Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thursday Thirteen #37 . . . 13 Areas In Which I'm Woefully Behind . . .

1) Reading -- Don't mean to be redundant, but not only do I have a stack of books awaiting my attention, but the magazine pile is even thicker and taller.

2) Joining The Facebook Revolution -- I really do plan to join one day soon. But I know it's going to be time-consuming and right now, I just can't spare any.

3) Dusting -- Yes, those evil dust bunnies are not only multiplying, they've begun mutating and marauding around here.

4) Decluttering -- I know getting rid of and/or finding better places to store all of my junk would make me feel a whole lot better.

5) Trying new recipes -- I still collect them (which only adds to the clutter), but it's been months since I've tried preparing a new dish.

6) Arranging old pictures in photo albums -- My photo collection is a mess. I stopped regularly cataloging my son's pictures when he was in Kindergarten. He's now a middle-schooler. Sheesh!

7) Doing my taxes -- It's not like we owe anything, at least I don't think we do (smile). As long as we take care of this before April 15th, I guess we'll be all right.

8) Scrap-booking-- Yeah, see #6, 'cause the same applies for all of my son's school and sports memorabilia. Except, it goes back even further. At this rate, he'll be an adult and I'll just be putting together his preschool album . . .

9) Watching dvds I've purchased -- I buy them, but then I don't make time to watch them . . . and then I forget I even have them.

10) Deleting old email -- I kid you not, in one of my email accounts, I have over 500 undeleted email. I read them, but don't take the time to delete the ones I don't need to keep.

11) Updating my blog -- What can I say? One day, I'll get to it.

12) Visiting the dentist -- I'm so ashamed. I still have all of them, my teeth, that is (smile) and I am making sure the kid goes on the regular.

13) Having pictures developed -- I have a disposable camera that has undeveloped pictures on it from last summer. Everyday, I say I'm gonna take them to be developed, but it has yet to happen.

So, am I the only one?

Would you like to visit other Thursday Thirteeners?

Be my guest!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Theo & Charmaine . . . Did What?!

Do you all remember "Theo" (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) from the Cosby Show and "Charmaine" (Karen Malina-White) who starred in both the Cosby Show and A Different World? Well, I just learned they got married! Yup, I ran across the item while hanging out at A Diary of A Content Black Woman's blog last night. (Click HERE to view the Content Black Woman's post and to see a picture of the happy couple).

I'm not so sure why the thought of the two of them jumping the broom makes me smile, but it does. Maybe because I have such fond memories of both of those shows (Cosby & A Different World). Or perhaps because the news is a welcome and much needed sign that not all is lost and gone to rot when it comes to young love, particularly in the aftermath of the whole Chris Brown & Rihanna debacle.

Of course, had I learn that "Theo" and "Rudy" had gotten themselves hitched, it might have taken me more than a minute to adjust, if only because those two played siblings on the Cosby Show (LOL). Yeah, I know, it was all make-believe, but in my head somewhere, that whole world still very much exists (smile).

Anyway, I wish them all the very best.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Books On My . . . Waiting To Be Read List . . .

Yes, I'm still here (smile). At the moment, I'm tied up with a few other projects. I'm so tied up, I don't even have time to read . . . well, not for leisure, anyway. The other day I was reviewing the list I maintain on my "Goodreads" bookshelf and wishing I could dive into a few of the titles. I'm not really sure where I'd start first, but the following are some of the top selections on my "waiting to be read list" and where appropriate, why the books are on my list.

1) Before I Forget (by Leonard Pitts) Just last week I read a review of this one and said, "Hmm, sounds like a winner." From what I understand it's about a man who has just learned he's in the early stages of Alzheimers and who decides to take his troubled son to meet his father (the boy's grandfather) who is dying from cancer.

2) They Tell Me of a Home (by Daniel Black) I read a quote by this author a day or two ago and it piqued my interest about his work.

3) Shifting Through Neutral (by Bridgett Davis) I've had this book on my shelves for a while. Recently, I bumped it up on my "waiting to be read" list after I spoke with the author's mother-in-law (smile). The mother-in-law is a member of the Beachwood, OH book club who recently read and discussed my novel.

4) The Black Girl Next Door: A Memoir (by Jennifer Baszile) Having experienced being the only African American in a number of different school and social settings, throughout my childhood and teens, I figured I might be able to relate to some of Ms. Baszile experiences.

5) Act Like A Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy and Commitment (by Steve Harvey) When I first heard about this book, I wasn't terribly interested. But when I actually heard a few of Mr. Harvey's opinions and observations, I changed my mind. He made more than a few good points, so I'm willing to hear him out.

6) Ralph Ellison: A Biography (Arnold Rampersad) I've had this book for a while and I'm looking forward to reading it, but I just haven't had the time. Several years ago, I bought, read and enjoyed the two volumes Mr. Rampersad wrote on the life and times of Langston Hughes.

7) A Mercy & Tar Baby (by Toni Morrison) For those who don't know, these are two separate titles by the author, Toni Morrison. A Mercy is her latest and Tar Baby is the only other fiction title by Morrison I haven't attempted/or found time to read, as of yet. I do own both of these books and hope to read one, if not both before the end of the year.

8) The Healing (by Gayl Jones) It's been years since I read anything by Gayl Jones. I must admit, in the past, I found her a difficult read (intensity-wise) But a couple of weeks ago, I read an old NY Times newspaper article about her that made me want to revist her work. A couple of my writing pals had good things to say about The Healing, so I figured I'd give it a try.

9) Fearless Jones, The Man In My Basement and The Right Mistake: The Further Philosophical Investigations of Socrates Fortlow (by Walter Mosley) I've read most of Mosley's "Easy Rawlins" mysteries. But Mr. Mosley has a written a number of books I haven't read. The aforementioned are three I hope to find time for this year.

10) Reel to Real: Race, Sex and Class at the Movies & Rock My Soul: Black People and Self-Esteem (by bell hooks) I used to read a lot of bell's work. In recent years, I've fallen shamefully behind (smile).

11) Sexual Healing (by Jill Nelson) I've enjoyed Ms. Nelson's work in the past and I've been meaning to read this for some time.

12) When Chickenheads Come Home To Roost: My Life as A Hip Hop Feminist (by Joan Morgan) Yes, this is another one that's been out forever that I should have read years ago, but haven't. In case you haven't figured it out, I'm something of a "Hip Hop Feminist" myself (smile).

13) The Coldest Winter Ever (by Sister Souljah) Everybody and their mama has read this book. But to be honest, I never had a real desire to read it until the last couple of years or so. I do own a copy, so maybe one day soon . . .

Okay, there are plenty of others, but I think I'll stop there. So, does my list look anything like you thought it might? What, if anything do you think it says about me? (smile)

If you've read any of the titles on my list, feel free to share your impressions of the book. If you haven't read any of the titles on my list, perhaps you could share some of the books on your "waiting to be read" list.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Never-Ending Battle . . . Over The Battle Flag . . .

Malcolm, my blogging buddy who runs the show over at Diversity Ink (and Pop Culture Dish, Presented by Malcolm), recently started a discussion about the Confederate flag.

In a separate post on Diversity Ink, are my thoughts on the subject. Even though I've taken the liberty of duplicating my remarks about the flag here in The Old School Mix, I hope you will take at peek at Malcolm's comments on the issue, as well as some of the other topics being discussed by the Diversity Ink contributors. As always, feel free to add your own opinions to the mix.

The first time I was moved to write about this subject was way back in 1989. My essay appeared as a guest column in The Memphis Commercial Appeal and was penned in response to a previous guest column by an individual, who, among other things, described the Confederate battle flag as a "symbol of a proud and honorable people."

While I acknowledged the writer's right to interpret the Confederate flag in a positive light, I shared my own reasons for not being able to do so. The following is a somewhat revised excerpt from my original essay, which also holds the honor of being my first published newspaper piece.

Flag Remains A Symbol of Oppression

by Lori D. Johnson

It is difficult to understand how people can disscuss the Civil War in terms of brave soldiers and battles fought without mentioning that not all of the ideals fought for were admirable. How does one embrace the Confederate flag without embracing the evil beliefs which prompted its creation?

As a Southerner, the Confederate flag is also a part of my heritage. But unlike Mr.____ , I detest it, just as conscientious individuals in Germany, South Africa and indeed all over the world, detest the symbols of Nazism and apartheid as symbols of oppression. For me, the flag does not represent hospitality or regional pride. Instead, it represents the Confederacy's efforts to preserve a caste system, a way of life that was wrong and unjust.

Yes, it is honorable for soldiers to fight and die for the causes they believe. While it is only fair that we acknowledge their sincerity and courageousness, in the same breath we must also condem their convictions when they uphold the degradation of other human beings as proper and righteous.

As an African American, I recoil at Mr. ____'s attempt to equate the battles of the Confederacy with those of the civil rights movement. The former was a struggle to protect the ill-gotten rights of a privileged few. The latter sought to guarantee the inalienable rights of all who choose to live in America and believe in its Constitution.

Let us not forget that the war is over and the South was defeated. The flag served its purpose and is entitled to a place in history. It is not entitled to a place on the flag poles of a country that strives to make real the promises of freedom, justice and equality for all.

As a woman, the flag symbolizes to me the Confederacy's approval of the exploitation and abuse of my gender. It did not wave to defend the honor and dignity of enslaved women and girls subjected to the desires of men who were not their husbands or chosen lovers. It cast no shadows upon the breeding of women like cattle. It did not rise to condem the bastardizing of children destined for the auction block and sold to the highest bidder.

As a human being, my perspective prevents me from ever interpreting the Confederate flag as anything but a symbol of oppression.

It is not my wish to forget the past. There are too many lessons yet to be learned. But what has the South to gain by giving odes to an ancient relic of a lost cause? The challenge of the present is setting forth a new course for the future. Let us create new symbols under which to unite and put away the old ones, which had caused so much pain, for so many, for too long.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Book & Movie Combos . . .

The idea for this post grew out of a visit I paid to the Bumble's Movie Meme, this past Monday. The Bumble's blog post dealt with books they'd read, which, at some point in time, had been turned into movies. The "best movie adaptations" if you will. Well, I named a couple right off the top of my head. But later, after giving it some thought, I realized I'd read a number of books, which at some point were cast on either the big or the little screen.

Below are the book & movie combinations I've come up with, thus far. As many books as I've read in my lifetime, I'm sure there at least a few others. I thought it might be fun to color code them, so if the listing appears in red, I didn't really care for the book or the movie (smile). If the listing appears in purple, I loved them both. If the listing is in black, I thought both the book and the movie were okay. If you see brown, I enjoyed the movie a lot more than I did the book.

As far as that last item is concerned, I know typically it's the other way around-folks generally enjoy the book more than the movie. But for whatever reason, that seldom happens for me. There are several movies I've enjoyed a whole lot more than the actual books upon which the screen versions were based. Hey, go figure, I'm weird like that (smile).

My list begins with the oldest title first.

1) Their Eyes Were Watching God (by Zora Neale Hurston) the book--1937 / the movie--2005. Yeah, I know, it really is the unpolitically correct thing to admit, but I'm not a big fan of the book or the movie version. I do have mad love for some of Ms. Hurston's other work. The same goes for Halle Berry who played Janie in the movie.

2) A Native Son (by Richard Wright) the book--1940 / the movie 1951 & 1986. This is another one that's liable to get my literary Black card snatched and cut up. Sorry, I didn't like the book nor either of the movie versions. The 1951 version is truly painful to watch.

3) A Raisin In The Sun (by Lorraine Hansberry) A book containing the play came out in 1958. Movies based on the book came out in 1961, 1989 & 2008. When I was a kid, I borrowed (stole) the paperback copy I have of this book from my mother's library (smile). The 1961 screen play, featuring Sidney Poiter and Ruby Dee is my favorite of the three movie versions.

4) One Who Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (by Ken Kesey) the book--1962 / the movie-1975

5) The Water is Wide (by Pat Conroy) the book --1972 / the movie based on the book was called Conrack and came out in 1974.

6) The Shining (by Stephen King) the book--1977 / the movie--1980

7) The Color Purple (by Alice Walker) the book--1982 / the movie--1985 Okay, I really dislike reading books written in dialect. So, yes, I did enjoy the movie more than the book. Matter of fact, upon its release I saw it at the theatre (with different friends & relatives) on at least 4 different occasions!

8) The Women Of Brewster's Place (by Gloria Naylor) the book--1982 / the movie--1989. 9) Disappearing Acts (by Terry McMillan) the book--1989 / the movie--2000.

10) Devil In A Blue Dress (by Walter Mosley) the book--1990 / the movie--1995.

11) Waiting To Exhale (by Terry McMillan) the book--1992 / the movie--1995

12) How Stella Got Her Groove Back (by Terry McMillan) the book--1996 / the movie--1998

13) A Lesson Before Dying (by Earnest Gaines) the book--1997 / the movie--1999. I believe a couple of Mr. Gaines other books have been made into movies, but sadly, I haven't seen them. I'd like too though, because I loved both the book and the movie.

14) Always Out Numbered, Always Out Gunned (by Walter Mosley) the book--1997 / the movie--1998. Great book and an excellent movie. I know Mr. Mosley has a series with the main character of this book, Socrates Fortlow, but this is the only one I've read, thus far. The movie stars Lawrence Fishburne who is always a joy to watch on screen.

Okay, are there any book & movie combos you'd care to mention? Or, feel free to comment on any of mine, if you'd like.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Snow Days . . . Yay or Nay?
Baby Boy's First Snow
Memphis, TN 199?
From Lori's Picture Collection

Over the weekend, it snowed, here in Charlotte and in my hometown of Memphis, TN. As the picture above clearly indicates, my young'n loves the snow. The snow we get in Charlotte is not unlike the snow we used to get in Memphis--rare, typically nothing more than one or two inches or a light dusting and generally gone in a day's time. And I must say, that suits me just fine.

The Hubby Giving Baby Boy
A Lesson In Snow Removal
Memphis, TN 199?
From Lori's Picture Collection

Most good Southerners know that as soon as the warning goes out (The weather man said it's gonna snow!), the first thing that happens is a run on the grocery stores. Yes, some of us do shop like we're gonna be trapped indoors for weeks. But the truth is, a lot of time when it snows in these parts, things will shut down. Not necessarily because of the snow, but due to the ice. You see, a lot of times, when the snow melts, it tends to refreeze over night. The resulting ice downs power lines, knocks out electricity and makes driving something you don't want to do unless you're a thrill seeker, have a death wish or you absolutely must.

My Brother & His Buddy
Enjoying a North Dakota Snow Day
Grand Forks, North Dakota 197?
From Lori's Picture Collection

I'm no stranger to the snow as the picture above will attest. I snapped this picture of my little brother, standing outside of our home, when we lived on the Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. You see how high the snow is relative to the door? Yeah, we had to dig our way out of that bad boy. As a child, I also had the experience of living in Mountain Home, Idaho and Rome, New York, two other places where the snow is plentiful in the winter time.

The Beachwood Bunnies
Nana & Baby Boy
Beachwood, OH 2005
From Lori's Picture Collection

Of course, I've written a number of posts about my days as an adult in the Cleveland area. The picture above is a snapshot of my mom and my son rolling and frolicking, like nuts (smile), in the snowing covering the front yard of our Cleveland area (Beachwood) home.

But have you noticed the one thing missing from the pictures I've post? Yeah, me. That's 'cause, unless I'm taking pictures, or running (slipping, sliding, trudging) to the car or the house, I typically Don't Do Snow.

Yeah, when I lived in the Cleveland area, that first snow was pretty and all. But after that, it was OLD. As far as I'm concerned, snow from mid-November thru late April and early May, just ain't normal. Little girls are not supposed to be dressed up in their cute little Easter dresses, looking for Easter eggs in the doggone snow! No, that mess is SO NOT normal. (LOL).

So when it comes to snow, my vote is a resounding NAY! Really, I prefer to enjoy mine from a distance. Yup, memory, pictures, greeting cards and TV footage of snow (preferably falling elsewhere) is fine by me. What about you?