Entries Posted in "June 2007"

Child Star
June 5, 2007

This past weekend we flew to Virginia for a graduation. At my parent's house, we're all sitting around the family room and the following discussion takes place. Another to file under disappointingly humorous conversations with my beloved mother:

Mom: Hey Ambra, remember that Cap'n Crunch Commercial you filmed?

Me: Totally. Would you believe I called Quaker Oats a few years ago to try to track down the tape?

Mom: And?

Me: They were very helpful. I described to the them the commercial, the production company, the year, and the cast: a little black girl and a white boy. They quickly sent me a tape. I popped it in and unfortunately it was ANOTHER little black girl and a white boy. Who knew Quaker Oats had such diversity.

Mom: Did you tell them it was for the Christmas Crunch cereal commercial in particular?

Me: Yes, but maybe I got the year wrong. Oh well. One day when I'm famous and on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno", they will track it down for me and play it as one of my "embarrassing clips."

Mom: Did you know you made like $8,000 from shooting that commercial?

*Silence*

Me: Um, all I ever got was a $1,500 check.

Mom: Yeah that was union pay for the actual day of the shoot. Your residual income was like $8,000 for the holiday months.

*Silence*

Me: What the heck? I never saw or knew about that money.

Mom: I know. We spent it on your private school tuition.

Me: Without my permission? What if I didn't want to spend it on that? I mean, I was in 8th grade; I wasn't exactly a little kid.

Mom: Private school was expensive. The money was invested well.

Me: Man, I feel like Gary Coleman up in here.

*Silence*

Me: Gary Coleman, Emmanuel Lewis, Macaulay Culkin, and Ambra Nykol on the next E! True Hollywood Story

Posted by Ambra in Life | Link to This Entry | Comments { 12 }
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On Air
June 2, 2007

If you're in the greater Chicago area, my husbo and I will be on air tonight as guests during the beginning of the hour, 7:00 pm (CST) on the McClendon Report - WVON 1690 AM. I'll be talking about the blog, online media and our new podcast.

Posted by Ambra in Radio | Link to This Entry | Comments { 14 }
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The Lifelong Project
June 1, 2007

Nine months ago today, I embarked upon a wonderful journey. Though unremarkable to most, a nine month anniversary pales in comparison to my parents' twenty-six year marriage and especially my grandparents' fifty years of matrimony. Heck, we're not even a year in but every milestone for me is pretty tremendous considering the dismal standards our society has for marriage. Don't get me wrong. We deserve no pats on the back. It's not as though I'm waiting for the moment when I can yell out "Hey, we've made it longer than Tori Spelling!" God help me if I ever use celebrity schizophrenia as my measuring rod for a successful marriage.

Throughout our engagement, Andre and I battled the evil forces called "wedding planning." If ever there were a shady racket to be found it is in the wedding industry. Only could a bridal salon get away with charging $300 for a piece of tulle by calling it a "bridal veil." During the whole arduous (but fun) process, we constantly reminded ourselves not to spend more time planning our wedding (an event) than we did planning our marriage (a lifetime). I would say we did about 60/40 and the result was an awesome wedding and thus far, an awesome marriage.

I haven't been at it long, but I can already say marriage ranks second on my list of best decisions I ever made. No doubt the single life is fantastic. If you are not married, live it up. Being unmarried has its own set of wonderful benefits and let me just say I managed to milk every last drop out of those benefits and I'm so glad I did.

By many standards, I got married young. Though at 24 (the age I was when I wed), in some countries I'd have five children and a goat by now. I am of the mind that maturity more than age should determine when a person is ready for marriage. I am also of the mind that history has proven the power a collective society has in determining exactly what the age of maturity is. In America and in many other countries, we associate the age of responsibility with the ability to drive a car, buy cigarettes, alcohol and obtain credit--not exactly good indicators of much of anything let alone maturity of an individual. One generation casts low expectations to the next, expectations are met and those expectations become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Today, we generally deem the average 21-year-old very immature.

I always knew I'd marry young. My general nature is fairly driven so a casual relationship here or there would never fly with me. If I was going to be in a relationship, it was for the long haul or not at all. The upside to that perspective was that we went into our marriage without a lot of the usual baggage. If I had to make one recommendation to all you future married-folk out there, the less baggage the better. I would do the baggage-free dance if one existed, but I think the funky chicken will suffice. If you have baggage, spend some time lightening your load before you join with another person in holy matrimony. It will make a world of difference.

I've struggled with how much of this aspect of my life I want to share online and I'm not sure I've come to a clear resolution. One thing I know for sure - we are in dire need of more clear-minded voices speaking out on the topic of marriage so if I can contribute my humble bit, I most certainly will.

So happy 9-month anniversary my dear. Here's to many many more (except in the future I would prefer to celebrate in 12-month increments, thanks).

Posted by Ambra in Marriage | Link to This Entry | Comments { 18 }
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Spelling for a Better World

If you ever want to suffer a massive blow to your intellectual ego, watch the Scripps National Spelling Bee. What these pre-pubescent middle schoolers can do is nothing short of amazing.

To describe a spelling bee as "enthralling" is probably teetering on the edge of sanity, but I must say every time the national bee rolls around I am giddy. Between the bizarre mnemonics, the fainting, and the Alex Trebekian-bred announcers, I just can't get enough. As nerdy as that statement may sound, it speaks volumes that this year the bee made its way out of ESPN's weekend-crappy-time-slot obscurity and into prime-time on a major network station. If only we could get Dick Vitale to call the play-by-play next year. That would be one entertaining event.

If you hadn't noticed, spelling is now "hot." Well, sort of. I doubt the masses will be lining up for autographs of spelling bee champions any time soon. I sometimes wonder if there is a direct correlation with spelling aptitude and social awkwardness. Awkwardness certainly abounded on that Washington D.C. stage last night. Then again, I'd like to see any adult (myself included) stand up on stage in front of millions of viewers and spell "autochthonous" (the winning word of 2005) with such finesse. I reckon the nationwide acceptance and appreciation of such talent and ability has grown leaps and bounds over the last few years. Surely that's thanks to ventures like last year's fabulous, though not so blockbuster film--"Akeelah and the Bee"--a movie I am not ashamed to admit made me shed a tear or three. It's also a movie that despite rave reviews and the public blessing of "Reverend" Oprah Winfrey, didn't fare so well at the box office. Black girls winning spelling bees isn't quite as appealing as black women whoring themselves for Academy Awards, I guess.

The presence of "diversity" among the spellers is a matter of perspective. When I worked for Google, a large percentage of the company's employees were East Indian. Needless to say, naan is now one of my staples. Most companies would put a feather in their diversity cap for pulling such numbers. In the tech world however, it has become quite clear that a large presence of East Indian employees is the rule and not the exception. So diversity for Google meant recruiting more women and more Americans of color. In that same vein, I often notice that at spelling bees, diversity abounds, but really, it doesn't. The statistics are fascinating. Some commonalities found among the majority might be: quality of school district, socioeconomic status, and presence of two parents in the home. I'd be curious to know exactly what are the makings of a typical championship speller. I won't lie; year after year I wonder why we don't see any more black students up there competing for the title. The "Why" is probably a much bigger question than I'm willing to discuss here. This year, however, I was very pleased to see Kennyi Aouad, 11, of Terre Haute, Indiana, a "fly" in the proverbial buttermilk of academic competitions. I almost cried. Clearly spelling bees are emotional occasions for me.

I also shouldn't fail to mention this year's winner, Evan O'Dorney, whose winning word "serrefine" seemed to present little challenge to his studious mind. But my pick of the night was the lone girl in the top ten, firecracker Isabel Jacobsen of Madison, Wisconsin. I can't help but keep solidarity with my chromosome sisters. She made it into the top three spellers and to boot she is one smart cookie. In her video profile aired during the bee, she mentioned one of her favorite words I will soon be adding to my arsenal:

"Kakistocracy": Rule by the least-able or least-principled of citizens; a form of government in which the people least qualified to control the government are the people who control the government.
Out of the mouths of babes, eh? Come January 2009, I fear we might have more uses for "Kakistocracy" than we'd like should a few certain individuals be elected to the White House. Blogger Michelle Malkin has other suggestions for use of the word.

Until then, I'll be reading my dictionary, trying to catch up for next year.

Posted by Ambra in Education | Link to This Entry | Comments { 1 }
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Why I'm Not a Republican Parts I, II, III, IV
Reflections on the Ill-Read Society
The ROI of a Kid
The Double-Minded Haters
Hindsight
Hip-Hop in Education: Do You Wanna Revolution?
Oh parent Where Art Thou?
Requisite Monthly Rant: the State of the Nation
College Curriculum Gone Wild
Walmart Chronicles
An Open Letter to American Idol
Gonorrhea and the City

I Have a Talk Show