Sitcoms: A Blast from the Past to Present

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Dennis The Menace: A Blast From the Past

Dennis The Menance is a sitcom based on Hank Ketcham (a comic strip) that aired from 1959-1963 on the CBS television station. The cast consisted of Dennis Mitchell (played by Jay North), Dennis father Henry (played by Herbert Anderson), Dennis mother Alice (played by Gloria Henry), and a list of other characters. The television sitcom is centered around Dennis–an energetic young boy who means well, but often finds himself in mischief, where he usually bothers the neighbor–Mr. Wilson. This television show was a black-and-white picture that showcased the elements of the 50s-60s era—from clothing, language, and mannerisms.

Everybody Hates Chris: To The Present

Just to give a brief background of the nature of this TV sitcom, Everybody Hates Chris is an American sitcom based on the life experiences of comedian Chris Rock. This sitcom takes place during 1982-1987 in a Brooklyn, New York neighborhood—Bedford-Stuyvesant (shortened as Bed-Stuy in the show). The main character Chris (played by Tyler James Williams) deals with being bullied and rejected in school because he’s Black. Although Chris faces these challenges, his demeanor throughout in non-retaliating and peaceful. He’s grown to accept this as routine and he adjusts his life accordingly.

Chris lives in Bed-Stuy with his father Julius (played by Terry Crews), his mother Rochelle (played by Tichina Arnold), his brother Drew (played by Tequan Richmond), and his sister Tonya (played by Imani Hakim). Julius is the epitome of the cliche “Penny Pincher.” He’s intensely tight with money and–literally–counts the cost of everything in their house and makes it his business to remind his family how much everything costs. Rochelle is a loud and paranoid mother who is strict, but loving. Drew is the “Lover Boy” who gets attention from all the girls, even women. Tonya is a typical little sister—whiny, wants to get her way, and wants to get Chris in trouble any chance she gets.

The transition from 1950s-60s to modern day sitcom shows how TV has advanced. Besides TV switching from black-and-white to color, the theme of sitcoms appear to remain constant–it displays a situation of some sort where characters work together (or individually) to solve that situation. The setting seems to continually be amongst family or a community of some sort. Our society appear to value family and a sense of unity—as displayed in these two sitcoms.

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Justice for All: A Right that Holds Untrue

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In Sanford, Florida, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was gunned down and killed because of supposed threats of suspicion on February 26, 2012. Martin (wearing a hooded sweatshirt at the time with the hood on his head) was returning from a convenience store—evidence being a bag of Skittles candy and Arizona iced tea in hand—where George Zimmerman thought him to be suspicious. Zimmerman called the police and reported Martin as a suspect—insinuating that an African-American male didn’t belong in that type of community (a gated community). The operator informed Zimmerman that it wasn’t necessary for him to follow Martin, but Zimmerman chose to continue his following pursuit anyway. Later, Zimmerman and Martin got into a brawling altercation where Martin was shot in the chest and later died. Since February 26th, Zimmerman has yet to be charged or arrested because of his plea for self defense and Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. This has raised a national outcry where many rallies and marches have taken place to seek justice for Trayvon Martin—an event that many believe is the 21st century Civil Rights Movement.

A “Million Hoodie March” took place on March 22, 2012, where hundreds marched through the streets of New York in remembrance of Trayvon Martin. As a member of Empowerment Temple church in Baltimore, Maryland, I was part of a church service where everyone was encouraged to wear their hoodies in commemoration of Trayvon Martin. Editor Isabel Wilkerson (an editor for CNN news) wrote a captivating article in response to the Trayvon Martin case, where she recollected pass cases of manslaughter—in that—non-black suspects were acquitted of African-American deaths in the southern states. Wilkerson recalls the Claude Neal case where Neal—a 23-year-old black man—was accused of raping and murdering a 20-year-old white woman. Lynch mobs raided the prisons where Neal was contained, as they looked to retrieve justice in their own way. The mobs became so threatening that Neal was eventually moved out of state for protection. Information leaked of Neal’s whereabouts and lynchers abducted Neal, where they brought him back to Marianna to torture him to death—literally. The lynchers castrated Neal and tortured him for hours with cruelty. The torturing was so inhumane that one lyncher admitted to having vomited. Wilkerson mentions the Neal case—along with many others—to raise the point of validation that many cases of African-American injustice have gone unnoticed and without prosecution to parallel how the Trayvon Martin case appears to fall in line with these other cases.

Along with issues of race and racial profiling, the media is slowly leaking negative stories about Martin as a way to raise defense for Zimmerman. In the news, it’s been reported that Martin had been suspended from school and was caught with an empty marijuana bag on his possession. How can school suspension and drug possession (of which was empty at the time) justify Martin’s death? What gave Zimmerman the right to gun down Martin without probable cause? Unfortunately, we’re only left to hear one side of the story because Martin is no longer here to testify in his own defense. How can Martin wearing a hoodie cause suspicion which eventually led to his death? Some have claimed that the hoodie was the cause of Martin’s death, but how so? During a time in history, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) wore white hoodies—where they terrorized, harassed, tortured, and did slain Blacks because of their hatred and dislike against Blacks—hatred of which, to this day, still doesn’t have probable reasoning. At that time, the majority didn’t view the KKK as “suspicious” because of their hoodies. Blacks—on the other hand—feared for their lives and safety. I guess an African-American male with a hoodie and gold teeth (also known as “fronts” or “grills” in the Black community) is automatically assumed to be a gangster and troublesome—a common form of racial profiling. All in all, justice for Trayvon Martin needs to be served—given the present circumstances —Zimmerman did commit a murder and he should face proper consequences as a result.

Source: (The link to Wilkerson’s opinion piece: http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/26/opinion/wilkerson-trayvon/index.html?hpt=op_mid)

“Super Tuesday in the Slumps”

Source: The Washington Post

The results of this past “Super Tuesday” electoral race has left Republicans in an heated upheaval. Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia lead the primaries. Ohio won the Midwest, Oklahoma was victorious for the Great Plains, and for New England—Massachusetts and Vermont.  Obama doesn’t rest well with Republicans and they want him out of office, but “Super Tuesday” could indicate otherwise—possibly. Republicans believe the presidential candidates devote more energy attacking one another than focusing on the election itself—where their focus should be to adequately convince Republican voters that they suffice position as possible president of these United States.

There is concern of whether the Republican party could collectively be a strong enough opponent to get Obama out of office. One Republic voter said “There’s no one out there who can beat Obama. The Republican Party is not together enough. We’re going to have another five years of Obama” (Thompson & Helderman, 2012). Romney did win the votes of Massachusetts and Virginia. Out of 10 states, Romney one six of them (Ohio included) and he won the percentage of delegates he needed—doubled that of Santorum. (statics retrieved from Milbank)

“From Message in a Bottle to Snail Mail to E-mail”

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When was the last time you gathered paper, pen, an envelope, and postage stamp to write a letter? As a matter of fact, have you ever written a letter with pen and paper—then sent the letter through mail? Well, older generations is very well familiar with this process, but the newer and growing generations are more adapt to getting things done electronically. When you do send an e-mail, do you wonder who invented the e-mail and how different life would be without it? Imagine how longer it would take to deliver messages. Oh, how convenient is that “send” button in e-mail. It beats delivering letters on horseback.

Speaking for myself, I appreciate e-mail messaging. It’s one of the primary ways I communicate—whether it’s receiving notifications from my professors for particular assignments, sending messages to my peers, inquiring for more information from a business, or simply—to keep in touch. I do ALL of my writing on computer, except the moments I have to take notes in class—oh, the horror! Sometimes I forget how my handwriting looks or I worry that I may have forgotten how to write with pen and paper because I type everything. The e-mail is an ingenious invention that has stood the test of time. It makes communication that much easier and faster. Waiting for the recipient of the e-mail to respond is the only downfall.

In case you were wondering, Ray Tomlinson—an engineer at Beranek and Newman (a firm in Boston, also known as BBN Technologies)—invented the e-mail in 1971. His task was to create something unique to do with ARPANET (the newly invented computer system that gave rise to the Internet). Tomlinson was fascinated with the ways in which humans and computers could interact, so he figured out a way for computers to send messages to other computers—creating what we familiarize as the e-mail. He started by sending messages (a series of random letters and numbers) between two computers. The keyboards were ten feet apart and Tomlinson could wheel his chair “from one to the other and type a message on one, and then go to the other, and then see what I had tried to send” (NPR, 2009). Tomlinson used the @ sign to separate the user and host name of computers, and means “user @ host.”

Here’s a snippet of a question and answer session (taken from Datamation website), where Ray Tomlinson shared his thoughts about his e-mail invention. This should give insight about the inventor himself:

Q: What was your vision for email, and has the reality of it lived up to your expectations?
I’m not sure there was a vision there. It was a hack — a neat thing to try out. …It probably took four, five, six hours to do. Less than a day spread over a week or two — when I had a spare moment. The idea was this facility had proved its usefulness sending messages to the same computer. What about when someone was on another computer, maybe across the country? It would be like the telephone but they wouldn’t have to be there to answer the phone.

Q: When did you realize how big email was going to be?
It never seemed big at the beginning because there weren’t many computers. It was only as big as the network. It depended upon having people with access. As an idea, it caught on right away, but there were so few people on the network… We didn’t call it email. If we called it anything we called it mail or messages. The contrast with snail mail wasn’t necessary then… I never documented the creation of the program. In 1993, someone started to ask where email started. I knew I had done the program… but later various people came along and there were a lot of additional ideas that went into it.

Q: A lot of people say email has changed society. Do you buy into that?
I think there will never be an answer to that. It’s had an effect. I don’t think people are fundamentally different now than they would have been. They simply communicate more. Maybe they’ve made friends and maintain relationships that they wouldn’t have. But bad guys are still bad guys. Good guys are still good guys. Friendly people are still friendly. Just because they can be friendly over email and not a telephone [isn’t that much of a difference]. You just have a larger community to draw from. If you have problems or are looking for answers, you have additional opportunities to find those answers. It’s like having a library in your hometown or not. If it’s not there and you have to make a trip to another town, you might not do it. You can tap into resources more readily. People have found answers to questions and email has been part of that solution.

Q: Does it bother you that Ray Tomlinson is not a household name despite the contributions you’ve made?
No, it doesn’t bother me. It’s a geek thing. Computer nerds know that I’ve done this. I’ve gotten emails from individuals who’ve run across this fact. They say, ‘It’s great what you did. Why don’t you do something about spam?’ I’m not a household name. I wouldn’t say it has brought me no fame and fortune, but it’s not what most people think of when you say those words. It’s kind of neat to have people talking about what you did and have people interested in it. It’s not the center of my life.

Works Cited
Gaudin, S. (2002, July 16). A Conversation With The Inventor Of Email. Retrieved February 29, 2012, from Datamation: http://www.datamation.com/entdev/article.php/1408411/A-Conversation-With-The-Inventor-Of-Email.htm
NPR. (2009, November 15). The Man Who Made You Put Away Your Pen. Retrieved February 29, 2012, from NPR.Org: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120364591

Kitchen Not Hot Enough? Turn Up The Heat!

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Famous for labeling chef contestants as “donkeys” and other vulgar obscenities, Chef Gordan Ramsay has a blatant way of displaying his passion for food and the culinary industry. In his television series “Hell’s Kitchen,” Chef Ramsay offer the opportunity for chefs to win the grand prize of being head chef at a five-star restaurant. The chefs are divided into two teams to compete in cooking for dinner services at Chef Ramsay’s restaurant: Hell’s Kitchen. The chefs need to have what it takes to stand the heat of Hell’s Kitchen in hopes of pursuing their dream in culinary: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that comes by way of sweat, tears, and dedication.

This show is one of my favorite television shows and I enjoy every episode. Since a child, I’ve always had a passion for cooking: often cooking in the kitchen with my aunt and cousins on special occasions, or even just because we wanted to. Before I go on to obtain my Masters degree, I’m going to culinary school because I do want to become a chef and have my own restaurant. For any show related to food and the culinary industry, my eyes are plastered to the TV screen. I admire Chef Ramsay as connoisseur of the culinary industry and having a robust palate for food.

Mitigating Poverty Through Music

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Daniel Watkin’s article “Fighting Poverty, Armed With Violins” shares the exhilarating story of using music to alleviate poverty by teaching Venezuelan children classical music as a method of social uplift through Venezuela’s music program: El Sistema. Poverty in Venezuela is described by Watkin’s as “Corrugated tin roofs, ramshackle cinder-block huts, labyrinthine streets caked with garbage and rubble, the possibility of random violence at any turn” (Watkins, 2012).  El Sistema’s mission is “to address a depressingly universal problem: how to remove children from poverty’s snares, like drugs, crime, gangs and desperation” (Watkins, 2012).

El Sistema has inspired other countries to invest in similar programs for a greater cause. Foundations and donors ensure Sistema’s longevity by giving billions of dollars and providing new instruments for the children. “Tocar y Luchar,” (meaning “To Play and to Fight,”) is engraved on medallions given to the children. The privileged and wealthy are also able to benefit from the classical music lessons that El Sistema gives. El Stigma has reached, roughly, 310,000 children.

Classical music is an ingenious approach of reinforcement for change. Studies have shown that children who play or study music are more likely to excel not only academically, but are placed in well-rounded positions of using creative and analytical areas of their brains more effectively. El Sistema’s vision of incorporating classical music as an alternative in giving children (whose lives are full of struggle and area crime) the opportunity to evade their sorrows through music (even if it’s for only a moment). This music program is to be commended for its efforts of introducing high culture to deprived children. This music program serves as a form of inspiration.

Source: Watkins, D. J. (2012, February 15). Fighting Poverty, Armed With Violins. Retrieved February 15, 2012, from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/16/arts/music/el-sistema-venezuelas-plan-to-help-children-through-music.html?pagewanted=all