June 2004  

Volume 25

 

June 5, 2004

Earthquake Film

Last month I saw the earthquake film “10.5.” I thought it was interesting, however, they could have done more with the concept and some of it was a bit predictable. For example, the scene where they were trying to think of a way to stop the quake. When I saw that I thought explosives and a few seconds later the actress said nuclear warheads. So, it was a bit predictable. 

To be fair, it is geology, so that probably was the most plausible solution, to use in a film. Don't want to write anything stupid like, “Fill the fault with crazy glue” (that's what I would have written being facetious). 

Soccer

I read an article about Real Madrid trying to sign Manchester United soccer player Ruud Van Nistelrooy. They’ve already signed Beckham, a former Manchester United soccer player. If they sign one more Man U player they are gonna have to rename the team Real United. I’m just kidding.

Tennis

A few weeks ago Rainer Schuttler hilariously took a pic of a bad line call to make a clever point about how incorrect some calls can be. Shortly after, American tennis player Vince Spadea beat him on clay. Now that's something you ought to take a pic of -  one of our guys winning on clay. Vince did pretty well this season and Roddick did make it to the second round of Roland Garros, which for one of our guys on clay, is like making it to a semi-final. I'm just kidding.

Still, some of my favorites didn't fare too well this clay season. They were partial to bagels (ok, not really, but just about), therefore, for the season, I've affectionately named them the bagel boys. I'm just kidding. It was a good effort (…and pass the cream cheese). 

I've found an answer to the clay crisis. The organizers need to mix the clay with cement, then our guys won't know the difference (ok, yea, that would be hard court tennis). Maybe they could come up with a clay sneaker that would simulate the feeling of a hard court; thereby tricking them into thinking they aren't on clay. 

Speaking of equipment, let's talk about rackets, pardon me, racquets. Am I the only one that noticed that you can make the word "bat" out of "Babolat.” The racket manufacturer should have named the brand "batolat" cause that's just what it is, a bat! A bat impersonating a tennis racket. They just fanned out the top a bit = added some strings. Think you could hit a home run with that racket? I think so. I'm not complaining, though. Any racket that can get my serve up to 20 mph is alright with me. I’m kidding - you all must be thinking, she must really be bad if she can only get 20 out of a Babolat. I don't know what my fastest serve is. Hey, just as long as it is not mistaken for my slowest serve, but then again they might just be the same (sigh). Kidding again.

From ESPN: "Here's another shocker: No. 9-seeded Tim Henman became the first Englishman in the Open era to reach the semifinals at Roland Garros."

Well, try not to sound so surprised. My relatives must have been quite happy at the news. They are tennis fans/players as well. His performance at this year’s French Open should pretty much clinch a future knighthood for Timmy...Sir Henman. Even though he lost to Coria, who pretty much is clay, Tim did well. People underestimate him because he looks nice, pleasant and friendly. He really doesn't look very menacing, but his game is. Hear hear! (I've been wanting to write that phrase for so long, just couldn't find a way to slip it into the column).

When I watched his match against Coria, the first thing I thought was Timmy is looking a little brown, did he get a tan or did he get clay on him. Just kidding, he got a tan. I’m suspicious of any Brit with a tan. Kidding again. Sorry, it is my duty to the English side of my family to make British weather related jokes anytime the opportunity arises.  

From the wardrobe malfunction department…Marat, you're supposed to wait until you get in the locker room to have a wardrobe malfunction. Serena...when I watched her match against Kirilenko, at first glance I thought, is Serena wearing a bikini on court? I guess she figured it's almost summer…Next the guys will be wearing Speedos. I sure hope not. Tennis would never be the same.

I read on a tennis web site that Goran Ivanisevic felt God was trying to get him because he promised to quit tennis after he won Wimbledon but didn’t and since then he's had shoulder problems, stepped on a shell in Miami and had to have surgery to repair his foot. He said he's scared he'll get struck by lightning next. Goran, God is not out to get you. Next time you walk on the beach, wear shoes. 

Inappropriate Teen Film "Saved"

A continuation of the last Sound Off dated May 22, 2004. In the last Sound Off article I sounded off about the MGM teen film “Saved!”

For all the controversy they tried to stir up, the film was not a success, even for limited release, especially with the debt the project incurred. It didn’t get the “Passion Of The Christ” type attention or public acclaim they’d hope for. I’m not surprised. “The Passion Of The Christ” was a success because Christians realized it was a Christian film that was well done. The subject being the center of Christianity, which is Christ. 

At first glance, you could tell “Saved!” is not a Christian film. It is reprehensible that they tried to pass the movie off as a Christian film. How desperate can you get that you stoop so low in trying to trick Christian audiences into paying to watch a film that mocks them and their faith. How characterless can you get.  

More Press Interviews

The filmmakers and cast unsuccessfully did interviews to do damage control. However, once a few Christian organizations slammed it a few weeks ago, the damage was done.

They obviously thought the irreverence in the film was funny, would capitalize on the success of “The Passion Of The Christ,” but now that many Christians have found it offensive, they are publicly backpedaling, redefining and restating what they originally said and pulling out every "religious" person they know, are related to or ever met as proof that they are not intolerant, narrow-minded bigots (in spite of the film and that crass MTV interview they conducted) as they claim Christians are.

That's like a racist saying, "But I have a black friend." You can still supposedly be friends with someone and be a racist by calling him or her the N word behind their back. People do that all the time. I have candid white and Hispanics friends who've told me to watch out for so and so, because they use slurs when black people aren't present and aren’t as genuine as they seem.  

Then there are some who’ll say they’ve dated a black person, therefore they are not racist. Oh, you can still be racist. There was a white Hollywood actress who dated a black celebrity cause he was famous, but didn't like touching his hair because it was frizzy/curly, which she didn't like and had ignorant misconceptions and phobias about, that she mistakenly let the wrong person find out (well, the wrong person being me). However, because he was black, well known and she was curious about black men, she used him. Did she directly descended from Hitler or does she not realize that it’s just hair. Yes, God makes hair in different textures, no need to be alarmed. 

So, sincerity in a person, let alone a film, can be questionable due to a person’s subjectivity. Much like the film “Saved!” is just about on par with those cases of hypocrisy, gross stereotyping, bigotry and self-promotion.   

While the makers of the film feel Christianity needs to be updated, "pushed into the 21st century" as they said, like it's one of their hype filled bios or PR releases, what they fail to understand is some things are sacred and are not to be changed. God says "I am the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). People may change, but God does not. People can be fickle, but God is not. And I'm glad He doesn't change. Stability and reliability are good. It is good to know He doesn't change and that He is reliable. 

But to follow the filmmaker’s ridiculous line of thinking in updating Christianity in their crass, ignorant manner, one has to laugh at their cluelessness. You don't add rouge to the Mona Lisa's cheeks with a crayon, you don't paint the Eiffel Tower neon green to, like, totally make it more hip, and to like, match your new neon green car. You don't rewrite the Constitution to add slang such as, "We the dudes, for the dudes" instead of the eloquent English it was written in.

But that's just it with some (not all) in Hollywood; they cross lines that shouldn't be crossed in an attempt to shock and be edgy, when it looks desperate and attention seeking. If you’ve got to deliberately be controversial to sell, it says you lack talent (someone ought to tell Michael Moore that).

The best music and film work that's been done has been based in talent and great writing, not slander, sliminess and crassness. No great musician or director ever had such trash in their arsenal. But the flakey forgotten ones always do.

It’s nothing to do with “Saved!” being a teen film, as I saw the teen movie "The Princess Diaries” and thought it was a nice movie. So, I'm not against teen films, but I am against corny, cheesy, crass ones -cough- Saved.

Christians aren't scared of films or their impact. Hollywood has been doing that stuff for years (yawn). Some directors get too wrapped up in their films and believe them to be greater and more profound than they actually are (that’s if they are at all). It’s like some think the world is gonna end because they made a movie. Like people are biting their nails and living in fear of their film (ooo). You almost want to laugh.   

Christianity has stood the test of time and will continue to do so, as God promises in the Bible. Reverence is given to certain things in the Bible for a reason. To do otherwise is to your own detriment.

The scenes I've seen from the film are disgraceful and the interviews/promo is just as bad. There’s no excuse or justification for that.  

Excerpt from the Hartford Courant:

Eight days before "Saved!" opened in Chicago, MGM sponsored a screening at Loews Piper's Alley Cineplex. Seats filled swiftly as promotional gifts were passed around, including "Emergency Baptism Kits" made specifically for the movie. The silver pouches of water came with a simple list of instructions: "Commit sin. Tear open packet, pour contents over head, You're born again -- Saved!"

Silent reaction

Also at the screening were four students from Illiana Christian High School in Lansing, who remained silent amid the bursts of laughter. At a discussion afterward, they couldn't protest the movie enough.

"Jesus died on the cross and took the punishment that we were supposed to get upon himself and gave us the gift of grace and salvation," said 17-year-old senior Sarah Jo Hoogendoorn. "And they beheaded Jesus in the movie."

The students found the portrayal of their demographic offensive. They cited the fact that Mary, the film's protagonist, returns to believing in "God, or something out there" but not specifically to Christianity, while the cartoonish Hilary Faye and Pastor Skip remain as the film's undisputed Christian believers.


I saw an MSNBC interview featuring one of the producers Michael Stipe. Remember in the last sound off I referred to him as the unhappiest singer ever who prefers scowling to smiling. Well, he was smiling away in that interview. I have to admit, it was nice to see him smiling.  

In the interview to promote the film, he borrowed the already used line of people criticizing the film without seeing it. However, when you have reliable Christian web sites doing scene by scene reviews/descriptions of the film weeks prior to its release, one doesn’t need to go to the film to realize it is not “pro-faith” as they claim, but sacrilegious. Uh, you guys let them see the film because you wanted publicity and they took scene-by-scene notes and posted them on their web sites describing the film in great detail...and with lots of dialogue included (Aisha suppressing laughter). 

In the producer’s case, it was a matter of trying to con people with the give-us-your-money-to-decide-if-it’s-sacrilegious.

They deliberately tried to trick Christian audiences into seeing the film to get big ticket sales, when they knew the film was not Christian. The filmmakers and actors are anti-Christian and have openly displayed that in interviews prior to the film’s release.

They also said the project began three years ago…but coincidentally released right after the success of "The Passion of the Christ" and with one of the producers commenting on how much money there is to be made from Christian audiences.  

From the New York Times:

"MGM executives have been trying what they call the "Hail Mary" approach, throwing every possible hook into the advertising and publicity for the film, working especially hard to reach the Christian audience that turned out for "The Passion of the Christ."

They even went as far as to trick/mislead a Christian band, The Elms, and other Christian organizations into using their properties for the film. When these people found out that the script was sacrilegious, they all backed out. Trying to use them for credibility was just perverse.   

From The Garret (http://goforthlabs.com/news/)     

The director of Saved!, Brian Dannelly, says he walked out on Mel Gibson's Passion because he considered it "silly".

A Christian band called The Elms were to play themselves at the prom in the movie. But they backed out days before shooting their seen because they considered the script to be mocking in its tone rather than instructive, as the director had led them to believe. A Lutheran church also refused to let cameras from the movie on-site.

As written in that article, the director even referred to the film “The Passion of the Christ” as “silly,” when Christians thought otherwise. Let me get this straight, someone writes a non-comedic, historical epic about the life of Christ (Gibson) and you deem it “silly”, but you write a goofball, corny, teen comedy and your film is “subversive” as you’ve labeled it. I think the description “silly” better fits your film.

I do agree that it is subversive, though. The New York Times declared, “Irreverent comedy seeks Christians.” Trying to pass the film off as Christian or “pro-faith” or whatever else, when it is subversive (not to mention underhanded and slimy) is pathetic. When a movie campaign gets that complicated, the filmmakers have got serious issues. Who knew a PR campaign would stoop so low.  

The producers said they want people to question their faith. Do you question whether or not your parents are your parents? Why are you asking these kids to question whether or not God is their (Heavenly) Father as the term and scripture goes? How is that a benevolent act? It seems more malevolent than anything.

There’s a passage in the Bible that addresses young people’s faith and how much God values it. That scripture reads “If someone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to lose faith--it would be better for that man if a huge millstone were tied around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” To put it in modern terms, that's His way of saying I'm going to make your life a living hell if you do that. Why? It is not benevolent. There is absolutely no necessity for it. Life is difficult enough for young people and you are perversely telling them to question their faith. God loves them. He takes people’s faith very seriously, especially young people’s faith and anyone who plays with that does so to their own detriment.

What the makers and cast of that film need more than anything is God’s forgiveness, because what they said they set out to do was wrong.

That’ s part of why I look at certain entertainers like Marilyn Manson and Madonna and wonder if they are out of their minds. The mixing and profaning of spiritual subjects in their work, aimed at teens and kids is very unwise. They are mixing themes and subjects from the Bible, with ungodly messages and sending mixed signals. You send out any other message than the one God intended and or spiritually lead any kid astray and it will not be a blessing to you. 

Hypocrisy in Hollywood

The makers of the film keep talking about the alleged hypocrisy in Christianity, yet amazingly and conveniently don’t address the hypocrisy in Hollywood…the most hypocritical institution on the face of this earth. Why don’t more so called controversial filmmakers talk about that or are they scared they'll never work again? One has to admire that kind of integrity and conviction (not).

What about the teenage girls and sadly in some cases, teenage boys on casting couches performing sex acts on perverted middle aged men to get roles in films. That’s been going on for years. What about rigging awards and brow beating people to get undeserved accolades. What about, um, arranging, yea that's it, arranging positive reviews. What about Hollywood actors who've slept with dozens of actresses, groupies, strippers and prostitutes, but are calling themselves role models for kids. If you do continue to live like that, you are nobody's role model. You become HIV's role model of what not to do.

What about Hollywood moguls who constantly marry and divorce different women young enough to be their daughters, while casting out their former long suffering wives. What about studio execs that take credit for projects they didn't do (there are cases of people accepting Oscars for work that was later credibly revealed to be someone else's that an executive stole). What about the drug-addicted executives who need rehab, but are in high positions making very important decisions affecting company employees and millions of viewers, all while they are under the influence of drugs? There are executives snorting cocaine and deciding what television shows your family is gonna watch next season. You don't see any hypocrisy in that? Tell me any of that stuff is good by anyone’s standards, Christian or not?

But no, they cover for their drug addicted industry peers instead of getting them help, while trying to dig up dirt and make movies about the stuff other people allegedly do because they feel it’s controversial and will sell movie tickets and get ratings. You don’t see any hypocrisy in that?

Recently, certain people in the movie industry were having a Maalox moment at the news that well known screenwriter Joe Eszterhas was releasing a very candid autobiography. Based on the articles I read Eszterhas really sounded off on a lot of people. It’s one of those books that shows how ugly, fake and slimy Hollywood can be.

Certain executives have made a living out of making slanderous, questionable projects about others all under the guise of controversy, but when the tables turn and the project is about them, suddenly it’s not so funny anymore. Suddenly it’s call the lawyers time. What was subversive on others becomes slanderous when it’s about them. What was laugh out loud on others becomes libelous when it’s about them. You’ve got to admire that kind of integrity and backbone (not).

They love talking about how daring and controversial they are but they pick easy targets. I mean, show us how tough you are. Why don’t so-called controversial filmmakers like the makers of Saved or Michael Moore make an anti- Bin Laden film. That’s cause the film would be released posthumously, now wouldn’t it. Osama would appear on the red carpet at the premier before they did.

However, if you make a Christian bashing film, people like Dannelly and Stipe will be applauded by certain other hateful, decision-making executives in Hollywood for making such a movie. They bashed and mocked Christianity in the film, yet the minute the tables were turned in press interviews that questioned their behavior and motives, they became angry, defensive and insulted.

I sometimes wonder why they bother with Christianity bashing films. It hasn't made a dent in Christianity. Only a dent in their budgets.

That’s another thing, reading the filmmaker and producer’s interviews, you can tell they’ve been anti-Christian for a long time, therefore shouldn’t their hatred for Christianity qualify as a form of zealotry. After all, Webster’s defines zealotry it as “One who is zealous, especially excessively so. A fanatically committed person” When your hatred for something consumes you enough that you spend 5 million to make a film bashing it, you are officially a zealot.

Some of them call Christians zealots or crazy, but their own behavior reeks of zealotry. There’s a director that was so enamored with cocaine that he made a movie about it. I remember reading the press articles for the film and thinking, this guy made a movie about cocaine (shock face). To hear him talk about it, you’d think it was a great story. I kept waiting for him to decry drug use and the lead character’s choices (who was a drug dealer) but he didn’t…while I’m reading the article thinking, this guy made a movie about cocaine (shock face). You could tell he was a fan. Ironically, that director died from a cocaine induced heart attack shortly after in 2002 at age 37.  

However, films like his ode to cocaine wasn’t a form of zealotry? Wasn’t drug-induced insanity? And how many movie industry people applauded the film and how many sniveling Hollywood actors were kissing his butt to get in his films, telling him he’s a genius, when he was a man who clearly needed help/rehab.

Yet Hollywood screams hypocrisy and scoffs at Christianity, when Christians preach God’s message of cleaning up your life. Whereas Hollywood preaches do whatever’s controversial (and we’ll give you a good budget to make movies about it) even if it kills you (i.e. drugs). You know, maybe cleaning up one's life isn't such a bad idea.

And what’s going on with MGM? First the sacrilegious, silly and stale  “Saved” (that Christian groups slammed, thereby seriously cutting their ticket sales) then the stereotypical, sleazy, sloppy “Soul Plane,” (for which black groups issued a boycott that pretty much sank the film). There are so many positive black stories out there, yet they greenlight the ones that make black people look like ignorant buffoons.

From Eurweb:

The film, (Soul Plane) which, according to its director, Jessy Terrero, cost around $16 million, only sold $5.7 million worth of tickets over the long Memorial Day holiday weekend. When asked for a response, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, President of the National Alliance for Positive Action, who campaigned against the film, pretty much declared victory. "Black film patrons delivered a powerful message to MGM executives," says Hutchinson, "That they will no longer tolerate or support movies that trash, ridicule and demean African-Americans." In a statement issued Monday, the organization sent a message, in more ways than one, to the industry. "The rejection of 'Soul Plane' is also a call to MGM and film executives, and black film industry professionals that blacks want, deserve, demand and will support with their box office dollars full-dimensional, positive portrayals of the black experience on the big screen. The National Alliance for Positive Action will continue to deliver that message to film executives."

Is this what MGM’s legacy has become? Putting out offensive films that dishonor and slander large groups of people, while making very little money in the process due to people being offended. Is it worth printing up costly release prints for that? Is it worth paying for costly advertising for that?

It’s not even good business sense (which would justify these slanderous depictions for some), as these films cost millions to make and promote, aren’t hits and are dragging down the MGM brand. When you think MGM, you don’t think of garbage like that, but that’s what they’ve become synonymous with recently and it’s a real shame. With all the resources they have at their disposal, is this the best way to spend the budget or is it a serious lapse in judgment on a few executives’ part?

Controversy usually doesn’t sell tickets. Good films do. What’s happened to that? Whatever happened to just making a good film that people want to watch?

Hollywood’s Fascination With Spirituality

Hollywood has a bad way of playing with the sacred. From blasphemous films like “Saved!” to flakey, pseudo-spiritual singers like Madonna who preach their own agenda for their own gain, not society’s.

The fact of the matter is it is not a good idea to play with spiritual matters. Why do they like to play with spiritual things anyway. I mean, of all the things to play with.

Hollywood loves to use phrases to hype their films like "opening a Pandora’s box" and that's just what playing with spiritual matters does in a person’s life. People who play with that stuff often don't know what they are playing with. It brings all sorts of problems into their lives. I’ve seen so many interviews on shows like the 700 Club from former entertainment industry people who have done that and attested to the unexplained misery it caused them.

To mix the sacred and the profane is sacrilegious. It’s inadvisable, not trendy. To mislead people about spiritual matters, for whatever reason, is not a good idea. God holds people responsible for that.

Therefore, what are you saying and what is your accountability to God regarding it.

God is like the weather, whether or not you believe in Him, He will be a factor in your life. After all He gave you life and it is His intent to bless you. However, people do things, that for lack of a better word, bring curses on themselves, which are discussed in the Bible (God willing, more on that in the next Sound Off article).

I look on at satanic rock groups bragging, calling themselves Satanists, mocking God and I wonder if they know what it’s doing to them. When you start playing with spiritual things, singing about Satan or any other misguided religious theme, messing with demonic imagery in your videos, concerts and work, mixing the sacred with the profane, it will take its toll on you. If you play around with that stuff and do unethical things, it will attract misfortune and negativity like a magnet.

God understands that we are human and that we have weaknesses, but irreverence is not a weakness, it is flagrantly disrespecting Him and it is something a person should ask for forgiveness for. Not for God’s sake, not for the church’s sake, but their own, because the Bible says “God is not mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7).

However, there are people who have successfully gotten away from that part of the entertainment industry. Guys like Jeff Fenholt, former singer with Satanic rock group Black Sabbath and former star of the irreverent film Jesus Christ Superstar. Jeff realized his mistakes and changed. And as he attests, his life has been made better for it.


June 16, 2004

Ronald Reagan

Last week, I watched the funeral coverage of former President Ronald Reagan. He served this country well for years and deserved the stately funeral. Did you know that there were some who griped in the news that the tributes to Mr. Reagan was too much and overdone. I can’t believe someone begrudged him a proper funeral.

Another reminder that being President is often a thankless job. Between no-talent pop singers taking potshots at the President in music videos, while trying to capitalize on a war and members of the press’ political biases slipping into articles, when they aren’t supposed to be commentaries, but news reports, it’s pretty obvious. 

I wondered how Kennedy would have been treated. With all the sex scandals that were quietly written about him, can you imagine what some in the press would have done to him today. It would have been terrible.

I honestly do not think readers revel in reading such articles. It’s more like watching a car accident. You’re horrified, then look away. People often don’t want to know such things. Some, not all, in the media love uncovering other people’s sins when the bones in their closets are just as bad, if not worse. Some of them have sins that would make Satan blush…but never mind, they are throwing literary stones. 

Still, I love to write; therefore, I love the idea of freedom of the press. Imagine being a writer in a country like Cuba. I love Cuban people, and this is nothing against them, but can you imagine being a journalist in Cuba? It would be make Castro look good or kiss your butt goodbye. Same for pre-war Iraq. Can you imagine having to literarily kiss Sadaam’s butt, especially when you don’t agree with his behavior. Still, Saddam is gone and Iraq is liberated. There’s less evil in the world (There's also a new U.S. sponsored and based Iraqi station to help broadcast a more fair view to the Iraqi people of what's going on - as opposed to mostly Al Jazeera).  

However, God is very forgiving and would forgive Sadaam of his sins if he asked Him. That’s one of the great things about God. No matter how wicked you think you are, He still loves you and will forgive you if you ask (“Any many who comes to me I will in no wise cast out,” John 6:37). The amplified translation of that being “and the one who comes to Me I will most certainly not cast out [I will never, no never, reject one of them who comes to Me]”). However, you must ask for forgiveness and change your ways. Changing one’s ways is very important.

Some of you may question how God can forgive someone who’s behaved like Sadaam or Castro…to that I say, zip it, you’ve done stuff you need His forgiveness for too to get into heaven when you die. Don’t question the grace of God.   

- In tennis, Andy Roddick retained his title by winning the Stella Artois tournament for the second year in a row. Last week, Roger Federer also won Halle. No, not Halle Berry, the Halle tennis open in Germany. This was also the second year in a row Federer won the tournament.

I think it could be the beginning of an interesting rivalry. A friendly rivalry, but a rivalry, none the less. Sort of like Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. Hey, with Agassi already inviting Roddick to barbeques and giving him advice, this could be a reality soon. For further reference to that joke, please see Agassi's "If Pete’s child is a girl, my son will like her; if he’s a boy, my son will defeat him” comment. I'm just teasing.

However, it would make for good tennis. If they need help getting the rivalry started you could always tell Federer, Roddick said something about his pet cow and you could tell Roddick that Federer said something about his visor collection. Actually, that might turn into a boxing match instead of tennis. Forget I mentioned that.     

- In soccer…last week, when asked about Arsenal teammate and France Eurocup opponent, English soccer player Ashley Cole said:

"John and Sol are well equipped to play against Thierry. Sol plays up against him all the time in training and John has played against him in the Premiership (for Chelsea).”

Ok, so basically there was no plan for containing Thierry, then (I’m totally kidding). Sol and John play very well.

My dad says mental game is a big part of winning. To make his point, he hilariously said, “If you have an argument with your wife before the match, you’re gonna lose!” You guys may wanna think about that next time. Tell Thierry’s wife that he’s been making jokes in the locker room about her cooking. It would be difficult for him to play at his best after being clocked with a frying pan. I’m just kidding. 

Ashley’s other game plan:

"We had a title to win and a record to beat but towards the end I was telling Thierry Henry I would be looking to kick him, if I can catch him!”

Ashley, trying to kick him wouldn’t have been right…tripping him would have been better. If you kick him, you’ll get carded. You cannot effectively explain to a ref why you kicked someone. Trip him and you can argue and say “I didn’t trip him, he fell over my foot!” or “he’s normally my teammate, why would I trip him? I thought he looked a bit unsteady on his feet and I was trying to hold him up with my foot.”

To Thierry: Why couldn’t you have been born in England. You know, croissants and scones really aren’t that different (ok, yea they are) a little clotted cream and jam on them and you won’t know the difference (ok, yea you will). I’m just kidding, nothing against either country. 

However, England coach Sven -Goran Eriksson was more optimistic about England’s chances against France:

Eriksson told reporters: "To be honest, whatever you play, Zidane (France) will be a headache. He's a headache for everyone.”

Well, at least Sven was optimistic, right…ok, not really. And a headache Zidane was. I mean, what was he thinking scoring those goals. How dare he! (Aisha glaring at Zidane…I’m joking).

Me personally, I think if you can spell Zinedine Zidane’s entire name, you should be entitled to a free kick (just teasing…and like my name is any easier to spell). I call him ZiZi and Z-Ziddy (get it, like P Diddy…ok, another bad joke). So nice his mama named him twice (yea, that was a corny joke on my part as well). Both his first and last names begin with “zi” and end with “ne.” His official nickname is Zi-Zou Zi-Zou, though.

Speaking of Ashley wanting to kick Thierry…it brings me to the next subject of athletes disputing calls. You can tell by the looks on their faces that they did something (I'm completely kidding with these jokes):

Roddick: What did I do?

 

Umpire: What did you just say about my mother?
Taylor: ooo you heard that?

 

Ref: Foul!
Gary: Don't make me come over there!
Kobe: I don't know how much longer I can hold him back.

 

Seedorf: "What just happened?" (Soccer- A discombobulated Seedorf after being fouled/tackled/body slammed).

 

Ref: Foul!
Carmelo: It wasn't me. It was Allen Iverson. You're confused cause we both have braids.
Ref: You aren't even playing against Philly tonight.
Carmelo: What does that have to do with anything!

 

Other funny sports pics:

Gustavo Kuerten standing by an injured John Van Lottum.
Gustavo Kuerten: Oh get up you big baby. It's just a sprain, fracture in seven places and a mild concussion.

 

Bryan Twins, Mike and Bob (tennis)
Bob: You look familiar. Where have I seen you before?
Mike: Uh, in the mirror. We're twins remember.

 

Felix Mantilla: They're not gonna show my match on ESPN! (insert crying here).
(a little tennis joke regarding people complaining that ESPN doesn't show tennis matches featuring foreigners).

Pics courtesy of Corbis


- Last week I read an article on the BBC about a singer from Jamaican heritage, such as myself, being knighted. Congrats to Sir Willard White. The article read, “Jamaican-born Sir Willard White, 57 - regarded as one of the world's finest baritones - was knighted. He has sung in some of the globe's great opera houses and performed with many celebrated symphony orchestras.”

- I’m still having problems with people plagiarizing this web site. Namely a singer and a comedian. Considering the comedian has ties to the legal community, they should know better than to steal original copyrighted work like jokes and other items from here and incorporating it into their work. You call yourself a comedian and you’re stealing ideas and jokes from a singer.

The other one, the singer, only in name, is hell bent on ripping off what she can from this project before it is launched. She blatantly ripped off my single “Contemporary Girl” and to her own detriment, as it ruined her career. Even after all that she is still poaching items and ideas from this web site, all with negative results for her.  

Similarities in both songs:

- Both songs have the exact same structure, which isn't common in her genre or mine (verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, rap, chorus). I decided to experiment with the structure when I wrote the song.

- Both songs have very similar melodies.

- Both songs used the exact same type of studio vocal processing.

- Both songs have mutual lyrics (with one in particular that she's gonna have a very hard time explaining).

- Both songs have a "rap remix" on the maxi single (which was an industry first, as I listed in my bio)

- Both songs are about the exact same thing.

An artist in her genre and age group rapping was so rare that one reviewer wrote “Someone please draft legislation to keep middle-aged, mega-star white women from rapping." Yes, it was that horrid and not because she is white, but because she has no musical talent. Besides, as someone pointed out and I’ve thought as well for a while, who raps about lattes...just cause Train sang about lattes, doesn't mean you should try, with emphasis on try, to rap about them.

Other similarities:

- I have a timeline of her articles and interviews that I’ve put together for the case, of each time I wrote things on this site, then when she announced AFTER in press releases that she’s doing the same thing (which is another factor in tying her to this site). While, doing the same things as someone else is not copyright infringement, unless you start taking from their copyrighted material like she did, it proves access and links her to this web site. For example, here are a few:

- I wrote on here that I play the guitar, shortly after she puts out press release saying she’s learning to play the guitar.

- I wrote on here that I’m writing a book, shortly after she puts out a press release saying that she’s writing a book.

- I wrote on here that I was working on one of my screenplays; shortly after she does an article talking about how she’s writing a screenplay (yea right).

- I wrote on the diary page about the restaurant I’m working on - that I did the menu and business plan for it, as well as registering the name (Which I did that week. It's public record). Shortly after she puts out a press release stating that she is opening a restaurant...and amazingly her restaurant mysteriously begins with the same 4 letters as the name I registered for mine.

- Even just last week I wrote on here about the two books I'm writing with my dad, this week she announces that she's writing a book with her husband. 

Not to mention she’s poached so many original things from this site that I’ve written (things from my bio and the interview page and attributed them to herself - all after I’ve written them on here and copyrighted them). All the  published articles and interviews where she’s done this, all after I've written the original material on here, are available on the internet. It is all well documented. For example, here are a few more (and there are others):

- I wrote, “Why do people like to see other people fall?” in an item on the sound off page. Shortly after, she does an interview and says, “Why do people like to see people fall?” attributing it to herself.

- I wrote on here that I don’t listen to my music at home, shortly after she does an article where she says she doesn’t listen to her music at home.

- I made a joke about polishing my nails, very shortly after she makes a joke about polishing her nails (yea, um, isn’t she the one always going to the salon. Since when is she polishing her own nails). 

You know, witnessing all this, it's no wonder she and her husband are members of a religious cult. Their feeblemindedness in being so willing to constantly copy and mimic something someone else is doing and to such a disturbing, disgraceful degree, makes them perfect candidates for cults and mind control.

Also, tying a red string around one's hand does not ward off envy, evil spirits or the evil eye. The only thing it will ward off is a person's circulation. It sure didn't work on her label CEO when he, figuratively speaking, kicked her teeth in after all those years of being a figurehead and removed her from her co-owned label for pennies on the dollar.

Typical of cults to sell people gimmicks (i.e. expensive bottled water or red strings, which is a pagan custom). I saw a news program a few years ago where they conducted a test to find out which type of drinking water is the cleanest. They bought bottled water that came from a spring, collected water from a tap and lastly, left a bucket outside to collect rain water. In the lab tests they conducted, the rain water turned out to be the purest. Even the natural food God makes in the earth is a lot more healthy than processed food from a factory. That's right, God is the ultimate Iron Chef (and it wouldn't take Him a half an hour to cook, either). I'm just teasing, I like that show.

The fact of the matter is life is full of trouble. No red string or bottled water is gonna prevent that. God even says it in the Bible "In this life you will have trouble (John 16:33)." Why? because we live in a world where people do bad things that affect others. There are murderers who take innocent lives, pedophiles who prey on children, dictators who live lavishly while their people go hungry and in need of medicine, pharmaceutical companies that release drugs that they know have a high probability of potentially dangerous side effects, but hope to beat the FDA to the punch in selling as much of it as possible before it is found out and banned. My point? There is so much unethical, corrupt behavior in the world that most people are bound to be affected by it one way or another, which = trouble. I reiterate what He said, "In this life you will have trouble (John 16:33)."

Still, I must note, God can forgive people who do the above named things, provided they ask for forgiveness and stop doing those unethical things.   

Some may question why would God allow people to do those things. I have a question for you. Think to a time when you did something wrong. For example, cheating on your spouse or the person you date or stealing money from another. What made you do those things? You did those things based on the bad things in your heart and your unethical thoughts. You can't blame God for that.

Back to what I was saying...she has gotten so carried away with poaching from here and it’s brought her nothing but trouble and ridicule from people, because it seems totally incredulous coming from her. She doesn't have the modesty the song I wrote, that she ripped off, promotes and encourages - after all, she is the woman who moved from one multi-million mansion to another because "it didn't have a tennis court." You live somewhere for years and all of a sudden just realized it didn't have a tennis court. If you don't play tennis, and she doesn't, why would you do something like that.

Anyway, according to legal experts, attributing so many things from this site to herself inextricably ties her to this web site, as two people aren’t going to be writing/saying the same things over and over again, one after the other unless one is copying/stealing from the other = copyright infringement. This site is not an obscure one, as it has been viewed over 3 million times. Bad enough I get people who visit the site telling me about the poaching she’s been doing, I read the trade papers as well, so I’m aware of what’s going on.

You know, if someone dedicates their work to God and you keep stealing from it and it constantly produces bad results for you as it has, maybe it’s time you put two and two together for your own sake and realize it’s not for you - leave it alone. A lab rat would know better by now. Not to mention, stealing from a song dedicated to God is not a good idea.

This is one of the things I don’t get with some female singers. Why are they so covetous? What kind of bad ambition do you have when you see someone write a song that is dedicated to God and working on a project that’s trying to do something for God and you rip it off for what a rabbi termed her music as “porn rock.” Things dedicated to God should remain as that…not stolen and turned into filth.   

Bad enough she was not meant to be a singer, and we know this because she cannot sing, in an VH-1 excerpt of a show, she joked about Belinda Carlisle’s voice when she can actually sing.

If God had intended her to be a singer, he would have given her that talent. She clearly does not have that talent. But if he had given her that talent, look what she would have done with it. Her career has been so questionable.  

Years from now someone could pick up a Whitney Houston record and say, “man, this woman can sing!” Years from now someone could pick up one of that singer’s records and say, “man, this woman can’t sing.” I’ve studied music since I was a kid and can say with certainty that music like that does not stand the test of time. You have to have a talent for music or music history will disqualify you.

If you look through music history, the people with a talent for singing are the ones who are best remembered. When the next generation who aren’t privy to or care for the publicity stunts that made some famous today, pick up a record they are going to judge it on music. All the other extraneous garbage like PR stunts and going on stage half naked won’t matter. It never does in the long run. They won’t care who a singer supposedly was; they’ll only care about what they are hearing.

Her career has been so contemptible. For years all she has managed to do is corrupt adults and impressionable kids with her music. All they’d have to do is switch on any radio or video channel and all that garbage would pour out into their living room. That is not a commendable career.

Apparently, the poaching isn't something she just started. There was something written about her in a well-known biography regarding similar behavior.

She somehow managed to get the lead role in a film, regardless of the fact that she cannot act and people have begged her for years to stop for the sake of cinema. When it came time for the soundtrack, the studio hired two award-winning composers to pen the songs. After receiving his properly written song, sheet music and all, she sent it back with revisions adding a few words. Her doing revisions to a song is like Homer Simpson doing revisions to Shakespeare.

The composer who penned the song is a trained writer, unlike the singer, but she wrote a few words, revising his already completed song in what was widely viewed as her unethically trying to horn in on credit for the man’s composition. Credibility is something she’s always sought, but never achieved.

Never mind the man wrote the lyrics, piano and strings for the song already. When songs are credited, the names will appear as though each person did the same amount of work, when with some female singers today, that’s often not the case. Horning in on credit for something someone else wrote by trying to add a few words and collecting underserved publishing/credit is not songwriting.

However, offended and branding her revisions as “abysmal and banal lyrics” the writer stood firm, rejected her so called lyrics and later won an Oscar for the song she tried to add a few words to and horn in on the credit for. He won it without her so-called revisions.

I don’t know why some songwriters and producers put up with that and it’s commonplace now in the industry with certain female singers trying to do that to writers/producers for credibility and undeserved publishing income (that is not songwriting). Well, they put up with it because they need the work, even though they did the bulk of the work and usually do not like the so-called revisions.

Can you imagine if he had not stood firm. This woman would have won an Oscar for an already completed song that she tried to add a few words to, having nothing to do with its creation or music. 

However, that’s what she does. According to an article on Fox News, all her songs that were big hits were all written by someone else, while the later, more unsuccessful songs that she performed and “co-wrote” were all written with someone else, which is a tell tale sign in the industry. 

While I’m on the subject of films, let’s talk about her insistence on trying to act, something else she does not have a talent for. People have been telling her for years to stop acting because it is not for her and only bringing her more ridicule. People don’t even consider her an actress, but she stubbornly continues to butcher people’s films (that’s when she’s not trying to take over the film creatively, even though she had nothing to do with its creation, and severely veering the project off course into cinematic garbage - which was also written of her, but not in those words, of course).

Though I didn’t see her last film that was branded the worst ever, in her case, I don’t believe that it is the movies that are the problem, as she’s worked with directors who’ve gotten rave reviews for other work they’ve done. It’s clear that it is her acting that’s the problem. She’s damaging competent directors' careers with her terrible performances and that's not fair. I’ve seen excerpts on TV of some of her past performances and she could make Spielberg look bad. The fact of the matter is you could have the best script and the best technical staff, but if you get bad acting in your film, it is up a creek without a paddle.

She got sued for her last music video for ripping off a well-known artist’s pics. She had to settle with the artist's family for over $600,000 dollars to stop the flagrant infringement case from going to court. However, she wants you to keep in mind that she, “admits no wrongdoing.” Never mind a British newspaper reported seeing her visit the museum that housed the artist’s photos that were mysteriously ripped off for her video.

The artist’s son said of her, “It's one thing to draw inspiration; it's quite another to simply plagiarize the heart and soul of my father's work.” True indeed. You don’t work on something for years for a covetous, no talent to rip it off in five minutes. Not to mention her lack of talent always destroys the work, turning it into something any author would abhor (I know I cringe when I hear the horrid, ghastly song she ripped off my song for. Especially the rap part in her rip off. It is cringingly awful).

Her latest video isn't much better. It looks an awful lot like British singer Billie Piper's 1998 video "Honey To The Bee," where Piper was featured in front of a red 3D computer generated flower while floating on the ocean. The singer’s new video, which was released recently, also features her in front of a red 3D computer generated flower while floating on the ocean. I remember seeing the behind the scenes segment for Piper’s video a few years ago and you can tell it's a rip off of it - they even used the same technique. That’s part of the reason why when I saw the singer’s new video about a month ago I recognized it from Piper's 1998 video. Therefore, that singer still hasn’t changed. She is still ripping off other people’s work.

Then there is the man that accused her of ripping off his film idea he pitched to her, which she took credit for. It poetically turned out to be the most panned film in history. But keep in mind, she admits no wrongdoing. All that talk about her constantly reinventing herself and being original, when she's about as original as a sample (music).

She’s not one of those people who accidentally plagiarizes people’s work by writing something not realizing it was something they’d heard when they were a kid or several years ago. Several writers have accidentally done that, but they meant no harm and weren’t out to deliberately plagiarize copyrighted material.

However, with her it is obvious that it is deliberate and "willful," as the legal term goes, which the law affords steeper penalties for, because it realizes just how wrong it is to do that. You cannot sit down with other people’s work and illegally take bits and pieces for your own. What is that? 

Then there was the ridiculous lawsuit against the major label that owns the label she supposedly ran. They ran up a 92 million dollar tab and tried to rewrite a contract they signed 10 years ago, by saying it said something other than what it did. They tried to downplay the role of the major label, when that subsidiary label wouldn’t have done anything at all if it weren’t for that conglomerate financially backing and promoting them.

The way she behaves is so questionable. For her latest hype filled tour they keep touting it as sold out when, as of Saturday, June 12th, 2004, when I checked Ticketmaster, it is not. There are tickets available for every single stop on that perverse tour. Why all the hype all the time. Besides, it’s not a smart idea. When you tell people a tour is sold out…they won’t try to buy tickets.

More on her unique mathematical formulas…

In 2002 they issued a press release stating she’d sold 140 million records worldwide (sure she did…not!). Now in 2004, there is a new press release they've issued saying she’s sold 200 million records (sure she did…not!). Never mind her career’s been on the decline in the past two years, the worst two sales years since its inception with Soundscan reporting she sold 3 million records in the past two years, yet her sales totals allegedly jumped by 60 million copies. Okay, who has sold 60 million records in two years? You can’t even justify those sales if you claimed it worldwide. Rounding off numbers by 100 million, then?

Actually, how you do that is, if someone sells 59 million records, labels usually round it off and report that the artist sold 60 million records. Therefore, rounding off numbers in 100 million increments is not believable.

Besides, what does it matter. She’ll never beat Barbara Streisand or Whitney Houston, who’ve really sold a lot more records and can actually sing (yes, that pesky singing thing, again). And why be so competitive. She’s not the best and never will be. Her voice alone disqualifies her on that and others have sold more records. Those women deserve it more. 

Where does she get the arrogance to think that she can do these things? Who does she think she is. She maybe “famous for being a slut” as a rabbi recently said, but she needs not kid herself, she is not a real singer, nor did she make her money by honorable means, as she’s a glorified porn star. If she were a talented singer you could almost make allowances for the arrogance, though I don’t agree with it, but she has no musical talent.

And actually had the nerve to brand English people “lazy” and said they are “not willing to work." A singer calling someone lazy…that’s funny. She’s driven everywhere and is over pampered, but is calling an entire nation lazy. Half my family is British. My Aunt was a teacher in the British school system for over 25 years. My cousin is an economist who works long hours, traveling all over England and America teaching firms the accounting system he helped to create for the company he works for. My other cousin is a doctor who works very long hours as well as the head of medicine for her borough. However, after all those years of college and hard work they've all been classified as “lazy” by a singer who can't even do her own job = sing.

She needs to cook her own meals, wash her own clothes, clean her own house, which was bought with her porn income, drive herself everywhere, raise her kids without a staff that could qualify for a small army, actually had run her co-owned label herself instead of taking all the credit for it when the other dude is the one in the office doing the work, hold down a real job like they do, then she can call hard working people “lazy.” At least they have to use their brains. Taking one's clothes off is not a talent. People do that everyday when they take baths.

I’m not a contentious person. I’m quiet, I mind my own business and I keep to myself. However, I wouldn’t keep writing about this if she didn’t keep stealing from this web site. I don’t like writing about her. There are other things I’d rather write about, as I think what she does is complete garbage and not real music, but since she continues to plagiarize this site, I’m not gonna make it easy for her. Many people in the entertainment industry read this site, in addition to many other readers and I’m going to sound off about it every time she does it again.

As I've written before, I don't want my debut to be about this and as repulsed as I am by this whole thing, I didn't work this hard and study music since I was a child for my debut to be about a degenerate singer that deliberately tried to rip it off (after all, the average person would have consented to a press interview about this already). However, after I establish the project, I'm going to legally address it and address it I will. It’s not about the money either. Money never motivates me. I’d donate every penny from suing her to charity or I'd start one, in addition to another one I'm working on, just to disperse those funds. I don't want her porn income.

What this is about for me is I love music, I work very hard on these projects and I’m trying to do something for God with them and to help people on His behalf, therefore I abhor that it is constantly being ripped off, especially by a degenerate singer with no conscience, who cares nothing about anyone but herself.  


A continuation of the last Sound Off article (June 5th, 2004).

Sacrilegious Behavior

Back on November 6th, 2002 I wrote about a radio station that encouraged a couple to have sex in a church and call in to the station while they were there. The stunt later got the DJs fired and the FCC fined the station. However, sadly, the man who participated in the stunt died a few months ago. I wondered if he had asked God for forgiveness before he died this year for committing that grievous sin in the church, otherwise that man is eternally lost right now. If he didn’t ask for forgiveness how do you explain to God why you had sex in a church?

Blessings and Curses

Blessings and curses do exist. First of all the Bible says, "bless and do not curse." It follows the principle of doing good and that good will return to you.

Also, just because something bad happens to you or someone you know doesn't mean they are cursed, so don't go around saying that about yourself or someone else without really knowing.

What the Bible says about blessings and curses:

The Bible says, those whom God has blessed no man can curse. Those people are often preachers, rabbis, ministers and prophets. He also blesses others as well.

However, what some call God's blessing is not. For example, winning the lottery is not God's blessing, as it involves gambling. Earning money off questionable music or films with raunchy and or vulgar content is not God's blessing. That's another agency at work.

Did you know that the word “curse” is mentioned in the Bible 171 times.

It’s one thing to play with the physical, which is the seen (things you can see), but to play with the spiritual, which is the unseen, such as God, is foolish.

No, I’m not trying to sound all eerie and mystical, as I don’t believe in mysticism, but I do believe in God and the Bible and according to the Bible and history, if you do certain things it will bring curses into your life. A few examples of things that bring curses:

- Deliberately tripping a blind person (Deuteronomy 27:18 and Leviticus 19:14).

- Stealing from God (Malachi).

- Adding or taking away from The Bible (Revelations 22:18-19)

- Preaching a different Gospel other than the one in the Bible (Galatians 1:9).

Some people like to twist the Bible for their own gain or to manipulate others. God never intended for anyone to do that and those passages in the Bible address that (Galatians 1:9 and Revelations 22:18-19).

Generational Curses

Some Christians modernly refer to problems that plague families for years as “generational curses.” These are sins that run through families generation after generation, such as murder, alcoholism and adultery.

That should be enough to make some think twice about undertaking certain vices. If something has the potential to affect your children, your grandchildren and great-grandchildren, why start that vice that they will have to struggle with as well. Genetics are very strong. They can pass on great traits like mathematical genius, musical ability and athleticism, but genetics can also pass along destructive vices like promiscuity, alcoholism, drug use, adultery and murder.

Scientist even concluded that people are genetically predisposed to making certain bad choices their parents did. I remember one genealogist warned a certain celebrity not to even take a drink, as severe alcoholism has run in his family for generations. In other words, don’t open that door because people in his family do not handle liquor well. It turns into a very destructive, consuming vice.

I’m not condemning anyone, as God offers forgiveness if a person asks, just imploring you to be careful of your choices. Don’t start or continue to indulge in certain habits that can end up running through your lineage and causing suffering in your family for years to come.

However, just because your parents did those things, doesn't mean you have to. Yes, you maybe genetically predisposed to it, but you don't have to give in to it. And just because a parent had a certain disease, doesn't mean it has to happen to you as well. Don't think like that (many people think like that and it is a great source of worry to them). Break the cycle. Avoid or change those things that would lead you down the same path - such as stop smoking, stop taking drugs, stop stressing yourself out (scientists say stress causes disease).

Pastors often advise that if a history of certain vices are prevalent in a family, a person should seek the counsel of a knowledgeable preacher in those matters and request that they pray for them that those sins be removed from the person's family.

You can also do your part in redoubling your efforts to resist making the same mistakes your parents made. Listen to them when they tell you about the mistakes they made and avoid those mistakes. There is something about certain sins when they are in a family for a while - they grow worse with each generation, unless it is changed/stopped.

The topic has even been written about in the mainstream as well. Have you ever heard a news outlet make reference to the Kennedy Curse. I also heard a sermon by John Hagee where he traced the Kennedy Curse back to their grandfather ("Curses, their cause and cure"). He said the Kennedy patriarch was a ruthless businessman and he cited a few things that transpired. John and many others believe it brought a curse on the family. It's something preachers have written and talked about for years. They believe it is a curse, not because people have died (that's normal), but due to the number of people who have died in different tragedies.

I should note that in the Bible, something similar happened to a man named Job, but he was not cursed. He was a really good person. Therefore, in some cases, that's not what happened, but in some cases it is. I don't write about it being mean, disrespectful or condescending, but it would be good if they went to a pastor who is knowledgeable in that branch of theology and had them pray for them to have it lifted from their family.

In closing, don't let anyone try to convince you a red string or bottled water or any other gimmick is a sign of God's love (God's love is free) or a form of protection or good luck. There is no such thing and there's no such thing as luck. The Bible debunks that. Sometimes in life things will go well, other times they won't. Some days the other guy will be smarter than you. Will play better than you and win the game. Will work harder than you and get the promotion. And sometimes people will do bad things for no reason that will adversely affect you. No so called religious gimmick is going to ward that off. However, God will see you through everything, good and bad if you put your faith in Him. He will give you the grace and endurance to go through it. 

Also, God can forgive. Curses can be removed from people's lives, but it requires a positive change in behavior, asking for forgiveness for one's sins and praying to have curses broken. God will forgive and help you if you ask.


June 24, 2004

- I made an amazing discovery recently…Jessica SIMPSON is related to the cartoon family The SIMPSON’S. I’m kidding.

Tennis

 In the last Sound Off article I wrote that a friendly rivalry between Roddick and Federer would be good for tennis, sort of like Sampras and Agassi. A few days later the Sun Sentinel ran a story that a rivalry between Roddick and Federer would be good for tennis, much like Sampras and Agassi or Connors and McEnroe - with Roddick and Federer stating their opinions on it.

They said they can understand a possible rivalry, but they are friends who think well of each other…aww that’s so sweet. Ok, the head of the ATP needs to do something about that. You know, tell Federer something like… "Roddick said he’s gonna sell your pet cow to McDonalds for their new, uh, animal sanctuary –cough- value menu" (kidding).

They don’t have to whack each other with their tennis rackets or anything (though, it wouldn’t hurt – ok, yea, literally, it would, but I meant it wouldn't hurt ratings).

Seriously, they can be friendly rivals. I think the dynamic people would be interested in seeing is two gifted people playing good tennis and battling it out for the number one.

With Federer cleverly hitting like an artful painter creating a portrait and Roddick masterfully whacking the ball into the next solar system it would make for interesting viewing and reporting.

Speaking of his serve, does he really expect people to return that or to at least properly return it. In his match today, a lot of his opponent's returns unintentionally looked like lobs or was that the game plan - hit it so high that the sun would get in his eyes and he'd miss. Sun...what am I saying, the match was in England (kidding).

Speaking of Federer, a few days ago, my sister’s friend gave her an authentic autographed pic of Federer as a gift. My little sister being the astute little skeptic she is, looked up his signature and found out he really did sign the pic. Note to any man that would want to marry my sister in the future: make sure the ring is real because she will check.

P.S. - she is currently underage, so any of you try that now and I will make sure you have to adjust to life as a eunuch. I’m totally kidding. I don’t think it’s right for women to, um, Lorena Bobbitt a man.

Anyway, back to the signed pic. It was so nice of her friend to give her that (what was her friend thinking. Does she know how much she could have gotten for it on Ebay. I was secretly wondering how much I could get for it on Ebay. I’m just teasing. Besides, I’d have to con my little sister out of the pic first and she’s way too smart for that).

Another tennis observation…I think if you are a qualifier and you draw Federer or Roddick you should have the right to sue the ATP for cruel and unusual punishment.

Can you imagine being told you drew Andy. I’d be like, uh, you mean Andy Griffith, right? (I’m just teasing, I love Andy Griffith – and he’d probably win the match against me too).

However, as my dad said, with the fitness level of these guys on the tour now, anybody can beat anybody on a given day. In some ways I think that's good. It boosts new players' confidence that they have a chance.

The training regimen tennis players follow is pretty grueling. It makes you wonder if all that training and the long hours of practice are contributing to the number of injuries. That’s a lot of wear and tear on the body on a weekly basis. However, some experts attribute the amount of injuries to the fast paced ATP schedule and lack of time to recuperate between tournaments. They're only human. After a while they will become fatigued, but under the circumstances, they really can't afford to.  

Wimbledon- I’ve been watching Wimbledon this week. Can you believe it’s been raining in England. Who would have thunk it -feigns surprise-. Yes, another bad weather joke on my part and I’m totally kidding.

I saw Goran’s first round match, which was fun. He was enjoying himself and it showed. He won his match against Volandri as well.

I also saw Tim Henman’s first round match. Didn’t his opponent, Hidalgo, look like Tom Cruise, but with Fabio like hair.

Robby Ginepri’s got that Fabioesque thing going too, especially with the chiseled features – Robbio anyone? I’m just kidding.

Seriously, Hidalgo reminded me of Tom Cruise, especially the nose and mouth. He played a very good debut match. However, Tim turned it around and won the match. He played some clever tennis in the fourth set. I like it when players try to outsmart their opponents and run them all over the court. Henman is good at that. Though, after the match I thought, Tim’s gonna have to drink his Lucozade after that 3 hour, 4 setter.

Off topic a bit for a second, how come they have Lucozade in the ethnic isle of the supermarkets in Miami. You don’t really think of British as ethnic, but I guess in Miami it is.

And since this is Miami, which is mostly Latin, shouldn’t all the other food be in the ethnic isle and the Latin food in the regular isles. Aha! Never say my site doesn’t make you think…or at least confuse you. Preferably not the latter. 

Back to Wimbledon…

Roddick vs. Wang - Speaking of smart tennis, Wang Chung, uh, I mean Yeu-Tzuoo Wang played some clever tennis against Roddick.

Wang looks so young (he's 19 years old). At first when I saw him, I jokingly thought, “Hey, they’re letting ball boys play now.” However, it was another good debut match. 

Still, Roddick showed why he’s got those titles when he took control of the match and won it. When he’s losing a set he gets this controlled incredible-hulk-implosion-look on his face when it hits him, “Hey, I’m losing!” Then 90% of the time he turns it around. He ups his game at that point. 

And yes, I’m probably watching these matches too closely to be observing all this (joking). 

Federer – He’s been serving up bagels like his name was Lenders.

If I played Roger, the score would be…6-1 6-1…ok, 6-0 6-0. Still, I’d like to think he’d at least let me get a few points cause I’m such a nice person. 

However, if I did catch a double bagel, I’d request they rework the scoring system (yes, real singer-like behavior). That way, instead of broadcasting the bagel, well, double bagel (I was trying to leave that out), it would read 6-.4  6-.4. That’s sort of like half a bagel and at first glance it looks like it says 6-4 6-4, if you don't pay attention to the decimal points, which would make me feel better. Hey, reward me for my effort. Self-confidence is very important to a non-ranked player. Silly you think? Ah, but with the ridiculousness in music today regarding female artists, stupid stuff like that would fly.  

I saw a post match interview with Federer a few days ago and I have a TENNIS RELATED QUESTION…why does Roger’s tennis gear look like men’s couture?

I mean, he was wearing a nice pair of sweats with a white shirt...and it looked like couture. The sweats almost looked like a suit. I thought, did the Swoosh people make that especially for him or is it the dry cleaning. And if it is the dry cleaning, dude, who’s your dry cleaner, Armani? (kidding).

Our players (male) joked a few months ago that their clothes don’t look very pristine. Yea, the Young Americans have this laidback California casual look going – you know, like they are going to a barbeque, not a tennis tournament (kidding).

I’m just waiting for one of them to wear a pair of khaki shorts and flip-flops on court (kidding again). As for the women, Serena, the tennis court is your runway, girl.

Pick of the Week

Arnaud “Willie Nelson” Clement 

 

I’m just kidding with these jokes. 

On an unfair note, the tiebreak error during Venus’ match ought not to have happened. She took it pretty well, though. I don’t think I would have. I would have thrown a hissy fit and demanded to speak to the Queen. Hey, I’m a singer, we always complain to the person at the top. Just kidding.  

Soccer

England lost their quarter final match against Portugal today. Well, Portugal was my other choice from the diary page, but I did want England to win. I still think they did well, though. However, there were too many questionable calls that went against them. It's rough losing under those circumstances.

Well, England did do well against Switzerland. Ha! Payback for them unleashing Roger Federer on an unsuspecting tennis world. I’m just kidding about Switzerland, no hate mail, please (I probably wouldn’t understand it anyway cause it would be in German or French. Joking again – I’ve got translators).

18-year-old Wayne Rooney did quite well in England’s matches. I’ve been reading about him in the British press for about a year. Last year I read that he was also a boxer. Earlier in the year I read that when Alpay picked a fight with Beckham on the pitch (field), Rooney allegedly decked him in the tunnel. Maybe that’s why he was scoring so many goals. The other players were scared. Probably afraid that if they fouled him, out of view of the ref, he would mouth the words, “Just wait until we get in the tunnel!” Yes, no goal is worth that. I’m just teasing.

Movies

While I didn’t catch any of the films that were released last week, I want to make a few observations.

Dodgeball was the #1 film in the country last week to which a writer from the San Francisco Chronicle hilariously wrote, “‘Dodgeball’ was the No. 1 movie last weekend? This country is in serious trouble.” Hahaha. While I didn’t want to laugh at that, it was too funny not to.

However, what I thought odd was other critics saying Spielberg’s film “The Terminal” didn’t do well, when it opened with 18 million and placed second at the box office. Those numbers aren’t bad for that film.

Can‘t say the same for the irreverent, sacrilegious teen film “Saved” (you know, the film I threw a little hissy fit about on this page last month). The film added 500 theaters in its second week of release, which the director, Brian Dannelly, bragged about. 

However, the film bombed like Hiroshima. Christianity - 1 Dannelly – 0.

Like I joked in Sound Off article about the film last month, movies of that nature aren't making a dent in Christianity, only the movie studios' budgets.

The film cost 5 million to make and has grossed about 6.7 million so far, after a 52% drop off recently. Not bad, you think, that’s over a million and a half in profit (no, not really). After the theaters get their share, there’s the cost of expensive release prints and advertising, some TV spots costing $100,000 each and other miscellaneous fees to be deducted, therefore the profits generated are significantly reduced, which means the film is in the red for the studio. 

To Brian, I say this in the gentlest, kindest, caringest, ok, most caring way…nah neh nah neh nah nah –raspberry-.

Aww I’m just kidding. Give me a hug (without inflicting any bodily harm for those jokes).

Not to mock directors whose films don’t gross a lot at the box office. Some of my favorite films barely made 10 million at the box office for different reasons (for example: art house films, lack of promo), but they are still well done. One favorite in particular didn’t even gross 4 million dollars. Still a great film though.

However, “Saved” is a movie that I don’t care for because it’s sacrilegious. Sorry, that one won’t be in my ever-growing DVD collection.

- While I’m talking about films using controversy to generate publicity, Michael Moore is questionably doing just that to promote his upcoming film “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

You know what’s ironic, during an interview last week with Matt Lauer, Moore grew visibly offended and annoyed when put on the hot seat regarding his motive for making such a film. He made a film bashing the President and his family, but gets mad when a journo asks him a few questions about his motivation for making such a movie and his character? A case of being able to dish it, but not take it.

Lauer also asked him about the abuse footage he obtained before it was written about in the press and his motive for holding it back. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

Decision not to release abuse footage

Yet Moore himself willingly held back a critical piece of his own footage.

Lauer: "There some images in your movie of an American soldier taunting and I guess sexually humiliating a detainee. Tell me how you got the footage, and when you got the footage."

Moore: "It was shot on December 12, outside of Basra by a freelance journalist. This is out in the field, now. This is not in the prison."

Lauer: "So you had your hands on this before the images from Abu Ghraib were made public."

Moore: "That's correct."

Lauer: "There's a decision to make there, on your part."

Moore: "I know. It was a really tough decision. And we're putting the film together and we're trying to decide what should we do here?"

Lauer: "But a critic would say, hey, send it to the right person a couple of months before these other photos go out and maybe –"

Moore: "Who's the right person?"

Lauer: "Send it to the Department of Defense, send it to someone and say, look I’ve got this, you guys better know about this."

Moore: "I'm at a point where I don't trust the mainstream media. I'm like most Americans at this point. We don't trust."

Lauer: "But you're setting yourself up for a cynic to take an immediate shot."

Moore: "I know."

Lauer: "And say hey, he held on to this because he wanted to promote a movie."

Moore: "Had I released it before we went to Cannes, this is what you guys would have said: Oh, he's just doing this as a publicity stunt. Look at this."

Lauer: "It would have all been in the tone."

That’s a very good question. Why didn’t he report what he witnessed? In not doing so, it really does appear like he waited to use it as a promo tool for the film. Why is it his movies are like this? Why are they steeped in controversy. Why doesn’t he make a real film. Anyone can make a doco bashing someone. Actually, anyone can make a doco, doesn’t mean it's good -cough- Madonna.

- While I’m on the subject of 9-11, I saw an interview on the 700 Club featuring Stephen Hayes, author of the book “The Connection,” which links Al Qaeda to Sadaam/Iraq. In the interview, they questioned the mainstream media’s fairness in the unbalanced reporting some did regarding the subject.

- I read about the Supreme Court rejecting the lawsuit to have the line, “One Nation Under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance.

I also saw a news program that brought up a very valid point. If they had granted the request, it would have opened the floodgates for similar suits to have religious statements and names removed from society.

The lawsuit would have meant other subsequent suits, such as removing the word “Angeles (angels)” from the name “Los Angeles.” It would have opened the floodgates, making frivolous lawsuits of that nature permissible…and then where would it all end.

Can you imagine having to go around saying “I live in Los!”?… “Um, which Los?”… “Uh, Los, California – like, duh!”

Religious Gimmicks

I read an article about the Vatican holding a conference to address the new age cults that have sprung up recently. In particular, they’ve denounced Madonna’s promoting of Kaballah Centers, as the group is considered a cult.

And for her next reinvention…the deprogramming center. 

My main concern is the harm it poses to people. These faddy cults provide false answers and gimmicks.

As I mentioned in the last Sound Off, Christ said in the Bible that in life you will have trouble ("In this life you will have trouble" - John 16:33). There’s the real answer. There will be troubles in life, as it is not a cakewalk, however, with faith in Him, He will see you through those problems. He didn’t write it to depress you, but as a warning not to be surprised when trouble comes along and not to interpret it as Him not caring about you, because He loves you. 

Therefore, with cults, it becomes an issue of faith in that they are misleading people, giving them a false sense of security and gimmicky solutions that won’t work in the real world. It will leave people dismayed. And sadly with some, that disillusionment will result in a loss of faith. 

They have these confused celebrities who clearly do not know what they are talking about, foisting this on the public. False solutions and sacrilegious answers to their problems such as red strings, so called blessed bottled water, so called blessed face creams and other so called blessed gimmicks that will supposedly make them rich.

Have you noticed that a lot of these celebrities pushing these gimmicks to you made their money off vulgar music and films. They didn’t achieve it through the religious gimmicks they’re pushing. Think about that.  

You know, I find it hard to believe that God would bless a face cream.

He didn’t die on the cross for face cream. Half of those celebrities are using Botox, anyway.

They claim their blessed products give you energy and vitality, yet their main celebrity spokesperson had to cancel a concert because she had the stomach flu, then the week after, fainted in full view of portions of the audience. 

If a person overworks or abuses the human body, does not get enough rest and is riddled with stress, worry and anxiety, the immune system becomes weakened. No religious gimmick of a product is gonna prevent that.

You cannot buy a blessing, as it is free. The people who tried to buy God’s blessings in the Bible almost got into serious spiritual trouble. If it weren’t for God’s mercy via the people they tried to buy the blessings from, having sympathy for them and offering them the chance to ask God for forgiveness, they would have been lost. 

It is an insult to God to try to sell a blessing and when these things don’t work, and inevitably they won’t, in protecting people from problems in life or giving them lasting answers, they become confounded and disillusioned with God and faith. And often lose faith as a result – all because someone sold them a religious gimmick.

It is wrong to promote religious gimmicks. It is dangerous to the person who falls for the gimmick, because when it doesn’t work, if they don’t regain their faith in God during their life, they will lose their soul when they die. It is also dangerous to the individuals who create and promote those gimmicks, as God takes people’s faith and any loss thereof very seriously. It is not something to play with, but something to ask for forgiveness for.

There are no quick, cure-all answers in life. Sometimes bad things will happen which will defy explanation.

For years I’ve heard some of the saddest stories from people who have been through tragic things in life. I listen with attentive ears, as you can learn a lot about life and how to help people. There are people who got into trouble due to the choices they made and some who suffered innocently at the hands of other people. With others, bad things happened to them, some accidentally, and have become things they struggle with everyday.

They’re gonna look at these people and tell them a red string, blessed bottled water or blessed face cream is the answer to their problems…when it clearly doesn’t even work for the people telling them that?

If you are in a cult or even if you are in God’s holy church, do not sell people gimmicks or schemes to allegedly protect them from evil or supposedly make them rich, because when they don’t work, and they won’t, hence the term gimmick, people will question it and sometimes blame God when bad things happen or the purported results aren’t achieved. They’ll be disillusioned and ask Him why did this happen or I thought if I did what so and so said that this would happen or would work for me or I’d be protected from trouble...

Imagine God hearing a prayer of someone crying out to Him in sheer disillusionment because of a religious gimmick. Over the years people have done that to others and for some that's all it takes for them to walk away from the faith. Things like that leave people embittered and doubtful about God, when it wasn’t even His doing.

Don’t play with people’s faith. God is about faith, love and charity. God is not about making anyone rich or famous or more famous for the sake of doing so - when He does allow fame and wealth, it’s for a person to use that podium and those resources to help others and in accordance to the guidelines He set forth in the Bible.

God is not a fad and should not be marketed or written about as such. He has been in existence longer than all of us – hey, He named you. I know I’ve joked that He has a sense of humor in giving me a name most people can’t pronounce (a name I love nonetheless).

In closing, God is the real deal, accept no substitutions.  

   

 


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