Woman Crush Wednesday: Taraji P. Henson

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In the media world it is obviously difficult to see when real recognizes real. We have all experienced it. But imagine if you have been around for two decades as an actor with countless memorable roles and yet you are still treated as a newbie or some sort of startling revelation to the world.

Who am I speaking of?

If you cannot tell by the site of the images embedded in this post that I am speaking about Academy Award nominated actress Taraji P. Henson then you are far more clueless than Cher Horowitz could ever be. And since she has been on fire over the course of her career Taraji is our subject for Woman Crush Wednesday. I cannot think of someone more deserving for this week’s segment. Especially, since her current show Empire is set to air a two-hour season finale tonight!

Why give her the honor of being todays muse?

Why not?!

There are many reasons why she is worthy of being our Woman Crush Wednesday muse. First, with all the hoopla coming with the monster of a hit that is Empire she has handled everything with class and sass. This includes fielding questions as to whether what she sits on is real. Let’s be blunt here everything about the woman is real, including the Cookie Cakes. Listen folks I can sit here and wax poetic about her figure but that would be all too easy. Instead I will focus on the body of her work.

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Just look at the roles she has played over the years. Each one she has taken on has showcased her broad range from Baby Boy’s Yvette to Queenie in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and now to the super diva/momma lion that is Cookie Lyon on Empire. Taraji’s skills have made her a household name. As of this moment her most recent character would keep Dynasty’s Alexis Carrington in a corner while dealing with a severe case of shut mouth.

However, with regard to comparing Cookie and Alexis there is no love to hate attitude coming from fans towards the former. At least that is not the vibe I have noticed. Maybe it is because Cookie’s story is not that of a scheming woman and more of one that was denied and left for broke. I also will add that just like the actress who portrays her Cookie has an appeal that reaches all audiences. It is safe to say that no one can ever play Cookie but Taraji just like only Hugh Jackman will forever be Weapon X.

With all that said I do have one question. I wonder what would happen if Cookie asked Cookie Monster to take her cookies? Sorry I just could not resist that one.

Well that is all for now folks, until next time. Always remember if you can’t, you must!

Music Monday: ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ by Kendrick Lamar

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The Ides of March may have come and gone without incident. Today in pop culture history may very well be Austin 3/16 Day. However, todays date just might be remembered for an alternate version of a “can of whoop ass.”

On this Music Monday fans received truly unexpected surprise when veteran rapper Kendrick Lamar’s highly anticipated “To Pimp a Butterfly” was released a week early. While the vast majority of music fans seem to be in awe of it others are not. In addition to that Kendrick’s camp appears not all too thrilled by the leak.

Here are some of the best reactions trending on social media when it comes to the album:

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I just finished listening to “To Pimp a Butterfly” by Kendrick Lamar from beginning to end. Yes, that is not an accident and it actually happened. The accident is that a rap album that one can listen to from top to bottom or as my generation would put it “front to back” by the masses (both “popular” and “underground”) was actually released and in a fashion almost beyond premature than any ejaculatory fluid could be dispensed.

Money shot anyone?

I know some folks are looking like Charlie Runkle after they heard it.

Why?

Must I state that over the course of the past fifteen years or so there have been many rap albums that have been as overhyped, tawdry and lame like the efforts put forth by hair metal bands that nearly made the 1980s insufferable. This is why Lamar’s latest effort not only feels like the standard clichéd breath of fresh air and comes off as the proverbial bucket of water. And yes when it has come to music over course of this time period, this being majorly pointed towards rap of course, dry land is obviously not a myth. We have seen it clear across the musical landscape for far too long. Luckily for some us we have been rewarded with a few treats here and there. But sadly we still are not living in the last true decade (the 1990s) where albums were king and queen.

This current generation really has no “Nevermind”, “Ready to Die”, “Thriller” or “Houses of The Holy” to call their own. It is not to say that all of current pop music is horrible but one cannot deny that some of these “current” artists lack a little something in the juggernaut/groundbreaking/definitive category. We can be here all day debating as to who is at fault for this and what the reasons are for it. We all have our theories on this and could be here for years debating this very topic.

Do I approve of Kendrick’s newest release?

Absolutely! I have never had an issue with his brand of rap whatsoever. I love “i”, “Wesley’s Theory” and “These Walls” Am I crowning it this decades “18th Letter” or “Like Water for Chocolate” after my initial consumption? No I am not. That does not mean it will not stand a chance at becoming a classic. Only time will dictate that. This is just the case with regard to brilliant and often misunderstood pieces of art.

That is all for now folks, until next time. Always remember if you can’t, you must!

Music Monday: Jamar Rogers

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I just wanted to take a brief moment on this Music Monday to give a birthday shout out to Jamar Rogers who celebrated his yesterday. The former Voice contestant and resident R & B crooner on the Tommy Boy label took time to post this message to his fans on his Facebook account:

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If you have been as fortunate as I have been to attend Tommy Boy’s Vinyl party’s (much love to Fred Hanba for the invites) and not only meet Jamar but speak with him for at least five minutes you’ll honestly come out of the exchange as a better person. It is very hard to meet virtuous people in the music business and he is one of them. If you do not know his story by now then you either must be living under a rock or just have no heart to care.

My hat goes off to you Jamar. Keep on doing what you do and shine. Lord knows we music journalists need love having the likes of you around because you make our jobs much easier.

That is all for now folks, until next time. Always remember if you can’t, you must!

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Saturday Salute: Skeletor. The man. The myth. The legend.

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Oh, that laugh! That sweet maniacal cackle! How unforgettable it is! And how enduring is the figure from whom it emanates.

Long before there was a C. Montgomery Burns, a Scar or Plankton there was Skeletor. Over the course of thirty plus years the skull headed blue humanoid known to all as the archenemy of He-Man has had just as much staying power as the previously mentioned evil cartoon beings. Skeletor has managed to transcend generations through various forms of media.

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The ruler of Skull Mountain has been the darling of the social media world with countless memes. He has managed to stay in the limelight via commercials and constant appearances on Robot Chicken and The Wil Wheaton Project. Now he looks to be set to take the silver screen by storm once again since it is likely there will be live action reboot of The Masters of The Universe.

No geek alive should have an issue with this. Remember his first foray into cinema? Actually many of us would like to forget the first film based on this iconic cartoon franchise. It is safe to say that all of us who are fans believe a second and better crack at depicting Skeletor via this medium is needed.

But who will portay him?

To be blunt I have no clue as to who should do the honors. If anyone has any suggestions feel free to speak up on the topic. Seriously, I have no idea about the matter at this current moment. I will state that all I want is someone who does not try to be a poor man’s Emperor Palpatine. I am not asking for an Oscar winning performance just something believable and the same should apply with regard to the story-line.

With all that said I leave you all with some clips of one of our favorite villains of all-time. That is all for now folks, until next time. Always remember if you can’t, you must!

Throwback Thursday: Love and Rockets

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Recently I had a conversation with a blogger friend of mine about our problems in the media business. We ranted about how messed up things are in African American and Hispanic media circles. We vented about the idiotic politics and how we are both disgusted with gatekeeping tactics. But the crux of our discussion was how our respective races, ethnicities and cultures are not only underrepresented but purchase vast quantities of pop culture and media in this country. This is an undeniable fact and one that does not require market research to illustrate this point. Yet we will gladly accept it when it is presented.

To be perfectly honest my friend and I came to the conclusion about what kind of media was flooded into every major U.S. inner city during the time we grew up. Nothing but comics and cartoons were pumped into the hood over the course of forty plus years. Yes, we also had our movies and sci-fi series to comfort us as well. What some may say was used to dumb us down and pacify us has come to rear its head in the most wonderful and colorful of ways. Why? Simply because we (Hispanics and African Americans) not only have been buying into these things for decades we now control the purchasing power, especially if you are a female.

Last year Advertising Age released its 11th Annual Hispanic Fact Pack. (Boy I cannot wait for the 12th annual edition to be released this August.) In it some pretty striking numbers were revealed about media growth and advertising dollars spent in 2013 when it I came to Hispanics in the United States. And the numbers not only do not lie, which they rarely do, but they painted a rather interesting picture on broad canvass that has yet to be fully defined.

Advertising Age 11th Annual Fact Pack

I state the latter because there still are very few pieces of media content that universally appeal to Hispanics living in this country as a whole. Not everyone who is a fan of Jane The Virgin is a fan of the Machete film franchise. It is nothing personal just a matter of taste for some. Yet I am completely aware that no one will agree with this line of thinking. Remember the age old line of you cannot please everyone? However, as we the intelligent consumer know, when it comes to media just like food there is a little tapas for us all.

Which brings me to the topic of this week’s Throwback Thursday. On this edition I salute Los Bros Hernandez and their entire Love and Rockets comic book and graphic novel franchise. For over thirty years they have developed an entire universe that has some of the most diverse and layered non-superhero characters on this planet. Rolling Stone Magazine even named it the number one non-superhero graphic franchise of all-time. I cannot think of a better piece of intellectual property that could be turned into a movie and series for Netflix or Amazon Prime. I scoured the internet pretty well and found that a movie may be in the works possibly using Gilbert’s “Palomar” story-line. It is believed that he publicly announced that he was writing a script for this while in Toronto, Canada as of May 10th 2013. This would be huge given the years of failed attempts to convert the literary franchise into a film due to its rights being held up in litigation placing it in a state of “development hell.”

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There is no reason for a film or possible series based on L & R to fail. In an age where Spider-Man is now an Afro-Latino teenage boy and Miss America (the female Captain America) is Latina I like possibly many see no reason for it to go in the toilet. With all due respect to Marvel’s homogenization and assimilation story-line’s the time to feature organically engineered characters of Hispanic and African American descent is now. And to say that there are not any viable options is a complete farce. As of this moment we all know someone who is either an illustrator, writer or creator of comic book and graphic novel material who happens to be African American and Hispanic of both genders.  This person is most certainly creating what I merely mentioned.

With more actors from these groups clamoring to play roles that are “more like them” and that many can relate to I cannot think of a better product to exercise this than Love and Rockets. The plots of these books are not only multi-layered, the characters have depth, it contains magical realism and it portrays the passage of time in a very realistic fashion. Basically it has everything you could ever want in an intellectual property from a geek’s point of view.

Look obviously cornering a market is said to be not only a monumental task but an arduous journey in any business. Getting a piece of the pie is obviously on grand pain in the ass. Nevertheless we all try to do these things regardless of the consequences because we all want the prize that comes after our herculean efforts are executed.

On July 28th, 2014 when Crain Communications Inc. shared with us that ad spending for 2013 in the Hispanic media market was recorded at $8 billion. (Lord only knows what that figure will be in 2014.) Crain also reported an 8 percent growth in Hispanic media spending while $335 million was doled out with regard to P & G measured ad spending, which was up by thirty-six percent. In addition to that the percentage of U.S. Hispanic internet users on Twitter was clocked at an alarming forty-nine percent.

What does all of this translate to?

Well the short of it are two things. First, advertisers, content providers and intellectual property creators all walks of life are trying to hit this second wave of the Hispanic media market or “Trillion Dollar Latino Market” in fashion that is beyond hardcore. This pales in comparison to the days of the heavy investment of audiences fixated on the J-Lo’s and Marc Anthony’s crossing over into MTV’s TRL era programming. The second is that in those years where the internet was becoming king and social media was its cute little princess accessory the roles are pretty much in reverse now. In laymen’s terms social media is now the queen that just ripped off his majesty’s balls and now sits on the thrown to rule all for the foreseeable future. We, not just Hispanics, gather our information disseminated it via social media outlets. We also consume and place content by these means as well.

Let’s face it this was all bound to happen. It does not take a member of Mensa International to figure this stuff out. You just have to pay close attention. Okay, you really have to be a gym rat when it comes down it.

“Nerds! We run this shit”, Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels once told me during an interview. Think of who the nerds really are in this country. We are not all super intelligent like Dr. Sheldon Cooper nor are we the proverbial village idiot. Not all of us are exactly Dr. Leonard Hofstadter chasing after Penny until she comes to her senses. Instead we are relatively educated, street smart and savvy when it comes to the content and products we buy. We know where are place is at the table when it comes to these sorts of things. And maybe Love and Rockets could play a big part in the representation process.

So in closing my hat goes off to Los Bros Hernandez and their entire franchise. You are all a part of this week’s Throwback Thursday. That is all for now folks until next time. Always remember if you can’t, you must!

Woman Crush Wednesday: Iris Chacón

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Today is February 25th and on this date a quarter century ago my family and I lost an important figure. We lost our grandfather. To say he was a special man is an understatement. He put my brothers and I on to many things. The Three Stooges was one of them. Yet the biggest thing (Hehe) he put us on to happens to be the subject of this week’s Woman Crush Wednesday. I could not think of a better way to pay tribute to him by digging into the vaults and having “his woman” Iris Chacón on my blog as a muse.

Some ask why? I ask why the fuck not?!

Iris Chacon

Long before there was a Kim Kardashian or a Jennifer Lopez to come along and “borrow” from her formula there was Iris. Let’s keep it real her talent was the blueprint for the latter while the former just simply has none. Chacón was an icon in every sense from musical to sexual. She was a hero to many Puerto Ricans whether they want to admit it or not. Women not only envied her but they wanted to be her. Grown men and teenage boys fought in front of the television screen because they wanted to be with her.

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These days in the age of the internet and Adobe Photoshop Iris can be found making the rounds doing media appearances. And the topic still centers on her talents and physical assets which she proudly asserts are one hundred percent real and spectacular. We live in a time where paparazzi and media outlets are constantly questioning everything about the likes of Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea as whether they are suspect or not. To hear from an icon like Chacón as to her take on these things is extremely refreshing.

It is nice to see that with the second wave of interest with regard to Latino content that her voice is not only listened to but her words are taken seriously. But you know what would be nice? It would be nice if the aforementioned female “entertainers” mentioned in this post were to not only acknowledge her and how ahead of the curve she was but pay some form of tribute to her. After all if it was not for her they would not be in the positions they are in now. Are you reading J-Lo?

So with all this said I leave you with visual evidence confirming the greatness that is Iris Chacón. A post that has the stamp of approval from my grandfather. That is all for now folks. Always remember if you can’t, you must!

Toy Tuesday: A simple piece of Americana

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While most of the United States is in a deep freeze many of us are trying to keep warm. We are either consuming copious amounts of our favorite hot beverages and comfort foods. But if that is not enough most are heading as far south as they can to seek relief from the havoc that Old Man Winter and Elsa are wreaking upon us.

Some of those fortunate souls who have headed south are either in Arizona or Florida for spring training for the upcoming baseball season. And it is not just the ballplayers who are in the Sunshine State and the Valley of the Sun. Sports journalists from countless regions near and far have descended on these locales. They probably have the most fun and easiest of assignments, depending on whom they are covering, which is why we would all love to trade places with them right now. All this work is because of a kid’s game played by grown men.

Which brings me to the subject of this week’s edition of Toy Tuesday. Yes the baseball glove may be a toy to some and a tool to others but for many it is a universal symbol of hope. No matter the shape and size of a glove it gives anyone who uses it a chance to play America’s Pastime no matter the stature, race, ethnicity and gender of the individual using it.

The glove has come a long way since it was introduced to the game in the 1860’s according to most baseball historians. My generation has seen a wide variety of catcher’s mitts and fielding gloves. They now come in every shade of color except white as per MLB rules.

Some in my father’s generation could not afford gloves as children and would play with either their bare hands or fashion a glove out of spare cardboard parts. The latter is a tactic still used by youths in Latin American nations. Yet it has been coming to a halt since players from those regions have been constantly donating time and money for proper baseball equipment and clinics along with MLB.

So in honor of my subject for Toy Tuesday I leave you with videos of my two favorite examples of glove work. Until next time stay warm. Always remember if you can’t, you must!

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