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February 2006

Madea Kicks Butt

Madea's Family Reunion left other films in the dust this past weekend. Congratulations to Tyler Perry and his crew for such a financially successful movie. I can't on how good it was because I haven't seen the movie yet.

Based on the numbers below and the comments I heard around the watercooler, Madea will be back.

USA Weekend Box-Office Summary24 February 2006 (Sunday Estimates)
Rank Title Weekend Gross
1. Madea's Family Reunion (2006) $30.2M/$30.2M
2. Eight Below (2006) $15.7M/$45.1M
3. The Pink Panther (2006) $11.3M/ $61M
4. Date Movie (2006) $9.22M /$33.9M
5. Curious George (2006) $7M /$43.1M
6. Firewall (2006) $6.28M /$36.9M
7. Final Destination 3 (2006) $5.35M /$44.8M
8. Doogal (2006) $3.61M /$3.61M
9. Running Scared (2006) $3.08M /$3.08M
10. Freedomland (2006) $2.9M/ $10.8M


Thought for the Day - Your Direction

Your direction

It may take months, years or even decades to get where you want to go. Yet you can begin moving toward that goal in an instant.

You are where you are right now, and nothing will change the path you've already traveled. Yet you can most certainly and most completely change where you are going.

Choose to follow a positive direction, and whatever your current situation may be, it is instantly and significantly improved. Once your focus is on creating a positive reality for your world, that reality begins to take shape.

Though the challenges ahead may be many, they are no match for the power of your intention. To activate that power right now, point yourself in a positive direction.

The next step you take is yours to decide. And whatever that next step may be, it is the step that will determine your direction.

At any time, no matter what the situation, your direction is yours to choose, and becomes real the instant you act on it. Make your direction a positive, fulfilling one, right now, and always.

-- Ralph Marston

Rest in Peace Don Knotts

Most will remember him as Deputy Barney Fife from “The Andy Griffith Show” and another generation as Mr. Furley from “Three’s Company” and yet another generation as the TV Repairman from “Pleasantville”.

Gone but not forgotten, Don Knotts was a great comedic actor who brought laughter to so many. He will live on through re-runs as his comedy is timeless.

Thank you, Mr. Knotts.

Rest in Peace.

Check out these links:
Don Knotts’ Official Website
Internet Movie Database
Knotts' goofy Fife, Furley unforgettable

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!


Bay County (Florida) Boot Camp to Close

There is a big difference between discipline and abuse. Thank you to everyone who called and wrote to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida legislators about this situation. Martin Lee Anderson paid with his life and hopefully other teenagers can escape the brutal tactics of guards and other law enforcement staff. Vanessa


Bay Boot Camp Closes


On Feb. 22, Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen announced that the Bay County Sheriff’s Office Boot Camp would close its doors within 90 days.

“My decision had nothing to do with demands made by anyone,” said McKeithen, “but with the fact that I saw an effective, professional program in jeopardy, unable to function as it once did.” McKeithen believes that the integrity of the program has been compromised due to the unfortunate death of Martin Lee Anderson, 14, an inmate at the boot camp, who died on Jan 6.

“Drill Instructors no longer feel confident in the execution of their duties,” said McKeithen, “ Juvenile offenders currently placed at the Boot Camp are taking advantage of the situation and are using the Abuse Hotline not for its intended purpose but as a means of retaliation.”

State Attorney Steve Meadows also wrote a letter to Gov. Jeb Bush excusing himself from the case. Meadows cited the close ties his office has with the local law enforcement and Bay County Sheriff’s Office. Meadows said he wanted to avoid any, “question to the integrity of any decisions reached.”

Bush approved the request and has already named a replacement. Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober was appointed special prosecutor for the case by an executive order issued Wednesday evening.

Bay County Medical Examiner Dr. Charles Seibert has also come under fire recently. Siebert believes that Anderson died of sickle cell trait, but others have challenged his findings.
Siebert’s skills and competence have even been questioned. Francis Terry, 57, has made statements that he failed miserably on her husband and daughter’s autopsy reports and The Miami Herald reports that Siebert’s medical license expired on Jan. 31.

''He's a bad doctor. He messed up my daughter's autopsy and my husband's autopsy and I'll bet he messed up the autopsy of that poor boy,'' Terry said in an interview with The Miami Herald.
Terry, whose husband and daughter were killed by a tornado that was spawned by Hurricane Ivan on Sept 14, 2004, said that she complained to everyone she could about Siebert, but no one would listen.

Some of the mistakes Siebert made were finding that her daughter had a prostate and testes and that her husband had no visible scars, even though he had a seven-inch scar on his back from a surgery.

Meadows’ office believed it was a simple “transcription” error that resulted in the error filled autopsy report and that Siebert later corrected the mistakes in a revised report.

Although the boot camp may be closing its doors, McKeithen is optimistic about another program entitled the Sheriff’s Training and Rehabilitative Academy, or STAR Academy. McKiethen emphasized that STAR is a school and not a boot camp.

“My desire is to reach out and offer a helping hand to parents whose children have not yet been arrested but are on a road which, without intervention, will result in them becoming embroiled in our legal system,” said McKeithen, “ I firmly believe the STAR Academy could be the solution to change the lives of these borderline children before it is too late.”

McKeithen stated that any boot camp employee who is found suitable and qualified to work at STAR would be placed there. The preliminary, draft proposal for the STAR Academy will be made public Feb. 23.

“At the close of the Boot Camp, any employee currently involved in the Martin Anderson investigation will be placed on Administrative Leave until the criminal and internal investigations are completed,” said McKeithen.

For more background on the Anderson story, read the following articles:
Governor Excuses Meadows from Boot Camp Case
Anderson's Death Still Haunting Bay
Boot Camp Video Released
Boot Camp Death Draws State Attention
Boot Camp Offender Passes Away

Also, check out the following:
Boot Camp Closure Letter
Boot Camp Videotape
Siebert's Medical Examiner License
STAR Academy - Boot Camp Replacement Plan

Send comments and suggestions to

Oprah's Neighborhood

Getting home early from work allowed to me to see Oprah in action with her newly established Angel Lane neighborhood in Texas. In partnership with several businesses such as Target, Oprah and her team provided homes for families who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The homes were built by the new Angel Lane residents and were furnished down to the sheets, towels and food in the refrigerator. Oprah is bad!

The homes, built through the Habitat for Humanity Project, were decorated by cutie-pie interior designer, Nate Berkus. Oprah used $10 million of her own money to help these families. Now, I make no secret that I'd prefer that these people return to New Orleans for historical and political reasons. Seeing the emotional ecstacy that only home ownership can generate, was so wonderful. In some instances, this will be the first home these families have owned.

The most touching story for me, was of the couple who lost almost all of their precious possessions including photographs and paintings by the husband. Their love for each other was so obvious that it transcended the television screen. Oprah's staff was able to salvage some of the artwork they thought was lost.

Thank you, Oprah! Ms. Winfrey is such a blessed woman because of the blessings she bestows on others. She is undoubtedly wealthy but think about how much money $10,000,000 is. There are so many other financially wealthy people who can make similar contributions.

Only the grace of God, spared us from the fate of the thousands of hurricane victims who have lost their lives or lost their possessions. Bless you, Oprah. Your genrosity is amazing. You are the biggest angel. Namaste.

Oprah for President in 2008!

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Black History Month is almost over

Each year I am ticked off by the incessant publicity...nicey nice commercials...print ads...Showtime movies...and television specials...about Black history. There are so many accomplishments by Black folk that the United States of America should be embarrassed by the need for its Black people to be relegated to one month of celebration. What is even more disgusting is the fact that each year Black folk appear to celebrate less and less. What's up with that?

First of all, so-called "Black HIstory" is a part of American history. Why is it segregated and relegated to one month of the year? What started out as Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson, is now celebrated for an entire month. What happens on March 1st?

More important is a saying that "It's a poor dog that can't wag it's own tail." Hello??!! What's with not celebrating Black History? Far too few schools in my community have demonstrated any real effort at sharing the legacy of Black Americans this year. I'm talking about schools with a significant number of Black students and even Black principals in charge. How do we expect our children to love and respect themselves without teaching them the history of their ancestors? That is a responsibility of parents and adults. Let's do better.

Celebrate Black History every day. It is American history.

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Wicked Wisdom

Wicked Wisdom, the self-titled first album by the group is a great first effort by the band. It's straight metal, so if you're looking for a gratutitous conglomeration with a popular rap or R&B artist, this is not the album for you. Metal heads...enjoy!

I must admit that it takes some getting used to with Jada Pinkett Smith AKA Jada Koren on lead vocals. The first track, Yesterday don't mean sh**t today, is a clue to the rawness (is that a word?) of the band. There are also a couple of other really memorable tracks and the guitar licks are tight. The band sounds as if they've been playing together for a long time. I expect this album to sell well.

Congrats and much love to my soror, Jada and the band. Check out their website at

Peace and Love.

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Thought for the Day - Choose now

Just because you experienced anxiety a moment ago does not mean that you must continue to hold on to it. Choose now to let it go.

You may have recently been angry about one thing or another, yet that destructive anger does not have to continue. Choose now to transform the energy of that anger into positive, healing, productive thoughts and actions.

Whatever the past may have held, this moment can be filled with what you choose right now. Peace, acceptance, joy, forgiveness, and positive purpose are all as close as your decision to choose them.

Think of the most joyful and fulfilling times you've ever known. Allow yourself to feel the way it feels when you're at your very best.

The world is as it is, the people around you are as they are, and this moment is here. You can choose now to face it all with the best you have to give.

Life is ever filled with all kinds of possibilities, and this moment is no exception. Choose now to make the most positive of those possibilities a part of who you are.

-- Ralph Marston

Another teen dies in Florida boot camp

The videotaped beating of 14 year-old Martin Lee Anderson in a Bay County (FL) juvenile detention boot camp depicts the abuse our children endure at the hands of so-called law enforcement officers. To add to the shame and horror, several officers and a nurse are shown watching the abuse heaped upon young Anderson. When his body could no longer stand the trauma, it simply gave out. The Bay County medical examiner later declared that Anderson died of natural causes brought on by a sickle cell anemia.

Both Democrat and Republican Florida lawmakers of all ethnicities have called for an investigation and the arrest of those involved. The government media machine is already in effect as Anderson’s murder occurred on January 6, 2006 and is just now receiving the media coverage it deserves.

My heart goes out to his family, especially his mother who tearfully shared her confidence that her son did not die of natural causes but was mistreated by detention staff. Why is it that the family and the news media have to fight so hard to have the videotape released? When the tape was released, why was the portion that was the most damaging to law enforcement already edited out?

Moreover, why is it that Anderson, the third teen to die in recent months under the “care” of Florida juvenile detention staff and there has not been a hue and cry for and investigation of the system?

All three of the Florida teens to die recently in its detention centers have been Black but let’s not allow this to become a racial issue even if there may be overtones. These are clearly human rights issues and the Anderson videotape really leaves nothing for discussion. Every human rights and civil rights organization that exists should be up in arms about this. What is most sad, is that there are many children who have suffered but whose names will not be a part of this issue. Let’s remember them and the pain felt by their loved ones.

Check the links below:
Florida boot camps should be closed
Omar Paisley dies
Willie Lawrence Durden dies

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged
Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

The Real Deal on Vice President Cheney's Shooting Incident

Am I the only person sick and tired of the media coverage of United States vice president Cheney’s shooting of hunting buddy Harry Whittington? I mean, come on, enough already. There are many hunting accidents each year in the United States. How many of them garner the kind of coverage that this one has?

Knowing that Whittington was not killed and no one else was injured, I say, please give this a rest. Tell me about what’s happening in Iraq, dwindling medical benefits for senior citizens, rising interest rates and reductions in financial assistance for college students. If you want talk about the secrecy and subterfuge of the Cheney shooting incident, I’m all for that. Talk about the shooting itself, --- in the immortal words of Whitney Houston, hell to the naw!

The White House media machine did not work this time and Bush, Cheney and the GOP have been damaged by it. The late night comedians and political humorists are having a field day because of this and it is likely to last for quite some time.

In meantime, let’s address crux of this situation and not the shooting itself.

© 2006 VANESSA BYERS, Vanessa: Unplugged