Saturday, December 08, 2007
Early this Friday evening just passed, I was cooking dinner and flicking through the kitchen TV channels for some background noise. I landed on BBC2 just as Claudia Winkleman announced that Craig Revel Horwood was about to sing. Now for my American Friends, I need to explain that Craig is one of the judges on "Strictly Come Dancing" or as you know it, "Dancing With The Stars". I should further explain that Craig is the uber-bitch in residence, the one who is expected to spot the slightest flaw, exagerate it beyond belief and then use that to belittle and undermine the contestants with such vehemence, there is no wonder they wince in agony.
So imagine my delight at seeing the attached clip. At first, I thought it was a comedy moment, but then I realised Children in Need was last month! The facial gymnastics alone are enough to reduce even the most staid of us into mild hysteria. But the combination of that mixed with 'leaves much to be desired' vocal talent and an appalling arrangement reminds me that I need to thank you Craig. I have to thank you for making a complete tit of yourself on national TV and for taking one of my favourite Christmas songs and making it better.
I thought I'd died and gone to "piss my pants from too much laughing" heaven!
Thursday, December 06, 2007
A further five people were wounded - two critically - in the shooting at the Westroads Mall in Omaha.
Police have identified the gunman as Robert Hawkins, 19, from Bellevue, close to Omaha. They said a suicide note had been recovered.
The incident is the latest in a series of mass shootings in the US, which have reignited the debate in the US about gun ownership. The Supreme Court will consider Americans' right to bear arms early next year for the first time in nearly 70 years.
The gunman, Robert Hawkins, is said to have suffered from depression in the past, and recently lost his job at McDonald's and broke up with his girlfriend.
He was living with a friend's family in Bellevue, an Omaha suburb. His friend's mother, Debora Maruca Kovac, told the Associated Press news agency that when he first came to live with them, "he was introverted, a troubled young man who was like a lost pound puppy that nobody wanted".
She said he phoned her about 13:00 on Wednesday, telling her that he had left a note for her in his bedroom. She tried to get him to explain. "He said, 'It's too late'," and then hung up, she told CNN. In the note, she said, Hawkins had written that "he was sorry for everything, that he didn't want to be a burden to anybody, he loved his family, he loved all of his friends".She said the note went on to say he wanted to be famous.
There is no point in pointing fingers and laying blame, the tragedy has happened and I along with so many others can only offer sympathies and condolences to the families involved.
But once again, it does mean that actions need supporting. Next year, when the Supreme Court sits in review, don't sit on your laurels. Stand up and be counted.
But even now there are things you can do to hopefully prevent tragedies such as this happening in the future. You can support the work of people who are already out there trying to make a difference. People such as Little Ricky Productions
Monday, November 19, 2007
Its that time of year again.
On Thursday, 22nd November, our American cousins will sit at their tables with their families and loved ones to pay homage to the time honoured tradition of Thanksgiving.
So this year, I thought I'd like to remind you of a few things to give thanks for whilst you're gathered at your tables groaning with turkey (apologies if you're vegan/vegetarian/pescetarian), sweet potato mash and pumpkin pie.
So lets start with one that is close to the heart of all Americans;
» The weakest the Dollar has been against international markets in over 25 years.
» The collapse of the Prime Mortgage market, further weakening the dollar, but more importantly seeing families left broken, penniless and in many cases, homeless for the 2007 Holiday Season (hmm, I think that one may fall into the Crimes Against Humanity category)
And whilst we're talking of crimes against humanity, let remember;
» The invasion of Iraq. Or more notably, the 3,871 American Servicemen and woman and 171 UK Troops who at today's date have died fighting in an unnecessary war. The 6,346 Iraqi forces who have given their lives for their belief in their country, and finally and most importantly, the 38,651 innocent people who just happened to be in the way.
The list of atrocities is endless. I could go on and on, but I want to get to the point.
This year, whilst you're sat at your tables and saying grace, remember to be thankful that your imbecilic fuckwit of a President, the two immoral and nefarious villains namely Cheney & Rice that actually pull his strings, and the rest of his crooked administration have only 427 days left in office.
You guys do get sarcasm, right?
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Sorry I've been away for so long, but I've 'stuff' I'm dealing with and choosing to do it privately. However, a new Myspace friend had stopped by here recently and commented that maybe I should blog again. And at the risk of repeating myself, reading back over my selfish gripes has shown me two things. Firstly, I can write (and argue) convincingly well when I put my mind to it. But secondly and more importantly, with the exception of my last post "That Was The Week That Was" (see below), all of my posts, rather than achieving their goal of being cathartic, have achieved quite the opposite. They've inadvertently enabled me to adopt a characteristic I abhor most of all.
I've become intolerant. And is not only of others, but as a result of this recent realisation, its also of myself.
Intolerance is born out of fear. A lack of understanding, an unwillingness to learn. It is the seed of hatred. Hatred feeds the fear, and a catch 22 situation is born. We end up in a never ending cycle of prejudgments, assumptions and distrust. That intolerance is responsible for every hate crime ever committed, and I'm talking everything from gay bashing and race crimes to war.
Now I know that over time, as we grow and hopefully learn, we all discover a little and sometimes a large amount of information about things, places and people that we dislike. And as such we subsequently learn to avoid them at all costs. Nothing can be worse than being put in a situation we're so unhappy with that the preceding anxiety can be, and often is, debilitating. On the whole this is a good thing, its our instincts taking over, our in-built default safety settings ensuring our survival, whether it be physical or emotional. But when intolerance becomes the default position, then its time to challenge it. Especially if we recognise it in ourselves.
I used to pride myself on my level of tolerance, even boasted about it to some degree. My close friends saw it in me too. I have always been open to new experiences and new people. I have always given everyone the benefit of the doubt, and welcomed them respectfully into my circle until they have proved that they don't really belong there. I was the one who always preached that it is our differences that make us interesting. And I can always see at least two sides to every story or situation, even though sometimes I have been known to use that just to be controversial.
But all these skills, the loss of my usual "default position" was highlighted to me in a conversation last weekend with a very dear friend (Thank you Richard). Remember at the beginning I said I have stuff I'm dealing with privately? Well as a result of that stuff, he said I had a right to feel selfish. It was at that moment that the proverbial light bulb switched on in my head. That stuff is the one thing that should act as a constant reminder to me that what we see on the surface is not necessarily a true reflection of what's going on underneath.
Henceforth, I've become intolerant of my own intolerance. And for anyone reading this, I'd like you to do a quick spot-check of your own intolerances and see if any of them need challenging too. I think you may just surprise or even shock yourselves!
OK. I take back what I said at the beginning about not writing anymore self-deprecating crap, that was all very "Me! Me! Me!" wasn't it. And I recognise that maybe a leopard can't change its spots, but it can work hard to ensure its spots won't define it.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
From Richard Lear on Myspace
A friend wrote a statement about Virginia Tech and the right to bear arms, and it has brought me back to the reason I created my company, Little Ricky Productions. Our problems are much deeper than a simple right to bear arms.
I am a firm believer that the film industry is at least partly responsible for what has happened in society. The public is barraged with shoot-em-up films where no one pays a price. An arsenal of weapons appears out of thin air. A mass onslaught occurs and many people are killed. The good guy never dies or shows remorse for the people he/she has killed. The public is desensitised by the blood and gore that is plastered on every screen.
Sure, the majority will not go slaughter a bunch of people because a rapper tells them to kill their bitch or a film shows them how, but the few that will watch and listen to the same things.
I do not believe that violence should be removed from film. Our world is clearly a violent place. Rarely can you turn on the television without hearing of a murder, or some other tragedy like Virginia Tech. And when we look at the revenue generated from murder mystery novels alone this leads one to believe society is fascinated by it. I just feel the entertainment industry has gone too far. Alfred Hitchcock frightened the world to death with a knife, a shower curtain and a can of Hershey's syrup. When do we start using our creativity and utilize suspense instead of gore? When do we show the viewer the ramifications of these types of actions?
I believe it goes back to "what we are putting into the human animal." If you feed it full of gun fights with bitches and ho's, what can you expect? Pavlov's dog is not exclusive to the animal kingdom. We absorb our world and react accordingly.
When do we start acknowledging that killing is not acceptable? Only during periods of tragedy?
When do we show the devastation of the survivors?
When do we start respecting ourselves?
How many of the following do we need to want to make a change?
James Byrd Jr. – Dragged to his death behind a truck because he was African American.
Matthew Shepard – Tied to a fence, beaten and set on fire because he was gay.
Billy Jack Gathers – Murdered and then thrown onto a pyre of burning tires to dispose of his body because he was gay.
The 8 year old boy that shot his female classmate with a gun he found in a night stand.
Columbine High School Shooting
West Nickel Mines School Shooting
There are many more.
Shouldn't we be concerned? Shouldn't we start to feed the public a different outcome? Do you think that maybe we can make a difference in our world simply by changing how we display violence in film and television?
I hope so because that is what I plan to do.
Little Ricky Productions
I’m so pleased you wrote this and I commend you too for your devotion to such a worthy cause.
You’re absolutely right. The media, especially film, has a hell of a lot to answer for in its glamorisations of death and destruction without balancing out any of the consequences. This ritualistic desensitisation has, over the years, contributed to society’s ever increasing intolerance toward not only our international neighbours, but our next-door ones too!
But as you rightly pointed out in my original bulletin, the problems run deeper than just the right to bear arms. We need to incorporate all visual media in this. No type of medium affects a person more readily. TV itself creates and runs series that promote and glamorise violence & hatred and again fail to show the realities or the consequences. Look at ‘The Sopranos’ as one example; not a week goes by where someone isn’t beaten or murdered. ‘Cop Shows’ are another. It seems in many ways that violence can only be treated with violence. No wonder no one has any faith in the police service anymore.
Music TV is a major culprit. MTV, VH1 and the hundred or so other music channels all devote specific time to this specific genre of music that invokes us all to be pimps, gangsta’s and beyond. Only this time, you get an insinuation of a lifestyle, the glamour it can bring and all in three minutes or thereabouts.
And lets not forget the news agencies, quite possibly one of the biggest offenders of them all. These agencies originally created to report current affairs in an unbiased fashion regularly fail to do so. Look at the criticism CNN came under during its reporting of the Iraq war. The American expatriate community here in London were appalled at how CNN consistently withheld information and yet they were able to receive readily on channels such as Sky News and BBC 24. These news agencies often have political affiliations and operate selective propaganda policies. Of course, we all know that without the support of the mighty dollar, they wouldn’t exist. But by selling themselves out, aren’t they also selling out the people they’re meant to be keeping informed?
You mention the story of the 8 year old that took a gun from a nightstand and then shot his classmate. One needs to ask who is to blame here? Is it the child for pulling the trigger, the parent for irresponsibly storing the gun, the store for selling to the parent or possibly the black-marketeer for selling from the boot of a car on a street corner. Maybe it’s the manufacturer, or maybe it’s the government for allowing the possession of weapons in the first place.
There are many reasons for where we are today and many places to lay blame. When problems occur, they need investigation and resolution. A quick fix is never a good idea. A bicycle tyre may continue to work after repair, but its never going to last. And as such, quick fixes to national problems never work either. The second amendment may have given an initial impression of safety, but the secondary fear within that is that everyone suspects everyone else may have a gun. The problem with fear is that people tend to act first and think later. If everyone has a gun, the outcome is inevitable.
If that child had not found that weapon, there would have been no bloodshed within that school. If guns are made illegal, and amnesties in place for weapons to be handed over without reprise, then people will follow. Its not a quick fix, it never could be. I live in a nation were to bear arms without licence or responsible storage is illegal. Percentages of murders per capita on nation versus nation show a vast difference. Intolerance of weapons has proved successful here; maybe it could there too. It’s the start of a change in mentality, much the same as you are admirably trying to affect with Little Ricky Productions, for this you should be applauded.
So once again I’ll state why the second amendment is a stupid amendment. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.
So lets not give them guns in the first place.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Sorry. Just needed to scream and let some frustration out!
Why is it, that just when you think things may finally be working out for you, that someone decides to go and pull the rug out from under your feet?
I'm talking of course about a man. And true to form, I'm not naming names. Some may be able to work it out regardless. But this is my rant, not yours, so pleased don't make any disrespectful comments toward him as you'll never know all the 'ins and outs' of it, and I'm not going to bore you with that much detail! The image is in no way representational of him, its a generalisation of those that have no awareness of how they treat others.
I am however going to let it be known that I really resent the past. Not history, but our own individual pasts. The parts of it that teach us lessons, good or bad, but mainly the pieces of it that subconciously teaches us to be afraid of letting go and risking everything. I resent people who hurt others and make sure its almost impossible for the rest of us to get through the years of barriers created by emotional abuse and the wreckage the abusers leave behind.
Its unfair, we shouldn't have to do it. I'm not saying that I'm baggage free, that would be an outright lie. And its not that I'm not prepared to be with someone who has baggage either. We all have it, and if you love a person, you take them warts and all, I'm more than ready for that. Things have now been said that can't be taken back, and we shouldn't have to. They're valid wants, needs and concerns from both parties.
But the parts I resent above all others are the parts the make the initial barrier so high that's it damn near impossible to scale.
Well, if Hilary can scale Everest, I can scale this! I'm not giving up on him, I just hope he hasn't given up on me!
Sunday, April 01, 2007
OK, some of the life choices I have made may not have turned out the right way or have been what I would have hoped for. But I've always been self-aware enough to recognise what's churning in my head and as a result, work it through enough to come to a conscious and rational conclusion.
And I know anyone that keeps tabs on my postings may also question this most recent of choices, and to some degree they would be right, but its not all about a man!
Todays image is the pond outside my friend Mike's place in New Bedford, MA. Its the view he looks out at every day. I love how he refers to it as a pond, and it returns me to my comments about cultural differences. The way we define scale and size is very much determined by the land mass of the USA v. UK. Its actually a 15 acre lake!
And Yes. 'He who takes up my thinking and feeling time' is playing a lot on my mind at the moment. And he is a major factor in making me impatient to get my house in order so I can go visit. I would be lying to everyone if I tried to deny that fact. And my previous post 'A Change of Scenery' still has a strong hold there also; the values and commitment I seek, I am rapidly beginning to believe I won't find here on my own shores.
Actually, that's a lie. When the pennies do drop it means I've already made my mind up. This time it means that my beloved London no longer holds any surprises for me. As a result, my heart is saddened. But there is a reversal of fortune in that saddness; it means I've recognised the problem which also means I can find the solution.
And find it I have. Watch out North America, by hook or by crook I'm crossing that pond this year with a one way ticket.