Tag Archive: KU


 

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First, Kaepernick.  Don’t have much to add here.  My father, uncles, cousins, good friends are all veterans so I’ve always stood for the national anthem out of respect for them.  But if the man doesn’t want to do it, and he’s expressed why he doesn’t want to do it, I’ve been there too.  And I’m the last person to tell someone to do something they don’t want to do for the sake of appearances.

My original topic for this Sunday was going to be ‘black masculinity’, and how everyone from Nate Parker to Jaden Smith are making us think about what that’s meant, historically and what it means right now. As I sit here, my thoughts feel like a work in progress and not a fully formed idea.  Not yet anyway.

So today is as good of a Sunday as any to say ‘Thank You.’  The more personal impetus behind the masculinity idea I’ve been thinking about this week is I had to ask someone for help.  Out of all the demons I’ve beaten, my ego and my pride are the last two I haven’t yet fully conquered.  Everyone has that problem to a degree, but there’s a deeper complex black men are given at birth about not looking ‘weak’.  A lot of brothers with much more serious problems than I’ve ever had never ask or seek out the help they need because they don’t want to look like a ‘punk’.  I promise I’ll come back to this topic (on a large scale) before the year is out.

A lot of trial and error, but swallowing my pride is easier for me now because I’ve spent a significant part of my life surrounding myself with quality people and attracting like minds.  Ali passing at the beginning of Ramadan and the rise of Trumpism took me from year 4 of my 5 year plan to be a more vocal advocate for my community to year…11; but the pieces of my life had already fallen into place before things beyond my control happened.

So thank you to all of you who contribute to, support, and encourage me to be ‘MALIK AZIZ.’  The Wyandotte folks, the Jayhawks, the Trojans, the Ummah, the Frat; the music geeks, the film geeks, the nerds, the artists, the activists, the politicos; the Romantics who work for true love and friendship over notches on an imaginary belt or friend list, the old heads who worry for the kids coming up behind us and are determined to do what you can to make it easier for them than it was for us.

You all matter to me and I appreciate you.  I carry the public image of a loner, but I’m reminded daily how many people have my back.

 

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Showing some love to a talented brother from my neck of the woods…

Gabe Roland was a few years behind me at KU but we have more than a few mutual connections.  Besides the Jayhawk connection, he’s also a Kansas City native.  Had dinner with him and some friends a couple years back; the young man is serious about his craft (which I obviously respect) and I’ve been watching from a distance as he’s been touring the world and doing his thing with his music.

He just put out a new video for one of his songs, ‘Wishful Regrets’.  I’m digging it.  Think you will too.

Enjoy!

 

‘Red Bird’

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A few of my talented Jayhawk friends who helped me make ‘Lady In My Life’ a few years back need your help in bringing their next vision to the screen.

The name of the web series is ‘Red Bird’, and it’s being written and directed by Misti Boland.  She can explain her vision better than I, so here’s the link to the website with all the info you need.  There’s only a few hours left so help if you can!

Red Bird

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(cutting and pasting this opening from yesterday; if you already read it you can skip ahead to the backstory…)

The family and friends don’t get to see the millions of middle steps in between ‘here’ and ‘There’ so today’s posts are for you…

Here’s the ‘why’: NBC and the American Black Film Festival run a competition called ‘the Star Project’ where the non movie stars among us can audition for the network as an opportunity to get to ‘There’.  Seven monologues to pick from, you (should) pick the two that you have the most connection to.

Now I will take a page out of Denzel’s book and say I’m not really inclined to go over everything I research to go from being myself to whoever I’m trying to be ‘in the moment’.  But for entertainment’s sake as much as anything else, here’s a little backstory to give you some context of what you’re watching:

In this episode of ‘Scandal’, I’m introduced as Jay Hawkes, a lobbyist for the ‘Leave No Child Behind’ Initiative.  Olivia and I had one of those perfect ‘four day’ relationships at a regional Black Student Union conference as teenagers, but we were teenagers going to different colleges and we lost touch (since we’re of the generation that didn’t grow up with social media), and haven’t really thought about each other in years.  So as she’s strolling the halls working on the Case of the Week, she has one of those ‘Wait, how do I know that voice?’ and she turns around to see…

Enjoy! And have a good weekend!

 

malcolmpraying

As this Ramadan ends, I thought I would have a lot to say.  But maybe not as much as I first thought.

Fasting has an interesting effect on the body and the mind.  I can only truly speak for myself, but I know of what it does to me and others: violent mood swings, fatigue comes extremely quickly, your discipline and stamina are stretched to its limits.  And inevitably, the sun sets and you can replenish yourself, you spend time with loved ones.  Even with the Holy Month, this is a luxury that is sometimes taken for granted.

In particular, being born and raised in the richest country on the planet, in a middle class lifestyle on my worst days, I’ve never truly had to worry about food or shelter.  I’ve always had several options on the two most basic human needs.  In terms of community, and being a part of a group, in that regard too, I have never really known of a time where there wasn’t someone I could call ‘family’, whether that was by blood relation or friendship.  I certainly take pride in being the Dark Knight, and my big brother gene enjoys poking people with a stick from time to time just for fun, but anyone paying any kind of attention knows that I have a deep affection for the Jayhawks, and Kansas City, and black women and all things in between if at the same time my actions show you that I’m not really the man who’s interested in ‘carrying the flag’ and wearing the ‘number one fan’ cap (more often than not because I see others who WANT to carry that flag, and desire goes a long way in the roles we play in life).

In this month, we try to wipe our slates clean from the sins we’ve committed. If I have done wrong to you, or done wrong by you, I sincerely apologize.  As arrogant as I know I am, and as much of a perfectionist as I know I am, I recognize that I’ll never be perfect, and in some form or fashion, I will always be dependent on others.  That’s what makes me (and you) human.

Truth be told, I still have a lot on my mind. (smiling)  But whether it’s maturity, or peace of mind, or knowing I’m going to work out, and drink coffee, and eat lunch again tomorrow, for now I’m done talking and just want to ‘do’.

Free Palestine.

Detroit, give the people their water back.

Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim brothers and sisters spread all over the globe.

All praise is due to Allah. Only the mistakes have been mine.

Jayhawkers

No elaborate introduction needed for today’s post…

One of my first mentors, in terms of being a black filmmaker from Kansas with an independent streak, was Kevin Wilmott.  He was coming into KU as a professor as I was on my way out as a graduate, but it will come as no surprise to you I’m a fan of his films, from Ninth Street to the politically charged C.S.A.

Anyhoo, the very short grapevine between us has brought to my attention that he’s using Kickstarter to put the financing together for his latest project, Jayhawkers.  That title alone and the picture I’ve posted should give you a general idea of what it’s about, but I’ve linked their Kickstarter page below.  As far as feature films go, they’re not looking for that much so I encourage anyone who can help out to do so.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/grantbabbitt/jayhawkers-feature-film

 

 

It’s the weekend which means the episode of African-American Short Films featuring my short is hitting new markets.  This week it’s pretty long, see below:

Columbus-Tupelo-W Pnt-Hstn  Station: WCBI/CBS   Date: 12/10 Time: 1:05AM

Dothan  Station: WDHN ABC   Date: 12/10 Time: 5:00AM

Dayton  Station: WRCX / IND   Date: 12/10 Time: 10:00AM

Monroe-El Dorado  Station: KAQY / ABC   Date: 12/10 Time: 11:00AM

Chattanooga  Station: WFLI/FOX   Date: 12/10 Time: 12:00PM

Miami-Ft. Lauderdale  Station: WBFS-TV MYTV   Date: 12/10 Time: 12:00PM

Utica  Station: WFXV FOX   Date: 12/10 Time: 1:00PM

Norfolk-Portsmth-Newpt Nws  Station: WSKY / IND   Date: 12/10 Time: 2:00PM

San Francisco-Oak-San Jose  Station: KOFY / IND   Date: 12/10 Time: 3:00PM

Nashville  Station: WZTV/FOX   Date: 12/10 Time: 3:00PM

Tyler-Longview(Lfkn&Ncgd)  Station: KLPN Fox   Date: 12/10 Time: 3:00PM

Orlando-Daytona Bch-Melbrn  Station: WRDQ / IND   Date: 12/10 Time: 4:00PM

Baltimore  Station: WMAR ABC   Date: 12/11 Time: 2:00AM

Dayton  Station: WRCX/IND   Date: 12/11 Time: 10:00AM

Indianapolis  Station: WNDY IND   Date: 12/11 Time: 12:00PM

Jackson, MS  Station: WAPT/NBC   Date: 12/11 Time: 1:00PM

Monroe-El Dorado  Station: KAQY ABC   Date: 12/11 Time: 11:30PM

Baton Rouge  Station: KWBJ / IND   Date: 12/12 Time: 8:00AM

Dallas-Ft. Worth  Station: KFWD / IND   Date: 12/12 Time: 3:00PM

Tallahassee-Thomasville  Station: WTLH FOX   Date: 12/16 Time: 3:00AM

Columbus, GA (Opelika, AL)  Station: WLTZ / NBC*   Date: 12/16 Time: 3:00AM

I can’t pick out one city on that list to tell a story about, so instead I’ll show some love to my production team.  My DP on this project was Jeremy Osbern, a very talented fellow Jayhawk alum like myself.  I really can’t say enough good things about the gang at Through A Glass, in time the fates will align and we’ll work together again.

All for now, have a good weekend!

Aaron Rahsaan Thomas and Malik Aziz share an unique, common background.  Both young men are natives of Kansas City, Kansas, graduates of the University of Kansas and went to grad school at the University of Southern California.  They both grew up in the ‘golden age of hip hop’ and share a passion for films.

For the past several years, they’ve also posted predictions about the Academy Awards.  Technology has evolved where last year for the first time they were able to post their unique commentary during the show.

This is Round 2…

Thomas: tee minus three minutes sucka!

Malik: It’s time for this year’s Oscars.  For those wondering, I’m wearing a tux from Oscar de la Renta…

Thomas: And I’m wearing a hoodie from champs sports…

Thomas: So, I’d say this was a hit and miss opening sequence. Anne Hathaway and James Franco seem game. The Black Swan bit was a little painful, though.

Malik: yeah hit and miss was right..

Thomas: Funny joke from Hathaway about appealing to a younger demo.

Thomas: That’s exactly what ABC is going for by having them host instead of a baby boomer.

Malik: yeah we’ll see how the ratings do tomorrow

Thomas: Hey, is that Lou Gosset Jr. sitting in front of James Franco’s grandma?

Malik: yeah LOL

Thomas: “There’s only two things that come out of the Oscars. That steers and queers and I don’t see no horns on James Franco.”

Thomas: Officer and A Gentleman, thanks very much.

Malik: idiot, LOL

Malik: this feels slow but I’m digging the set design

Thomas: Hey, Lou Gossett won an oscar when black people were only winning once every ten years.

Thomas: Set design is cool, but the pace is very slow so far.

Thomas: What constitutes set design and/or computer generated backgrounds?

Malik: All I know is I’m 1 for 1 in my Oscar pool brotha…

Thomas: Alice In Wonderland looked great and had great sets, but I’d be curious to know how much of the sets were created by actual set designers and not special effects guys.

Malik: good question, but it’s the direction we’re going in I’m afraid

Thomas: That category os blurring fast.

Malik: an Oscar for Nolan’s cinematographer, nice!!!!

Thomas: Well deserved win, here. Wally Pfister shot a beautiful film with Inception.

Malik: ‘his master?’

Thomas: Mark that on the list of things a brotha will never say.

Malik: i got $100 if you win an Oscar and refer to ANYONE as your master…

Thomas: If I heard any black man say that, I might bumrush the stage even if I don’t know him.

Malik: LMBAO!!!!

Thomas: Much respect to Kirk Douglas.

Malik: yeah I don’t want to make a joke here.

Thomas: But, in fairness, the demo just switched the channel for a few minutes….

Malik: too bad, this is a major category

Thomas: Who wins here?

Malik: i picked Leo

Thomas: Good performances all around.

Malik: yeah this is a strong category

Thomas: This lady in Animal Kingdom freaks me out for some reason.

Thomas: Leo angered some people for lobbying for herself this oscar campaign.

Malik: yeah I’m offended, people get paid to do that…

Thomas: She took out a few ads in magazines asking people to consider her.

Thomas: But, if she really wants to win, she wants to win.

Thomas: Who’s the guy with the job of holding Kirk Douglas’ cane?

Malik: yeah I appreciate the honesty

Malik: this has to be the most agonizing moment in these five women’s lives…

Thomas: Yes…

Thomas: Not just for them.

Thomas: Leo’s life just changed.

Thomas: Leo fought for this award. She got it.

Malik: now you got me going, can’t you see some kid saying ‘Man Michael Douglas aged pretty bad didn’t he?”

Thomas: That’s the thing. There might be kids who don’t know who Michael Douglas is, either.

Malik: OHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Thomas: Leo’s a ham on stage, but we already knew she was.

Thomas: Good job in The Fighter. But, don’t be taking Kirk Douglas’ cane!

Thomas: Anne Hatahway is kind of funny. “The Young and Hip Oscars” lol

Malik: yeah good comeback

Thomas: Did you check out this short animated film?

Malik: i heard about it but no

Thomas: Looks interesting. But, I always wonder who generally gets a chance to watch these, other than festivals and voters.

Thomas: Maybe that’s it.

Malik: yeah i researched this, you have to be in a certain part of the Academy to vote on certain awards

Thomas: Toy Story 3. Nice.

Malik: probably the best overall movie this year if we’re being honest

Thomas: For anyone who loved their toys, this film was a tear jerker.

Malik: agreed

Thomas: Nice way to round out the Toy Story trilogy.

Malik: yeah we grew up with that trilogy in a way

Malik: hey it’s your category brotha!

Thomas: The white tux twins?

Malik: yeah a little hard on the HDTV…

Thomas: The is Sorkin all the way

Thomas: The only question is what kind of speech will he give.

Malik: we’re about to find out…

Thomas: Even the other nominees were like, “I ain’t winning this…”

Thomas: Nice acknowledgment of the book the screenplay is based on and the author who wrote it.

Malik: yeah this is a good speech

Malik: Wrap It Up Son!

Thomas: He’s kind of a blowhard, but has a great memory of names. Overall, classy speech.

Malik: Whoa, that was my pick but I’m still surprised it won

Thomas: No surprise here.

Thomas: Seidler is in his 70s.

Thomas: Waited decades to write this story and did it well. As he said, he’s the oldest writer to win this thing.

Thomas: Seidler is also giving a classy and funny speech.

Malik: another good acceptance speech

Thomas: Writers representing with the speeches!

Thomas: Not bad singing Anne Hathaway.

Malik: (blank stare at Franco…)

Thomas: Text message from Charlie Sheen is funny.

Malik: OK Russell Brand, that was a good line…

Thomas: This is funny.

Thomas: And, I’m not even a Russell Brand fan.

Malik: me either, but I have to say the new Arthur is a good idea (on paper)

Malik: only OGs remember Dudley Moore at this point

Thomas: True, but it is a revered comedy. Hopefully they did it right.

Thomas: In HDTV, that gold envelope looks like a work of art itself.

Malik: yeah that’s pimp!

Thomas: Here comes your girl, Reece.

Malik: yeah…

Thomas: So, does Bale win and will Hathaway reference Batman?

Malik: yes and yes

Malik: as will I

Thomas: Will Bale give a crazy speech?

Malik: IN THE ALL BLACK SUIT!!!!

Thomas: Batman says “Bloody hell”?

Malik: yes so what?

Malik: learning your American accent is something we only do to make ourselves more accessible to you Yanks

Thomas: Just saying. Batman sounds kind of British up in this piece.

Thomas: At least Superman is still played by an American. Wait…

Malik: did he get a little emotional at the end?!?

Thomas: Either that, or he had a brain fart, forgot his wife’s name and played it off.

Thomas: I like to think it was emotion, though.

Malik: it better be, couldn’t pull that with no sista…

Thomas: She’d be staying daggers at him. “Negro please…”

Malik: LMBAO!!!

Malik: great intro for the sound/music categories

Thomas: Yup.

Thomas: One of my biggest loves – film scores.

Malik: i almost got up and started swinging my lightsaber around – no homo

Thomas: No comment.

Thomas: But, The King’s Speech score was well done. And used very well in the film.

Thomas: Social Network has a good one, too. Though it was a little monotonous.

Thomas: I would have picked Kings Speech, personally, but I get it.

Malik: yeah I thought Inception might have had a chance there as well

Malik: the sound was a big part of that film as well

Thomas: True.

Thomas: Scarlett Johanson. Hot?

Malik: Yeah I dig her, I’m always surprised when I hear some guys say they don’t get her appeal.

Malik: You one of them?

Thomas: She’s nice. But, there are times when she’s much better than others.

Thomas: Inception deserves this win. Great sound.

Malik: yeah tonight is not one of her better nights

Malik: and yeah there’s the Inception win

Thomas: black with bow tie.

Thomas: Don’t see that often.

Thomas: Man, they start the “get off the stage music for non actors RIGHT AWAY.

Malik: I blame Kirk Douglas still.  There I said it.

Thomas: lol

Thomas: Inception taking no prisoners with sound and effects…

Thomas: But Nolan got no love for directing.

Thomas: I heard the Academy might see him as a “comic book guy” even though The Dark Knight was well respected. Think they’ll award him for the next Batman or will it take a non comic/special effects film?

Malik: good question…

Malik: depends on how good the next Batman is, people have a short memory.

Thomas: Cate Blachett. Much respect for her skills.

Malik: yeah she’s like an even more mainstream version of Streep

Thomas: This is another category which blends the practical work with special effects.

Thomas: How much of the Wolfman look was practical and how much was computer generated?

Malik: don’t know but i have a side question for you…

Malik: what would you do if you won an Oscar and the music never stopped?

Malik: they play you on to the stage and just keep playing…

Thomas: Go up on stage and stare down the orchestra. Don’t say a word, just stare at them the entire time they play.

Malik: that would be the greatest moment ever!

Malik: God forbid I’d be in the crowd, the camera would catch me looking like I had no home training…

Thomas: Got the first black people on the show.

Thomas: Of course, they’re rapping.

Malik: (shaking my head…)

Thomas: How much could they pay you to sing the Beauty and The Beast song with an English accent?

Malik: Not enough. Next question…

Thomas: Randy Newman songs just make people feel good.

Malik: God bless Randy Newman, but Family Guy nailed him in one of their first seasons.

Thomas: lol. Just watched the Family Guy clip of Randy Newman!!!

Malik: Told You!!!

Thomas: How did Waiting For Superman not even get nominated for a documentary oscar, though?

Malik: Man, I don’t know

Malik: i’m not sleeping on the teacher’s union though…

Malik: our first awkward looking Oscar winner…

Thomas: This guy is a film student. Nuff said.

Thomas: But, he’s living the dream if that’s the case.

Malik: very true, I’m not hating…

Thomas: Figured Auto tune was coming.

Malik: i’m trying not to laugh…

Thomas: They could have picked a better film to do it with, though. Winter’s Bone. Some movie that’s the opposite of musical.

Malik: “He Doesn’t Own a Shirt”  – that’s a winner

Thomas: yeah, funny

Thomas: That’s what the demo wants!

Malik: i was going to say that’s her best look tonight I think

Thomas: yeah.

Thomas: Oprah sighting.

Malik: the Queen has arrived

Thomas: I wish I could watch more documentaries.

Malik: I thought Restrepo was good, haven’t seen the winner yet though

Thomas: The level of quality has really been amazing in this category.

Malik: I’m sure more fictional filmmakers are naturally gravitating towards docs these days

Thomas: Can always depend on the documentary people to make a political statement or two.

Thomas: Good.

Malik: Yep, now get off the stage!

Malik: Billy Crystal getting a well deserved ovation.

Thomas: Yes. Still the best Oscar host ever.

Thomas: For our generation at least.

Thomas: Bob Hope was known as pretty good himself.

Malik: yeah Hope is iconic

Thomas: That passover joke is iconic itself.

Malik: LOL

Thomas: I wonder who did “new Bob Hope’s” voice.

Malik: yeah that was awkward.

Thomas: Inception has to win this, right?

Thomas: Alice In Wonderland was really good for effects, but the turning room itself probably won this for Inception.

Malik: agreed

Thomas: Social Network is cleaning up. Some in their camp have to feel like they have a shot at best picture. What do you think?

Malik: Ask me after the give out the Directing award in a few minutes…

Thomas: Jennifer Hudson. Hot?

Malik: Usually but I don’t like her look tonight

Thomas: Yeah, I agree. Doesn’t seem like her own look.

Thomas: But, she lost weight and that looks good for her.

Malik: oh i see brotha; you like those size 1 types…

Thomas: I ain’t saying that.

Thomas: Just think that she looks good either way.

Malik: i guess you’re digging Gwyneth Paltrow huh?

Thomas: lol. The skinny snow bunnies…?

Thomas: Gwyneth’s never been my type. To each his own.

Thomas: I do wonder if Jennifer Hudson looks at Gwyneth’s singing and is like, “Don’t even try it…”

Thomas: The Family Guy Randy Newman is still in my head. Lol…

Malik: it’s going to be there for awhile LOL

Malik: “she takes a bite”

Thomas: The real randy Newman is pretty funny, though.

Malik: yeah that dude is pure Cali

Thomas: Uh Oh. Celine’s singing your song.

Malik: no comment

Thomas: You’ve always been a fan of “Smile” and an even bigger fan of Celine.

Thomas: This is nice.

Malik: i heard this really was MJ’s favorite song though

Thomas: Yeah.

Thomas: Perfect song for this montage.

Malik: yeah

Thomas: Well done. They normally go to commercial after the montage. Not this year. Think I still have a crush on Lena Horne.

Malik: I still have a crush on Halle Berry…

Thomas: NOW they go to commercial.

Thomas: Nice.

Malik: that may have been the best In Memoriam even though it wasn’t the most star studded

Thomas: It was well done.

Thomas: Here we go – directing…

Thomas: Wow. Hooper wins in his first nomination.

Malik: yeah that’s impressive

Thomas: Not sure how I feel about that.

Malik: the Social Network folks just got their bubble burst I think..

Thomas: Looks like The King’s Speech just grabbed the inside track on best picture again.

Thomas: The Social Network took the early prizes, but The King’s Speech might be coming on late.

Malik: nice Mama’s boy speech there

Thomas: Yeah. Nice and simple speech.

Thomas: Fincher has one in the bank for a future award, though.

Malik: you know the historian in me wants to get into the Governors Award ceremony one day

Thomas: Wow. That photo of Lucas, Scosese, Speilberg, Coppola, DePalma  etc, was pretty cool.

Malik: yeah i was wondering if you caught that!

Thomas: Don’t think I’ve seen a director’s photo like that before.

Thomas: How would you feel if they were taking a photo like that and asked you to step out of it?

Malik: LOLOLOL oh man….

Malik: thanks for pulling me out of my sentimental moment brotha…

Thomas: lol

Malik: Warren Beatty looking like “I remember when you yelled at me like that…”

Thomas: lol

Thomas: Jennifer Lawrence has a bright immediate future if she wants it.

Thomas: BUT, this is Natalie Partman’s night.

Thomas: Think I still feel that my favorite nomination announcement was when it was done by peers (a group of fellow actors/actresses) a year or two ago.

Malik: agreed that was awesome

Thomas: Natalie Portman takes it.

Thomas: She’s been good for years. Deserves this. Was great in Black Swan.

Malik: yeah

Malik: I’m a Natalie fan so this is cool

Thomas: She’s been acting since she was born, so you know she’s been thinking about this moment forever.

Thomas: Shout out to Luc Besson!

Thomas: The Professional!

Malik: still the flick!

Thomas: I like Portman, because as I said before, she seems very normal and even has a geeky side.

Malik: it’s coming out in this speech

Thomas: Yup.

Malik: she just thanked the 1st AD and the camera operators for God’s sake!!!

Thomas: 1st AD is even surprised by that…

Malik: also loving the Chinese Theatre backdrop by the way

Thomas: Yeah, that’s great.

Thomas: Hey, if you get nominated for an acting oscar and I’m sitting behind you, remind me to lean up behind you when they call your name and be like, “Yo, they said your name. You hear that? You hear that?” as I shake your shoulder.

Malik: LOLOL, please don’t…

Malik: that’s EXACTLY why there aren’t any minorities nominated…

Thomas: Colin Firth has to win this, it seems.

Malik: well deserved in my opinion

Thomas: Yeah, they got it right. Great performance.

Thomas: Funny first line of his speech, too.

Malik: that’s going to be replayed for years…

Thomas: Does Harvey Weinstein ever shave?

Malik: naw that’s his look

Thomas: But, he never lets it grow into a full beard.

Thomas: The stubble beard has been his thing forever.

Malik: yeah he’s on that Paul Pierce program

Thomas: lol

Malik: so the last one, it has to be King’s Speech right?

Thomas: Yup.

Malik: Spielberg keepin it real!

Thomas: Nicely put by Speilberg.

Thomas: Even if you lose, you’re in great company.

Thomas: They’re playing the best moment from The King’s Speech.

Malik: Exactly

Thomas: By the way, this is a great score as I said before.

Malik: Excellent montage

Thomas: Yup. Well done.

Thomas: Whoever did the montages for the oscars should get an award themselves.

Malik: yeah montages and set design were aces

Thomas: Alright. There you go.

Thomas: King’s Speech. Well done.

Malik: yessir

Malik: I know we have other obligations; any last words brotha?

Thomas: It’s been fun. Gotta love the movies. Best job in the world is to be able to tell stories. On to Oscars 2012.

Malik: i don’t think The Dark Knight Rises will be eligible yet but I’m sure there will be other good films..

Thomas: Looking forward to seeing them. Peace out!

Malik: thanks to everyone who read along.

 

 

A couple weeks into 2010, the last film I wrote and directed was being introduced to a national audience by a movie star.  With a couple of weeks to go in 2010, I got to host a show where I gave an up and coming rapper/producer his first television experience.  I love the harmony of that; it’s symbolic of the type of year this has been – harmonious.

Internally, I don’t feel like I’ve changed much in the past 12 months to be perfectly honest.  Maybe it was the film, maybe it was the personal life, maybe it was all of us just being a year older.  The saying is, you get back from the world what you put into it, so maybe it was me just being set in my ways.  Whatever it is, it feels like this was the year that people seemed to take me as I am.  The people who dig me take my imperfections as part of the package, the people who don’t like me seem to get that my insecurities have nothing to do with whether they like me or not. At this point, I am who I am, flaws and all as Beyonce would say.

Along those lines, I want to say it was Jay who said that no matter what he’s done since, in his mind he’s still the crack dealer from Marcy.  My mentality has a similar vibe: I will always be this quiet, black Muslim kid from Wyandotte County.  The Hollywood stuff and the European girlfriend, to my friends it’s like, ‘Who ELSE but Malik would be doing that?’ (and to those friends I say, ‘You’re absolutely right!  Nobody but me!’)  In all seriousness though, it’s all part of the natural direction of me following My Calling and my life’s journey. To me, there is no ‘either/or’, it’s all inclusive.  I’ve come to realize one of my pet peeves is when people try to erase their past.  There is no reset button in this game; things happen, you deal with them, you move forward.  Everything that happens is important, even when we don’t understand the reason at the time.

Part of being a student of the game of life is knowing at some point you will be pushed to your limits.  I’ve certainly gone through the emotional ringer the past 12 months. On a superficial level this has been a fantastic year, but those who know me best will tell you I’ve spent the greater part of 2010 severely depressed. (I’m good now though.)  Keeping things in perspective was something I had to remind myself often.  I’m a romantic, I’m an eternal optimist, I believe for the most part the good and the bad balance each other out.  When I look at my own life, I see love, I see loyal friends, I have a supportive family.  I’m in my early 30s and I can focus on being a capitalist for the rest of my days.  This year was brutal, but I have inner peace and I sadly know way too many people who don’t have it and don’t know how to get it.

So what one thing will I take with me from 2010?  Well, after half of a lifetime with a relationship best described as ‘standoffish’, fate has decided it was time for me to start reconnecting with my bloodline.  You can’t repair a decade and a half of distance in a few months of course, but as in all things, the intention to change things is the first (and most important) step.

For us Batman fanatics, the big thing in 2010 was the comics storyline, ‘The Return of Bruce Wayne.’  Bruce was shot back in time by Superman foe Darkseid, and had to fight his way back to the present day (which he did of course).  The major lesson learned in that arc (SPOILER ALERT) is that while the mythology of the Batman is a boy left alone after the murder of his parents and his childhood, the reality of Batman is that he’s never been ‘alone’.  He’s had allies every step of the way.  I was reminded in 2010 that while I certainly enjoy being ‘the Prince of Gotham’, I’ve never really been alone either.  This year more than all the others combined I think, I’ve been held up, encouraged, cheered for and supported by those I’ve always known I could count on, some who have genuinely surprised me, and some of you who I will probably never meet in this life.  I have been taking notes so I’ll try to name as many of you as I can (since this is already absurdly long…)

Katy – you stuck with me through my personal hell, and I’ve tried to reciprocate; thank you for holding down the BB team when it was sorely needed; ART – a lot of people told me to be ‘Michael’ when everything in my heart said it was time for a ‘Sonny’ move, but your voice stood out the most.  Thanks for being such a great friend. Marie – I love doing the show – LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!  Hope to get a chance to do it again next year. Nathan – in a parallel universe, I would be living your life, but My Calling has evolved in an exciting direction, and I’m excited to ‘play my part’.  Looking forward to hearing about Jordan.  DaFellas – I’d call you my Jackson 5, but even if I was being sarcastic that would be WAY too condescending.  I think of us now as the Beatles after they broke up – everyone is following their ‘solo’ interests and we get together when we can and talk about how much fun we had.  You’ll always be my guys.

If you’re still reading a few more folks but I promise this is it: the Fradieus, the Franks, the Harrises, the Sheffields, the Thomases, Conway and Jabari for your advice (invaluable), BeatSmith (great show), Michael Zanuck, Daphne Kirby, Amanda Max, Doug Miro (best blogpost of the year), Through a Glass, Black Entertainment Television, Pasadena Community Network, Ralph Scott, the Black Hollywood Education & Resource Center, the Pigskin League, the Jayhawk friends, the Trojan friends, the Sumner friends, the Frat, everyone who has helped the past 12 months in the Return of Bruce Wayne.

The Dark Knight is rising in 2011.  Happy New Year!

 

Over the weekend, our friends at the Lawrence Arts Center gave Lady In My Life another honor to add to its resume; it was chosen ‘Best Romance’ at the LAC Short Film Festival.  It means alot to me, for several different reasons.

I enjoy giving my KU guys a hard time, but I did spend four of my formative years in Lawrence, so when the people from that community acknowledge my work, it means a little more than it does from the places where I don’t have any direct connection.

I can also tell you there’s a nice amount of filmmaking coming out of Kansas.  There’s the team I worked with on this project, my friends at Through a Glass, but there’s also a KU Filmworks group in LA, there are actors (Paul Rudd) and writers (my friend Aaron to name one) who are making a nice living in this town who also have a connection to the Jayhawk family tree. 

In any medium though, artists need to be nurtured and need to be encouraged to develop their talents.  One of my USC friends has blogged recently about how in his home state, the filmmaking community is looking at budget cuts, which has the potential to cut off the dreams of The Next Great Artist before they get a chance to develop.  The Lawrence Arts Center (and the Kansas Arts Commission) both create avenues for artists in my homestate to get their work seen.  Especially when you’re starting out, getting recognized is crucial.

Thanks again to Through a Glass, the Lawrence Arts Center, and everyone who has supported this project.  I’m already looking forward to the next one!