Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Reel Talk: Foxcatcher

Synopsis: The greatest Olympic Wrestling Champion brother team joins Team Foxcatcher lead by multimillionaire sponsor John E. du Pont as they train for the 1988 games in Seoul - a union that leads to unlikely circumstances.*

CogNegro's Review:  Due to the strong, against typecast performances from both Steve Carell and Channning Tatum, Foxcatcher  remains in the hunt for Oscar gold despite a somewhat dragging plot. (B-)

Official Trailer 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Corner Spotlight: HooverPhonic- 2wicky

Hope everyone enjoyed their holiday! 
With 2wicky, Hooverphonic adds a transcendent and ambient flare to an  already funky and mellow Isaac Hayes' sample. The results? A great representation of the Trip hop sound!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Take Five: Soulful Holiday Selections

5. Alexander O'Neal - My Gift to You:

4.Eartha Kitt- Santa Baby

3.TLC- Sleigh Ride

2.Boyz II Men featuring Brain McKnight- Let it Snow

1.Donny Hathaway- This Christmas 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Reel Talk: Snowpiercer

Synopsis: Set in a future where a failed climate-change experiment kills all life on the planet, except for a lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, where a class system emerges.

CogNegro's Review: Snowpiercer  is  a rather carnal, dystopian commentary on class that still manages, due to its' originality, transport itself to the top of this year's Sci-Fi offerings.(B+)

Official Trailer

Monday, December 22, 2014

Corner Spotlight: Kings of Leon- Last Mile Home (Acoustic)

I don't know how I  allowed myself to be suckered into watching August Osage County  but I'm glad I did! Besides witnessing one of the greatest actresses living today, Jersey's own Meryill Streep, doing the damn thing,  I was treated to an acoustic version of  Kings of Leon "Last Mile Home" during the closing credits. Sometimes beauty can blossom out of sorrow and boy is this song  proof of that!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Good Friday: The "Penn" is Mightier Than...

At age eight, most of use were busy watching cartoons while playing with  our favorite action figures or baby dolls. Ms Maya Penn, on the other hand , was crafting headbands for family and friends.  This fascination would eventually lead her into becoming the founder and CEO of her very own company: Maya's Ideas. In her own words, Maya's company specializes in "Eco-friendly, environmentally sustainable, fashionable accessions and clothing." Now at age 14, Maya is still honing her skills, not only as a designer, but animator, environmental activist, coder, and philanthropist! That's right, ten to twenty percent of Maya's profits are given to such causes as The Atlanta Community Food Bank and The Ian Somerhalder Foundation (in which she is also a member). Ms. Penn's incredible accomplishments have been featured in a variety of media outlets that range from CNN to ELUXE magazine. Young lady, we all salute you for your wondrous accomplishments and eagerly anticipate what you have in store for the world! To learn more about this incredible young lady visit the official Maya's Ideas website at this link Maya's Ideas. CogNegro Out!

(Ms. Maya on The Steve Harvey Show)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Classic Corner: Unsung Hero

By Da CogNegro

With Marvel Studios' recent announcement of its' upcoming Phase 3,coupled with DC Comics/WB  future offerings, it is a great time to be a comic book fan!  I know we have to suffer through Fox's and Sony's cash grabs entitled the Fantastic Four and the bastardization of the Spider Man universe but at least Bryan Singer is back at the helm of the X-Men franchise. I for one feel quite spoiled, don't you?You see kiddies, there was a time where comic book movies where no where to be found thanks to a small film called Superman IV :Quest for Peace. This waste of celluloid was so horrid, that movie studios did not want to touch any comic  book property with a ten foot pole used at Drake's bar mitzvah! Though Tim Burton revitalized the Batman franchise in 89, producers and distributors alike where still  leery at adapting established comic franchises. As a result, studios begin to create their own super heroes to fill in the chasm that Superman haphazardly created. Most studios failed at making anything substantial Nevertheless, one of those attempts, to the day, stays near and true to my heart!

Meteor Man, which is directed by Robert Townsend, tells the story of Baltimore native, Jefferson Reed; a mild mannered,  high school, substitute teacher, who moonlit as a bass player for a  local band. After being struck by a meteor, Reed becomes a super powered being bestowed with incredible abilities that includes, but not limited to, superhuman strength, speed, hearing, healing powers, telekinesis, super breath (ok?) and being able to understand the language of dogs!The movie basically goes through your standard superhero phases of overcoming initial uncertainty of the new found role , combating the scourges that plague the hero's community (which in this instance are the Golden Lords: a local gang funded by drug kingpins and known for their affinity for everything gold, think Trinidad James but less garbled),rejection from the community due to the retaliation of the antagonists and finally, redemption through the defeat of the villains once and for all! Throw in many cameo appearances from every black entertainer at the time,no seriously, even Luther Vandross manages to snag a role as a mobster...let that sink in for a bit ,a catchphrase (GET METEORIZED) and a August slot for the Summer of 1993 and you are be  guaranteed a blockbuster franchise...right...RIGHT?

(I just bought this suit from Burlington Coat Factory!)

(Canceled After Just Six Issues??!! Arrghh!!)
Unfortunately,Meteor Man bombed at the box office and was panned by most critics upon release.  However, one has to applaud Towsend's efforts for  at least attempting to fill in the vacant spot when it came to heroes of color. The closest thing we ever received when it came to black heroes where those of the blaxploitation age and surely  that wasn't geared towards young children. I also believe the film may have been ahead of it's time. As mentioned earlier, the only comic book franchise that had proven to be successful at the time were Burton's Batman(s), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles doesn't count because their popularity was clearly a result of the animated show and not Eastman's black and white comic book. If Meteor Man was released  circa 2000, when special effects had improved and comic book films were becoming more of a staple, I'm pretty sure that it would have drawn a bigger audience. Nevertheless, Meteor Man did manage to  spawn a 6 issue limited series produced by Marvel Comics (ironically), a criminally underrated soundtrack and even a bendy toy  that no one bought! And dare I say, that if it wasn't for Meteor Man, there would be no Blank Man or the widely herald  STEEL, staring a post Kazam Shaquille O'Neal! On second thought, we've had a pretty crappy track record! Black Panther can't come soon enough!

My copy of Meteor Man (I'm such a nerd!)

*Plot and character details derived from Wikipedia

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Reel Talk: Top Five

Synopsis: A comedian tries to make it as a serious actor when his reality-TV star fiancĂ©e talks him into broadcasting their wedding on her TV show.

CogNegro's Review: Is it Chris Rock's best movie ever? Yes! But then again, one would be comparing Top Five to the likes of Head of State, Down to Earth and the guilty pleasure extraordinaire: Pootie Tang! Nevertheless,when ever the dialogue and pacing become a bit jejune ,Rock is able to infuse a jolt of hilarity,ethos, and even social commentary into what could have easily been another formulaic,urban "dramedy." (B)

Official Trailer:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Corner Spotlight: Aim- Good Disease

"Baby don't worry you're a good disease" is one pick up line I advise no one use...ever! Nevertheless, Aim's mellow sound, backed by a sample of Heatwave's  Mind Blowing Decisions, will prolong your desire to find a cure for this infectious tune!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Why Do We Do These Things: It's Thanksgiving...In a Can!!!

It's November again, well technically it's December  but for the sake of this entry it's November again, and you are once again faced with that ever present dilemma: do I stay home and enjoy a nice cooked meal prepared with love by friends and family? Or do I camp out in front of my favorite retail store looking like  a homeless  construction worker while huddled with strangers to save fifty dollars on a television that's  made with inferior parts specifically  created for Black Friday consumption? Well, thanks to these new  Thanksgiving Gumballs, which comes in such appetizing flavors as cranberry and turkey, you no longer have to make that tough decision. Just pop one of these balls of goodness inside the "ol pie hole" and you'll instantly be whisked  away to your local Golden Corral. Who doesn't want their breath smelling like the Boston Market manager's special? The pumpkin pie gumball alone reminds me of left over slices I avoided because I knew the house they came from was a safe haven for roaches anonymous! I'm pretty sure the collector's tin will fetch you just enough money to pay the shipping for your very own Adrian Peterson's child rearing guide!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Good Friday: He Blinded Me With Science !

Mr. Jaylen Bledsoe is far from your average sixteen year old! A native of Hazelwood Missouri, Jaylen started his own tech company, appropriately named Bledsoe Technologies, at the young age of  thirteen! His company specializes in web design and IT services and is currently worth more than 3.5 million dollars! Besides running his business, he is currently on the speaking circuit influencing the future minds of tomorrow. To find out more about Jaylen's ventures and philanthropy, visit his official site Here!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Take Five: Questionable Gimmicks in WWF/WWE

A future Classic Corner entitled "Wrestling With Masculinity" will delve further into the history of stereotypes and racial caricatures in professional wrestling. Creating this list was no easy task being that I literally had dozens of characters to choose from.

5. The Mexicools:
Juventud Guerrera, Super Crazy, and Psicosis are some of the most revered Mexican wrestlers the world over. However, once they arrived in WWE, they were repackaged as the Mexicools: three gardeners who transported themselves to the ring on  a lawnmower...I'll just let that sink in for a minute.

4. Momma:
Shelton Benjamin is probably one of the most naturally gifted athletes to ever step foot in the ring! A two time All American amateur, Benjamin entered the WWE as apart of the Team Angle tandem, which splintered into the Worlds Greatest Tag Team.Shelton  soon became a rather hot prospect in the singles' division . And even though he was a former Tag Team and Intercontinental Champion, management still felt that he lacked that certain "IT" factor. So what did creative feel would be a surefire way to fill in that charismatic void? Make his "Mamma"his manager.Played by Thea Vidale, I guess Tyler Perry's plays were out of season, Momma served as Shelton's over protective and over weight matriach. Often emasculating him to the delight of no one, Momma would assit Shelton by distracting referees with complaints of "loss of breath", hence the reason she came to the ring with an oxygen tank, or hitting his opponents with her purse. The Momma character was clearly inspired by past "Mammy"like caricature that  must of made Vince giggle with glee.

3.Akeem The African Dream:
Realizing that his One Man Gang persona was no longer successful, George Gary was informed by manager extraordinaire, The Doctor of Style... Slick(sigh) that he was indeed African and that it was necessary for him to get in touch with his roots in order for him to be more successful. What followed was by far the most...well, just see for yourself!

After the "transformation", Akeem would go on to  speak in what sounded like the Ned Flanders' version of  "Jive". To add insult to injury, Akeem was adorned in a dashiki purchased from Walmart while strutting like a rooster who watched one too many epsidoes of Solid Gold.

2. Cryme Tyme:
Attempting to to capitalize off the "Gangsta Rap" phenomonon,  Cryme Tyme was comprised of Shad Gaspard and JTG. This "wily" tag team were allegedly two hustlers from the ghettos of New York who engaaged in such wholesome activities as evading police, selling stolen items for marginal profits and educating the WWE universe on street lingo and catchphrases. As if that wasn't enough, Cryme Tyme's motto, "Money, Money Yea Yea", would blare in the background as they would "crip walk" to the ring  fully draped in gold chains, bullet proof vests and baggy jeans.They would even "throw up" gang signs to authentically show that they "repped da hood"! (Ugh, this write up is truly cringe worthy)

Back to the dark continent, just like Shaft! Kamla was herald as the Ugandan Giant from the darkest parts of Africa. Announcers would revel in his strength but repeatedly highlight his lack of intelligence along with his savagery. Apparently, Kamala  had to be controlled by a safari handler named Kim Chee. Kamala spoke in sounds, as oppose to a recognizable dialect, and was so unintelligible, that he would often pin his opponents in the wrong postion (back as oppose to stomach up). Thankfully, Kim Chee was their to chastise him to the point that he would eventually pin his oppent in the correct manner.Kamla spent the majority of his career as a "heel",that means bad guy to you non wrestling fans, and never won any championship gold. Currently, Kamala, who now goes by his real name  James Harris, is a double amputee who lives in poverty. All of his years of dedicated humiliation have gone unrewarded as Vince has not offered Jim any support during his time of peril!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Reel Talk: An Oversimplification of Her Beauty

Synopsis: The film documents the relationship between Terence and a lovely young woman as it teeters on the divide between platonic and romantic. 

CogNegro's Review: Wonderfully unorthodox and hypnotically profound, "An Oversimplification of Her Beauty"'s sardonic narrative coupled with its' idiosyncratic visuals positions this gem, not only to the top of the list of films seen in 2013, but quite possibly, one of the best films I've ever experienced! (A)

Official Trailer

Monday, December 8, 2014

Corner Spotlight: Dorando- Didn't I

Breaking Bad
is by far one of the best television shows ever produced! Besides the fantastic acting and edge of your seat plot, the music featured on the show was incredibly memorable and eclectic. One such song I was fortunate enough to discover was a tune by the unique Dorandao entitled Didn't I. Enjoy!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Good Friday: Lighten Up!

Ugh! Let me tell you folks, having the flu sucks! But being able to  create your own battery using acid, soda and metal parts scavenged from trash bins is not. In fact, it is quite the incredible feat! Let me introduce you to Sierra Leon's Mr. Kelvin Doe! Kelvin's ingenuity has lead him to be the youngest individual to participate in the "Visiting Practitioner's Program" at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Doe has also gone on to guest lecture at Harvard University and at  the global set of technological conferences TEDxTeen .When he's not busy building transmitters to light homes without power or signing a solar project pact with Canadian High Speed Service Provider Sierra WiF, you can find him running his own radio station under the alias  DJ Focus. Jam it on the one! Kelvin Doe's official Facebook page can be reached at the following link: Kelvin.Standing ovation for this young man's accomplishments. We do matter!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Classic Corner: So Now What?! Part 2 (Call to Action)

By Da CogNegro

There are a large portion of us who seek change but are often perplexed on how we can initiate and maintain such endeavors. A common misnomer, as it relates to activism, is that it has to take the form of large gatherings of galvanized individuals in centralized or designated areas. There will always be the need to for foot soldiers! I applaud and honor those who have dedicated and sacrificed themselves via this particular measure. However, not everyone has the emotional and mental makeup to engage in this form of protest. Some do not seek the attention that such a position draws and though we may initially resent or lambaste such persons for not evoking enough “pride in the cause”, we must realize that livelihoods may be at stake. So what can we do then if we fall into that category?

One of the most effective ways to create change is through economic boycott. Already, there have been thousands who have refused to shop on Black Friday. Thus demonstrating their disdain for the Ferguson decision. What a great endeavor! However, it doesn't have to start and stop at that initiative! Don’t support entities that do not have your best interest at hands. This includes fast food establishments that serve unhealthy items targeted at the uninformed, clothing companies who wish not see your body adorned in their products, radio and television stations that broadcast sounds and images, which perpetuate damaging stereotypes, created by soulless artist who profit off the plight of the underprivileged, and businesses who refuse to have proper representation of people of color. Use you hard earned money to support causes that champion our people and promote entrepreneurship instead of holding them to some rigid criterion that others do not have to undergo. Let us not be like the ones that Carter G. Woodson spoke about in The Miseducation of The Negro when he states the following:

Miseducated by the oppressors of the race, such Negores expect the Negro business man to fail anyway. They seize, then, upon unfavorable reports, aggregate the situation, and circulate falsehoods throughout the world and their undoing...The mis-educated Negroes then stands by saying: I told you so. Negroes cannot run business(42)

Though it may seem like a minor infringement or oversight, I was quite dismayed when the majority of my peers and constitutes neglected to view the groundbreaking film Dear White People. Financially supporting such artistic endeavors will let Hollywood know that we no longer will feed on what THEY dictate to be entertainment and representations of us. If we can purchase twenty dollar IMAX passes to catch the latest Avengers or Hunger Games “flick”, then we surely can pay the matinee price for a film that challenges the status quo and our own self destructive apathy. Something this seemingly minuet and insignificant can indeed be the catalyst for greater activism

Mentoring can indeed be one of the most rewarding, personal experiences. It allows an individual to witness the growth and maturation of a person while instilling ,within him or her, self worth and confidence. There are plenty of children and young adults who are yearning for attention and guidance. How much of a benefit would it be for them to see, engage and be influence by someone, who is a success in their own right, that isn't an entertainer, athlete or one who engages in illegal activities? Our youth aren't exposed to positive reflections of themselves often. Rather, they are bombarded with negative imagery on a daily basis as if it is a blatant assault on their very existence! One can simply turn on the television to see the validity of this assertion. With the value of black life depreciating with each public slaying, it will take strong minded individuals to reinforce to susceptible that WE DO matter and WE HAVE and WE CAN continue to make positive strides and impact. So sign up at a local community center, church, school or even take under your wing a wayward relative. Anything to resurrect the long gone belief that it takes a village to raise a child.

No change is possible with out first taking an in-depth, honest look in the mirror! (Myself included!) There exist within us a rather potent superiority/inferiority dichotomy. To supplement our battled esteems, we will often go to great lengths to emulate the majority in feeble attempts to gain counterfeit acceptance. Once we feel we have gained the sense of “belonging”, be it through the acquisition of materialistic items or educational accolades, we feel that it is insulting to be amassed with our alleged lower tier counterparts. And when we do muster the courage to express opinions that would go against the “majority rule”, rarely does our “social commentary” move beyond water cooler or couch talk. Simply for the fact that it does not effect US directly. And why is that? Is it a fear of being ostracized and labeled an insurgent? Or have we been  patronized to the point that we have been lulled into false sense of equality due to the fact that there is a percentage of us who have perceivably achieved the “American Dream”? Do we feel that our education has positioned us above the disenfranchised? Or that our wardrobe, nameplate on our desk, car(s) in our driveway, size of our lawns, credit limit on our cards and stamps on our passports absolves us of our social responsibility? We often times blame the uneducated and jettisoned for the perception of the value of black life and chide them for their “savagery”. But how much more refined are we when we mouthed the lyrics to music that devalues black existence ,adulterates the view of masculinity and femininity, and glorifies counter productive activity, in the VIP section of a swanky establishment? If the truth is a bitter pill to swallow, perhaps we should change our diet!

We are a beautiful ,eclectic, array of influential individuals! From fashion to dialect, down to musical endeavors and scientific innovations, we have always been, as my Nanny would put it, “Movers and Shakers! So to internalize that we have no value is prosperous! Yes, to ignore the systematic machinations that have been created for strategic annihilation of a people would be delusional and fool hearty! But we can not be cogs in the machine as it relates to our extermination fueled by our own self hatred! A platform can't be built to funnel to the masses if we can destroy the foundation. Reach one, teach one, and plant the seeds to create shade for the next generation! And let the words of Ms. Esperanza Spalding leave permanent markings on your soul:

Now maybe no one else has told you so
But you're golden, baby
Black Gold with a diamond soul
Think of all the strength you have in you 
From the blood you carry within you
Ancient men, powerful men
Built us a civilization

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Take Five: Black Super-Heroines (Not Named Storm)

5.Name: Crimson Avenger
First Appearance: Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.#9 (2000)

Special Abilities:Intangibility, teleportation and the power to gain the skills of those she avenges.She also posses a pair of cursed Colt pistols which were used by the original Crimson Avenger. 

Did You Know:
The Crimson Avenger has an ever-bleeding bullet hole on her chest as a result of using the cursed pistols to exact revenge on a guilty criminal ? 

4.Name: Bumblebee
First Appearance: Teen Titans # 45 (1976) 

Special Abilities: Besides being a skilled scientist and inventor, Bumblebee's suit gives her superhuman strength, the ability to fly and project sonic blasts  as well as the capability to shrink in size.

Did You Know:
In an attempt to prove that her former husband Mal was an asset to the Teen Titans, Bumblebee donned her suit and actually battled the team?

3.Name: Vixen
First Appearance: Action Comics #521 (1981) 

Special Abilities:Vixen has the innate ability mimic animals, which is enhanced by the Tabntu Totem: a voodoo relic said to contain the power of the God Anansi,

Did You Know:
That Vixen is a trained psychiatrist, fashion designer and supermodel?

2.Name: Misty Knight
First Appearance: Marvel-Team Up #1 (1975)

Special Abilities:Misty is an expert marital artist, renowned detective and weapons specialist. In addition, she possess a bionic arm, made from Antarctic vibranium, that grants her super-human strength, the capability to interface with electronics and limited mental ability to control machines.

Did You Know:
Misty was once roommates with the X-men's own Jean Grey ?

1.Name: Monica Rambeau 
First Appearance: The Amazing Spiderman Annual # 16 (1981)

Special Abilities: Monica has the ability to convert her body into any form of energy  within the electromagnetic spectrum. While in her energy form, Monica can fly, travel at superhuman speeds and exists in a vacuum without the need to sleep or eat.

Did You Know:
While under her Captain Marvel moniker, Monica served a short stint as the leader of the Avengers?




Monday, December 1, 2014

Corner Spotlight: Gregory Porter- Be Good (Lion's Song)

In an effort to momentarily quell, not pacify, our  feelings of outrage due to recent events,allow me to inject a spurt of much needed gentleness. Today's Spotlight will feature Mr. Gregory Porter's beautiful tune, accompanied by an equally heartwarming video, Be Good (Lion's Song). Take it all in family! CogNegro out!