Tuesday, April 29, 2008

In response to the 10th Thing on Mr. LaiHing’s Mind

HERE, my friend, in a nutshell…is why I don’t check my voicemail…15 messages! Aaaand here we go…

1. My job called and apologized after telling me to start on the wrong day. My boss asked me to come Tuesday, but they told me to come Monday upon hiring. The message was NOT warning me not to come on the wrong day, so it wasn’t needed.

2. Fab—“Cooooooooooooooooooon! Call me back.”

3. My FAVORITE reason not to check my voicemail…someone didn’t know they had called me (I think it was Otis) and I heard 2 minutes of background noise and imperceptible conversation… the ratio of these to actual messages is usually higher than this, so I can’t complain with just one.

4. Pastor Horton – an actual message I should’ve heard!! – called and asked for a song we used to sing at church. Of course, I returned his call before checking the message, so I still don’t need it.

5. George Hassell—we were phone tagging

6. …George again

7. …George missed me again—now he lives in Bermuda, he’s about to get married, and he doesn’t have text messaging, so this is all quite forgivable. Well…at least one or two.

8. Steven LaiHing SCREAMING into my phone about a basketball game! And he ends it with his textbook “Call me back” although a) his message would have served better as a text AND b) he was not calling for anything business related! And he tells me to answer my messages!!

9. Alex Horton…SINGING into my phone…which is ironic, because his father sang in Message 4 to identify the song he was requesting. So I got 2 nice little musical interludes in my voicemail, that’s a plus.

10. Someone calling me with explicit details about a wedding I honestly didn’t even know I was in… ok this is definitely of importance…but I still am confused.

11. Someone calling me about a job. I have returned the call already. No need to hear the message, it’s of the “Give me a call” variety.

12. My sister Janelle giving me a detailed description of how much enchilada bake she and her boyfriend have consumed. By this point, I don’t even have to be sarcastic. The people in my life want to see me suffer.

13. My mom telling me where Alex’s towel is for when he stays at the house…seriously, she left a message…about a towel. OH! aaand a washcloth…

14. I missed Zach’s call on Sabbath morning, and he was trying to get me to print some stuff out for church that day. Of course, I called him back, so… message not needed.

15. Lastly, and the reason I went ahead and checked my messages today, my employer called and said they didn’t receive my hours for last week. Now I was returning his call, but he was away. I left HIM a message to clear it all up.

See? I’m not against ALL voice messages, I’m just against the ones that I get most of the time. Whenever I pick up my phone, it’s either to send a text or to make a call. Maybe what I should do is let people know how I feel about voicemail ON my voicemail...

“Hi, this is Clifton Jessup. If this is a business call, please leave your name and message after the beep. If this is not a business call, and I know who you are, please text if you can…that includes you, Steve. Have a good one.”

Monday, April 14, 2008

Clifton's Top 5 story lines of this past NBA season


But actually, for once I'm almost sad to see the season come to an end. It was an emotional, turbulent, injury-filled, star-studded, "wait-he-got-traded-WHERE?" kind of season. And in the last decade, there hasn't been a more exciting regular season in any sport. I haven't read Steven's Top 5 list (so as to not intentionally mimic it), so here are my 5 storylines from the 2007-08 NBA Season:

5. The return of the "undersized" power forward.

The NBA will always have a thing for guys with "size." But thanks to "The Boozer Factor" (a dominant college player who dropped to the second round purely because of his size, only to become an All-Star talent in barely 4 seasons of play) has reintroduced the undersized big man to quality NBA minutes. Now the Pistons have Jason Maxiel, the Mavericks have Brandon Bass, David West is a KILLER in New Orleans, and a number of teams have small lineups headed by these players that were barely usable a few years ago. It isn't just the rules that have led to the increased scoring and the higher quality of the teams this year. Maybe it has helped that the players that have talent are finally getting the minutes that the lanky projects were getting. For the Lakers, it's the difference between Bynum-Turiaf and Bynum-Mbenga… ewwwwww.

4. The return of the "Balls" of NBA GMs (with respect to Bill Simmons)

For so many years, everybody (well, except Mark Cuban) felt like the "safe and steady" route would win championships. Nobody wanted to make a splash. The rules say that unless a player a) has a career-threatening injury, b) has a contract putting you over the luxury tax, or c) gets into a brawl in the stands at the end of a game, you just don’t have enough reason to trade him. Well this year, the rules finally changed. In the course of a season, Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd, Pau Gasol, Ray Allen, and Shaquille O'Neal have all been relocated. And what's most ironic is that NONE of them were dumped off--they were all highly sought after by the teams they were traded to. It isn't at all ironic that we are seeing a renaissance level of play this year. There may be an astounding 11 50-win teams when the dust settles, and at least half of them can thank good trades and risky decisions for their success. Sure, a lot of risks don't work out (like getting Eddy Curry, Stephon Marbury, Penny Hardaway, Zach Randolph…really, the entire Knicks roster!), but when a window even cracks open and a talented player is available, it's good to see teams willing to take the risk to go higher.

(Disclaimer: I included him in the list out of kindness, but I still say that Devin Harris, Desagana Diop and 2 1st-round picks is waaaay too much to pay for Jason Kidd him at his age. 3 years ago? Genius…dang)

3. If you don't have a center, get one. If you don't have a point guard, trade your center.

We know what wins championships--defense, and to a lesser extent, rebounding the ball. Those are the things that a quality center brings you. The Suns, Hornets, Spurs, and Jazz are great examples of that. They win games because they have talented centers who contribute to their success. Yes, size does still matter. But the teams that are really doing damage this year, who have stayed afloat in the toughest of circumstances, are the teams featuring the best point guards. Chris Paul has been phenomenal this year, guiding New Orleans through injuries and hard times to the top of the West. Steve Nash has led the Suns all year, but his best work has been in the last two months. The way he has integrated Shaq with the team couldn't have been done by many other point guards in this league. And in the biggest streak of the year, second-longest all time, Rafer Alston took over as a floor leader and scorer when his team needed him, and even without Yao Ming had tremendous results. I don't even have time to talk about the Derek Fishers, the Chauncey Billupses (?), the Allen Iversons, and the Baron Davises that are making their teams at least 10 wins better each year. It may be true that big men win championships, but the little guys next to him aren't appearing quite as important as they used to.

2. The Western Conference: Where "9 teams win 50 games and it's only going to get worse over the next 5 years" happens.

Kevin Durant is learning. Greg Oden hasn't started playing yet. Both of them will have new lottery teammates next year (and they could be Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley!!). Oh, and so will Al Jefferson and the Timberwolves. Meanwhile, the Mavericks, Spurs, and Suns are the only teams you could consider old in the conference--but each of them still has 2-3 more years of 50-win contention. Yes, folks, by the year 2010, barring catastrophic injuries, busts, or mass stupidity, there could be 15 playoff teams in the Western Conference. And each year quality teams will be getting high draft picks for getting bumped. It's a vicious, vicious cycle…Davie Stern might need to do something about this one.

1. Brace yourselves for what may go down as the most closely contested NBA Playoffs of all time.

And if it ends with a Lakers-Celtics Finals matchup… quite possibly the best season EVER.

How's that for a storyline?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Steven's Top 5 story lines of this past NBA season

The NBA playoffs are upon us! In preparation of the league's most exciting post season in recent memory, here, in my humble opinion, are the top 5 story lines from the past NBA season.

5) Kobe's fresh shot at a ring (and the theft of Pau Gasol from the Grizz)
Who would have thought that Kobe Bean Bryant would not only still be on the Lakers at this point in time, but would be flourishing? Even more astonishing, who would fathom that this version of the team would have it's best shot at a ring since Shaq left for Miami. Can you think of anyone who could beat this team four times in the West? I think Kobe may finally be getting this leadership thing down pat; at the same time, I don't think he should be MVP over a historic performance by Chris Paul this season.

4) The complete disregard for Seattle fans by the league and Clay Bennet.

Much has already said on TV and in print about the plight of the NBA in Seattle. As a sport's fan from a smaller market, part of me is happy to see another relatively small market woo a legitimate professional franchise to it's city. A larger part of me, however, empathizes with the huge loss coming up for the city of Seattle. 40 odd years of having a NBA team is like having a family member, especially a franchise that has tasted success like the Supersonics. Now that more information is coming to the light about how the present team owners allegedly failed to meet the terms of their sale contract with the requirement of "good will conduct and actions" I have no sympathy for either the business side of the league or the billionaire owner. I hope that things work out for the fans in Seattle, but, at this point, the situation looks bleak. I hope I am wrong.

3) Chris Paul's historic season (and the emergence of the Hornets as a power in the west)
Chris Paul should be MVP. To take a team so weak on paper as the Hornets in the WEST and be currently leading the standings going into the playoffs is nothing short of extraordinary. Add to that that the de facto team leader and star is having a historical season at the Point Guard position and in only his third season has taken the mantle from Steve Nash as the best point guard in the world is absolutely unbelievable. At time of posting, Paul is averaging 21 points, 11.6 assists, and is leading the league in steals at 2.7 a game. Want a scary stat? His per 48 minutes adjusted numbers are a whopping 27 points and 15 assists a game. We haven't seen an adjusted stat line like that since NBA Live 95. Shades of Tiny Archibald, anyone?

2) Trade deadline madness (otherwise known as the 2008 NBA arms race)
The trade deadline saw the former best point guard in the League and the former MDE (most dominant ever) traded to possible contenders from lame duck franchises. It also saw the biggest steal in NBA history since the Knicks fixed the 1985 draft to get Patrick Ewing (I jest, Knick fans). If either team finds it way to the Title this post season, the basketball community will point at these last second acquisitions as the defining addition to the title run. On the flip side, if the Suns or Mavericks fail embarrassingly in the playoffs, you can bet your bottom dollar that anyone with any interest in the league will point to these trades as the reason the team sunk.

1) The triumphant re-entry of the Boston Celtics into National relevance (GO KG!)
And, for my number one storyline of the season, Boston becoming a basketball town again. I can't think of another trade that so instantly rejuvenated a lagging franchise or lagging interest in a city. KG not only changed the win loss record, he brought in a whole different warrior attitude and defensive intensity not seen since......Bill Russell himself. Add to that the biggest single season turn around in win loss in NBA history, a number one seed in the playoffs, and the third best defense in history and you have quite a compelling storyline. Even if the Celtics don't win the championship this year, they are in excellent position for the next 3 years if they are able to keep their bench young and their health intact.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The joys of XM satellite radio

I have had the opportunity to travel a bit since I entered Grad School, and, thanks to a perk of my school (Go Aggies!) I am able to get nice rental cars at an even nicer price. For the past 2 years I have rented cars, I have learned that one of the single greatest inventions of the 21st century is undoubtedly Satellite radio. I haven't had much experience with Sirius, but I certainly have become a huge fan of XM (soon to be one company.) If you didn't know, XM offers ~200+ channels of news, sports, and commercial free music and works pretty much everywhere you could ever drive in this great country of ours. On our 12 hour drives back to Alabama, it is quite the lifesaver. I am able to bounce between R&B, Gospel, live streams of CNN and Fox News, ESPN, and Hip Hop. It even tells me weather conditions and traffic hiccups I may run into on my route. Amazing! On my most recent trip to Oakwood University Alumni, Ebony (my girlfriend) and I discovered a special channel playing nothing but Michael Jackson; the name of the channel was XM Thriller, celebrating the re-re-release of his breath taking album (Still certified as the biggest selling album EVER.) The crazy thing is that for the first 5-6 hours of the trip we never heard a repeated song. If you ever get the chance to experience this marvelous invention, I would heavily suggest you do. I plan on getting it in my car with in the next few months.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Gospel Music on Trial

With so many people attacking Gospel and religious music as a whole, I would love to hear from you all what your boundaries and standards are for the gospel/religious music/ any music you listen too....speaking specifically about religious music, do you approve/or disapprove of:

1) Gospel artist collaborating with secular artist to make gospel songs?

2) Gospel artist who may be living an alternative lifestyle?

3) Gospel artist who sample secular beats and instrumentation to make "crossover hits?"


4) Is it me, or is it true that some of the best gospel music came out in the late 90's , early 2000's and everything has been downhill ever since?

The reason I am asking this is I ran across an interesting blog post by one of G. Craige's minions, Rondy Long, in which he attacks Gospel music. I am reprinting it partially here, if you want the original link contact me:

edit: NOTE: In this blog, Long states that Tye Tribbet announced he was going to do a "lust album." I have not been able to confirm this in any way. Ditto for the comment on Master P being a Billionaire, he's worth approx 300 million. Read with a LARGE grain of salt, you should be aware by now that not everything this movement puts out can be trusted as factual. -Steven

"...if secular, sinful, hip-hop has the honesty to say that their genre has died due to commercialism, why won’t the Gospel music industry acknowledge the same? Kirk Franklin at one time sold 1 million albums. In 2006, he sold less than half of that. Juanita Bynum sold 250,000; Yolanda Adams sold less than 150,000. These are the “Top Dogs” of gospel music. In the secular industry, where most of these artists are trying to go, these numbers are a joke. Only Kirk Franklin would qualify as a medium level artist. Why isn’t Gospel music selling like it used to? My belief is that Gospel Music is dead. But who killed it?

Well everyone looks for a scapegoat. If you ask Tonex why he doesn’t have a record deal anymore he would point his fingers at G. Craige Lewis. As a matter of fact I heard of an unofficial meeting of Gospel Artist that all implicated G. Craige, saying that he must be stopped. The Holy Hip-hoppers all point their little “Dirty South” fingers at G. Craige. And we know some Bishop’s that may be pointing their anointed, “middle fingers” at G. Craige. Isn’t it funny…these guys openly acknowledge that some little preacher in Ft. Worth, reached the same audience that it took them: kissing booty, getting booty, looking the other way when the musicians smelt like weed; signing a bogus record contracts and all types of other compromises to reach. I mean let’s face it. Tonex’s record is in every Wal-Mart in America. “The Truth Behind Hip-hop” is not in one Wal-Mart —you do the math. So with the big marketing distribution machine, multibillion dollar record labels, TBN, CBN, HBO, Mega Fest, Bishop Jakes, Long, etc, Dove awards, Stellar Awards, GMA, GMWA, every Mega Church in the United States that hates Ex-Ministries, all the Gospel, and secular Radio Stations; one extremist ministry with one website and a DVD could, without using music, change and literally shut down the Gospel Music Industry? (sounds like God to me) However, although this maybe the consensus a court of law demands critical proof. Let’s examine this a little closer.

First of all, I don’t espouse that Gospel Artists judge their effectiveness by their numbers in the industry. I don’t even agree that Gospel music should be an industry (as we know it). However, this is the measuring rod the Gospel Artist themselves have ascribed to. Ultimately, most Gospel artist have left Christian labels because they wanted to reach more people and sell more records. It was all about evangelism and reaching souls right? Wrong! All the Gospel Artist looked at the million records sold by Kirk Franklin, the cross-over popularity of the Winans (including BeBe and CeCe), and they salivated. Now Fred Hammond sings on the same label as R. Kelly and Brittany Spears. Yolanda Adams signed with Electra turned Atlantic that also houses the satanic Metallica, Missy Elliot, and Little Kim. Why did they sell God out? For more souls? No, for more money! They were told if you sign with a secular company, you would get more exposure, sell more records, and make more cash. Yet, for all of the exposure nobody is selling any Records. Think about it: Do you think Fred Hammond did collaborations with Musiq Soulchild, Brian McKnight, and Reuben Studdard so that his record WOULD NOT BE PLAYED ON SECULAR RADIO? Yet for all that compromising and covering Stevie Wonder’s godless “Loves in Need of Love” he got no secular airplay or worldly recognition. This is the most classic satanic scheme yet. Like Mr. Potter in “It’s A Wonderful Life” If the devil can get his hands on it, he can destroy it. This is what the dumb-dumb gospel artists did. They gave the industry that should have been exclusively theirs, over to secular companies. Not to mention most of them are homosexual, living foul, not even Christians ( I actually shared the Gospel with a well-known Grammy Award Winning Gospel Artist and he rejected it- he was dying of AIDS.) Did Fred Hammond actually think that Zomba would give him more promotion than perverse R. Kelly? There is no more depth, no more realness, its all glossy industry remade-over soup. Pushing out Records like daily newspapers- after a day or two its only good for the dog to poop on. What happen to the songs with meaning like Marvin Winans wrote (If ever I fall; For We May Never Know; Don’t Be Deceived-wow!), or the convicting music that Commisioned sang (Only What You Do For Christ Will Last, What Will You Say? Will You Be Ready?- My Goodness!). That day is lost. Did real Gospel music end with LIGHT RECORDS?

Ultimately, the devil conquered the industry- it was his in the first place. But now he is openly crushing Gospel music. Because of the merge of Gospel and secular artist, now anybody can make a Gospel album-- and they will. You see, Gospel Artist handed their audience right over to the people that wanted it, secular record companies. Now the Gospel Artists are going to be cut out of the deal totally. Tonex is not the only one that is going to lose his contract- Mark my Words.
Now Queen Latifah and Bonjovi are gearing up to do a gospel album with other secular artist. Why do they need Yolanda Adams now? No not G. Craige, it was Fred Hammond that stabbed Gospel Music with a knife when he sang with Reuben and Musiq. Yolanda Adams put a bullet through the head of Gospel Music when she recorded the song with Bone thugs N Harmony. Hezekiah beat it lifeless with a blunt object when he sang back-up to a KRS-1 song. Kirk Franklin strangled gospel music by the neck when he collaborated with George Clinton and Bono (the homo). The Cross Movement pulled the Life Support plug on the already dying Christian Rap, ironically after the release of HUMAN EMEGENCY( they are dressed like Surgeons in the E.R. on the cover)– now its totally DOA.

Did G. Craige kill gospel music or did he just announce what was about to happen? (sounds prophetic to me) I think in a court of law the artist would be found holding the smoking gun. Why didn’t they just band together and start their own labels and distribution. Even hip-hoppers have done that. (Master P. is a Billionaire! Ain’t that crazy?) No, they needed the fame and affirmation of the world and they got it. But now its over! Nobody wants to hear it. Nobody’s coming to their concerts! Nobody’s buying their CD’s. Even gospel artist don’t listen to gospel music- ask them. Did you miss the funeral? You haven’t heard Gospel Music is dead? Don’t you get tired of hearing the same old stuff sung by the same 5 people that are now un-anointed and stale? Aren’t you tired of the new Gay-sounding stuff that is too weird to worship to? (what is a Tye Tribbet?) Yeah Tribbet is the new Tonex. He said once while in Atlanta that he was going to release an underground album called the “Lust Album” for the times when you are “feeling trumpet-ee (horny).” What a Wacko! He is the new anointed one. Yet he came too late, the Party is over. I’m glad maybe they will shut the GMWA down with all the gayness and nastiness. Let’s have a moment of silence while we play Taps for Gospel music…."


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The truth about G. Craige Lewis, pt 2: Homosexuality and Aids


Ever noticed that G. Craig can't make a presentation of any kind without bringing up homosexuality? He even goes so far in a recent blog as to criticize Kirk Franklin about his overcoming of porn addiction/ choice of music videos with these words:
"Kirk Franklin comes out and says that he has been addicted to porn for 20 years. He gets on Oprah to tell his story. But in his concerts, he thrusts his pelvis while he dances and does sexual gestures during his gospel performance? Then, he shoots a video wearing no shirt and having a greased up body? Yes, a preacher, minister to youth, and a Christian takes his shirt off in public to show his body in a video. Once hooked on porn? You paying attention? James 1:14-15"
The verse he so generously put with this passage states

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

In other words, because Kirk Franklin has overcome this addiction, he shouldn't ever have his shirt off where the public or he can see it again? Oh, because he has his shirt off for his music video boxing match he is enticed by his desires so he not only is driving viewers of the video to porn, he is driving himself back into his addiction as well. Does this sound a little off to anyone else? Here is a link to Kirk Franklin's video, you look at it and leave a comment when you find a pelvic thrust:


My Co-Blogger, Clifton, actually attended a presentation of his in April 2007 at Faith Temple Church in Dallas, TX. Below are some notes taken by him and stated by G. Craige during the presentation concerning homosexuality:

· You have a Flaming homesexual leading the praise team, flinging AIDS on everybody, and can’t nobody say nothing....”

· “Gay marriage don’t need to happen. Two big hairy stank men sharing rings don’t need to happen.

· "Because of the sins of our forefathers, America is now plagued by:

o Fatherless-ness

o Homosexuality/Lesbianism"

Flinging Aids on everybody? I haven't heard rhetoric like this since Hitler. Now I personally may not support a homosexual lifestyle (I love my beautiful girlfriend), but I CERTAINLY believe that there are better ways of communication then such inflammatory statements and presentations about this topic. Nothing is being accomplished by this, and, as far as I am concerned, this is the image of what many in the alternative lifestyle community have of Christians and people of faith. A Bible thumping, you are going to Hell screaming and pointing lunatic preacher. On top of that, more misinformation using statistics. That seems to be a favorite past time of his. Statistics at this presentation that failed the Google test as well as Snopes.com include:

o "40% of the African Americans in a high school were HIV positive

· 90% of the graduating students at Dillard high school were HIV positive"

Now I disproved these statements in part 1 of my post, but just look at the second stat. He claimed that 9/10 graduating students at a high school were HIV positive? Does that even sound as if it could be accurate in the worst social condition in America? That number is outlandish even for the most Urban, destitute portions of our country. Perhaps he was referring to another country? What's worse is that according to Clifton, the crowd was eating this up. He could say no wrong, do no wrong. This is incredible. Another disturbing statistic he has is that Black Children in the US now grow up without a father 77% of the time. Does that sound feasible or realistic? My Google searches at worst turned up the figure of 48%. While still a horrible number, definitely not 77%. Herein lies one of the biggest problem I have with G. Craige and his presentations. IF you claim to present facts, and are given that trust, shouldn't you do everything you can to ensure that your facts are accurate? At the very least, show sources. To quote one of G. Craige's targets, Shawn Carter, "We don't believe you, you need more people." He does all of his presentations from a nice looking Apple Mac Book, are you telling me he can't save an image of the website or google link he got it from and pull it up in front of the congregation, or at least in the program bulletin post some sort of bibliography? Of course he doesn't do this, because, sadly there is no need. Crowds that attend these functions by and large take everything he says at face value.

I'll be doing another post on the presentation Clifton attended and all of the other stuff he said, as well as some actual videos available on youtube of "minister" G. Craige. Stay tuned, and thanks to all of you who let me know you are reading this and find it interesting (I love hearing from people!)