Thursday, January 29, 2009

Winter Storm 2009

The first major winter storm of 2009 hits the Buckeye State.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW: "Cadillac Records"

MOVIE REVIEW: "Cadillac Records"

It's been a while since I saw "Cadillac Records". I thought that it would have gotten more attention than it did. I was drawn to the movie because of the legacy of the original Chess Records artists. The movies title references how the Chess Records owners paid their artists - with Cadillacs.

Funny thing about the movie's release, it did not show on many screens. I saw it in Pittsburgh on the first weekend that it opened there and it was only showing at two theaters.

The movies cast was also intriguing to me: Jeffrey Wright, Adrien Brody, Mos Def, Beyonce and Cedric "The Entertainer". Jeffrey Wright did a nice job as Muddy Waters. Wright seemed to really morph into Muddy's persona. Mos Def as Chuck Berry was refreshing, but his role was minor in comparison to some of the others. Etta James was played by Beyonce and left me a little indifferent. James is a big role to fill and Beyonce did not do it for me. And yes, I am being critical. I really want to see Beyonce do something exceptional and not just run of the mill. Adrien Brody was fine as Chess Records owner Leonard Chess; nothing too exciting there either, but I did not expect anything more and that is not a bad thing; just what it is. Same for Cedric.

The surprise action came from Columbus Short as Little Walter. I can tell you that if there were not so many exceptional mainstream movies out, Short would have gotten an Oscar nod as Best Support Actor in a film - at least I had hoped. He really brought the character to life in such a real life way. Meanwhile, Eamonn Walker portrayed Howlin Wolf in "Cadillac Records" and I think too much of his role ended up on the cutting room floor. He did a nice job, but it just really did not go anywhere. He easy stole the scenes that he was in; he has a commanding presence.

Finally, Gabrielle Union's acting was unique for her. I like that she showed some depth and was not the character that has been seen in so many of her previous movies.

I would see this one again. Seeing the movie did get me to do more research on the real lives of Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Little Walter and Etta James and their lives as a part of the Chess Records heritage. Crazy though that many scenes in the movie have been amped up for entertainment sake. For example, Muddy Waters and Howlin Wolf did not have the level of anomosity toward one another that was showcased in the film.

Oh and I would be remiss if I did not mention the music. I really enjoyed the music throughout. Good stuff.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Music Monday 12 :: Etta James "At Last"

I keep hearing Beyonce's version of "At Last". Not that I don't like it, but it really waters down the original. I guess the "Bey" version is more popular now since she sang it as the president and his wife had their first dance to it a few days ago. Also, the song is now available on the "Cadillac Records" soundtrack.

At Last - Etta James

When I saw Beyonce sing the song for the first dance, I was a bit miffed. No disrespect to her, but it seems like disrespect for Etta James, the singer who popularized the song. Etta James is still alive you know. I'm hoping that she was asked to sing the song, but for some reason was unavailable. I really want to know if she was asked to sing the song.

James' version of the song is so crisp and effortless. And the instrumentation is precise. Good stuff.

This YouTube version won't sit well w/some who like live performances to mimic the recorded version. James improvises and takes the song in a different direction.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day 2009 - The Video Trailer

I made this short video of images from Inauguration Day 2009

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Inauguration 2009 - part 3

Okay, so our journey to the National Mall this morning was pretty much uneventful. Thanks to the super duper plan from my sister and her roommate; where I'm staying.

The plan: drive to a parking lot in Rosslyn, Virginia and park the car. Then walk over the Roosevelt Bridge to the Mall. Walking from that direction put us near the Lincoln Memorial where we settled to watch the Inauguration.

Nice location too. We could sit and we also had a decent view of a nearby JumboTron.

Met some nice folks as we headed down and while we were on the Mall including Seldo who was live blogging until the network jammed up.

Enjoy the photos.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2009

A video short of my images from various Memorials around D.C.

Inauguration 2009 - part 2

More pictures on the Mall in the nation's capital. Just hung out for a couple of hours. Today I got to see some sites that I had not seen before including:
  • The World War II Memorial
  • The Korean War Memorial
  • The Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial
  • The future site of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

What was interesting today was that the reflecting pool on the Mall is mostly frozen, but the temperature has been warming up. Never stops someone from taking to the ice for a 'photo op'. Followed by many others. I want us to be smarter.

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Inauguration 2009 - part 1

It's been interesting and lots of fun being in the DC area for the Inauguration festivities. My sister lives in Arlington, VA and I knew that I would want to be here for the big deal that is the swearing in.

So of course, we've been out and about:
  • had brunch at Marvin
  • went do to the mall to see the Inaugural Concert (but missed it)
  • riding the Metrorail
  • Picked up a few souvenirs
  • and generally had a nice time
Here are some of my pics from being out and about.

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Music Monday 11 :: The Derek Trucks Band

The Derek Trucks Band is so cool. I can't single out a particular song that I've enjoyed a great deal, but I just like their overall sound. It infuses many genres including blues, rock and world music.

Oh, but I remember now. The disk was "Songlines" and I just enjoyed it all. But the first track "Volunteered Slavery" did grab my attention. Trucks guitar playing is incredibly intricate, as it should be.

Volunteered Slavery - The Derek Trucks Band

The latest Derek Trucks Band release is "Already Free" as was released last Tuesday. They're @ the House of Blues in Cleveland on February 11, 2009.

Other Derek Trucks Band resources:

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Techie Me

I'm not the techiest techie out there, but I investigate and I can keep up w/the best of them.

So here's a little look into what I'm using to do what I do - which, by the way, is not so much.

digital camera: Canon Powershot A570 IS
--I do like my digi camera. Lots of picture settings to choose from though I don't stray much from indoor and nighttime, I know, shame on me. Now that I'm familiar with some of the features, I may venture out and try some of the manual settings. The only drawback is the batteries - it will eat them up. I've found that the lithium batteries last the longest - not the Duracells.

photo editing software: Picasa3
--Gotta love Google and all of their products, at least I do. Picasa is my new bestest friend. I love all of its capabilities like the varies effects that you can add to your pics; I use the text component the most-you can add text to your pics using the fonts that are on your computer; you can create mosaics and slide shows and vides in no time. And it's all free, just download the software.

audio recorder: Zoom H2 Recorder
--I don't actually have this in my hand, but I will. I've used it and I am really comfortable with it. It picks up audio really well even without a line in microphone. You can use batteries or the AC power source; you can choose the recording format: wav, mp3 and the sample rate too. The price is not about $160.

cell phone: LG Musiq
--I love my celly. I can get the Internet; use my phone as a modem when I want to use my laptop to get the Internet; takes decent pics; use it as a music player; oh, and of course, talk on it. I've been using it alot lately to text for Twitter and Facebook.

mp3 player: Zen Stone
--I like this baby. It holds 2G of audio; allows me to record as well as listen to the FM radio. The only setback is that it has to charge up via the USB and a computer.

laptop: Sony Vaio (older version)
--A friend gave me this laptop after my last one crashed on me - big time. Although it's an old model, it works very nicely. For example, I have a Motorola wireless card and it works nicely. I also have the Microsoft Office Suite on here and I did not have that on my personal laptop. The only downside is that it is weighty along w/the power source.

audio editing: Audacity (but dying to have Adobe Audition)
--Luckily, I have not had to do a great deal of audio editing personally. I love audio editing and I am in love with Adobe Audition. Audacity is nice since it is free, but it does not do the trick for me.

Other useful tools:
The Font Thing
--To organize and view my fonts; very convenient and it's free software

--This is an awesome program that creates mini movie trailers with the pics that you provide; you can add music of your own or from their library. Very cool and free.

This is all rather simple. I've always said that it's not the technology, but the story you are trying to tell. You could use PowerPoint and get it done. Be resourceful.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Music Monday 10 :: Robert Randolph and the Family Band

I don't know much about Robert Randolph and the Family Band, but what I do know is that they make incredible music. It's funky. It's fun. It has character and layers.

I'm trying to determine if I first noticed them on one of the late night talk shows ... probably. I remember the song was "Ain't Nothing Wrong With That". That song will get you going. It has a rock influence, but it does not come off as a hard-edged rock song. I love that the video matches the energy in the song.

Their most recent project was 2006's "Color Blind". Which includes the above mentioned track as well as Robert Randolph and the Family Band's cover of "Jesus is Just Alright" featuring Eric Clapton.

Other Robert Randolph and the Family Band Resources:
I am certain that they will be performing at at least one of the popular outdoor festivals this year. I can only hope that they are working on a new project.

Have you seen them perform live? Do share your experience.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009


MOVIE REVIEW: "Seven Pounds"

Well, I figure that this movie has been out for a couple of weeks and now I can express how I really feel about it.

I went to see "Seven Pounds" the day that it opened in theaters. I'd seen Will Smith, the star of the movie, on the talk show circuit - Oprah, David Letterman, Jay Leno - and I was smitten w/him. However, no one really talked about the movie and I became intrigued w/the mystery of not knowing what the movie was about. I did not even try to think about what they were not telling me.

Well, how about I did not like the ending (i.e. the mystery)! No way. This movie made it clear to me how I feel about suicide. Which is what Smith's character, Ben, decided to do w/his life at the end of the film all in the name of redemption. It was pretty obvious to me that he was doing a pretty good job of helping people while he was alive. I can understand some depression and the need to assist the woman who he began to fall in love with, but all the pre-mediated parts just made me ill. And w/a jellyfish ... !? Come on.

The movie was at least 30 minutes too long and it was sooooo slow that I did something that I rarely do, I checked my cell phone to see what time it was and to see if I had any text messages.

I did enjoy Rosario Dawson's character, Emily. She comes off as strong and personable. Though the plot that focuses on Woody Harrelson's character, Ezra, just came up short. Seems like it was mostly edited away.

I know that many, many people really enjoyed this movie and cried and came away w/a sense of purpose and so did I. I do have an appreciation for living and I don't take that for granted. I just think that the movie sends a negative message attached to the message of redemption. And I definitely don't think that teenagers should see the film because sometimes they feel guilt over the slightest things and they could wipe themselves out all in the name of "Seven Pounds".

Wow ... I'm glad I got that weight off my shoulders.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

My resolve in ... '09

I am getting into a little rhythm as it relates to making goals annually. Check out my '08 list and my '07 list.

I did okay for '08. I'm pleased w/the out come, but it could have been different.

When making this list, I try not to make it too complicated or create something that will cause me to disappoint myself in the end ... really it is just of things that I would like to do, but if I don't do it, oh, darn.

So here I go ... I am carrying over three things from the '08 list:
  • snowboarding lesson
  • travel (by airplane) to at least two cities I have never been to before
  • run at least two 5Ks
I've selected these because I like them as personal thing I enjoy. Unfortunately, I've had snowboarding on the list for two years or more, but it is going to go down this year.

I already have some travel on my radar and I have my passport too, so the travel part could be really fun.

In my effort to keep in shape, I think the goal of more than one 5k is doable.

Here's what's new:
  • learn Spanish - I've already started on this one by joining Live Mocha (and using it; it's a social media platform for learning languages), but I plan to enroll in a course as well
That in addition to this little list that I compiled based on the "Your 3 Goals for 2009" blog post from Twitterati (top Twitterers) Chris Brogan:
  • Enjoy: I plan to enjoy my life even the frustrating parts
  • Educate: I've been soaking up knowledge like a sponge, time to share the love
  • Explore: This should tie in nicely w/my travel goal, but gives me reason to learn more
I know, it sounds like it could be the slogan for a children's museum, but like Brogan says, you want a goal that you can attain, but after you reach it you still have more to strive for.

And for me this is the stuff that might have gotten pushed aside, I still plan to meditate and workout and be more social. Good stuff indeed.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Looking Back on my 2008 Goals

It's time for a bit of reflection and I do mean just a bit. Because it is full steam ahead for your girl in '09.

Here's the list that I created for last year's goals:
  • snowboarding lesson - I did not get around to this, but I got really close
  • travel (by airplane) to at least two cities I have never been to before - I did not do this either but I did not have a travel budget for '08
  • run a 5K (at least) - I did do this sort of, I walked
  • Get published in Cards magazine! and other craft related publications - I did do this. I was published twice in Cards magazine
  • Spend less and less often
    • This is a big one; I want to shop less. I can do that, but I like fresh fruit and veggies, so that will be the only exception. For my own sake, I will have to more clearly define this one - I managed to pull this one off, but that's what happens when the cash flow is low. I use coupons on nearly all purchases and most items are on sale
  • Get my mental act together
    • This really means: do not allow other peoples negative actions to affect me emotionally - ooooommmmmmmm - this one came to me about mid-year when I had to do me and make no amends, it seemed selfish, but I was also happier and proud
  • Do Pilates at least once a week - I started off real well on this one, but being cash strapped, something had to go; I did walk and rollerblade and do the steps, so exercise remained high on my list
  • Meditate for at least 5-10 minutes first thing in the morning - unfortunately I did not stick to this one. I'd like to give it another try, but I don't think that I will make it a goal
That's it for me ... tomorrow I will post the resolution list for 2009. It won't be lofty, just some fun things to do.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Music Monday 9 :: Ben Lee "Catch My Disease"

This song has been on the tip of my tongue for weeks, but I could not remember much about it. I knew and know that I like it. I love the uptempo beat and it sounds so fun. It's a spirit lifter for me. Brings me joy and excitement. Makes me smile. Maybe that's the disease that he alludes to. Oh and the lyrics are cool.

Anyway, I recalled that the artist was named 'Ben' and I sort of had the melody in my head. I had tried searching 'Ben' and 'singer' but I got Ben Folds and Ben Harper; great guys and musicians, but not who I was seeking at the time.

Then one day the word 'catch' came to mind as I was thinking of the song and then that was my Google search: singer named ben 'catch'. Love that Google.

So let me pull it all together here. The artist is Ben Lee. The song is "Catch My Disease".

Other Ben Lee and "Catch My Disease" Resources:
I hope that you enjoy this song as much as I do. I like the syncopation and the bells; I think it sounds like a xylophone. When is the last time you heard a xylophone on a record? Good stuff.

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW: "First Sunday"

MOVIE REVIEW: "First Sunday"

This review was originally written in May 2008. Forgive me for the tardiness, but here it is in all of its glory.

If you saw the trailers for this movie, then you probably turned the channel or avoided it like the plague.

Well, it is one of those movies that is good for dvd viewing. Which is exactly what I did. I selected it as one of my Netflix selections. I don't feel bad about it, especially now that I've seen it.

It was a really good movie. It was not buffoon-ish - as I predicted. It was not even bellying-aching funny. It was just a good, wholesome movie.

I enjoyed some of the touching moments - and there were several. Like one of the main characters, Durell (Ice Cube) and his relationship w/his son. Kat Williams is Kat Williams. Tracy Morgan's character provided some soft sides too.

This is a good movie to just sit back and enjoy it for what it is worth. It will take your mind off of your own person woes, if only for an hour or so.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Six Word Resume Contest

"Radio, hiphop, cardmaking are my passion."

"Love listening and working in radio."

Check out "What Would Dad Say" for the details.

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