrass the First Lady at parties or nightclubs.

Anything else, and I'm drifting out of my lane.

All that said, here's something that my mother turned to whenever she wanted a little sweetfeet from the kid. Young and dumb doesn't even begin to describe me.

Post-script: From 1984 to 1993, no woman had a hold on my heart and prepubescent imagination like Janet. Ms. Jackson, since I was nasty. Continue Reading »

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Of easy names and idiocy

Why can't those foreigners have easy, ordinary, monosyllabic surnames like real Americans?

AUSTIN — A North Texas legislator during House testimony on voter identification legislation said Asian-descent voters should adopt names that are “easier for Americans to deal with.”

The comments caused the Texas Democratic Party on Wednesday to demand an apology from state Rep. Betty Brown, R-Terrell. But a spokesman for Brown said her comments were only an attempt to overcome problems with identifying Asian names for voting purposes.


But seriously, since I graduated from college, this sort of unapologetic idiocy has become mind-numbingly unremarkable to me. Repeated exposure to politicians, especially those on the local levels, has jaded me in this way.

Once upon a time, I assumed that anyone involved in politics was among our best and brightest. Because, of course, they were well educated, schooled on the complicated policy issues of the day and had access to staffers and colleagues who were knowledgable about nearly everything.

I couldn't have been more wrong. A good too many public officials are willful idiots.

It reminds me of something that Steve Benen touched on not so long ago:

Most of the media and the public underestimate the scope of the foolishness, too.

If a member of Congress -- not just some back-bencher, but a senator or a member of the House leadership -- says something seemingly provocative, a lot of people are predisposed to take it seriously. After all, he/she is in a position of authority. He/she helps shape the policies of the federal government. His/her opinion must have some value; I'm seeing it on television.

The underlying assumption is the same one I had in high school.

But Benen could have easily been referring to members of your local school board, city council or statehouse. If anything, this brand of foolishness is exaggerated at the local levels of government.
Continue Reading »

Squeaky's Hall of Shame

By way of the great Roger Ebert, I indulged my curiosity and bounced over to Bill O'Reilly's Hall of Shame. And what did I find?

A bright spot in a really shitty week for journalists: my employer, the St. Petersburg Times, tops the list of the "shamed" media outlets.

If being on that list is wrong (left), I don't want to be right.

And it should go without saying, but please read Ebert's classic takedown of "Squeaky the Chicago Mouse" if you already haven't. Continue Reading »

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Via John Cole, an unfortunate name summons the awesome power of Photoshop:

And for those in need of a little more background:

This win courtesy of Rumproast.

Continue Reading »

Keeping a list

Barack Obama would have been better off if he had invited Rick Warren to do some stand up instead of the invocation at the inauguration. This guy is hilarious:

HH: You have stayed above scandal. Thank you for that, because so many Christian pastors, you know what happens when this happens, and we could name 30 of them, the damage they do.

RW: Yeah, I keep a list.

HH: You keep a list?

RW: Actually, I have what, Hugh, I’ve had it for almost 40 years. I call it a warnings file. And every time I watch somebody, and Satan has no temptations that are new. It’s either money, sex or power. It’s lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, the pride of life, and you have to know the antidotes, and you have to set up the parameters that keep you from even being tempted in those areas, which means for instance, I’m never alone, ever, ever alone with a woman, or even my myself when I’m traveling.

Warren is apparently in need of some serious help. And self control.

Does Warren really think every woman is some sort of wanton temptress? Why does he need that sort of rigorous monitoring? And is he really so sexually obsessed that he can't be alone by himself for fear that he'll immediately start masturbating? He doesn't even trust himself with himself, after all.

Then again, if he's not with a woman and not by himself, then he's with a man. And that creates an entirely different set of problems.
Continue Reading »


One of the things that sort of sucks about turning 30 and living so far away from home, is that it's tough to recreate the familiarity that breeds "yo mama" jokes.

It's tough to just start clowning your co-workers or new friends about their moms, or their lisp, or their wack-ass dress style once you reach a certain age and position. For the most part, those days are gone.

But thankfully, I still keep in regular contact with my boys from back home to keep myself grounded. One of them, my oldest friend E (really, there's pictures of us together in diapers), still finds the time to indulge my childish streak.

I'm sure this is only funny to me but, wow, I need to post something today to fill in the gaps. Here's an excerpt from a running text message dialogue we had yesterday afternoon. E, a pretty spindly dude for much of his life, had some news to share with me:

E: "For the first time in my life, I got on the scale and the numberd(sic) were in the 170s. Thanks. Goodnight."

B: "Once you finally make it all the way through puberty, you'll get fuzz on your nuts too."

E: "Just because you look like Greg Oden don't mean you aren't wet behind the ears."

B: "Don't get mad because you got afraid of having a wet dream. You didn't do anything wrong, son."

E: "And don't get mad because you have breasts. Get in there a(sic) make some Dick Gregory."

B: "I have pecs. You can't just get those thru(sic) puberty. You have to spend some time on the bench press, pumpkin."

Ok. Now I'll get back to regularly scheduled rants about gay marriage rights (kudos to Vermont and DC, by the way), right wingnuttery, and Tyler Hansbrough. I just needed a brief trip down memory lane. Continue Reading »

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Superkid, surfboards, sodomy and football

I can't explain it all. Just read this and then read this.

Sadly enough, Mack Brown and Les Miles were nowhere to be found.

h/t EDSBS Continue Reading »

Of writer's block and unintentional comedy

Sorry, I know the pace of posting here has slowed down over the past couple of days. I've been wilding out and fighting through a mean case of writer's block.

I expect to resume a semi-regular posting schedule by this evening. But who really knows?

On another note, my mother was horrified to know that I admitted to previous drug use in yesterday's post. Sorry for that. Consider it a "Dreams From My Father" moment - I'm getting it out in the open now before someone can dime me out.

In the meantime, how about some Eddie Murphy?

Continue Reading »

Monday, April 6, 2009

Coming out of the (cannabis) closet

Will Wilkinson has penned a particularly thought-provoking essay about marijuana:

If we’re to begin to roll back our stupid and deadly drug war, the stigma of responsible drug use has got to end, and marijuana is the best place to start. The super-savvy Barack Obama managed to turn a buck by coming out of the cannabis(and cocaine) closet in a bestselling memoir. That’s progress. But his admission came with the politicians’ caveat of regret. We’ll make real progress when solid, upstanding folk come out of the cannabis closet, heads held high. So here we go. My name is Will Wilkinson. I smoke marijuana, and I like it.
I'm not sure how much anyone cares, but my name is blackink (riiiight), I dabbled occasionally during college and in the few years after graduation, and I enjoyed almost every single pull. And I can vouch (not publicly, of course) for the use of dozens of others, none of whom bear a resemblance to Cheech or Chong or any character in Half Baked. We're talking about a pretty diverse group of people: lawyers, journalists, teachers, nurses, cops, grad students, mothers, fathers, etc.

I stopped mainly because it wasn't a big deal, and I didn't feel like going through hoops to get a dime bag. The high simply wasn't worth the risk.

But even today, I can't come up with a compelling reason for the criminalization of marijuana. And no, that's not because of the chronic.

Though President Obama did once call the War on Drugs "an utter failure" and has previously lobbied for the decriminalization of marijuana, he doesn't seem all that serious about a radical rethinking of our national drug policy. Which is more than a little disappointing. The "war" is not a damn joke for the thousands who have become its victims, a disproportionate number of those whom happen to be black men.

But if Nate Silver is to be believed - and after all he's done for us, why wouldn't we? - the push for legalization could be gaining momentum with each successive generation. At some point, the pols will have to answer to the polls.

And laughing it off will no longer be enough.
Continue Reading »

Sunday, April 5, 2009

What's playing in my deck

A lot of disappointment. Specifically, mixtape maestros who never quite lived up to my initial expectations:

1. Nature of the Threat by Ras Kass - In the fall of '96, I nearly drove myself crazy trying to figure out when Ras' debut album was going to drop. You simply were not going to hear this cat on your local hip-hop radio station. So, I went to the music store near my college campus every Tuesday for two months before I finally copped Soul on Ice. It simply wasn't worth the effort. But "Nature of the Threat," which clocks in at nearly eight minutes, was a notable exception. Consider it mood music for an aspiring revolutionary - or Five-Percenter.

2. Bitches from Eastwick by The Lox - Growing up in Texas, I didn't have much access to DJ Clue mixtapes. Canal Street was thousands of miles away, no? But when I finally got hold of one, I immediately fell under the spell of The Lox. Of course, Puffy ruined a good thing. On Bad Boy, The Lox lost all their edge under shiny suits and dance hits. They have never really recovered.

3. Buckingham Palace by Canibus - IMHO, Canibus might have been the best mixtape artist of my lifetime. But he simply couldn't handle the constraints and structure of an album. Whether it was mediocre Wyclef-produced beats or a simple inability to construct interesting stories, Canibus never lived up to the hype. But, dammit, he wore LL Cool J's ass out. And true to form, "Buckingham Palace" is essentially a freestyle but one of the best records on the album.

4. 10 Mins by Joe Budden - I'm not sure if Joe deserves all the blame for a career that never really got off the ground. Seems like he's been caught in music industry purgatory. But if he never signs another record deal, Joe deserves props for the brilliantly conceived but mildly uncomfortable "10 Mins." Rarely has a rapper gotten so personal with his listeners.

5. License to Kill by Papoose - It's been five years since I first heard him on a mixtape, and still Papoose hasn't released a full-length album. Seems like a deal with Jive Records in 2006 fell through. However, according to wikipedia, Pap has put out nearly 25 mixtapes. So, much like a hoops star who never makes it out of his neighborhood, Papoose will probably remain something of a hip-hop "playground legend." At the least, I hope he's not Lloyd Daniels.

Here's the record that got him into Kay Slay's studio:

Continue Reading »