Author Archives: Angela Nicole Chu

Lying To Our Children: What Are “Bad Words”?

It’s a parent’s responsibility to teach kids right from wrong. Of course, that includes informing them about the evils of using foul language and what “foul language” entails. Children are told that “Hell” and “damn” are only to be used in religious contexts to illustrate the anger of a chosen deity, while uttering the likes of “ass” and “bitch” would garner an instant soap-to-the-mouth experience. But sometimes, parents lie to their children! They lie to them about foul language!

Growing up in the 1990’s, many students were taught that the likes of “butt”, “zit”, “sex”, “foxy”, “swear”, “fart”, etc. were all bad words. Hearing someone utter one of these words caused the entire classroom to gasp in horror like someone had just dropped the f-bomb. If a cartoon character said any of these terms, a sense of adrenaline began rushing through you, as you quickly looked around the room to make sure your mother had not heard the utterance, lest she turn off your television for “watching filth”.

These teachings were to the extent that one time my kindergarten teacher used the phrase “No ifs, ands, or buts”, and several members of my class became upset at this tragic homonym mix-up. A little boy tried arguing with her about it, and when she said, “I said ‘buts’ not ‘butts’!” he argued that now she had said it multiple times and he would be telling his mother. One little girl actually cried that her teacher could be such a bad person.

All over the word “butt”.

You said “butt”! You’re going straight to Hell, mister!!

Similar events occurred in third grade, when one little girl decided to read the opening flap of her textbook–the part that lists the author information, copyright, and publisher–saw the word “sex” (referencing not discriminating based on sex) in the disclaimer, and was instantly upset that her arithmetic book had a bad word in it. Did she know what “sex” meant, whether in regards to biology or to intimate acts? Not in the slightest. She had just been taught that “sex was bad!” That same little girl, months later, accidentally said to her friends “I promise! I swear!” and instantly looked horrified and began praying to God, as she had been told never to swear.

She grew up and became a nun. Not even kidding.

Two decades later–I know, right?!–, many of these “nineties’ kids” are wondering why our parents lied to us. Why did they tell us that these were bad words, when by the fifth grade everyone know what the real bad words were. As my generation begins to have children of our own, many of us are reluctant to pass along these symbolic mistruths to them. We would rather teach them not to say what really constitutes as foul language, rather than nit-picking over other words that are completely fine to say in a PG-rated movie. At the same time, we don’t want our children to be known as “those foul-mouthed kids” for nonchalantly saying “My big sister has a bit zit” on the school bus one morning.

Does anyone even continue this trend, or is this just a baby-boomer faux-pas?

“We still teach the preschoolers in the school I work at that those words are ‘bad’,” admits Jillian Meinze of Louisville, Kentucky. “My reasoning behind it is that when they learn those words and what they mean, they think its funny. So they repeat it and make it into things inappropriate. For example: a little boy the other day was running around my classroom singing, ‘Booty butts, booty butts’ and slapping his butt as he did so.”

“Kids are always going to do and say inappropriate things,” counters Linda White, also of Louisville, Kentucky. “It’s part of being a kid. Take away their ability to be silly and say ‘fart’ at random times, and they’re going to find something else to take its place. That’s no reason to unfairly impact their vocabulary.”

Mommy, she has a bad word on her face!!

It’s the debate between pee and urine all over again.

But is it fair to eliminate certain connotations from our children’s minds just to “protect them” or to save our own faces? What happens when they grow up and realize that those words really aren’t bad words after all? What will they think about the other values we have taught them? Won’t they question those, too?

This is one of those tricky issues that has no concrete answer. No one likes being told how to parent their children, but odd parenting styles can negatively impact a child later on in life.

Weigh in below. Should we eschew telling our children that “butt” and “zit” are bad words?

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Your 5-Year-Old Has A Smartphone??

These days, it is almost a shock to see someone pull a mobile phone out of their pocket that is not one of the popular smartphones we all know and love—iPhones, Androids, and Blackberries are a common sight. Issues arise when it comes down to young children possessing these smartphones and their equivalents (i.e. iPod Touches, iPads, and Android Tablets). While some adults have no problem handing over the latest in modern technology to the next generation, others are crying foul at the sight of elementary school students owning more than the standard Nokia.

The main purpose for having any sort of mobile phone is for communication. Pay phones have become as scarce as a snowflake during a Louisville winter, meaning that one must have their own means of communication while out of the home. This holds true for both adults and children, and studies have shown that two out of three parents agree their child needs to own a cell phone by the age of thirteen—or when that child begins going on outings without their parents present.

That being said, any mobile phone has the basic talk and text capabilities needed to adequately provide this sort of communication. Why so many smartphones for the youths then? According to a recent survey, 70% of parents who purchased a smartphone for a child under twelve over a standard cell phone admitted to doing so solely to prevent their child from being teased by classmates, similarly to how kids will often make fun of those not wearing name brand clothing items. They are being used more as a fashion accessory for popularity than as a communications tool for safety.

Why? WHY?? I’m asking you WHY?!?!

“It’s crazy,” agrees Spencer Byrnes, a 22-year-old Louisville resident who only got his first smartphone last year. “I work with kids, and for this one little girl’s 7th birthday, her parents got her an iPhone. Another kid asked me why my phone had buttons on it.”

“It angers me to see kindergarteners texting on a Blackberry,” admits Emilia Rodriguez, who did not get a smartphone until she could afford her own bill and contract until age 19. “When I was their age, I had to use Styrofoam cups strung together on a string and pretend it was a landline connection. They have absolutely no use for a smartphone.”

The abundance of smartphones amongst young children may actually be exacerbating the bullying problem found in many schools. With the rise of “cyberbulling” on popular social media websites and web forums, smartphones increase the ease of access to these sites. Theoretically, cyberbulling could become a day-or-night affair if all of those involved have access to smartphones or similar variants.

Some parents argue that smartphones are an acceptable device for elementary and middle school students because they provide children with fun games to play, such as Angry Birds and The Oregon Trail. There are also many educational games to help students with math and science concerns. This, too, has met with opposition.

“The Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP exist for a reason,” argues Mike Nicholson, father of 2 elementary-age sons who do not own smartphones. “It’s true that there are child-friendly games on smartphone networks, but there are sturdier and cheaper devices that provide plenty of both fun and educational games for all ages without the need for contracts and data plans.”

The Nintendo 3DS, providing you with more games for less cost…and without the easy-to-shatter screen!

Many parents have gotten around mobile phones all-together with simpler variations like the LG Migo. The LG Migo features four buttons, each of which is pre-programmed with a phone number. This allows a child to be able to contact four pre-specified people to give parents and guardians a peace-of-mind, while also limiting texting and web use to family and emergency calls only.

In the past five years, smartphones have become commonplace, rather than just a tool for the elite. This shift in the mainstream is only naturally causing a shift in what is acceptable for our youths as well. As such, we are entering an era where parents need to understand the best need for each of their children before handing out iPhones and Androids like they are chocolate chip cookies.

Stoplight Activities

Stoplights are a daily nuisance.

You’re running late for wherever you had to be three minutes ago, only to see the light you’re rapidly approaching turn to yellow. Pressing down on the gas pedal, the light suddenly turns to red, and you screech your tires to a stop right before entering the intersection.

At this point, some people grumble and wait impatiently for the light to turn green once again, glaring at the light box like it’s suddenly going to become scared and change colors just for you. However, many people see stoplights—no matter how inconvenient—as an opportunity to relax or accomplish things that they did not have time to do previously. Oftentimes, people begin to bank on getting stopped at a stoplight in order to accomplish morning activities, and they become frustrated on days where every light remains green on their journey.

“Wheee, a yellow light! Now, I can blow my nose!”

I put on my socks at stoplights. Every morning, I grab a clean pair of socks and stuff them into my pocket before heading out the door. At the first stoplight I come to, I slip my foot out of my shoe, pull on one sock, and wiggle my foot back into my shoe. At the next stoplight, I put on the other sock. It is very frustrating when I arrive at either school or work with only one sock on, although doing so generally means that I am finally on time for something. Luckily, I am not the only one who has learned to take advantage of these mandatory pauses in my daily commute.

Many people like to daydream at stoplights, especially writers and musicians. What better a time to work on a new plot twist or new lyrics for your hit single than while stuck at a stoplight? You’re all alone with nothing else to do. That time might as well be spent for creative purposes.

Other people enjoy making their fellow drivers feel uncomfortable. “I like to stare at the people in the cars next to me!” reports Andy Brill. People-watching is a favorite pastime of many, especially since drivers seem to think they are invisible while in the confines of their car. How many people have you seen doing socially inappropriate behaviors—like picking their nose—while seated in their car? Most statisticians would bet that a high number of people have been caught in the act.

Still, there are some people who aren’t bothered by other drivers staring at them while engaged in any action other than staring straight ahead at the road. “I like to blast songs like ‘I Will Survive’ and sing along to them dramatically with all of the windows down!” admits Bryan Trujillo. “True story. There is a video of it on Facebook!”

Get down with yo’ bad self!

Some are more concerned about mechanical issues while waiting for the light to change. “I try not to stall or burn out when the light turns green,” says Stefan Spaeth. “I drive a stick shift.” Similarly, Nathan Stholer’s manual vehicle plays a crucial role in waiting at stoplights, only he uses his as a boredom-killer rather than as a worry.

“I use the clutch to rock myself back and forth because I am impatient,” Stholer confesses.

The vast majority of people polled enjoy fiddling with their phones at stoplights. Sending text messages, creeping on Facebook and Twitter, checking e-mails, and playing Words With Friends are all fair game to help pass the time. “Why not send texts at stoplights?” laughs Miles Hockman. “The vehicle is stopped, so it’s not illegal. You’re just sitting there anyway.” Most people share Hockman’s sentiment, and I admit that I enjoy Tweeting at stoplights once my socks are firmly on my feet.

Interestingly enough, no one reported simply waiting for the light to change when asked on their individual stoplight behavior, perhaps lending credibility to the belief that adolescents and young adults have the inability to remain bored. Applying make-up, eating, meditating, and taking medication are all common ways to occupy one’s time when waiting at stoplight after stoplight.

The average American spends approximately one year waiting at stoplights over the course of their lifetime. It might as well be spent productively. So long as you are not harming anyone in the vehicles surrounding you—such as by exposing private areas of one’s body, drinking alcoholic beverages, or participating in any other criminal behavior that would get you arrested any other time—make stoplight time your time!

Textaphrenia Takes Over The World!

A study recently conducted by the Mahatma Ghandi Memorial Medical College concluded that young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 who routinely engage in the use of Short Messaging Services (SMS) frequently develop uneasiness, anger, and sleeplessness as a result.

“The youths in the habit of texting SMS were falling prey to depression and fear,” says Dr. Sanjay Dixit, the Head of the Department at MGMMC Community Medicine. “Nearly 47 percent of females and 39 percent of males accepted that their text messaging habit hit their daily routine in some way. Around 60 percent of youths even feel that that habit is affecting their studies.”

You can’t say you haven’t done this in class before.

MGMMC’s study showed that 40 percent of females and 45 percent of males do not enjoy sound sleep due to their SMS habits. Approximately 41 percent of those surveyed admit to compulsively checking their mobile phones for a reply after sending off a text message. This OCD-like anxiety has been labeled as “Textaphrenia” by psychiatrists and is becoming a growing concern in our society of increasing communication speeds and accessibility.

“I have this weird fear when people don’t message or text me back,” says 19-year-old Tim Armstrong of Louisville. “I worry that I accidentally said something really stupid or weird on accident while I wasn’t even thinking about it.” Armstrong would not go as far as to say that he was a Textaphrenic, but increasing numbers of youths report similar phenomena when it comes to not only texting but also to receiving comments, messages, and replies on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The study shows that 55 percent of youths become upset if there is no response to their text messages, and 32 percent feel dejected and presume that no one wished to communicate with them. Approximately 93 percent of SMS users become anxious if they do not receive a response within a reasonable period of time, the appropriate period of time depending on both the receiver and the sender’s normal response speed.

“WHY haven’t they texted me back yet?!”

Related to Textaphrenia is Textiety, which is an anxious feeling caused by not sending or receiving text messages. Textiety is observed by most on a daily basis when youths are not allowed to use their mobile phones for 30 minutes or more and will try to sneak out a quick text message, becoming noticeably antsy when unable to do so.

Psychologists stress that Textaphrenia are both serious mental and physical disorders with symptoms that include anxiety, insecurity, depression, low self-esteem, and “repetitive thumb syndrome”.

Australian researcher Jennie Carroll of Melbourne’s RMIT University has also commented on the situation. “With Textaphrenia and Textiety, there’s the feeling that ‘No one loves me; no one’s contacted me. Binge texting can either reflect the delusion that you have more friends than you actually do or can be a cry for help.” One teenager surveyed in Carroll’s own survey was averaging 444 SMS messages per day.

Data released by Boost Mobile revealed that SMS use has increased by 89% since 2009. Mobile phone use has been such a large presence in the presence of today’s youths that many now feel anxious when their phones are not physically in their hands. An increasing number of youths and even adults find texting easier and more economical than making phone calls, leading to the rise in SMS.

The immediate physical effect of Textaphrenia is a condition known as “repetitive thumb syndrome”. Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome in those who frequently type on a computer or play video games, repetitive thumb syndrome occurs to those who frequently send SMS, especially on phones without a touch screen. The repetitive motion needed to strike the buttons causes the lubricating fluid between the tendons, shoulders, and wrists to dry out.

Some people believe that Textaphrenia is a made-up condition. “Did anyone know that cocaine or marijuana were addictive until people started getting addicted to them?” Carroll counters. “Similarly, Textaphrenia is in the initial stages now. The sooner we start quitting this addiction, the better.”

Steve-O’s Back! Tell A Friend! (a.k.a. Why We Can’t Wait For Killer Karaoke)

You can’t help but to love Steve-O.

The clown college graduate turned Jackass star has been keeping active since the release of Jackass 3D in October 2010 by embarking on multi-city (and multi-country) comedy tour, that is highly recommended by the Otaku Antics staff members who were able to see him perform at a Louisville, Kentucky stop on September 15th, 2011.

Seriously, go see Steve-O’s show. You get to chat with him after the show. (Note: the black eyes were because he had just been punched by Mike Tyson the previous week).

But now there’s a new way for everyone to experience the gem that is Steve-O…

Introducing Killer Karaoke, an upcoming reality game show of Steve-O-esque proportions that is sure to put the likes of American Idol, X Factor, and The Voice to shame. Contestants are forced to perform their favourite songs on national television while enduring outrageous and extreme circumstances, all the while Steve-O hosts and makes jokes at their expense.

Killer Karaoke is a music competition show as only truTV would do it – hilarious, outrageous and wild,” said Marc Juris, executive vice president and general manager of truTV.

Inspired by the British game showSing If You Can, this show will incorporate hazards like water jets, flying obstacles, and creepy critters including snakes and spiders to ruin people’s good ol’ karaoke fest. Killer Karaoke is sure to hit all of the wrong notes in all of the right ways. Think William Hung meets clowns with chainsaws, while Steve-O and his audience cackle in the background.

Killer Karaoke debuts on Friday, November 23rd, 2012 on truTV!

A lawsuit filed earlier this year already has this show looking promising. Killer Karaoke contestant Susanne Ohman is suing both the producers of Killer Karaoke along with Steve-O himself, after she tripped and fell off a wet platform following her musical debut as she tried to exit the stage, her injuries resulting in the need for knee surgery. Although we feel that people should almost expect to be injured, maimed, or mentally scarred in some way if participating in any event sponsored by the Jackass crew, we do hope her the best and look forward to seeing her segment.

You can catch Killer Karaoke‘s debut on Friday, November 23rd, 2012 on truTV! For those who are cable-less, it is almost certain that a show of this caliber will be made available on YouTube and ProjectFreeTV soon after each episodes’ airing.

It’s Up To YOU To Get A New MSI Album!

It’s been nearly five years since the release of If, the fourth and latest Mindless Self Indulgence Album. Despite many tours in recent years—along with the release of The Left Rights’s (MSI band members’ Jimmy Urine and Steve Righ’s side-project) debut album in 2010—many fans have been crying out for a new album for quite some time.

Luckily, that time is almost here.

Almost.

You’re probably familiar with MSI in one form or another. Their single “Shut Me Up”—off 2005’s You’ll Rebel To Anything—is commonly heard at raves and in retail stores including Spencer’s and Hot Topic. Vocalist Jimmy Urine (birth name: James Euringer) is featured on June 2012’s game release of Lollipop Chainsaw as the voice of punk-rock zombie Zed, along with composing most of the game’s boss music tracks. Bassist Lyn-Z is the wife of My Chemical Romance vocalist Gerard Way and the mother of their daughter Bandit.

Mindless Self Indulgence has been entertaining fans with their wildly-catchy, eccentric, and oftentimes explicit lyrics since 1997! (members left-to-right are Kitty, Jimmy Urine, Steve Righ?, and Lyn-Z)

MSI’s songs have also been found in various movies, commercials, and especially as background tracks for YouTube videos. They have also released numerous albums via their own independent record label “Uppity Cracker”.

So why is the time for their latest album “almost” here?

There’s a catch to releasing a new MSI album, and it involves the help of all of their fans to accomplish. The new album—thus far untitled—is scheduled for release on March 13th, 2013, which kind of makes you wonder if they plan to title the album something along the lines of ThreeTresTrois…you get the idea. However, in order to release the album, at least $150,000 must be funded by Monday, December 24th, 2012.

The funds for their fifth album are being raised on the band’s official Kickstarter account. Within less than two weeks, over $62,000 has already been pledged by devoted fans, making the album’s March release seem very likely. Fans who donate $1 or more will receive a free digital download of the album upon its release. Those who up the ante and pledge $5 will get a download of the deluxe album, which contains 3 original bonus tracks (not covers or remixes of old songs) and a PDF file of the album art. Pledging $25 gets you a free backer-only MSI Tee-shirt. And it all goes up from there, including offers to receive custom guitars and basses used and designed by the band members!

The design on the front of the shirt only given out to those who donate $25 towards the new MSI album!

Consider getting an announcement that the new album is officially a GO one of your most treasured Christmas gifts! The release of a new album also pretty much guarantees a multi-city tour across America sooner rather than later.

MSI promises that this album will be great and reminds leery fans that they have self-released many albums in the past to great results. They also promise the same quality of the Tee-shirts and hoodies will be the same as in the past, as they will be using their usual printer as they do for tours.

“We can’t promise that the world won’t end between now and March,” teases the band on their Kickstarter page. “Nothing in life is guaranteed. That said, we’ve got this shit well in hand.”

Pirates, Pirates, Everywhere!

*Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Forever gone are the days of rushing to one’s nearest music store to purchase the latest CD of his or her favorite musical artist. Increasingly so, gone also are days of purchasing DVD box sets and computer software as well. The most common crime being committed by American youths today is that of piracy, the art of illegal downloading. In fact, it is so common, that it is rare to find someone not guilty of this crime at one point or another.

Remember 8-tracks? Vinyls? Cassette tapes? CD’s are next…

Ask someone between the ages of 10-to-25 what their most recent purchase is and many will struggle to remember. It might have been several years ago. For the younger end of that spectrum, it might have been never. “Who pays for music anymore?” says Julia Hembree* with a smirk. “That is so 2005.”

Beginning when 18-year-old Shawn Fanning created Napster—the first peer-to-peer (P2P) networking program—back during the summer of 1999, purchasing one’s music has since become a thing of the past. After backlash from metal band Metallica, who declared that people downloading their songs were thieves, Napster fell. From the ashes rose similar programs including Kazaa, Limewire, Frostwire, and Morpheus, all of which still allowed users to swiftly and easily garner .mp3 files of songs and other audio whenever desired absolutely free of charge.

Soon after, a new technology known as Bit Torrenting rose to power, which allowed for much larger files to be shared P2P. This meant that entire albums, rather than just individual songs, could be downloaded for free. Files containing movies and software also rose up on popular sites such as Pirate Bay and isoHunt, which host torrent files for users to download.

“I just got the new version of Adobe PhotoShop!” says Brent Jones* when asked about his downloading history. “Pirate Bay is awesome!”

At many colleges and universities, some of the P2P ports have been blocked by the Wi-Fi server, disabling many of the popular websites or slowing them down substantially. For instance, the Bellarmine University Student Handbook states that the university “prohibits anyone from using Bellarmine‐owned or provided computing resources for the purpose of violating copyright law”. The handbook warns that students can face penalties up to expulsion for violating this policy, as well as legal sanctions and monetary fines. Still, illegal downloading on campus has not come to the standstill the administration was hoping for. “They blocked a few sites, but they didn’t block them all,” Brianna Landry* says. “You’ve just got to know how to maneuver your way around the blocked ones to find what you’re looking for!”

The Pirate Bay is worshipped by many an Internet-user…along with those who have Internet-savvy friends and family members.

Some people download music simply for convenience. “I enjoy a lot of Asian music,” admits Sarah Barnes*, “but the import fees to get the CD’s are nearly $30-40 at times, and it would take weeks to get my music. I’m not paying that much for a CD when I can get it online for free.”

Some websites like iTunes and Amazon have made legal downloading available to try to ease issues like Barnes’s, but with some consumers leery about entering their credit card information onto a website—especially while using unsecured Wi-Fi servers found in most public places including college campuses—the free route still seems to be winning.

In a sort of compromise, many artists are now releasing their albums free of charge on their personal websites, with the option to pay the artist any amount of their choosing. Famed rock group Radiohead, was one of the first to try this endeavor back with their 2007 album In Rainbows. While some consumers took the free album, other fans paid amounts in excess of $20 or $30 to their favorite band as a way of showing their support. Since then, many other artists have jumped on the bandwagon, which also allows them to keep more royalties than if a music label had executed the sales.

“I’m more willing to purchase an album if I know the profits are going to the artist and not some greedy CEO,” says Dana Levins*. “If I know the artist is only gonna see like $1 of the $15 I paid for the CD, then I’m just gonna download it.”

The Trouble With American Politics

As the 2012 Presidential Election draws ever-closer, the chaos between the Democrats and Republicans has reached an all-time high, coming to (possibly) a peak with Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s insensitive comments about rape babies. But while everyone fights and argues over pro-life vs. pro-choice politics, a very simple point seems to be getting avoided in the scuffle.

Richard Mourdock’s October 23rd comments relating to God, rape victims, and the resulting children have put the GOP on the defensive.

 

I’m pretty sure most of this political chaos could be avoided if we all agreed on this point: It’s okay to have opinions, but don’t restrict people’s freedoms by trying to make your opinions into laws.

If you would not get an abortion if you conceived during a rape, more power to you. But don’t force traumatized 11- and 12-year-old girls to give birth to a baby that they don’t want and are not even physically mature enough to carry. Likewise, if a doctor told you that carrying your child full-term would kill you and you wouldn’t abort, then you are a better person than most. But don’t force every woman in that position to get a death sentence just because it’s what you personally believe.

The same goes for all this other nonsense. Don’t like gay marriage? Don’t marry someone of the same sex then. Don’t believe in evolution? Teach your children creationism when they come home every day. Don’t support marijuana legalization? Then don’t smoke it. It’s that easy people. Live your life the way you want to live it, but don’t impede on others’ happiness and beliefs just because of your own superiority complex.

It’s in the constitution and all: there should be a separation of church and state. These government officials have gone through schooling and read enough political scripts to have seen that phrase infinite times. Yet, somehow, it all goes out the window once they open their mouths. Our nation of America is less than 80% Christian, and in that ~80% are many different types of Christians: evangelical, UCC, baptist, and more. So to say, “Well the Bible says it, so it must be a law” is breaking all sorts of ethical reasonings. No two minds are alike, so they really need to stop trying to fit everyone into one tiny, uniform bubble.

This guy marches to the beat of his own drum. Why try to silence him?

It just goes on and on. Don’t support interracial relationships? Then don’t start a romance with someone of a different race. Don’t like the religion of Islam? Then don’t become a Muslim. Don’t believe in giving your hard-earned money to those “evil, unemployed, lazy hobos”? Then don’t donate your money to those charities. Heck, I despise broccoli, but you don’t see me trying to convince people not to eat it (I know that last point seems satirical, but you get the picture).
If only more people would stop to realize this ever-growing fallacy of egotism, maybe elections and the resulting terms would be more productive. We could stop fighting over what God-given rights to give or take from our peers and focus on the things that we should be focusing on. Like how our economy is in the toilet. Or how half of the globe hates us for our ethnocentrism. Or even how we as a people are so gung-ho to help the people in non-Democratic countries “succeed and do better with their lives”, while we turn a blind eye to the starving people in our own country.
Just some food for thought.

Colton Dixon: Idol’s Newest Star?

At this point, most people see American Idol as last decade’s phenomena. The show’s contestants are typically forgettable, the group performances are laughable, and the recent decision to add divas Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj has many former fans more willing to slam their faces into a brick wall than to watch the upcoming season.

In reality, the show hasn’t launched a star since Kris Allen and Adam Lambert, Season 8’s winner and runner-up respectively from the Winter 2009 season. It could be further argued that there haven’t been true stars since Season 4’s winner Carrie Underwood…but let’s not be petty, okay?

However, a contestant from the 2012 season is still managing to make headlines in his post-season endeavors.

Enter 21-year-old Colton Dixon: Season 11 finalist and Season 10 contestant.

American Idol 11 sensation Colton Dixon poses for a picture while on tour last summer.

We all remember Colton…the adorable punk-rock kid from Murfreesboro, Tennessee with the funky hair and a penchant for worship. Yes, I used the phrases “punk-rock” and “worship” in the same sentence.

It works for him. Dixon has never been shy about his position as a Devout Christian since his first appearance on the show back in 2011. He has a way of being open about his religious beliefs without being too excessive or preachy, therefore not alienating the secular side of his fan base. By such, Dixon was able to amass a large following of Messengers—the term coined by Dixon to reference his fans—from all sorts of backgrounds and affiliations.

The same principle rings true in Dixon’s music. Featuring that rock sound that is so rarely featured on Idol stages, much of Dixon’s music carries with it a Christian message, but lightly enough that even the staunchest of Atheists can listen to it without developing a sour feeling in their tummies. It’s the same principle that has allowed other Christian Rock artists like Switchfoot, Flyleaf, Lifehouse, and Skillet to rise to fame on mainstream radio and television stations. Those wanting to worship and reflect can while listening to Dixon’s music, while those just wanting a good tune can rock out without a care.

The cover art for Colton Dixon’s debut single “Never Gone”, available now on iTunes!

Dixon’s debut single, “Never Gone” was released to iTunes on September 25th, 2012 to warm reviews, peaking at #113 on the US Charts and #1 on the US Christian Charts. The single was written by Dixon himself to sum up his Idol experience. “There were times when I felt like I was by myself, or just felt unplugged from reality,” explains Dixon, whose younger sister, Schyler, auditioned with him for the show but was cut in the preliminary rounds. “There were even times when I asked God if he was still there. He always answered, ‘I was never gone.’”

Dixon—who has been signed to Sparrow Records—has confirmed that his second single, “You Are” will be released to iTunes on October 30th, 2012. It was released to major Internet radio station Air1radio.com on September 13th, 2012 and became the most-aired song in station history just one day after release, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The single hit radio airwaves on October 19th, 2012, Dixon’s 21st birthday. It has been named the “Song Of The Week” by USA Today.

Dixon’s highly-anticipated debut album—appreciatively titled “The Messenger”—is expected to be released on February 12th, 2013.

You can keep up with all of the latest Colton Dixon news by following him on Twitter.

Don’t Mess With The Bloods And The Crips

Mention either Tupac Shakur or Biggie Smalls, and many Americans can talk for days about whom they believe murdered these two artists. Some people will even argue that Shakur and Smalls faked their own deaths and are hiding out somewhere secretly. With both investigations now cold cases and autopsy reports still standing, we may never know for sure who took the lives of the talented rappers, only that they are in fact deceased and have been for a very long time.

However, former Los Angeles Police Detective Greg Kading has a very strong opinion on who the murderers are. And his beliefs are shocking a nation.

In his newly released book, Murder Rap, Kading reveals that Duane “Keffe D” Keith Davis—a former member of the Southside Crips—testified in a taped 2008 confession to witnessing the shootings of both Death Row Records rapper Tupac Shakur and CEO Suge Knight during 1996. How?

Murdered rappers Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur are at the center of the latest LAPD-related controversy.

Because the CEO of Bad Boy Entertainment, Sean “Puffy” Combs, paid Keffe D’s cousin, Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, $1 million to kill them both. Did I mention that Bad Boy Entertainment and Death Row Records are fierce rivals?

Kading then goes on to claim that a wounded Knight paid Piru Blood member Wardell “Poochie” Fouse to kill Biggie Smalls in retaliation for Shakur’s demise. It is a story so outlandish that it is actually believable.

Kading, one of the leading investigators on the Biggie Smalls murder case, claims the department was on the verge of a breakthrough when he was thrown off the case. A few months later, the entire investigation was shut down. After handing in his badge during 2010, Kading sat down to write Murder Rap, the book becoming a nationwide bestseller after its release only a few weeks ago.

Keffe D’s confessions come as part of a deal struck with him by the FBI. The kingpin of a nationwide PCP ring, Keffe D was looking at 25-years-to-life if he did not reveal his secrets. He insists that no portion of his interview is inaccurate, so as not to jeopardize his plea bargain. “Everything in this report has to be right on, because if down the road it’s determined that some of these details are incorrect, then everything’s off the table,” Keffe D says.

Greg Kading, a highly-decorated former LAPD detective, is the author of the now-infamous Murder Rap.

Sean Combs claims that the accusations are just plain crazy. “This story is pure fiction and completely ridiculous!” he insists.

Suge Knight has declined to comment, which is helping to fuel the firestorm.

Although both Baby Lane and Poochie—the alleged hitmen in the murders of Shakur and Smalls—were both shot and killed years ago in Bloods vs. Crips battles set off by the celebrities’ slayings, the entertainers accused of hiring them are still very much alive.

“I hope,” Kading says, “that despite any lawsuits I face from the book, the case I so desperately wanted to finish will finally get its day in court.”