Saturday, July 28, 2007


I subscribe to the NY Times online, but as of late, I've been much too busy to read them. While deleting some of the clutter in the mail box, I stop and read over some of the article titles in the Times Sunday Book Review, dated July 22, 2007. I noticed a review on a book entitled, CHARGING THE NET: A History of Blacks in Tennis from Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe to the Williams Sisters.

The book, which is edited by Cecil Harris and Larryette Kyle-DeBose, consists of 65 interviews and presents an indepth look into the lives of Black tennis stars.

A couple of the quotes in the article, written by Toure, jumped out at me.

Leslie Allen, who participated in the sport in the 80's said the following: "I'd go to a tournament where the family wanted to house the No. 1 seed. But when that family found out that the No. 1 seed was me, then suddenly the housing disappeared."

The editors (Harris and Kyle-DeBose) made the following observations: "The unspoken but persistent vibe that you are not welcome, that others would be happier if you went away, a vibe that black tennis players have sensed on the main tour for decades, makes it difficult to find the rhythm and comfort zone needed to perform at your best."

I'm not a major follower of tennis, but this book sounds like one I'd enjoy reading. I was surprised by some of the details the article shared, particularly, as far as some of the personal difficulties faced by so many of the better known tennis stars. Also,I'm intrigued by the thought that so many African Americans, whose names I've never heard, not only played, but excelled in the sport (smile).

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


The following is yet another great quote I found in the July 23, 2007 issue of JET magazine. According to the article on page 9, after her recent Wimbeldon victory, Venus Williams said:

"I was really motivated because no one picked me to win. They didn't even say, 'She can't win.' They weren't even talking about me."

I, too, noticed the lack of attention Venus received before, after and during the competition. The news media almost seemed to take an "oh,well" view of this accomplished athlete. I'd like to say, I don't understand . . . but if I did, I'd be lying (smile).

If Tiger Woods goes out on the golf course and breaks a nail, it's deemed a newsworthy item of the highest order. If Tiger were a Black woman (not that he has ever considered himself a Black man, of course *smile*) would he warrant the same kind of attention? Probably not.

I'll even go a step further and say, he most certainly WOULD NOT were he a dark-skinned Black woman. Yeah, I said it. Meant it too (smile).

No, racism, sexism and the "invisibility" of Black women is/are hardly anything new. Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" refrain is just as pertinent today as it was when she first uttered it back in 1851

I can only hope and pray that one day we'll stop being in denial about the "isms" that we've all internalized and that influence how we see or choose not to see certain people . . . and one another.

So, what are your thoughts on the subject?

Sunday, July 22, 2007


I'm on the road and doing a lot of miscellaneous reading (Jet, Essence and the like). In the July 23rd issue of JET, I ran across several interesting quotes. The following has to do with a movie I've been thinking about seeing-- "Talk To Me." The movie is about an ex-con turned deejay and the program director who gives him a break. Even though the film has a lot going for it--including actors, Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor as well as director Kasi Lemmons, the reviews I've read have been mixed. But the following comment made by the screenwriter Michael Grant really made me stop and think.

"What I found in telling their story was that there is a love shared between Black men that we almost never hear tell of. You won't find it defined in any text books or dictionaries, yet it exists."

I think, for the most part, what Mr. Grant said is true. And I'd love to see more movies deal with this topic. But right off hand, I can think of at least one other movie that did a fairly decent job of dealing with the love that exists been Black men who aren't biologically-related--"Boys In The Hood."

Have there been others? If you've seen the movie, do you agree or disagree with the screenwriter's statement?

Friday, July 20, 2007


The following notice appeared in the opening of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn--

"Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot."

I think, quite often, a lot of us feel this way . . . but would never dare say it (smile). Of course, to be SUCCESSFUL in today's marketplace, we need all of those things and more. Don't we? (LOL) It's okay if you don't "get" the humor in the statement above. The truth is, the joke is generally always on the writer . . .

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Shelia Lipsey is the author of Into Each Life (Jan. 2007) and SinSatiable (Aug. 2007). Both novels are part of Kensington's "Urban Christian" imprint.

Ms. Lipsey is someone I've never actually met in person. I think I first encountered her name via my visits to Blogging In Black. Upon discovering her ties to my hometown (Memphis) and her involvement in a church my parents have long attended (Cummings Street Missionary Baptist), I contacted her by email. She not only reponded, but was nice enough to provide me with her replies to the following Q & A.

1) What exactly is Urban Christian? In my opinion, Urban Christian is the kind of story-telling that doesn't dress up the sins of our people. . . Urban Chrisitian stays true to the word of God, but we tell about the real people, the real things that happen in their lives. We tell how God can bring the ugliness, most vile problem and situation in a person's life and turn it around.

2) Describe your approach to writing. Do you start with a character? An event? A situation? My approach to writing is quite simple. God gives me a title, I enter it into the mounting titles he's already given me and I save them . . . God places on my mind which one he wants me to write about. I have no idea what the story will be about, how it will end, who the characters are, basically nothing whatsoever about what I'm going to write. But I've learned not to worry . . . because when my hands touch the keyboard, the Holy Spirit begins to flow and the thought, situations, plots and characters come to life. I scream, shout, sing and sometimes faint when I find out the things they do (for real).

3) Do you maintain a writing schedule? Lately, I have to admit that I have been trying to maintain a writing schedule. But it really doesn't work well for me because I spend more time editing, proofing, typesetting and assisting other potential clients . . .which is why I always try to stay one book ahead of my publisher. For instance, when I signed a second contract with Urban Books, I had already finished the book that is required for the first book in the new book deal.

4) Are there any books on the craft of writing that you've found particularly useful? Books on punctuation, grammar usage and sentence structure are excellent books to keep in your library.

5) Do you have an agent? No, I don't have an agent. I followed the submission guidelines of the publisher which is always important and necessary to do. In a few months my phone rang and bingo, bango, I was offered a two book deal. Look at God!

6) List some of your favorite writers. Carl Weber, J. California Cooper, Lacricia A. Peters, Vanessa Davis Griggs, Jacquelin Thomas, Victoria Murray, Tiffiny Warren and Alisha Yvonne. Also, I can't leave out my fellow outstanding writers and friends in Christ: The Urban Christian Authors are out of this world! I'm humbled to be part of this God-inspired imprint.

7) Which writers (living or dead) have had the biggest impact on how you write? I must honestly say I believe I have developed my own style, my own voice given to me by God All Mighty. Therefore, it is like no others and I thank God for that.

8) What do you regard as your biggest mistake, thus far, as it pertains to writing? Not starting early enough. I wish I had started in my early teens or twenties.

9) Why do you write? God placed the desire in my heart and deep within my spirit. After He saw that I didn't have sense enough to realize my gift, he orchestrated events in my life that weren't so pleasant, but they did the job and awoke me to my true gift.

10) What's been most effective for you publicity-wise? I'd like to know the answer to that myself. All I can say is that I use bookmarks, flyers, posters. I contact stores, people I know, churches, family and friends to help promote my books. I also take advantage of my publisher who helps arrange various events. And I do online advertising through places like Sormag, Mosaic and AALBC and I tell everyone I run across that I've written a book.

11) What are some of the mistakes new authors are apt to make when it comes to marketing and publicity? Not realizing the importance of it. Sometimes they're (so busy) glorifying the fact that they're an author, they don't understand now the real job starts, which is getting someone to buy your book.

12) Is there anything in particular you'd like to share about yourself or your work? I'd like to beg, please, pretty please with sugar on top, ask you and anyone else out there to purchase copies of Into Each Life and Sinsatiable. They are sold nationwide, even at Wal-mart. Now if you can't find it at Wal-mart, you can go online at,,, the Borders Stores, Waldenbooks, African American bookstores . . . In essence, there is no excuse for you, your buddies, friends, ex-friends . . . and anyone you pass on the street not to have at least ten or twelve copies of Into Each Life and Sinsatiable in their hands.

For more information about Shelia Lipsey and her novels visit her website at

Monday, July 16, 2007


1) Am I the only one who agrees with J. Anthony Brown (of Tom Joyner fame) that most of today's young, female R & B singers sound (and often look) like roosters on crack?

2) Am I the only one who finds it ironic (if not highly questionable and wrong) that the only two couples on Grey's Anatomy who are NEVER seen getting any play are the two, married African American couples?

3) Does anyone besides me ever wonder why there aren't more brothers (African Amercian males), who can actually sing (like a Reuben Studdard) making it into the early (much less the final) rounds of American Idol?

4) Is anyone besides me cheering the August 7th release of Soul Food - The Second Season on dvd! Dag, it's about time . . .

5) Am I the only one who thinks both R. Kelly and Avant look like they ought to be wearing some really thick a$$ prescription glasses?

6) Am I the only one who prays the Queen of Soul (Aretha) never suffers a Janet Jackson-like wardrobe malfunction?

7) Does anyone besides me think the rapper T.I. puts you in mind of a light-skinned Rakim (from Eric B. and Rakim fame)?

8) Does anyone besides me think Prince has gotten prettier (better looking) with age?

9) Am I the only one who wonders what Al Sharpton, Verdine White, Nick Simpson, Michael Jackson and his royal badness, Prince, would look like without a perm?

10) Am I the only one who has found herself being threatened with bodily harm (and by a relative, no less) when I merely pointed out that quite often when Mary J. sings live, she sounds flat and off key?

11) Does anyone besides me pray that Lauryn Hill gets it together and comes back out strong?

12) Does anyone besides me think "blue-eyed" R & B singers from back in the day like Tina Marie, Jon B., Lisa Stansfield and hell, even Boz Scaggs and the Hall & Oates sounded way more soulful and authentic than folks like Joss S., Justin T. and Amy W.? I mean, come on now, I'm just saying . . .

Anyway . . . what do you think? (smile)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

COLTRANE . . . A Few Kernals of Truth About Gifts and Genius . . .

A couple of nights ago, I started listening to John Coltrane Gold, a cd that showcases the music of jazz saxophonist, John Coltrane. Thanks to my Dad, I grew up listening to Coltrane and a number of other jazz greats. It's only been in recent years though that I've become genuinely interested in learning about the man and the artist behind the sax and the unique sound.

In the liner notes of John Coltrane Gold, the writer Ashley Kahn (author of several books on jazz, including The House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records, 2006) lists three facts that might not be commonly known about John Coltrane. Embedded within the three statements, I think, are kernals of truth worthy of a deeper contemplation, especially by those of us who call ourselves "artists" as well as those who express a desire to one day do so. The following are Ashley Kahn's three points in reverse order and my own feelings and comments about them.

3)"Coltrane was (musically) a late bloomer."

I think it helps to know that Coltrane didn't jump out the box and immediately start blowing folks away with gems like, "Giant Steps" and "A Love Supreme." Not only did his ascent to greatness begin later in life than some, he suffered many a set back along the way--most notably a drug habit that led to his being kicked out of Miles Davis's band.

While we live in a society that prefers to herald the over-night sensations, and is currently tailored toward the "talents" of the young, blonde, dumb, rich and anorexic, it isn't uncommon for destinations like "genius" and "legend" and "phenomenon" to start later and further back on the long, winding road of life. Michael Jordan got cut from the basketball team as a sophomore in high school. Dr. Benjamin Carson was 36 (not 26) when he performed the first successful separation of Siamese Twins joined at the back of the head. Albert Einstein was 4 years olf before he learned to speak. Toni Morrison was 39 when her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published and was 57 when she received the Pulitzer Prize. The list goes on . . .

2)"Coltrane was a tireless experimenter. But he was not one who discarded the old for the new."

In the world of jazz, there is a concept known as the "riff." A riff is a form of improvisation. It's when one musician borrows and builds upon the musical phraseology of another. It's about taking someing old and making it sound new. Jazz is all about the riff. Hip-Hop, with all of its borrowed and outright stolen samples ain't nothing but some riff mixed in with a whole lot of raff (LOL). In all seriousness, Ashley Kahn states in the Coltrane Gold liner notes that many of the techniques folks consider so avant-garde are things Trane picked put during his early days of playing the blues and frequenting the bars in Philly.

In order to buck a tradition, I think it helps to know it first. Coltrane not only acknowledged and respected what came before him, he incorporated much of it into his own style. Too many in today's world, artists and non-artist alike want to dismiss everything that came before them as old, outdated and therefore, useless. Mention something like the African Amercian "oral tradition" and a number of folks will assume you're talking about something sexual (LOL). That's unfortunate. A knowledge of history and culture and an appreciation for the achievements of one's predecessors (and contemporaries), can nourish, strengthen and empower one's work. Why cheat yourself of a foundation that is yours for the taking?

1)"Coltrane was not a musical prodigy. What he achieved, he did with a workman's sense of duty and an almost obsessive dedication."

I love that statement, if only because it suggests that Coltrane's "genius" grew out of his commitment to working on his craft and honing his skills. His wife Namia reportedly said that often times after coming home from a gig, "Trane would practice till he fell asleep with the horn in his mouth." (from Ashley Kahn's liner notes, John Coltrane Gold, 2006)

The level of intensity and commitment exemplified by Coltrane's behavior is, for all too many, a foreign concept. I've stopped counting the number of folks who insist they want to be published, but who subsequently excuse their apparent lack of discipline and productivity with some version of, "Well, you know, I can only write when I'm inspired."

Even when I don't come right out and say it, I'm generally thinking, "Honey, forget about being inspired. What you want to be . . . No, what you NEED to be is DRIVEN. You've got to want to do this thing so bad that there are no plausible excuses for not doing what you know, by right, you ought to be doing. A person who is DRIVEN will FIND the time. The man or woman who is truly DRIVEN will DISCIPLINE him or herself."

As far as gifts are concerned, while I do believe the "desire" to create is truly a gift from God. I also believe whether that gift flowers, flounders or simply fades away is entirely up to and contingent upon the efforts of the individual. More often than not, "genius" (unlike salvation and most certainly not to be confused with such) is a gift that is earned.

* * *
Disclaimer: I try not to give too much advice about writing. First of all, I have no educational background or formal training in English/Lit. Matter of fact, I'm fairly hellbent on breaking as many of the "rules" as I possibly can, while still being somewhat coherent. Second, until I actually have a book or two on the shelves, I think it would be wise to refrain from instructing others on what it takes to achieve such (smile).

Sunday, July 01, 2007

OLD SCHOOL TV . . . BC (Before Cable)

I don't think I've ever tried to hide the fact that I am, indeed, "old school." I'm saying, if the title of the blog--Lori's Old School Mix--isn't a hint, I don't know what is (LOL). But for those of y'all who might get it twisted, NO, I'm not quite as old as most of those in the Tom Joyner set . . . no disrespect intended, mind you, 'cause as my 90 year old granddaddy is apt to say, "You'd better hope you LIVE to GET old" (smile).

So, anyway, yeah, I was born in the 60's and attended college during the 80's (no exact dates 'cause ain't no need of telling y'all all my business). And yes, at a certain point, back when I was coming up, there were only 4 TV stations/channels/options (ABC, NBC, CBS & PBS). And yes, I can still remember when rather than stay on (and spew drivel) 24/7, the television went off the air late at night. I can also remember when my folks first got cable. Don't know how long it had been around, but we didn't get the hook up until I was in the 9th or 10th grade.

While I believe all of the above may very well play into my lack of a real, hardcore TV habit, I think an even bigger influence was the fact that I spent part of the 6th grade and all of the 7th and 8th grades, living in Wiesbaden Germany. For those who don't know, I grew up an Air Force brat who got shuffled back and forth between the places where my Dad ended up getting stationed and the place we all still call home, Memphis, TN.

The only TV we saw while living in Germany came by way of what I believe was called "Armed Forces Television." We had all of ONE channel that didn't come on the air until late in the afternoons or early evenings and when it did, only broadcast RERUNS . . . reruns that were umpteen years old and many of them in black and white, no less. So, being forced to live in a situation like that, as a kid you learn to fill in the time with other things like magazines, books, music, your imagination, actual conversations and interactions with parents, siblings, friends and peers, you know, all those things that are now considered so dull and passe (smile).

Of course, German television was also available, but if you didn't speak the language, there wasn't much point. The Germans did show a few American reruns and I can recall, on a couple of occasions trying to watch Little House On The Prairie, dubbed in German--not that I was particularly a fan of the English version of the series. But you know, when you're bored and your options are limited, you're willing to give just about anything a try.

At the time, the Germans were also a bit less prudish about nudity than folks in the US and it wasn't unsual to turn to one of their channels and see folks in a state of, well, undress. Not sure if my Mama knew about that peculiar little feature (smile). But hey, I was a kid and it was something I discovered quite by accident . . . and was smart enough to keep to myself.