Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Depressing News on US Wealth Gap


This graph from the Pew Research Center shows the depressing wealth gap that exists between Whites and minorities in this country.  Personally speaking, I am an embodiment of this.  While my income as a single male with no children is OK, I have no great wealth.  I do not own any homes or cars.  I have no stocks or any significant savings.  I live paycheck to paycheck and even then there are some bills that don't get paid.  I hope to change this within the next 10 years or so but sadly many other minorities are lacking the opportunities to do so.  Read the entire Pew Research Center study here.

The fabulous Melissa Harris-Perry, professor of Political Science at Tulane University and columnist for The Nation, guest hosted the Rachel Maddow show last night and had a wonderful segment on this topic.




Serena wins!

Serena Williams won her first round match in Stanford 6-0, 6-0.  A giant double bagel.  She was on fiya!  Check her out looking lovely in green:








Serena must read Tennis.com because they just posted a column on double bagels earlier in the day.  She must have wanted to add her own to the list!

Ummm, what's wrong with this picture?

Two-Steps?  One, Two, Three, ...


Maru the Cat for President in 2012!

I was reading a great article on Salon.com by Alex Pareene along the same lines of the article I linked to yesterday about Republicans turning to conservative bloggers and talk show hosts for legislative advice.  In that article, the writer referenced a NY Times column that makes a weird suggestion for how to elect our next President.  Pareene gives us a look into the future if this weird idea were to come to pass that had me dying with laughter:

Faced with a legislative system with too many veto points and a polarized national electorate regularly splitting their votes between the right-wing party and the incoherent party of "everyone else," Friedman suggests that we elect a third-party president via Web poll. Yes!!! THAT WILL SOLVE EVERYTHING. Someone with no power base in either party, selected by Reddit users. Can't you just imagine how President Maru the Box Cat would be able to cut through this "partisanship" and get things done with "leadership" from the "radical center"? This Web poll third party will be the Amazon.com of politics, in that it will kill the Borders of politics. (I think the Borders of politics, in this example, is the labor movement. Sorry!)
 For the uninitiated, this is Maru the Cat:


Learn more about him here.  He could be our next President!

Monday, July 25, 2011

4 Minutes of Diva With A Little Insanity Mixed In!

Mariah Carey was on HSN Sunday night selling some crap and was apparently a total diva and utterly insane all at the same time.  Below, is 4 minutes of the craziness as compiled by Gawker.

video

Congressional Republians seek advice from conservative blogger. Therein lies the problem!

Erick Erickson Will Look Down and Whisper ‘No.’

The above link is to an blog post by Matt Yglesias on ThinkProgress.org and it encapsulates what I think is one of the major problems in Republican politics. Why are congressional Republicans seeking advice from incoherent conservative blogger Erick Erickson? Aren't they supposed to be intelligent, free-thinkers who were elected by their constituents to serve their needs and interests not that of the conservative blogosphere? Why are they so beholden to the likes of Grover Norquist and his ilk? Why are they constantly boxing themselves into legislative corners by signing useless right-wing pledges and making grand statements in order to toe the line of some austere conservative talking point? I have plenty of faults with the Democratic party but nothing they do is even comparable the Republicans basically giving away their power to bloggers, think tankers, pollsters, and corporate interests.

More Serena!

To prepare for Serena's return to the US hardcourts this summer, I've been watching some her matches at World TeamTennis, the 3-week team exhibition league co-founded by living legend Billie Jean King.  Check out some of the action of a set she played against former rival Martina Hingis particularly the first point in which she has to hurdle over the net!  Oh Serena, sooo full of drama!  Unfortunately, she lost this particular set but that's not too unexpected as Serena rarely plays at 100% in these types exhibitions.

Tennis, anyone?

Today is the one week anniversary of this blog (yeah!) and I have yet to post anything about one of my major obsessions, tennis.  The main reason for this is that there's really not much going on in the world of pro tennis.  The 3 weeks following Wimbledon are usually a rest period for the top ranked players so the news tends to be a little slow.  Not that there isn't any activity.  There are clay court tournaments in Europe and a 3 week exhibition season called World TeamTennis held in the U.S.  But now things are starting to heat up again.  The US hardcourt season just started with an event in Atlanta won by American Mardy Fish.  And this week, there are 5 events between men's ATP World Tour and the women's WTA tour.  The tournament with the most interest to me is the women's event in Stanford, CA because it will be the first U.S. tournament for Serena Williams (my girl! Check out the slideshow to left.  I will be adding more photos over time) since her epic outburst in the semifinals of the 2009 US Open.  She had a knee injury in March of last year that prevented her from playing in Miami and then she suffered a weird cut to her foot in Germany after winning her 13th Major championship at Wimbledon.  This cut required stitches and several surgeries and lead to her wearing a boot on her injured foot while still being fabulous!






She was out of the game for a whole year until returning prior to the start of this year's Wimbledon where she lost in the 4th round to frenchie Marion Bartoli.  Now, she's back in competition here in the US at the Bank of the West Classic.

I think she can win (I always think she can win) but it won't easy.  Her first round should be easy but both of her potential 2nd round opponents will be tough.  The most anticipated match is a potential quarterfinal match between Rena and her nemesis, Maria Sharapova.  Sharapova is slowly but surely coming back into form after her own injury issues and could score her first win over Serena since November 2004.  But I think Serena will be totally amped for this match and I am expecting a tough, 3-set win for Rena.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and the 27 Club

By now I'm sure you're aware of the tragic death of Amy Winehouse, an artist whose music I just recently started to get into. I was eagerly awaiting some new music from her but I guess it's not meant to be. Sigh!

Click the title link above for an interesting read on the club of musicians that Winehouse now joins.

Beavis and Butthead! BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD!!!!!


I LOVE Beavis and Butthead!  It is somewhat contradictory to my personality but this show is sooo hilarious and awesome.  In my first year of college, I watched the show religiously and I wore out my video of the movie. I even had several posters on my dorm room wall and when friends would come to my room for the first time they would be so surprised by my Beavis and Butthead obsession because I'm not wild and crazy.  I'm more quiet and introverted and no one would think that I would be a superfan of such an idiotic show.

Anyway, I'm soo excited that it's coming back.  Above is a sneak peek of the new season.  This joins other amimated comedies currently on air that I love like South Park(!), Family Guy, American Dad, and Ugly Americans (seriously, if you're not watching Ugly Americans on Comedy Central, you're missing out).

Friday, July 22, 2011

SymiGoddess: The night Bravo told me to stop tweeting

Top Chef is my 2nd favorite reality competition after Survivor. So it was with great interest that I read this blog post about a fellow Top Chef fans' run-in with the shows judging panel in San Antonio, TX. Gail Simmons sounds like a grade-A bitch in this story. I thought Padma would be the one!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Braves Infielder Brooks Conrad Looks Back On The Night His Life Almost Fell Apart | ThePostGame

Last post-season, the entire Atlanta Braves fanbase was ready to kill infielder Brooks Conrad for almost single-handedly losing a playoff game against the Giants by making 3 costly errors. This story details how he almost lost his marriage that same night. Great read!

Even I understand this!

Political Animal - The Pay America’s Bills Act

I'm far from being an economist or a goverment wonk but even I understand the concept of the debt ceiling. This confirms that many of the people we elect to govern and run our country are idiots.
The debt ceiling debate is the biggest story in Washington right now and as with anything having to do with American politics, it's a mix of ridiculousness, hubris, and incredible stupidity.  The debt ceiling has been a non-issue throughout American political history.  It has been raised 74 times since 1962 , mostly under Republican majorities, without any major difficulties.  Sure, there have been some individuals who have voted against raising it in order to score cheap political points or make some inane statement, like then-Senator Obama did in March 2006.  But there was never any serious risk that the limit wouldn't get raised.  Most everyone seemed to understand the gravity of the situation and wouldn't dare flirt with the U.S. defaulting on it's debt.  Well, welcome to American politics in the year 2011.  What should be and always has been a non-issue has been turned into a potential disaster all because the Tea Party controlled House and spineless Republican Senate Minority wants to hold the raising of the debt ceiling hostage in order to conform with some inane political ideology. Sigh!

Here's Rachel Maddow with a great segment on how this is a crisis completely of the Republicans choosing.




How do you do it?

I've been a little preoccupied the last few days so I haven't had the time and/or inclination to post.  I don't know how some bloggers do it, publishing daily with multiple posts per day.  I've only been at this for a few days now and I feel a little exhausted by it.  But I'm still at it.  I'm not going anywhere.  Yet.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hilarious suicide attempt from the movie Cyberbully!

video

I just finished drying the tears in my eyes after watching this video.  Not because it's sad but because it's freakin' hilarious.  Now, before you jump down my throat and ask how a suicide attempt can be hilarious, just trust me. I would never make fun of suicide.  I know from personal experience that it's not a laughing matter.  However, this POS is sooooo badly written, acted, and directed that it's hard to take seriously.  The humor begins at about 2:08 in the video and it brings up so many questions.  First, how long was she struggling to get that bottle open?  Unless, her friend, the mother, AND the paramedics were right around the corner, she had to have been trying to open that damn bottle for about 20 minutes.  Also, where so these people live? Who just leaves the house open for any ranting teen to just barge in.   Sigh.  Rarely have I ever watched something where I've been close to tears on moment and then laughing hysterically the next.   That, my friends, is a work of unintentional genius!
(Thanks, Gawker!)

Monday, July 18, 2011

"Box Cutter" Breaking Bad review

AVClub
 


So, Breaking Bad's season 4 premiere was last night and as expected it was awesome!  One of the things I love so much about this show is that it is quietly intense.  What I mean by that is there is not a lot of unnecessary bombast.  Everything is quietly boiling or seething beneath the surface forcing you to pay attention.  Just one quietly uttered line could define or explain everything that's going on.  There have been plenty of times when I'll miss something that was said or some seemingly unimportant action only to find out later that it was/is a major plot point.  A great example of what I mean by quietly intense is the scene pictured above.  This scene was the focal point of last night's episode and on any other show, it would have been loud with overly dramatic music, unnecessary pause points, and ridiculous dialogue as if we're too stupid to understand what's going on.  But on Breaking Bad, as violent as it was, this scene was beautiful.  The sociopathic manner with which Gus Fring set about murdering his associate Victor will only uttering 5 words was brilliant!  Now, I'll admit that as soon as I realized someone (and by process of elimination it had to Victor) was going to get his throat slashed, I had my hands over my face peeking through my fingers just waiting for the gore to happen!  With just about any other TV show or movie, a scene like that would've totally freaked me out.  But not this one.  That's the beauty on this show.  It takes a subject matter that could very easily be exploited for it's innate violence and illegal activity and turns it into a great character study.  Please read the A.V. Club review linked above for a more thorough review.

Lots to discuss today!

I'm still trying to get used to the idea of blogging.  How often should I post?  There is so much I want to post about and share but if I posted about everything I would be consumed with blogging all the time and nothing else in my life would get done. That's not a good idea.  Anyway, the plan for today is to share/discuss the following:

  • Breaking Bad Season 4 premiere - Soooo awesome!
  • Tennis - Nothing major going on but I haven't posted anything yet on that topic.
  • The debt ceiling negotiations in Washington - Sigh!
  • Maybe some other randomness but I'm at work now and I have to study for a licensing exam on Wednesday so I may not have as much time to as I'd like for some silliness!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Work in progress

This is a work in progress. The music isn't doing what i want it to do. I want to embed a playlist that plays continuously not individually. Myspace isn't letting me do this. They suck. I keep giving them a try but it's just not working for me. So, I will be searching for a way to embed playlists the way I want.

Update: I switched the tracks from Myspace to MP3skull embeds.  I still don't like having individual tracks rather than one playlist but this is better than myspace! Also, I installed the streampad app so that all music I post can be listened to in one playlist but that's not working either.  Sigh!  I have so much to learn.

Music Playlist #1

My main purpose of this blog is to socially share the likes and interests that make me tick and define who I am.  I think music is a great way for people to get to know me.  So, I will periodically share music that shows the many facets of my personality.

This playlist starts with Beyonce's I Care.  I'm not a huge Beyonce fan but this track is HOT!  Next is a from an artist that I just recently discovered named Adriana Evans.  This song came out in '97 and I can't believe I'm just now hearing this.  I've heard her entire debut album and it's fantastic.  Third is Pieces of Me by Ledisi who is currently my favorite artist out right now.  Everything she touches is gold and that voice is pure magic.  Jill Scott and Anthony Hamilton are next with So In Love, a song that proves that good soul music never dies.  Next, we change paces dramatically with Black & Gold by Sam Sparro and Night by Night by Chromeo.  I know these song have been out for several years but I'm still grooving to them.  Finally, the playlist ends with a blast from the past with some great '80's pop magic from Erasure and Pet Shop Boys..

Enjoy!


102-beyonce_-_i_care

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Adriana Evans - Looking for Your Love

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Ledisi - Pieces Of Me

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Jill Scott- So In Love

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Sam Sparro - Black And Gold

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Chromeo - Night By Night

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Erasure-Drama

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Pet Shop Boys - What Have I Done To Deserve This

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Braves Beat Nationals On Freddie Freeman's Walkoff Hit - Talking Chop

Braves Beat Nationals On Freddie Freeman's Walkoff Hit - Talking Chop

Breaking Bad starts tonight!

One of my favorite TV shows, if not the favorite, begins it's fourth season tonight and I can't wait!.  Breaking Bad is an absolutely awesome show and if you're not watching it you're missing out.  I'll let Wikipedia tell you what it's about:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breaking_Bad

Breaking Bad is the story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a struggling high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with advanced lung cancer at the beginning of the series. He turns to a life of crime, producing and selling methamphetamine with a former student, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), with the aim of securing his family's financial future before he dies.

Here are the season previews of all four seasons combined:



I may have some thoughts on tonight's episode later or if I'm too lazy (which will probably be the case) I will link to a review from The A.V Club.

Braves Win!

I was watching the Braves vs. Nationals while messing around with this blog.  Jair Jurrjens got lit up but Freddie Freeman got the game winning hit in the bottom of the ninth for the 9 - 8 win.  Great game!

This is my first baseball post so in case you couldn't tell, I'm a Braves fan.  I have since my family first got cable and the Braves we on just about every damn night on TBS!  Since my father was from Georgia he was a Braves fan this was a real treat for him and watching Braves games were the only real connection we shared.

Being a Braves fan in Philadelphia is tough obviously because the Phillies are the Braves main competition.  There is no way in hell I would go to Citizens Bank Park wearing any Braves gear.  I might not make it out alive.

Anyway, if you're a baseball novice and you don't know who Jair Jurrjens or Freddie Freeman are, here you go!

                                                                   Pitcher Jair Jurrjens


                                                                   1B Freddie Freeman

Vanfanusa

I decided to call this blog and it's first post Vanfanusa because that is my internet identity.  I used it when I first found out what the internet was back in '96 and I've been using it ever since.  So it sort of makes sense for me to call my blog by the same now.  What does it mean?  Well, for the answer let me tell a story.

It's about 1988 and I'm a smart but awkward little black boy growing up in South Philly. My family had just recently gotten cable and it open up a whole new world for my siblings and I (two older brothers and a twin sister, if you care about such things).  The biggest revelation for us was MTV, VH1, and BET. They allowed us to put faces to the sounds and voices we had been listening to on the radio.  Now, the four of us could not have had different musical interests growing up.  My oldest brother, Glenn, was about 17 or 18 and he was a bonafide rap and hip hop fan.  Gary, who was about 5 years younger than Glenn, was developing an interest in Rock and Heavy Metal.  My sister, Erica, was strictly R&B and me, well I was stuck somewhere in the middle. I liked R&B but not as much then as would later grew to love.  I was more into Pop music especially the likes of Whitney Houston and "80's Synth bands like Erasure and the Pet Shop Boys.  My love of black divas and '80's dance was a great foreshadowing of my sexuality if anyone was paying attention! So, back to the story.  BET totally introduced me to the woman whom I would want to marry if I swung that way.  Vanessa Williams!  When I first heard "The Right Stuff" on the radio, I was hooked.  But seeing her on BET, I was more than hooked.  Oh GAWD!  The black lace body suit with the pink polka dot shrug.  The awesome dancing. Oh, memories.  I was drawn to her beauty, her charm and attitude, and her voice.  I had never had an attraction to anyone as strong as that but I was only 10 years old!  Being a Vanessa Williams fan began to define my existence.  I owned all her cassettes (yes, cassettes!), I would sit impatiently waiting by the TV for her new videos to premiere and if I missed it, I was angry!  In fact, my she was my first concert.  I saw her and Luther Vandross (another love of mine) together in Philly, I think, in 1996.  So when it came time for me to sign up for Yahoo! and come up with my screen name, it was only fitting that I pay homage to my one and only and thus, vanfanusa was born.

Now, musical tastes have grown and expanded over the years as I've discovered more of who I am and what I like.  I absolutely love R&B and Soul music now, much of which I ignored as a child.  But my musical tastes are varied and still growing.  I still love '80's Synth music and I'm loving new acts that are bringing the sound back like Chromeo, Scissor Sisters, and La Roux.  My love for the likes of Whitney Houston and my girl Vanessa is very nostalgic.  I don't listen to their music nearly as much as I used to but they will always have a place in my heart and in my music collection!

Since my name is in homage to her and this blog is based on that name, it is only fitting that my first post includes some of Vanessa Williams greatest hits.  Enjoy!

1988



1991



1995



1997



2009


Still absolutely gorgeous after all this years!