Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 was mine and in 2010, I'mma do it again!!

What a year 2009 was for me.

I got a new job, which was a dream come true. I moved back into a brand new home, a year after an awful fire. And I've continued to grow with an amazing support group of family and friends.

Last year, I proclaimed that 2009 would be mine. And it was!! (click here to read that blog)

And in 2010, I'mma do it again!!

I'm going to take my career to new levels and continue work harder and harder each day.

I'm going to continue to help my community in any way that I can.

I'm excited because I recently found out that I will receive the 'People on the Move' award from the Deputy Mayor of my hometown. What an amazing honor!?! I look forward to accepting the award in February. Already the year is shaping up to be an amazing one.

I never thought I would have achieved so many of my goals in 2009.

Hard work and dedication certainly does pay off, so for anyone out there following their dreams -- continue to work hard and the success will surely follow.

(Picture: M. Feenz and his grandmother - Christmas 09 in the Bronx)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Skype: Bringing your family home for the holidays

Christmas in the Bronx was extra special this year because everyone was there, even my uncle who lives 1,200 miles away in sunny Florida.

My family usually likes to surprise my 94-year-old grandmother, Gladys Willis, when her son, Rudy, comes to town for a visit. They never tell her when he flies into LaGuardia. It's always the same routine. He comes in the door, my grandmother looks up, she stretches out her frail arms and yells, "Ru-ddddyyy!" Then she hugs him tighter than a pair of skinny jeans. (The last time he came up to the Bronx was for Thanksgiving - they are pictured above)

But this time around the surprise didn't walk through the door. He instead popped up right before her eyes.

I sat my MacBook Pro on her lap and there he was on my computer screen, wearing his New York Yankee Santa hat.

"Hi, ma," he said, smiling and waving.

A little confused, my grandmother, wearing her own Santa hat with a coil spring, just waved. She didn't realize that he could hear her, too. After some coaching, she finally got the hang of it.

But the new way to interact with her 58-year-old son was all courtesy of Skype, a popular free calling service that also allows video conferencing. It's like having a video phone. The service gained popularity on television programs, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, where guests are often interviewed from their homes.

"I liked it. It was really good," Uncle Rudy said of his first Skype visit to a family gathering. "I got to see everybody all at one time. It's a lot different than just talking on the phone."

The laptop would eventually go around the living room to the laps of everyone in our tight-knit family. It even traveled to the dining room, where we teased Uncle Rudy with his favorite holiday cookies that my Aunt Valerie makes annually. Then we made a pit stop in the kitchen, where my Uncle Reggie was whipping up some instant mashed potatoes.

"Your Uncle Reggie making instant potatoes," he laughed. "He did it live on the air."

The entire Skype experience lasted an hour, and will likely become a regular occurrence at family gatherings, he said.

"I can't get up there but so many times a year," he said. "This way I can visit a little more. My mother can see me. I won't get the hug. But she was throwing me kisses."

What's next? Well, Uncle Rudy already has a suggestion for the next big breakthrough.

"You took me over to the dining room table and everything," he said. "The cookies were right there. That's the next thing - being able to taste the cookies through the screen."

Below is a cool and simple explanation of how Skype works:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Everybody hates Chris, but the album is pretty good

Chris Brown might not be the smartest man in music, but his new album Graffiti is a must have.

The 20-year-old singer, predicted to the "next big thing" since Michael Jackson, nearly committed career suicide when he brutally attacked his former girlfriend Rihanna in February.

He has since apologized, started doing community service and a made sappy love song declaring he was a "changed man." Thankfully, "Changed Man" was not on this album.

After the attack on the Barbadian beauty, it seemed like everybody hated Chris. Radio stations weren't playing his music and his endorsements went bye-bye.

But the kid from Tappahannock, Va. bounces back on Graffiti, delivering an album with a mix of pop and R&B. Not to mention, a handful of songs with pretty obvious messages to his ex.

The Swizz Beatz track "I Can Transform Ya" featuring Lil' Wayne is the lead single off the album and rightfully so. It is the most radio-friendly song of the bunch.

The second single, "Crawl" is a climatic ballad about regaining a lost love.

"Everybody says we're through, I hope you haven't said it too," he sings.

Could it be a message to Rih-Rih? Quite possibly.

One song that is clearly about his ex-boo is "Famous Girl."

He sings, "You're famous girl...should've known you'd break my heart."

The track also contains some clever wordplay using some artists names and their big hits. He even mentions Rihanna's "Disturbia."

"I might have cheated in the beginning / I was wrong for writing Disturbia," he sings. "But I meant in Forever / We were supposed to be together / And I can't let you go."

Other high spots on the album include the uptempo party-starter, "Pass Out," and the Polow Da Don track, "Wait" featuring bad boys, Trey Songz and The Game.

Unfortunately, his third album didn't do very well in its first week with a little over 100,000 copies sold, landing him the No. 7 spot on the Billboard chart. His last album, Exclusive, sold over 295,000 copies in his first week. So calling this album a disappointment would be a huge understatement. But what could he expect with the year that he's had. Perhaps he should have taken some more time off.

It didn't help matters much that he ranted on Twitter that Walmart wasn't stocking the shelves with his album.

"im tired of this shit. major stores r blackballing my cd. not stockin the shelves and lying to costumers," Brown barked on Twitter. "what the fuck do i gotta do...WTF...yeah i said it and i aint retracting shit. im not biting my tongue about s else...the industry can kiss my ass."

I guess he really thinks everybody hates Chris. I have to beg to differ. I don't think a Walmart store manager really cares what Chris Brown does in his personal life. If they have the album in stock, it would be on the shelf. That's just my opinion.

A statement from Walmart said, "We are surprised at the comments oline. All Walmart stores nationwide have carried the CD since its release, including the Wallingford store mentioned in the post. The store actually sold through its initial shipment over the weekend. The majority of our stores today are showing they do have copies available."

Since his ridiculous Twitter rant, Brown has gotten rid of his Twitter page. Probably the best move he's made all year.

I'm sure his publicist is overjoyed.