Questions: Sunday, Sept. 4

Spike as Rapper: Dramaturg’s Thoughts

Since there is little in the play to suggest that Spike’s attitude or style is “gangsta,” I think the key question here is this: Does Spike see his rap as a quick and easy way to become rich and famous OR is he a driven artist who really needs rap to express himself (but wouldn’t mind the perqs that success would bring)? If fame and fortune are his objectives, then a mega-star like Jay-Z seems a likely model; although “east coast,” Jay-Z still was prolific and the #2 wealthiest rapper in 2005. If Spike is truly an artist (if only at heart), then Dr. Dre would be a more likely role model: Dr. Dre is “west coast,” wealthly, and famous for his work ethic and perfectionism. Given Spike’s sexual activity in the play, he might be more influenced by Snoop Dogg and his music videos.

Top Hip-Hop Songs of 2005

  1. The Game ft. 50 Cent – Hate It Or Love It
  2. Aasim – Hip-Hop 101
  3. Three-6-Mafia ft. Young Buck, Eightball & MJG – Stay Fly
  4. Common – Testify
  5. Paul Wall – Sittin’ Sidewayz
  6. Young Jeezy ft. Jay-Z & Fat Joe – Go Crazy (Remix)
  7. Zion-I ft. Talib Kweli – Temperature
  8. Gorillaz ft. De La Soul – Feel
  9. Jay-Z – Dear Summer
  10. Kanye West -Diamonds (from Sierra Leone)

Among the most successful and wealthy rappers of 2005 are 50 Cent, Jay-Z, and Kanye West. 50 Cent is from Queens (NYC) and categorized as “East Coast Rap” and “Gangsta Rap.” Jay Z is from Brooklyn (NYC) and categorized as “East Coast Rap” and “Battle Rap.” Kanye is from Atlanta and spent his early 20s in Chicago. He is categorized as “Midwest Hip-Hop” and “Conscious Rap.”

Top 10 Wealthiest Rappers in 2005

  1. P. Diddy, $346 Million
  2. Jay-Z, $340 Million
  3. Russell Simmons, $325 Million
  4. Damon Dash, $200 Million
  5. Neptunes, $155 Million
  6. Dr. Dre, $150 Million
  7. Ice Cube, $145 Million
  8. Eminem, $110 Million
  9. 50 Cent, $100 Million
  10. Nelly, $60 Million

West Coast Rap/Hip-Hop

More than just ageographical division in the hip-hop world, the split between the East and West coasts represents a divergence in both style and content. Although influenced by hip-hop forefathers like Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambatta, West Coast Rap acts stray further from Old-School Rap than their East Coast rivals. They use funkier, stylized beats and rhythms to support smoothly-delivered, melodic rhymes. West Coasters were also the first to bring the problems and perks of the “Gangsta” lifestyle to the forefront of hip-hop culture. Although the line between east and west is slowly dissolving as rap continues to evolve, there is still a distinct West Coast lineage that runs from seminal rappers N.W.A. to artists like Snoop Dogg and Vallejo, California’s E-40.


Questions: Saturday, August 27

Can you inherit someone’s lottery winnings? How does that work?

It depends on the particular game and state in which it is played, but, simply, the answer is yes, unless the annuity payments are restricted to the life of the winner. Here is the way it works for Mega Millions:

If you are a Mega Millions jackpot winner, you will have the choice of a Cash Option or an Annual Payout. Annuity option: Provides annual payments over a 26-year period. For every $1,000,000 in the jackpot, you will receive approximately $38,500 per year before taxes. Cash option: A one-time, lump-sum payment that is equal to all the cash in the Mega Millions jackpot prize pool. Prize claim parameters vary from state to state. Contact your Mega Millions state lottery for detailed information.

If a winner dies before receiving all annual payments, Mega Millions will continue to pay the annual payments, as scheduled, to the winner’s designated beneficiary or to the winner’s estate.

What’s the correct pronunciation of “economic” (power) p. 35

Both eek (long e sound) and ek (short e sound) are acceptable. I recommend that the entire family pick one or the other and then be consistent.

When is the standard time for Spring Break (month)?

Most colleges and universities that operate on semesters (rather than quarters) usually have 15-16 weeks of classes followed by a week of finals; spring break usually comes at the mid-point, usually 7-8 weeks into the semester. Typically, a spring semester begins mid-January, which places spring break in the middle of March. While Nett gets a two-week break, most spring breaks last just one week.

What university in CA is close enough to take the train to L.A. and has a good Economics/Business program?

The key here is train access. (LA is not the best place for public transportation.) The Orange Line of the Metrolink runs through Los Angeles Valley College.

With over 140,000 students, the Los Angeles Community College District is the largest in the U.S. and includes nine college spread throughout greater LA.

There also are three public universities and over a dozen private colleges in greater LA.

What is the difference in personalities of children’s birth order (i.e. – Younger kids are spoiled, etc.)?

This is from CBS’s Early Show from a few years back:

First Born
Newscasters and TV talk show hosts tend to be first born or only children. Prominent examples include: Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, Ted Koppel, Oprah, Donahue, Geraldo, Arsenio Hall and Rush Limbaugh. Over half of U.S presidents were firstborns. Clearly, firstborns are natural leaders. They also tend to be reliable, conscientious and perfectionists who don’t like surprises. Although, firstborns are typically aggressive, many are also compliant people pleasers. They are model children who have a strong need for approval from anyone in charge.

Only Children
Only children are firstborns in triplicate. They are even more responsible and even bigger perfectionists. They usually get along better with people older than themselves.

Middle Child
These kids are the most difficult to pin down. They are guaranteed to be opposite of their older sibling, but that difference can manifest in a variety of ways. Middle children often feel like their older brother gets all the glory while their younger sister escapes all discipline. Because the middle child feels that the world pays him less attention, he tends to be secretive; he does not openly share his thoughts or feelings. Middle children may not feel they have a special place in the family so friends and peer groups become much more important. They can usually read people well, they are peacemakers who see all sides of a situation, they are independent and inventive. If a firstborn is a company’s CEO, the middle child is the entrepreneur.

Last Born
Babies of the family are social and outgoing, they are the most financially irresponsible of all birth orders. They just want to have a good time. Knowing that these kids love the limelight, it’s no surprise to discover that Billy Crystal, Goldie Hawn, Drew Carey, Jim Carey and Steve Martin are all lastborns. While lastborns may be charming, they also have the potential to be manipulative, spoiled or babied to the point of helplessness. “The last born is the one who will probably still have a pet name although he’s 29 and has a masters degree,” Leman says.

Some variables can affect the above descriptions. For instance, if there are several years between the first and second child, the second child will have some characteristics of a firstborn. Or, if the firstborn is a girl and the second a boy, the son will have some first-born characteristics because he is the family’s first male offspring. Sibling deaths, adoptions and blended families can also upset the traditional birth order.

What kind of scholarship did Nett get that paid for almost everything?

I have to answer this indirectly. As a college professor, one of the worst things you can do is date (or have sex with) a student; many professors have been fired and/or denied tenured for doing so. If the student is a graduate student, however, the situtation often is perceived and treated differently, though it is still usually considered unethical and unprofessional.

If Nett is a grad student, the likelihood of her getting a great scholarship (or assistantship or fellowship) AND dating an instructor (or professor) is much greater than if she were an undergraduate student.

If Nett is an undergrad at a public/state college and got a “full ride” to college, she probably demonstrated either 1) exceptional academic merit (National Merit Scholarship or a National Achievement Scholarship) and/or 2) exceptional need (Pell Grant).

If Nett is an undergrad at a private college, then the possibilities are vast. The pricetage can be sky high, but students with exceptional merit and need can end up with “free rides,” particularly if the student enhances the diversity of the student population.

At both private and public colleges, there are topical/theme-based scholarships for students who plan to major in or show promise in a particular area:social justice, environment, health, etc.

Questions: Wednesday, Aug. 24

What is the salary of a D.P.S.F. worker (like Horace) who has been with the company for about 25 years?

Since we don’t know exactly in what city (or even state) the play takes place and given the context in which it is used, the D.W.P.F. (p. 2) likely means the Department of Water, Power, and Fuel–the city’s utility company. The critical factor for Horace is the promotion to manager. For the City of Houston, here are some examples of salaries in 2010:

Electricians start at $30,160/year, but Electrical Supervisors start at $41,132–a difference of almost 35%. Plumbers start at $24,960 but Plumber Leaders start at $30,160–a difference of almost 20%.

Whatever Horace’s exact job is, the promotion to manager would represent a substantial increase in salary and the likelihood of less physically demanding work, an important consideration as we age.

How much would the family have won after taxes (we are assuming they opted for the lump sum).

In the play, the jackpot prize is $99 million. If this is a state lottery, then the cash value might be estimated at appr. half of the face value–about $50 million before taxes.

Federal taxes can be figured at 25%, leaving about $37,500,000 IF there aren’t state taxes to be added. (Texas and California do not tax state lottery winnings.)

Can you get the documentary of the “Lotto Curse” for us to view?

There was a two-hour documentary that aired on E! in 2006 called THS Investigates: The Curse of the Lottery. I have not yet been able to find a real or online copy that we can watch; however, I found the complete transcript of it at:

There also was a second part that aired in 2009 on E!

On ABC’s 20/20 In Touch, there was a 10-minute segment called “Lottery Curse” what can be viewed at:

Brief description of what denotes a comedy?

Today we tend to think of comedy as something that ends happily and makes us laugh; however, this is a rather modern notion. Comedy began with the ancient Greeks, who defined it as a second and inferior dramatic genre that differed from tragedy in that it featured everyday characters, situations, and language, all of which were presented to ridicule bad behavior for the betterment of the audience. Laughter, though a possible by-product, was not the objective.

To explore the many different types of comedy, check out the following:

When did organic foods & wheat products become popular in L.A. and then universally?

In the early 1900s, all farming was organic–no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. In the 1970s, however, many farmers on the west coast (mainly California) abandoned these synthetics to reduce pollution and promote better health. It wasn’t until 1989, following a report on CBS’s 60 Minutes about Alar, that consumers throughout the nation began demanding and buying organic products (primarily fruits and vegetables). For more information:

What’s a honey nut pie?

A honey nut pie is basically any pie comprised primarily of honey and nuts. (My granny back home in Georgia made pecan pies that were dense with crushed pecans bonded with Karo syrup, so until the northerners’ caramel-custardy pecan pies.) Greek baklava is a popular honey-nut dessert, though it’s made with phyllo dough. The National Honey Board provides a recipe for a honey nut pie at:

Is there something like the Video Showcase Awards that gives/gave prize money for best business video?

I haven’t found any that give prize money; however, the following are major competitions:

EEVAs: The Excellence in Enterprise Video Awards

The Stevie Awards

p. 47 – Is Regina Hope a real person?  Is the Regina Hope Angel Foundation a real foundation?

Not as far I can tell. The following two, however, are real:

Regina’s Hope Program: The KMD Foundation (for medical care in the Czech Republic)

Angels of Hope Foundation (for women’s health care issues)

p. 7 – Mildred mentions her husband’s full name (not a Benson) & yet on p. 53. Horace says Mildred’s full name (but Maiden name) is Mildred Sondra Benson…Why do you think he references her maiden name & not married name?

Honestly, I cannot figure it out. Plays often contain inconsistencies (and errors), particularly if they have been revised by someone other than the original writer. Would you like me to contact Bryan Roquemore and ask him if this was in his brother’s original script or if he (Bryan) changed it or knows the answer?

Questions: Tuesday, August 23

p. 86 – Is “N.C.M.I.A.” real?

Nett references  the NCOMIA: National Coalition of Minorities in America (p. 86). The closest thing I can find in real life is the NCMB: The National Coalition of Minority Businesses which is (was) a non-profit, Washington, DC-based advocacy group comprised of 60 minority CEOs in the 1990s.

p. 100 – Pearl says she’s 24 credits away from an Associate Degree.  How many credits does it typically take for an online Associate’s Degree?  Is that statement accurate? How many credits for a Bachelor’s?

Typically, an Associates is around 60 semester hours or 20 total 3-hour courses. Pearl, then, needs 8 more courses (24 credits): she’s a little over half way there.

Here’s a very informative, though somewhat dated (2002), article about two-year degrees and programs:

Bachelor degrees typically are around 120 semester hours (40 total 3-hour courses: 8 semesters with 5 courses per semester).

I don’t know if Pearl could have completed an online Associates when the play was first written in 1990; however, several companies such as DeVry and University of Phoenix offer them today.

Who are the activists in current day that Nett can relate to?

2012 National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Appr. 40% of all HIV/AIDS deaths in this country have been African-Americans.
Appr. 50% of all Americans living with HIV/AIDS today are African-American.

10 of America’s Most Daring Young Activists (from Campus Progress)