Sunday, February 26, 2012

84th Academy Awards: Highlights of the Oscars

The broadcast kicked off Sunday night with a parody featuring Billy Crystal and many of the Best Picture nominees. But it wasn't long before Martin Scorsese's "Hugo" took an early lead in the early production awards.

Crystal took the stage at the theater formerly known as Kodak and quipped "We're here at the beautiful Chapter 11 theater," with a nod to the camera company who recently filed for bankruptcy.

 The first two awards of the evening was for cinematography and art direction went, not to perceived front-runner "The Artist," but to "Hugo"s' Robert Richardson for "Hugo" and Dante Ferretti. 

That was followed later by wins in the sound editing category for Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty and sound mixing for Tom Fleischman and John Midgley

Oscar voters went with a nostalgic look at the early days of the movie business on Sunday night, showering "The Artist" with five Oscars including Best Picture.
After starting slow and losing several technical awards to rival "Hugo," the black and white silent film came roaring back at Sunday's 84th Academy Awards.
The film won a Best Director Oscar for Michel Hazanavicius and a Best Actor statue for Jean Dujardin.
The French actor held off challenges from George Clooney ("The Descendants") and Brad Pitt ("Moneyball") to win the honor for his performance as a silent film star struggling with the advent of sound.
Meryl Streep won Best Actress for her role in "The Iron Lady," portraying former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. It was her third win in 17 nominations and 1st since 1982.
Actor Christopher Plummer won "Best Supporting Actor" for his role in "Beginners," becoming the oldest person to win an Academy Award at age 82.  Actress Octavia Spencer won Best Supporting Actress for The Help.
Famed acrobatic group Cirque du Soleil gave the crowd a dazzling performance and Grammy award winning artist Esperanza Spalding serenaded the crowd during a tribute in memoriam who contributed to the film industry.
Overall, the 84th Academy Awards was without a doubt an evening of surprises and absolute class.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Drugs and College Athletics: A Dangerous Mix

Four football players were arrested on Wednesday along with 13 others at Texas Christian University for selling marijuana, cocaine, and other prescription drugs.

Junior defensive players Tanner Brock, Devin Johnson D.J Yendrey and sophomore offensive tackle Tyler Horn were immediately kicked off the team and most likely kicked out of school.

The ironic thing is that it came one day after the basketball team upset #11 UNLV in overtime. 

Texas Cocaine University, as I like to call it, was on the verge on maybe becoming a national power in college football since winning the 2011 Rose Bowl and just few months ago jilting the Big East at the altar to join the Big 12.

Now the largest drug bust in TCU history may in fact hurt them from an image and recruiting standpoint. The administration said during Wednesday's press conference that they were unaware of a six month drug probe. Huh? Come again? 

How can you say that the administration was unaware of a drug probe in YOUR institution? It's YOUR  job to know what is going on at the university especially in the athletic department. In fact, it is the athletic directors sole responsibility to make sure the football program is up to par.

Drugs on college campuses especially within athletic programs have become a glaring epidemic and there is not enough action from the athletic department nor the university to either deter it or end it altogether.

For instance, the men's hoops team at Lipscomb University just dismissed their leading scorer for what is reported to be a drug-related issue.

I find it ridiculous and absurd that college athletes would throw their FREE education for a small dose of illegal drugs. I didn't know you needed half a key of cocaine to make a tackle or a some X pills to make a free throw.

They have not only shamed the university and their families but they have also shamed themselves. The four football players especially Brock could have probably been a high draft pick in upcoming NFL drafts. Now it will never happen.

Athletes should remember that they represent the universities they play sports for both on and off the field.There are too many stories and news reports where a student-athlete is arrested or kicked off the team because of something that was in their control.

No one put a gun to your head and forced you to take drugs or smoke marijuana. It is understandable that the culture of drugs and alcohol is a part of college life but when you involve yourself in something that could alter your future significantly, then it is not worth it.

Perhaps this unfortunate incident can become a teachable moment to the rest of the TCU football team and the student body.

Say NO to drugs kids.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jeremy Lin: The Asian Tim Tebow?

The latest buzz around the NBA is that of New York Knicks rookie point guard Jeremy Lin. He has been, in some circles, a God-send to a team that looked for a floor general and were aiming for the basement of the league's Eastern Conference.

The Harvard alum's exuberant play and humility has helped the Knicks win five consecutive games including an impressive showing at Madison Square Garden on Friday versus the Kobe System. He scored a team season high 38 points and had seven assists in the 92-85 win.

He has scored as of Saturday 119 points in just four games which is the most points scored by any player since the NBA/ABA merger season of 1976-77. He is also the first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent in the NBA.

Lin's journey to the NBA has been a rocky one. He was cut twice by the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets and spent time in the D-League before being picked up by the Knicks. In fact, the Knicks strongly considered cutting the rookie before his debut versus the New Jersey Nets last Saturday.

His impact on the Knicks has made both financial and cultural strides in the NBA and around the world. His jersey is number one among NBA paraphernalia and has become a bit hit abroad.

Lin's success can be somewhat similar to that of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. They were both inserted into starter's roles when their teams were struggling and both turned their teams around. However, the NBA season isn't over yet.

His humble spirit is what I love about sports. It should not be about the individual success but the team working as a unit to achieve a goal. Sports is unscripted and unedited. Anything can happen at a moment's notice.

 But the one question I have is, how long will Lin-sanity last?

Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudamire are due back to the team within a week's time and many including myself will wonder if the chemistry Lin has produced will carry the Knicks into a deep playoff run or will it crash and burn in an early playoff exit or no postseason altogether?

The Knicks are currently 13-15 and are in 8th place in the Eastern Conference standings, leading Milwaukee by 1/2 game.

54th Grammys: Adele dominates, Whitney remembered

The 54th annual Grammy awards in Los Angeles Sunday was yet another star-studded affair with wall to wall celebrities geared up to see who will take awards in top categories such as Album of the Year, Best New Artist and Record of the Year.

The supposed biggest story was the return of Adele to the spotlight after having surgery on her vocal chords. She was nominated for six Grammys and graced the stage with her smash hit "Rolling in the Deep."

 Alas, the air was different that night due to the recent passing of the legendary, elegant Whitney Houston, who died Saturday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. She was 48.

Soon after the news outlets broke the story, hundreds of tweets and posts ruled the social media highways to give their condolences and greatest memories of Houston.

Rapper LL Cool J hosted the event to perfection and kicked off the night with a touching prayer in honor of Whitney Houston. However, the guy licked his lips more times and females do. Carmex needs to sign him to an endorsement deal but I digress.

Sidenote: The commercials during the Grammys were better than the ones during Super Bowl XLVI, especially the ones from Target but the Chipotle one was very long-winded.

The Beach Boys reunited for one night only to commemorate their 50th anniversary as a band but I was expecting for them to sing "Kokomos."

The best performances of the night were the duet of Rhianna and Coldplay, Sir Paul McCartney and of course Jennifer Hudson's tribute to Whitney Houston.

Oh, before I forget, tell me that Taylor Swift did not look like something from Oregon Trail.

The worst performance by far was that of Nicki Minaj. Many of my followers on Twitter  (@ubathediplomat by the way) were somewhat if not totally disturbed by the supposed exorcism scene and her brief verse to "O Come all ye Faithful." I watched with disdain as Nicki performed. I really thought she was possessed. I hope the Catholic Church doesn't take her serious.

Adele dominated the awards tally, winning all six categories she was nominated including "Song of the Year", "Record of the Year," and "Album of the Year." Oh yeah, she's only 23.

Foo Fighters also ruled the Grammys, winning five awards, Chris Brown won his first Grammy and Kanye West won four, including Best Rap Album. Other notables include Melanie Fiona winning two awards and Bon Iver winning Best New Artist.

The show overall was very entertaining, classy and had the highest ratings since 1984.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Depression: Life's emotional black hole

Earlier this week, Ashley Duncan, 17, committed suicide after reaching out to hundreds of Twitter followers but to no avail.  Then on Wednesday, Soul Train creator, host and producer Don Cornelius also committed suicide. He was 75.

Now we may not know what internal issues each of these people were dealing with at the time of their untimely deaths, but what I do know is that depression is very real. It is a disease and suicide is just a mere result.

I too suffered and was diagnosed with severe depression and suicide thoughts back in September 2009 during my senior year of college. I know what it is like to feel the lowest of low, to wonder if this is all life has to offer, if ending my own life will ease the emotional pain. I spent a week in a psych hospital and given Lexapro to deal with this sickness. I still cope with it to this day. The difference is I have allowed myself to trust God to give me the strength to deal with it.

My issues arose from coming to a school and an environment that was totally different from my four years at a very diverse high school. It was a culture shock to me. I honestly felt that I didn't belong amongst the student body and a part of me felt like throwing in the towel.

Some may say that people who commit suicide are selfish. I vehemently disagree because no one knows what it is like to live the lives of those who feel insecure or unpopular or persecuted because they act or look "different."

God created us differently for a reason. I don't think He intended for the human race to be the same.

Mental illness is an issue that is not talked about in great length, especially in the black community. I'm here to say that it is perfectly ok to talk about depression or anything that causes you to have negative thoughts because God loves us despite our shortcomings. God will heal us of all things that will rob us to praise Him daily.

If you or someone you know is experiencing depressive behavior or suicidal thoughts, I strongly urge you develop dialogue with God Almighty and I assure you He will act swiftly to heal you of your hurts and worries in Jesus' name.

Be blessed and encouraged my brothers and sisters in Christ.