10 Ways to Get Him to Notice You!

From time to time I find myself peaking my nose into a Cosmopolitan magazine to gain insight into what the “fairer sex” thinks about us men.  I’m usually drawn to the top 10 or top 5 lists they publish on how to attract the opposite sex.  I thought it would be fun to turn the tables and publish my own list emphasizing the qualities I find most attractive in women…but with a slight twist.  So what I have done is highlighted the top 10 moments in cinema where a female character has said something or done something to make me fall head over heels for them.  (Number 1 being the most attractive quality in my opinion)  Ladies take notice!

10.  Effie White, played by Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls, gives the performance of a lifetime in a little club, far removed from the sold out venues she was accustomed to playing while a member of her original trio.  Her determination to reinvent herself as an artist after the ultimate betrayal of her lover, brother, and fellow band mates, won me over in a heartbeat with her soulful rendition of I Am Changing.

9.  Cecilia, portrayed by Mia Farrow in The Purple Rose of Cairo, strums her way into my heart on the strings of a ukulele, and works her way into this top ten list at number 9.  There is something irresistible about a woman who can play an instrument, especially the way Cecilia’s vulnerability and innocence is conveyed in her giddy accompaniment of Alabamy Bound.

8. Salma Hayek as Isabel Fuentes in the romantic comedy Fools Rush In, makes me jealous of Alex Whitman (Matthew Perry) when she plans a lunch at the Grand Canyon for his birthday, and arranges for a Gray’s Papaya hot dog (his favorite food from back in Manhattan) to be delivered for the occasion.  The thoughtfulness she displays, knowing the hotdog will temporarily and simultaneously ease her man’s hunger and homesickness, is extremely appealing.

7.  I think it is safe to assume that every warm-blooded, virile, heterosexual man has a seduction fantasy.  But I’ll speak for myself and firmly admit that I am warm-blooded, virile and heterosexual.  Therefore, I have a seduction fantasy.  And no one pulls off the art of seduction, in my book, better than Kerry Washington as Nikki Tru in I Think I Love My Wife.  This is especially true in the scene near the end of the movie when she is finally successful in luring her prey, Richard Cooper (Chris Rock), into her private den of mischief.  High heels, lingerie, body lotion…and oh yea, Kerry Washington…need I say more?

6.  Watch the scene in He’s Just Not That Into You where Jennifer Connelly’s character Janine Gunders serves her soon to be Ex-Husband Ben Gunders a precursor to divorce papers, in the form of a carton of Natural American Spirits and a short note.  After he’s found having an affair and lying to her about his persistent smoking habit, Janine instructs him “knock yourself out” (referring to the carton of cigarettes she’s left for him to find on a stack of his neatly folded clothes) and writes “P.S. I want a divorce.”  Now that’s classy!  Having the self-worth to know that you deserve better and the refinement to move on with grace and dignity is oh so attractive.  Ms. Janine I like your style!

5.  The number 5 spot belongs to Halle Berry’s character Natalie in the “executive meets fly girl” picture Strictly Business.  When Natalie is late arriving for her shift at a restaurant because of an audition, her boss berates her.  His intention is to humiliate her and in the face of this maltreatment, she subsequently quits her job, informing him in so many words that such a classless establishment is beneath her.  Her fierce diatribe with customers looking on makes me go hog-wild for her every time I see it.  (Yeah Natalie, you tell that maître d to take that job and shove it, because you’re going to be a famous actress one day!  He doesn’t deserve you!  Don’t treat my beautiful, talented, sista like that!  Sucka!)

4.  Ladies, if the man you want to notice you is an artist, remember this important tip: feed his ego!  Mila Kunis pulls this off brilliantly as Rachel Jansen in the breakup comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, when she secretly prompts an MC at a Hawaiian bar to call Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) up to the stage to perform a song from his vampire themed rock opera.  Peter is a little apprehensive about singing his unconventional song to the patrons of the bar (understandably so…when’s the last time you walked into a pub and they were playing tunes about Dracula?).  He offers to take a request from the audience instead when Rachel interjects with screams and howls, urging him to do the vampire score.  My fellow musicians understand what I’m talking about.  Is their anything sexier than a beautiful woman clapping for you when you’re dying on stage?  Nope!

3.  Lucy Liu Samurai chops her way into the number 3 spot as O-Ren Ishii AKA “Cottonmouth” in the film Kill Bill Volume 1.  The speech this woman gives, 30 seconds after “diplomatically” dealing with a dissenter in the ranks of the Tokyo yakuza council, which she recently has assumed leadership of, is breathtaking.  I love a woman that makes no bones about her place in a man’s world, has the eloquence to verbally communicate her qualifications, and does not allow her legitimacy based on false notions of racial inclusion or exclusion to be questioned.  Lucy you have stolen my heart…just please don’t cut it out of my chest with you sword!

2. Amy Madigan as Annie Kinsella in Field of Dreams is the first runner-up on this list for her defense of free speech in the face of American literary censorship.  In her busy life of sorting out her husband’s paranormal baseball activities, saving the family farm, and raising a daughter, she finds time to give the townspeople in rural Dyersville, Iowa, a piece of her mind.  “Whose for burning books?” she queries the PTA panel intent on subverting liberal ideas in print.  I always take notice of a woman who speaks her mind…and usually fall in love with her for it!  Aren’t the women from the 60’s era the sexiest ever?

1.  And the number one entry on this list of how to get him to notice you…drum roll please…is Lonette McKee as Vanetta in the movie Which Way is Up?  The way Vanetta tirelessly devotes her entire life as an activist for the Farm Workers movement, romantic partner, and mother touches my sensibilities in places where skin and bone cannot penetrate.  Her strength, courage, devotion, intelligence, and beauty are a winning combination that forces me to take notice and notes.  Oh, where art thou Vanetta?  ¡Viva La Cuasa!

© 2011

A Poem for Norway

On this past Friday (July 22), 76 people were killed in terrorist attacks in Norway.  As I watched the television coverage of yet another senseless massacre, I was left with so many unanswered questions.  What made this incident even more gruesome was the fact that many of the victims were teenagers.  I wrote the following poem in response to the images aired and stories reported over the last few days.

A Poem for Norway

Manifesto!

Decrescendo…

Anti colonization!!

Utter devastation

Terrorist impersonating police!!!

Our youth deceased

Bomb destroys another building!!!!

Religion no longer appealing

90 minutes passes…authorities arrive!!!!!

News cameras already were live

They couldn’t deploy their helicopter crew!!!!!!

They couldn’t deploy their helicopter crew??????

Closed door arraignment so no platform given!!!!!!!

21 years maximum yet 76 not living

76 stopped beating hearts and 152 closed eyes!!!!!!!!

In the land famous for Nobel Peace Prize

© 2011

I ♥ The Karate Kid

Mr. Miyagi

I grew up in the 80’s which means I spent a lot of time watching, what else; 80’s movies!  I was also extremely sheltered so I lived vicariously through Ponyboy Curtis in The Outsiders, Marty McFly in the Back to the Future Trilogy, and Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars Saga.  (Even though Episode 4 technically can’t be considered an 80’s movie because it was released in 1977).  But my all-time favorite 80’s movie series has to be, without question, hands down…The Karate Kid.

Now that I’m an adult, I think back and realize how really inspirational those movies were to me, and I’m sure also for lots of other social outcasts.  Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) is the archetype cinematic hero for “the new kid on the block,” the geek, the pretty-boy all the other guys hated because their girlfriends thought he was cute, and all around odd-ball, fish-out-of-water, high-school, teenaged B-crowd nobody.  The guy repeatedly gets the crap beat out of him by the more popular jocks, instantly making him identifiable with any kid whose ever been bullied in the school yard.  This merciless assault on his puny bag of bones continues until Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki “Pat” Morita), the quintessential fictional savior of all us pitiful “dweebs,” shows up to rescue him.  The only thing better than seeing Daniel crane kick Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) in his chin at the climax of the movie is when Ali Mills, played by Elisabeth Shue (Yes I had a crush on her too!) comes rushing out of the stands to congratulate him with a big, warm hug.  So not only does Daniel get revenge, he also gets the girl.  And I can honestly report as a certified dork, that never, ever happens in real life…which is why movies are the ultimate escapism in American society.

But besides the obvious attraction to the film because of the social invisibility motif, I also found other very profound elements within The Karate Kid.  Honor is the theme of the second installment in which Daniel and Mr. Miyagi travel to Okinawa and save Mr. Miyagi’s village from being destroyed by an old friend turned nemesis.  The most endearing scene of this movie, in my opinion, is the tea ceremony that Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita) performs for Daniel.  Everything about it evokes love, maturity, dignity, sophistication, culture and respect.  It’s a sharp contrast, in comparison, to the frivolous and superficial image of romance often portrayed in western culture; whether it be “every kiss begins with Kay” engagement commercials or instant self-gratification sexual stimulation.

In the Karate Kid, Part III, nature takes center stage and we watch a bonsai tree that is uprooted from its natural habitat and badly damaged, fight for its survival.  Mr. Miyagi tells Daniel that the bonsai has a strong root, just like him, and that they both can survive anything.  The landscape is amazing in this film and despite the tricks and lies of a false sensei who seduces Daniel through the weakness of his fierce temper, our hero finds redemption; and the bonsai is returned home.  It’s as if we are all called home to nature in this movie, where we can find peace.

I have to admit that, as a teenager, I was a male chauvinsit…as I believe most males to be at that age.  We cannot help it.  We are taught that boys are athletic, strong, and courageous.  We are taught that girls are weak, clumsy, and in need of a strong man to save them.  How could the Karate Kid be a girl, I wondered confusingly when I saw the advertisement for The Next Karate Kid staring Hilary Swank.  So being the chauvinist pig that I was at 17 years of age, I never paid any attention to the fourth movie when it was originally released.  I’m embarrassed to admit that I only watched it a few weeks ago…what an idiot I am!  Julie Pierce kicks ass!  I would not have messed with that girl in high school-at all!  So we see the equality of women surface as a major theme of this movie and, once again, nature resurfaces as a minor theme through the explored concept of respect for all life, no matter how small or seemingly trifle to us human beings.  Nothing living is permitted to be killed in the Buddhist monastery Mr. Miyagi and Julie visit during her training.  That’s still a very timely message in this day and age.

Finally, the 2010 release of The Karate Kid staring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan as Mr. Han brings everything around full circle with the inclusion of African-Americans into this martial arts mythology.  I sat in the movie theater and watched amongst a full house of Karate Kid fans, young and old, cheer Dre Parker on to victory.  If I hadn’t known any better, I would have thought I was watching an actual kung fu tournament live on a closed circuit feed.  We cheered as if we actually knew little Dre.  He was our son, little brother, nephew or neighbor.  The response of the crowd was definitely a testament to this franchises’ ability to connect with its audience time after time, generation after generation.

So where will the Karate Kid legend go from here?  Has the journey ended or are there still miles ahead?  Have the lessons concluded or are more themes waiting to be developed?  Should there be another Karate Kid movie made, and I am definitely in favor of another movie, we’ll be there; the corny nerds all grown up, waiting to see some bully get a taste of their own medicine.

© 2011

A Poem for Mumbai

Today, 3 explosions rocked Mumbai killing 21 people and wounding over 100 people.  In 2008, 170 people were killed in a terrorist attack in the city of Mumbai.  As a writer, there are times when a poem can best communicate the thoughts and emotions that I wish to share.  From time to time in this blog I intend to publish those poems I have written for occasions such as these.  After watching the HBO documentary Terror in Mumbai in 2009, I wrote the following poem…

Mumbai Math

The heart of Mumbai

Her beating stilled

By the 10 gunmen

Who begot 17 victims

Times themselves

10 X 17 = 170

Blood + Muscle = Mumbai

Her pulsating, night life quieted

An ominous, chilling hush

By one hundred and seventy pulmonary veins

Dividing up life

MuslimsJewsHindusChristians ÷ 170 = 1

One

Father Mother Brother Sister

One

Niece Nephew Aunt Uncle

One

© 2011

Should I Protest? (A Response to Codename Geronimo)

My great grandfather’s name was Harry Frazier.  That was not his real name.  Harry Frazier was the name he took for himself in order to pass for Caucasian in an environment which was hostile toward Native Americans.  He was a full blood Native American.  This was a common survival strategy used by many people during his time in order to conceal their true identity.  He lived in Tennessee and one day he wrote his true Native name down in a family Bible.  No one in my family knows where that Bible is now, and so we do not know what his real name was.  Our family believes that he was either from the Cherokee or Choctaw tribe, but without knowing his original name it is nearly impossible to determine this information.

When I heard that a protest movement on Facebook had been initiated in response to the United States Government’s use of the codename Geronimo for Osama Bin Laden in their operation to capture and kill him, I was conflicted.  Native Americans were asked to change their profile picture to Geronimo.  Besides my great-grandfather, I have other ancestors who were also Native Americans.  However, because it was unpopular to discuss and/or disclose Native American ancestry in their day, this information was either kept secret or downplayed in some manner.  I cannot apply for tribal membership because I cannot prove my ancestors were Native Americans.  I don’t have their original names and they were not recorded in any census or official documents.  It’s the same dilemma that African Americans face when desiring to trace their genealogy because our ancestors’ names were changed from their original names to their slave master’s name.  For this reason there are often branches missing in our so-called family tree.

Geronimo’s real name was Goyathlay.  His ancestry was of the Apache tribe.  His mother, wife, and three children were killed by soldiers in the Mexican Army.  In his career as a war chief, Geronimo fought against the Mexican and United States Army and became one of the most revered leaders in Native American history.  To link him with Osama bin Laden is a gross error of association.  Geronimo was defending his home country from the westward invasion of the U.S. Army.  Hundreds of treaties were broken on the part of the U.S. government which allowed them to illegally seize Native American homelands.  This resulted in the creation of reservations where Native Americans were forced to move and live in virtual poverty.  There are still Native Americans living on reservations today.  The U.S. government has yet to address all of the treaties that were broken during those wars.  So to identify Geronimo with Osama bin Laden, liking him to America’s worst enemy, is as President Barack Obama often times suggests, a line of thinking that is on “the wrong side of history.”  No one who defends their people and homeland from an unlawful invading army should be labeled as a terrorist.

One day my great-grandfather Harry Frazier fell from a building’s fire escape.  He had been drinking and the police arrested him and took him to jail.  No medical attention was ever administered to him and he died as a result of his injuries while in jail.  It is our family’s suspicion that the police knew he was a Native American and that was why he didn’t receive medical care.  My mother told me that he once said, “It’s better to be a Black man than an Indian in this country.”

I voted for Barack Obama in the last presidential election and I plan to do so again in the next.  I do hope that he along with all of the tribal councils can work together to rectify this unfortunate association of names.  So again my dilemma was whether or not to change my profile picture and join in on the protest.  Do I have enough Native American blood running in my veins to justify my participation?  Am I authentic enough?  Is this my fight?  When thinking of what happened to my great-grandfather, I know I have the obligation to speak up.  I have done so.  I will continue to do so.  Maybe one day, if things don’t change, you’ll see me cruising around Facebook with the likeness of a true American Hero!

© 2011

Derek Jeter Hits Home Run for 3,000th Hit!

On Saturday, Derek Jeter joined Major League Baseball’s  exclusive 3,000 hit club passing Roberto Clemente by 3 hits.  For those of you who don’t know, I am a Yankees fan.  My home town of Columbus, OH is where the AAA team of the New York Yankees organization used to be located – The Columbus Clippers.  Darryl Strawberry who was my all-time favorite player as a kid was a Clipper, as was Dwight Gooden, Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter.  Since then, the Columbus Clippers have become the Cleveland Indians’ Minor League team, but my love for the Yankees has not wavered.

I had been following Jeter’s quest for 3,000 hits and all seemed to be moving smoothly until he came up with a strained right calf in a game against Cleveland.  Lost in the hectic week that followed, I found myself searching the program guide of my cable provider looking for the next Yankees televised game, hoping I could watch the game in which Jeter would get his 3,000th hit.  I couldn’t miss it!  I didn’t want to have to see history played out on a Sports Center highlight reel.  So when I saw that the Yankees were scheduled to play the Tampa Bay Rays Saturday at 1pm I knew this would be my best chance to see history, with Jeter only 2 hits off his mark.  What I did not know was how special that game would be.

Derek Jeter ended up with 5 at bats and 5 hits.  He also scored 2 runs and 2 RBI’s.  When he stepped up to home plate for his second at bat with 2,999 hits, I sat in my apartment anticipating the crack of  his bat.  David Price delivered the pitch and Jeter hit a solo home run shot into the stands.  The only other MLB player to hit a home run for their 3,000th hit was Wade Boggs on August 7, 1999, ironically as a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

In my mind, Derek Jeter has now not only solidified his legacy as one of the greatest Yankees of all time, having already become the Yankees all time hits leader when he passed Lou Gehrig, but also his legacy as one of the greatest MLB players of all time by passing the 3,000 mark.  (Jeter is also the only player in MLB history to earn all 3,000 hits while wearing a Yankee uniform)  When Pete Rose (AKA Charlie Hustle) bulldozed his way to 3,000 hits playing for the Big Red Machine, he was 37 – the same age as Derek Jeter.  Barring injury, will Jeter surpass the great Pete Rose and become MLB’s all-time hits leader?  If so, I hope that I will have the opportunity to hear the crack of his bat in that game as well.  But going 5 for 5 in Yankee Stadium and getting your 3,000th hit on a homerun will be tough to top as an encore if he finds himself 2-3 hits out of 4,000.  That’s why these are the games baseball fans will be talking about for as long as baseball is played.  These are the games in which legends are born.  The only thing better would have been to actually have been at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, with my dog and beer in hand, to witness it in person – mustard and relish…hold the ketchup please!

© 2011

The Noisettes

This post was originally published under my last blog titled “L_Mellow Is a Blogging Fellow” on Blackplanet.com back in January of 2010.  (L_Mellow was my username on Blackplanet.com)  However, I love the Noisettes so much I thought it was worth republishing.  Enjoy!

Shingai Shoniwa (Colored pencil drawing)

Every now and then I find my ears acting like antennas, scanning for signs of  life in the ever expanding universe of popular music.  I relish the thought of  finding something new and fresh; something that clearly distances itself from the pack.  Last week I decided to take a risk and buy a CD of a band that I had never heard of before: The Noisettes.  The album is called What’s the Time Mr. Wolf?  It was released in 2007.  I had actually seen the group’s more recent CD entitled Wild Young Hearts at the record store, and took advantage of the in-store audio player to preview the music.  After listening to a few tracks I was a little undecided.  When I came across the Mr. Wolf CD at another record store later that night, I jumped at the opportunity to buy it, my rationale being that I am a strong believer in a band’s first released material being their best.  I was right.  Sharp!  Cutting Edge!  Brilliant!  These are the adjectives that I feel rightly justify the Noisettes’ current buzz around the music industry.  I loved it!

I instantaneously fell in love with Shingai Shoniwa, the lead singer and bassist. When I hear her perform, it’s as if Billie Holiday and Jimi Hendrix are at the control panel of the right side of her brain, each vying for top billing.  One minute soft and soothing; the next biting and fire cracker-like.  The other band mates (guitarist Dan Smith and drummer Jamie Morrison) are equally suited to the task of painting a fresh portrait blend of intense ear-drum tickling melodies.  My favorite song off What’s the Time Mr. Wolf? is “Mind the Gap.”  I love the changes the musical direction takes you on; a journey of various stop and go tempos and rise and fall harmonies.  After I listened to What’s the Time Mr. Wolf? 5 times in a row without stopping, I went out and purchased Wild Young Hearts, which I think to be a very fine compliment to the band’s budding discography.  If you love music and you’re looking for something fantastic, this would definitely be it!

© 2011

Learning From Yellowstone River

“…it is a very beautiful river.  I love it above everything.  I have often listened to it, gazed at it, and I have always learned something from it. One can learn much from a river.” -The ferryman from Sidhartha by Hermann Hesse

I am an insomniac which means that I can be found in the painfully silent nights of my unrest trying to intentionally tire myself out past the point of exhaustion that I am already at, so that I can somehow drift off to sleep.  I am not alone.  So at 4:30 am this morning when I reached for a book to make my eyes weary, I know that somewhere else in the world someone else was doing the same thing, though maybe using a different technique besides reading to bring about a remedy.  The book I read this morning was Sidhartha.  By the time I had turned a few pages, a steady rain began to fall, comforting me with sounds of soft water splashing into my window pane, door, the sidewalk and streets, the grass, and bushes outside of my apartment.  When I read the passage that I quoted at the beginning of this post, I instantaneously thought about the Yellowstone River.  (Last week it was reported that an Exxon Mobil pipe running underneath the Yellowstone River broke, spilling up to 1,000 barrels of oil into the water.)

Every time I fill up the gas tank of my car I consciously know that I am supporting the oil industry.  I know that I have virtually no choice but to do it because, like everyone else, I have to get to work.  I could take public transportation…but at a cost of being restricted by bus schedules and routes.  I could car pool and on occasion I do use this strategy, mostly with family, but that too is a limited option.  The reality is that there’s hardly a way around using a vehicle in this society and as it stands now, these vehicles run on gasoline; gasoline refined and distributed by companies like BP, Exxon Mobil and others who have been responsible for environmental disasters over the years.  However, I cannot totally shift the blame.  Why?  Because I also play a part by spending my dollar with these companies.  And this pains me, because I don’t want to have anything to do with oil spills.

We are gradually moving to a new era of mass producing energy efficient vehicles, hybrid vehicles, and electric vehicles.  I can only hope that this rate of manufacturing speeds up in time to offset what we as an oil dependent world have done to damage our planet.

If the ferryman of Sidhartha is right, that we can learn much from a river, how much can we learn likewise from this latest oil spill?  And more importantly, what will we do with what we’ve learned?

© 2011

Casey Anthony Found Not Guilty of Murder

I’ll admit I was surprised when the jury in the Casey Anthony trial returned “not guilty” verdicts on all of the first 3 counts.  I was also relieved because I am not a proponent of the death penalty.  In my opinion, the disproportionate sentencing of prisoners to die, especially within the African-American and Latino-American communities, by the United States justice system has deeply swayed me in opposition to the death penalty.  In fact, I believe that we should have a moratorium on the death penalty in this country for that reason.

When this trial first began, I felt secure in my mind that she was guilty of the unthinkable crime of murdering her daughter.  As the trial progressed, I began to question myself.  By the time the verdict was scheduled to be read at 2:15 pm yesterday, I had totally given up on judging the situation because the truth was, I didn’t know what to think.  Did she prove herself, admittedly so by the defense, to be a methodical liar?  Yes.  Was it proven beyond a reasonable doubt that she murdered her daughter in a premeditated fashion?  Not exactly.  So the 12 jurors made their best judgment in light of the evidence; due process was followed; the judge confirmed the verdicts; and we are right back at square one, not really knowing what happened to Caylee.  We all wanted justice for Caylee.  It feels like we’ll have to settle for a little less than that.

What is it about these courtroom dramas that command our attention?  I remember when the NBA finals were interrupted suddenly with breaking news about O.J. Simpson’s white Ford Bronco being chased by police in 1994.  I didn’t think anything in this world could have distracted me as a 17 year old kid from watching Patrick Ewing battle Hakeem Olajuwon for the world championship.  It was the NBA’s version of “Clash of the Titans”- Ewing with his patent low-post fade-away jump-shot and Olajuwon with his paint-area soccer style footwork that provoked memories of Pelé.  Yet I did, though initially involuntarily, turn my attention from one court to another.  I remember hearing that verdict read as well.  When O.J. was found innocent of murder, I was in the Student Union at the University of Dayton, and I watched how that controversial ruling totally polarized the African-American and Caucasian students on campus.

That trial had its memorable moments as did this one, most notably the frenzy that escalated into a fistfight over seating outside of the courtroom one morning.  (I would have expected that to happen at a Lady Gaga or Beyoncé concert, or perhaps even a Yankees vs. Red Sox game?)  Be that as it may, I will recall what will, hopefully, prove to be a more enduring memory from this trial; that of a young girl who brought a tribute to the scene of where Caylee Anthony’s body was heinously discarded.  For me, it was that little girl’s heartfelt compassion for Caylee that reminds me of what really mattered in this trial, aside from any disappointment felt in light of the verdict.

© 2011