Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dome Pondering Movie Review: 500 Days of Summer (2009)

DPReview500Days What is it about?

The relationship between a greeting card writer, who is just going through the motions, a woman who is hiding behind many social walls, and how their relationship changed their outlook on fate, destiny, love, and life.

Who is in it?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Tom Hansen

Zooey Deschanel – Summer Finn

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dome Pondering Import - Langston Hughes – “Problems” and “The Dream Keeper”

As February, and the month dedicated to black history comes to a close, I would be remiss if I did not share the words, feelings, and intellect of one of my favorite writers, Langston Hughes. Hughes, known for his famous poems and short stories that were inspirational, all the while touching on the issues regarding race relations during the time, is remarkable in his ability to force the reader to think and convey various thoughts on so few words. The following are two poems that illustrate his incomparable abilities.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dome Pondering Celebrates 200

DP200 On February 25, 2010, Dome Pondering has reached it’s 200th post here on the Blog Spot. Another 100 stories, ideas, thoughts, reflections, reviews, and questions have gone and passed (not including the minor ponderings). In the past, The DP has grown incredibly, with more average hits, overall hits, and daily hits in the last 100 posts than in the nine year history that yours truly has been attempting to make sense of this life…and yes, I'm sure it still looks on in repose.

Top Five Favorite Posts Over The Last 100

1. Dome Pondering Year in Review 2009 – 12/31/09

2. One Year Longer. One Year Stronger – 5/25/09

3. Why Did Derrion Albert Have To Die (Part II) – 10/09/09

4. The California Chronicles 11/8/09 – 11/8/09

5. Fraud-Bags: Four Types of People Exposed 2/11/10

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

We Need To Do Better

According to reports, fewer black students are now attending New York City’s most elite public high schools than ever before. The percentage of black students as reported in the New York Daily News, have dropped in all but one of New York City’s eight schools that require specialized exams for entry. In fact, the number of black students at all eight schools have decreased overall from 1,042 to 1,160.

Now, New York City is a small sample size of what probably is occurring all across this nation. With our nation falling behind in education globally, there seems to be a growing trend of failing numbers in the black community.

Now, understandably, there could be various reasons for such statistics and declines. From lack of funding, non-existent community support, and/or poor teachers, schools fail for a variety of reasons. Here in New York City we’ve seen various schools that are closing (including my former High School) due to failing grades, but failing grades that were brought about from politics and bureaucratic maneuvers. A lot of students were victims, however, many never did themselves in any favors in avoiding the sinking ship – many of them, unfortunately were black students.

Now this is not a forum to alienate a specific group of people, however, a challenge to black students to do better. We, as a overall society have to do better.

In my experience working with children and teens, it is especially painful to see young black men think their only option to become successful is through picking up a mic, running a football, or shooting a jump shot. The naive attitude and narrow mindedness that they somehow have attained and possess tells them that various options are closed to them -and them only. That such options are not allowed or are not reasonable and viable options. Some, that I have seen and heard with my own eyes and ears in the 8th grade, already know they are not attending college.

Why not?

That question should be asked all over our nation.

We need to want more.

We need to seek more.

We need to challenge ourselves.

We need to do better.

The time is now to begin taking responsibility. I understand that the generation of civil right movements and Jim Crow laws are not as far removed as we would like it to be, however,  the election of President Obama should be a symbol of what is real, and what is now possible in this world.

All the doors that have been shut forever, are now open – and opened wide.

A black child can be President of the United States. And most importantly, you can say that, and believe it one hundred percent.

The excuses need to stop. The shifting of blame and responsibility needs to stop.

It is all up to the black student. What do you want out of life?

The opportunities are there. They are everywhere. We just need to do better.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dome Pondering Movie Review: Up (2009)

DPUPReview What’s it about?

After the death of his wife, a 78-year old former balloon salesman sets out to fulfill their lifelong dream of having adventures and reaching Paradise Falls. After tying thousands of balloons to his home to realize the dream, he embarks, accidently, on a new adventure with a wilderness explorer 70 years younger than him.

Who is in it?

Edwar Asmer – Carl Fredricksen

Jordan Nagai – Russell

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tiger Owes Us Absolutely Nothing

DPTigerOwesUsNothing On Friday, Tiger Woods apologized to the world for his infidelity and actions. Three months after Tiger’s disappearance from the rest of the world (which is amazing in today’s TMZ-like media), he decided to begin his “recovery” with Friday’s press conference. Three long months where Tiger’s life, brand, career, and entire world took hit, after hit, after hit. From the women, the rumors, the analyzing, and the embarrassing texts and stories – Tiger Woods found himself in a position that he never thought he would be in. 

In fact, Woods did one of the toughest things an individual can ever do – admit to the world he was wrong about personal issues that are grounds for severe embarrassment. Yet in doing so, it seems (like always) there are issues with his apology. 

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dome Pondering Movie Review: Facing The Giants (2006)

DPFacingtheGiantsReview What’s it about?

A High School Football coach and his football team overcomes many fears personally and professionally by rededicating themselves to faith.

Who is in it?

Alex Kendrick – Grant Taylor

Shannen Fields – Brooke Taylor

Jason Mcleod – Brock Kelley

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Olympics: Winter Games Just Not The Same

DPWinterOlympics I absolutely love the Olympics Games. It’s such a spectacle that the ultimate fan of sports must love. And while sports and business will always be tied together, the Olympic Games are the closest event in sport that is as pure and straight forward as competing for integrity and pride. There is that specific novelty and admiration that we have for Olympic athletes  that bear the colors of their nation in competition. It is the stage of dreams, nightmares and Cinderella stories, where even the smallest of nations have their opportunity to compete.

Pure competition. No salary cap. No debate over small-market vs. large market spending. No free agency. No hold outs. No contract extensions or opt outs.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Responsibility: A One-And-Done Thought For The NCAA

DPNCAA JCNCAA College basketball is often considered an interesting paradigm whenever I think about its overall make up. While I would admit that I prefer the NBA game, I enjoy the passion and exuberance that the college atmosphere creates as well as the game’s unique innocence in skill level. However, it is the semantics around the game that makes college basketball an interesting topic. And the main topic, as is with all large collegiate athletic programs: Education vs. Wins. Which is the true image of NCAA basketball programs?

And that topic is at the fore front of the issue regarding Norm Roberts, St. Johns University Men’s Head Basketball coach.

After falling into the basketball abyss due to many violations, scams, and controversy, Roberts took over the reigns of the St. Johns program. Now, in his fifth year, Roberts is now under an intense microscope and in danger of losing his job.

However, on what grounds?

Roberts has restored St. Johns back to respectability. While they are not world beaters, St. Johns is not the worst program to attend. However, one of the most interesting quirks by Roberts in his five years, is that he runs a very clean program that graduates it’s student-athletes.

While I am not advocating for Roberts to keep or even lose his job, one has to wonder, is a winning program amidst controversy and/or low graduation rates more satisfactory than a clean program in mediocrity? It sounds like an age-old debate, yet, its amazing how desensitized the concept has become, almost beyond the threshold of acceptance.

When college basketball fans clamor and puff their chest about the “purity” of the college basketball game, it is situations like Roberts, and the many others that makes one scratch their head.

The constant occurrence of coaches not honoring contracts and skipping from school to school is absurd. Coaches on the collegiate ranks often leave recruits and schools in worst condition than when they initially partnered.

The way schools place certain student-athletes on high thrones for their athletic ability while fixing students grades, lavishing them with gifts, and pardoning them from certain responsibility all in the face of education.

How about loop holes in the structure that allow a student-athlete to play four years of basketball and not graduate? How about the recruiting of athletes with no intention of pursuing advanced learning? And those questions are posed without going in depth on the one-and-done athletes.

With the NBA potentially facing a lockout in the coming years, the overall ethical health of the NCAA will be tested, and reevaluated. Students will be forced to stay in school due to no other level to advance to. How will the NCAA respond?

Now is the time for the NCAA to tighten its structure, and clean up the loose ends which has turned amateur athletics into a professional business prostituting college athletes.

For is it about wins at all costs? Or is it about educating students?

In agreement with the words of NBA Commissioner, David Stern, “The hit to the game of basketball is not due to age limits or high school athletes looking to go pro, it is the NCAA lack of ability to police itself. Everyone always points the finger to us or elsewhere, except for where the blame truly belongs.”

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fraud-Bags: Four Types of People Finally Exposed

DPFraud I can’t imagine that over the past nine years that Dome Pondering has existed and the near 200 posts here on BlogSpot, that the topic of fraudulent fans has not been discussed. After all, one hundred percent of Dome Pondering is about topics and situations that create passion in yours truly. And well, fraudulent fans rank high on that list.

“Fraud-bags” as I have come to label them (fake and full of you know what) are everywhere in life – especially when it comes to sports. There are various kinds of fraud-bags that annoy the real and passionate fans that enjoy the emotional ride of their favorite team and athlete (for the individual sports). Today, I expose these kinds of people. Here are the various versions of the fraud-bag.

Bandwagon/Front Runner Fans

These are the absolute most annoying and least respected type of fans in sports. There are  true fraud-bags that have such little respect for themselves, that they switch allegiances every year according to a team’s recent success. These types of fans ruin it for the passionate fans that go through the ups and downs of the team by latching their fraudulent tentacles on precious moments.DPNYBandwagonFans

These type of fans will never die as they have been around for years and will be around in the future. Bandwagon fraud-bags see no wrong in their ways of changing allegiances. Discussing matters with them is useless because “their” team is always contending. There is no cure for the frontrunner fraud-bag as they morph each year with every new crowned champion.

Recent Examples: Chicago Bulls Fans (Late 90’s) -> Los Angeles Lakers Fans (2000-2004); Boston Celtic Fans (After 2007); Boston Red Sox fans after 2004. Current New Orleans Saints Fans not living near or from the gulf coast.

Fraud-Bag Rating – 5/5

Fair-weather Fans

Fair-weather Fans are people that only support a team when it is doing well. While the fair-weather fan is more respected than that of the front runner because of their allegiance to one team, the fair-weather fan can sometimes be just as annoying. These fans, just like front-runner fans, come out of nowhere for the good times and disappear when support in numbers is desperately needed.

DPFraud-bags DPFraudbags3 On the other hand, it must be understood that not everyone is a die-hard sports fan. And not everyone is overly passionate or emotional about their team. That is a fair assessment, which is why some fair-weather fraud-bags are often left alone for their naive ways.

However, there are the specific types that are never around during the season, yet come alive during playoff time to attempt to prove their worthiness to the true fans. The types that would skip over rivalry week to attend to whatever is relevant in pop-culture during the regular season, yet claim the team as priority when the playoffs come around. They are the types of people that couldn’t tell you the line up or roster during the season. They are types that pull the sudden 180 to join back and attempt to prove their allegiance to be true during the good times. We all know the types: The constant Facebooking status update, over-aggressive wearing of team apparel, and the need to attempt to learn and regurgitate as many facts as possible to sound knowledgeable.

These types of fans have also been around for years. Yet, there is hope for the fair-weather fraud-bag. With signs of allegiance, hopefully that can become a full-fledged commitment to the good and bad times.

Examples: Just about any situation and team that has fans.

Fraud-Bag Rating – 3/5

Geographically Confused Fans

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James holds his New York Yankees hat during the fourth inning of Game 1 of an American League Division Series baseball game between the Yankees and Cleveland Indians Thursday, Oct. 4, 2007, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)Another type of Fraud-Bag that boggles the mind is the Geographically Confused Fan. While this type of fraud-bag is one that has the right intentions – Does not change allegiances and is fully committed – their choice of teams are so asinine that it could very well pass for the aforementioned Bandwagoner/Frontrunner.

These are the types of fans that either have an array of teams from all over the nation, or have a variation of teams from rivaling cities that absolutely make no sense. 

However, there are some loop holes and some technicalities in this type of Fraud-Bag that should be explained. If you are from a certain region, born, raised or both, and you move to another city, it is alright to remain with your initial team. e.g. John A moves to New York from St. Louis, but is still a diehard Cardinals fan. That is understandable. Another allowance is if you grew up a huge fan of an athlete, and due to that relationship became a fan of the team. e.g. John B living in Orlando followed Michael Jordan throughout the years and is still a Chicago Bulls fan today. That is also understandable. Other allowances include the nationally followed and adored teams such as the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves (Due to TBS), Dallas Cowboys, and Los Angeles Lakers.  DPNYBOS

But let’s be honest, how many fans of Michael Jordan, and yes, “Bulls fans” are still rooting today for Derek Rose and company? Not many. Fraud-bags. How about those that are fans of weird combination of teams from rival cities that genuinely dislike one another such as Yankees-Celtics? Red Sox-Giants? Fraud-bags. And how about the fans that like teams all over the nation with no direct ties or reasoning? Padres, Timberwolves, and Panthers. Yes, fraud-bags.

These type of fraud-bags are curable, yet are tricky. They can fall under either frontrunners or fair-weather fans at an moment because of their unique situation.

Recent Examples: Rare breed of Celtics and Yankees Fans.

Fraud-bag Rating – 4/5

The “ESPN Said it So it Must Be True” Fans

The final types of fraud-bags are the fans that believe that ESPN is the be all-end all of anything sport related. While I enjoy ESPN, its programming, website, magazine, and anything else that is distributed by the brand, it is understood that it is not the only form of journalism in sports. In fact, much of the time ESPN is not a direct source of information, and is often times last in breaking news stories. However, this is not intended to attack ESPN, but directing at the fans that believe anything that comes from the Worldwide Leader in Sports.

These types of fans are the ones that memorize, recite, and repeat anything that is said by ESPN analysts and opinionist (which the majority of them are) as law. I’m sure some of you have heard the rebuttal in some argument “well so-and so on ESPN said that…”.

These type of fans love the Kool-Aid that is given to them, and are often unaware of other well respected journalists and experts that are not employed in Bristol. They are usually unaware and unafraid to think logically about games and athletes. Whatever and however ESPN breaks it down, is how they will view it.

Recent Examples: Everyday.

Fraud-Bag Rating – 2/5

Whew, after nine years I am glad that is finally out there. Fraud-bags are everywhere, so beware true and passionate sport fans. Hopefully this will help you in identifying them, or if you are currently one, in changing your ways for the better.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Jumping Aboard The Tim Tebow Bandwagon

DPtebow I never quite understood the aura and legend that was Timothy Richard Tebow. I never understood the reason he was as big of a phenomenon at The University of Florida, and within the college football ranks as he was. He is an outstanding athlete, very mobile for his size, and heralded by Floridians as their hometown blue chipper. I get that. I also understand the accomplishments of being the first ever sophomore Heisman trophy winner, holder of various NCAA rushing and passing records, and all the much talked-about intangibles and leadership that Tebow possesses. I get all of it. Tim Tebow is amazing.

But so were many other athletes on the collegiate level in our lifetime. However, for some reason, Tim Tebow ascends them all. And now that he is removed from the fame and grandeur, and in a time where he is being blasted for the important things in his life, is when I finally understand it all. After all these years I completely understand why Tim Tebow is admired by so many, and it is not because of what he did on the field, but in fact, who he is.

After reading an interesting (and highly recommended) story on ESPN.com by Jemele Hill, my admiration for Tebow went beyond it’s simmering status. I’m now a big fan. I may not be from Florida, but count me aboard the Tim Tebow Bandwagon.

Tebow, who is endorsing a pro-life message in a commercial with his mom during the Super Bowl, is the target of many who either oppose his stance on the topic, or feel the message is inappropriate during a time where political and social message ought to be banned during America’s unofficial holiday.DPTimTebow2

And if politics and society weren’t enough, Tebow is currently going through the grind of hearing about the flaws in his game which has gained him the accolades and fame he has endured over the past few years. 

However, Success hasn’t changed him. 

Fame hasn’t changed him.

Through it all, Tebow continues to be himself. He is still the same Tim Tebow that endorses his faith in Christianity in everything he does. And the same person that always places Jesus Christ above any football-related matter in his life.

I absolutely get it. And if you do, Tebow is a person that is easy to root for.

As a fellow believer, I greatly admire Tebow for his courage and conviction in taking such a stance despite ruffling a few feathers and taking tons of heat. It is very easy to get caught up in this life of fame, money, and temptation, however, Tebow has never attempted to please anyone or be “politically correct”. He has lead a life that is true to himself, and most importantly, the great God above.

With so many athletes in our world today that say or do whatever is needed to protect their image (and brand), we’ve all become desensitized to it, and accept it as the norm. However, we often see through their lies and phony ways in interviews and sound bytes, yet never mention it. We ignore the 800 pound gorilla in the room because that is the status quo.

Tim Tebow isn’t the status quo. And because of that he is made fun of for his bible verse eye black, his virginity, and his beliefs, all in accordance to being called overrated in regards to his talents on the field.

Tim Tebow maybe not be status quo…but Tim Tebow is Tim Tebow. And in agreement with the words of Jemele Hill in her story, “You may think the media fawns over him way too much. And you may think he's overrated. But the one thing you can never say about Tim Tebow is that he's a fake.”