Scattered Thoughts

Everything looks better with a Lego Death Star.


With the NBA officially in an apocalyptic tailspin, I decided to take a break from my respective gigs at Warriors World and Forum Blue & Gold to make my triumphant return over here at the SBG.

Now, some people predicted that with the absence of the National Basketball Association, that I would turn over my attention to Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League or perhaps even NCAA Football, but that’s just not me; instead, I stuck to my guns and focused even harder on the things that I already liked and wanted to question. In that sense, I’m like a pimp trying to rededicate himself to his craft by finding new ways to apply powder to my hands.

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen to my Scattered Thoughts.

ENTERTAINMENT
Last week, Bill Simmons wrote a brilliant career arc piece on Eddie Murphy that made me quite nostalgic. After reading the article, I came down to one big conclusion: no artists/entertainers have influenced me more than Michael Jackson and Eddie Murphy; and really it’s not close. Here’s the breakdown…

Michael Jackson
One of Michael Jackson’s greatest accomplishments was his ability to transcend race. Indeed, fans worldwide did not view him as a black entertainer, but rather as a man of music that just seemed to appeal to all. But Jacko did not just render his fans color-blind, he actually turned all of us into cult followers.

Sounds a bit harsh or perhaps too strong right? Well consider this: how many artists today could get away with routinely grabbing their crotch and yelling at a lady in a music video on the street and look completely cool doing it? Sounds weird and creepy, and yet that’s the premise for the video of The Way You Make Me Feel.

Once Michael did something, it automatically became socially acceptable. Tight pants that barely reached the ankles, shiny white socks, crotch-grabbing, dancing on the tip of your toes and screaming like a girl were all tolerated in the spirit of emulating Michael Jackson. But the one reason MJ shaped my childhood: he made me dance.

The King of Pop was a legend in his own right, and he turned a shy young boy into a kid willing to put himself out there to sing and dance regardless of whom was watching. Michael made me and a multitude of other kids around the world jump on their beds and dance to Smooth Criminal and attempt to recite lyrics that no one could seemingly understand. It’s one thing to do that to people in various cities, but to have that kind of impact across the globe? Unreal.

And here’s how I know there will never be another Michael Jackson: when MJ would release a new video (especially in the 1980s); the world would literally stop to sit down and watch it. You didn’t want to be the one person who missed its first airing and not be able to discuss it with friends the next day. Name me one artist today that could do that.

Just to put things into perspective, here are my five favorite music videos of all time:
1.     Thriller
2.     The Way You Make Me Feel
3.     Beat It
4.     Smooth Criminal
5.     Billie Jean

Yup, my top five is essentially a Michael Jackson playlist.

Eddie Murphy
My favorite movie of all time is Coming to America (in French mind you) and Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hours easily make my top 20 favorite movies list. But Eddie Murphy converted me into a fan for life with his classic stand up acts in Delirious and Raw.

Times might be different today but a lot of the jokes are still funny to this day no matter how many times I have watched the performances. For my money, Mr. F*ck You Man is the funniest man to have ever been involved in showbiz.

Eddie’s genius as a comedian stems from some of his multiple skills…
·      Voices: he could mimic the voice of just about any celebrity ranging from Mr. T. to Elvis Presley and even capture their mannerisms and act like these said celebs. Watch Eddie Murphy act like Bill Cosby by clicking here.
·      Storytelling: Those of you familiar with Charlie Murphy’s Hollywood stories on the Chappelle Show would probably be amazed at Eddie Murphy’s ability to recount stories in a comical way regardless of whether they were fictional or not. Have a look at Eddie Murphy act out a story on an Italian man after seeing the movie Rocky over here.
·      Real life situations: A lot of times, being a comedian means taking every day situations and presenting them in a different perspective that makes people laugh; and Eddie Murphy was able to do so routinely. Have a look at how Eddie portrays unfaithful women here.

And after seeing Eddie Murphy perform on stage and in his movies, it was clear to me that he would be remembered for a long time and that he would probably leave his mark on many much like Richard Pryor did before him.

TELEVISION & MOVIES

The Three Musketeers
I have yet to speak with someone who has actually seen the movie; but after following their story from a very young age, it only made sense for me to go see the movie. For those unfamiliar with the storyline, it occurs during the 1600s in France with Louis XIII serving as the nation’s king. His three best “soldiers” go by the name of the musketeers. These men are master swordsmen and could also be viewed in a way as the predecessors of Jason Bourne. All three musketeers come with different skill sets:
·      Athos: Although it’s rarely stated explicitly, he is the leader of the group. He is a master strategist as well as the one person willing to discuss matters diplomatically before engaging into battle because he always has his eyes on the big picture.
·      Aramis: He is the stealth agent that often does the scouting of the terrain and of the enemies in order to gain a tactical advantage. He is also highly religious to the point that he prays for his enemies.
·      Porthos: He is the brute of the group. He is physically imposing and the strongest one of the trio. He prefers to deal with opponents by way of hand-to-hand combat in order to demonstrate his strength and inflict punishment as opposed to simply finishing off his enemies in a quicker manner by way of his sword.

The trio is inseparable and also seemingly impossible to defeat. Thus, they take their orders from the king and do their best to preserve the honor of the country in the name of their leader. Complicating matters though is the Cardinal Richelieu who is Louis XIII’s second in command; but who thirsts for the king’s power. Consequently, he is constantly concocting plots to bring the king to his knees unbeknownst to the leader of the kingdom.

The musketeers are well aware of Richelieu’s plans but without concrete proof they are unable to explain to the king that his minister is in fact a traitor.

Adding to the intrigue is a teenager by the name of D’Artagnan who leaves the area of Gascogne to make it to Paris with the hope of joining the ranks of the musketeers. D’Artagnan is brash, overconfident and at times cocky; but he believes in his skills and with good reason. He has spent his entire life training to be one of the king’s fighters, and only wants a chance to prove his worth.

Upon arriving in Paris, he realizes that his journey will be a difficult one but ultimately is able to demonstrate his excellent fighting skills as well as his impressive swordsmanship as he tries to infiltrate the ranks of the musketeers.

In a nutshell, that is the story of The Three Musketeers, but I would strongly recommend watching the movie to see the multiple twists and turns that come along with defending a kingdom that more often than not does not realize it is under attack. The musketeers are stealth agents that protect their nation at all costs and in a very entertaining manner. The movie captured the true essence of the story all the while making it the script a little Hollywood-friendly, but without compromising key points of the adventure.

Allen Gregory
I initially believed that this new cartoon/sitcom on FOX was essentially a remake of Family Guy, but that would be selling the show short. Allen Gregory (voice by Jonah Hill) is a youngster (I would venture and say he is around eight years old) in the same mold of Stewie Griffin but much older though. He wears suits and speaks with great intelligence, often belittling the people around him.

What makes the show so interesting is the things that Allen Gregory desires to have but cannot. For instance, he wishes the school bully would befriend him but he just cannot seem to get that to happen. Also, our star has his sights set on the school principal that is well within her 50s but she declines his every advance.

These situations by themselves are not all that interesting; but when you factor in that Allen Gregory carries the last name DeLongpre (which is synonymous with power and wealth on the television show) and that his father wants things to go his son’s way; well that brings a new level of intrigue to the show.

For instance, after finding out that his son was getting bullied at school, Allen Gregory’s father (he also happens o be openly gay) demanded that the school dance changes its format and instead require boys to ask boys to the dance, and for girls to do the same. The rationale is to put all the chances on his son’s side to in fact communicate with the school bully and befriend him; a strategy that obviously backfires.

I recommend watching the show for comedy’s sake. It’s a different kind of television cartoon-sitcom that’s good for a few laughs and could potentially keep you coming back for more.

Two and a Half Men
With Charlie Sheen gone and Ashton Kutcher now fully integrated in the show; we can finally answer the one question that everyone has been asking: can the show survive without Sheen? And the answer is no.

Kutcher plays the role of Walden Schmidt who is a billionaire idiot trying to reclaim the love of his wife who has left him. During his grieving (his wife wants nothing to do with him at this point), he befriends Alan Harper and buys Charlie’s house. Mind you, Schmidt is an emotional wreck and Alan is there to see him through tough times and help him bounce back onto his feet.

The scene becomes all too familiar when Walden goes to a bar with Alan and picks up women that he promptly brings back to his house for some fun time while Alan realizes once again he is left out on the sidelines.

There are two major problems with the new direction of the show:
I. We have been conditioned to expect the man of the house to be a middle-aged drunk womanizer who just cannot wait to get rid of his mooching brother. Instead we are now treated to a handsome young man who manages to almost sleep with women by accident and that actually loves having the moocher around.

II. Make no mistake, Walden Schmidt is the star of the show but Alan Harper is slowly becoming the central figure on Two and a Half Men. More often than not, we are following him throughout his life problems and waiting for Walden to step in and save the day (whether he does or not). Consequently, every scene with Kutcher almost seems secondary; as though he is there to just fill up the missing time left in the episode with his goofy movements and words.

Watching the show now is the equivalent of watching the Los Angeles Lakers with Manu Ginobili starting at shooting guard instead of Kobe Bryant. Indeed, the replacement has talent in his own right and can perform adequately but the team was not initially built around him and thus the team just is not as good.

Sous le Signe des Mousquetaires
When I was younger, my cousin and I would religiously watch this show. It’s a Japanese television series about the Three Musketeers. The show is in French but I would venture and say that it can be found in English as well. Mind you, if you are trying to learn or teach French to your kids, this is the perfect opportunity to do so.

Much like the movie the The Three Musketeers, the television show occurs during the 1600s with Louis XIII serving as the king of France. He is married to Anne of Austria and has the Cardinal of Richelieu to serve as his minister.

Although the series does not necessarily rehash actual historical events, it does nonetheless help its viewers get a greater appreciation of the history of France and England by presenting actual people that affected the course of history of these respective countries.

The show may be for children, but the storylines will captivate adults as well and get them to want to follow on. Thus, when my friend Karim offered to hook me up with the whole series; I gladly accepted.

I have been watching the episodes for the past few weeks and it resulted in getting me a little more intrigued in the history of France (especially in the identity of the Man in the Iron Mask) and also in improving my French. Sous le Signes des Mousquetaires uses an old style of French that is understandable but that will nonetheless improve your vocabulary guaranteed or your money back.


ShynePhone Rotation
·      Legendary by Royce Da 5’9
·      Sucka for Love by DMX
·      Can’t Get Enough by J. Cole ft Trey Songz
·      You the Boss by Rick Ross ft. Nicki Minaj
·      The Illest by Slaughterhouse
·      Why Would I by Joe Budden
·      2011 BET Cypher by Eminem ft Yelawolf & Slaughterhouse
·      The Real Her by Drake ft. Lil’ Wayne & Andre 3000
·      I’ll Do Anything by Ginuwine
·      Same Ol’ G by Ginuwine
·      Ex-Girlfriend by R. Kelly
·      Sure Thing by Miguel
·      Shit God Damn by Chris Brown ft. Big Sean
·      Damien by DMX
·      Buckingham Palace by Canibus

Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments section or you can contact me by email at Shyne@SBGorillas.com.You can also find me on Twitter with the handle name @ShyneIV.