Thoughts Appear – Resting Bitchface Syndrome

I HAD to reblog this one because I get this on the regular. I never knew there was a name for my condition…..*sniff* The healing can begin!!!!!!

mission:husband – “You can’t tell me what to do!” – How pride affects our marriages.

I know, I know….I’ve been sticking to Marriage Minded Mondays. But I had to share this one.


A few days ago, I was in local grocery store where I live, and overheard a conversation between an employee of the store and a customer. The employee had made a very polite attempt to ask the customer to please have her child sit down in the cart, because she was worried the child might fall out (crazy idea I know). Instead of replying “oh, no problem!” and asking her child to sit down, the customer retorted “Don’t try and tell me how to parent my child!”, and left the store.

As I went about the rest of my day that day, I couldn’t help but think about what I saw, and how that kind of attitude – the one that says “You can’t tell me what to do! I can do whatever I want!” – no matter how wrong or idiotic it may be – seems to…

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SYTYCD Finale—Tours de Force

image courtesy of 19 Entertainment, Dick Clark Productions, and FOX

This is how it ends…on pointe. Puns very much intended.

It’s a week later, all the votes are in and counted, and we crown TWO champions this year…so I’m sure it’s no big spoiler which two dancers took home the title of America’s Favorite Dancer.

Tonight’s expanded panel, dressed to the nines, included Lil C, Adam Shankman, Debbie Allen and Tyce Diorio along with stalwarts Mary Murphy and “Nige,” who I will personally flog if he fully gets up to do the Gangnam style dance. *sigh*

The show opens with the top 20 in one final group number, a much ballyhooed and highly praised contemporary fusion choreographed by Christopher Scott and Zooey Deschanel. Oops, sorry—not used to seeing Sonya Tayeh look NORMAL…well, as normal as one can look with a lip ring, I suppose. It was well staged and well executed, but y’all know me and dances about windy storms and potential devastation don’t get along well. I will say it was superbly danced, and it was wonderful to see all my Top 20 dancers get a good bit of airtime and dance time within this number.

The “best of” section, AKA the “what we’ll most likely see on the tour” portion of the show begins—I suppose the side benefit of crowning two winners out of four people is that we can squeeze a little more dancing and less of that heartbreaking “kiss and cry” letdown we have to endure with the losing contestants.

Nigel selected Travis Wall’s Titanic-inspired contemporary piece with Audrey and Matthew and that fancy chaise lounge. Solid number and performed excellently again.

Lil C, who has been conspicuously absent save a few audition episodes this season, picked the Witney/Twitch hip-hop swagography from Luther Brown. I tell you, the more I watch Witney do this number the more I realize how fearless she is with dance. Ballroom might be her specialty but damned if she didn’t match or exceed expectations in every foreign form she got—from the Bollywood to the contemporaries to this hip-hop number, she was engaging and technically dazzling. She even pulled focus from Twitch a few times in that, and that’s no easy feat.

Debbie Allen chose Sonya Tayeh’s lovers’ contemporary featuring Tiffany and George. One of the better showcases of George’s exquisite talent and Tiffany’s skill displayed this season.

Adam Shankman selected Cole and Lindsay’s opening show salvo—the Jason Gilkison paso doble that so wowed Nigel that he proclaimed it the best ever on the show. Again, I could list you a lot of paso dobles that were en fuego, but this performance is definitely among my top 5 favorites of that style. And it’s Cole…half nekkid…so there you go.

Tyce Diorio’s turn to pick, and he called for the Nappytabs character pop from Amelia and Will. I’ve seen a lot of criticism about this dance (mostly about the dumpster), but I really liked this 21st century version of Alley Cat. It’s a really fun piece that lets them be technically stunning and naturally goofy doing something they love to do. Plus, y’all gotta give Will his props for that back walkover lift he does with Amelia. THAT’S the chemistry they should have had in the butt dance for Mia week.

Mary Murphy got sentimental, selecting the aforementioned Tyce’s suitcase routine that Chehon and All-Star Kathryn performed so movingly. This was, I believe, the first contemporary following the bench routine where Chehon taps into whatever emotional wellspring was hiding within and blends it so stirringly with his usual technical prowess that it transcended mere performance into a visceral audience experience.

This year the judges were limited to only one danced selection, so they let Cat in on the action. Cat’s pick—the Doriana Sanchez cardiofest liftopalooza disco number with Tiffany and All-Star Brandon. I guess the season and the tour would not be complete without sliding at least one disco into the mix, though unless they sneak some All Stars onto this tour, I can’t see who they’re going to train to do this with Tiffany. Will’s got the height but Chehon’s gotten the reputation of Liftmeister, so it could be either of them…although I would be extremely interested to see whether Cole could pull off smiley and bubbly.

The top 4 dancers even got to choose their favorites:

Eliana: Bang Bang contemporary with Alex Wong (Stacey Tookie). I expected it, though I loved the second Girard/Wong pairing better. I’ll take either or both on tour.

Nigel remarked that Desmond Richardson wants Eliana for his company. I see I need to get a few more jobs to buy some performance tickets.

Chehon: Argentine tango with Anya Garis (Miriam and Leonardo). I AM surprised he picked this one—I would have loved to see the Bollywood again or the contemporary with Allison (since this was as heavily themed as the Holocaust piece, I figured I wasn’t going to see that one).

Tiffany: Mandy Moore contemporary with Ade (Celine epic). This was her masterwork in the competition, so this choice wasn’t unexpected either.

Cyrus: Animation with Twitch (Christopher Scott)…he picked what I expected him to pick, though I was hoping he’d go with the dubstep he did with Comfort. I’m glad, though, because minus the competition nerves he was a lot more in sync with Twitch this time, and even outdanced him. Considering my everlasting adoration for Mr. Boss, for me to say THAT is a REALLLLLLY big thing.

Sprinkled throughout the broadcast were the 5 Best Audition Tour Moments from non-contestants, and while I’m pleased with WHAT’S on the list, I take some issue with the order.

5. Leroy Martinez (Big Boy in Utah—hip-hop youth counselor), who I STILL think should have at least gotten a ticket to Vegas, even if they cut him later. As I will always have a soft spot for Allan “Big Poppa” Frias, Leroy had me at hello….and grabbed me tight with that backflip to the floor.

4. Bree Hafen…and her kids. Someone I also wish could have gone further, but I will have to keep pushing FOX to hold this show so Stella Hafen can join the Season 22 Top 20.

3. The NInJA Twins—Nick and James. Somebody PLEASE give them a reality show. I need more of them in my life. Plus, they made me proud being over the age limit and still pulling off a ticket-worthy audition.

The top two are deserving but problematic:

2. Hampton Williams—Number 2?!? REALLY?!? He made judges cry. TWICE. There is NO WAY this shouldn’t be at the top of the list. However, selected for the top honors…..

1. Dragon House—the auditions of Cyrus and his fellow housemates Boris and Andre. While I appreciate the live segué, C’MON MAN! I will, however, take any excuse to see Bryan Gaynor again—it’s a shame his scoliosis curtailed his potential in THIS competition, but I am glad to see he is not letting that stop him in any way. I would also like to take a moment to mention the fourth young man of this quartet (since Cyrus did not dance this number with his housemates) who, if my detective work is any good, is Kenneth “Xclusive” Paryo. I hope to see him in the Season 10 auditions.

Other bonus performance for the night included:

*A hip-hop specialty with Cyrus, Twitch, Comfort and Christopher MF’ing Scott. That white boy can do whatever he wants—I am there to watch it. And why is it that we are not seeing more of Ms. Fedoke onscreen? An animation Royal Flush.

*Carly Rae Jepsen—new music, thank you Jesus! I’d have taken Call Me Maybe if Janelle and Dareian had gotten to do their cha-cha, but I knew THAT wasn’t happening since a) neither made the Top 10 and b) they were panned so badly it probably didn’t even make the repeat short list. I can’t tell if Cat called some dancers by name (usually it’s an alum when she does that), but cute bit of filler. (Upon squinting and pressing my ear to my laptop’s speaker, I believe I heard the names Nathan and Ryan—I’m guessing Nathan Trasoras from Season 6 and a fellow who looked a whole lot like Mr. Di Lello from Season 6 made an appearance in the background. Of course, I didn’t get a very good look at the blonde girl, so THAT may very well be Season 8’s Ryan Ramirez that Cat was talking about.)

image courtesy of 19 Entertainment, Dick Clark Productions and FOX

Top 20 group—Top 10 plus 10 All-Stars: Nappytabs leave London with a sitter long enough to put this African/hip-hop number together. Welcome to the jungle, y’all. Fortunately it was really good and the District 78 mix worked this time, ‘cause I’ll cut somebody over The Lion King.

images courtesy of 19 Entertainment, Dick Clark Productions and FOX

You see a lot of surprise and shock from people who win contests and pageants, but none so intense and heartwarming as when our ballet finalists Eliana and Chehon were crowned America’s Favorite Dancers. Eliana was literally floored, while Chehon went from surprise, shock, elation and happy tears in 0.7 seconds. Even amidst flowers, streamers, confetti, fireworks, and Cat Deeley repeatedly calling their names, Eliana was STILL in disbelief, repeating “What just happened?” over and over (and even several hours later on Facebook) and Chehon was holding onto Cat’s arm for dear life. I would have been happy with any of the guys or the top three girls holding the title, but the fact that after nine seasons not one but TWO ballet dancers conquered America enough to win sends me over the moon. Ballet contestants have had the hardest time adapting to the judges’ and public’s satisfactions, and because only a select few actually made it far enough into the Top 10 to perform their own style, mainstream audiences have had little to no exposure to ballet outside of possible field trip with their grade schools. I hate to go so far as to say it legitimizes ballet, but I’ll bet you an arm and a leg there’s a whole slew of little kids tugging on Mom’s leg begging to go to ballet class after this. Hey, I’m told that’s what happened with me at the age of 2….

By the way, who else here got a little lump in their throat when Cat barely got the “Th” out of her mouth to thank everyone and the first thing we saw was the big gray blur that was Alex launching himself toward his ballet compadre to congratulate him on the win? A vicarious win for our Season 6 superstar—the only thing that could have made that moment better is if it were Cole…who I have no doubt was probably the second one up.

Here’s to fighting for Season 10…..

P.S. This is the end of the show critiques; however, I have a much-anticipated tour stop to attend, so until I’ve gotten my next fresh fix of my Top 10 superstars, I will be doing a few more show-related blogs through the month for your reading pleasure.

Five Standards Women Should Set For Marriage | Black and Married With – A Positive Image of Marriage and Family

Five Standards Women Should Set For Marriage | Black and Married With – A Positive Image of Marriage and Family.

I’m the DJ, Dad’s the Rapper…AcE, Jaden and Willow Join Musical Forces

So this pops up in my Facebook feed on Jada’s birthday Tuesday:

I’m digging it. OK, so it’s not scintillating, social relevant lyrical content or sweepingly intricate, hauntingly beautiful orchestrations. It’s a club banger–and a pretty good one at that. With the video being directed by Jada and produced by Will, it’s an all-out family affair.

However, I do have some small issues with the video:

1) Willow’s ballet form is SICK! Those classes are paying off.
2) Jaden now looks more like his daddy than ever before. Especially with the haircut and when he’s “shuffling.” (NOTE: Younguns, we called that the “Running man” when we did it DECADES ago. Damn, did I just call myself OLD?!?)
3) DAHECK did that deep A voice come from?!? Y’all know I ain’t ready for this!
4) Whycome Trey no say nuthin’?

I need to do some more research on the name–my guess is that Willard Christopher Smith III figured he was gonna be number one SOMEWHERE, so as the first Smith kid he gets to be AcE. The blended talents of the Smith progeny makes me smile. I just hope I don’t have to jump stupid with too many haters…they’re already spouting various levels of crap regarding sexualizing children (Jaden’s bare chest and six-pack and Willow’s “provocative” poses in a “skintight” unitard) and Jaden’s “off-key” voice (what key is it again that RAP is sung in?) and I’ve had to politely shoot folks down.

Don’t mess with my adopted play-fam…..

Defining “Gravity”: Two Takes on a Fan Favorite

"Something always brings me back to you...."

images courtesy of 19 Entertainment, Dick Clark Productions and FOX

For the recent Top 14 show, So You Think You Can Dance returned to the small screen with a night of performances created by Mia Michaels, which swerved into the controversial by recreating 7 previously performed routines from past seasons that got rave reviews from judges and fans alike. There are a great number of fans who railed at the idea of desecrating the memories of numbers that were so brilliantly performed the first time they almost take on a signature tone with the original dancers. I, for one, was willing to give it a fresh look—after all, if Judith Jamison had told Alvin Ailey that Donna Wood, Linda Celeste Sims and Dwana Smallwood couldn’t perform “Cry” because it was all hers, the world would be deprived of a stunning piece of art. I was largely impressed by all of the recreations, but one transcended mere performance and moved me so much that I had to write about it.

Season 9 contestants Lindsay Arnold and Cole Horibe pulled the Mia Michaels contemporary known as “Addiction,” performed to the Sara Bareilles tune Gravity. The mix highlights the lyrics that, though originally written by Sara about a destructive relationship, fit the tone Mia sets of drug addict and the embodiment of her addiction.

Something always brings me back to you
It never takes too long…
Set me free, leave me be
I don’t want to fall another moment into your gravity
Here I am and I stand so tall, just the way I’m supposed to be
But you’re on to me and all over me…
I live here on my knees as I try to make you see
That you’re everything I think I need here on the ground
But you’re neither friend nor foe though I can’t seem to let you go
The one thing that I still know is that you’re keeping me down
You’re on to me, on to me, and all over…

The piece debuted during the show’s fifth season with contemporary dancers Kayla Radomski and Kupono Adewu. The piece was spellbinding—Kupono as the addiction was an attractive, compelling force that embraced his captive with sinister undertones, and Kayla as the helpless addict whose struggle to be free of her demons constantly clashed with the seductive call of temporary escape through the “drug.” The piece was well received enough to gain a spot as a judges’ favorite in the season’s finale and a spot on the national tour. So Lindsay—a Latin ballroom specialist—and Cole—who is extremely proficient in a martial arts and dance fusion—were given this physically aggressive and emotionally complicated piece to interpret as their own in the light of an already widely-loved rendition.

(Due to the anal-retentive nature of Dick Clark Productions regarding their show clips, I won’t out the specific users who blessedly posted side-by-side videos of the original and remake versions of the night’s dances for easy comparison. But seek them out to see what I’m talking about….)

Cole’s approach to characterizing the “drug” was more emotionless and detached, playing more of a destructive force than the seductive one offered by Kupono. Harsh and robotic in motion, he seemed to batter Lindsay’s addict from one side of the stage to the other. Lindsay, for her part, emoted the agony of her role very well. She was more perfect in her technique than Kayla was, which worked with Cole’s air of devastation—since her movements were choppier and more jerky that fluid, this performance read battered as opposed to manipulated like a puppet. You see more of the fight against the drug with Lindsay, versus the surrender to the drug with Kayla. While Kupono radiated this two-sided energy—beguiling and viciously cruel and completely smug in that knowledge and in the power over his captive—that created this interpersonal relationship of sorts with its quarry, Cole’s complete lack of personification shifts the emotional burden of the piece to the addict character (Lindsay). The drug doesn’t have “feelings,” so it doesn’t care about the victim or its effects, and therefore makes a more true-to-life portrayal of drug addiction than the imagined relationship from the addict’s hallucinations. I mentioned in a YouTube video comment that the two performances were “kind of the visual difference between a heroin addiction (Kayla and Kupono) and a meth addiction (Lindsay and Cole).” Not that I know from any firsthand experience about either, but I do remember watching a Frontline episode about crystal meth and the ravaging effects on those who have taken it—and the interpretation offered by Lindsay and Cole was an artistically accurate portrayal of the depictions in that program.

It is most thought-provoking how one choreographer’s idea and vision can tell two vastly different stories with the same sequence of steps. The first pair’s fluid interpretation of the lyrics viewed alongside the second pair’s translation of the precise rhythms and beats of the instrumentation fashion two distinct and separate dance masterpieces. That both versions can elicit such powerful reactions and stand as two distinct pieces rather than an original and a homage is a testament to the power of art and creativity.

(Also, check out this Tumblr page about the dance–very insightful, particularly the commentary from chromeknickers and unbroken-girl-on-fire)

SYTYCD Week 9, Top 4—The Final Opus

courtesy 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions

Well, we’re down to the end here—our final four contestants dance one last time for the audience’s vote before the season finale episode and the first ever dual champion announcement. The kids worked their fannies off last Tuesday performing an All-Star duet AND teaming up with each other in addition to dancing their solos.

Intros: Did Chehon just try to catdaddy?

Guest judge: Rob Marshall’s back for the first time this season—I suppose an Oscar for Chicago gives him some juice…if you’re into that kind of thing….

Eliana/Cyrus: Paso Doble
Interesting role reversal in this paso doble from Jason Gilkison: girl as matador and guy as cape. The few actual figures Cyrus did were pretty good, but it was definitely watered down for him. I loved the bravado, though, despite the posture issues. Gushing from Nigel and Mary…and some avoidance from Rob, though he did offer effusive—and well-deserved praise—to Eliana. Oh look—Mary and Eliana have the same hair. And Cyrus matched his gauges to his costume…he DID say he had a lot of them….

OK, I came into my recording after watching The Voice live and saw locs flying across the stage, so I’m like, RUSSELL! I forgot our darling William Wingfield has since grown out his hair. My good friend would have been delighted to see him half-nekkid. Anyway, this Sonya Tayeh piece has Tiffany in this Garden-like outfit doing a visual “recap” of her journey through the competition. More gushing from the judges, and she’s worthy for sure; it’s an excellent performance from the two of them. I need to watch this several times to really capture the piece in my head—it’s one of those pure themeless pieces of choreography you just have to appreciate for the pure joy of the art.

Eliana/Chehon: Classical Ballet
I CALLED IT, I CALLED IT, I CALLED IT! Pas de deux from our ballet finalists. Choreographer Marat Daukayev from the Kirov Ballet puts them through their classical paces with the Nutcracker Suite pas de deux. Deceptively simple-looking routine, but the amount of control it takes for Eliana to do those successive fouettés into multiple pirouettes and effortless développés into the stratosphere (all en pointe) is utterly amazing. (If the terminology throws you, basically it’s the last :30 of the dance.) For Chehon’s part, the double tours got great height and he without question is a great partner. And now that I see that the “handle” was just a shift in the boning on the tutu, I am back to wondering how they pulled off that final pose without hands. I am so glad ballet can get this kind of mainstream exposure and give people more of an interest in dance and the arts than backup dance performances and the few music videos that still exist.

Tiffany/Cyrus: Lyrical Hip-hop
From hooking up to breaking up–the kids have a rocky relationship this week in a Tessandra Chavez lyrical hip-hop. Tiff had a little more swag there—a little heavy on the acting and the staccato from my boy, though. I did like it, and judging from the judges’ push (Rob’s favorite of the evening, in fact), this will wind up being a tour piece.

Top 4 group by Tyce Diorio
Quirky contemporary—classical Mozart remix with everyone orchestrating their own style into one blended number (see what I did there?). The remix part of the music kicked in too late for my taste—District 78 could have left it as a wholly classical piece for what they actually contributed to that. A couple more sections in unison would have made it more cohesive for me, but the foursome danced it well. (After seeing the “Behind the Choreography” video and finding out they did this in 4 hours, that makes things a whole lot clearer for me.)

Eliana solo
Lovely blend of ballet and gymnastics. It just looks like there’s this large, invisible kid taking her anatomically perfect doll and moving and posing it all around the stage. If Melanie and Marko were beautiful statues come to life in Turn To Stone, Eliana is the real-life version of that. You KNOW there’s some genuine work and effort that goes into it, but it looks like she’s simply walking—even sailing—across the floor.

Pairs with Allison Holker for a Stacie Tookie contemporary about letting a loved one go to follow their dreams.

To quote Cat Deeley: “Excuse me—ONE HAND?!?” No words. Chehon, I imagine your parents have to be the proudest of you right now. I rate a damn close second. THAT was a complete performance in EVERY. WAY. Literally took Mary’s breath and powers of speech away. Mine too, if you want the truth—he is getting better and better at losing himself in the performance and turning an intricate piece of choreography from a dance routine into a moment. I don’t think I’ve seen any guy totally match Allison in performance level (and that piece with Kent was a damn good one for that).

Side note: my girls are REALLY lucky Allison has done this already and is an All-Star. I’m still happy with Benji as my Season 2 champ, but I do vaguely remember thinking she was voted out too soon.

Ray Leeper just made Eliana happy as a pig in slop—he brought in a pole for a burlesque-style Broadway jazz number. Now I gotta see if Tiffany can match up….and OH MY GOD I was seriously just thinking that I wouldn’t mind seeing “When You’re Good To Mama” on here but they’d never dare!

Damn, Tiffany—DAHELL did you pull THAT vamp out from?!? Grew up in a hurry for this one, did we? And Eliana, I saw the audition package, and you did NOT have on heels when you did that pole work. OH. MY. GAWWWWWWWWWD! I’m not sure which one of you miscounted on those pirouettes, but I don’t think I care…..

Rob, the line about Queen Latifah was PRICELESS—I think I was as spellbound by the number as well, because even though I typed it earlier, I STILL forgot you directed Chicago…..

Tour, please….

Cyrus solo
Nobody else can pull that off, mayn…..Joshua had small moments in his solos but Cyrus has a Ph.D. in those small, articulated movements. I have no idea where or how far this area of expertise is going to take him professionally, but it’s going to be interesting watching it happen.

Tiffany solo
Didn’t realize she was the only one of the four who didn’t get a straight ticket to Vegas…or much camera time. And I see I wasn’t the only one to notice the lookalike thing. I admire her all the more now. That solo had Allison Holker potential.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD TELL ME THOSE POWER RANGER SHIRTS ARE A JOKE!!!!! Sonya Tayeh gets her hands on the boys for a routine enacting their struggle in this journey. Kind of the boys’ version of Game On, but not quite as fierce as Sasha and Melanie. Yet, they did quite an admirable job.

Completely out of left field aside, but damn if Eliana doesn’t look like she could have fallen out of Jennifer Beals’s family tree…..

A guest? And a one-legged b-boy at that?!? Inspirational, yes…but this could’ve waited for next week.

Chehon solo
Chehon actually does a duet with the girl that brung him—his Las Vegas ticket. I remember in Season 7 where Kent and Allison did their duet, and right after during commentary, Adam Shankman told Kent, “Dude, you don’t need this show. You are an artist.” That’s exactly what I was thinking watching this solo. It’s in our nature as dancers to always be doubtful and self-conscious…but Chehon? Seriously, don’t EVER doubt that you are beyond special. I think we all know how this ends…with a world of career opportunities exploding in front of you, firmly in your grasp.

Paired again with Alex Wong in a Travis Wall contemporary tearjerker. Again, no words. That torn ACL is the best thing that could have happened to Lauren Frodeman, ‘cause Alex had that ish SEWN UP. Eliana is now Nigel’s favorite dancer of all time. She was mine 3 seconds into her audition piece. She really CAN do anything.

Tiffany/Chehon: Rumba
Contemporary and ballet meet ballroom with alum Dmitry Chaplin. Let’s hope a slow Latin number is the third time charm for Chehon; I don’t remember Tiffany doing any ballroom outside of that foxtrot with George, so I think this is her first Latin piece.

Sooooo…..Tiffany is determined to make a liar out of me—and good for her. She’s fabulous. Chehon’s just hot period, but I KNOW they’re gonna trample all over their form…and now MARY’S making me out to be a liar. She did pooh-pooh the chemistry, though. *eye roll* But she loved Miss Tiffany there….I want to know what was in Ms. Maher’s water bottle this week to get these kinds of performances.

Cyrus/Twitch: Animation
Glitch and Twitch Animated….I’d buy that for a dollar. A Christopher MF’ing Scott piece (is there ANY area of hip-hop he doesn’t have his toe in?) introducing some new cyborgs off the assembly line. I know this is Cyrus’s style, but he looks so puny next to Twitch….however, THAT was nearly Game On worthy.

That face save from Nigel was a bit of a low blow….I guess waiting until the final number to tell Cyrus he wasn’t voting for him was better than throwing off his game mid-competition, but even if you were pulling for his competitor there was a WAY better time, place and method to do it.

Can I tell you guys how hard it is to TiVo-delay and try to critique, type AND vote at the same time?

I won’t go into my favorites again—y’all already know who I want to win and also that I wouldn’t be outraged if it went the other way. But I do want to mention how amazing this broadcast really was. These kids had one less day than normal to master FIVE brand-new, widely varied pieces of choreography along with perfecting their own solos, doing all their on-camera pieces, getting fitted for wardrobe, doing stage blocking and still finding some time to interact with their fans online while fitting in those incidental frivolous activities like eating and sleeping, and there wasn’t one train wreck on the stage. Even the hardest-core Cyrus detractors have to admit there was some great stage work done in this show. With this level of dedication in evidence, I can’t wait to get to the concert.

The Importance Of Building A Foundation In Your Marriage Early And The One Word That Can Make This Happen | Black and Married With – A Positive Image of Marriage and Family

The Importance Of Building A Foundation In Your Marriage Early And The One Word That Can Make This Happen | Black and Married With – A Positive Image of Marriage and Family.

Dumbass Diaries part 11

This edition of the Dumbass Diaries has a guest blogger. My highly intelligent and well-read sweetie recently received this email from an ultraconversative co-worker (typos preserved):

After driving the U.S. more deeply into debt than any other President, this should make you shake your head. If George Bush’s daughters or Bill Clinton’s daughter had done this, it would have been all over the news and the voter’s would have been calling for heads to roll 24/7.
But with the chosen one, you hear nothing on the major media.

Want to know where Obama’s 13 year-old daughter went with 12 friends?

On “spring break” in Oaxaca Mexico , on your dime.

She took two jets, 12 friends and 25 secret service men.

A thirteen year-old? What the?

Why haven’t you heard about it?

The Obama Administration has had the Secret Service scouring the web ordering that any website mentioning this be taken down because letting the travel plans out could have endangered the president’s daughter’s security.

Nonsense, the “royal couple” just want to hide the way they are ripping off the U.S. taxpayer. Only a few Canadian Web-sites still have it up.
(both below)

The Obama’s are laughing at the “suckers” who are funding their Imperial Lifestyle.

This trip cost more than most Americans make in their entire lifetimes


Naturally, much like the Princess, the Litigator (so dubbed because he manages to use that circular legal logic to slide out of every argument and frustrate me to no end), is not one to just jump wildly into defense mode without some ammunition–in fact, he’s way better at it than I am. So after much research and thought, he replied as follows:

Glad this is not a busy morning yet…so I read the articles. How much did the trip cost?? No price was mentioned. Makes sense to have the information scrubbed due to security. The Snopes article confirmed that she went to Mexico as did the Edmonton article. As far as the price there wasn’t any mention of it. This is a fabricated controversy. As far as presidents go no one mentions the multiple trips that the Bush family took. 77 trips to his ranch on Air Force one is quite expensive and this article does have numbers in it.

Also, for a group of people that typically espouse strong Christian and patriotic values reading the comments listed in the previous article leaves me to believe that they aren’t learning the teachings of Christ and the values the US stand for of respect, freedom, and tolerance. Kind of hypocritical in their actions.

Also there is this article:

She took a Spring Break to a cultural area of Mexico. Not a wild party area. Also, it was an area that is small so security would be a concern but the same security offered to this First Family would be offered to any other First Family.

Excerpt from the Article:
The ugly truth is this: The President did a horribly responsible thing. He forced his daughter to spend her spring break somewhere both safe and culturally significant. She was in genuine danger of learning something, and that was pretty much the full extent of her peril. (Well, there was that earthquake, but we’re not going to blame President Obama for that, are we? That’s the fault of homosexuals.)

Rather than shipping her off to Old Europe — which would have given his critics something to grumble about (“pretentious,” “out of touch with the common man,” “fries without freedom”) — he conveyed her to Even Older North America. His critics of course don’t realize this: Their semi-dimensional view of Mexico involves sombreros and body shots; the last thing they can be expected to know is that Malia Obama was visiting a city that makes the United States of America look like an infant. A culture whose accomplishments are, viewed from a neutral distance, no less impressive than America’s.

I can hear Rick Santorum snorting from here. And to be fair, from his perspective the greatest local achievement might in fact be insignificant: The Zapotec in Monte Albán invented writing.

Still, to some people that’s kind of impressive. It’s a thing that can be said with certainty of only one other civilization: Sumerian Mesopotamia. Even China, India, and Egypt may have inherited the rudiments of writing from other cultures. (Okay, a recent highly dubious discovery suggests that, just maybe, the Olmec in Veracruz were writing letters home to their mothers even before the Zapotec. I’m not convinced, however. And neither, I’m sure, is Malia.)

The Zapotec capital is older than London, older than Paris. Malia will have encountered glyphs in a language more mysterious than Mayan: We’ll almost certainly never crack the Zapotec code; we do not have the equivalent of the Rosetta Stone, and probably never will.

The President’s daughter made a pilgrimage to El Tule, the largest tree in the world. (I know this because I was in a taxi and the guy on the radio said so. Not because I was stalking her.) She has experienced wonders. No wonder Obama’s critics are annoyed. How dare he educate his daughter?

I’ll pass over in silence the fact that she was volunteering at an orphanage. Some things are just too obscene to contemplate.

Julie Gunlock at the National Review speaks for me: ”I am shocked that they don’t recognize Malia’s time-out in Mexico as a fundamentally inappropriate activity for a 13-year-old, and a terrible message to send American families….”

Like you, I prefer my presidential critique with a side of meanness and hypocrisy, and the schoolmarms have not disappointed here. Rick Santorum in particular scrooged eloquent: Obama was spending taxpayers’ money on a Secret Service detail to keep his daughter safe.

If Obama truly had family values, he’d want her to be in danger.

But if you want information on the Bush family and vacations here it is.

Amongst a host of vacations for her (Laura) and her friends they (The Bush family) managed nice vacation in Africa but it was billed as an official event which meant the taxpayers picked up the tab.


Excerpt from the Article:
Amid a growing barrage of front-page headlines, U.S. embassy officials “strongly suggested” President Bush’s twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara Bush, cut short their trip to Buenos Aires because of security issues, U.S. diplomatic and security sources tell ABC News.

But the girls have stayed on, celebrating their 25th birthday over the weekend and producing even more headlines about their activities.

Officials say the media coverage upstaged publicity plans for the new U.S. Ambassador Anthony Wayne, who had only recently arrived in the country.

Neither the White House nor the U.S. embassy in Buenos Aires responded to requests for comment.

The Argentinean press blitz followed a report on “The Blotter” last week that Barbara Bush’s purse and cell phone were stolen last weekend while dining at the popular San Telmo outdoor marketplace despite being guarded by the Secret Service.

Stories of the twins’ visit took on wild proportions in the Argentinean press. One tabloid headline had the young women running nude in the hallway of their hotel.

I think I would prefer my daughter going on the educational trip, learning another culture, and going to the orphanage then partying like rock stars. They both went to south of the border countries and I respect their right to do so and their privacy when they do. They both did something similar but only one family was reacted to with rage, hatred, and indignation.


He might often be a smartass, but the Litigator is no dumbass.

Troubled Remembrances of Terrible Things Past

photo credits:
Advertising Agency: Extra Credit Projects, Grand Rapids, USA
Creative Director: Rob Jackson
Art Director: Joshua Best
Published: September 2011

I had some difficulty forming this piece–missed my deadline trying to make it make sense, and I’m still not sure I’ve succeeded, to my or anyone’s satisfaction. I’m not quite comfortable with it, but then neither the subject matter nor the reflections about it are comfortable, either. Going out on a limb and publishing it anyway…please read and comment with an open mind.

It’s eleven years later and we observe another remembrance of the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. I’ve always had trouble with grasping the enormity of the impact that day’s events had on the whole country, and not being what I feel is “appropriately sad.” I even mused on it in a Facebook note years ago:

I always feel bad that I don’t care more about 9/11. Now that I don’t CARE, mind you–I’m not that heartless. But on that morning my boyfriend and I were having an argument when his female best friend (and one of the bones of contention for said argument) called to tell him about the first hit to the towers. I didn’t realize the severity of things to come (much like in ’86 when the Challenger exploded and it was made to sound like everyone got out until I got home and watched what was supposed to be our soap opera tape and discovered otherwise, but I digress….), so I wanted to finish the argument. Through all of the tragedy that is the one outstanding memory I have of that day.

So, I thought I would address my FB friends through the WTPD page by posing this question:

Morning Trashbookers!

I apologize in advance if this sounds cold or callous in any way. The one vivid memory that has stayed on my mind from 11 years ago is that I was having a major blowout with my then-boyfriend when he got a call (from a friend who was a major part of said argument) to turn on the TV. I realize the enormity of what went down and the impact these events have had on families, friends, co-workers and all of us as a nation–and am truly sympathetic and respectful of that. But I’m not as traumatically affected as I see everyone else. Every story is personal, and some more personal than others….is it possible to be compassionate but not impacted? Speak on it.

Nothing on that post, but later on, I saw this post from a friend of mine:

James Joseph Maumus:
So I go to the doc’s office this morning for my routine stuff. The woman drawing my blood (in her late 50’s I suppose) asks me if I am a firefighter because I have my FDNY cap on. I say no, I just wear it every 9/11. She says “I just don’t know why people need to keep remembering this day.” Ahem… I say “well it’s just like my grandparents who commemorated December 7th every year.” She says “what happened on that day?”

People, THIS is what I’m talking about! Ignorance of our history will be our downfall.


A good catalyst for the dialogue I was trying to spark. So I cautiously crafted my response, which produced the following exchange:

ME: Don’t shoot–I sometimes wonder the same thing, though not to the degree it appears this woman did. Not that I don’t feel that we shouldn’t remember, but to what degree and how much one should feel affected. Posed the question on my blog’s FB page and have to try and finish the actual entry before today is over.

MAUMUS: It’s a good question, Nicole. I think we should remember, not only those who perished, but those who tried to save others and perished themselves (hence my FDNY cap). In addition, we need to remember who did this and and why. And that’s where opinions diverge. There are lots of people out there who think 9/11 was an “inside job”. In fact, many actually still think GW Bush was behind it! Those people are even more ignorant than the woman I experienced this morning. Now, do we need to go overboard with the tributes and such? No, and in fact I think today’s activities are too much. But, we still need to recognize that there are many people around the world who hate us for many reasons. Some of us believe that they are justified in their hate (I am not one of those btw), while most still believe that we are still the greatest experiment in a country ever performed by mankind. But one thing I cannot stand is the “9/10” mentality of so many, who couldn’t care less about history or what has happened in the course of our lives. They only care about who wins the next American Idol or what crazy thing Nicki Minaj has done. And, these days, there are way too many of those people around.

“Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it.” It is not just a passing phrase. It is our future if we are not careful.

ME: Appreciate that, Maumus. Mind if I quote you?

Comparing 9/11 and Katrina is apples and oranges, but I know some who will strenuously observe one and dismiss the other. Also, it’s much easier to deeply empathize and feel the impact of an event if you’ve been through it personally or know someone who has. Hearing a lot of the 9/11 stories (the woman embarking on a new business who had a breakfast meeting in the Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the Trade Center, the United 93 takedown, the Frasier producer and his wife who were on one of the flights that crashed into the Towers, and others) helps you to understand; walking into a house with deep black mold and water lines above your head makes you feel it. I can’t say that’s the same shell-shocked feeling that those New Yorkers covered in ash and soot had on that day, but that kind of gut-level reaction does make the enormity of a day like this all the more real.

MAUMUS: Good point. The people of NY and DC and PA, as well as the families of those on the planes all have a much different reaction to today than those of us who may have only been indirectly affected. But, the same holds true for August 29th for the rest of the country. Then again, we had see the horrors or war on newsreels from far away lands long ago, but this was the first time OUR civilians were getting killed on OUR own soil (in our lifetime, at least). And, contrary to what others may think, those civilians were DELIBERATELY targeted (and weren’t collateral damage…which of course brings up a whole different argument for a different time). So the reactions of many are much more visceral.

So I perused post after post and came across some very detailed prose from my friend William Frederick Cooper, whose reflections on Whitney Houston I posted earlier this year…and whose four-part reflections on 9/11 I hope to bring you soon. Hearing this first-hand account does bring home the overwhelming sense of helplessness of ordinary people unexpectedly thrust into a horrible situation–trapped in a bad movie that was unfortunately all too real.

I can’t say that any large-watt light bulbs went off for me, but I think I have a better idea of the throughline between the soot and the black mold. Though I have never been one to dwell on the somber, I do reverence and respect those who needlessly lost their lives trying to save others, trying to re-take another plane intended for vicious attack, or just trying to go about their daily lives. Perhaps this sentiment from Vice-President Joe Biden says it best:


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