Wednesday, February 25, 2009


What is it about free that perks up our ears, makes us smile and think we have gotten over on something or somebody? Well, it doesn’t cost anything and you get something, hopefully something you want and can use. It feels good to get something absolutely free, no strings attached, nothing expected. I’m not talking about like at the grocery store when you purchase an item and get another one like it for free, a 2 for 1. I mean that’s cool; you feel like you are getting more for your money but there is still that initial output.

Yesterday, I received an email to print out a coupon from Jack in the Box to get two free tacos (normally 2 for a $1.00). They did this a few months ago and I guess it warranted a redo. I figured if I was in the neighborhood, why not? Of course, I know what their angle is; it is to get you in there to spend money on other items. About a month ago, Denny’s Restaurant announced they were giving away a Grand Slam breakfast which included pancakes, eggs and bacon or sausage, normally about a $5.00 value.

Why are these places giving away free food? Well, my theory is these places are losing business and this is a way to get back in the public’ radar. I mean, you have so many choices, so many alternatives. So, they put these freebies out as if they are sensitive to the economic crisis and they are good guys, so they are giving us a break. Now that is a good thing. Now, the Jack in the Box things seemed to be pretty tame, there didn’t to seem to be any long lines or stampedes. But my daughter and niece went to Denny’s and let’s just say, there is really a recession going on. The offer ran from 8:00 am – 2:00pm on a Tuesday, I believe. They got there about 10:00am and the line was wrapped around the corner. They were told by those waiting, it would be at least two hour wait!!! They said forget it; it ain’t that serious and went to another restaurant and paid for a breakfast. LOL
Rebecca, my daughter, said what was amazing to her was that this was a weekday and the people that were willing to stand in line for a free breakfast was mind-boggling. She said, don’t these folks have a job to go to? That brought home just how many people are out of work and how much that free food meant to them?

Now, I really got excited about a real “free” deal. My ever resourceful daughter signed us up for a cosmetic class-action suit. Christian Dior, Estee Lauder, Chanel, among other cosmetics companies were dispensing $175 million worth of free cosmetics to consumers due to some price confusion. And it turns out that even those who weren’t involved in the suit were eligible after our Channel 7 consumer reporter blabbed it on the news. But then what woman has not spent money at a department store cosmetics or fragrance counter. Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, Bloomingdales, Nieman Marcus, and some other mostly high-end stores were distributing the cosmetics on January 20. Now why did that date sound familiar?

I was unsure of this, especially since it was broadcast and EVERYONE could get it; they even had some men’s products. So, it is Inaugural morning and we are sitting around eating grits, eggs, biscuits and bacon and drinking mimosas watching the swearing-in when Rebecca suggested that we had some time between the swearing in and the parade and lets go to Stoneridge Mall and see what was up with the free cosmetics. My sister, Flo, Jennifer, Cynthia,, her daughter, Tiffany, Rebecca and I headed out and what greeted us was this long line in Nordstrom’s; we could see it when we hit the shoe department. Oh my. I said loudly, “Why aren’t people at work or home watching the Inauguration?” LOL. So, what could we but get in line. But they were prepared for this and it was very orderly, quick; about 10 minutes, and organized. The cosmetics included perfume, body lotion, body wash, LancĂ´me mascara (I was told by one young woman, it was the good stuff), face and skin cream. You marked down what you wanted. No exchanges, no changing your mind. I chose the Boucheron perfume. We then headed over to Macy’s and I got the Givenchy perfume. On the way home, I stopped by the Macy’s near my house; another long line, again orderly. I got Vera Wang body wash. These were some great products. I heard that some women were going all over the county to all the stores that were involved and even got back in the same line two or three times. Wow. I was happy with my free stuff and have been enjoying the items.

They say the best things in life are free. I don’t know about that. A friend of my daughter who is always looking for a bargain told us about Slick Deals.
There are all kinds of great bargains and free stuff!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Black History Month… But I’d Rather We Got Casinos

Black History Month… But I’d Rather We Got Casinos

February is getting away from me but I could not let it go by without mentioning Black History Month. I am not being cavalier but I don't get really excited about February as being the month we celebrate being black. Oh sure, it’s nice to view the different PBS program offerings and other television specials. Last weekend, TNT introduced “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story” about the magnificent neurosurgeon which I thoroughly enjoyed. But the truth of the matter is I live, breath, practice Black History all the time. You see I love my people, I love black folk. I love our history, culture, our ways, well… most of them; how we do, well… most of the time. LOL

I regularly attend black cultural events, all year round. I attend programs and events at the African American Museums in both Oakland and San Francisco as well as book events at black-owned Marcus Book Store, supporting our writers and purchasing their books. I am a board member and active in the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California whose mission is to research and promote black genealogy, history, and culture. I can go on but I think you get the picture. I looove me some Black!

Last Sunday morning I was listening to Brian Copeland’s talk show on KGO Radio while getting ready for church. His guest was Larry Wilmore, an actor/comedian/producer and writer. He is currently on the satire news show, “The Daily Show.” He has written for The Bernie Mac Show, In Living Color, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, among other shows. Wilmore was also the co-creator of the PJs with Eddie Murphy.

Wilmore has just released a book, I'd Rather We Got Casinos: And Other Black Thoughts. I was immediately intrigued by the title and listened as he waxed philosophically about the irony of Black History Month. Comic and satirist that he is, I got where he was coming from. Black folks get the short shrift by getting the shortest month of the year but what happened to our forty acres and a mule? The Native Americans got their reparations to an extent with land and casinos. Wilmore’s book is a commentary on race relations, the aftermath of slavery, and how we should all just get along. I just might pick it up.

I appreciate the Black History profiles that one of my colleagues from one of our sister colleges has been sending out via our email system. I have especially been enjoying one of my APOOO sister’s blog as a great source of Black History profiles. Up and coming writer and blogger, J.C. Martin, is showcasing her stuff on a daily basis over at Words Mosaic
Go to the lower left to Featured Category #1. There you will find out about black folks, some you know, and some you don’t.

Power to the People!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Second Month of 2009 First Quarter Reading Challenge

Well, I didn’t read as many books as I had planned to read in January; however, I am more than sure I will make the 13 book quota for the First Quarter Reading Challenge by March 31.

Books Read in January
Title Author Rating

1. Red Light, Green Light Margaret Hodge Johnson 4.5

2. A Little Piece of Sky Nicole Bailey-Williams 4

3. Seduced by Moonlight Janice Sims 3.5 (APOOO review)

4. Where the Line Bleeds Jesmym West 4/4.5

(APOOO BOM, Vine review)

5. Tempest Tales Walter Mosley 4 (Marcus BOM)

6. The Red Tent Anita Diamant 4.5/5

Red Light, Green Light will make my favorites list for 2009, undoubtedly in the top 10. The author puts you there in New York City in the aftermath of 9/11. She has you in the mind and body of a crack-addicted man trying to stay clean. Hodge-Johnson wrote this book.

Where the Line Bleeds will also be on my favorites lAs a matter of fact I wrote a blog about it-

The Tempest Tales was a great book club discussion. Debating the merits of heaven and hell, good vs. evil, judgment, temptation, and the moral compass made for lively debate.

A pleasant surprise was A Little Piece of Sky. My introduction to Nicole Bailey-Williams last fall for The Love Child Revenge was not a pleasant reading experience. In fact it was a disappointing read and a waste of my time and intelligence. ALPOS was a small volume packed with lyrical, beautiful language and a story that captivated me. Had a kind of Sandra Cisneros’ House on Mango Street feel to it.

I cannot believe I had not read The Red Tent. I found the book buried at the bottom of my book pile with the receipt still in it from March 2002! It was a gift from one of my APOOO sisters. TRT had me looking at the Bible in a new light and wanting to delve deeper into the Old Testament. I had some of the same sentiments as Sister APOOOer Yasmin Coleman.

And of course, my girl, Janice Sims, a great romance writer and friend, set me up right with Seduced by Moonlight. Nothing like a Calgon moment.

The plan is to read the following books for February. We shall see.

7. Protect and Serve - Gwyneth Bolton

8. Straight Outta East Oakland - Harry Louis Williams II

9. Something Like Beautiful - asha bandele (APOOO BOM)

10. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Marcus BOM) - Junot Diaz

11. Black and White - Lewis Shiner

12. Secret Daughter - June Cross (APOOO review)
13. Like a Might Stream: The March on Washington, August 28, 1963- Patrik Henry Bass (Black History Read)
14. And selected stories from Best African American Fiction: 2009 & Best African American Essays:2009, both edited by Gerald Early.

Stop by and let me know what is in your queue and how your 2009 reading is going or a link to your list.

Until next month.