The Apples of My Eye: R&B music (and singing)

- Patrick Nash

Welcome back people. Or welcome back me. I've been slacking off on the writing front. For those that actually enjoys reading this stuff I apologize. At the very least I want to keep writing about stuff. It's kind of therapeutic. Anyways, for those that don't remember, the Apples of my Eye posts are just me giving a view into my life and/or mind. Of the people involved in this venture I'm probably the least vocal. But anyways, back to one of my least favorite subjects to talk about. Me.

I love R&B music. I love singing R&B music. To the 2 to 3 people that read this don't get it twisted. I am not very good at singing. But that doesn't stop me from acting like I'm the greatest at it. I'm going to lump rapping along to songs into this as well. Little known fact, I wanted to be a rapper when I was in high school. I even recorded a couple songs roughly 7 years ago. Obviously, It didn't go too far. I am mediocre at best. But it was and still is a passion. Most of my singing is R&B songs. R&B is my first musical love. My mom would put on music when she was getting ready to get us up to clean house on the weekends. I remember listening to those late 80's songs by Babyface (one of my mother's favorite artists) and falling in love with the whole vibe of R&B. 

I spend a lot of the day singing. I sing to work. I sing at work (which I'm sure annoys my coworkers). I sing going home. I sing at home. I have a passion for music. I just don't have the talent for it. A good R&B artist can write the soundtrack for my life. All the ups and downs (especially the downs) of life have already been turned into song. R&B music has just as many get hyped for the club songs as hip hop. R&B also has the songs that pull at your heart strings. Those songs that mirror the pain you are feeling in a loss of something. Songs that are uplifting. Songs that make you happy and sad. R&B has it all. One of the most therapeutic things for me revolves around listening to and singing R&B music. When I have a lot going on I take a drive. Normally it's a drive to and through the cities that surround Phoenix. I drive and listen to music. It helps to calm my mind. I'm an over-thinker. Driving and singing helps to focus my mind on something else. Something that's not weighing me down. 

I love the high notes on a song. I try every single time, and fail, to hit every single note. It's fun and makes me laugh when I fail. Or those songs you skipped for one reason or another that you finally give a chance and you realize this songs is fire. Yes, that can be with any genre of music but this is specifically about R&B. There is a song called Heart Attack by Trey Songz that always comes to mind when I think about this. I skipped this song so many times because the beginning sounds to video game like and it reminded me of a song i absolutely dislike by Trey Songz called LOL Smiley Face (garbage song). I finally just let the song ride one day while I was driving and had to rewind it at least once because, to me, it was that good. 

For those that read to the end thanks. I still want to get back into the whole writing thing. Been slacking on a lot of things lately. Take care people. Like and share and all that...

 

MIC DROP

A look at Wonder Woman

 - Terence McDermott 

From the opening power walk of Diana Prince through the Louvre you could feel a sense of confidence exuding from not just Gal Godot but from the director, Patty Jenkins, as well. Wonder Woman is such a strong character from DC Comics but no one expected her to be the Super hero franchise to carry the DC cinematic universe. 

One would expect Superman and his super human strength or Batman with is never ending money, wits, and gadgets to be the cornerstones of DC movies.  Man of Steel was a solid movie but the fans expected more. Batman vs Superman was an attempt at an awesome story line but it had too much going on. Then there was Suicide Squad. A group of bad guys thrown together to save the world. It was casted fine but the premise, story line, and bad guy just didn't mesh. It was a hodge podge of hero movie cliches that made it feel generic.

The average movie fan wouldn't pay attention to things of this nature. The die hards though, they were ready to riot. How dare DC ruin our childhood idols and heroes?  In some ways, it felt like DC was trying to play catch up to beloved Marvel Cinematic Universe. In Other ways, it felt like the movie execs had too much control over the finished product. 

In steps Patty Jenkins, a virtually unknown director and writer with mostly tv credits to her name. Albeit she did write and direct Monster, the serial killer movie featuring Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci, no one expected her to completly revolutionize the way the entire world sees Wonder Woman. Even the casting of the aforementioned Gal Gadot seemed a bit off but in hindsight it couldn't have been more spot on. 

Jenkins shined the spotlight on a strong and often overlook Hero. In the 70s Lynda Carter was easily just as recognizable as Christopher Reeves and Adam West. She might have possibly been more popular. Over time the culture grew and the significance of a strong lead female Hero diminished. It seems odd, with minorities fight for equality and a huge LGBT push over the last 10-15 years but true nonetheless. The super hero genre has grown leaps and bounds with hardly any minority presence in any major storyline. The closest would be Scarlett Johansson in the MCU. 

One could argue, that the success of Wonder Woman is saving the DCCU singlehandly. Not only is she a hero in the movies but she is a hero in the real world box office clearing $103 mil open week and 45mil the second week. Both are records for a female director. Oh and WW franchise is at roughly $435 mil with foreign numbers figured in. The drop off rate is 45% which is one of the lowest rates in the modern day movie era. These numbers pale on comparison of the lofty expectations of the Superman franchise the difference being....this is an absolutely fantastic movies with very few flaws whereas Superman was subpar. 

The cast was great for Wonder Woman. The acting was also a home run. Gadot did a great job being strong but also being naive about future technology and relationships in the modern day. The real Hero though is Patty Jenkins. Her writing and directing made this movie a delight to watch. She delivers a great vision and deserves more input into future DC projects. This movie clearly has two wonder women and the world should be ok with that. 

 

 

Just Like When I Was A Kid

 - Terence McDermott 

Today an album drops and everyone in the hip hop community has been anticipating it!  Kendrick Lamar dropped two singles last month and everyone lost their minds. Honestly, I wouldn't say I'm a huge Kendrick fan but no NEW artist in the last five years has had me as excited about an album release as him. It got me thinking about how anxious I used to get growing up. 

I going to sound old right now...BUT BACK IN MY DAY....we checked for all the new music on Tuesdays. Every Tuesday without fail to be exact. Between my best friends and I, we had every new release for 10 years probably. We would buy the new album on CASSETE TAPE and buy blank cassettes and record it for each of our friends after we listened. This is against the law, but we were young and really didn't even know that law existed before Limewire gave your computer AIDS. This was our version of Limewire or Napster. 

Something you as the reader should know about me is, I LOVE music. Before I knew boobies and women would ruin my life, music was there for me. Paticularly hip hop music! I remember my first tape was Run DMC - King of Rock. I loved it. My parents listened to R and B and i thought that music was OKAY but one minute in and I knew RAP music was for me. It spoke to me! It was talking about the things I wanted wanted to hear. So, after Run DMC opened my mind I wanted to explore. I was an instant fan, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Fat Boys, Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie....I loved it all. But then....N.W.A. Came and blew my mind.

Before NWA came and changed the landscape everyone was nice. Everyone was polite. Not NWA!! They said what they wanted when they wanted and didn't care about the backlash. It was the voice of a frustrated generation trying to be heard and it fit me!! That's when I knew that this would be the music I would listen to FOREVER.

I remember walking into music stores (yes kids there were ENTIRE stores dedicated to music!) and looking through every album. Some I bought just because the cover was dope.  (Jay Z's "Reasonable Doubt" comes to mind)  I would take it home, put the tape in, press play, and immediately look for the lyrics in ths cover. Back then, if you got lyrics it was like Christmas!! But if there were no lyrics I would look to see who produced every track. Now this was crucial, because before everyone started making their on beats certain producers and djs would be in high demand! Before there was DJ Mustard and Mike WiLL-made it, there was Rick Rubin and Dj Premiere. I would read and listen in awe of what these music magicians would do. How the melodies and rhythms melded together into a beautiful urban culture masterpiece!! For that hour, I would disappear into my own world and just be happy or angry ir whatever the artist wanted me to feel.

Fast forward to today. I still look for new music on Tuesdays and although some people release on Tuesdays most of the good artists are choosing release on Fridays. Now we listen to everything on mp3s and music sharing sites such as iTunes music Spotify and Tidal. Its genius. You go look up the artist you want and BOOM their whole album is there ready and waiting. You don't even have to get dressed. As much as I love music, this system was made for me! I mean hell,  for 10 bucks a month I get ALL the music i can process. You can't beat it. But....Nostalgia is crazy. The whole experience of buying the music and opening music made it feel like every Tuesday was a holiday. You can't replace that. But this new Kendrick Album is supposed to be the best thing out in years so I'm going to go home and turn Spotify on and listen intently. Just like when I was a kid!

 

The Apples of My Eye: The Phoenix Suns

- Patrick Nash

I really can't pinpoint when I actually became a Phoenix Suns fan but it had to be in the early 90's. Most of my family lives in Arizona somewhere but I did the bulk of my growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico (By bulk I mean most of my early years prior to junior high). I do remember sitting in our apartment during the 1993 NBA finals and watching with my grandpa as the Suns played the Chicago Bulls. I was already a fan of the Suns before they made it to the finals but It was really when I got drawn to basketball. Back in the day we, my mom, sister and I, were a baseball/softball family. It was what I played during most of the time I lived in Albuquerque. Although I wasn't a huge fan of playing baseball I did enjoy it while I was involved. But basketball...I loved it. Now granted, I am not what you would call "athletically gifted" by any means. You could tell by the amount of trophies I got during my 8 or so years of playing baseball. My sister, on the other hand, played less years than me but garnered as many trophies as I did (probably more). Sports just came easy to her. I think I'm rambling so I'll transition back to the subject. I was amazed by what these guys could do. Michael Jordan was a sight to behold. His athletic ability was ridiculous. Charles Barkley was so dominant when he played. Kevin Johnson made it look easy. Most people were drown to Jordan and Barkley. My sister loved KJ. I was drawn to Dan Majerle. His jersey was the first one I ever got (the old black version...SO DOPE). 

I watched as many games as I could while living in Albuquerque and stepped it up when we moved to Phoenix in 1994. I met Kevin Johnson while in middle school and met AC Green in both middle school and high school. I got to watch the mid to late 90's teams with Elliot Perry (Socks), Danny Manning and Wayman Tisdale. Michael Finley was one of my favorite players when the Suns drafted him in 1995.  I was also witness to the lost potential of Richard Dumas. I both loved and hated when they drafted Steve Nash. I loved it because he shared the same last name as myself but hated it for the same reason. I got tired of being asked if I had changed my last name to Nash because of him. Witnessed great squads with Antonio McDyess and Jason Kidd. The 90's were great for Suns fans.

The 2000's were no slouch either. Shawn Marion showed he was a star. We traded for Joe Johnson who turned out to be a beast (and underrated). We signed Steve Nash again and drafted Amar'e Stoudemire and because the most exciting teams to watch. I was also a witness to the loss of great players. Marion and Johnson left for greener pastures due to bad management and a non willingness to pay for talent. Although we never missed the playoffs in the 2000's we could never get over the humps that were the Lakers and the Spurs. Eventually, father time and injuries caught up with Steve Nash and he shipped him off to one of our biggest rivals the Lakers.

With Nash gone, it has been a rough stretch (7 years no playoff appearances) in the 2010's. A bad GM and a bushel of bad signings have forced us to struggle in the early 2010's. A new GM more recently and a few great draft picks (Devon Booker and Marquese Chriss) along with a few solid pick ups (Eric Bledsoe and admittedly Tyson Chandler) have put us in a better position to eventually get back to our winning ways. There have been a few missteps along the way though. The signing of Isaiah Thomas angered a fan favorite Goran Dragic and he demanded a trade. Trading for Brandon Knight was definitely a mistake and now something we as Suns fans have to endure for longer than we want. I see a bright future for this team though. That future is still in the distance but with another smart pick from Ryan McDonough (also resigning McDonough) and some solid signing/trades we can get that thrill back again.

MAN OF STEEL READVIEW

 - Patrick Nash

I watched Man of Steel again today and decided to give a quick review. The casting was solid for this movie. Henry Cavill was a great choice for Superman, maybe not a great Clark Kent. Michael Shannon as Did was perfect. He has the acting range to portray a man who is willing to anything to save his people. Diane Lane and Kevin Costner were good as Martha and Jonathan Kent. Kevin Costner did a great job showing the struggle of raising a child who literally can change the world.

The story itself is solid. It's always tough to have to rehash a story that had already been told multiple times. It was good they didn't dwell too much on the growing up portion, choosing to show quick flashbacks when needed. I do think they had to sacrifice a bit of storytelling in regards to the Superman/Lois Lane relationship. In movie time it made it look like they met twice and basically fell in love. The problem, in my opinion, is any Superman movie is it's either too slow paced for some people (Superman Returns) or too world destructive like in Man of Steel. It is obviously extremely difficult to find a proper middle ground in a 2 - 2 1/2 hour timespan.

All in all I think it is a solid movie and was a good starting point for the DC cinematic universe. There have unfortunately been some stumbles after this movie (Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad). Here's hoping Wonder Woman will get it back on track.

 

Random thoughts:

Superman was a little petty in a couple scenes. Even aliens are petty I guess.

The scene with Jonathan Kent and the tornado still gets me. Great scene.

Zod was a beast. Wish he didn't die.

I'm not an Amy Adams fan. But she seems to have a Superman fetish. (She was also in an episode of Smallville.

THE DAY THAT CHANGED ME FOREVER

 - Patrick Nash

First off, I wanted to give the back story on why I decided to do this. A friend of mine lost her sister a couple weeks ago and she is having a rough time right now. As I spoke to on the phone, anyone that knows me knows I hate talking on the phone, I told her a story that very few people have heard in its entirety. I have this innate ability to hold everything inside. This ability can be traced back to this moment in my life. I've known my friend for over 10 years now and she knew the general basics of this story but had never heard all of my thoughts and feelings that I went through during that time. She said that hearing my view helped her a lot just by knowing that someone has felt what she is feeling. And although it happened a long time ago, she said knowing that I have "survived" it gave her hope that she can eventually be somewhat normal again. She told me that I should share this story. Not only for those out there that are dealing with the loss of someone close to them, but for my own benefit as well. Truthfully, I have been going back and forth  to myself on if I wanted to do this or not. The answer was and still is a resounding NO. Which is kind of the reason why I feel like I should. Really more from a selfish standpoint, I'm hoping it'll help me. But if it also helps someone out there who is struggling with their own loss then that's great. On that note...

Saturday, November 16th, 1996. My sister and I were walking around Metrocenter Mall looking for a jacket. My 15th birthday was the week before (November 9th) and I was finally able to get out of school to purchase my birthday present. At this point in my life I was going to Southwest Indian School. A Native American christian boarding school that was located in Peoria, AZ. Students at this school actually lived there full time but were able to be checked out by their parents during the weekend to spend time at home. My mom had let my sister and I go to the mall so we could hang out and get my birthday present while she worked for a few hours. When we were done there we were supposed to call her to come pick us up. We probably spent a few hours there and finally decided to make the call. We found a pay phone and called our mom's work and were told she wasn't there. Weird. Not knowing what to do my sister and I decided to keep walking the mall and figure out how to get a hold of her. Roughly 30 minutes go by and strangely enough we see our mom walking towards us. As she gets closer she has a look that we've never seen before and we knew something serious was going on. We get outside and when we get to the truck, with tears falling down her face, she tells us our brother had gotten into a car accident early that morning and he had passed away.

I remember crying. My cry was strange because deep down I felt like it couldn't be true. The ride home was silent. My sister next to me crying and my mom trying to focus and be strong for the both of us. We got to the house and immediately my sister goes upstairs and starts packing her clothes for the trip to San Carlos. Me, still in shock and not wanting to believe it happened, I just stand downstairs. I remember my mom coming to me, trying to comfort me. I remember telling her I'm not going and to take me back to school. I remember the look on my mom's face. A look of sadness, confusion, compassion and shock. I can only imagine what she saw. A look of shock maybe, of anger, sadness, confusion. I remember grabbing my bags and leaving the house. An extremely silent drive back to school. An awkward goodbye. 

Now that I'm back at school I keep getting looks from people. Other students and teachers staring at me probably wondering why I'm there. All these looks anger me even more and I remember punching my locker in my room. Luckily no one was there to witness this outburst. We had gym time that night and while I'm there people are coming up to me telling me that they're sorry for my loss and looking at me strangely because of how I react...like nothing is wrong. The main thing I remember from this time is just the looks. Those looks are embedded in my brain. 

My girlfriend at the time was from San Carlos. She knew who my brother was and was more devastated than me at the time. She came up to my with tears in her eyes and asked me "Wes is gone?" This whole night is kind of a blur. I know I was just going through the motions of what I thought I should be doing and how I thought I should act. This was the first time in my life I've ever felt this type of pain. And I had no clue how to handle it. This was also the first time I would do what has become a norm for me. Bottle up my feelings and push them as far down as possible. I do not recommend this. 

I had dreams of my brother that night. Some were just remembering old interactions. Some were new interactions. I remember waking up crying multiple times that night. Still struggling with the fact that he was gone. Not wanting to believe it. Once again bottling those feelings up and pushing them as far down as possible. Not knowing that soon all those feelings were about to erupt back up. Once again I went through the motions that morning. Getting up and getting dressed. Going to breakfast with the rest of my dorm. This time ignoring the looks and faces of those around me. Making the short walk to the chapel for Sunday service. Everything started off as normal as it could. Sat down with friends and sang the first hymns. Then prayer requests came.

The first prayer request came from one of the faculty. I remember the exact words of the request. "Please pray for the Nash family. Hope and Patrick lost a family member yesterday and are back on the reservation right now." Hearing those words made everything true. All of those emotions that I had forced away came flooding back and erupted into tears and sobbing. I got up from my seat and ran to the bathroom where I completely lost it and remained there for the last hour of service. My heart was completely shattered. All the effort I had made to keep it together did little once the full realization of what had happened hit me. I composed myself enough to finally leave and call my mom, who was over 2 hours away at this point, to have her come pick me up. I'm sure she knew this was going to happen. 

That day was the start of a rough year. Along with my brother I lost 2 friends and got kicked out of that same boarding school. Losing people is hard. You're really never the same after that. There are some people that will tell you to get over it. That it happened a long time ago. If they are able to get over it then good for them. It's not easy for everyone. Even to this day some days are harder than others. That kind of loss sticks with you. It molded me into who I am today (which isn't always a plus). My suggestion for those who are just now going through something like this is this, don't bottle it up. Find someone you trust to talk to. Let it out. Be strong when you need to but also, know when to let go. 

I appreciate those who read this. Anyone who knows me knows that I don't open up very often. I'm an extremely private person. If you want to leave a comment you can. If not I understand. It's kind of a heavy post. Always appreciate those people in your life and let them know that you do. My regret is I don't think I did it enough. Take care people.

THE DEATH OF BEING COURTEOUS

 - Patrick Nash

Man, where did we all go wrong? How did we get to this point? I know this might seem a bit of an overreaction but this is something that weighs (not heavily mind you) on me daily. We as a society have lost a semi important aspect of being a human being...being courteous. For those who don't know (for some reason or another), the definition of being courteous is to be polite, respectful or considerate in manner. There are a lot of people that may think that the simple action of being courteous is no longer important. I have to disagree with those people. Also, I will try to make this as less preachy as possible.

I was raised to act a certain way. I had certain things instilled in me at a young age in regards to how to treat other people. Those things have stuck with me from childhood to adulthood and are things that i still follow (for the most part) to this day. Of course, I am human and I make mistakes and can be not so courteous on occasions. But, for the most part, I still tend to follow those simple rules that were taught to me so many years ago. 

This isn't a generational thing. It's not an older generation versus new generation issue. It's not a race thing or a class based issue either. Also, I'm not commenting on the world as a whole (as I have only ever lived in America) since I have had no real experience outside of the US. I've seen it from the elderly. I've seen it from teenagers and twenty-somethings. I've seen it from those in their middle-ages to those in my same age group (I'm 35). I've seen it less often in children than adults, which, shows that these things are still being taught to our children. Somewhere along the line between childhood and adulthood we lose it. 

Being courteous is a relatively simple things in reality. From holding the door open for someone (whether it be a male or female) or letting someone into your lane trying to exit a business, these things should be easy. Far too often you see someone who is trying to leave a business and instead of letting at least one car out people will pull up closer to the car in front of them to prevent them from pulling out (HA!). Holding the door open is now a lost art. Please and thank you have gone the way of the dodo (extinct bird). 

How often has your day turned bad because someone refused to let you over while driving? Or your running late and getting frustrated because you are trying to get on the road but no one will let you in? Now think, how often are you that other person? It's something to think about the next time you're out in the world. Be polite to each other. You never know how easy it is to make someone's day just a bit better by being more human.

New Dad Old Dad

 - Terence McDermott

I'm having a baby. Wait...what?? Yes you read that right....I AM HAVING ANOTHER KID! Most people who truly know me were surprised when I told them. Hell, i was more surprised than anyone. I didn't come to terms with it easily either. It really doesn't matter how I took it either because the baby was coming either way.  

I have noticed a bunch of differences in myself. The most glaring difference is my patience. I'm definitely more patient than iI have ever been. It is a quailty that didn't come naturally. I have been working on my patience for at least a year. I noticed myself becoming a grumpy old man...no one wants that guy around. So i decided to practice being calm when things don't go my way. Stop being spoiled Bro! Deal with it. 

My confidence took a blow over the last couple of years. I attribute it to NOT chasing girls daily. As weird as it sounds, being rejected by a woman can be a tool to boost your confidence because now you know what works and what doesn't. You learn to adjust yourself and go back knowing your next plan of attack WILL be successful. 

The unknown. I'm not scared of the unknown this time around. Probably, because I know more. I'm wiser. I'm approaching it from an older perspective. I have less going on. I'm settled. I'm a better person than I was for my first Son. (sorry kid)  My first son turned out to be amazing through all of my crazy mistakes. I'm hoping I can recreate that magic.

Being such a young parent that first go around was more difficult because the whole world is a distraction. No focus. No experience. No clue. I pretty much winged it and lived off of my minimal life experiences. This time, I have a clue. Definitely the experience! As for being focused, its less focus and more preparedness. I'm prepared to be whatever my next Son needs me to be. I'm prepared to do whatever it takes to be a great father all over again. 

This has been my biggest life lesson. The lessons I'm learning are less about situations and more about myself. I will contiunue to grow as a person. I will continue to be the man i want my Sons to be. I can't wait for the new challenge!