Bloggin’ Banat

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Conan O’Brien is My Homeboy January 21, 2010

On Friday, January 22, 2010 Conan O’Brien will sign off as the host of the Tonight Show.  It’s weird to even write those words because Conan has been at the helm of the Tonight Show for only seven months.  Seven months!  On June 1, 2009 Conan made the trek from New York City, where he hosted Late Night for 16 years, to Los Angeles to take on the position he had always dreamed about having and desired.  Sadly, his job as host of the Tonight Show has come to a quick and bitter end in what many are calling one of the biggest television debacles in history.  For this Conan fan, and millions of others, it’s one huge tragedy.  On the flip side, however, this anger and bitterness has provided some of the best comedy from Conan since his Late Night days.

Three weeks ago, I wasn’t surprised when I read that NBC was planning to cancel The Jay Leno Show at 10 pm.  It had been a horrible idea from the start.  To put on what is essentially a late night talk show during prime time to save money on production costs just didn’t make sense.  But to be honest, I couldn’t have cared less about the production costs for NBC or why the network executives decided to place Jay Leno at 10 pm.  I was, however, very pissed.  I was upset because for 16 years, Conan O’Brien followed Jay Leno and his Tonight Show without complaint.  Then, when it was Conan’s time to be the top dog as host of the Tonight Show, he found out that he would be following Leno’s lead yet again.  Yet, even on his last taping of Late Night, Conan was gracious towards Leno and expressed his thanks.  While I wasn’t surprised that Leno’s show tanked due to low ratings, I was shocked to find out that the NBC execs were planning to move Leno back at 11:35 for a half hour show and move the Tonight Show to 12:05.  It was such a preposterous idea that I thought for sure it was just some moron making up a rumor. But within a day after the initial reports came out, it was confirmed by the NBC execs, who indeed are morons, that it was all true.  The question that immediately came to mind was, “Why the hell would you offer a guy, who agreed to step down as host of the Tonight Show five years earlier and who then failed miserably on a new show, another chance at 11:35 and bump the Tonight Show to 12:05?!” It just didn’t make any sense at all.  A day went by before Conan himself jokingly addressed the issue on his show.  I think he and his staff found out about the whole situation through TMZ, of all places.  And so here we are two weeks later in what is Conan’s last week as host of the Tonight Show. To add salt to the wound, it’ll be Leno who’ll be taking the reigns of the Tonight Show once again.

What has been crazy wonderful about this whole messed up situation, the silver lining if you will, has been the overwhelming show of support by Conan’s fans, the ribbing coming from other late night talk show hosts towards Leno and Conan’s own shredding of NBC and Leno on his show.  Why, you may ask, are people overwhelmingly on Team Conan?  Well, to put it simply, because Conan got shafted by the NBC execs (‘The Man’) and Leno (who didn’t have the class to just leave the network and go somewhere else when his show got canceled).  You see, Conan had enough of being pushed around. Being asked to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate Leno for his half hour show crossed the line.  So on January 12th, after days of speculation as to what was Conan’s official position on the whole screwed up situation, he issued a statement saying that he would not participate in the “destruction” of the Tonight Show by having it moved to 12:05.  His statement was fantastically awesome.  Conan laid it all out there.  You can read the statement for yourself in it’s entirety here.

I don’t know how anyone, after reading his statement, cannot see what a classy guy he is and not be on his side. As soon as that statement went out, fans mobilized on Twitter and formed groups and fan pages on Facebook expressing their support. The one with the largest following on Facebook has been the “I’m with COCO” page started by artist Mike Mitchell.  I, of course, became a fan of this page.  Mike’s campaign-like image of Conan has become the symbol of the pro-Conan movement.  Many variations of the image have also been made.  You can only imagine my delight when I came across one with a Palestinian flag in the background; made by a non-Arab no less.  Just awesome!  In addition to finding this wonderful image on this page (which apparently Arab pop singer Carole Samaha finds amazing.  She, or someone claiming to be her with her picture, posted a comment in that regard to this image), I’ve also become Facebook friends with designer Isaac Mizrahi.  No joke.  He’s apparently a big Conan fan as well and said that any fan of Conan’s is a friend of his.  He asked people to friend him on his private account so that we all could “network.”  So I figured, why not?  He totally accepted me right away.  Isn’t it great how Conan is bringing all these people together? Ha!

Not only have fans showed their support online, but through the “I’m with COCO” page, rallies were organized to show support for Conan and anger towards NBC and Leno.  On Monday, January 18th hundreds, if not thousands of fans, took to the streets and held rallies in New York City, Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles.  The largest one took place in LA at the Universal Studios lot where Conan tapes the Tonight Show. From the videos on Youtube, pictures and accounts of the fans who attended, it looked like it was an exhilarating, heartwarming experience that was truly epic.  Hundreds showed up and stayed during what was a torrential downpour in LA.  Conan’s staff brought out doughnuts and coffee for the supporters in the morning.  Many staffers and writers also came out amongst the crowd to show their appreciation. And then to the pure delight of the fans, Conan himself came out, without security guards or an entourage, and ran towards his fans to greet them. He quickly mingled with the fans and ran towards his studio where everyone followed.  Pizza from Conan and the staff was distributed for those who were there.  Conan later mentioned his appreciation for the rallies and showed footage on his show that evening.  I ask you, is there any celebrity out there who would have this kind of dedication and devotion from his fans and one who would show this much gratitude in return? I can’t think of anyone.

It angers me now to read what the haters are saying about Conan’s 45 million dollar settlement with NBC. That he shouldn’t be complaining due to the large payout he’ll be getting.  First of all, yes, it’s a lot of money.  But 12 million dollars from that settlement goes to Conan’s loyal staff that followed him from New York to LA. He fought hard for that.  Not only that, but he is also supplementing the severance for his staff with his own money.  Again, it shows what a classy guy he really is.  Second, his fans know that for Conan, it’s not about the money.  Like he said in his statement, he was offered more lucrative offers in the past but turned them down. He turned them down because he just wanted to host the Tonight Show.  So now that he’s getting screwed by NBC, he absolutely should fight for all he can get. Let’s face it, if it was any one of us getting screwed over by our bosses, we would do the same thing if we could.  Third, in the couple of shows immediately after issuing his statement, Conan’s pain clearly showed and it was sad to see.   But, like he also said in his statement, no one should feel sorry for him.  He’s an extremely lucky guy.  To be honest, it’s me and the other fans I feel sorry for.  Finally, acknowledging that there are far more serious and worse things going on in the world, he’s been taking the time out of his show to bring attention to the disaster in Haiti. I don’t see Leno doing that.

You may be wondering why I would care so much (yes, it is just entertainment.  But I can be just as passionate about it as I am about other things). Why am I such a huge fan? It’s because one night, twelve years ago, I happened to come across a sketch on this show I’d never heard of that made me laugh out loud. I was in college then and was able for the first time to stay up late enough to watch this show with a host I knew nothing about.  After that night, I made sure to watch it again the following night and, before I knew it, I was hooked.  It wasn’t just one thing that I liked about Conan; there were many things.  He’s funny, nice, sincere, creative and a class act.  But above all else, his comedy simply made me laugh my ass off.  Soon, I was contributing to a fan newsletter and became a hardcore fan.  Over the years I obsessively watched Late Night dreaming of the day I could attend a live taping.  My dream finally came true a year ago when I attended a taping a month before his final Late Night show.  I’m so grateful I had that opportunity.   It was literally an item that I could finally cross off on my bucket list.  It was epic for me.

I’m so sad that Conan will be off the air after tomorrow.  I’m sad that he’ll no longer be able to continue his dream of hosting the Tonight Show.  This conclusion has come so quickly that it hasn’t sunk in yet.  The period of time between Conan’s last day at Late Night and his first day hosting the Tonight Show wasn’t great for us fans. For a few months, there was no Conan for us to look forward to seeing at the end of the day.  However, we knew and were giddy with anticipation that he would soon be back on a bigger and brighter stage as host of the Tonight Show.  Now,  there’s an uncomfortable uncertainty as to what he will do or where he will end up.  According to the reports on his settlement with NBC, he can be back on the air as soon as September.  God, I certainly hope so.  I can’t wait for the day when Conan will once again be back on television and into our homes to relieve the stresses of the day with his humor before we go to bed.  Like the Conan faithful have been saying since he made his decision to leave the Tonight Show, ‘wherever Conan goes, I will follow’…because he’s my homeboy.

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Adversity: A Fact of Life September 16, 2009

Filed under: Islam,Nawal,Pop culture,wtf — Nawal @ 1:22 pm
Tags: , ,

adversityI don’t know what it’s been about this summer but it seems adversity has been lurking around every corner.  Whether it’s in one’s personal or professional life, adversity doesn’t discriminate.  We all face it in our lives, and it can be a total bitch, but it’s in how we deal with it that matters.

When we’re going through tough times we tend to ask ourselves ‘why is this happening to me?’ or ‘how am I going to get through this?’  Loved ones will tell you not to worry, things will be fine.  They’ll tell you that you may be worried now but things will always end up working themselves out.  Sometimes it’s comforting to hear those words but other times, when you’re on the verge of having a nervous breakdown, it’s just annoying.

We’ve all been there, feeling sad and confused like Taylor Swift at the VMA’s, thinking to yourself  ‘what the hell just happened?’  Just when you think you’re having your moment in the spotlight, your moment of achievement, your moment of joy and happiness–just when things start to look up–it all comes crashing down.  You think, ‘this isn’t how I planned it…I don’t deserve this!’  It’s sad when bad things happen to good people. It sucks, actually.  I don’t know why it happens but people of faith will tell you that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.  But I can’t help but think why does it have to hurt so bad?

The great Arab-American poet, Kahlil Gibran, once said that “out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”  Of course, since we all face adversity we all have the scars to prove it, though some of us have more of them and ones that run far deeper than others.  What I wonder is how many scars can one person endure before it becomes too much?  Is there ever too much?

Like the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.  The problem is some of us spend most of our time worrying about what will kill us. Sadly, that only ends up holding us back from enjoying and appreciating a lot in life.

I think deep down we all know that somehow we’ll get through difficult times. Just the mere passing of time helps and, of course, the love and support from friends and family is vital.  It’ll be those who are there for you and by your side during the difficult times that truly care.

For Muslims, the holy month of Ramadan is coming to an end.  It’s a time when, amongst other things, we are to be thankful to God, as always, for what we do have in our lives.  I’ll do my best to always keep that in my head and my heart, no matter how difficult the times, and say alhamdulillah.

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Palestinian Reality in Atlanta? June 16, 2009

Block PartyNo, definitely not.  In an absurd move, CBS has walled off an entire neighborhood in Atlanta to force the neighbors to spend time with each other.  It’s all for a new reality show tentatively called “Block Party.”

The image of the wall built for this show looks very similar to Israel’s apartheid wall in the West Bank.  Of course, life in Palestine, particularly in areas like, Gaza, Ni’lin and the Aida Refugee Camp is anything but a block party.

The details on the specifics of this show are not clear except that the families “will be trapped inside the 20′ maximum security-looking wall for about three weeks for a cash prize.”

I find it insulting to have an entertainment show with a premise built around a crippling and devastating reality faced by an entire population of Palestinians.  While these contestants will be confined behind this wall for three weeks and possibly end up with money for the sake of entertainment, Palestinians have been confined for years within Israel’s illegal wall with no end in sight.

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Brace Yourselves. Paris Hilton Is Coming to Dubai. June 2, 2009

paris-hiltonGod help us all. Paris Hilton is coming to the Arab world to look for a new BFF.  I thought my ears were deceiving me when I heard today that Paris will be going to Dubai to tape her show “Paris Hilton’s My New BFF”.  Sadly, my ears weren’t deceiving me.  It’s true.

Hilton’s reality show, if you can even call it that, first aired in the US on MTV and then a UK version soon followed.  The show’s premise is basically a search for a so-called new best friend for Hilton in which contestants go through a series of tests to see which one can best suit her lifestyle.

Later this month, the show will go to Dubai to film for about 17 days. This, of course, was only with the approval of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.  Is the financial crisis in Dubai really that bad?

The show’s contestants will comprise half of women who are Middle Eastern and the other half who are from other parts of the world who reside in Dubai.  According to co-producer Ish Entertainment, the show will be less racy than the US and UK versions. Basically, cursing, hoochy clothing and booze will be avoided.  Somehow, that doesn’t make the feeling of  nauseousness go away.

This will be Hilton’s first time in Dubai.  Producers intend to exploit that and tape footage of her reaction to her trip.

I’ve certainly never seen Paris’ show but just watching the previews for the upcoming US season is frightening.  The idea of Arab females competing to do whatever it takes to become Paris Hilton’s new BFF makes me cringe.  What’s even more frightening is the idea that this show will actually find an audience in the Middle East.  Yikes!

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‘Harem Pants’: Hot Or Not? April 10, 2009

From left: Harem styles by Topshop, Mango, and Yves Saint Laurent for

From left: Harem styles by Topshop, Mango, and Yves Saint Laurent for

Fashion designers often times come up with trends that are just utterly ridiculous.  The latest cockeyed concoction in women’s fashion to hit the boutiques are pants with a droopy crotch and tapered leg called harem pants.  The style comes in various lengths and crotch droopiness.  The shorts example shown here just looks like an adult diaper to me.

What’s wrong with this trend?  First of all, I take issue with the name.  The word harem conjures up images of female servants and concubines being held captive by Arab men back in the day. This, of course, does nothing but further the negative stereotype of Arabs.  Maybe I’m over analyzing it, but I think it’s wrong nonetheless.

Besides taking issue with the name, these pants immediately take me back and remind me of Ghawar, the character portrayed by Syrian actor Duraid Laham in movies I saw when I was a kid. For those who don’t know, this style of pant, called a shirwal, is a traditional piece of men’s clothing worn in the Bilad al-Sham region of the Middle East (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan).  Even if  you’re not Arab, these pants will regrettably remind you of the MC Hammer days.  Who’d want to relive that?  I still can’t believe some people actually thought those pants were cool.

I don’t know if women everywhere will start wearing these but I certainly hope not.  I’m totally down with traditional Arab styles becoming prevalent but certain things should just be left alone.  This style is definitely not hot!

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Technology Can Be A Bitch April 9, 2009

text-messagingThe popular and expanding use of text messaging, Facebook and Twitter definitely have their advantages. They have become great tools in dispersing information widely and quickly.  However, if you happen to be on the receiving end of bad news or the subject of unflattering information from such messages then it may not be so great for you.

A couple of days ago a Gazan mother and journalist, Laila El-Haddad, was detained at the Cairo airport with her two young children.  El-Haddad was attempting to visit her family by going through the Rafah crossing.  Through her Twitter and blog updates, via the free Wi-Fi at the airport, El-Haddad has been documenting about her detention and treatment.  Apparently, the Egyptian authorities at the airport told her they cannot allow Palestinians into Egypt if the Rafah crossing is closed.  According to her latest tweet, she’s been informed she’ll be deported back to the US via the UK. Thanks to this technology, El-Haddad’s story has been picked up by several online media outlets and the whole world knows of her ordeal and treatment in Cairo.  I wonder if Egyptian authorities will decide to discontinue the Wi-Fi at the airport after this?

In another story, a Saudi man decided to divorce his wife via text message.  He followed up the text with a couple of phone calls to relatives to inform them of his decision. The man wrote the text from Iraq where he was on jihad, as he describes it.  If you’re wondering if divorce via text is legit, it apparently is in Saudi Arabia. A court in Jeddah finalized the whole thing.  Under Sharia law, a man can divorce his wife by saying “I divorce you” three times but I always thought that one must say that in person.  I don’t know.  It’s probably best his wife, or ex-wife now, didn’t see him.  I hope this way of getting a divorce doesn’t catch on though.  It’ll be a cop out, particularly for men with no backbone.

The access to instant information is great but it can be a bitch too depending on the circumstances.

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New Film In The Works Has Interesting Components March 24, 2009

julian_schnabel1Julian Schnabel,who directed the wonderful Oscar nominated film “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” will be directing a new film called “Miral”. What’s interesting is that “Miral” is based on a book of the same name written by Palestinian-Italian Rula Jebreal who also co-wrote the script.  Apparently, Jebreal, who lives in Italy, is a hugely popular broadcaster there and is outspoken on immigration and foreign affairs. I’m surprised I’ve never heard of her. The book is about Hind Husseini who attempts to open an orphanage (Dar El-Tifl), and eventually does, in Jerusalem after the war in 1948 and the struggles thereafter.

While I commend Schnabel for making this film ” to fix things over there . . . and make things better over there”, I think it’ll take a lot more than a film to do that.  However,  it’ll be nice to see a film about a Palestinian woman who took matters into her own hands to help orphaned children.  I hope that Schnabel won’t oversimplify the conflict in the process.

I do think this will be a promising movie.  Not only is it directed by Schnabel but it will also star the incomparable Hiam Abbas (“The Visitor”, “Pomegranates and Myrrh”) who makes any movie she’s in better.  Also starring in the film, and an interesting choice, is Freida Pinto.  She’s become the new “it” girl after the success of “Slumdog Millionaire” (great movie, btw).  I wish Pinto the best of luck because I don’t think she’ll be able to hold her own next to Abbass.  Casting hasn’t been completed yet but I’m sure “Miral” will get a wide release due to who’s directing it and starring in it.  Shooting for the film will begin next month in Israel and is scheduled to be released in 2010.

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