Ella Fitzgerald Would Be Proud... I Think
'Blue Skies,' was a feel good tune performed by Ella Fitzgerald (click on her name to listen), but I DON'T think she had this in mind. The proximity of the planes caught me off guard, so I snapped away. Minutes later, there were more trails in the sky (all gathered around the sun) and before long, an overcast.
I took some more pics, but didn't find them as blatant as the ones above. In the words of Elmer Fudd- "There's something awfully screwy going on around here..."
An Unofficial National Holiday
Finally, baseball is here! The Boys of Summer are back in town and I am happier than the Kool-Aid man. Spring is in the air, the birds are chirping and I've joined THREE fantasy baseball leagues. Overkill? YES! However, I am prepared for the storm, with hopes that I can become victorious in at least 2 out of 3 leagues (not far fetched by any stretch of the imagination). Anyway, the weather feels as if it wants to break at any moment (though the threat of an April snow storm still looms- not inconceivable here on the east coast), but temperature wise, the next couple of months ahead are usually the best (aside from early Autumn). Here's to 6+ months of a sport I can't seem to get enough of 🥂
Wish me luck!
...Baby One More Time
Aaaah, I remember it like it was yesterday. March 1999, sitting at my desk, working at an internship down in the Wall Street section of Manhattan, when suddenly this song blared through the headphones of my portable Sony Discman on a station called Z-100. Suddenly, my head nodded and there was strange movement happening with my feet. I looked down, only to find my right foot moving in unison with the beat. What was happening?! I slowly looked around my desk area just to be certain that no one could hear the tunes, or see the affect it was having on me. Was I becoming a Britney Spears fan?! What on God's Green Earth was going on?!
I hurried home that evening, asking an old friend to burn this track to a CD (along with a few *NSYNC songs, might I add) and it was on that day I accepted my truth: I really was a loser! But, it was time to diversify my taste in music once more - in a time period where hip-hop had taken over the air/radio waves. Soon, I'd include Backstreet Boys, Christina Aguilera, Savage Garden, Goo Goo Dolls, Sugar Ray and a sh*tload of other artists I never thought I'd ever warm up to... not in 1999! and what a great year it was. Oh, how I miss the Y2K anxiety, Napster and CD's (they don't even make CD players in cars anymore!). What is happening to the world, and what am I to do with my massive CD collection?
I grew inspired by the recent news of an anonymous (smart move) Mega Millions winner in South Carolina who finally claimed his/her record-breaking $877 million dollar prize. Originally valued at 1.5 BILLION (before Uncle Sam feverishly started rubbing his hands together like someone trying to keep warm), it took the individual nearly 5 months to step forward, presumably getting their affairs in order (ie; retaining an attorney/multiple accountants, breaking down bill payments, possibly setting up college funds for kids/grandkids, charity donations, investments, business ventures, future vacation plans, purchases, and most important, how much to send MY way). Personally, I think the whole lottery system is a joke; I certainly have my suspicions and will usually not waste my time (especially when the jackpot reaches astronomical numbers), BUT, that doesn't stop me from occasionally buying a modest scratch-off ticket (I prefer realistic opportunities over nonsensical odds). Besides, why in the world would ANYONE need 877 million dollars?! Give me a chance at winning $5000/week with a 'Win for Life' scratch-off and I'd be over the moon! (it will eventually happen, you heard it here first).
In the meantime, I'll settle for my big $10 prize!🎉🎉 Nevermind that I broke even, spending exactly $10 on the damn ticket 😐. A win is a win. Glass half full.
Politics with a Twist
Just when I've given up on politics, Andrew Yang comes along. I went from not putting much stock into the 2020 presidential election, to possibly voting for someone who actually 'thinks outside of the box' (hallelujah!) and can truly transform America (that's IF he sticks to his ideas - but we all know how this usually plays out). Wang is looking to do away with our antiquated rigged financial system, among other things, proposing a few ideas that can potentially impact the lives of Americans in a way unseen before. I expect mainstream media and anyone afraid of change to rain on his parade, likely killing any momentum moving forward, but Wang's proposals are a breath of fresh air and his support is growing. Click on his name for more.
AJ Walker Takes A Leap
Admittedly, I am not much of a 'news' guy; I'd finally decided to take a stand. Thanks to my grandmother, I grew up watching the news - around the clock - eventually growing numb to the countless stories of random shootings and inaccurate weather reports. Enough was enough. Yes, it was tough parting ways with some of my favorite anchors, weather/traffic girls, but something had to give. Through the years, I'd question the appearance of many news personalities, wondering why so many looked young, yet appeared conservative in their head shots (clean shaven, side-parted hair, fades, etc). In recent years, anchors/reporters have branched out, with men growing 5 o'clock shadows, and women becoming more daring with their wardrobes. Yet, many of the hairstyles remained traditional. It's almost like a happy medium:
Hey, young world, look at me, I can wear cool clothes too... with a hairdo resembling a Brady Bunch character....
I understand there's a level of "professionalism" required for news types, but we're living in an age where gossip, the Kardashians, and the latest trends, have masked themselves into hard news. It would behoove us all to see news personality types... well, show a little personality! This is where CBS News 12 West Palm Beach news reporter AJ Walker, wins the award for 'News Reporters Who Get it!'
In what many will find courageous, AJ recently "pushed the envelope" wearing braids on air in honor of her late mother (Hi-five, AJ!). Does her act call for every on-air news personality to tap into their inner Janet Jackson (e.g. Poetic Justice) by sporting braids? Absolutely not. Perhaps this movement allows for more women of color to embrace natural looks instead of what we've grown accustomed to (I long for the day where an accomplished male with a curly afro, small taper and groomed beard is broadcasting LIVE from the New York Stock Exchange offering stock tips). I know their are many more like AJ who share a passion for news, looking to embrace their true self, yet, afraid of the backlash/blackballing from a group of people who wouldn't understand this movement. This is HUGE - not only for television, but culturally, and I wanted to take the time out to acknowledge AJ for her bravery!
I just want what was promised to me when I was spending allowance money on baseball cards and comics instead of purchasing stock. BTW, that Superman comic was SUPPOSED to send me off to an early retirement - purchased in November 1992 - still UNOPENED - because that's what the store clerk advised at the time. The joke was clearly on me.
A Hairy Situation
I was having a conversation with some weirdo in Cyberworld who promptly stated the following:
"Why TF this man got braids? He's not even mid-life and he's going through a mid-life crisis. Never had braids before and now he gets them when he's about to retire? Men should wear their hair short. He never finished his degree, so he knows nothing BUT basketball."
Uncertain if this was the response of a male or female, but it seemed a bit personal to me, wouldn't you agree?
As someone who has oftentimes experimented with a variety of hairstyles, naturally, I took offense, firing back vigorously. I expressed how Dwyane Wade's sudden choice of style was likely temporary (finding out he was simply paying homage to Allen Iverson, one of the originators of the cornrow style in the NBA, and one of Wade's basketball heroes), concluding with how foolish it was to make such a big deal over nothing - falling on deaf ears, of course. Which leads me to wonder: Why does such a narrative exist and who sets the expiration date on hairstyles?
Wade, who is expected to retire by season's end, just turned 37 years old (only considered old in basketball years), having made over 200 million dollars during his NBA career. Does his pay check make him some immortal completely shielded from criticism? No. But CLEARLY he's in a different league. When your occupation allows for you to regularly shoot hoops, taking summers off to vacation in the South of France - on a Yacht - you have liberty to wear whatever TF hairstyle you want. Traditionally, Wade has always worn a "professional" clean cut, so why would anyone be bothered by his new appearance? Most importantly, how does it affect YOU?
The same case can be made for Jay-Z, who after wearing a low-cut for well over 20 years, decided to finally grow it out for the long-haul (he toyed around with a short afro in recent years) now sporting freeform dreads. Jay-Z turned 49 last December. And you know what? I love it!
Enough of this perception about individuals needing a look of uniformity. That logic is completely asinine. In the words of Lil' Wayne - yup, I'm actually going to quote a rapper here - "long hair, don't care!" Could Lil' Wayne use a new do himself? Well, that goes without saying, but that's besides the point. If your hairline hasn't betrayed you and your mane still has a little oompfh in it, why is it a crime to grow it out? Why is long-hair on men considered 'childish and immature?' I find that once you've become comfortable in your own skin, the opinions of others really don't matter. Honestly! For those of you wanting to grow out your hair, please take heed: This decision doesn't permit you to walk around unkempt. You should absolutely do your best to not come off as a hobo. But neither should you be read the riot act for being open-minded enough to try a new hairstyle.
Are people entitled to feel how they feel? Absolutely. But to question a man's intelligence (and decision on wearing a new 'do) solely on the lack of obtaining a college degree is utter nonsense! There's simply no escaping critics these days, especially the almighty Keyboard Warriors of the internet. But kudos to both men for stepping out of their comfort zones. Women do it often and are commonly celebrated; why aren't the same freedoms given to men. Some will argue, 'it's only hair, what's the big deal?'... my point exactly.
The month of February turned out to be a complete disaster, capped off with the announcement that Bryce Harper has finally come to terms with a team, signing a 13-year deal worth 330 MILLION with the... dreaded Philadelphia Phillies. Great news for Phillies fans and those who enjoy sitting in the bleachers; Harper will probably hit about 100 homeruns in that pint sized ball park. Bad news for the rest of the NL East. The Phillies (on paper) are easily one of the best teams in the division.
I was hoping Harper played on the west coast where he could escape the harsh Philly media - once encountering his first 0 for 20 slump, but I take Harper doesn't mind a little criticism having spent the first part of his career in D.C.
Where do we go from here?
Thankfully, for me, I get the luxury to watch Mr. Harper up close and personal; might even go to a few Phillies games this season, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed with his decision. He had 330 million reasons to play in the city of Brotherly Love... but I'm sure he'll say "it wasn't about the money," because after all, that's what they ALL say. I expect him to bounce back in a major way this season and with that said, I have some decisions to make in fantasy baseball with my first pick : )
Films That Should Have Won Oscars
The 91st Academy Awards have come and gone and I couldn't be ANY happier, BUT, I failed to capitalize on the event like I'd originally planned. So without further ado, here is my personal list (in no particular order) of movies that deserved to win for Best Picture.
Disclaimer: The plan is to ONLY list 10 movies, but there's a slight chance I might get carried away. My apologies in advance.
1) Pretty In Pink (1986) - Say something smart...
2) The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) - My first glimpse of Steve Carell before becoming a bonafide junkie of 'The Office.' I remember being in tears when I first saw this movie; tears of laughter. We also got to see a young Kevin Hart with a few funny lines.
3) The Fugitive (1993) - So, Tommy Lee Jones won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, but that wasn't enough. The film ALONE was fantastic. Based on the TV series (of the same name) back in the 60s, the 1993 thriller (damn! it's been 26 years??) had me at the edge of my seat. I loved every bit of it, rooting immensely for Harrison Ford to evade the law.
4) The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988) - Let's see... I got slapstick comedy, California, Leslie Nielson at his best, sprinkled with a little baseball and O.J. Simpson (before the Ford Bronco chase). If that isn't enough for an Oscar I don't know what is...
5) The Sandlot (1993) - This movie was flawless. If you grew up a baseball junkie, this was/is a must see. Unfortunately, kids these days would rather make ASMR videos and shoot 3-pointers from half-court.
6) Fatal Attraction (1987) - I'll go on record by saying Michael Douglas is my 2nd favorite actor (Denzel takes the crown) and he was certainly "the man" for a good stretch of the 80s and beyond. If you enjoy crazy, psychotic women chasing after wealthy men, brace yourselves. The movie received 6 nominations, but went home empty handed.
7) Wall Street (1987) - Mike Douglas and a young Charlie Sheen did their best to convince me that corporate was the way to go... until my very first job on Wall St. had me contemplating whether life was even worth living 😂 I loved this movie, along with Gordon Gekko's memorable quotables, and though Douglas won an Oscar for Best Actor, the film itself also went home empty handed.
8) Kids (1995) - Aaaah, NYC circa 1995; such great memories. No way on God's Green Earth would this movie have EVER seen the light of day on Hollywood's grandest stage, but the Independent flick was brilliantly filmed; showcasing the lives of a group of teens set in early 90s NYC. The movie highlighted sex, drugs, alcohol, mischief and it almost felt too real. I remember watching it for the first time with an old friend who rented the movie from Blockbuster Video. We watched intently, mesmerized by the realism and I desperately wanted to become "cool" afterwards.
9) The Hangover (2009) - Vegas, comedy, and Bradley Cooper before he started making love songs with Lady Gaga. One of my all-time favorites films. In fact, I'll go on record and say I've thoroughly enjoyed all 3 Hangover movies.
10) The Town (2010) - Ben Affleck stars in this thriller about a group of bank robbers who come up with an immaculate game plan to commit bank robberies throughout the city of Boston. The best part about the movie? they actually get away for a good stretch. 'The Town' is one of the first movies I recall cheering on the "bad guys" - loudly, hoping they'd go the rest of the way uncaught until eventually... they were caught.
***I can't stop at 10. But to my credit, I warned you!***
11) House Party (1990) - Bright colors, high-top fades and plenty of laughs. I remember seeing this at the theater envisioning life as a free-spirited teen who danced and got all of the ladies... until I became a sports jock who ran home to play video games and watch The Ricki Lake Show.
House Party was a defining moment in cinema, showcasing many young acts of hip-hop, becoming an instant classic; a term I typically won't throw around so easily. The movie made such an impact on black culture, where LeBron James has openly discussed his plans on remaking it.
If he knows what's best, he'll leave this ALREADY CLASSIC-THANKS, LEBRON, BUT NO THANKS! movie alone.
12) Sleeping with the Enemy (1991) - "Laaaaaaurrrrrraaaa!"
I'm inclined to watch this movie anytime it comes on TV, and for some strange reason... that's a LOT these days - some 28 years after it hit theaters. Yet another thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
13) Friday (1995) - Cult classic. 'Nuff said.
14) Major League (1989) - I seriously thought I had a shot at making it to the Big Leagues after watching this classic. Loved every bit of this film.
15) The Wrestler (2008) - Very underrated flick (as far as never being discussed with other great films), starring Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei, who both took home individual awards. The movie peels back the layers of the world of professional wrestling and for those who have followed me throughout my journey, you know I grew up a wrestling nut, so it was a must-see. Strangely, I've only watched this movie once (unlike the others on my list), but I remember being blown away by the storyline. This movie certainly played with my emotions... almost identical to what wrestling did to me as a kid. The irony.
It was extremely hard leaving out some other well-deserved Oscar snubbed movies, but I'll certainly revisit this at a later date...