Archive for September, 2006

Sally Day

So today we’re celebrating my wife’s birthday. Her actual birthday was earlier this week, but this was the best weekend for us to celebrate it. Since I’ve been rather lax about her birthday the last couple of years, I thought about what I could do to make this birthday special. I came up with a theme for the party. We’re declaring a Sally Day.

I love theme parties. Every Christmas we have a theme Christmas party (because EVERYONE dresses up for Halloween, but not too many folks get to come in costume in December). Granted, I sometimes get complaints about my parties forcing people to think, but, hey, that’s life when you’re friends with a creative person. My idea for Sally Day was for everyone, in lieu of gifts, to bring a memory of their time with my wife. Pictures. Poems. Stories. And then we would decorate the room in “the story of Sally.” This idea has even more relevance in light of us losing a friend last week. [The part about me saying that I wanted to be stuffed and put in the back yard is true. It’s either that or me being cremated and my ashes put into jewelry and sold to my friends, family, and fans.] We should celebrate the lives of those we love while they are still here to appreciate it.

Anyway, at the party, in addition to some pictures of her blown up (nothing except pics I’m positive she is proud of), I will be displaying one of the poems that I wrote for her as well as possibly reading one of the eulogies I wrote for her. (Yes, I write eulogies for my wife. Like my sister getting advance approval on what I was to say at her wedding, my wife wants veto power on stuff I might say once she’s not there to stop me.)

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.

Youth Groups

Reading this account of this teenager giving up on youth group got me to remembering when I wanted to give up on my youth group. I know that I’m in the minority in thinking this, but while all groups have cliques, there are good cliques and there are bad cliques. Good cliques are a close group of friends, people who naturally gel together. Closer friendships/relationships will just happen among folks; this is how community is formed. Bad cliques are an exclusionary group, folks who run around for all intents and purposes saying “you” can’t be our friend. My youth was a place of exclusive cliques. In fact, at one point we even had new youth leaders in who decided to actually structure the youth group like a student body (even changing the name to “student body”). which meant a youth group president, vice-president and two other “offices”. In other words, a popularity contest.

(One, by the way, which I wasn’t allowed to enter into. We’ll ignore the fact that I was the only black in the youth group. I was having my spinal surgery the week of the election and they thought that my “one week in the hospital” would keep me from assuming the “mantle of leadership.” Um, okay.)

Anyway, of course the more popular kids one and they did what popular, vacuous kids do: lead right into the toilet. Eventually, there was a regime change in the youth group. First, the leaders earned what they wrought – popular kids also mean well-connected, pastors kids – and learned just how hard it could be to maintain any sense of order. Second there was a regime change: a group of us got sick of the way the youth group was run. A few new leaders (people who would never have considered themselves leaders, but were the right people at the right time) and a few teen leaders (okay, yes, I was starting to realize that I was a “leader-type” despite my continuing protestations, but let me tell you, if it wasn’t for the return of a friend of mine who was a true leader in every way for me to serve beside, it wouldn’t have happened) and suddenly you have a refocused youth group.

Still, I have to ask, what is the point of a youth group? To organize ski trips and the occasional mission trip?

When people are choosing a place to call their church home, one of the things they look for is a place to put their kids. Someplace stable, structured, and safe … read: away from them. I’m wondering if we need to re-think how we do this. After all, there has to be some reason why so many people graduate high school and then leave the faith entirely.

Maybe there is a value to worshiping together, not always segregating out by interest, age, or stage of life. Those relationships will happen on their own. Maybe we need to better exploit the power of intergenerational community and learn how to teach teens how to think critically.

I don’t know.

I kept going to my youth group because my pastor liked me and saw some potential in me. So much so that he picked me up at my house each week so that I wouldn’t have any excuses to not go. Were those years formative? I certainly learned a lot. Then promptly left the faith during college.

But I did come back.

It Was an Honor to be Nominated


I should have won. You people let me down.

Granted, winning the Black Weblog Awards (this blog was nominated for Best Topical Blog) might have meant absolutely nothing. Let’s face it, most awards don’t mean much. They are something you get to slap on your site or your book (I would have been an award winning blogger!), but rarely does that translate into actual sales. Or readership. Or hits.

(Dear statcounter, I really ought to back away from you and quit being so obsessive about seeing who reads me and from where. I really should. But you are like my magic mirror on the wall: “who’s the fairest blogger of them all?”)

My latest column is out over on INtake, “Memories of a Black Irish Man” (well, that was the original title – not a lot of room for pretentious titles in a column).

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.

It’s Over

About this time last year, I wrote a series of blogs tangentially dealing with a dark cloud of events that hit us pretty hard. Astute observers probably pieced together why I meditated on how we can’t protect the ones we love, or why Wrath James White guest blogged on the topic he did, or why I wrestled with praying for our enemies and with my rock/fortress.

Well, yes, my sister was raped a year ago. She recently went public with it. We were worried that she was going to spend August going from the happiest time in her life (her wedding) to re-living the worst (the trial was set to begin two weeks later). On the day of, the perpetrator realized the mountain of forensic evidence against him and took a plea agreement. The plea was for 60 years. I was asked to write a letter to the judge. Here’s what I wrote:

Your Honor,

I will keep this brief. I am Rohini’s older brother and I am a co-leader at the church she attends. It’s been my job to set an example and look out for her. We are taught to be a community of forgiveness. We, both within our family as well as a community as believers, have taught Ro to be a person who forgives.

But I’m not there yet.

I wasn’t there to keep the bad things from happening to my sister, to protect her like a big brother should. I want to forgive this man before you for the hurt he has done to my baby sister. Many of her scars have healed. Some will stay with her forever:

-affecting her marriage, to know and trust her husband
-affecting her relationship with her kids, knowing that she won’t always be able to protect them
-not being able to truly feel safe

That’s what he took from my sister.

So one day, I hope he comes to see himself for who he is. That he has come to the limit of going through life under his own strength, feeding his own selfish needs. That he asks for God’s forgiveness and allow Him to draw him near and change his life.

But I’m not there yet.

I ask Your Honor to do what you can to help make my sister feel safe again. Because I can’t.

Maurice Broaddus

She posted what she said here. The perpetrator also spoke. The judge ended up sentencing him to 100 years. One reason why my sister is going public with all of this is because she’s going to become a survivor’s counselor. Yet another reason why my sister is my hero.

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.

A New Kind of Black Christian?

The reason I’m fishin’ 4 a new religion
is my church makes me fall asleep
They’re praising a God that watches you weep
and doesn’t want you to do a damn thing about it
When they want change the preacher says “shout it”
Does shouting bring about change ? I doubt it
All shouting does is make you lose your voice
–Arrested Development “Fishing for Religion”

Calling all black postmoderns. I know you’re out there. I know that we are out here asking certain questions, but we aren’t organized into a collective voice to effectively add to the conversation. It can’t just be the few individual voices, the few bloggers that I’ve run across: Anthony Smith (postmodern negro), Karen Ward (submergence), Rod Garvin, Marc Davidson, Jazz Theologian, and Andre Daley (Emergent Mosaic).

The question in question: how would postmodernity play out in the black church? Maybe it’s a question too early (or, worse, too late) to be asking. There is a looming crisis for the historic black church and it might be the case that no one is ready to talk about it until either there is a noticeable drop off in youth attendance or leaders rise up and are prepared to talk about it.

The church presented in the movie The Gospel, New Revelations, is indicative of far too many churches, black or otherwise. Aspects of our modern culture have insinuated themelves into the fabric of the church, deterring or outright corrupting its ministry. Values such as corporate policy and philosophy have been bought into by the church. Some people see the main job of the pastor as that of businessman, and the church as a business. The pastor becomes the CEO and the elders the board of directors. Offerings or tithes become income, or worse, profit; and this reduces the Gospel to little more than a product they’re trying to push.

There are a few things creeping into the Gospel message, subtle things that affect what it is we are supposed to be offering people. If the Gospel is a message of formation, what are these things forming us into:

– Consumerism – we live in a market culture, not the first century economic system of the first century. That being said, economic forces shapes much of black Christian life, beyond a simple lack of economics. We are being trained, raised up to be consumers. From the cars we drive, to where we live, to the clothes we wear, we have bought into a lust of life.

– Prosperity Gospel – some churches do a tither’s confession, having people confess not tithing what they should to the church. This “God will bless you if you give Him what is His first” smacks of a type of spiritual investment scheme reminiscent of the ancient Catholic scam of indulgence.

– Authoritarian – our pastors have risen to the level of personal popes. Our spiritual communities have always has been pastor-centered, with our leaders being a combination of tribal king, griot (story teller), and (spiritual) healer. However, this has often created a mentality of those same leaders brooking no threats to their (personal) power. The same mentality that has us putting up thrones behind pulpits awaiting the word of pastor.

The need to worship predates the church. It’s a response to the longings of our souls. It is an intuitive urge, a need. written onto our hearts. Yet our faith seems to be shriveling on the vine, packaged and marketed to the point of uselessness. Too much “pie in the sky when you die” not enough “the kingdom is now”/we need to participate in the revolution of reconciliation.

Faith becomes tied to social praxis. How we have understood our history and culture. How that is related to our faith in Christ. Faith becomes a matter of asking a different set of questions from a different social and historical context. Most importantly, faith revolves around moving from the sacred performance toward action. To take the generous orthodoxy of transforming faith (that wellspring that allows Christianity to find its way into any culture, bringing differences in faith) and let it guide generous orthopraxis.

We need a return of the Amen corners, those seats on either side of the pulpit filled with the older and prominent members of the congregation who responded enthusiastically to the service. Learning in multi-generational communities. To listen to a narrative approach to scripture, to learn the story that we choose to shape our lives by. And we need to challenge the metanarrative of the culture, challenging privilege and self-hate, with an emphasis on social justice.

We’ve lost our memory and are out of touch with our ancient practices. What we see are historic black churches indebted to western values and notions. So I guess I’ll just keep singing along with Speech:

The government is happy with most baptist churches
coz they don’t do a damn thing to try to nurture
brothers and sisters on a revolution
Baptist teaches dying is the only solution
Passiveness causes others to pass us by
I throw my line till I’ve made my decision
until then, I’m still fishin’ 4 religion

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.

Rush to Judgments

The Indiana medical community has been reeling this past week over the fallout from a tragic accident stemming from perfectly preventable circumstances. Two premature infant girls died and four other babies were put at risk after all received accidental overdoses of an anti-clotting drug in Methodist Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, officials said Sunday.

Unfortunately, these two deaths were stark reminders of what we already knew: About 98,000 Americans die each year, according to researchers, in part because of miscommunication of drug orders and the lack of accurate labeling as a drug is prepared.

One would think that the cries of “we must DO SOMETHING!1!” would have gone on loud and clear when the report was issued. However, that was six years ago. Six years of Cassandra-like pronouncements, going unheeded until something horrific happens to capture our attention.

My mother is a nurse. The best man from my wedding is a nurse. The man who was like a father to me is a nurse. My sister is studying to become a nurse. So, of course I am going to take up for nurses, the most unappreciated cog in the medical industry machinery. I talked to a nurse and it took them all of three minutes to come up with a list of reforms, ones that look remarkably like those being implemented now. Six years later. And once our attention has been garnered, there are only limited recourse.

The aunt of a baby who died after getting the wrong dose of a drug at Methodist Hospital said her family wants more than an apology. “I feel like all (these) nurses need to be fired,” said Brittany Alexander. “I don’t understand how an accident like this could happen and happened to more than one baby.”

Of course she does. Of course there is talk of legal action. If anything even remotely close to this had happened to either of my children, that’s the least I would want. And while no amount of money could bring my child back, I’d want the hospital to write a big enough check to force them to re-evaluate their policies. Deaths are tragic and are a part of being a hospital, however, there’s nothing like the threat of a lawsuit to take immediate steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The sad reality is that it is our nature to not do something until we’re forced to do it. Sometimes it’s just because we’re lazy. Sometimes it’s a function of greed. More times than not, it is merely the inertia of doing things the way they’ve always been done. What I don’t want to see is bad policies put into action in the heat of the moment for the sake of appearing to “DO SOMETHING!1!” Yes, two deaths is two too many.

When all is said and done, this won’t change our minds one iota about whether or not to go to a hospital, even this one. We can only hope they will have learned their lesson and taken steps to prevent similar tragedies. Sometimes that requires more faith than I have.

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.

The Unit

“We answer only to the President of the United States. Our missions and our existence are closely guarded secrets. Not even our wives know the truth about our missions.”

It’s good to see that Dennis Haysbert has recovered from his role as the President of the United States on 24 (as well as of being a shill man for insurance). The Unit is a part of CBS’ Action Tuesdays, Haybert’s Jonas Blane leads an elite group of soldiers in missions varying from stopping terrorists on a plane to rescuing Christian missionaries to defusing potentially nuclear bombs. In The Unit there are guns, swagger, action, and not-all-together surprisingly, depth.

From executive producers Pulitzer prize winning dramatist David Mamet (The Spanish Prisoner, Glengarry Glen Ross) and Shawn Ryan (The Shield) – the show captures our attention by its pedigree alone. Two of my favorite creators team up to create a series? I’m there – which translates to “expectations are high.” Both creators are at their best when they are examining the human condition.

Rather than simply follow around the lives of the men, the show has added an extra dimension by exploring the world of military wives. They aren’t wilting flowers either, having to hold together marriages/families largely in the absence of their men. Sometimes spouting Mamet-ian dialogue throws off the rhythm of the actors, but when that’s the worst criticism I have, well, alright then.

“You used to go, didn’t you?” –Molly Blane (Regina Taylor)

In a lot of ways, the show is a comment on our culture’s worship of self-reliance. These days we are producing “an Army of one,” and the members of The Unit are trained to trust in themselves and each other. There is no room for doubt. They receive orders, they follow orders. The reality is that there are a lot of problems in the world. We have but to turn on the evening news to hear the latest litany of troubles. We can keep questioning the “why?”s of existence, or we can be about being the problem solvers, the solution.

Which is why we have the “ekklesia,” literally, “the called out ones.” A special unit called out for a purpose. This unit has their first loyalty to a higher idea, before friends, before family, and are called upon to sacrifice even their lives for the sake of their mission. What is their mission? Shamar and abad: to take care of and to serve. In other words, their purpose is to protect and serve the greater good

“Was that God’s will? I have no idea. But I’ve been a part of this man’s army many years and what I know is it is our will that keeps the home fires burning, our will that lets our men leave and walk into harms way, our will that allows us to survive if something happens to them and for me that’s a kind of faith? What is it that you’re looking for? It doesn’t have to be my church or any church at all but it’s gotta be something.” –Molly

The church is the unit and it’s not always easy. Like one of Jonas’ soldiers, Bob Brown (Scott Foley) who implores his wife Kim (Audrey Marie Anderson) to “have faith,” Kim responds that “I have faith. I still have fear.” The church isn’t perfect. It can’t be because it is made up of imperfect people. However, it is a place to find connection, to find community, to be there and support one another. To find ways to pray and struggle through life together, so that hopefully, like Kim, we can conclude that “if that’s prayer, it’s got to be a kind of faith?”

The Unit has upped the testosterone ante in my television line up, but it’s not all empty bravado and strutting around. It’s not a meditative work, which isn’t what we want from “Action Tuesday,”but between the flourishes, we have heart and intelligence, exploring these characters and what it means to live and sacrifice for duty.

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.

All the King’s Men

“The King’s Men’s Road”

Well, it’s officially Fall. The new television season has started. Football is being played. In the movies, we’ve put away the random explosions, the buddy comedies, and the glut of spandex laden heroes. It’s grown folks movie season, the time for actors and studios to begin their Academy Award stumping (or dumping with movies they couldn’t place any other time of the year). All the King’s Men is a bit of both.

All the King’s Men, a remake of the 1949 Oscar winner, tells the story of the rise of a charismatic everyman politician and his eventual fall due to the lure of corruption. Sean Penn plays Willie Stark, a self-described “hick” (modeled after Louisiana’s governor, Huey Long), a seemingly honest man cast about in a sea of backroom, backwater politics and the Good Ol’ Boy network, swimming against the tide of corruption. Used by controlling interests to split the “cracker” vote until he becomes his own man; unfortunately, being his own man also means being fully capable of falling into his own self-made pit of corruption.

Jude Law portrays jaded reporter, Jack Burden, whose guiding philosophy of “what you don’t know won’t hurt you” keeps him as more observer of life than participant. He goes so far as to admit that “I don’t care. If I did, I’d do something about it.” Between the two characters, we have a fascinating character study, a time of when politicians were allowed to be characters not overly packaged commodities. As such, Sean Penn and Jude Law give noteworthy turns (though I still have no idea what accent James Gandolfini’s Tiny Duffy was affecting).

The temptation of power becomes that Stark effectively gets in bed with the devil in order to do the right thing. Believing that we’re all sinful creatures, but that good can come from bad, Stark doesn’t quite realize his fundamental problem: that he can no longer tell good from wrong, worthy ends from evil means.

Duffy: “God works in mysterious ways.”
Stark: “Sometimes He has other’s do His work.”

Ultimately, this movie is about the pursuit of truth, and conversely, how the truth pursues you. Even after professing that “I”m gonna keep my faith in the people. You know why? Time brings all things to light,” Willie Stark doesn’t quite understand the nature of faith and truth. His first problem with the truth revolved around how best to convey it. He sounded every bit like the same old politician the people had heard before. Only after he finds his voice does he decide to incarnate the truth, be what it is the people need and tell them what they need to know. S sometimes the full truth is too complicated, especially for sheep-like “hicks.” He became one of them, a “superficial sap.”

Despite his vowing not to be used by the powers – the Empire, the imperial order – reality says that the reach of rampant consumerism, fueled by global capitalism and an individualistic sensibility, and ruled by strict economic and militaristic control, or in this case, centralized power in the hands of a few huge corporations is rarely denied. Stark’s “The power is in the hands of the powerless,” meek shall inherit the governor’s office rhetoric reminds us of a what if someone took Christ’s message of being about the poor and ran on his message as a political platform. Like Christ, Stark’s promises to the poor was all but a declaration of war to the rich/the Empire.

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned–“ Romans 5:12

Anne Stanton (Kate Winslet as the star crossed love interest of Jack Burden) tells Jack something that her brother, Adam (Mark Ruffalo) said: “Everything else could be filthy and corrupt, but a man didn’t have to be.” We see in Willie Stark how corruption starts small. Sometimes we feel the pressure to tow the company line, the Ol’ Boy, status quo; serve the Powers That Be. Sometimes we rationalize our behavior as pursuing good, if by poor means. Sometimes we’re “shaded by … the sins of your own entitlement.” And sadly, sometimes we see/know the truth but we “push it outside of our head.”

Stark says it best when he says that “Sometimes a man can be so full of want he forgets what it is he truly wants.” Because eventually, Stark finds himself slowly adopting the methods of the empire, feeling the corrupting power of political machinations – be it bribery, threats, coercion, or using people’s or their weakness against them. His sentiment is echoed in the book of James (1:13-15): “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

“The Truth is always sufficient. Just find the Truth.” –Stark

The truth is scary. It always has a way of finding its way to the surface, no matter how well hidden or buried. Stark tells us that “The only way to not know is to not want to know.” The truth goes to the original sin nature that Stark so often rails against throughout the movie. We start with us being broken. When all is said and done, our very nature is broken. As their sins keep finding them out, it kept leading to death; the schemes of the empire turning to ashes in their mouths.

“You only get a couple of moments that determine your life. Sometimes only one.” –Jack Burden

The last step in their journey follows what Jack tells Adam about himself, that he “can’t look at someone broke without wanting to fix them.” Ultimately, the sins must be paid for, by the blood of a (second) Adam, the sacrificial lamb (which gives special resonance to Stark’s early campaign slogan of “nail ‘em up”).

It’s been a long summer. I had almost forgotten what good, complex storytelling, with rich, complicated characters was like. The “problem,” such as it is, is that the movie is very self-conscious of how its message may resonate with us today. (Beware of films bearing narrator voice overs.) In trying to make a statement about – and playing to – our cynicism with our elected officials, the struggle of our idealism against “the way things work,” All the King’s Men drags a bit under its own weight. As political cautionary tales go, it hits all the marks. As a film, it doesn’t transcend them.

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.


“All the world is a stage. We have our roles to play. All the men and women merely players. They all have their specific entrances and exits.” –Percival Jenkins (Andre Benjamin)

Andre Benjamin/Andre 3000 and Antwan Patton/Big Boi, the duo known as Outkast to hip hop fans (and creators of the seminal The Love Below/Speakerboxxx CD) star in the movie, Idlewild. I probably went into Idlewild with expectations that the movie couldn’t live up to. The commercials and previews seemed to promise a throwback musical filled with energetic dance sequences, sort of like a hip hop Moulin Rouge. Heck, even a movie that played like an extended Outkast video would have made me happy.

Part of my expectations began with the title itself. Idlewild was a historic landmark city … in Michigan. It was a haven of black entertainment during the era of segregation, where legendary black performers played before black audiences. It wasn’t the stepping stone to a greater market, it was a destination unto itself. The location was probably switched to Georgia because of Outkast’s ties to the state.

“God don’t make no mistakes.” —Percival

Like The Love Below/Speakerboxxx, Andre and Antwan spend most of the movie doing their own thing and pursuing their own stories and rarely come together on screen. The two come from different sides of the tracks, yet are united by music.

Percival Jenkins follows in his father’s footsteps, putting aside his dreams to be a musician in favor of a career as a mortician. Rather than study dead bodies all day, he can’t help but lived inside himself, having a sort of “Secret Life of Negro Mitty”-type of imagination. Andre seems more interested in singing than rapping these days anyway, every bit as eccentric as the character he portrays. Rooster (Antwan Patton) grew up among high rollers with fast money and faster women, admiring gangsters since they represent freedom outside the law, the so-called high life. The fact that their life typically happens to end in violence or imprisonment more times than not doesn’t seem to factor into things.

“You need the Spirit in your life.” –Zora (Malinda Williams)

Like us, both men were looking for their role to play – following the life you were born into vs. following the life you were meant to lead: funeral home director or musician; gangster linked musician or family man. Both need something outside and larger than themselves to touch and reach their souls.

The unforgiven or the unwilling, live a life of sinning
And expect to be as pure as an infant in the beginning but …
What about repenting/what about detention?
What about you eating dinner in the devil’s kitchen?
What about repenting/what about committing the same sin over again and again?

Sometimes life can keep you down
With your face all in the dirt
now if you feel that left behind
You need to get up and go to church
–“Church” (Big Boi)

Rooster inherits the Prohibition era night club, the Syncopated Church, and has to overcome his own worst nature, from drunken dalliances with showgirls to his love of money that entangles him with gangsta “businessmen”. Church, however, also allows Percival the opportunity to hone his craft and pursue his true calling – as well as provide the excuse for musical numbers meant to dazzle us with their style. The performances and vision of the director, again, promise much, and when allowed to shine, deliver. The movie, however, gets bogged down with the gravitas of the often cumbersome “plot”. Between pursuing their dreams/life callings, dodging the machinations of the sleazy underworld, and squeezing in room for romance, the movie barely has room for the music.

My friend Rod Garvin breaks it down this way: Christ spent a lot of time in the company of the blues artists of His day and some added a few gospel tracks to their album as result. The question is can we party in “Idlewild” without losing our souls? There are some places that are just too idle and too wild and we may have to avoid them all together. Oftentimes the problem is the weakness of our own flesh (I can bear witness to that). Whether we’re singing the blues, gospel or both, we all need a greater serving of salvation. Idlewild shows us that the path of redemption begins wherever we are, but in order to fully experience it, at some point we have to leave Egypt behind.

“You’re the angel that God told me to wait for.” –Mother Hopkins (Cicely Tyson)

A mix of past and present, Idlewild and Outkast, Idlewild is directed with a certain whimsy, stopping shy of attaining a sense of magic (more quirky than magic). The dreamy quality of the movie blends nicely with joy and energy that the music and dance injects – with not enough of either.

Idlewild is not the movie we were promised, though a star-studded affair to be sure: Ving Rhames, Macy Gray, Tisha Campbell, Patti LaBelle, Cicely Tyson, Bill Nunn, Terrance Howard. Though, for childhood friends, Andre and Antwan sure don’t share much screen time, which disappoints. The movie was an enjoyable period piece, in fact, just not quite something like The Cotton Club and more like an Outkast video that runs a little too long. It’s a slice of African American pop culture … maybe I just hate overcoming expectations when I’m trying to enjoy a movie.

If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.


I must be suffering from it. Or somehow not busy enough.

Intake has offered me my own regular column. You can read this week’s intro column here. So if you notice a dropoff in my blog output, well, let’s face it, you’ll probably rejoice. For the record, at this moment, I am working on two new short stories – having just wrapped up two others. And I am in the process of polishing four more. I’ve declared September and October short story months with November – April given to me writing a new novel.

Plus, I just received a stack of DVDs of many of this Fall’s tv season. And free movie passes.

For those who ask “how can you find the time to write so many blogs?” (and ‘why are they so long?’ – yes, I’ve heard your whispers.) I say the same way I find the time to write my stories. I’m always writing. I have a note book with me at all times. My conversations are punctuated with the phrase “that would make a good blog.” I’m not really listening to you, I’m editing a story in my head and just nodding along to the rhythm of your words.

And believe me, I write way many more blogs than I actually post. I could stop today and would still have enough to keep blogging for a couple of months. Daily. I have a lot to say. Or I think I do anyway. Now that I think about it, I probably only like the sound of my own voice. Uh, keyboard. Whatever.

Mark your calendars now, folks. Cause next year my youngest starts kindergarten and then I can focus even more attention to my writing career. In the meantime, in order to slake my boredom, I’m off to audition for a role in an independent movie.


If you want to make sure that I see your comment or just want to stop by and say hi, feel free to do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.