Friday, November 29, 2013

Fight For Your Right To, Shop??? Black Friday Turns Violent!

Photo Credit:  Courtesy of Norman Rockwell
Compare the two scenarios. One is all about a multi-generational family gathered together around a delectable feast of Thanksgiving meal staples. The next step was usually everyone gathered in the family room in various states of what has been called a carb-induced com; often with the Thanksgiving Day football game playing unseen.
Video Credit:  Courtesy of
The video is indicative of a large part of the population that has replaced the lazy evening with the shopping frenzy that has become known as the pre-Black Friday sales. This means that many of the stores that used to open at midnight the morning of Black Friday are now opening as early as 5:00pm Thanksgiving evening.
Now we all know that certain professions like military, law enforcement and medical require its employees to pretty much have to be available weekends and holidays. Even some grocery stores have traditionally been open until 5:00pm-6:00pm on holidays for those last minute runs for milk, sugar, baby food, etc.
But with these situations, it was always readily accepted as a matter of necessity, if not life or death. Now we've come to a place of actually wanting to be out of there. It's a paradox that those of us who don't have to be out working, now actually choose to be out the fray. The retailers say they open because we stand in lines to get in, so we obviously want it. We say we are practically forced to come out because that's when the retailers offer the door-buster deals.
In the end it's a matter of choice, but where the line somehow needs to be drawn is the violence. This is a recent phenomenon. People have always associated hustle and bustle with holiday shopping. But what is new and disturbing is the absence of the gracious "thank yous", "excuse mes," and "pardon mes".
Various news media are reporting an animalistic savagery in some of our approaches to shopping. Sadly our sense of stubborn entitlement seems to rise in proportion to the sweetness and the rareness of the deal. It turns from an "I want such and such" to "I must have such and such". I submit to you some of this short temper may derive from lack of sleep from camping out to be first in line.
Whatever the cause, look at these pictures and dream. Dream that maybe, just maybe in 2014, we will extend our intention of a kinder, gentler nation into the holidays. After all there is enough to go around. Like the song says "Christmas is a feeling..." Let's all make an effort to do whatever we can to ensure a peaceful and safe holiday season in our own communities. Are you in?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Eddie Murphy Finally Comes Home To The Arsenio Hall Show

Photo Credit:  Arsenio Hall Facebook Page

Last night, 11/19/2013, was one of the better nights in the annals of late night talk show history.  Two of the funniest men alive, Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall were reunited on the Arsenio Hall Show.  Arsenio Hall frequently had Eddie Murphy on as a guest during the first incarnation of the Arsenio Hall Show more than 20 years ago.  They were flying high at the time, riding the waves of success.  Murphy, clad in a fitted red leather creation, was steaming up big screens around the country in the stand-up comedy movie “Raw”.  Together the men had audiences rolling in the aisles with movies like “Coming to America” and “Harlem Nights”. 

Flash forward and there they were last night, discussing the 25th anniversary of “Coming to America”, and teasing about a possible sequel.  I saw many comments on Facebook saying how remarkably well and fit both of them looked after all of these years.  The show opened up with a video of Eddie Murphy in a video performance of “Red Light”.  Murphy was singing lead and strumming guitar in the Reggae-styled tune, with Snoop Lion (formerly known as Snoop Dogg) lending some smooth raps.

The whole interview was good, but two segments were downright hilarious.  In the first one Hall recounted the story of how years ago he got Murphy to drink some screwdrivers at a house party.  The problem was that Murphy did not (and still does not) drink alcoholic beverages.  Hall said that with a houseful of guests, Murphy was so drunk that he was on the kitchen floor talking to a dog named Val and saying, “Val you’re the only one I can trust”.

The second crazy story involved Murphy telling about how he had actually been sued by an African prince after the movie “Coming to America” came out.  Apparently the African prince said that he had come to America in search of meeting and pursuing the actress Ola Ray, star of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.  He accused Murphy of stealing his life.  Murphy had the audience in stitches imitating (with flailing arms and high-pitched African dialect) the guy screaming “You stole my life.  I want it back!”.  You can see the hilarious video clip here.

The only criticism I have been reading about was that the segments were too short and the commercials were too long.  Judging from the crowd’s reaction last night, 25 years has been long enough and we were ready to see these two do more movies, more television, more anything as long as it is together.  In an age where show business friendships are often discarded as quickly as yesterday’s shoes, there’s something that warms the heart when you see long-lasting friendships.  And in this harsh economic climate during which many people are looking for reasons to smiles, Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall gave us just that last night.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Behind The Author's Curtain

Photo Credit:  Courtesy of

"Today I welcome guest blogger and fellow author, Pamela Kay Noble Brown to Writing My Dreams. She's here to open up a little bit about what's really going on behind the scenes in an author's life, for those of you who want to be in the know."  ~ author C. Michelle Ramsey

***I am so honored to be a guest blogger today on author C Michelle Ramsey's blog. Would love to have you stop by and join the conversation. Thanks. :)

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Taxman: You Can Run But You Can't Hide

Photo Credit:  Courtesy of Google Images

Mention the word taxes and some people slip into instant disdain mode. Others pop their eyes like a deer caught in headlights, afraid that the tax boogeyman has found them at last. Still others are just fed up with the complex taxation laws of this country.
Count rock star Tina Turner in with this last bunch. Ms. Turner has always been known as a world class jet-setter; hitting far-flung spots on the globe like most of us would hit the corner deli. Well Ms. Turner has finally made it official.
She has lived in Switzerland since 1995, and the U.S. Embassy has confirmed that she has voluntarily given up her U.S. Citizenship and all rights thereto affixed. While love moved her there to be with her then-boyfriend, now husband Erwin Bach; it turned out to be the tax system that is keeping her there.
Not just regular taxes, but the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Enacted by the IRS in 2010, FATCA has been slowly rolling out under the radar and is just now becoming a force to be reckoned with. Read here to see how the feelers FATCA has been putting out are finally coming to fruition and causing a ruckus among many that once placed their security in offshore accounts.
What then shall we say? Good riddance if someone doesn’t want to be a citizen? Bad on the IRS for running people away, including American Icons? We would all escape taxes if we could? Or we are proud to pay our taxes because it keeps the country running? I tend toward the latter group, however I do think the system needs to be revamped because they take entirely too much out of every dollar earned. What say you?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Football, Guns and Robbers!!!

Photo Credit:  Courtesy of

Anyone who comes even close to Gamecock territory in Columbia, SC, knows that University of South Carolina fans love their teams. They are some of the most vocal and loyal fans around. As a matter of fact, when ESPN College GameDay traveled to Columbia to cover the USC Gamecocks vs. the Georgia Bulldogs in 2012, the ESPN analysts couldn't stop raving about USC’s school spirit. Even veteran Senior Coordinating Producer Lee Fitting said, “The horseshoe is one of the best sites we've ever had for College GameDay.”
So of course the city was stunned when on November 4, 2013, former USC football star Kenny Miles was found shot in his car and rushed to the hospital. He was able to give authorities a description of the person who had attempted to rob him. First reports had him fighting for his life.
On November 5, 2013, a visibly frustrated Sheriff Leon Lott gave a press conference to let the people know there had been no robbery. He gave no further details of what had actually happened, but just wanted to let the people know that there was no armed robber running loose in the community. He expressed his displeasure at the wasted man hours and resources that had been wasted hunting a robber that didn't exist.
Now things have gotten even more confusing. An article in The State Newspaper, November 12, 2013, blared the headlines “Sheriff: Former USC football player Kenny Miles shot himself’. The comments on social media had run the gamut from “somebody tried to rob him”, to “drug deal gone bad”, to now a puzzled “Huh?”
Kenny Miles then issued a statement apologizing to the police department, the fans, his former teammates, and his family. He said he had made a mistake. We will be following and updating this story. But for now all we have is speculation. Was it a cry for help? Many college football stars are glorified. Not in a bad way, but we as fans scream our throats raw for them every Saturday. They’re sometimes treated a certain way in classes by professors in awe of their spectacular feats on the field.
Women, from cheerleaders to grocery clerks, dazzle them with starstruck smiles. And they almost always find a job through connections within the vast Gamecock alumni network. Kenny Miles, after graduating with a Criminal Justice major in 2012, found employment with the South Carolina State Attorney General’s office. So what could have gone wrong?
Time will reveal the truth, but we still must be vigilant over Kenny Miles and our other athletes once they leave that rarefied air of being king of the roost. What about the ones who don’t go on to the NFL? Many do fine. But for some, if that was their life, it can be quite daunting to work a regular 9 to 5 job. Of course it may have nothing to do with this and could have been a mistake while cleaning his gun. But we must be very careful of our athletes and not discard them like yesterday’s toys. More to come.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

You've Got To Know When To Fold 'Em!

Photo credit:  Courtesy of USATSI
On November 5, 2013, NFL Denver Bronco lineman John Moffitt sent out a tweet that was quite startling in this economy. He announced that after three years, he was going to leave football and all its glory. It's interesting that he would leave one of the big three cash cows (baseball and basketball being the other two) of sports.
When you look at the economy right now, everyone is hustling to try to make an extra buck. So many companies that have been around for years are closing their doors. This is only adding to the swelling lines at unemployment offices, many of which are facing dire budgetary concerns themselves and reducing benefit amounts.
Advocates are fighting tooth and nail to get the minimum wage raised to an actual livable wage. Many states are even having to reduce the benefit amounts of their WIC (Women, Infant, and Children) programs. These programs help provide milk and nutrition for pregnant women and/or their children in families that cannot afford it on their own.
Plain and simple, just about everyone you meet needs more money. Enter John Moffitt and the fact that he is walking away from a six-figure salary. Although most of us would do cartwheels over the moon to have a yearly salary one-third of that amount, there is a big part of what he is doing that is understandable.
Yes, playing in the NFL can involve injuries, fear of injuries, and time away from family. John Moffitt mentioned all of the above concerns in passing, but the first and foremost statement that he made is that "I just really thought about it and decided I'm not happy".
Wow. In this society where money is that elusive, almost revered entity that we sometimes so desperately seek, John Moffitt's statement is utterly refreshing. When something to which you are devoting your life ceases to bring you enjoyment, it is time to go. Granted we must keep a roof over our heads, but it can be done.
We spend, on average, 40 hours per week out of our lives working. That's too much time to be unhappy. John Moffitt is setting an example that no matter how crazy people might think you are for walking away, you must do what brings you happiness. Don't just run screaming out of the door today and leave yourself with no income stream, but start socking something away, pray about it, make your plans and you'll find yourself smiling a little more each day. Thanks for the reminder John Moffitt and we wish you the best.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Locals Count Too!

Photo on the left courtesy of Sean Rayford and Photo on the right courtesy of Jonathan Sharpe
We all flood out to the national elections and this is a good thing. We have a right to want to participate in electing the person that will serve as the leader of the most powerful nation in the free world. We know that our country will be led by this person for the next four, and possibly eight, years and we want to take a part.
Today I want to remind you to make sure you take that same fervent urgency to the polls tomorrow. Most states will be having some sort of local elections on November 5, 2013. Granted, these are not the big sexy, flashy elections that make the media swoon. Normally you only know about it from short blurbs on the evening news or from those "to the current occupant" letters that a lot of the candidates themselves send out.
But a statement that a candidate made on a radio talk show the other day really gave me pause. He said that while the President does many great things for our country, it is the local politicians that more so affect our day-to-day lives. They are the ones who make the decisions that will affect our water, sewage, trash collection regulations, and many other things. So it is really important for us all to get out and vote in our local city and county elections.
Please go out and vote for your candidates of choice. With that being said I wanted to share this map I found. It's really neat. You just click on the link here, put in your address and it will give you the district you are in, as well as who your representatives currently are for the South Carolina House, South Carolina Senate, and the Columbia Councilmembers. The elections tomorrow, according to the City of Columbia website are to elect a mayor and three councilmembers.
Let's make sure all of our friends have this information. And be sure to let us know your experience at the new and improved polls. It promises to be a much more organized affair. Exercise your right to vote because you deserve it. Thank you.