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Friday, June 26, 2009

Who'd of Thought We'd Miss Michael Jackson?

Oh my God, Michael Jackson is dead!! If someone had asked me of all the celebrities I'd miss if they weren't around anymore, Michael Jackson probably would've been somewhere way down on the list. But, last night, when my sister came rushing into my office to tell me that the King of Pop had died, I was soooooooo upset. We ended up staying up until 2am to get confirmation that he had indeed passed away.

Did I particularly like him? No, he was weird to say the least. Not exactly someone easy to relate to, with all the plastic surgery (non-existent nose), weird skin pigmentation and questionable dress sense (hello, sequined glove), not to mention the marriages (Lisa Pressley kiss, yuck!) and the Nordic looking kids (genetic miracles for a black man?). But, he was an icon, whether you liked him or not.

I remember when the Thriller video came out - one word: wow! We were living in Dubai at the time and so we had to actually rent it on video to watch it. I was pretty young, and the dancing zombies coupled with Vincent Price's creepy voice terrified me. The Sri Lankan housekeeper, though, was a fanatic and she insisted on watching it a hundred times despite my terrified whimpers. "Look, look at the dancing," she said, as if that were supposed to take away from the fact that they were zombies! Let me tell you, to an eight-year-old, dancing zombies are frightening!

That night, my parents took us out and walking through the garden, I was terrified a zombie was going to pop out of the bushes and grab me - the thought of it singing and dancing did not assuage my fears. My mom asked me why I was so jittery and I told her and she started to laugh. I took offense to that because she is the chicken of the family and can't even watch shows like CSI. So, when I got back home, I was determined to sit through the video ... again. This time without squirming. "I watched A Nightmare on Elm Street when I was seven," I told myself. I was afraid to sleep for a week, but I watched it! And now I was letting a music video get to me? This was unacceptable. Pathetic even. So, I put in the video before going to bed, watched the whole thing and went to sleep. I don't remember what I dreamt about, but I do know that nary a zombie made an appearance!

Oh well, good bye Michael Jackson. Despite everything, your entertainment over the years has been thrilling!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Immortal UNbeloved

Over the past few weeks, my mom has been working on transferring all our home movies (from the early betamax days to the present) onto DVD. My dad bought his first video camera back in 1984, when I was ten years old, so there are A LOT of tapes to convert. We all thought it would be a lot of fun to start watching those old tapes right from the very beginning, but boy, was I wrong! You see, over the decades, I had forgotten how awful I was growing up, and just remembered myself as being a nice kid who was good to her siblings (for the most part). And with advances in technology and things like the betamax going obsolete, it became harder and harder to revisit those tapes for a little dose of reality. The cold hard truth could not be hidden forever, though, and now, what I was really like as kid has resurfaced. Dah dah dahhhh ...

Yes, the theme of haunting music should be playing in your heads right now, it is only fitting considering what a dreadful child I was. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating just a little bit. It's not like I would've been perfect for roles in the Exorcist or The Omen, but I wasn't exactly a little ray of sunshine either. My sister Alyah always told me that I was mean when I was kid and we'd get into huge arguments as adults over this issue. I would say I was delightful and charming and that she was the meanie, and she would say that I was horrible and always picking on her. Yes, very mature, I know. Anyway, I now have to eat my words because she, in fact, was right all along. And to top it all off, there is video evidence to support her claims! (Okay Alyah, happy now, you were right!)

At practically every occasion caught on film, I am making acidic comments about my siblings, or making fun of them in some way. At one family lunch, I'm even filmed whacking my little brother across the head without batting an eye. (I think I felt guilty immediately afterwards, because then I am seen hugging and kissing him, so I guess I wasn't completely awful, right??)

I'm second from left, hugging a then one-year old Nadya.
Don't be fooled by my seemingly sweet demeanor!

My siblings, on the other hand, might as well have been actors in a Hallmark movie, always holding hands and hugging each other and playing with each other. They look into the camera and make cute remarks, whereas I look into the camera and wax lyrical about how completely fabulous I am. Yes, I forgot to add that in addition to being unbearable, I was also totally conceited, believing that I was the greatest thing on earth. I have no idea why. I was overweight, had braces AND glasses, not to mention the worst sense of style, and let's just say that every day was a bad hair day.

Little miss conceited. That's Alyah on the right looking
on in horror, thinking, 'What the hell does this chick see in herself!'

It made me nostalgic for the good ol' days when no camcorders existed and people could remember themselves anyway they liked and nobody would be the wiser. Unfortunately for me, the truth is out of the bag. Just call me the Rafeh Immortal UNbeloved!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

March Madness: A Rant of the Week

So, unless you've been living under a rock, you probably all know that Lebanon's elections are coming up this weekend. To be honest, I'm much more interested in the results of this past Sunday's MTV Movie Awards. Yes, the news of Twilight sweeping the awards got my blood pumping a lot more than who will emerge victorious on June 7! I mean come on, who would you rather see giving a speech on TV, the delicious Robert Pattinson or some middle aged, overweight, maniacal politician ranting and sweating, spewing threats and insulting other politicians?? Hmmm, I take the hunky actor, thank you very much.

It's a wonder that any one living here thinks that any of the crazy lunatics running for office are qualified to run the country. Let's see, what has been accomplished since we gained our pseudo-independence .... wars (internal and international), instablity, corruption, assassinations (political and otherwise), fear mongering, threats against the civilian population by those that were supposedly there to protect us, more fear, more threats and more violence.

What we didn't get? A stable, democratic country - democratic being the key word. A government that actually works for the people - you know, since we elected them and all - instead of focusing solely on securing their own power base and pockets. A government that doesn't steal from the people. A government that implements reasonable utility costs for electricity, water, phones, etc, that correspond to the average wage. Also, speaking of government run utilities, the UNIVERSAL collection of electricity bills so that others are not penalized with exorbitant costs because of those who do not pay. A proper army that does not stand around and do nothing while unarmed civilians are being beaten or murdered right in front of their eyes. Respect from our so-called leaders when on the road, so that we are not shooed off the street like cockroaches just because they want to get home for dinner - they are not too good to wait in traffic like the rest of us. And speaking of traffic, not closing off entire roads systems without any regard to the average Joe, who does not need to spend fours in traffic getting home after working all day just because some useless politicians decided to have a meeting (which inevitably will end in accomplishing NOTHING).

The list could go on and on, and frankly, I don't have the energy anymore to go through the problems with our government, or lack there of. Where are the laws and bills that should have been passed that would improve our way of life? Why are political leaders only good at going on TV and bad mouthing each other? Why don't they actually do something that will improve the lives of the Lebanese people like they are supposed to be doing? Why haven't we seen the privatization of EDL and the cell phone companies? Why haven't we seen the implementation of civil law with regards to marriage and divorce, etc? Why haven't women been granted the right to give the Lebanese citizenship to their husbands and children? Why hasn't the infrastructure been improved so that we can attract more businesses to open their doors in Lebanon, improve the economy and employment? Where are the changes that the people want to see, not the changes the politicians want only to make them richer and more powerful?

So many questions and not one politician capable, qualified or willing to answer them. Here's a piece of advice: instead of bickering about March this and March that, try doing what your constituents want for a change and actually DO SOMETHING.

Despite my severe disillusionment, I will be at the polls this Sunday exercising my 'democratic' right (hah!). In an election in which all the candidates suck, I will be voting for the lesser of two evils. Maybe, one day, we can hope for more - we certainly deserve it. Robert Pattinson for president anyone??