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February 2007

Why I love the Colts

This is how the Indianapolis Colts celebrated after their Super Bowl win. Enough said.

© 2007 VANESSA BYERS

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'Something New' is something wonderful

I finally saw "Something New" over the weekend. When it was released last year, the reviews I'd read were not great. Of course there were those who took offense to the interracial storyline, more specifically the black female-white male pairing. After all, the historial dynamic of white male-black female pairings have more often been forced sexual relations.

We can't erase that horrible, horrible past. At the same time, we must recognize that we can't paint everyone in a group with the same broad brush. Racism still exists. Gender bias still exists. Religious persecution still exists. We can cry about it or we can continue to break down barriers. I say let's do the latter.

Something New dealt with the interracial aspect a lot more than the Bernie Mac-Ashton Kutcher movie, Guess Who. As a professional Black woman, I totally related to the Kenya McQueen (Sanaa Lathan) character. Well, maybe not totally. I am one of the 56% of Black women that have been married. I wonder what the divorce statistic is for that same 56%. Hmmm.

Anyhoo, from her issues on the job to gatherings with her girlfriends to the debutante cotillions, the movie was on point. Now, until this movie, I wasn't familair with the acronym, IBM (Ideal Black Man). My friends and I talk about fnding a BMW (Black Man Working). LOL

I did like the fact that Brian Kelly (Simon Baker) convinced Kenya to remove her hair weave. Hair is a black issue that I don't think whites will ever completely understand. Black women stress about hair entirely too much. I can feel that way since I went completely natural with my locks. I would have liked the movie more had Kenya's supposedly natural hair looked a lot less like a weave also, but I got the point.

The love scenes between Kenya and Brian were hot without being trashy. Their arguments about issues that interracial couples actually deal with were refreshing also. Blacks and whites deal with race differently; it was wonderful to see that captured so well on-screen without being overdone or underdone.

Something New is a cute love story and a wonderful date movie. In spite of IBM Mark Harper's (Blair Underwood) dashing good looks, by the end of the movie, you want Kenya and Brian to be together because they click. He gets her to chill out and enjoy life.

I can watch this movie over and over and over again. If you enjoy love stories, I highly recommend this one.

© 2007 VANESSA BYERS

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Why I support Barack Obama

We are so far away from the actual vote for America's next president. The road to the Republican ticket will not be nearly as interesting as that for the Democrats. Barack Obama's candidacy has awaken heretofore dead boring Democrats. Even Hillary has tried to change her image.

Many of my contemporaries here in Miami are following the endorsement of Miami's established Black political leaders and going with Hillary in 2008. That will not be the case for me. I'm going with Obama. I have seen many so-called Black leaders seem to turn away from him and I must ask myself why.

There are many who cite Obama's lack of experience. Some folks have gone so far as to create websites and videos that seem based more on mean-spiritedness (is that a word?) than on politics. Again I ask why?

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that part of the reason I'm supporting is because he's Black. That is a small part, but a reason nonetheless. What impresses the most however is his seemingly sincere belief in the people and doing right by us. His very John Kennedy-like charm and ability to reach the masses inspite of obvious obstacles that impede mere mortals on a daily basis.

Obama is Black and doesn't try to hide it by proclaiming that he's Caublanasian or some other crazy mess like Tiger Woods. Obama embraces all that he is and it is truly a beautiful thing. At the same time his beliefs and political agenda is for all Americans. There is something magical about this man.

I am also supporting Barack Obama because he had the intestinal fortitude to vote against the Iraq War. He did not change his stance later like Hillary and others. He knew it was wrong but didn't have the "go along to get along attitude" of his peers. I respect that.

Obama's sad reality is that he must also walk a very thin line line between his 'blackness' and his universal appeal to Americans. Sometimes that walk may be painful but I pray that he continues that walk in honesty, integrity and compassion. Obama must always stay focused on being the people's candidate.

I was a bit taken aback by the half-hearted explanation that Tavis Smiley gave for Barack Obama's absence during this year's State of the Black Union symposium. Obama chose that same day to announce his candidacy in Illnois. I guess that was perceived as an insult to Blacks. There were a few boos in the audience. Tavis really didn't do anything to quash that reaction --- and he very well could have.

Obama's reality is that Blacks, as a group, will not provide the campaign fundraising support he needs. We could, but we won't. Let's be real, Black people, be real. There are a few biting lines from the movie, Bulworth, that I could insert here but I think you get my point.

Has America evolved to the point that it could elect a Black president? I'd like to think so but only time will tell.

© 2007 VANESSA BYERS

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Prayer for Those in the Armed Services

From beliefnet.com O God of Mercy, we beg You now to protect in a special way those who are fighting for us and for the country we love.

Bless them and take care of them. If they are tired, give them strength.

If they are wounded and suffering, give them comfort.

If they are lonely, touch them with Your gentle hand and let them know that You are near them.

Grant them strength, wisdom and help through Your power and Your limitless love.

Amen.


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Anna Nicole's remains to rest in Bahamas? Perhaps.

Anna Nicole Smith’s remains will be buried in the Bahamas, so says Judge Larry Seidlen in a Fort Lauderdale (Broward County) courtroom. This was the latest episode in the circus surrounding the death of Anna Nicole Smith.

That situation may not be closed as was assumed yesterday afternoon. Lawyers for Anna Nicole’s mother, Virgie Arthur, have filed an appeal to have Anna’s body remain in the States. Surprise…surprise!

Regardless of the next phase of shenanigans, I’d not like to have the public subjected to Judge Larry Seidlen. The man is an embarrassment to the judicial system. He pimped this unfortunate situation to advance his career. What a shame.

As each day passes, Anna’s sordid lifestyle is exposed to the universe and one has to wonder why. This poor woman dies each time a video from her past miraculously becomes available. After seeing the latest video of her being groped and licked by Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, I was truly nauseated. Dr. Kapoor prescribed methadone for Anna Nicole while she was pregnant. The extent to which Anna Nicole Smith was used is all the more apparent. Her ringmaster….puppeteer… pimp…attorney…companion Howard Stern was present when the video was shot and appeared to coach Anna. Wanna be baby daddy Larry Birkhead is also shown in the background of the video. It’s disgusting. What purpose does it serve?

I feel so very sorry for Anna’s daughter, Dannielynn, she doesn’t need to know her mother this way. And another thing, why can’t the baby’s paternity be resolved without such drama also? It really shouldn’t take so long to determine who Dannielynn’s father is. Who am I kidding? No drama doesn’t sell media coverage. What a shame. The next round, undoubtedly, will begin very soon.

© 2007 VANESSA BYERS

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American Idol Season 6

AI6 (American Idol, Season 6) is in full swing with this evening’s results show. Four contestants --- two guys and two girls --- will go home this evening and so it goes until the AI6 winner is named on the season’s final show.

I didn’t see the guys perform Tuesday night but these are my favorite guys from the auditions: Sundance Head and Chris Sligh. I don’t think either of them is a showstopping singer, I just think they’re kinda cool, especially Sundance.

Sundance Head

Chris Sligh

Of the ladies, my faves are Melinda Doolittle, Lakisha Jones and Jordin Sparks. I think the ladies are much better singers this year. Melinda Doolittle was a background singer, now she’s up front and doing an awesome job. I think I’m more taken by her sweet personality than her talent.

Melinda Doolittle

Lakisha Jones

Jordin Sparks

Since we’re talking ladies, let’s talk hair. I do hope the AI folks don’t do what they usually do with curly-haired a contestant which is straighten their hair. I love Jordin’s hair. Let’s see how many episodes pass before she gets the straight look. Melinda and Lakisha should also make sure their hair or hairpieces look natural. I highly recommend Lugo’s for anyone with hair extensions or hair fusion.

I also noticed that judge Simon Cowell hasn’t spewed his usual negative comments about the plus size contestants.

It’s highly unlikely that I will watch much of the shows this season. AI just doesn’t really interest me anymore. I will watch this evening to see Ms. Fantasia Barrino perform.

Anyhoo, I’d like to see Melinda Doolittle win. Let’s see how this season turns out.

Before I end this post, can you name the five previous winners of AI? Don't cheat by going to he AI website!

© 2007 VANESSA BYERS

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The Lies They Tell: How to Stop the Fox Propaganda Machine

By Don Hazen, AlterNet. Posted February 22, 2007.

The "Sliming Bowl" is well under way, and Fox's influence is too big -- and too damaging -- to ignore. Can the progressive Internet media and blogosphere bring it down? Plus: A Brand New Video! [MORE]

© 2007 VANESSA BYERS

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Enough of the Britney Spears Media Circus

Britney Spears’ meltdown is completely understandable when one considers the interest in her shaved locks. The salon where the infamous shearing occurred, is auctioning off her hair, the clippers used to shaved head and the can of Red Bull she was drinking at the time. Supposedly, proceeds will benefit several unnamed charities.

The asking price for Brit’s locks --- one million American dollars. You’ve really got to be kidding, right? Is this for real or some horrible publicity stunt? This was not Britney’s regular salon or hairstylist. She did not have an appointment. No publicity is bad publicity, right?

Whatever the reason, Britney Spears and her children need help. I am really tired of this media circus. I guess we’ll be subjected to more of this madness when the custody battle heats up between Britney and K-Fed.

I’d like more media time devoted to reports on Iraq and the economy. Remember the real news?


© 2007 VANESSA BYERS


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MUST READ: Jeb! America's Next Bush

Journalist and author S.V. Dáte has published an unauthorized biography of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. It's safe to say that this book, Jeb! America's Next Bush, will not be on Jeb's list of favorites. Here's a little taste:

Jeb Bush is going to hate this book.

Yes, hate is a strong word, but I do not use it lightly. Jeb does not kind of dislike things, or not be crazy about them. You’re either with him or against him, and this book clearly is not with him.

I know Jeb. I know how he thinks. And what he thinks is that an independent, unauthorized biography of his Florida tenure written by the guy who had become the biggest journalistic thorn in his side cannot possibly be a good thing, particularly when, sooner or later, he runs for president.

Now, I can completely appreciate Jeb’s irritation and displeasure with me over the years. I was one of the handful of reporters in Tallahassee who would go deep into the internal documents and statistics of his own agencies to compare his rhetoric against the facts. I was the only one who did it so regularly that Jeb felt compelled to punish me and my employer, The Palm Beach Post, by restricting our access to him and his staff.

When Jeb claimed, for example, that students in his voucher program for disabled children were getting superior educations than in the public schools, I found out that 77 percent of the schools in that program did not even have any teachers trained to teach disabled children.

When Jeb claimed his massive tax cuts on the state’s wealthiest residents had produced new jobs, I wrote how his own employment agency’s records showed that Jeb had the lowest job creation rate of any governor going back to 1970.

When Jeb claimed that “rounding down” the fractional cent part of a drink tax would save restaurateurs accounting headaches, I pointed out that according to his own Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the drink tax was actually paid by the gallon, and that the “rounding down” would simply not make anyone’s math in the least bit easier.

And so it went, on and on, for eight years.

***

I learned of this book while watching Michael Putney's This Week in South Florida on the local ABC-TV affiliate. For such an interesting premise, Putney softballed the interview and did not inform viewers of a fourth of the books' coverage and the author's contentious relationship with the former governor.

It is sure to be a best seller and I'll try to make the book signing in Bal Harbour.

From the critics:

"Dáte is one of the best reporters in Florida — which means that if Bush made a descending list of his favorite Floridians, Dáte would rank below some whose death warrants he's signed." — Tallahassee Democrat

"Love Jeb Bush or hate him, Dáte writes, but 'if you want to see what he would do with the nation, take a good look at what he did here in Florida.' Though the Palm Beach Post reporter admits he has a bit of an axe to grind after covering the younger Bush for eight years, he says it's on principle alone, as a critic of Jeb's autocratic ruling style, not his policies. As Dáte portrays it, Jeb Bush for president is less a question of 'if' than 'when.' Yet the book is worth close attention regardless of what Jeb decides. Bush's personal story — his youth; his business relationships in Miami before taking office (which weren't always savory); his years spent running a highly secretive administration, obsessed with tax cuts and school vouchers—is a masterful lesson in political ambition. Most compelling is Dáte’s examination of the constantly evolving history of the hypercompetitive, hyperpowerful Bush family dynasty; how the family has amassed, wielded and abused political power and entitlement; and how it has evolved after that power and entitlement have been transferred from one generation of leaders to the next." – Publisher's Weekly

"As a newspaper journalist, the author closely followed Jeb Bush’s eight-year reign as governor of Florida. Now he distills his seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of the man (adding some of his own, often not-so-flattering personal opinions) into a sharply written and somewhat troubling chronicle of Bush’s tenure. Dáte portrays Bush as a man who was groomed almost from birth to take his rightful place as president of the U.S and saw his dream snatched away by his own brother. Jeb also emerges as a man dedicated to serving the people of Florida who occasionally let his political ambition cloud his judgment. Supporters of Jeb Bush might take issue with the author's critical tone, but even they will have to acknowledge that Dáte has done his homework. It’s not a pro-Bush book, but neither is it the kind of hatchet job some readers might expect, and others will crave." — Booklist

"Bush 2008? Anyone who worries at the prospect will want to have a look at this partial —and revealing — portrait. The Bushes harbor dynastic ambitions, but the old patrician noblesse oblige has changed. ‘Somehow,’ writes Palm Beach Post Tallahassee bureau chief and longtime John Ellis Bush watcher Dáte, ‘Prescott Bush’s duty to lead has, through a new combination of chromosomes, mutated into the right to rule.’ " — Kirkus Reviews

Remaining dates on 2007 Tour:

Tuesday, Feb. 20 Atlanta 7 p.m. The Carter Center 453 Freedom Parkway 404-420-5100

Wednesday, Feb. 21 Bal Harbour 7:30 p.m. Books & Books 9700 Collins Avenue 305-864-4241

Thursday, Feb. 22 Altamonte Springs 7 p.m. Borders Books and Music 880 W. State Road 436 407-772-0411

Friday, Feb. 23 Sarasota 7 p.m. Sarasota News & Books 1341 Main Street 941-365-6332

Saturday, Feb. 24 Naples 3:15 p.m. Naples Writers' Conference International College 2655 Northbrooke Dr. 239-593-1488

Saturday, Feb. 24 Naples 7:30 p.m. Borders Books & Music 10600 Tamiami Trail North 239-596-7199

Sunday, Feb. 25 Delray Beach 5 p.m. Murder on the Beach 273 Pineapple Grove Way 561-279-7790

Monday, Feb. 26 West Palm Beach 6 p.m. West Palm Beach Public Library 100 Clematis Street 561-868-7701

Tuesday, Feb. 27 Fort Lauderdale 7 p.m. Borders Books & Music 2240 E. Sunrise Blvd. 954-566-6335

Wednesday, Feb. 28 Fort Myers 7 p.m. Barnes & Noble 13751 S. Tamiami Trail 239-437-0654

Thursday, March 1 St. Petersburg Noon Haslam's Book Store 2025 Central Avenue 727-822-8616

Thursday, March 1 Tampa 7 p.m. Inkwood Books 216 S. Armenia Avenue 813-253-2638

Friday, March 2 Tallahassee 7 p.m. Borders Books & Music 1302 Apalachee Pkwy 850-402-9863

Thursday, April 5 Highland Beach 2 p.m. Highland Beach Public Library 3618 S. Ocean Blvd. 561-278-5455

Thursday, April 5 Fort Lauderdale 6:30 p.m. Regions Literary Series Broward Public Library Foundation Regions Bank 100 SE 3rd Avenue 954-357-7381

© 2007 VANESSA BYERS

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Let love flow freely

Love believes what cannot be possible. And then love makes it happen.

Love is the reason that defies all reason. Love unites even those who could never otherwise agree.

Give love not because it's your obligation. Give love because you can.

Offer love not because you seek some treasure in return. Offer love, and you'll find that it is the treasure.

When you're not sure what to say, let love do the talking. If you can't decide which way to go, decide to act from a perspective of love.

Love connects, empowers, illuminates and understands like nothing else can. Let love flow freely from every moment in your life.

-- Ralph Marston

© 2007 VANESSA BYERS

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