Forget About That Corny Corner-Ribbon's Drivel! The Real Secret is HERE Indeed - not over there!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Angels Here, On Earth?

No Luminous Adventures/jolly adventures this week-end - thy author is simply not in the mood...

Instead, let's survey the infinitesimal chances for critters that tread this mudball presently to access the all-immaculate state of "angeldom" - let me tell you right now that it doesn't look very good!

First things first - for those of you who asked to see my lone pet - here it is enjoying the music featured here, on TLB Prime...

Some would call this creature with whiskers and slit eyes an "angel" - I can only shrug and shake my head at such statements though... Hamster and canary owners will never think of such flea-infested pests as "angels", that's for sure! But I digress...

I have always been skeptical myself of angels treading this place called Earth, if you know what I mean... However, now, I have to admit that the evidence is overwhelming and that some select *elite* caring individuals that are still here, among the living, really, truly do fit that prestigious description. That sure applies to fellow Lux Aeterna (my group) member and Illuminata (her group) member, Mrs. Zahra Pilavdzic (I made sure I got the last name right; I copied and pasted! *lol* Hey - they massacre my name all the time too - especially when they try to pronounce it! But that is another story for sure!)

Sometime ago, I had blogged about how smart a consumer I can be - Mrs Z.P. shows us, on this link provided today as our "main one", how to be even more than that!

Can celebrities be half as genuinely "good" too - if there's no money in it for themselves? Some do know that there are other things of value in life, other than money and fame, yeah...

Seems to me that examples were far easier to find in olden days though...
Back when the "star system" had not become so corrosively corrupted...?

Of course there are always so-called "stars" -even today- that are found to be far more kind-hearted than others - and who know that the value of such free publicity sure does outweigh any amounts of press releases and other costly means to "get the word out" or generate a buzz... (Especially when there's nothing much there at all to begin with...).
Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai is one of those hearts of gold - apparently- who took time out of her very busy schedule and went considerably out of her way (Bollywood = India) to visit a fan in MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - a fan afflicted with cancer.
When the foreign "star" is in town for some reason already - why not reap some kind of "good rep" by visiting the SICK... the poor or the emprisoned... as a certain CHRIST said, HUH? It is only a little detour to make anyway...
Not many do it - but some certainly will!
The rising stars -as the declining ones- have everything to gain by the gesture. They humanize their alleged "stardom" and are scoring points in the process also - for their souls.

The next truly remarquable example is up-and-coming singer Nazanin who took considerable and I'd even say vast amounts of time -she or her staff did- to campaign for the desperate cause of her namesake and vague lookalike in Iran who could be sentenced to die at the tender age of 18 (the same age as Anastasia De Sousa, recently shot to death in Montreal, incidentally). The 18 year-old Nazanin defended herself from attempted rape - killing her would-be aggressor - and in Iran, that's a non-no, somehow... Nazanin, the singer, has a petition up for her namesake's cause. She would visit her namesake in person, if doing so wasn't so dangerous for her person... I am sure that the younger Nazanin knows, somehow, of what her famous namesake is attempting to do for her - by now, surely so...

Of course, other famous examples of genuinely caring human beings amongst famous folks include Bono, Sir Roger Moore, the late, adorable Audrey Hepburn, Sir Bob Geldof...
And who else? Brigitte Bardot, for the seals? The late, lamented Lady Di? Gandhi? Seems like too many of these are gone already or about to leave this God-forsaken Earth... There are few replacing them too...

Still, there are, evidently, some genuine caring celebrities out there...
Then there are ratings-starved celebrities - who might be doing it then out of duty, obligation, necessity, if they were ordered to do it, if they want to keep doing what they're doing!! That is what seems to have happened when one the CW's One Tree Hill's own Moira Kelly met with her local, loyal fans in Carolina Beach Lake Park one Sunday evening recently...
There's always the farcical ones too, such as the oddball Craig David (no relation to Peter David) who took the time to meet up with a namesake act... just for the video that would result from it.

Authors have some reluctance to meet with vast numbers of their fans - but every single one of them knows the value of greeting one's readership - and certainly the impact it has on book sales! Sci-Fi scribe Terry Pratchett, on the link above, made some amusing remarks on the fate that he was ascribed -to meet and greet many a fan in Boston- a fate he jokingly labeled as "worse than death"...

When the fan himself is dying though, no such humor and no reticence will or should be present. We see a lot of sports figures - entire teams' line-ups - making annual visits to children's hospitals... And they are just brutal blokes who play sports! All the more reason for the "refined" ones who know the glitz, glamour, luxury and prosperity of this world at the cost of countless others, less fortunate, who allow these 'lucky ones" to be put on a pedestal of sorts... A privileged position to be found at the end of a red carpet usually... A celebrity is, logically, far more indebted to the fans than the other way around! To give back to the masses that elevate them so senselessly is both the least that they can do - as it is also the mandatory thing to do. Second only to thanking God and blessing His Name for their extraordinary good fortune...

What can you say about a society that says that God is dead and Elvis is alive? - Irv Kupcinet


Aishwarya meets her Melbourne fan who suffers from cancer
By IndiaFM News Bureau, March 29, 2006 - 22:47 IST

Bollywood star Aiswarya Rai recently performed at the Common Wealth Games at Melbourne to support the Indian teams participating in the event. The whole world was interested in watching her perform live at the event. While she did that, on her visit to Melbourne Ash also took some time out to do something really sweet.

Pallavi, an Indian who is born and brought up in Melbourne is fan of Bollywood. Pallavi suffers from Cancer. She was a part of Shaimak Davar's troupe which performed at the Common Wealth Games but due to health problems, she had to walk out of it. Pallavi always wanted to meet Aishwarya Rai, whom she adores very much. It was her dream of long time, which did come true. When Aishwarya reached Melbourne for her performance, she personally met Pallavi and spent a lot of time with her. As soon as Aishwarya reached the venue where they had planned the meet, she hugged Pallavi, who had become extremely fascinated about meeting her favorite star in person. The two spent quality time talking about various things. While Ash also signed some autographs for her, Pallavi was also sweet enough to give Ash some gifts.

After the meet, Pallavi seemed so happy and satisfied that she couldn't find words to describe her feelings. Pallavi described Ash as a very genuine and kind person. Of course the admiration of her beauty also came from Pallavi. But apart from that she claimed her to be very sweet person. The two talked casually about things while Ash also kept enquiring about how Pallavi's health, as she is going through a treatment.

Pallavi's mother who was also present when Ash met her daughter said that Aishwarya encouraged Pallavi and made her believe that things will be fine. She gave her daughter lot of encouragement and hope for which she is very grateful to Ash.

There have always been occasions when Bollywood stars have done some noble deeds. Whenever possible, most Bollywood personalities try their best to meet and spend time with their special fans who adore them so much. Aishwarya's latest act just reemphasizes the fact that Bollywood does have a caring heart.
Fans gather to live out their fantasy
By Don Aucoin, Globe Staff | September 4, 2004

Appearing wholly unrepentant beneath his wide-brimmed black hat, Terry Pratchett lounges in an armchair as a prosecutor rattles off the charges against him before scores of spectators who are hanging on every word.
The bestselling British author of fantasy novels is guilty, the prosecutor bellows, of "the shame of being accused of `literature,' of taking shelf space from those of note," and, further, of trying to "pervert and corrupt the sensibilities of common reading folks." Pratchett grins and gives a thumbs-up to the crowd, which cheers lustily. "Order! Order!" the bewigged judge shouts. One woman cries: "What do you mean, `common'?"

She's got a point. This is no ordinary trial -- mock trial, actually -- and this is no ordinary Thursday night at the Hynes Convention Center. For one thing, one of the "witnesses" against Pratchett is dressed as Nanny Ogg, a witch from his "Discworld" series. Another of Pratchett's characters, a hulking brute called Coalface the Troll, would soon make an appearance, along with a guy in a propeller beanie, a woman in a Viking helmet, a chap in an orange space suit, a man wearing large wings, and dozens of witches, wizards, and jesters.

You have stepped into the alternate universe that is the 62d World Science Fiction Convention, a realm where it seems perfectly plausible that Pratchett's next move is to call Death (yet another character from his books) in his defense.

A spectral figure in black robe, hood, and skull's head obligingly steps onstage, whereupon Pratchett produces a small brush and commits an excruciating pun about "a brush with death."

The judge has heard enough. He pronounces sentence on the author: "He will be sent from this place and forced to sign books. And to greet many of you . . . a fate worse than death."

"Hey," a spectator says in an injured tone.

Listen, you need a thick skin to be a science-fiction fan. That, and a certain flexibility when it comes to defining the genre. That's because the World Science Fiction Convention (which runs through Monday) is further evidence that the boundaries between traditional sci-fi and fantasy have virtually disappeared. "A lot of what we do is very much a blend," convention chairman Deb Geisler says. "We have trouble defining what's science fiction and what's fantasy."

Not that many of the fans costumed for a "First Night" celebration to kick off the convention seem to care. "There's so much overlap that it gets hard to draw the line," remarks Andrea Evans, 40, a native of Australia attired all in black, as Professor Snape from the Harry Potter series. "Science fiction has always been about the idea of the future, and that's an idea as old as mankind."

So the convention exhibits and seminars that are expected to draw as many as 7,000 fans to Boston focus as much on magic and myth, elves and enchanted forests, swords and sorcery, as on robots and rockets.

J.R.R. Tolkien and the "Lord of the Rings" books and movies are as hot, if not hotter, topics of discussion than such sci-fi giants as Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury or iconic films and TV shows like "Star Wars" and "Star Trek." The Hugo Awards, to be bestowed at the convention tonight, will be handed out in both the science-fiction and fantasy categories.

The bottom line is that in the 15 years since the World Science Fiction Society last held its convention in Boston, the sci-fi fandom has grown comfortable with such umbrella terms as "speculative fiction" and "SF&F," which stands for "science fiction and fantasy." Some fans look askance at the term "sci-fi," akin to the Beat Generation's view of "beatnik."

Of course, a fair chunk of the outside world looks askance at the science-fiction fans themselves. "The Simpsons" (where Homer saves Mark Hamill from crazed fans) and "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" (where Triumph the Insult Comic Dog paid a memorable visit to a "Star Wars" convention) have had fun with the idea of sci-fi buffs as geeks and nerds. "There's still a bunch of us who are geeks and nerds, and we kind of like that," says Geisler, director of Suffolk University's graduate program in communications. "The Internet has made it kind of sexy to be a geek. Bill Gates is the ultimate geek, and how sexy is a billion dollars?"

"Let's face it, we live in a science-fiction world," she adds. "Ride the Red Line: About 90 percent of the riders are reading science fiction or fantasy. . . . A lot of contemporary authors are finding that scientific themes give them rich playgrounds for the imagination."

And contemporary filmmakers are finding them a creative and financial gold mine: Almost half of the top 20 box-office-grossing films of all time are either science fiction or fantasy, including four of the "Star Wars" films, "E.T.," all three "Lord of the Rings" films, and "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." The "Matrix" movies have also proven hugely popular (though "I, Robot," based on stories by Isaac Asimov, did not prove to be a blockbuster).

Even politicians seem to have taken note of the sci-fi constituency: Geisler says that before the convention began, she received a note from John F. Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, "saying he hoped the convention went well."

"It used to be a proud and lonely thing, to be a fan," remarks Geri Sullivan, a graphic designer from Wales, Mass., attending her 11th convention. "People don't sneer at you now when they see you reading a science-fiction book."

Even at a convention of true believers, though, there is the occasional skeptic. One young boy drags his teenage sister over to meet Coalface the Troll. "Coalface, I'd like you to meet my sister," he says earnestly. "This is Coalface." She rolls her eyes and retorts, "I guessed," then walks away.

Conventioneers hail from all 50 states and 33 countries, and range from professors and librarians to high-tech workers to people who sell Christmas trees. Whether their particular passion is for costuming or anime, books or films, they are drawn by a common love for a genre that evokes a "sense of wonder," in Sullivan's words. "For me personally, it's very much the family reunion," she says, tossing off a "Hi, dear heart!" to a conventioneer as she passes.

To judge by the First Night festivities, science-fiction fans have a sense of humor about themselves and their obsessions. There are signs inviting fans to events sponsored by the League of Evil Geniuses and the Society for Creative Anachronism.

One exhibit, perhaps with a nod to the Republican National Convention as it wrapped up Thursday in New York and to July's Democratic National Convention in Boston, asks passersby to vote for the "First Citizen of Fantopia." The candidates are Robert Heinlein, Mary Shelley of "Frankenstein" fame, E.E. "Doc" Smith, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells. "Vote Mary Shelley -- She'll Bring Good Things to Life," reads one campaign sign. An advocate for Heinlein, spotting two young women, declares: "A vote for Heinlein is a vote for women!" Retorted one woman: "Not really. How many women are there in his books?"

A level of scientific and historical knowledge is assumed. As two men gaze at a metal contraption, one says to the other: "You recognize this, don't you? It's a mockup of the world's first liquid-fueled rocket, by Robert Goddard."

Samuel Markson, a 14-year-old from Lakeville, is dressed in the silver uniform of Klaatu, the alien played by Michael Rennie in "The Day the Earth Stood Still," the 1951 sci-fi classic. "I like the complicated science fiction," Markson says. "We see a lot less gadget science fiction, and a lot more fate-of-the-universe science fiction."

And then there's the fate of the novelist. Pratchett is moving about the room, cheerfully serving his "sentence" as he meets and greets his fans (one fan says he is so renowned for interacting with readers that there's a joke about "owning a rare unsigned Terry Pratchett book."). No, it's his characters with whom Pratchett seemed to have had a beef, blurring the line between fiction and fact, just as the divisions between science fiction and fantasy have fallen. Just before sentence is pronounced on him, he casts a baleful eye on Nanny Ogg. "May I object to being prosecuted by one of my own fictional creations?" he demands. "I gave this woman life!"

Don Aucoin can be reached at

© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.
A caring celebrity is no better than anyone else

Independent, The (London), May 23, 2006 by TERENCE BLACKER

A generous multimillionaire, famous and yet modest, a chef with a social conscience, Jamie Oliver ranks high in the pantheon of loveable celebrities. His international career may rumble on like a great juggernaut but somehow he has remained aloof from the vulgar business of money-making and self-promotion, earning instead a reputation for Geldofian virtue. He gives back to the community. He cares about the sort of things we all should care about children, health, obesity, helping teenagers who are in trouble. He uses a combination of youth, innocence, celebrity and determination to cut through bureaucracy and muddle to improve our world.

Who could be surprised that, when the Hansard Society recently conducted a poll asking people which public figures were likely to get things done, Jamie Oliver polled more than twice as many votes as Tony Blair? The public has been brainwashed so relentlessly with the lie that a caring celebrity represents all that is good and selfless in the modern world, while a politician is invariably bad, greedy and incompetent, that stupid answers to an admittedly stupid question were inevitable. Of course a chef who now and then becomes involved in a single-issue campaign will be more socially engaged and effective than the Prime Minister: it goes without saying.

One of Jamie Oliver's achievements in the past has been to reveal the scandalously poor quality of schoolchildren's meals. Now, almost accidentally, he has contributed to their knowledge of the world with the help of a "stupid cow" from the BBC. The description of Radio Five's Victoria Derbyshire was from Jamie himself and was accompanied for good measure by the phrase "a stupid, cynical bitch".

During a round of interviews which had been set up to promote the new Cornish branch of Fifteen, a restaurant where the young and unemployed are to be trained as chefs, Derbyshire had suggested that some in Jamie's kitchen might take their qualification to London, doing little for the regeneration of the area. With true professionalism, the chef politely denied the charge while on air and kept his comments about the interview until later. Unfortunately a group of media students who happened to be studying the occasion still had their tape recorders running.

But it was not Oliver's rude remarks about Victoria Derbyshire that provided a useful lesson for children (an interviewer of celebrities who lacks cynicism is in the wrong job) so much as the more general comment he made later, this time on the record. "I'm pretty good at writing cookbooks, I do a bit of decent telly now and again," he said, "but everything that surrounds it is sort of full of bollocks really."

Here, surely, is a profound truth about modern life. It is what somebody does which matters. The rest, the fuzzy, useless stuff that increasingly adheres to it image, presentation, publicity, spin, cheesy smiles and warm words is, as the chef so wisely says, sort of full of bollocks.

The idea that action is more important than the image it casts is less obvious than it might seem. A generation is growing up for whom the ersatz and the fake, the confections worked over by hard, money- driven marketing people, have more meaning than the real thing. Go into any classroom and it will not be the achievements of, say, Jamie Oliver that will impress the children, but his fame. In fact, getting things done has never seemed less important' it is being seen, being a celebrity (by whatever method) that really matters.

The world has become PRshaped. Technology has made village gossip global. Because publicity, which was once meant to be the servant of action, is now very often its master, image has become more important than reality. If you listen to the titans of the PR world, an Alastair Campbell or a Max Clifford, you will hear that new confidence in their voices. They have the key to the kingdom' they know how to make something look better, or worse, than it really is.

There are serious dangers here When a society's standards are as vapid and money-led as that of an ad man, the public is likely to become supine and cynical. People really do believe that a cheery young chef with a streak of professionally useful idealism is contributing more to the world than a politician. Voting in elections becomes less important than phoning in for Jamie's favourite charity for Comic Relief.

These standards of the adult world seep downwards to future generations. One of the principal effects of Jamie Oliver's campaign against bad food and obesity has been an explosion in gyms which have been designed specifically for children. Five-year-olds are pumping iron. Exercise bikes and rowing machines have been scaled down to primary school size. The solipsistic image-obsession of the grown-up world has entered the classroom while for many, the usual, social forms of taking exercise playing sport, walking, runninghave lost their appeal. For some time, the Government has been concerned to introduce a moral, civic element to the school curriculum. There has been talk of introducing lessons on citizenship and on parenting. Jamie Oliver has now, with his customary wisdom, identified another area where children need to be prepared for the adult world and for the fake, seductive allure of PR values that it offers. Bollocks lessons (the name of the subject might need a little work) should be a matter of priority.

Copyright 2006 Independent Newspapers UK Limited
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.
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