Author: journo

We have freedom, but we’re not independent

I have been a journalist for 25 years. In fact, this year marks my 25th year of being in the journalism industry in some area, starting in college at a local radio station and later as a paid intern at a newspaper. This also marks the 20th year of my college graduation.

In the last 25 years, I have covered a variety of stories, including homicides, fires and car accidents. I was good at establishing trustworthy relationships with law enforcement, but I have never really enjoyed covering spot news.

Hypnotized by white culture, ‘Get Out’ is about being awakened

One of the cool things about teaching a college introduction to mass communications class is that you get to discuss the history of media, including books, magazines, newspapers, television, radio, music and movies. We also look at current events that relate to all of these mediums, and this semester, we watched a couple of current movie trailers, including “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Get Out.”

Thrilling Thoughts About ‘Black Mirror’ and Real ‘American Horror’ Stories

By LaReeca Rucker Every now and then, I offer a list of some of the best horror/thriller movies, television shows and documentaries I’ve recently seen. Here they are: Black Mirror: I originally began watching “Black Mirror” a couple of years ago when the first season came to Netflix. At the time, I was a little embarrassed to share with others some of the content of this British science fiction series set in the near future with a technology/social media theme. Some of the subject matter in the first season has the potential to make viewers blush, including an episode in which the Prime Minster’s daughter is kidnapped and held for ransom. She will be murdered if the Prime Minster doesn’t perform an embarrassing act that will be recorded and shared on television and social media. So after watching it, I filed it away in my brain as interesting, but edgy until I started to see numerous articles written about “Black Mirror” recently in The New Yorker – which had already labeled the television series “A …

Ten Resolutions for the New Year

When I started thinking about New Year’s resolutions that I wanted to write for 2017, I initially had a very short list of things that were realistic and attainable that might be suitable for a short Facebook status update. But the more I thought about it, I came up with at least 10 things I hope to work on in the coming year that I have expanded into a blog post. Maybe you will find some of them relatable. Exercise 30 minutes a day. I started doing this a couple of years ago, and by run/walking 30 minutes a day in the park, I quickly lost about 40 pounds in three months. It’s a good habit to get into. It’s a stress reliever. It allows you to be one with nature. It’s good for your heart. And as someone who has always had skinny legs, it made my legs more shapely. It’s so hard for many of us to find time in our busy lives for exercise, and we sometimes think it’s impossible to lose …

The Magical Power of Bringing Gingerbread Men to Life

By LaReeca Rucker It probably seems like I am quite the cook based on some of the social media posts I have made lately. Truth is, I’m not. But at one time, I aspired to be. As a person who has a lot of hobbies that I drop and pick up again from time to time, I have done everything from stamp collecting to salsa dancing. At one time, I convinced myself that I was going to be the next top chef. (Well, not really, but I was determined to master cooking.) For a while, I was obsessed with watching the Food Network. I purchased many cookbooks, and I was given many cookbooks as gifts. But truth be told, cooking – I learned – is much more than a skill. It’s a talent. It’s an art. And while I can generally read directions and sometimes create a dish that is a hit, I also sometimes miss. I’m an unreliable cook. However, this Christmas I was determined to make a few dishes for a family Christmas …

My Christmas Tree is Filled With Aliens, Robots and Monsters

By LaReeca Rucker The way you decorate your Christmas tree says a lot about your personality, as do the ornaments that we choose to adorn it. More than 20 years ago, I began collecting and making my own ornaments at Christmastime. I try to make and buy a few new ornaments every year to add to my collection. I started with porcelain cherubs, leaving some white and decorating others. Then I bought traditional Christmas balls and covered them in glitter, back when you couldn’t find glittery decorations like them. I have also made ornaments for my tree that feature pictures of my late pets. In the last few years, I have taken an annual trip to Hobby Lobby to select ornaments that I like. I also look in Walmart, Fred’s and other local dollar stores. Tomorrow, I plan to attend two Christmas craft events and search for more interesting ornaments to add to my collection. There are a few things that I am fond of and always on the look out for – aliens, robots …

Create a Little Magic in Your Life This Christmas With Simple, Elegant and Inexpensive Decor

It’s that time of year when we’re all supposed to believe in and create a little magic in our lives and the lives of others. One way we can do that is by decorating. I’m so grateful to have my own house this year. I’m also grateful to have all of my holiday decorations nicely organized, so it only took one day to put up my tree and put most of it in place.

How to Cope With Holiday Stress and Make Life More Enjoyable

By LaReeca Rucker This article originally appeared in The Clarion-Ledger and USA TODAY circa 2011. Cole Smith, owner of Creative Gifts in Jackson, feels his stress levels rise during the holiday season. As the owner of a wholesale gift packaging company, he sells materials like gift wrap, ribbons, tissues, boxes and bows. “My customers are predominantly female, and most of them are just like every other shopper,” he said. “They get in a panic after Thanksgiving realizing it’s Christmas.” It’s also a stressful time for Smith and his employees. A season dubbed the “happiest time of the year” can be anything but when work, finances, parties and perfection bring more worry than welcome at Christmas. “My little business is blessed to have many customers, but we are not Walmart,” he said. “My co-workers work part-time, and I’m very blessed they are hanging in there. They are hard workers, and it is stressful. “We have an attitude of one customer at a time. People can be rude and distract you, but we keep a smile on …

Fall into fun every year with festive decor

I tend to go a little overboard with my holiday lawn decorations. I’m no Chevy Chase, but I do like to have fun with decor. Here are pictures of my fall lawn decor at my old house. This year, I’m in a new house, and I brought the scarecrows out in September and kept them in my yard throughout Halloween and Thanksgiving. You can generally find these for sale for less than $10 each at Walmart, Fred’s or similar dollar stores. I added a new scarecrow to my collection this year. He is  currently guarding my front porch. In the next few days, I’ll try to make a new post about my current fall decor and include photos of my new scarecrow since I recently created a centerpiece and decorated for fall after putting all of my Halloween monsters back in the storage shed to live until next October. Have you done any creative fall decorating? If so, I’d love to see it and even feature it on my blog. Feel free to post a …

Living a Life of Gratitude Can Change Your Perspective on the World

By LaReeca Rucker This article originally appeared in The Clarion-Ledger circa 2011. Jackson resident Andi Barbrey watched a celebrity she follows on Facebook write about what she was thankful for daily, and Barbrey decided to do the same. “One day, I thanked my dad for always staying calm even though he raised three girls,” she said. “Last night, I had a rough day at work, and I said I was thankful for beer,” she laughed. “But I try to be thankful for things that have made a difference in my life. Doing the updates really makes you think about it every day.” Gratitude has attracted a lot of attention from psychological researchers in recent years in the field of “positive psychology.” It examines topics like quality of life, virtues, character and happiness, said Stephen Southern, professor and chairman of the Mississippi College Department of Psychology and Counseling. Southern said gratitude has been shown in studies to reduce stress while improving health, physically, mentally and emotionally. “Gratitude is a key ingredient in quality of life,” Southern …

Let’s make Mississippi an ‘American Idol’

In light of the controversial events that have transpired because of Mississippi’s House Bill 1523 locally and nationally, with protests by notable Mississippians and some companies refusing to do business in the state, the yin and yang of the universe decided that on the last season of one of America’s top-rated television shows, two Mississippians were selected to showcase their artistic talent – one of the fine things Mississippi is very well known for – and a Mississippian won the contest. Within every place and every person, you can find both good and bad. For far too long, Mississippi has had a reputation of ranking last in many categories. It has become trite to recite the list. The state has the highest high school dropout rate, the highest teen pregnancy rate, the highest obesity rate, highest poverty rate, worst economy, and the lowest life expectancy in the country. Mississippi students have ranked last in school performance, and the state has one of the highest unemployment rates. We read these studies over and over again, and …

What it means to be ‘The Hospitality State’

Mississippi is historically known for a progressively delayed (and often stalled) civil rights legacy. In the minds of some throughout the U.S., the state’s name will be forever linked to the opposition and violence that occurred in Mississippi in the 1960s – opposition and violence that resulted when fellow Mississippians stood firm, demanding the basic, inalienable right of equality, affirming that all men (and women) are created equal and have the right to be treated as such. Mississippi is also historically known for many good things, some of which include generosity, a rich literary and artistic history, and the notion that we are “The Hospitality State.” In light of Governor Phil Bryant’s decision to sign House Bill 1523 (authored by Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton) – a bill that would allow Mississippi business and government workers to deny services to any citizen based on their religious beliefs – (essentially anyone they choose not to serve for any “religious” reason) – it might be wise to reexamine what it means to be “The Hospitality State.” Should hospitality …

The Force is always with Star Wars fans

By LaReeca Rucker In 1983, I saw my first Star Wars film. “Return of the Jedi” was my introduction to the movie franchise, and I was hooked, because I wanted to look like and become Princess Leia. I wanted to ride speeder bikes through the thick, green forests of Endor; hang out in a village with adorable Ewoks, save Han Solo from the carbonite chamber, and command The Force as skillfully as a seasoned Jedi Knight. Throughout most of my childhood, I lived in a Star Wars fantasy world inhabited by me and my next door neighbor, who believed he was Luke Skywalker. Almost every day, we went on adventures to other planets in a galaxy far, far away. He often saved me from disgusting aliens like Jabba the Hut, and I was a beautiful princess who sometimes saved him – a feminist before I knew the word. We piloted space ships, killed alien creatures, and battled other evil forces with lightsabers, all underneath the big oak tree in my grandmother’s backyard. She often watched …

Mr. McCarty’s gift

It’s been a while since I wrote anything on my blog, but I thought the death of Mississippi icon Lee McCarty warranted commentary since I had the pleasure of spending time with him five years ago when I visited Merigold, Mississippi, to tour and write about McCartys Pottery. If you’ve never been, I would encourage you to put this road trip on your bucket list. I toured the pottery shop, watched pottery being made, ate at The Gallery restaurant and Crawdad’s. And some of the locals took me to the nearby Po’ Monkey Lounge, known by many as the last authentic juke joint in America. In meeting Mr. McCarty, I met an innovative and original artist who created a special place in the Mississippi Delta with his wife, Pup McCarty. As I listened to the story of how McCartys Pottery came to be, it was evident what great admiration Mr. Lee and his late wife had for each other and how their teamwork and partnership helped create a unique brand. Mr. Lee gave me a …

Scary movie suggestions for Halloween and beyond for thriller, horror fans

By LaReeca Rucker Halloween is over, but if you’re a fan of the thriller genre like I am, any day of the year is a good day for a cinematic thrill or scare. Each year, I usually compile a list of the best thrillers I’ve seen over the previous year. Here’s a list of some of the movies I’ve watched over the last couple of years that you might enjoy. The Hidden Face (2011) – One of the best thrillers I’ve seen in years, this Spanish film employs Edgar Allan Poe’s frightening device of live confinement. It’s also a cautionary tale about jealousy. In this film, an orchestra conductor deals with the mysterious disappearance of his girlfriend, but has she really disappeared? I’m Not Scared (2003) – This film is my top pick. Forget the fact that it fits into the thriller/horror genre. This is one of the best movies of the decade. I’d even define it as a masterpiece that explores morality and human nature. In this Spanish film, a young boy accidentally discovers …

Jeepers celebrates a year

Some people are BMW and Mercedes people. Others prefer big trucks with big wheels. I’m a Jeep girl. I bought my first Jeep Cherokee Sport in 2002 and drove it until it died a little over a year ago. Then, I had to decide what kind of vehicle to buy. I wasn’t happy about having a car payment, but I really love the white Jeep Patriot that I got. I’ve named him Jeepers. Here’s a look. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. </

Longwood mansion in Natchez

Here I am on the front lawn of Longwood mansion, an antebellum home in Natchez that was never completed by its owners. Exterior shots of the home were also used as the Vampire King of Mississippi’s home on True Blood. I didn’t see any vampires while I was there, but it was an interesting place to visit. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save