Fun Friday Facts: My 5 Favourite…

This “5 on Friday” post is about my five favourite British comedies, inspired in part by the “Whovian” post I did a few weeks ago. They are listed in reverse, from fifth to first…so, let’s get to it!

5. Red Dwarf. This sci-fi-based comedy was accidentally introduced to me by my two older brothers during a Friday Dungeons & Dragons game-night. We had the TV on when there was a break in the action and were dealing with the minutiae of experience points, levels, and divvying up of treasures. One outburst of “Oi, you smeg-head, get me a smeggin’ curry!” from the television speakers made me whip my head around to see what the hell was going on, and I was promptly hooked! That show was hilarious, and I wish it would get the re-airings that it deserves. It just might, now that I think of it!

4. One Foot in the Grave. This sitcom was about an elderly gent who was forced into retirement. Curmudgeonly Victor Meldrew drives his wife, Margaret, to distraction as he wanders about the house and tries to stay busy while she goes to work and keeps up the bills. He’s a decent enough sort, but never seems to get on well with others – try as he might! An Aussie friend of mine introduced me to this show about 15 years ago and I’m quite glad that he did. I have the whole series on DVD so I can watch it at my leisure, and enjoy it just as much now as I did when I first watched it. It’s funny, poignant, and deliciously dry – in short, it’sgreat!

3. Absolutely Fabulous (AbFab). Most people here in the States only know of the show because of the movie which came out last year, but I first saw AbFab on Comedy Central just before Y2K. Blame my Aussie buddy for turning me on to this hilarious sitcom about two boozing, drugging, party-hearty broads who hate the idea of getting old! Patsy and Edina act as if they’re high-schoolers getting up to all sorts of antics, driving Edina’s straight-laced daughter, Saffron, mad with their shenanigans. That series will be the next one purchased on DVD, as soon as I’m able!

2. Blackadder. I had been a fan of Mr. Bean, but knew nothing of the conniving and cunning Edmund Blackadder until a co-worker at one of the radio stations I worked at introduced me to that series. He lent me the first two seasons to take home and watch – they were still on VHS at the time – and I howled with laughter! That show was only aired on PBS during their annual fund-raisers, so didn’t get to watch it as much as I wanted to back then, so I bought the entire series on DVD to view whenever I wish!

Finally, the number one spot on my list goes to The League of Gentlemen. This show shouldn’t be confused with the movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, as they are completely different animals! It aired on Comedy Central not long after AbFab was taken off; again, my Aussie buddy encouraged me to give it a chance, and I’m glad that he did! The little town of Royston Vasey has a unique population, to say the least. The only answer to the question “Are you local?” is “Yes!” This show was warped,dark, demented, and insanely hilarious – emphasis on “insanely,” LMAO! Of course, I simply had to get the series on DVD, and I even recorded one of my favourite lines from it on my phone so that people hear it if they call me and get my voice mail. One of my sisters had called the other day, and all I could hear was hysterical laughter on the voice message! She wasn’t expecting to hear what she heard, and it definitely took her off guard. My sense of humour isn’t compatible with most others, for sure!

This post wouldn’t be complete without at least one clip from each of these shows. A bit of laughter is perfect for this fun Friday, and the best way to start the weekend off with a smile. Enjoy!

Transition of Tata Madiba

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela: 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013

I heard the sad, but expected, news late last night…Tata Madiba, known worldwide as Nelson Mandela, has shed his mortal cloak and gone to the ages. He passed away at his home in Johannesburg, South Africa, shortly before 19:00 GMT (21:00 local time). More from the BBC:

“South Africans have gathered in Johannesburg and Soweto to mourn their former leader, Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday aged 95.

Mr Mandela had been receiving treatment at home for a recurring lung illness since September, when he was discharged from hospital.

As soon as the news of his death broke late on Thursday, small crowds began to gather in Soweto’s Vilakazi Street, where Mr Mandela lived in the 1940s and 1950s.

Crowds also gathered outside Mr Mandela’s current home, in Johannesburg’s northern suburb of Houghton, where he died. A stage has been erected there and speeches are being given and hymns sung.

President Zuma visited the house in the early afternoon to pay his respects.

Across the world, leaders, celebrities and members of the public have been paying tribute.”

Al-Jazeera had an interesting piece about him – here’s an excerpt:

“Nelson Mandela will be celebrated primarily for the dignity with which he emerged onto the world stage after decades in prison and for the forgiveness that he displayed toward his former enemies in forging a democratic, multi-racial South Africa from the poisoned legacy of apartheid.

As a global statesman of grace and humility, he was long courted by Western leaders drawn by his irresistible story of triumph over tyranny. Yet Mandela, who died on Dec. 5 at age 95, was also a more radical and politically complex figure than has been commonly acknowledged by his admirers in the West.

As a young man he had close ties to the South African Communist Party and plotted an armed uprising inspired by Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution in Cuba.

For many who followed his life closely, that commitment to socialist values and instinctive solidarity with those he saw as fellow strugglers against oppression, colonialism and imperialism continued to burn strongly even in the years after his release from prison and the end of apartheid.

“He came out of prison a senior statesman in waiting. He went into prison as a militant revolutionary leader,” Peter Hain, a veteran anti-apartheid campaigner and friend of Mandela’s, said.

“He was seen as a burly freedom fighter, learning how to shoot in Ethiopia and traveling to revolutionary Algeria and other countries while he was underground. We must never forget he was a freedom fighter.”

A great fighter, indeed. His spirit was never broken during his unjustified 27-year imprisonment; he maintained the drive, dedication, and determination necessary to emerge from that cell to become one of the greatest leaders of all time. More from the Huffington Post:

“The thing about Nelson Mandela was that he made the rest of us want to be almost as noble as he.

Imprisoned for 27 years, the anti-apartheid leader who had declared at his 1964 trial that he was willing to die for his beliefs in human dignity and racial equality emerged from that experience not filled with hatred, but courtly, magnanimous, humble and good-humored.

His very demeanor served as the rebuttal to all those who peddled fear and foretold disaster and bloodshed should black South Africans get the vote and take power in Pretoria.

It is easy to forget what a seething cauldron South Africa had become by the early 1990s as part of its white minority struggled to hang on to the three centuries of privilege made possible by apartheid. I remember it vividly while covering the country’s democratic transition as AP’s southern Africa bureau chief in Johannesburg in the mid-1990s.

Khaki-clad farmers with pistols at their side were setting off bombs and pledging never to submit to majority rule. The townships with their shantytown poverty were ablaze with guns and violence as ANC activists and backers of the government-encouraged and Zulu-dominated Inkatha Freedom Party fought with terrifying ferocity. In Guguletu, outside Cape Town, a young American Fulbright scholar Amy Biehl was chased down and killed by a mob of youths shouting racial taunts of “Kill the farmer.” An anti-apartheid Communist leader, Chris Hani, was gunned down and killed by a right-wing Polish immigrant.

The nation felt like a tinderbox, a stage set for a bloodbath.

But what Mandela ushered into history instead was his profound regard for the rights of all South Africans to claim a share of the national patrimony. It was a point he boldly made on almost every public occasion, whether to householders in the white and affluent Johannesburg suburb of Houghton or on a stage thrown up at a dilapidated football stadium crammed to the rafters with township dwellers clamoring for economic justice.

Through tedious and patient negotiations over several years after his release from prison, the framework was set for the country’s first all-race elections in April 1994, even though almost until the last minute it was not clear that all the conflicting parties would participate. When the day finally dawned cold and clear, South Africans saw themselves as the rainbow nation they really were. More than 22 million people voted, their lines snaking over the verdant green hills, and it was evident to the majority that they were now, at last, full citizens in the land of their birth.”

I was still in my “teens-ages” when I watched his ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ on the news. Such a powerful presence! I was amazed at the fact that he’d been in prison longer than I’d been alive; my fiancée hadn’t even been born at that time. To emerge with such dignity, grace, and good humour was a fantastic testament to this great, legendary gentleman.

Rest easy, Madiba. Your legacy will last through eternity.

So Much Ugliness…

You just have to wonder what the fuck is going on in the world these days. I stay informed because keeping one’s head in the sand isn’t a solution for anything, so I check out what goes on in the USA and around the world – and sometimes I regret doing so. Here’s what happened in the past week:

On Friday, 20 September, 13 people were injured in a shooting at a park in Chicago, Illinois. A 3-year-old boy was the youngest victim, who was shot in the cheek but expected to survive. From the BBC:

Rev Corey Brooks shows three-year-old Deonta Howard recovering from a gunshot wound at Mt Sinai Hospital in Chicago 23 September 2013

“A three-year-old boy and several others were in a critical condition after the attack in a park on the city’s south side.

Witnesses said one or two gunmen opened fire. Police told local media the boy was the most seriously hurt.

Chicago saw more murders last year than New York City, which has a population three times bigger.

Julian Harris told the Chicago Sun-Times that his three-year-old nephew was wounded in the cheek after gang members opened fire at him and others.

“They hit the light pole next to me but I ducked down and ran into the house,” Mr. Harris said. “They’ve been coming round here looking for people to shoot every night.”

The dozen or so injured in the shooting at Cornell Square Park ranged in age from 15 to 41.

An unnamed neighbour told the Chicago Tribune: “Man, it was a lot of shots. Man, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. A little boy got hit in the face.”

On Friday, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told the Associated Press news agency an assault-style weapon with a high-capacity magazine was used in the shooting.

Supt. McCarthy said several victims are believed to be gang members and that investigators suspect the attack to be gang-related.

Firefighters used hoses to wash blood off the basketball court once police had finished examining the crime scene.

Chicago police officer Amina Greer said 10 ambulances were needed to transport victims to nearby hospitals following the shooting at 22:00 local time (03:00 GMT) on Thursday.

At least two other minors, ages 15 and 17, were among the victims, according to media reports.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement: “Senseless and brazen acts of violence have no place in Chicago and betray all that we stand for.

“The perpetrators of this crime will be brought to justice and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

At the time of this post, four young men have been charged with the crime.

Prabhjot Singh, a Sikh professor at Columbia University and prominent advocate, was attacked and beaten by a group of youths in New York City, who yelled anti-Muslim slurs and they kicked him in the body and face on Monday, 23 September. More from Al-Jazeera:

“NEW YORK — A Columbia University professor was attacked by a group of 15 to 20 young men on bicycles Saturday in Harlem in an alleged hate crime against Sikhs.

Police said one of the men pulled Prabhjot Singh’s beard while the teenagers yelled “get Osama” and “terrorist.” Singh, who wears a turban and is a public advocate for interfaith dialogue, was kicked several times to the body and face.

“There were about 20 of them,” Singh said. “A few surrounded me, started punching me and pulling my beard.” He was hospitalized for his injuries and received surgery for a possible fracture in his left jaw, according to a statement.

Amardeep Singh, program director of the Sikh Coalition, a national advocacy organization founded after 9/11, said the incident is a part of systematic discrimination against Sikhs in the United States.

“What happened did not happen in a vacuum,” he said. “Here in New York City, we regularly receive reports that Sikh school children are called ‘bin Laden’ or ‘terrorist’ by classmates and sometimes endure physical violence.”

Sikhs have suffered from a spate of attacks in recent years based on prejudices against their religion. A recent Stanford University survey showed that 70 percent of turban wearers in the U.S. are misidentified as Muslim (48 percent), Hindu, Buddhist or Shinto.

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded in the Punjab region of India in the late 15th century and has no ties to Islam.”

It’s just so senseless and sickening. Things like this make my blood boil, especially when there are unthinking asshats who dismiss, diminish, and justify things like this whilst screaming about some “anti-white racism” bogeyman they’ve created in their tiny minds.

A soldier moves to take up a position outside an upscale shopping mall, seen background, in Nairobi, Kenya Saturday 21 September 2013.

In Nairobi, Kenya, the Westgate Shopping Mall was stormed by al-Shabab militants who used grenades and guns to lay siege to the building, killing 68 people and injuring dozens more. This happened on Saturday, 21 September, but it took a few days for local forces to end the siege. The BBC and Al-Jazeera had a lot coverage of these incidents, more so than most other national sites I looked at. Sadly, renowned Ghanaian poet and statesman Kofi Awoonor was one of the victims of that attack:

“John Dramani Mahama on Sunday said in a statement: “I am shocked to hear the death of Professor Kofi Awoonor in the Nairobi mall terrorist attack. Such a sad twist of fate.”

Awoonor, 78, was killed and his son wounded at the Westgate mall, Ghana’s Deputy Information Minister Felix Kwakye Ofosu said. He added that Awoonor’s son has been discharged from the hospital.

Awoonor was scheduled to appear at the Storymoja Hay literary festival in Nairobi on Saturday.

Kwame Dawes, a cousin of Awoonor as well as a poet who was in Nairobi at the time of the attack, said Awoonor and his son were separated when the shooting started.

“I think the son went to pick up something at the mall. Professor Awoonor was in the parking garage waiting for him,” Dawes told the AFP news agency. 

“The son was shot while he was inside the mall. We don’t know at what point the professor was shot.”

Religious extremism is certainly nothing new, and it’s interesting to note that the social constructs meant to divide all people, whether they are politics, religion, ‘race’ and/or ‘class’ – they are the ones which people question the least and believe the most. As long as these constructs go unquestioned and unchallenged, things like this will become more and more commonplace everywhere. You’d think that we all would want better for ourselves! Aren’t we tired of occurrences like this? Life is so precious…why it’s meaningless to some people, I’ll never know.

Last but not least, I read about the 1813 racist text messages between two teachers in Pennsylvania on the Field Negro blog the other day. Those disgusting texts are shocking, to say the least…sadly, I can’t say that I’m surprised by them. Anyone who believes that people who are teachers, doctors, attorneys, first responders, or any other so-called ‘public employee’ can’t possibly be racist is a deluded fool. I’ve experienced racism at the hands of people in those professions at one time or another during my life, so this latest incident is nothing new. I wonder when others will stop pretending to be shocked at the racism that is prevalent in this country – I would guess that those who are surprised aren’t old enough to know better…it’s really nothing new under the sun.

R.I.P., Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas: 4 August 1920 – 20 July 2013

Long-time White House reporter and journalist, Helen Thomas, passed away today following a long illness. She was 92 years old. She interviewed a number of U.S. presidents, including John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, George W. Bush, and Barack H. Obama. The BBC reports:

“Helen Thomas, a trailblazing journalist who covered the White House for nearly five decades, has died aged 92.

She died at her Washington apartment after a long illness, the Gridiron Club, Washington’s historic press organisation, said.

Ms Thomas covered the administrations of 10 presidents and was known for asking difficult questions.

She was a fixture at White House news conferences and considered a pioneer for women in journalism.

Veteran NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell tweeted that Helen Thomas “made it possible for all of us who followed”.

Questioning was ‘torture’

Born to Lebanese immigrants in Kentucky in 1920, Helen Thomas found her calling while working for her student newspaper at school.

She started out as a copy girl for a small Washington newspaper before moving to the United Press (UPI) wire service with whom she covered the presidential campaign of John F Kennedy.

Following Kennedy’s election, the huge demand for stories about First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy helped Ms Thomas secure her place within the White House press corps.”

It’s interesting to note that her career “ended under a cloud” after her comments about Israeli Jews and Palestine. Lush Dimbulb and Lard-arse Deen get book deals and shitloads of money for insulting Black people, but Helen Thomas is disgraced for her honest opinion about a country that is near her parents’ homeland…go figure! More from Al-Jazeera:

“In her long career, she was indelibly associated with the ritual ending White House news conferences.

She was often the one to deliver the closing line: “Thank you, Mister. President” – four polite words that belied a fierce competitive streak.

Her disdain for White House secrecy and dodging spanned five decades, back to President John F Kennedy.

Her freedom to voice her peppery opinions as a speaker and a Hearst columnist came late in her career.

The Bush administration marginalised her, clearly peeved with a journalist who had challenged President George W Bush to his face on the Iraq war and declared him the worst president in history.

In 2009 she asked President Barack Obama, “When are you going to get out of Afghanistan? Why are we continuing to kill and die there? What is the real excuse and don’t give us this Bushism ‘If we don’t go there, they’ll all come here.'”

Pioneer journalist

Thomas was assigned to the White House in 1961 by UPI in part because of the great interest in first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, as well as the new young president.

She would go on to become the dean of the White House media corps and her front-row centre chair in the briefing room eventually had a plaque with her name, the only seat so designated.

Thomas grew up in Detroit, the daughter of Lebanese immigrants.

Middle Eastern affairs were a strong interest and impromptu comments about Israel and the Palestinians in May 2010 were her undoing.

Asked by an interviewer from the website rabbilive.com if she had any comments about Israel, Thomas responded, “Get the hell out of Palestine”.

She said “Remember, [the Palestinian] people are occupied, and it’s their land.”

To me, she represents what real journalism and reporting used to be. You find none of that straightforward honesty anymore – so-called ‘reporters’ and ‘journalists’ are nothing more than plastic talking-heads regurgitating self-made headlines…that fiasco with the San Francisco TV station getting trolled and pwned into reporting racist, fake names of the Asiana pilots says it all!

I wanted to be a reporter when I was younger; this is why I went into the radio industry during high school, but it became rapidly apparent that honesty and truth weren’t valued qualities for a reporter. True journalism died the day the 24-hour ‘news cycle’ came into vogue, and all we see today is the animated, rotting corpse of something that used to be grand.

Rest in peace, Helen – you were the last, true, published journalist. Those of us who still exist will never be allowed to attain your legendary level…sad, no?

Bombs In Boston…

As I type this, the “breaking news” is splashing across the television screen…two bombs have exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Footage shows athletes running and then you see smoke billowing from the left side of the screen and some of the runners collapse. From the camera’s perspective, you see the smoke from the second explosion a little ways down the street from the first, on the same side of the street. Two people were confirmed dead at that time, and bits and pieces of the reports of the blasts were beginning to scroll across the bottom of the screen. Some mentioned a fire at the JFK Library, which is located a few miles away from where the bombs were detonated. A witness said that he “saw a garbage can explode.” Also, some reports were stating that officials weren’t certain if these were “acts of domestic or foreign terrorism.” To me, it has all of the earmarks of a domestic attack – the supremacist fuck in Spokane, Washington, was going to set off a bomb at a parade honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. a couple of years ago – this attack is too similar to the other which, fortunately, was caught in time. The sick bastard had loaded a backpack with ball-bearings and other metallic objects in order to do a lot of damage to innocent people, just like what happened today. Crazy, crazy shit…so much seems to be going on when it comes to these mindless, violent acts which are occurring on a daily basis as of late.

Some dude shot himself at an NRA-sponsored NASCAR racing event – how fitting! I just SMDH at that…it’s fucking karma from my viewpoint.

A number of white children have killed – or been killed – by senseless, preventable incidents involving morons with guns, but nobody is screeching about “white-on-white” violence and holding all whites responsible for every mass shooting, meth-lab explosion, DUII incident, or act of paedophilia or bestiality…again, it all boils down to karma. Shit like this happens all the time, and it has been happening in this country (and many others) for centuries – blaming non-white people for those acts is ridiculous, especially in those countries which are exclusively white – yes, they exist, and they aren’t violence-free utopias! People seriously need to get over themselves. Man is a violent beast and we do vicious things to each other, then pathetically attempt to justify those sick, reprehensible acts. We aren’t civil, yet pretend to be so! Ye gawds…

Now it seems that “a man of Arabian descent,” who was seen “running from the scene of the bombing with burns,” is being questioned in hospital. Interesting, but not surprising, that he was targeted for questioning. It’s exactly what happens to Black people when we go to any store with white proprietors: we are stalked, harassed, and questioned as if we’re born criminals, while whites with sticky fingers walk free. Shades of Oklahoma City, no? Disgusting racial profiling…Timothy McVeigh wasn’t automatically questioned outright! It will be interesting to see who claims responsibility for this, if anyone. * SIGH *

I’m waiting for the reports to be shown on the international news-sites that I read – the local and national ‘rags’ are just too predictable, anymore…

One final interesting note; today is a state holiday in Massachusetts: it is Patriots Day, celebrating and commemorating the first battles of the AmeriKKKan Revolution in 1775. I smell Teabaggers and the stench of so-called ‘patriotism,’ combined with the thinly-veiled racism of those who foment sedition and secession via sub rosa rhetoric and propaganda.

Let’s see what develops…

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