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Couples Retreat: Another Movie that Proves It's a Man's World. NOT Happy About This!

Posted by JD on Saturday, October 17, 2009 , under , | comments (0)

(photo to the left: the cast of Couples Retreat) will NEVER be the site you come to for movie reviews especially romantic comedy reviews. I rarely, if ever, watch movies…and when I do, I lean towards movies where things get blown up and destroyed. However, today, I went to see Couples Retreat with a friend who wanted to see it. Prior to going to see Retreat, the only thing I knew about the movie was the name. I wish that was still all I knew.

The movie stars Kristen Davis, who played the character Charlotte in Sex in the City, Kristen Bell, most known for her lead role on Veronica Mars and now Gossip Girl, Vince Vaughn, Jaso
n Bateman, and some other actors that don’t quite have household such as Jon Favreau, Malin Akerman, Faizon Love, and Tasha Smith who is known mostly for her “sassy black woman” turns in Tyler Perry’s cinematic catastrophes.

From the opening scene, it’s clear that Couples Retreat must be written by some fat comedic schmuck who aims to live vicariously through his life on screen. Much like many popular sitcoms (both animated and featuring real characters) such as King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond, Family Guy, The George Lopez Show, and any other number of comedies where some mushy moron of a man somehow lands a hot, smart woman and never lives up to any expectations because well, quite frankly, she doesn’t set any…and for that, he still isn’t grateful.

In the movie, Jon Favreau’s character Joey is married to Kristen Davis who play s Lucy (AS IF!!!!). Kristen Bell (Cynthia) and Jason Bateman (Jason) make a couple, and so do Vince Vaughn (Dave) and Malin Akerman (Ronnie). All three couples are arguing over, well, we don’t really know what their problems are. All we know is that Jason and Cynthia are so unhappy that they make a powerpoint presentation to convince their other friends that they should all go to a sort of paradise island for couples. The island is called Eden and there they can repair their battered relationships by jet skiing, eating well, and, should they choose to, participating in some couples therapy.

Faizon Love, the lone black man in the male circle of friends, is recently divorced and dating a 20 year old named Trudy who hasn’t quite mastered English, played by Kali Hawk who hasn’t quite mastered acting. The two are an uneven sloppy couple (and not just b/c of Faizon’s girth which seems to grow with every movie role), and once again, just like the rest do not quite make sense. Faizon's character Shane is an over 40 plus sized man who isn’t particularly handsome, has no money and bad credit(he attributes that problem to his wife)…how did he attract a 20 year old “hottie.” What would be her motivation to sleep with him? And with her limited vocabulary, what would they talk about? Oh well, who cares, they’ve only been together two weeks. What's more disturbing is that they choose to make Trudy into a moronic 'home girl' type as though the fact that Shane has met a totally beautiful 20 year old wasn't enough of a contrast. It's a needless insult to the black character's storyline.

Further, watching sweet-looking Kristin Bell (born in 1980) and a stuffy serious-looking Jason Bateman (born in 1969) argue about HER infertility issues and eventually, to my chagrin, have a sex scene it becomes harder and harder to believe for one second that any of these women chose any of these men--even the ditsy black chick could do better.

Besides the aesthetic imbalances, the movie as a whole was very predictable, SPOILER ALERT, all the couples stay together in the end, but before we FINALLY get to that anti-climatic resolution, we have to sit through all the stereotypical scenes incorporated into any comedy that involves resorts and relaxation. They are, in no particular order, the man who is aroused by his massage, the hot European male yoga instructor who, wearing almost nothing, touches everyone inappropriately, the all-too-no-nonsense waitstaff, the hokey advice, frantic island search for something (in this case one of the characters) and a final scene where ‘stunning’ public admissions take place. The most stunning admission being that Joey has cheated on Lucy several times. It doesn’t seem to faze her as she then admits that she has cheated on him with “more than one man” (insert ménage trios joke her).

During the last scene when Faizon Love’s wife shows up at the retreat “looking for him,” I was perplexed. Maybe it’s all the study I’ve done on African Americans in cinema, but I don’t think it’s any coincidence that even a movie this silly and hokey wasn’t willing to, for one moment, explore the issues in a committed relationship between two black people. Tasha Smith still has some way to go for me to believe she can pull off any role that doesn’t require her to be the loud-mouthed shrew, but compared to Ms. Hawk’s acting, you can’t help but wonder why we were subjected to it when a better actress was already on set?

The only success in this movie is the little boy who plays Dave and Ronnie’s son. He’s adorable and has some great scenes in the movie. If only there was a way to only condense the movie down to those few scenes.


Posted by JD on Friday, October 16, 2009 , under | comments (0)

I'm a speechwriter, media coach, sports fan, political Junky,  shoe Addicted, dog Lover. I do a little bit of everything...and I must say I'm pretty good at it!

Hampton U has a White Homecoming Queen? I am NOT Happy About This!

Posted by JD on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 , under | comments (0)

(Photo via Joi Louviere, Special to the Daily Press)

When I first found out that Hampton University, a historically black University (HBCU) in Hampton, Virginia, had selected a white 22 year old named Nikole Churchill from Obama's old stomping ground of Hawaii, I wasn’t moved to opine. Plenty of white people go to HBCUs, and in this day and age of escalating tuitions and diversity programs it’s no surprise that white people (in particular, lower middle class whites) would choose to go to an HBCU and take advantage of higher financial aid awards to whites, the prestigious reputation of some such universities and, somewhat regrettably, their lower admission standards compared to many Predominately White Institutions (PWIs).

However, when I learned that Ms. Churchill didn’t attend classes on Hampton’s main campus but reports to a Virginia Beach, VA location, I knew something wasn’t right. How could an HBCU with a long-standing history of black bourgeois pride and observation of grand African American traditions elect a white girl who probably has never solidified any type of popularity on main campus—the gauge by which these sorts of contests are typically judged.

I read further and found that Hampton students did not elect their homecoming Queen as most would assume, rather, she was selected winner by a panel of Judges beating 9 other Black candidates.


I didn’t attend an HBCU, but having gone to a PWI my opinions on the role and purpose of HBCUs are that much stronger. I know what it’s like to watch policies change at an institution so that they begin to exclude and negatively impact the minorities on campus. I know what it’s like to see the black population on campus dwindle so dramatically a return to campus after summer break leaves you in confusion. PWIs are many versions of the racially charged society in which we all live. HBCUs are supposed to be shelters from those distractions and heartbreaks.

Trends that do not benefit blacks should never become standard at any HBCU. HBCUs have been, and should continue to be, places where black students learn about the harsh realities of competing in a white society through academic curriculum and not through personal experiences. Unlike black HBCU students,black students at PWIs typically realize very quickly upon stepping onto the campus that the chances of you being Homecoming Queen or holding any other such esteemed title voted by the student body is unlikely.

This is why HBCUs are so important. It is at these institutions that black folks have greater to be recognized by their peer group and the powers that be than they will in any other time in their lives going forward.

Had the students of Hampton voted a white woman into the Homecoming Queen spot, I wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. After all, it’s a popularity contest, and if you are the most popular you deserve to win. But I believe that a panel of Judges (all adults from varying backgrounds) picks a winner based on two things--accomplishments and the image they will provide of the school. As an outsider looking in, I believe it would be difficult for Hampton to make the case that the winner of the pageant was especially accomplished considering the curious letter she wrote to President Obama. A letter in which she alluded to the notion that she should be acknowledged for her accomplishment due to the ensuing backlash of her win and the fact that they are both firsts in their "position" and hail from Hawaii. (She later apologized for writing the letter).

So I must speculate that what motivated Hampton to make this choice was the image factor. Perhaps Hampton was trying to send the message that they are diverse. Perhaps they were trying to be post-racial. Even worse, they may have been trying to compete with PWIs. Whatever the reason, a white hand-picked winner isn’t the right choice for an HBCU, and certainly not a decision that any other HBCUs should even for a moment consider.

I do feel sorry for the winner of the contest. Hampton made an ill-fated example out of her. And in the end, they embarrassed both Ms. Churchill and an institution whose reputation has already been battered due to other insensitive positions it has taken. Anyone remember Hampton's striking stance on dredlocks?

What do you think? Are you Happy About This?

Note: The Daily Press Newspaper has the latest on this story

Post Offices Closing? NOT Happy About This! List of closings included.

Posted by JD on Monday, October 12, 2009 , under | comments (0)

The United States Postal Service has been in a budget crisis for a long time now. I remember when I stamp was 5 cents! Now it costs closed to $.50 just to mail a letter. In case you haven’t heard, America’s answer to this budget crisis is to CUT services and hours. You can probably already guess by the tone of that last sentence that I don’t agree with this strategy, and you’re right, I don’t.

If you look at the Post Office’s major competitors, they offer more services and have more hours of availability. For example, FEDEX opens at 6am (typically) and doesn’t close until 7:30pm (typically). That gives people like you and me who work full time jobs an opportunity to use its services before or after work . The same could be said about UPS.
Unfortunately, USPS offices typically open at 8am and close at 5 or 5:30pm. For many people, the only option to go to the post office is during your lunch break…at which point there is almost ALWAYS a line outside the door. I have always been happy with the amount and type of services offered by USPS, and am frequent sender and receiver of mail. However, I typically will pay extra to mail through FedEX/UPS just because they are open when I need them to be.

FedEX and UPS have also contracted with Kinkos and some other companies such as CVS to ensure there are service locations almost everywhere you look. So when you’re rushing home from work, you’ve already processed your mailing labels online (another service of which USPS should make better use), and all you need to do is drop off your package, there are myriad locations to do so.

It seems that in the past twenty years, companies (both public and private) have answered budget shortfalls with service slashes and price hikes rather than innovation and adaptability. It’s sad to see this befall such a needed institution. There are A LOT of disadvantages to this continued deterioration of the United State Postal Service, from job losses to inevitable increases in prices when larger shipping companies don’t have to compete with a stabler, more working class USPS, out in rural locations like Nowhere Wisconsin, and WhyamIHere, NE. Of course like all things, the poorer will be impacted the most. When I was growing up there were two post offices in a 25 mile range and no larger shipping company.

Cutting services rather than offering more, slashing jobs and locations instead of reevaluating the business model…needless to say USPS, I am NOT happy about this.
What do you all think? Is this the best way to solve USPS woes? Do you care?

To find out if your local office is on the closing list, click

Spa Week Across the Country 10/12-10/18! Happy! $50 treatments.

Posted by JD on , under | comments (0)

I am a spa addict. I travel a lot, and I try to get a massage in every city I visit. And like most women, even if I don't get my nails feet and eyebrows are a must.

If you're like me, you've graduated from getting your beauty services at the local tiny Asian shops and are now getting your mani/pedis etc. at a spa. If not, you're missing out and here's a chance to upgrade your experience.

Today is the first day of Spa week, a week of $50 treatments available in select spas across the country. This promotion typically goes on two weeks in each season. The first fall spa week was in September, the 2nd one is...RIGHT NOW. Go to to find out which spas in your area are participating. I will try to post the spring fall weeks ahead of time. Hopefully those of you who are still interested can get an appointment!

For those in the DC area, my favorite local masseuse is Brad Drummer at Nustaspa in DC. He invented a technique called "Interpretve Touch" Massage. With this type of massage, he uses techniques from various massage types (Sweedish, Shiatsu, Deep Tissue etc.) depending on your body's needs in each area. Whenever I go to him I feel AMAZING.

Lorenzo Lamas Will Call My Momma and Wish Her Happy Birthday (for $19.95)! I'm Sooo Happy About This!!

Posted by JD on Sunday, October 11, 2009 , under , | comments (0)

One of my favorite memories growing up was watching TV on Saturdays with my momma and my Great Uncle. In the early 90s, my momma and I used to lie on the floor side by side watching the TV show Renegade starting Lorenzo Lamas. In the closing credits, Lamas used to ride off on a motorcycle, hair blowing in the wind and my mom and I would watch until the screen turned black. See, me and my momma have NEVER had the same taste in men. Ever. She thinks Mekhi Phifer is cuter than Idris Elba. I think she's lost her mind. But we both agreed that Lorenzo Lamas is ONE FINE MAN. We never missed an episode!

Now, thanks to the powers of the internet (and maybe even the recession and ageism in Hollywood), for only $19.95, Lorenzo Lamas will call my momma with a personal message. Think I'm joking? Go to I'm so excited about this, it will be hard to keep this is a secret until her birthday. Wish me luck.

Now some would say this is the most embarrassing way to prove to everyone that your career in Hollywood is over. However, I would argue that Dancing With the Stars fills that role. But still, this web site seems pretty insulting. I wonder if the celebs who agree to do so really need the money or if they figure, hey, why not? Earn some easy cash.

What do yall think? Should we be happy about this? Or, embarrassed for the participants?