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It’s that time of year again where some men frantically rush to their local Interflora, Thornton’s and Clintons Cards store to show their other half (or potential other half) that they  “really care”.

Today, a male Twitter buddy of mine wrote: “Just coined a pretty insightful piece of philosphy. Was moaning about the cost of flowers (£45 for 12 roses!)… I’d rather pay the money than pay the price”.

I can’t help but think that Valentine’s Day is more a day for singletons, new couples or more conveniently for people in the doghouse with their partners. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against it but, apart from Christmas, never have I seen such unnecessarily ridiculous amounts of money spent on very impractical gifts: humongous teddy bears for grown ass people (??!!), intoxicating amounts of eau de toilette, days worth of fattening chocolates (not so mmmm), and flowers that will start to wither in three days max.

The history of Valentine’s Day varies depending on the source. Some experts say that it originated from St. Valentine, a Roman who was martyred for refusing to give up Christianity. He died on February 14, 269 A.D., the same day that had been devoted to love lotteries. Legend also says that St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it “From Your Valentine”. And so, February 14 became the day for exchanging love messages and St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers who marked the day by exchanging poems and simple gifts of affection such as flowers.

But the purpose of Valentine’s Day- demonstrating true affection through actions and consideration- has somewhat been engulfed by the giving of expensive material possessions. The day has become so commercialised that even some restaurants change their menu prices for the evening. A three course meal out for two that is normally around  £60 will cost you near the region of about  £80 to  £120 on the day. Why not just take a trip to your local supermarket to do some grocery shopping, stay indoors and together prepare a lovely candle lit dinner? You’ll find that you probably not only enjoy the meal a lot more but enjoy the time you spent together making it- and it’s also much better value for your money.

For some however, V- Day ends up being more like D-Day with many people actually deciding to break up with their partner on this particular day … leaving cupid unhappily taking back his arrows. Aaaawww.

My fiancé and I don’t really feel like we need a special day in the year to express our love for one another- we do so all the other 365 days of the year and I’m sure many other couples feel the same way. Having said that, I suppose it’s always nice with the chaos of life to have a day that you really take time aside to think just how lucky you are to be loved and how equally important it is to demonstrate love.

However you’re spending this Sunday evening, whether it be alone with a microwave ready meal, out with your single mates that were unfortunate enough not to get a valentine or canoodling with your partner, have a lovely Valentine’s Day. Or as the case may be for some, just have a nice day!

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The sad news was reported today that British fashion designer Alexander “Lee” McQueen had taken his life. He was found dead at his London home at the age of 40  just days before the start of London fashion week and a month before he was to unveil his new collection at Paris fashion week. His ingenious designs and vision for advancing fashion helped build his well respected brand. The industry has truly lost a great…. You never know how a kind word can save a life. Be there for your family and friends to let them know you care.

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Earlier today, I came across this video of a young boy in America who had been caught by the police for drinking under the legal age of 21. It made me chortle a little, but with all humour aside, the seriousness of the issues arising from the clip (parental involvement, education, mental health care etc), indicate that so much needs to be done to help support disadvantaged kids and give them more opportunities to better their lives. But of course, they need to be willing to help themselves first.

I, like many others who watched this, thought: “Where the hell are his parents?”. It’s obvious that the teen is from a broken home. It’s probable that from a very young age he was left to his own devices and certain acts of deviance have become the norm to him.  He’s emotionally torn and needs guidance or some sort of counselling. As much as he protests that he wants to go to prison, rather than juvenile hall, jail-with that mouth- will most definitely send him on the path of  destruction. His situation is not unique. Without sounding patronising, it’s a sad state of affairs.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]Watch the full video here

West Bank barrier Banksy artwork: Little girl frisking a soldier

He’s known for his creative stencil work in the most unassuming of places, but now Bristol-born graffiti artist Banksy has embarked on a project of a different sort. And what’s that? I hear you ask. Well, he’ll be internationally premiering his debut film at the Sundance Film Festival this coming Sunday.

The movie, titled Exit Through The Gift Shop, shows him speaking on camera for the very first time and is narrated by Welsh actor Rhys Ifans (you might remember him as Spike in the film Notting Hill).

The man himself has described the film as how he “set out to film the unfilmable – and failed”. Erm, OK.

Little is known about the plot of the 89 minute feature film– that too is on the hush hush. But the festival website vaguely reveals that the film is about French filmmaker, Terry Guetta, setting out to record the “secretive world” of street art, when he subsequently meets Banksy, and so the adventure ensues.

Banky’s appeal is in his anonymity and elusiveness, so unveiling himself seems, to me, a very unlikely prospect. If anything, there’s a greater possibility that he’ll leave audiences asking more questions rather than having any pending ones answered.

Have a look at the trailer below.

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The film’s catchline is: “Life is hard. Life is short. Life is painful. Life is rich. Life is….Precious.” I thought this was quite fitting considering that the film encompasses all such adjectives and emotions. It’s a movie about the power of education, the beauty we all possess within, loving who you are, motherhood and friendship.

Based on Push– a novel written by New York poet Claireece ‘Sapphire‘ Jones- it’s set in 1980s Harlem (USA), and is about an overweight, illiterate teenager who becomes pregnant for the second time by her abusive father. She is referred on by her high school to enroll in an alternative school- for troubled teens- in the hope that her life will head in a better direction. We follow her journey of her learning to read and finding the acceptance and friendship that she deserves from her classmates and teacher. Her courage to stand up to her abusive mother (played by Mo’Nique) and move away from ‘home’ to build a new, happy life for herself and her children.

The news that Precious receives in the end is extremely sad and unfortunate. Really pulled at my hear strings, but I won’t ruin it for those of you who are yet to see it.

Directed by Lee Daniels (who also produced Monster’s Ball), it’s gritty style projects an air of delicacy yet strength and Precious’ narration, though simple gives an amazing insight into her very isolated world. 

It felt as if I was watching a documentary. That’s how real the acting translated through the screen to me. I felt totally immersed.

Gabourey Sidibe (aged 24), who plays Precious, canceled the third year of her psychology major to play the role and I thought she did a pretty damn good job of it, really embodying her observant and aware character.

I didn’t think Mariah‘s performance (as Mrs Weiss, Precious’ case worker) in this was particularly wonderful but having said that, she wasn’t awful either.

Mr Lenny Kravitz plays the role of attractive, suave Nurse John (yes a male nurse).

Precious is definitely a tale of triumph! A masterful dramatisation, some may say and no doubt a socially conscious movie.

I rate this film 8.5 pearls out of 10. A must see.

 

Precious will be released in the UK on Friday January 29th 2010. Watch the trailer below.

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This weekend at work, a colleague said to me “I don’t mean to sound racist…” So I stopped him and said: “Well, that means that whatever is about to come out of your mouth is going to be blatantly racist.” He went straight on the defensive. “No, no!” He responded. Anyway, I stopped what I was doing, looked him directly in the eyes and heard him out. “This should be good”, I thought.

He started again in his Essex/cockney accent: “I don’t mean to saand racist but I ‘ate it when foreigners who can speak English speak their language to other people that can speak English an’all. It does my head in.” Pause. Now, I don’t I need to tell you what race he is…. And so it continues….

Now if his point was that it’s rude when someone speaks their mother tongue (that you don’t understand or can’t speak) in front of you, totally disregard your presence, then I would have understood what he was saying, because I myself find that annoying at times.  But that wasn’t even the point he was making.

“Well”, I began challenging him, “Supposing English isn’t their first language and both people feel more comfortable speaking their mother tongue to each other?”

“I don’t care!” He replied in anger “If they’re in this country they should speak English.”

“Wow!” I said, taken aback “So, for example, when White English people go and settle in Spain, do you think that all they speak is Spanish? Do they totally abandon speaking English?”

He tried to explain himself but I wasn’t having it. I dismissed him, at which point he took the liberty of informing me that he wasn’t speaking to me any more. Ha! “Is it cos I is Black?” I asked humourously, just infuriating him further. As if I actually cared. He’s not even deep enough to hold an intellectual conversation with.

“Listen” ,I added while he began throwing his toys out of his pram, “Just because you can only speak one language, don’t knock those that have the ability to speak two or more.If you want to bring up an issue with me, make sure you actually have a valid point because right now you sound dumb.”

I don’t like to pull out the racism card any time someone offends or discriminates against me because I would forever be paranoid, but the prejudice undertone to what he said really opened my eyes to his true character. What he said wasn’t actually racist but the intention behind his words was fueled by racial prejudice.He was totally showing his ignorance.

I find it rather amusing whenever an ignorant white person assumes that because I’m Black, I eat jerk chicken, rice and peas every day of the damn week. Don’t get me wrong. I love to tuck into a good Caribbean dish, but erm I’m African and also enjoy the delights of my own traditional cuisine. But they wouldn’t know that simply because of some of their lack of willingness to learn about different cultures (and why should they when staying in a little bubble is much more fun?)

For goodness sake. I speak and write far better English that the guy telling me about the language itself and I wasn’t even born in this country.

Maybe he’s blind, but last time I checked I was blacker than black. If that’s how he feels about “foreigners” then he was speaking to the totally wrong person. He should have made that point to his white friends, who, I’m sure would have appreciated it far more than I did. They would probably agree with him and have a good ole hyena laugh about it while drinking a pint of beer and scratching their balls.

There’s not one person on this planet that can honestly say that they have never said,thought and/or done anything racist at all in their lives. Racism exists. Fact. In some people is dormant and others, very active.

Racism: the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.

I once saw on twitter: “Question: When does a black person become a nigger? Answer: When they leave the room.” Very clever, I thought to myself sarcastically but the irony is that they were actually showing themselves up in that “joke”.

Maybe it’s an inferiority complex that they have, but the sooner racists start seeing individuals for their human worth rather than as a colour, the sooner they’ll actually start valuing their own selves. Rant over.  🙂

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Like millions around the world, I woke up on Tuesday (12th January) morning this week to the news that a devastating earthquake had hit Haiti. The disaster is the worst of it’s kind to strike the country in 200 years.

The Red Cross estimates that 50,000 people have died and 300,000 have been left homeless, with up to three million people injured – a third of the country’s population.

Former Fugees rapper Wyclef Jean’s (above) charity text appeal for victims reached $1m in just a matter of days, with over 200,000 Twitter followers donating to the cause.

Desperate survivors, increasingly frustrated with the delay of international help have turned their anger into to scenes of violence and looting on the streets.

Watching the news has almost become unbearable: seeing so much human suffering and heartbreak. The highly emotive images of dust covered survivors and covered bodies on the side of the roads will be etched in my memory for a while yet to come. I cannot even begin to comprehend what the people of Haiti are enduring, simply because their experiences are not my reality. I only wish that I could physically be there to do my bit for humanity and help.

An acquaintance of mine on Twitter made a very valid point. Haiti gained independence on 1st January 1804, making it the first Black nation-state of it’s kind in the world and 153 years ahead of the next independent Black country 1957- Ghana (it’s even older than some European states). Yet Haiti is one of the most under developed countries of the world and now that it’s infrastructure is virtually destroyed, rebuilding lives will prove to be a painstaking task.

I was totally disgusted by the comments made by famous American televangelist Pat Robertson‘s insensitive comments. According to him the people of Haiti “swore a pact to the devil” and have been “cursed” by his god, and that the Island of Haiti has been cursed by “one thing after the other”, that is why they deserved the quake.

As evangelical pastor Rick Warren quite rightly responded via Twitter:

Labeling any natural disaster as God‘s judgment is nonsense. True “judgment begins with God’s family” 1Peter4:17, not others

My thoughts and well wishes go out to the sufferers of the disaster as well as those involved in the rescue operation.

USEFUL LINKS:

www.dec.org.uk or call 0370 60 60 900

www.yele.org

www.redcross.org.uk

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