December 2003  

Volume 19        

December 3, 2003

Nunchucks For Kids?

This week I read a CNN article about the top 10 hazardous toys for kids. The one on the list that got my attention was the "Michelangelo Nunchucks." Now, why would you give a kid a pair of nunchucks. That's just begging for trouble (and a hospital visit when the kid decides to test them out on you).

Fan Sites With Illegal Music Files

Fans mean well, but sometimes in their eagerness to help they inadvertently cause damage. Recently, I visited a fan site for a UK singer and on the web site was a copy of her forthcoming single that you can download and burn to CD. At the bottom of the page the counter stated the site had received close to 150,000 hits. 10,000 hits is good for a fan site, but 150,000 is a lot for one.

If even 65% of those people downloaded the song, which they probably did (which is why the page has so many hits for a fan site) that's basically half a silver plaque/single certification in the UK (a silver single equals 200,000 copies sold). Considering how important that single is to that artist's career, especially after the media attention, it's not good that the single is being distributed online before its release date. 

It's the second time it has happened to that singer. About two years ago I visited another fan site that uploaded her entire album a few days before it was released, but in low audio. They felt because it was low audio it would enable people to preview the album, while encouraging them to buy it at the same time. However, the quality of it wasn't that poor. It was almost broadcast quality. That web site had well over a hundred thousand hits as well judging by the counter that was on the page. I've noticed this happening to other artists as well. 

The people who run fan sites mean well, as they generally aren't profiting off the sites, but make them because they want to support their favorite artists. They think that uploading the singles and or album is a way to help with sales (to allow you to preview it) but it really isn't. People will download it from the site, say they will buy it later and don't. Since they have the songs already, they then feel they don't need to purchase it anymore. There's always something that they need to pay for that will take precedence over buying the CD. It's better that people not upload their favorite artists music to their fan sites, as it hurts their sales. 


December 6, 2003

Britney Spears

Britney Spears recently released her new album "In The Zone." The content is raunchier than ever. I wish she would take a look at who is in her audience because it's mostly comprised of preteen and teenage girls. All the PR in the world isn't changing that.

The press quotes about her music support that, as most of them are coming from young girls. The audiences at her shows that have been broadcasted on television are full of preteen and teenage girls. The pics of her album signings…teenagers and kids lined up to get her autograph. They are paying attention to how she's dressed up, while sadly being fed a stream of raunchy, inappropriate music.

Her fan base is not going to be comprised of adults, as most adults view her music as teen pop and critics say her "vocal ability is limited." Adults look for more substance to their music. Raunchiness does not equal substance.

I've read articles where stunned parents were telling kids to close their eyes or not to tell anyone at school what they witnessed at one of her recent shows, as they were caught off guard by the content.

God holds you responsible for the people you influence whether you want to be held accountable for that or not. He, unlike you, can see in full detail the effect your example has on them.

The teen audience is a very lucrative market. The Spice Girls, New Kids On The Block, Backstreet Boys and NSYNC were able to sell over 15 million copies of individual albums because they were bought by undiscerning teenagers and kids. They were buying an image, not music. That's not to insult those singers, as all of them have group members with good voices and several of the songs were properly written in terms of secular music. However, teen audiences are known for buying music regardless of the content, even if they don't really like the songs, just because it's the latest fad in music and they like the artists' image. 

Those acts generally monitored their content, not putting out anything salacious while in those groups. However, Spears has not and in a vain attempt to gain an older audience.

In a BBC interview last month, Spears said parents shouldn't worry about their kids following her example because she is a "good role model"...where? "In the Zone" or "The Twilight Zone."

She has admitted taking drugs, smoking, engaging promiscuous sex and drinking excessively (she's been photographed falling out of clubs drunk). How is that being a good role model. I know people make bad choices, but to continue to do those things publicly and call yourself a role model isn't right.

She is emphasizing that she is an adult now, but being an adult doesn't mean being raunchy, promiscuous, smoking, drinking and taking drugs. Being an adult means responsibility, to know and understand that your actions effect people and that there are consequences when you abuse your health and emotional well-being with drugs, cigarettes, alcohol and promiscuous sex. Adults don't engage in that behavior as a sign of maturity - people do that as a sign of an addiction and that's serious.

To equate raunchiness with maturity to sell a record is absurd. All of it is totally unnecessary. The most successful artist this year did not use sex to sell records. She simply sat at a piano and sang. The second most successful female artist this year didn't use sex to sell records either. Both artists sold over 10 million units of their debut CDs. Therefore no artist has to go that route to succeed as some claim. It's a choice they make, as artists like Norah Jones, Avril Lavigne and Alicia Keys went on stage and did not use those gimmicks, yet outsold projects by those artists 3 to 1.

In a recently interview she said she's being singled out and picked on and that other female artists dress provocatively. She's right, as she is being singled out by many and those artists she mentioned have worn less clothes than she has, but only she and an R&B singer who is using her butt to sell records are the ones who used the innocent image (which appeals to kids) when their behavior has totally contradicted that and has been well documented by the press. Also, it is not about anyone's ego or feelings being hurt. It's about the fact that kids are watching and imitating that example, which should be the more important issue.

The other thing that is disturbing is a person can't say they are looking out for someone; yet encourage them in destructive behavior (drugs, smoking, alcohol, promiscuous sex). If you care about someone wouldn't you try to intervene if they mentioned all those things they are going through? Apparently, "In The Zone" you cheer them on, publicly make statements expressing your approval of their inappropriate conduct and add an even more troubled singer to the equation who readily dispenses bad advice egging her on under the guise of liberation, while simultaneously latching on to the troubled singer for publicity.

I read another article on the BBC where Madonna said her daughter did not stay for the rest of her MTV Awards performance, that her child ushered in dressed as a bridesmaid, where her mom kissed two young female singers. She said her child was whisked away. Too bad the millions of children around the world who witnessed the spectacle during respectable viewing hours didn't have the benefit of being whisked away from that perverse publicity stunt, as newspapers reported kids being "grossed out" during her performance.

Regardless, knowing how kids are, one of them at school will not neglect to mention, "Hey, guess what your mummy did on TV last night?" As I've written on here before regarding artists trying to hide their inappropriate music from their children, while carelessly exposing other peoples children to it, poetic justice, but sadly at the expense of children.

Kids are very candid. It's like that commercial for a candy bar with the catch phrase, "Chewy stops the chatter." In the commercial, a little boy is at a wedding with his family, overhears something his mom said privately, then goes up to the bride and says, "My mom said she's surprised you wore white."


December 12, 2003

False Rape Allegations

In an article published recently, a woman is being charged with filing false rape charges against one of the Detroit Lions. If convicted she could spend four years in prison. The Detroit Free Press wrote:  

The accusing woman, Nicole Milburn, who is a dancer at a Detroit gentleman's club, went to Anderson's apartment with two friends on Sept. 17 for a night of drinking, Duggan said. At some point, Anderson had consensual sex with Milburn's friend, but never with Milburn, Duggan said.

At 11 p.m. that night, Anderson confronted the women about $700 in cash missing from his bedroom. At that point, one of the other women told Anderson that Milburn picked up his discarded condoms from his bedroom and allegedly put the contents inside of her, Duggan said.

The reason, according to Duggan: ``Apparently, either to hopefully cause herself to be pregnant and have a child support claim, or potentially, as it turned out, possibly to support a rape claim.'' Anderson and his 18-year-old cousin found three used condoms in Milburn's back pocket, Duggan said. They also found some of the stolen money stuffed into her hair, he said.

``They demanded the money back, at which point Ms. Milburn ran out into the hallway of the building, screaming rape,'' Duggan said. Neighbors called 911 and Dearborn police responded. Police also found some of the stolen money hidden in Milburn's car, Duggan said.

The false rape allegation is disturbing, but someone obtaining a used condom is even more disturbing. Apparently, it's not the first time a woman has tried to or did impregnate herself under questionable circumstances using the contents of a used condom and unbeknownst to the father. There are stories of celebrities who became fathers to children whose mothers they'd never met. In one case, an athlete slept with one woman and her roommate took the used condom out of the trash and impregnated herself with it. 

Women should not do things like that. That's not invitrofertilization. That's tricking someone into becoming a parent and the person most likely will resent you for it. Don't let your desire to be rich and leach of someone else's fame cloud your judgment to the point that you contemplate such behavior. God will forgive you, but you need to think of the long term consequences to those unwise choices. And there are always consequences to such behavior. 

Women need to think about their children and how they will feel once they find out they were brought into the world under those circumstances. A child would not feel good knowing that. Who would want to learn something like that about their birth, but, they shouldn't feel bad because of their parent's actions, as God loves them regardless.

I read another article that said over 50% of rape charges filed are false. Things like that make every woman look like a liar, when there really are women who have been raped and need support. The people who need to be believed and need to be helped won't be taken seriously, especially when these cases are high profile, as it puts the idea into the public's consciousness that all these cases are false when it is discovered that previous allegations were untrue. 

There's also another aspect that people need to rethink. Often when it's a high profile case, there are rape organizations and famous people who are quick to publicly support and defend the woman not truly knowing if she is telling the truth. These people are trying to help, as you want to believe someone when they tell you they have been raped, but with so many women crying wolf, it hurts everyone's credibility. 

Celebrities also need to rethink who they associate with and who they let into their lives. Some male celebrities are overly suspicious and go to the extreme in thinking every woman is a groupie and wants to use them, especially if she is pretty, while others aren't selective enough. 

Think about it logically. If you meet someone under certain circumstances like at a strip club, club or backstage and they are that willing to sleep with you though they've just met you or barely know you, it says they've most likely done this before - how many times before and with whom you don't know, so why put yourself at risk with a mistake that can affect the rest of your life. You've worked hard to get to where you are in life, why risk it all on sex with someone you don't really know, who could have the worst intentions in the world towards you. 

If a woman cares anything about herself she wouldn't sleep with a celebrity she's just met either. You don't know anything about them other than what you've read and seen on TV. The mere fact that the person is famous should make you more concerned, as there are many women who throw themselves at them because they are famous and almost on a daily basis. You don't know how many of those women they've slept with or if they've contracted something from one of them. 

There are many disgruntled women who have contracted STD's from celebrities they've slept with. You hear stories about that all the time. There are STD's condoms can't protect you from and studies report that they also have a 36% failure rate with the STD's they are supposed to protect you from.    

People have heard the speeches about AIDS and other STD's, seen it affect other people's lives, yet they are still sexually indiscriminate and promiscuous like they are impervious to disease. Fame doesn't mean immunity. 

Has the AIDS virus really curbed celebrities' behavior and in turn the public who are subject to the trends they set from their music, films, clothes to their risky sexual behavior they brag about via their work and interviews. 

December 19, 2003

Saddam Captured

Congrats to the Troops, the President and the Government on the capture of Saddam Hussein. The one thing that didn't happen that I wanted to was for George Bush Sr. to say Saddam's name again. I watched an interview featuring him this week where they asked him how he felt about the capture and he said he was proud of his son, but he didn't say Saddam's first name, only his last. 

Remember in the 80's how people used to joke, but in a nice way about how he pronounced his name "Saaadumb." I know it must have annoyed Hussein. He was probably in Iraq watching George Bush Sr.'s speeches about him and screaming at his TV "It's Saddam! Not Saaadumb! Why won't he say my name right?! Is he calling me dumb?" 

Maybe he was teasing him by emphasizing the word "dumb" at the end of his name. Hey, it's not that far fetched, as this week I read a Sports Illustrated columnist's article about him taking a pic with several tennis players where he "playfully made rabbit ears behind the players' heads."

Well, maybe George Bush Sr. was trying to avoid sounding like he was saying the d-word, which is at the end of Saddam's name. I'm laughing again just remembering it. Mr. Bush, say it one more time..."Saaadumb" either that or teach George Jr. to say it that way. I'm just kidding. 

Strom Thurmond's Daughter

During that same program with Dan Rather, I watched another interview featuring the late Senator Strom Thurmund's 78-year-old African American daughter. She is his daughter that he denied his entire life because he fathered her when he was 22 years old with the family's black teenage maid. While she said they did have a good relationship in private and he did support her financially, he never publicly acknowledged her.

While I'm happy for his daughter that she is able to have closure now and finally be acknowledged as his child, each time during the interview that I remembered Strom's racists statements and views that he propagated, I couldn't help but laugh (and I'm talking some serious laughing) because here was his beautiful black daughter on television.

The amount of pain this woman must have suffered due to her dad denying her the way he did. His own child wasn't good enough for him to acknowledge because she didn't come from the right background. She has more character than he did, as she could have sold her story long ago and humiliated him while he was alive. No one would have blamed her if she'd spoken disparagingly about him. However, she didn't show any bitterness or resentment towards him nor did she insult him even though his racist views and speech were such an awful betrayal to her.

It must have been very difficult for her being denied by him in such a manner. She's watched him attain success as a senator and there she was, his child, excluded from it. People asking her about her dad and not being able to say who he is.

She began crying at the press conference when she made the announcement that he is her father. She has suffered all these years even though she is his rightful daughter and heir, which had to have been compounded by the hateful things he was saying about black people. That's like a two edged sword and she was innocent in all of this.

The questions she must have asked God, because what happened was so sad and it wasn't her fault. It was due to her dad's choices. However, God would have forgiven him if he asked. I also have to admit, knowing he has a black daughter made me have more compassion for him. I never hated him though, as God says we are to love people. I look at it this way, if a person wants to be a racist that's their sin that they will either have to forsake and ask God for forgiveness (and He will forgive) or answer to Him  for that sin if they refuse to change.

Whatever choices you make in life you'd do well to make sure you use integrity when deciding. You may end up causing another human being a lot of pain. The smallest immoral choice can turn into a big life altering choice that can wreak havoc in your life and someone else's.

God does have a unique way of vindicating people. During the interview they showed their pics side by side to illustrate how striking the resemblance is between them. It's quite ironic that she looks just like him. He may have denied her, but God did not.


December 27, 2003

UK Christmas Lights

Remember on November 15th, 2003 how I joked about the Regent Street lighting display not, well, displaying when singer Daniel Bedingfield flipped the switch. Well, I read an excerpt from the London Times this week that said "IF YOUR favourite Christmas moment so far was Daniel Bedingfield failing to turn on Regent Street’s lights, you are a confirmed Scrooge." Um, but that was one of my favorite Christmas moments (I'm not a scrooge!). I wasn't laughing at him, though, just the irony and hilarity of the situation, as it belongs on a bloopers reel.  


I read an article about tennis player Andy Roddick moving to Texas and not being able to find any hitting partners (Why? you moved to Texas, not Afghanistan - kidding). One of my friends in Texas who plays tennis and runs a tennis web site said she'd hit with him, but she's too scared of his serve. He could hit with his girlfriend singer/actress Mandy Moore, but considering how he serves, girl, you better wear a helmet. Accidentally connecting with a 149 mph serve is the quickest way to forget all your lyrics and script lines. I'm kidding.

Strom Thurmond's Daughter PT 2.

- To follow up on the last Sound Off entry about Strom Thurmund's daughter, I read a new article regarding some of his relatives not being pleased with her announcement. You know, it's not that bad finding out you are related to black people (well, unless you are a racist).

If I found out I was related to me, I'd be pretty excited - who wouldn't want to be related to a beautiful, intelligent, charismatic, kind, HUMBLE black girl. 

Seriously, in a situation like that, if I realized I was not welcomed because I'm black, they'd be glad they are related to her and not me, because my sense of humor would kick in and it would not be pretty. I would show up to the family reunion wearing a shirt that read "Black Sheep" with a picture of a little sheep on it with little swabs of cotton glued to the sheep (cause black people used to pick it) and I'd name the little sheep "Kunta." 

I'm kidding, but you have to admit, here in the South that joke would be pretty funny - I would need security, but it would be funny. 

I'm not the kind of black person that holds a grudge for slavery - God says we are to forgive. I love people (well, unless you rip off my work, then I'll legally try to rip you a new one and write about you to the point that you go around whining about this column). However, we really need to talk about these racial issues considering some people still retain some of those views. Sometimes levity is a good way to address it without it being too awkward. 



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