Thursday, September 27, 2007


Several weeks ago, I caught the tail end of an HGTV program about the different toys and games kids commonly enjoyed "back in the day."

The program led me to ponder the differences in how old school kids amused themselves vs. today's youths. When I look back on the games we enjoyed in the '60s, '70s and early '80s, quite a number of them required more than one or two bodies, involved very little if any equipment and/or gadgetry, were typically played outdoors and more often than not, involved a whole bunch of ripping and running.
Of couse, we old schoolers had our share of toys and gadgets, like the Hoola Hoop, Barbie Doll, GI Joe and even Pong and the Rubic's Cube, which could be enjoyed by one or two kids. But for the purposes of this particular post, I'd like to focus on those games I (We) grew up with, which, truth be told, were actually a heck of a lot more fun when the number of kids participating exceeded three. You know, games like . . .
1) RED ROVER, RED ROVER (The worst thing about this game was when the big kid came charging over . . . If you were smart, rather than get knocked down or wind up with third degree arm burns, you and the kid standing next to you simply, let go each others hands.)
2) FREEZE TAG (This was one of my favorite games--probably because of all of the funny and creative poses involved.)
3) RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT (Why was the shortest kid, generally the quickest?)
4) MOTHER, MAY I? (Didn't the bossiest girl in the group *the one who most reminded you of "Margaret" from "Dennis the Menace" or "Lucy" from the "Peanuts" series* always INSIST on being the MOTHER?
5) DODGE BALL (I can only chuckle at those folks who claim this game is way too aggressive and violent for the likes of children. My grandmother, who grew up in rural South Memphis during the 19- teens and the '20s, used to speak fondly of a game they played called "fireball." In this game, kids would collect a bunch of old rags, tie them together, soak them in kerosene, set them on fire and toss them at one another. No, people, seriously . . . I couldn't make this stuff up if I wanted too.)
6) KICK BALL (My son informed me that nowadays, all of the cool kids, turn their feet and kick sideways, like the soccer players do. Yeah, kid, whatever. I'm sure we had just as much fun, kicking it straight . . . even though, sometimes the younger kids would end up flat on their backs and staring up at the sky in their attempts to do so.)
7) HIDE & SEEK (The hubby claims the older and more mannish and womanish (more Black Southern ebonics) kids in his neighborhood used to a play a verison of this game that they called, "Hide & Go Get." Of course, he swears he never indulged in such shenanigans.)
8) JUMP ROPE (We've come a long way, haven't we? Back in the day, most guys didn't play this game, the way they do now. But wasn't there always this one guy who could turn the rope, double dutch, spin around and touch the ground better than any of the girls?)
9) HOP-SCOTCH (Yeah, you could play this by yourself. But the more girls, the better the arguments.)
10) SIMON SAYS (You really couldn't play this game with everybody. Because some of the more twisted kids, would try to take the game to a whole another level. After playing with them you'd either end up in traction or needing therapy.)
11) DUCK, DUCK GOOSE! (The hubby claims the kids in his hood never played this game. Probably becasue they were too busy playing "Hide & Go Get.")
12) TOUCH/TAG FOOTBALL (My little brother suffered a broken collar bone while playing this game. Back then, he was skinny, runt of a kid and one of the neighborhood kids--a boy by the name of "Big Junior" fell on him).
13) YOU'RE IT! (Seemed like the slowest, goofiest kid always ended up being "it." Yeah, that would have been me. But wasn't there always this even goofier kid who'd fall down at your feet because he or she wanted to be tagged? Yeah, I always stepped right over that fool.)
Okay, your turn. What was your favorite "old school" game? Or, if you prefer, which game did you absolutely hate and only played under duress (smile)? Feel free to mention games that aren't included on the list.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

CHARLOTTE IS SHOUTING Y'ALL . . . Art, Food, Music and a Whole Lot of Fun!

I think I've mentioned this before, but one of the things I like best about living in Charlotte--there's generally always a festival of some sort going on. September marks the kickoff of Charlotte's fall arts season. Nearly all month long, a host of arts, food, fairs, festivals and music programs take place at various venues around the city and under the banner of what folks around here call, "Charlotte Shout!"

Last weekend, my family and I ventured into Charlotte's Uptown and enjoyed some of the offerings of an event called "Blues, Brews & BBQ." At the top of this weekend's "to do" list is "Festival in the Park" which is billed as Charlotte's most popular and longest-running festival. The event, which started on Thursday (Sept. 20) and ends on Sunday (Sept. 23), takes place in Freedom Park.

Not only am I looking forward to the food and the clown fashion show (hey, I'm a kid at heart, what can I say?), I'm also looking forward to checking out the wares of the Old School Mix's resident artist, Michelle of Artventuring.

I met Michelle Davis Petelinz last year at another Charlotte art festival and I've been a fan of her work ever since. Even if you can't make the festival, it's still very much worth your while to visit Michelle's website and take a look at her work. Should you see something you like, why not place an order? Or, if nothing else, leave her a note and tell her what made you say, "Ahh, very nice."

To visit Michelle's website, go to

To visit Michelle's blog, go to

For more information on the festival highlighted in this post, go to

(Written while listening to John Coltrane's verison of "My Favorite Things" from the cd, John Coltrane Gold).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

POPULAR LIT (PART III) . . . My "I'll Gladly Pass" List . . .

. . . Faulkner . . . Talk about coincidences. This past weekend, totally unprompted and out of the blue, a friend sent me an email, in which she raved about her love of Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying." As my dear, smart-mouthed son might say, "Well, I'm happy for her (smile)." Sadly and truthfully, Faulker has never done a whole lot for me. I have yet to feel the magic when I immerse myself in his work.

Sometimes I wonder had I taken more English/Lit courses in college, if might feel different about Faulkner and some of the other dead authors, whose works fail to move me. I'm saying, isn't College Lit where they hammer out a portion of your brain and replace it with loads of academic jargon and a bunch of other ivory-tower creations designed to keep you walking the straight, narrow and predictable paths of political correctness? No? Okay, my bad . . .

Anyway, the next author on the list of folks I'm supposed to like and regard with high-esteem, but dont--is guaranteed to draw shrieks and much pulling of hair (whether real, store-bought, processed or au natural) from certain quarters of the African American literary establishment. But here goes anyway . . . Richard Wright.

Black Boy. Native Son. Ah, no thanks. Keep it. Not for me. Really, I don't see the beauty. The angst, yeah, but not the beauty. Never have. Probably never will. To be fair, it's been years since I've read Black Boy. I should (and at some point will) probably read it again, because age has a way of changing things--perspectives in particular.

But I don't think there's any chance of me ever liking Native Son. The movie version of the book, starring Richard Wright as "Bigger Thomas" pretty much killed that for me. It's hard for me to watch that movie without either winching in pain or laughing (when and where I'm not supposed to). Very seldom do I ever say something is horrible, but truly, for me, the movie version of Native Son is just that. Were I ever forced to choose, I'd rather waste an hour of my life watching Flav Flav's ig'nant behind.

And this last one? Heck, I may as well go ahead and turn in my Sister-Girl card now . . . because it's more than likely gonna come back stamped REVOKED! as soon as I fix my lips to say anything negative about this person.

But to be clear, I don't dislike all of this author's work--just the one she's most famous for. Okay brace yourselves now. You ready? The title is . . . is . . . Their Eyes Were Watching God . . . (ducking, shielding my eyes and hanging my head in shame).

I can hear it now. "Oh, but the hummingbird . . . the rich symbolism . . . the love story . . . " Yeah, I know. Sorry, none of it moved me. Not in the least.

Here's the deal--I've owned the book, Their Eyes Were Watching God, since the mid-to late '80s. Nope, I didn't buy it. It was given to me. A number of times over the years, I've pulled the text from the shelves, started reading it, found myself growing extremely irritated and within a couple of pages, found myself tossing the book back onto the shelves.

Part of the/my problem with the work is the dialect. I hate reading books written in dialect, especially that which is intended to represent the way rural, Black Southerners speak. I almost passed on The Color Purple for the same reason. Though, I must say, in keeping with the lonely, politically-incorrect course I've charted for myself, I enjoyed the movie much more than I did the book. Oh, what did I think about the movie version of Their Eyes? Plenty. But I'd best save it for another time (smile).

Let there be no mistaking though, Zora Neale Hurston, the tilted-hat-wearing, Black woman, writer, anthropologist and all-around character . . . Oh, I ADORE her! And the collection of African American folktales she packaged under the title Mules & Men is my kind of reading . . . even though, I'd dare say, like most "good" social scientists, Zora Neale made most of that mess up (LOL)!

On a more serious note, the sad thing for me, as it pertains to Zora Neale is that I didn't even learn of her existence until my final semester of grad school. Had I not been a student of anthropology, a Black female with Southern roots, who had an interest in writing fiction, this might not have mattered . . . But you know, it's been years and I still tear up every time I think about it.

In any case, what's your book? You know, the one everybody and his or her Grandmama praises till the cows come home, but you'd rather take a karate chop to the throat before you read it again? Come on, don't be scared! Fess up! I've already taken most of the hard blows for you . . .

Written while listening to Jaguar Wright's "Free" "Timing" "Told Ya" "So High" "Been Here Before" and "Cell Bock" from her cd entitled, Divorcing Neo 2 Marry Soul.

Friday, September 14, 2007

POPULAR LIT (PT II) . . . More On "Unpopular" Opinions . . .

On one of our treks through Atlanta this past summer, we stayed a couple of nights with an old friend of the family. Our friend is a professor of Sociology at one of the liberal arts colleges in the the area and, like my son, is also a big Sci-Fi fan. She was in the middle of complimenting my boy on a couple of books he'd brought along, when my son's lack of zeal for the popular boy wizard's world suddenly reared its big head in the conversation.

I listened while my well-intentioned friend took it upon herself to convince my son of the merits of the Hogwarts crew and watched as my son sat and politely nodded. In keeping with his home-training, the boy never said anything flip or sarcastic (he only does that with me & his his Dad), but I could tell by the look on his face he was thinking the equivalent of, "Yeah lady and after you get through singing Harry's praises, I still won't be reaching for Potter anytime soon."

The look on my boy's face, I'm sure, was nearly identical to the one that surfaces on my own when people try to twist my arm into liking some piece of literature that has been deemed by them and others in the know as the best thing since . . . heck, the Ten Commandments or the Emancipation Proclamation.

For the record, I'm not in the habit of publicly bashing or bad-mouthing contemporary authors. Of course, if you are a regular reader of this blog, it goes without saying that I don't extend the same type of hands off treatment to actors, musicians, preachers, politicians and other such folks who make it their business to be all up in the limelight. Sorry, I simply don't consider any of the aforementioned my peers or colleagues and thus entitled to the same type of professional courtesy and/or respect.

Yes, I do think a lot of work out there, particularly some of the literature currently being produced by mainstream African American authors, stinks like ten day old, boiled cabbage. But personally, I see little to gain by pointing a finger at those folks. I'm all too happy to leave that sort of thing to the critics, book reviewers and academic types who get paid and make names for themselves doing so.

Besides, authors who appear to delight in ripping and trashing the work of other authors, writers and everyday hacks, typically come off, to me, as looking mean-spirited, petty or outright jealous. Hey, one person's ten day old, boiled cabbage, is another person's manna from heaven. I'm saying, if it's good to you and it doesn't make you wanna upchuck, have at it.

On the other hand, there are several authors, who, though long dead, are still being heralded and praised for their literary genius, but whose work I don't mind admitting, I'll gladly take a pass on, like for instance . . .

Well, if you REALLY want to know, you'll have to check back later for PART III (smile). In the meantime, feel free to add your comment and/or opinion to "The Mix". . .

Monday, September 10, 2007


My child is a reader. Not surprised? Well, some are, particularly, upon their discovery that my child is a young, African American male.

Yes, the same brown-skinned little boy who loves playing basketball and baseball and who appears to know even more sports trivia than the loud mouths he enjoys watching on ESPN'S "Around the Horn" is also a voracious reader.

The boy's taste in literature changes with the season. At the moment his preference leans toward the fantasy and sci-fi genre. Just about every book he brings through the door either has some kind of dragon, monster or sullen faced (Gothic-looking) youngster on the cover.

Periodically, I'll flip through one of his books or ask a couple of questions about what he's reading just to make sure he's not reading up on explosive technology, world domination or anything that might suggest he's considering pulling a Lizzie Borden. But basically, I let him do his thing-- and in much the same manner my parents did for me--without too much hovering or outright interference. Personally, I think it's best that way.

I must confess to being a bit surprised though, upon learning that my son isn't much of a Harry Potter fan. While he appears to enjoy the movies as much as any other kid his age, he's not terribly keen on reading any of the books. Matter of fact, the one book in the series he owned, he recently donated to a book drive.

During the most recent Potter book craze, I tried to convince him to reconsider. I hyped all of the Potter parties and events being held at area libraries and bookstores. I talked about all of the fun so many kids his ages were having dressing up in customes and the like. My son responded with a shrug and said, "Good. I'm happy for them."

Don't you just love/hate it when your kid turns around and hurls some of your own unique brand of snippiness/snarkiness/sarcasm right back at you? "Good, I'm happy for them," is so classic . . . "Me" . . . I couldn't do anything, but laugh.

Actually, I'm kind of proud that my son refuses to bow to popular opinion when it comes to what he ought to or ought not like, feel or do. More often than not, the price one ends up paying in the quest to please others and keep up with the Jones's (or the Hiltons, or Cruises or the Trumps or any of the numerous other La-De, Da-De, Wanna-Be-Somebodies) is the loss of the ability to truly know what makes one happy . . .

So, that's right young man, keep bucking the crowd, the latest fad, trends and bandwagons, especially if you're really just not feeling them. Never be afraid to do you. And always know . . . mama's got your back.

Written while listening to the songs on Rachelle Ferrell's "Individuality (can I be me?)"

Saturday, September 08, 2007


I tried to lay low, but they got me anyway, y'all. First of all, Malcolm (of Pop Culture Dish, presented by Malcolm) gave me the following!

Thanks Malcolm. But just so you know, the buck stops with me buddy. Nope, I'm not passing this baby off to anyone. I will tell everyone that the award originated with Barb at Skittle's Place. I would post the link, but I have yet to be able to access it and I've got this unwritten rule about not linking to sites I can't view. No telling what all might be going over there (smile). I'm sure it's perfectly fine, but still, a girl can never be too careful . . .

In addition, it appears I've been TAGGED by Michelle (of Artventuring). Michelle wants me to list 8 random facts about myself. Hmm. Okay. Sounds harmless enough. Shall we begin?

1) I can control my dreams. Seriously. One reason, I think, I seldom have nightmares is because when things start to go haywire, I say "Nope! Not happening!" and I wake myself up.

2) The sound of my son's laughter has always made me smile.

3) I'm TALL! 6ft or so. And no, I never played or had the desire to play basketball in my youth. But I am the only person who has ever beat my 6'3, b-ball-playing, trash-talking "little" brother in a game of HORSE!

4) I love CATS. I've owned three in my lifetime and I really do think I just might have been one in another life. The only reason I don't currently own one is because the hubby is allergic. But should we ever divorce or God-forbid, should ole boy happen to keel over before I do--it's cat city up in here, baby!

5) The first short story I ever published "New Growth" won first place in Memphis Magazine's Fiction Award Contest and earned me the tidy sum of $1,000.00!

6) I won a couple of awards for my art work when I was a teen. Thanks to my 12 grade art teacher, one of my ink drawings appeared on a local TV show in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

7) My Mama forcing me to eat okra and me gagging, and, in turn, ruining everybody's dinner is one of my earliest childhood memories.

8) I wear glasses and I want to be buried with them on. The hubby once asked, if at some point during the services, I planned on raising up and seeing who all was there. Hey, now that's a thought . . .

When you finish here, hop over to Artventuring and check out Michelle's Random 8. She tagged several other cool artists and you just might to take a peek at their lists as well.

In keeping with the spirit of "no good deed goes unpunished" I'm tagging Malcolm of Pop Culture Dish, presented by Malcolm. Also, I think I'll see if I can't get Radio Girl to play along. If anyone else would like to post a random list of eight things about yourself, leave a link or a notice about it in the comments section.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


1) Has anyone, besides me, noticed that Michael Vick bears an uncanny resemblance to that bad dog named "King" that at least one neighbor kept chained up in the yard back in the day?

2) Am I the only one who thinks Flava Flav, Lil Wayne, Tommy Lee and Britney Spears all look like they could benefit from a good scrub down with some of Granny's lye soap? (Granny of "The Beverly Hillbillies" for all you youngsters out there who are scratching your heads and saying who?)

3) Am I the only one who's never seen Lindsey Lohan in anything--besides a news blurb or a clip from a tv tabloid?

4) Does anyone, besides me, wish the media would just let folks like Anna Nicole, Elvis, Tupac, Biggie and Princess Diana rest in peace?

5) Am I the only one who's noticed that men who use the word "sexy" in a song, are generally anything BUT that? (Think about it. Rod Stewart: "Do You Think I'm Sexy?" Ah, that would be a NO! Right Said Fred: "I'm Too Sexy" Yeah, in some alternate world, perhaps. Baby Face: "Grown & Sexy" Well, he got the grown part right. And for anyone who dares say Justin Timberlake: "Sexy Back"--NO, I'M AFRAID NOT . . . First of all, Cute and Sexy are two entirely different things . . . )

6) Has anyone, besides me, caught themselves singing (or humming) along with the "Viva Viagra" commercial? Uh-uh, don't lie. (Ugh, I can't get that durn song out of my head!)

7) Does anyone, besides me, get the feeling that R. Kelly's alleged victim is gonna hit menopause before the case against Kelly ever goes to trial? Dag, the man is still touring, making records, releasing even more bad videos and everything. (All kidding aside, last I heard the poor girl in this case was getting ready to have a baby ).

8) Has anyone, besides me, ever wondered why the folks hired by shows like Entertainment Tonight and America's Next Top Model to critique women's hairstyles and fashion choices are mainly men? . . . (I'm saying, men, who, themselves, typically look like oversized trolls?)

9) Has anyone, besides me, ever wondered who Sweet Pea's real daddy is? (Yes, I am talking Sweet Pea of "PopEye" cartoon fame). Wouldn't you love to see that bad episode of Maury? But rather than the most obvious suspects (PopEye or Brutus), wouldn't it be funny if Olive Oly's real baby daddy turned out to be none-other-than that ole hamburger begging "Wimpy" or even worse . . . PopEye's old lecherous daddy--"Poopdeck Pappy?"

10) Am I the only one who's noticed that people who ask, solicit and/or outright beg for your opinion . . . really and truly only want your agreement and/or affirmation (*smile*)

Yeah, I know . . . on most of those, I'm probably the only one. But if you do have any comments and/or additions, be my guest . . .