Saturday, January 28, 2012

Singer Anthony Hamilton and rapper J. Cole have more than just their musical talents and North Carolina roots in common. They also share January 28 as their birthdays. Happy birthday, fellas, and keep repping for N.C.--Charlotte and Fayetteville, respectively!

J. Cole turns 27 today. Another important date on his calendar is February 12 at the Grammy Awards (8 p.m., CBS), where he's nominated for Best New Artist along with The Band Perry, Bon Iver, Nicki Minaj, and Skrillex. Anthony is 41 today and while he already has a Grammy trophy on his mantle, he's performing this year at the Grammy In The Schools Live! concert February 8 at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Paula Broadwell Is Awesome

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 1/26/2012 3 comments
Paula Broadwell has been all over talking about All In, her new book that is. It's been a whirlwind media tour this week for the Charlotte-based author, since All In: The Education of General David Petraeus was released Tuesday. It's a 400-page biography on one of the most revered military leaders of our time, who recently began his post as director of the CIA.

Paula is impressive in her own right. Her resume reads like a fictional character from a Pentagon movie. She graduated from West Point in the 1990s; got masters degrees from Harvard; worked for the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and then for the Jebsen Center for Counter-Terrorism Studies; and the list of experience goes on. She also serves on several boards, including the Carolinas Freedom Foundation and Women in International Security.

She's currently finishing up her PhD in War Studies at King's College London, and that is what brought her to the opportunity to write the book on Petraeus. As Paula explains in her interview with Jon Stewart during last night's episode of The Daily Show, what resulted in a book began as her dissertation. You should also watch the extended web footage of her appearance on the Comedy Central show, where she engages in a push-ups competition with Jon (after losing, he donates $20,000 to Paula's charity of choice, Team Red, White & Blue, an organization that supports wounded veterans).

Over the past couple of days, Paula has also appeared on FOX & Friends, Morning Joe, Now with Alex Wagner, and other national television shows. Keep up with her goings on by following her on Twitter @paulabroadwell. She's married to local radiologist Scott Broadwell, and they live in Dilworth with their two sons.

Follow me on Twitter @Hollidayink.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

If you watched last night’s State of the Union address by President Barack Obama, then you saw the great face time a local woman received. About 17 minutes into his hour-long speech, President Obama touted Jackie Bray’s success story. He told how Jackie, from Kings Mountain, was laid off from her job as a mechanic. But thanks to a partnership between Siemens' new gas turbine factory in Charlotte and Central Piedmont Community College, the company paid Jackie's tuition; then hired her full-time.

Jackie was seated next to First Lady Michelle Obama, and the national television cameras cut to her about a half-dozen times. She was clearly overwhelmed by the fact that the POTUS was saying her name repeatedly.

"I want every American looking for work to have the same opportunity as Jackie did," President Obama said. "Join me in a national commitment to train 2 million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job. My administration has already lined up more companies that want to help. Model partnerships between businesses like Siemens and community colleges in places like Charlotte, and Orlando, and Louisville are up and running."

Below is a two-minute video clip of Jackie's face time. It's also great publicity for CPCC, which is already a thriving community college system, and for Siemens, which comes off looking like a great corporate citizen.

You can watch the full 2012 State of the Union address by clicking here.

Google Offers Launches in Charlotte

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 1/25/2012 No comments
Google Offers is now available in Charlotte. The daily deals, online coupon service that was launched by the search-engine giant last year, added five new cities yesterday: Charlotte, Kansas City, Milwaukee, San Antonio, and Tampa. That brings the total number of cities to 38; 33 of those came over a six-month span in the second half of 2011.

From what I can tell, Google Offers isn't much different than the leading daily deal service, Groupon, or distant second-place competitor LivingSocial. Other large dot-coms, such as Amazon with AmazonLocal, have launched coupon services to try to slow down Groupon, which is available in more than 160 U.S. cities, plus hundreds more in other countries, with tens of millions of registered users.

I signed up for both Groupon Charlotte and LivingSocial Charlotte in 2010 (Groupon first, then LS about six months later). If you aren't familiar with how these services work (where have you been), it's simple. You register for free on their website (takes only a couple of minutes), and each day you'll receive an email that features a greatly discounted offer on a local product, service, meal at a restaurant, ticket to an event, etc. The minimum discount is 50 percent off, but quite often the discounts reach 75 percent off or more. Once you receive the deal in your email, you have three or four days (sometimes longer) to buy it; then you usually have about six months or so to redeem it.

Companies sign up to offer their special deal with Groupon, LivingSocial, and the like, in an effort to attract more business and new customers. It usually comes at a loss for these businesses on that particular offer because not only are they selling that product or service at half off (or more) but the coupon site gets 30 to 50 percent of the revenue that's brought in on the deal. So if a spa, which is a common deal on these things, is offering a massage package that's regularly priced at $100 to the daily deal subscriber for $50, it's probably only getting about $30 after the revenue has been split with the site. But businesses tend to view it as a marketing expense because they often attract hundreds of first-time customers; although a large percentage of them don't return once they've used the discount.

Today's local Groupon deal is 53 percent off at a golf ranch, while the LivingSocial deal is $10 for $20 worth of bath and body products. But there are often more useful offers, such as Monday's Groupon Charlotte deal I'm considering buying before it expires: $50 for $225 worth of complete pair of eyeglasses with frames and lenses.

Since I already receive one email a day from each of these services, I can't see myself signing up for Google Offers or any other similar service anytime soon. I have enough unread emails in my inbox as it is. Google Offers is going to have to show me something different or more worthwhile to make me consider. I would think that people like me who are already subscribed to a daily deal service or two probably feel the same way. But Google Offers still has a pool of hundreds of millions of people to go after--those who aren't subscribed anywhere. Plus the fact that they have an immediate target audience already in their reach through the gigantic number of people who already have Google accounts, whether it be to use their services like Gmail, YouTube, Google+, or others.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

NFL Draft analysts don't know what they're talking about. The 2012 NFL Draft is three months away, and leading sports reporters are beginning to publish their mock drafts (, Bleacher Report, ESPNHuffPost Sports). They'll update their lists over the next several weeks after more factors become certain, such as how the remaining four teams finish in the playoffs (teams draft in the first round based on how they finish the previous season, from worst drafting first to best drafting last) and how draft prospects perform in the NFL Scouting Combine (February 22-28). The only thing that's probably not likely to change is the analysts' assertion that the Indianapolis Colts will draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick.

But here's why I say NFL Draft analysts don't know what they're talking about. Most of them are suggesting that the Carolina Panthers will draft a defensive tackle or defensive end with the No. 8 or 9 pick in the first round (next month, a coin flip between the Panthers and Miami Dolphins will determine who drafts eighth and who drafts ninth). The Panthers' most important needs are on defense, analysts say, pointing to the fact that the team allowed franchise records in points, touchdowns, total yards, and passing yards this past season. The Panthers will likely draft defensive end Quinton Coples from North Carolina, defensive tackle Devon Still from Penn State, or cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick from Alabama with their first-round pick, analysts say.

Well, I disagree. The Panthers' defense will automatically become better in 2012 because starting linebackers Jon Beason (injured week one and missed remainder of season) and Thomas Davis (injured week two and missed remainder of season) will be back. And other defensive needs can be addressed in the second and third rounds and through free agency.

In the 2011 draft, when the Panthers had the No. 1 overall pick, despite them coming off of a 2-14 season that featured horrible quarterback play by Jimmy Clausen and others, analysts were suggesting they should pick a defensive player like Von Miller from Texas A&M, Marcell Dareus from Alabama, or Nick Fairley from Auburn. Every time the conversation came up last winter and spring, which it did often because it was a hot topic around Charlotte, I would say the Panthers should draft Cam Newton. "The Panthers need to put an exciting offense on the field, even if it takes a little longer to win," I said. "Fans will be patient with the team rebuilding if the team is fun to watch, because they were a bore to watch during the 2010 season."

Fortunately, the Panthers listened to me and drafted quarterback Cam Newton in the first round. And what did he do in his first NFL season?:

  • Broke the rookie record for passing yards in a season (4,051).
  • Broke the single-season record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (14).
  • Broke the rookie record for most touchdowns accounted for in a season (35; 21 passing + 14 rushing).
  • Led the Panthers from being ranked dead last in total offense at 32nd in 2010 to being ranked 6th in 2011, as the team scored 210 more points.

Now, in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft in April, the Panthers should keep the offensive momentum going and draft wide receiver Alshon Jeffery from my alma mater, the South Carolina Gamecocks. Alshon's productivity dropped in 2011 from the monstrous season he had in 2010, but that was because USC's quarterback situation was less stable (the starting quarterback got kicked off the team midway through the season). Still, Alshon is one of the best two or three receivers coming out of college, and because of his size he will make the biggest impact.

The Panthers should draft Alshon to further intimidate defenses. He's 6-4, 230 pounds, so when you pair him with Cam, who's 6-5, 248 pounds, they'll have a one-two passing attack that's larger than half of the players defending them. Speaking of one-two, both Cam and Alshon wear jersey No. 1. If Alshon becomes a Panther, he should wear No. 2 (give it up, Jimmy Clausen).

The Panthers should draft Alshon because there have been too many seasons with Steve Smith not having another wide receiver to complement him--not since Muhsin Muhammad. Not during the 2005 to 2007 seasons when Muhammad played for the Bears (he played 11 of his 14 seasons for the Panthers) and not since he retired from the Panthers after the 2009 season. Cam revitalized Smitty this past season, as No. 89 caught 79 passes for 1,394 yards and is playing in next week's Pro Bowl for the first time in three years. (Cam could also play in the Pro Bowl if Eli Manning advances to the Super Bowl; Cam is the NFC's first alternate at quarterback behind Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.)

The Panthers should draft Alshon because they need to start grooming a successor to Steve. He'll be 33 years old when the 2012 season begins and I believe he's capable of having at least two more highly productive seasons like he had like this past one. But not many NFL teams have a 33-year-old as their number-one receiver.

And finally, the Panthers should draft Alshon because look at what the New York Giants have done this season. As I wrap up typing this blog post, the Giants vs. 49ers NFC Championship game has just begun. One of the main reasons the Giants are one win away from playing in the Super Bowl is because Eli Manning had two top receivers to throw to this season: Victor Cruz (1,536 yards) and Hakeem Nicks (1,192 yards). Hakeem is a Charlotte native and Independence High School grad who I blogged about three years ago: "Hakeem Nicks Is Making A Mistake." I'm glad to see he's proved me wrong.

But, about Alshon Jeffery, I am right. (I also mentioned this briefly two weeks ago on 282.)

As a Gamecocks fan, I'm admittedly bias. But I've also watched Alshon play in nearly every game during his three-year college career. So I know what he's capable of, just like the cornerbacks and free safeties who will fear him in the NFL. Watch this Alshon Jeffery Career Highlights reel a fan put together on YouTube, but you might want to mute it due to explicit lyrics.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

There are two events taking place this Saturday, January 21 that can help you become a better you. I'm sure you haven't reneged on those New Year's resolutions already, right?

First up, Saturday at 11:30 a.m., the Charlotte Area Association of Black Journalists (CAABJ) is presenting "The Social Guide for Journalists," tips and strategies to become a better journalist, blogger, and overall writer in today's ever-changing world of social media. Whether you're a professional journalist, budding blogger, or just interested in learning more about social media, you're invited to attend. I'm one of the panelists (@HollidayInk), along with social media gurus Jameka Whitten (@JamekaShamae) and Davida Jackson (@Called2Connect). The event takes place at Kickstand Burgers-N-Bar, 1101 Central Avenue.

Then, on Saturday afternoon, Motivation Marketing Firm, GP Events,, and Swank Group are partnering to present the New Year, New You Ladies Empowerment Event. It takes place 12-4 p.m. at Kalu, 505 E. Sixth Street, and is free for women to attend. The event will feature mini workshops by beauty, hair, financial, fashion, and health professionals to help women become better versions of themselves in 2012. There will also be Asian-inspired food, music by DJ Yasmin Young of Power 98, items for sale by local vendors, live performances, and attendees will receive gift bags, giveaways, and more.

Monday, January 16, 2012

'Homeland' Is Living Life Like It's Golden

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 1/16/2012 No comments
Homeland, the Showtime series that debuted in the fall and was filmed largely throughout the Charlotte area, won two awards last night at the Golden Globes. It won the award for Best Television Series - Drama and its star, Claire Danes, won Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Drama.

Executive Producer Howard Gordon and the cast of Homeland accept their award.

Winning the award for best TV drama, obviously, is a big deal for the show, and it beat out two other great series that were nominated that I'm a fan of: Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire, both on HBO. American Horror Story (FX) and Boss (Starz) were also nominated in that category, but I've never seen either of those shows. And, I'm ashamed to admit, that I haven't watched Homeland yet either. I recorded the series on my DVR and, week to week, I was never able to make time to watch the hour-long episodes--I feel like I watch too much TV as it is. But I plan to watch Homeland soon, whose season finale aired about a month ago. I'll probably do like I've done with new series in the past after a full season has aired--watch all 12 episodes over the span of a lazy, indoor weekend. I'm sure many other people will get caught up on the show now that it's won the coveted award.

In this video below, the Homeland cast discuss their Golden Globe win with Access Hollywood.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Get 'Back To Love' Today for 4 Bucks

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 1/13/2012 No comments
If you haven't purchased Charlotte native Anthony Hamilton's Back To Love album yet, today is the day to do it. The critically acclaimed album, released last month, is on sale at for a special one-day-only (January 13) price of $3.99 (digital version). Click here to order.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Anyone who has ever criticized Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (and there are a lot of you) should watch this new video posted today on YouTube by the school district. And not just CMS, but critics of public education everywhere should watch the approximately eight-and-a-half-minute long video.

I'm not here to defend CMS, but far too often far too many people bash our local public school system that educates 138,000 students--53 percent of which are categorized as economically disadvantaged--in 159 schools throughout the county, never giving them credit for anything and pretending as if their jobs aren't challenging.

In the video, CMS starts by stating the effect the recession has had on the district: "We slashed our budget, eliminated resources, and laid off employees," reads a slide in bold print. "And through it all, student achievement increased." Teachers are then shown touting CMS's recent success, such as improving scores on state tests and the SAT, and increasing the graduation rate from 67 to 74 percent in four years.

But what's at the heart of the video--and what should undoubtedly tug at your heart strings--is the showcasing of the hardworking people who come to our schools every day to try to create a great learning environment for our kids. CMS staffers discuss the roles of bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers, and teacher assistants. And then there's the profile of the most critical piece of the puzzle: the teachers.

It's pointed out in the video that CMS teachers and support staff haven't received raises since 2008. We all know that teachers, who have one of the most important jobs in the world, are grossly underpaid. In the video, several of them talk about having to work second jobs just to pay their bills. Yet, if you read the comments section of just about any news article about public schools, there's usually a large contingency of people who criticize teachers. Why don't you try doing their jobs for the salary they bring home? And I believe--and know several examples firsthand--that most teachers give 100 percent to their jobs despite not being paid well.

"Teachers are people, too... They go home to families," a CMS official says in the video. At the end of the video, this message appears: "Continuing the academic success in CMS will take the support of an entire community."

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Legacy of Black Women Film Showcase Friday

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 1/07/2012 1 comment
The Ninth Annual Legacy of Black Women Short Film Showcase, featuring award-winning short films by African-American filmmakers, takes place Friday, January 13 at McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square (345 N. College St.). It's a signature event of Deltas of Charlotte Foundation, Inc., the nonprofit fundraising partner of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Charlotte Alumnae Chapter--the beautiful ladies who wear red and throw their hands up to form a triangle (it's like a gang except they're intelligent and do good deeds for the community).

Hundreds attend the film showcase each year and, coincidentally, this year's event falls on the anniversary of the sorority's 99th anniversary (they were founded January 13, 1913). The film event opens with a reception at 6:30 p.m. that'll feature food as well as merchandise from local vendors, followed by the films playing at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and can be purchased at or by calling the box office at 704-372-1000; price is $25 at the door. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Dorothy Count Scoggins/E.Virginia Shadd Breaking Barriers Scholarship.

To nearly be approaching a decade-long run, the success of the Legacy Film Showcase is a testament to the strength of the Deltas, and for several years it benefited from the consultation of Dennis Darrell. Darrell was a longtime promoter of independent film in Charlotte until he passed away in 2010.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I wanted to share this really quickly after seeing it pointed out on Twitter by my friend Larken Egleston (@Larken). Apparently, in today's edition of The Charlotte Observer, there's a painfully hilarious typo in the sports section. In the "Bobcats Gameday" brief about the Charlotte Bobcats vs. New York Knicks matchup tonight, there's a short paragraph that reads as follows:
Ex-Charlotte Hornet Baron Davis signed with the Knicks after being cut by Cleveland under the amnesty clause. Davis is recovering from a herniated dick.
In the print newspaper that was distributed today via tens of thousands of copies throughout the Charlotte area, there's a typo that refers to Baron's, err, man part instead of the disk in his back.

If Baron actually had a hernia in his penis, I'm sure getting back to playing basketball would be the last thing on his mind. The oucho typo has been corrected in the online version of the article, but not before someone pointed out the mistake in the comments section.

This photo, which is currently Baron's Twitter avatar, lends itself to a facetious caption in light of the aforementioned news clip.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Charlotte hip-hop collective Mr. Invisible posted a new video on YouTube a couple of days ago. I'd never heard of them before, but I'm impressed by what I see and hear. Mr. Invisible, according to their bio, is actually not one person but is a trio made up of MCs/producers Justin Aswell and Ill‐Use (the two primary members), and DJ Marley Carroll.

In the YouTube clip, they perform a live take of their song "Wildstyle vs Kill The Messenger," complete with playing on beat machines. The track reminds me of something I would hear played at Kazba.

See more videos on Mr. Invisible's YouTube channel at One of their videos, posted about a year-and-a-half ago, has received more than 700,000 views. You can also follow the group on Facebook and Twitter.

Perhaps the most famous of the producers known for live beatmaking is AraabMuzik, who is not only regarded for making beats for The Diplomats, Busta Rhymes, and other hip-hop artists, but has had several videos of his live beat-machine work go viral on YouTube and websites like WorldStarHipHop.
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