The Lottery and The “Numbers” Argument

This is it! This is the one! I can feel it!

I despise the lottery. No wait, I don’t despise the lottery. I despise the people who throw money away on Lotto tickets. My aunt, bless her heart, ALWAYS plays and I ALWAYS judge her (don’t worry, I do it to her face). A dollar here, five dollars there. All for the unlikely chance of winning the big one.

“You never know. I could win it. And then what would you say?”

“I’d tell you to wake the hell up cause you’re dreaming again.”

It has always seemed like a big waste of money to me because the odds are clear as day. I’ve got a better chance of making that kind of money by becoming a prostitute in Antarctica (true story). All of this comes back to the fact that I’m a pretty risk-averse person when it comes to certain areas of my life, including my money. (Being risk-averse is not being cheap or stingy. Some people confuse the two.) I don’t do high-risk, high-reward. I’d rather go for the more certain outcome, even if it seems less rewarding. It’s a positive trait at times and a negative one at times. I’m working on taking more risks in certain areas in my life though. Getting in my own way is not the business.

In other news, why are some women so eager to dangle on the metaphorical sack of this “numbers” argument? Yes, the raw number of “eligible” black men vs. “eligible” black women is in favor of the guys, but I’m not so convinced that it significantly increases our chance of finding someone to settle down with. I can understand the argument that it helps because men have more options to choose from. However, having more options doesn’t necessarily translate into a greater probability of a long-term relationship.

Let me put it this way: the people who play the Powerball and always play one ticket every now and then have a lower chance of winning a prize than the people who play multiple tickets frequently. However, the truth is that the odds of winning the Powerball grand prize are in the ballpark of 1 in 200 million. With odds like that, buying more tickets to increase your chances of winning would be a proverbial drop in the ocean. Sure, having more options gives men a better chance at having sex, getting a date, or even finding a girlfriend (i.e. one of the smaller prizes) because the odds of getting those things are already decent. However, the “numbers” argument doesn’t hold a lot of water when you understand how inconsequential it is to a person’s overall chances of finding someone they want to settle down with (i.e. winning the jackpot), especially when considering all the other factors involved.

And for anyone who’s thinking about rebutting what I said:

-TDA

Blacks-Only Cinema

The other day, I fired up the ol’ Netflix streaming and started watching Luther, a British psychological crime drama starring Idris Elba. Elba was nominated last year for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film for his work in Luther and I’ve heard pretty good things about it in general. So far, I’m hooked. It’s only been on for one season, but if you haven’t seen it, I suggest that you do.

In the midst of reading some internet reviews of the series, I saw some news that puzzled me. Tyler Perry is apparently replacing Idris Elba as the lead in a reboot of the Alex Cross movies. That’s right, I didn’t get the order of the names mixed up. Madea is replacing Stringer. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. For those of you who don’t know, Alex Cross is a detective and protagonist of a series of novels by James Patterson. No disrespect to Perry’s acting chops, but based on both his and Elba’s past work alone, this doesn’t make sense to me. He could very well shock a lot of us on some “Heath Leger as The Joker” type steez, but I wouldn’t put my money on it, especially since the director is Rob Cohen, who’s biggest successes are The Fast and The Furious and xXx. “You know you done fucked up now. You know that right?”

This of course got me thinking of what other black actors could portray Alex Cross? The last two Alex Cross movies, Kiss The Girls and Along Came A Spider, had Morgan Freeman as the lead, but he’s obviously way too old to play this role again. I rolled through the list of prominent black actors who I thought could play a detective in a crime drama: Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Cheadle, Lawrence Fishburne, Forest Whitaker, Jamie Foxx. But when you’re doing a reboot of what you hope will be a franchise, you want younger actors. So what about the following actors that could have played the part as well: Anthony Mackie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nate Parker, Columbus Short, Laz Alonso, and Derek Luke just to name a few. These are very promising black actors who have shown their talent, but still haven’t seemed to make themselves household names. Even Idris Elba isn’t as well-known as we think he is. While it would be easy for me to describe Hollywood’s propensity to not take risks on non-white lead roles as racist, it seems more likely that their greed chooses to follow the natural racial segregation of our society.

A recent study by Andrew Weaver of the Indiana University Department of Telecommunications showed that “white participants were more interested in seeing films with white actors than films with black actors.” Weaver took 68 white undergraduates and made webpages for 12 fake romantic comedies with different percentages of white and black cast members. His results showed that the more black actors were cast, the less interested the white participants were in seeing it. In a follow up study where Weaver surveyed 150 white people between the ages of 18 and 69 that is yet to be published, the results were supposedly the same. The participants’ racial attitudes and actors’ relative celebrity didn’t have an effect. We’ve seen this happen recently with one of the biggest black actors of all time in Will Smith. The actor has admitted that race played a role in the casting of his love interest in Hitch. Studio execs were worried that a black leading couple would turn off audiences while a white love interest might offend US viewers. According to Weaver’s study, the execs were right. Even with Will Smith, a box office gold mine, the studio still saw it as a risk to team him up with a black love interest. Having said that, I would love to see this study done with participants of other races and compare the results.

Now, do I think that these results show that racial prejudice still exists in this country? Possibly. Do I think that these results could also be explained by the notion that people of any race flock to social groups and settings that they’re used to and often times end up racially segregating themselves in the process? Yes. Regardless, so long as audiences continue to believe that the intended audience for movies is determined by the race of the cast, studios will continue to not take many chances on young black actors and actresses in leading roles.

-TDA

With Friends Like That…

I remember seeing Kevin Hart’s I’m A Grown Little Man for the first time and being unable to control my laughter damn near the entire time (I still think I’m A Grown Little Man is funnier than Seriously Funny). I was literally crying during the ostrich story. One of his stories in particular caught my attention though.

“I’m good at seeing things. I’m good at noticing things. Like, I remember one of my friends got jumped one time. And I was with him. I ran. The reason why I ran is because I saw it coming.”
— Kevin Hart

In high school, I was walking with a teammate to soccer practice one day. He was an annoying kid who I didn’t talk to much, but for some reason he wanted to walk with me that day. As we were walking to the field, I noticed a group of guys who were about to walk past us. After a couple of seconds, I realized that they weren’t walking past us, but walking toward us. My spider sense and the Force went off and I immediately knew what was about to go down. Everything went into slow motion. Ominous music started to play like it does in movies when something bad is about to happen. It was clear to me that these dudes were going to jump him. It also became clear why he wanted to walk to practice with me: he was hoping that either these dudes wouldn’t jump him cause I was there or that I’d have his back and help him out if it came to blows. Uhhh…

The guys started to surrounded us, but I just kept my pace. I didn’t stop walking and I didn’t say one word. I knew that it wasn’t me who they were after and I didn’t want to give them a reason, so I thought that if I acted like I didn’t see them that it would convince them that I was a figment of their imagination or something. Jedi mind trick game proper. I ended up walking right through the crowd and none of the dudes even cared. #MissionAccomplished Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t just go to soccer practice and was like “Oh nah, I haven’t seen [teammate’s name] today. Not sure what happened to him. *juggles soccer ball on foot*” I went to the practice field as quickly as I could & told my coach what happened. Him, along with me and a few teammates, walked over to where I had left my teammate for dead, but by then it was over (don’t worry, he didn’t have any serious injuries).

My decision to not get involved was 100% selfish and 100% right. It was based on self preservation and I’m all about preserving self. Some might see it as a punk move, but I don’t think it was. Let’s review the facts, shall we? And the church said “Amen.”

  1. We weren’t friends. Not only that, but he was hella annoying, so part of me thought that he might have deserved the jumping. I’m not throwing down fisticuffs with you on some Batman and Robin type steez and risking my life unless you’re cool with me. He wasn’t. *shrug*
  2. There were like 6 of them. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to know that unless you live in a movie, 6 against 2 are not good odds. However, I knew that I had a 100% chance of survival if I ran away like a little bitch left. Survey says….
  3. You know how I’m short and skinny? Well, I was shorter and skinnier in high school. My fighting experience was limited to sparring sessions while learning Tae Kwon Do, but a) that crap doesn’t work in a street fight where bammas might have knives or guns and e) getting my black belt taught me when to fight and when NOT to fight. You can guess how I categorized this situation.
  4. I didn’t have any semblance of gangsta in need of preserving. My reputation was sustained.

I felt real shitty afterwards though. It wasn’t a proud moment for me at all and it took me a little while to shake the guilt of abandoning someone like that. But at the same time, damn that. Sometimes you gotta know when to save yourself.

What do yall think? Have any of you ever ran out on someone you knew was about to get jumped? Ever see a jumping about to happen and get your Kick-Ass on? Hell, lets put it out there. Have you ever jumped someone before?

-TDA

Aww Here It Goes!

One of my favorite childhood shows was Kenan & Kel. The amount of buffoonery and randomness was off the chain. Not to mention it was one of the only shows on Nickelodeon with a colored black cast. That and My Brother and Me are the only two shows that I can remember that had a black cast. But, if you’re a fan of the show, you know that Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell were working together on Nickelodeon long before this show. I’m talking about All That. Here are some of my favorite All That skits that include Kenan & Kel:

  1. Okrah
    If you don’t know who this is parodying, then you can’t be saved.

    Why I Love This Skit:
    • The intro murked me. That’s a vintage ’90s intro montage if I’ve ever seen one. No fancy text or colors. Just clips of the host expressing every kind of emotion while a piano and saxophone play in the background.
    • Kel’s delivery of the line “I feel the hurt” to every guest plays beautifully into the empathetic tone and facial expressions that Oprah always uses.
    • Okrah’s one out-of-control moment where she goes “sista” on one of the guests after trying to eat her fern.

  2. Superdude
    Superdude was my favorite recurring character on All That. The random ways he would introduce himself (e.g. “I can fly first class, I can fall down and not get hurt, I can cross the street without looking both ways”), his intolerance of dairy products, and the over-the-top cheesy dialogue made every skit entertaining.

    Why I Love This Skit:
    • The sweaty lady (a recurring character in Superdude skits). I die when she asks what lactose intolerant means while taking someone else’s sleeve to wipe that damn monsoon off her face.
    • Superdude is so super, that he knocks both of the bullies to the ground with tomatoes. In his hands, tomatoes are bricks.
    • The chick who came straight from Narnia to give a mini PSA about what “lactose intolerant” was and then the side-eye she throws at the woman who asks “Like ham?” #ByeBitch

  3. Cheese Police
    An obvious parody of the reality show Cops, the Cheese Police skit just does a real good job of taking the outline for a live drug bust scene and making it hilarious without being too over-the-top.

    Why I Love This Skit:
    • The camera work was spot on. The cameraman couldn’t hold still for longer than 2 seconds. It actually made the skit more suspenseful.
    • When the cops bust through the door and the first thing I saw was that girl with Cheese Whiz hanging off her mouth and her hair a mess, I lost it.
    • The epic scream the boy lets out after Kel reads off the fat content of the cream cheese. Kudos to the cameraman again.

  4. Mavis and Clavis
    Mavis and Clavis are wise-crackin’ senior citizens. They throw insults at everyone, talk as if they know everything, and never hesitate to give their opinion. Basically, they’re the black Statler and Waldorf.

    Why I Love This Skit:
    • I know yall peeped the “Wood Is Good” banner at the beginning #SubliminalMessages
    • When Miss Fingerly is escorted out of the room and subconsciously calls out Coach Kreeton’s name, Mavis and Clavis know the deal and start hyping up Coach Kreeton like many old black men would do.
    • Amanda Bynes’ character keeps questioning Marvis and Clavis’ expertise with wood like a little bitch and they keep telling her to STFU. I’m pretty sure Mavis almost swung on her when she said they couldn’t make anything better than her birdhouse.

  5. Repairman
    Repairman was one of the most over-the-top characters on All That. Dude was OD. But that echo is the stuff of legends.

    Why I Love This Skit:
    • “Woah! Check her out! Zoweee!” I know what you mean, bro. I be doing the same thing.
    • That old lady got fugged up!
    • It doesn’t get more gangsta than a black Italian throwing up the West Side sign.

Did you watch All That and Kenan & Kel? What were some of your favorite moments/skits?

-TDA