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  • “BP & CrossFit” - article for This! Magazine

    “BP & CrossFit”

    (This! - November/December issue)

    The health benefits of pizza: the crust provides insulation for the cold winter months; tomato sauce contains lycopene, your prostate's best friend; cheese aka dairy makes for good, strong bones. Bonus points if your pie contains pepperoni, thus meeting your protein requirement. Because of this form of thinking, it's imperative I spend a decent amount of time in the gym.

    Like most people, I would go workout only to find myself in a rut and not accomplishing my ultimate goal. The ultimate goal being looking good naked; call me J-Lo because I'm real. Who really wants to develop and increase their strength, only to utilize it on moving day for a friend? Not me. That's why God created credit cards and professional movers. To achieve my ultimate goal, I decided to join Roanoke's first CrossFit gym, Brickhouse.

    Jay and Amanda Forrester, co-owners of Brickhouse, describe CrossFit training as “functional movements that are constantly varied at high intensity” or in layman's terms, “You gon' sweat.” Coming into CrossFit as a beginner can feel very intimidating, which is mainly provoked by misconceptions. Most people think you already have to be fit to do CrossFit or, for females, that you'll get bulkier. Amanda stated, “just come in; that mentality will only put you behind”. Jay proudly boasted, “the Brickhouse team is good at getting the average person fit”. That's where Amanda steps in and gets the ball rolling with a private foundations course that allows newcomers to get comfortable with the barbell. It's important to note that all workouts can be modified based on skill level. And believe me, I modify the crap out of them!

    Once you've become immersed in the CrossFit world, you'll start to hear the term cult. Paraphrasing Greg Glassman, CrossFit CEO, Amanda said, “cult has such a negative connotation, but if when you hear cult you mean community & passionate, then yeah!” Being on the inside, I can honestly say I've never seen any strange pagan rituals. Then again, I only attend class twice a week, an hour at a time. Come to think of it, I do see all the CrossFit folk drinking the same beverage called “FitAid.” I may need to do a follow-up piece, but I digress.

    I suppose you're now wondering, “how's Blair at CrossFit?” It might seem, to borrow a word from Trump, braggadocious to discuss my CrossFit abilities. As any humble man would do, I asked my coach Zach Bennett to tell me how great I am, for literary purposes of course. Zach blankly stared at me, clearly blown away by this honor and said, “you're very positive”. Man of few words, I like it.

    Get a jump on the food-filled holidays. Whether you share my same ultimate goal or if you prefer the health and fitness aspect, definitely check out my buddies at Brickhouse CrossFit, by visiting BrickhouseCrossFit.com

    PS – My goal is to contort my face, while working out, with the same intensity as my coach.

  • “BP & Spray Tanning” - article for This! Magazine

    “BP & Spray Tanning”

    (This! - September/October issue)

    Most people associate the summer season with Pina Coladas and beach vacations, but for me, it resurfaces my yearly concerns. The first of which is vision blindness. You see, when temperatures begin to raise, my khaki shorts allow my lily white legs to emerge from hibernation. The sight alone warrants moderate eye protection. However, if the sun hits my gams just right, the reflection alone is enough to burn your retina. The second concern, and arguably the most important, is the sun’s incessant attempts to make me the human equivalent to a lobster. So, instead of being bullied for yet another summer, I finally took matters into my own hands…

    Unfortunately, the time zones in Antarctica threw off my internal clock and I managed to return to our fair city during the height of summer. While most Roanokers bathed in the summer sun, the penetrating waves seemed to vibrate against my skin, as if indicating that the sun was laughing at my inability to travel with a calendar. I was on the verge of accepting defeat. Being a blue-eyed Brazilian seemed like a distant dream.

    Enter Barbara Neal Evans, owner of Blown Away Spray Tanning on Brambleton Avenue. Barbara first contacted me after reading and enjoying one of my previous articles. Immediately I loved her. It was then she invited me to stop by and consider getting a spray tan. How could I pass this up? It was finally my chance to be sun-kissed without getting sun-dissed. #WordPlay

    Barbara initially started her business simply because “it was fun and looked good” but through her journey, it became more about giving individuals a safer alternative to harmful UV rays. Skin protection is a passionate topic for Barbara. Within her salon, you’ll find displays of high quality sunscreens and various posts about sun safety. One alarming fact I discovered: Melanoma is the second most common type of cancer in teens and young adults and is the leading cause of death in women ages 25 to 30. Yikes!

    Barbara’s friendly and personable demeanor made it easy for me to strip down to my skivvies and get my spray on. Once we were underway, Barbara used the “premier sunless tanning product” Norvell. According to Barbara, each individual client of Blown Away receives a natural-looking tan because of the product’s ability to adapt to one’s skin tone.

    After a thorough “paint job”, I glanced at myself in the mirror. I looked like a Greek God, well… a Greek God with astigmatism, but I’ll take what I can get. As you can see in the picture, my tan was no joke. It looks like I’m wearing thigh-high boots… And yes, I was indeed the top leg color. Thank goodness I don’t have an addictive personality because I could get use to this (Sipping my 7th glass of pink Franzia).

    Barbara and the rest of the staff are fantastic. Check them out at BlownAwaySprayTans.com

    PS – I haven’t brushed my teeth for a week and they STILL look white, bonus!

  • “BP & Drinks with Waynette” - article for This! Magazine

    “BP & Drinks with Waynette”

    (This! - July/August issue)

    Nothing feels more cosmopolitan than taking a “vino-laced” lunch in downtown Roanoke with the President… (Sipping a glass of cab sav) of Dr Pepper Park at the Bridges, Waynette Anderson.

    My drink break following President seemed a little misleading, mainly because Obama has me blocked on Twitter. I’m sorry, I like posting photos of every meal I consume. But I digress; let me try that introduction again…

    I’m a pepper. You’re a pepper. She’s a pepper. Waynette Anderson is the “pepper” behind Dr Pepper Park at the Bridges. Nailed it!

    As a hard-hitting journalist, it is my duty to ask the hard questions. Channeling my inner Barbara Walters, I asked, “Where are all the rides at Dr Pepper Park”? Side note to other journalists; definitely have about 11 sips of wine to achieve Ms. Walters’ speech pattern. Waynette graciously patted me on the head and simply said, “You’re an idiot”. Come to find out, Dr Pepper Park at the Bridges is a community venue and NOT an amusement park.

    Dr Pepper Park is a private venture, funded only by sponsorship, and is another exciting example of how our community is growing. It’s a place where all are welcome: kids, pets, bikes, trolls, etc. Plus, the park has a variety of participating vendors to highlight your experience including, but not limited to, beer! Waynette strives to provide an outlet for underserved niches of musical genres, as evident by the park’s current line-up. I have my fingers crossed for Davey and the Polka Barn Maidens. Waynette’s enthusiasm over the park’s schedule was so infectious, that I downloaded the Dr Pepper Park app, which conveniently allows you to buy tickets to any and/or all of their events.

    As lunch progressed, it was clear who had a better tolerance for wine. As Waynette proceeded to order a second glass, I struggled to take notes, which coincidently are a struggle to decipher now. Case in point, I wrote, “How often do cicadas come around”? Maybe that was a quote? Nonetheless, it’s a very good question; perhaps the topic for my next article? Another note that’s a head-scratcher, “local to organ prox”… Maybe alcohol and journalism don’t go hand and hand as I initially thought.

    As lunch wound down, Waynette called me an Uber and I thanked her by saying “you have a pretty lady face, lady”. As I fell into the backseat, my face managed to purchase tickets to multiple events at Dr Pepper Park and break my screen. Needless to say, I have a jammed packed schedule ahead of me.

    Want to join me at Dr Pepper Park but don’t know how to get there? It’s okay. I’m directionally challenged as well. Dr Pepper Park is located just across the street from the Virginia Tech/Carilion School of Medicine on South Jefferson Street. You can find the park by walking or driving into South 16 apartment complex, next to Starbucks, and follow the road to the rail crossing. The stage is next to the Walnut Avenue Bridge. Did that help? Did I lose you? Then maybe it’s best you visit: DrPepperPark.com

  • "BP & the Conspiracy of Ami Trowell" - my This! magazine article

    “BP & the Conspiracy of Ami Trowell”

    (This! - May/June issue)

    Who is Ami Trowell? Well, for one thing, she’s a woman who can’t spell her own name correctly. I’m pretty sure it’s “Amy”, and Microsoft Word agrees. But, being a good friend, I’m putting my faith in Ami’s hands because I bruise like a peach.

    Ami Trowell is the Creative Director and fellow cast member of the professional improv troupe Big Lick Conspiracy. She joined in 2008 after stumbling upon an improvisation workshop. The chemistry was instantaneous and, founding member, Robb Rouse brought her aboard. Six years later, most of the troupe at that time decided to pursue other projects. Ami assumed leadership and successfully
    assembled the next generation of “conspirators”.

    Regularly performing to sell out shows, its clear Ami has a knack for improvisational comedy. Ami honed her techniques at Dad’s Garage in Atlanta and at The Second City. Her stage presence is reminiscent of comedic greats like Carol Burnett and/or Lucille Ball. Having the good fortune to work and play with Ami, I can confidently say everyone likes her more. No joke! I’m 93% sure she’s the reason my ex hung around me as long as he did.

    When asked what makes a good improviser, Ami said, “Some people have a tendency to over-manage a scene. The best thing you can do is let go.” And then she rambled on about being a good listener or something for what felt like forever. Once I re-engaged in the conversation, I shifted focus to the audience. Audience participation is a crucial factor in Big Lick Conspiracy shows. The best suggestions are honest and real. “Yes, boobies’ is a funny word, but we like a challenge,” Ami said proudly. It should be noted that my 7-year-old mentality is still chuckling over “boobies”.

    One rule Ami is hell-bent on, no alcoholic consumption before a show. As a current member of the Big Lick Conspiracy, this is how that rule comes across to me: bold and underlined. It is my feeling that sometimes you need to take the edge off. However, Ami disagrees. Again, my inner 7-year-old chimes in with a 15-minute long, “why”? Ami just stares me dead in the eye and utters, “There was an incident”. She is always referencing this undisclosed “incident”. Knowing Ami as well as I do, my theory is that uninvited nudity was involved.

    Ami is currently hard at work canvassing the Roanoke Valley. She’s made over a thousand flyers promoting Big Lick Conspiracy’s upcoming shows because she forgot her Facebook password. Technology is not her strongest skill.

    Check out Ami and the rest of the Big Lick Conspiracy at Corned Beef and Company, downtown Roanoke.

    • Saturday, May 21st
    • Saturday, June 25th
    • Saturday, September 10th
    • Saturday, October 8th

    Tickets are $10 in advance or, if you feel like living on the edge, its $12 at the door. Shows start at 7, but doors open at 6 and are typically 2 hours in length with a 15-minute intermission. For more information, visit www.BigLickConspiracy.com

  • "BP & His Musical Passion" - my This! magazine article

    “BP & His Musical Passion”

    (This! March/April issue)

    Wanna read a secret? I’m assuming your lack of response is a heartfelt “yes”. I, Blair Peyton, would like to be a singer. And quite honestly, I think I can attain this dream. If my steering wheel could voice an opinion, I’m sure it’d be overwhelmingly positive. The first question I usually get from people after sharing said desire is, “have you had any vocal training”. Guffaw! I don’t need training…

    NOTE: I do not understand the meaning of the word secret, for I can’t keep anything to myself.

    When one frequents karaoke bars as much as I do, the audience feedback is pretty evident. Compliments like “wow” or “that was different” speak volumes. I’ve been blessed with a voice that could rival the likes of Lou Bega or Bruce Willis. I’m ready for the next level.

    I did a Google search for nearby concert venues and the first result was the Harvester Performance Center. According to the Harvester’s website, the main room seats up to 475 people and in smaller configurations when deemed appropriate. With a stand-up show configuration, the main room can hold up to 700 people.  The lower level, known as The Landing Pad, has another music room with seating for up to 200 or standing space for 350 people, depending on the style of show.

    Upon further investigation, I learned that this Rocky Mount site has hosted many big name acts from various genres. To say that I performed on a stage that was once occupied by artists like the Indigo Girls, Phil Vassar and Three Dog Night would make this man weep like a tiny girl.

    I chatted with Matt Hankins, the Harvester’s Chief Executive. My first question was obvious, “what does that mean?” and by that, I meant his title. He chuckled and said, “I basically oversee the business”. Not to editorialize, but I think it’d be more professional to go by “The Oversee-er”. Before I brazenly asked to perform at this new-ish location, I thought it best to engage him in talk about the Harvester.

    When asked about the venue’s name, he revealed that it’s derived from the building’s history as a dealership in the 1940’s for International Harvester tractor trailers. To which I recanted the time I drunkenly fell off a tractor trailer at my grandma’s 92nd birthday. I could tell he was in awe of me, for he fell silent for 2 minutes and 47 seconds. Then he uttered, “wow, that was different”.

    Matt began eagerly discussing the Harvester’s main passion, which is to be a musical destination and cultural center for Virginia. Not only have they had regional audience members but folks from 31 states and 8 foreign countries, including Costa Rica and the United Kingdom. The enthusiasm in his voice was so infectious that I knew that this was the time to ask for a spot in the Harvester’s line-up.

    With the fervor of a Tyler Perry character, I proclaimed, “I’m a singer and I wanna perform at the Harvester”. Matt graciously received this information and went on to tell of the several local and regional acts that have taken the Harvester stage. I knew I had a spot. My confidence increasingly grew as he gave me a definitive, “we’ll be in touch”.

    While I anxiously await his call, I’ll definitely be checking out the competition. Browse their upcoming schedule: www.harvester-music.com

  • "BP & Mike Wilson" #ThisRoanoke

    “BP & Mike Wilson”

    (This! January/February issue)

    When it comes to dating, my success rate is pretty bleak. My Saturday nights usually consist of a mildly entertaining movie on Netflix, the cheapest wine that's not in a box and raw cookie dough. As much as I enjoy the inevitable stomach ache that follows, I'd much rather share my poor choices with, well, someone special. What am I doing wrong? I have a stellar personality and I am the spitting image of Brad Pitt... in the dark. Then it dawned on me: my pics on the dating app Tinder are terribly bland. As I glanced through them, my eyes became very heavy and profuse yawning occurred. So I put down the cookie dough and took matters into my own hands.

    I Facebook stalked Mike Wilson of Bohemian Robot Photography and pleaded for his assistance. He must have been privy to my lame photos because he eagerly agreed. But before I dove head first, I thought I should be a responsible consumer and do my research.

    Before Mike made photography his full-time passion, he spent an extensive amount of time in front of the camera. He lived in the Big Apple for a number of years as a print model; most notably in Southern Living magazine for the Tennessee Board of Tourism. From there he went on to be a producer at MSNBC, after which landing several hosting jobs in Texas & Virginia. After his most recent turn as co-host of Daytime Blue Ridge on WSLS ended, Mike made his love of photography his main priority. Though several TV offers arose out of state, his love of Roanoke made him push aside his quote “ego for being on-camera” and pick up his trusty Canon.

    Feeling I was in safe heads, Mike and I began discussing the popular pictorial trends on Tinder. He suggested an “online dating mullet”, meaning have a professional headshot followed by fun, candid photos. One example of a candid photo might be of me standing in front of a Ford F-150, in casual camo, holding a freshly-caught fish… or some variation. Sidebar, why is this a “go-to” look on Tinder? Mike feels it makes a statement and that statement is “you shall never go hungry”. But my thought is if fish is the only thing on the menu, then we have a real problem!

    Another growing epidemic in our culture is the use of a certain unnamed app that allows you to blur away imperfections on your face, thus making people look like a blur-ball with eyes. When I asked Mike to weigh in on this, he profoundly uttered “false advertising often results in a high rate of returns”. Chills, am I right? Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Photoshop especially after wine & cookie dough night (see paragraph 1). However, Mike prefers to limit his Photoshop to mainly correcting minor flaws or color-correcting. Agree to disagree. I much rather prefer to have my Photoshop take me from Zach Galifianakis to Zac Efron.

    Once I stepped in front of the lens, I swelled with confidence mainly because I knew I had chosen wisely. Not to editorialize but Mike is a true professional. He really does know what he’s doing… and I’m not saying that because he’s pressing a revolver into the upper half of my back. The proof is in the pudding… and I got myself a date! He’s blind though, but that’s neither here nor there.

    Check out Mike’s vast portfolio at www.BohemianRobot.com

  • Candace Cameron-Bure is my brain...

    My longest, most stable relationship has been with myself. Unfortunately, it’s not as successful as one might think. I would describe it as a Lifetime Original Movie, starring Candace Cameron-Bure as a well-meaning ingénue who becomes involved with an evil ne’er-do-well played by Peter Gallagher and his eyebrows. The core subject is mental abuse and the title would be “Mind If I Make You Feel Bad?”. Okay, so the title isn’t great but neither is Lifetime movies.

    My main bone of contention is with 8 lbs of mostly negativity nesting in my skull. It needs to be said, my brain is such a bitch. It has such a vindictive knack for picking apart everything about sweet Candace Cameron-Bure. Divorce wasn’t an option for me, thanks Obama! I’d thought about having a lobotomy but getting insurance coverage was a bear. Counseling was a temporary band-aid but that sneaky f**k reared its ugly head after a couple of sessions. The only successful solution was taking anti-depressants, but now I’m starting to think I’m developing immunity.

    People have questioned whether Zoloft is really needed, especially since I’ve come out. The answer is “I don’t know” or “I’m scared to find out”. Yes, I’m comfortable in my gay skin and the honesty that comes with that. But being “true to me” doesn’t automatically eliminate my trunk full of issues. I’ve tried to go off anti-depressants before only to rediscover that crushing anvil and the thought of doing so again exhausts me. Someone once condescendingly said to me regarding depression, “It’s all in your head” to which I responded, “Yeah it is, you dumbass”. I genuinely would like to be Zoloft-free and not reliant on chemicals, but something more natural/safe. Maybe one day I’ll get there. But as Kimmy Schmidt would say, “take it 10 seconds at a time”.

    I’ve been taking other strides towards peace of mind, but drinking too much vodka can wreak havoc on one’s checking account. Fitness has been an important factor to achieving serenity, mainly because it gives me a focal point that shuts out all the other bullshit. I’ve been told eating right would be beneficial to my mental health, but damn it I love those Ghost Pepper Fries from Wendy’s. Eating healthy, not an option. I’ve recently discovered the benefits of acupuncture & essential oils. Who knew a couple micro-stabbings & lavender oil could be such mood elevators. Also beneficial, having good friends and Netflix!

    As of late, I’ve been going through one of those “bullshitty journeys” of self discovery regarding life, love and work. Shout-out to my friend Jason, who should definitely be a motivational coach. He’s helped me find a certain degree of peace & strength, which had been buried beneath my bitchy brain. Everyone should get a Jason. He takes my insurance!

    Realization alert! The negativity/insecurity is beneficial to my creativity. Damn, I can’t win for losing. It’s a catch-22.

    Final thought… Well what do know, I’m brain dead. But one thing’s for sure, I want pizza.

    BP

  • New year, new me... Again...

    They say before one jump’s into another relationship, it’s best to take time to “work on you”; essentially, date yourself. Who are they you might ask? My assumption is 20-something hipsters who are part-time BuzzFeed “journalists”.

    Date myself? Ugh, why? I’d like to think I could do better than myself; have you smelt my breath in the morning?!?! Not to be superficial but I’ve got such dark circles under my eyes that someone once asked “who won the fight”. My forehead is so big, IMAX has begun negotiations. Don’t get me started on my neediness and hypochondria.

    These incessant self-evaluations had me attending an ongoing pity party for the last 3-months. A party whose guest list included:

    • Mr. & Mrs. My-Career’s-In-The-Crapper
    • Willard J. Loneliness
    • Dr. & Mrs. You’re-Not Good-Enough

    In all honesty, I think body could do a lot better than my brain. As gay as it sounds, I have to start loving me for me. That’s why a much needed overhaul in my thought process is imperative.

    Every January 1st begins with resolutions that equate to a prosperous year filled with success and love, mostly fueled by an appropriate amount of alcohol and minimal drunk dialing. As 2015 began, I decided to make goals instead of resolutions. The first and most important was to pull myself out of the rubble and begin to reconstruct this mess I call my life. We’re just a couple of days in and I’ve made real strides; listening to a little less Taylor Swift and little more “Uptown Funk”.

    The second is to give a 110% towards my career goals (more on this topic later) and lastly, you guessed it, give me and myself a fighting chance. I know the idea of perfection in all aspects is absolutely ridiculous; getting my brain to listen is the hurdle. It’s just like my dad, deaf and a skoach racist.

    Here's to being a strong, black woman in 2015,

    B

  • It is better to have loved...

    They say it's better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.

    Are you kidding?!?!

    That's masochistic! Sure, love is wonderful. But when it goes away, it cuts like a knife. Everyday remsembles the first half of an anti-depressant commercial. The subtleties of everyday life begin to remind you of better days gone by. Who'd wanna occupy that hellish existence? My "educated" guess is that the person who devised that phrase more than likely had communist leanings.

    I'd much rather represent the second half of that Hallmark statement. The bliss that comes with naïveté sounds magical! It's like being a kid again and watching reruns of shows like "Three's Company" or "Married... With Children" and not getting any of the sexual-humor; just laughing because you're prompted by the studio audience. Instead of over-thinking every past moment, you'd sit in your little bubble eating your boogers. Now that sound like my kinda vacay from the land of adultery... I think I'm using that word correctly. I don't think my community college education would fail me on proper speaking good techniques.

    On the other hand, having a relationship with yourself sounds pretty grim as well. And if I ever wanna fullfill my dream of being a full-time hand model, my palms can't be covered in calluses.

    If John Q. Communist ever approached me and said, "Blay-or, pleath wewrite my 'better to have woved' phwase" (I envision him with a speech impediment); here's how I'd re-work it:

    "It is better to have loved... Coma!"

    That's right, love then you're in a coma. What can I say, I have a way with words.

    Blair

  • A letter to my 18-year-old self...

    Dear 18-year-old Blair,

    I’m writing you this letter because 1, for the most part, people still wrote letters in your day and 2, I want to prep you for your future. First thing’s first, let’s demolish the giant pink ceramic elephant in the room; you are gay! Everyone knows it; own it. Quit telling people, “you can’t find the right girl” or “no one’s interested in you”. There are interested parties but they are lacking the one component you gravitate to. I know it’s scary, but it’s okay. You’re blessed with a great support system that accepts who you are, a spastic nut-job who has an appreciation for dong.

    Because I know you better than you think I do, you’ll take up residence in the state of denial for quite sometime. Don’t waste your time. It’ll inhibit your creativity and partly lead to depression. Yep, prepare to be medicated. Don’t think you’re weird or “going crazy” because you’re taking antidepressants (I told you I know you well). Just consider your roots and then you’ll wonder why you weren’t medicated sooner.

    You’ll get an opportunity to fulfill your dream of moving to Hollywood, only to return with your tail between your legs a month later. Don’t let this defeat you. You weren’t ready. A therapist once told me it takes almost 30 years before the brain is fully formed. Not sure how accurate that is, but it gave me some comfort. Sidebar, only visit this particular therapist for a maximum of 3 sessions, after that you’ll basically be paying for an audience. She’ll give you no real advice, just simply tell you how “entertaining you are”. I know you’re a whore for an audience, but this situation will actually make you a whore.

    When you do come out, you’ll discover the joys of dating and by that I mean there is none, especially in Roanoke. There’s a “dating” app called Grindr (pronounced “grinder”)… Oh wait, you own a flip-phone. How can I describe this? Basically, it’s a website that shows you who’s nearby and ready to “date” AND it’s on your phone! Technology gets awesome; just trust me. Try to avoid this website as a primary source for coupling. It’s 75% sleazy. Although, you’ll meet someone thru this site that you’ll fall in love; but tell people you two met somewhere else.

    The relationship you develop with this guy you met “through friends” will be great. He’ll be your “ying” to your “yang”. Just know there’s an inevitable expiration date and it will come sooner than expected, at no fault of either party. You’ll be okay, but it’s going to hurt for a while.

    Drinking! You’ll take to this like a duck to water. But please have a DD! Otherwise you’ll be performing oral on your vehicle to get it started. Oh, and the cherry on top, your former co-workers will learn of your awesomeness thru “Crime Times”. If you take anything from this letter, let it be this… Don’t drink and drive!

    I know fitness was never really your thing but that’ll change. You’ll begin seeing a trainer who’s as dumb as a box of hair, but is worth continuing sessions with because of his hotness. He’ll tell you to eat six meals-a-day. Please ask for clarification on this! Otherwise, you’ll jump from 130 to 195 lbs in the matter of months. You’re not bulking up by eating 6 regular sized meals; you’re a fat ass.

    These are just a couple keys points I wanted to prep you for. If more comes to mind, I promise to give you a head’s up.

    Future Blair