May madness

So, it's the second day of May and it's already been quite an exciting month so far!

First up was the second playoff in the Stanley Cup quarter finals featuring the Canucks versus the Nashville Predators (although technically this game fell on April 30th...but we partied till May 1 so that still counts, right?!)

We all went over to a friend's house to watch the game and I for one have never seen so many Irish people watching what is to us a 'foreign' sport with the divide, happily, pretty much 50/50 men and women...as opposed to the testosterone fest that is soccer at home! As was expected, there were some semi-serious discussions as to the finer rules of the game but, generally as can happen when a bunch of Irish people get together in one room, the booze took over and we all sat back and watched the ensuing drama, without worrying too much about 'icing' or 'bodychecking' (two terms I'd never even heard of two years ago!)

Fast forward 3 periods and 2 overtime plays and our concentration on the game had well and truly dwindled, in direct correlation to our supply of beer! Talk soon turned from faceoffs and power plays to how everyone came to be in Van, and I must say it turned out to be a very sociable soirée indeed! I met some lovely new people and had a wonderful conversation with a lovely Canadian lass about our second favourite place on earth, Barcelona. However, the poor UFC game [sic...I've just been told by my utterly disgusted boyfriend that it's not a 'game,' it's a 'match' or a 'fight.' Upon further questioning, I asked what this because a match or a fight could be between two people whereas a game normally features a team...but he just looked at me like I'd two heads and replied, exasperated by sports bimbo supreme here, that; "Yeah...I dunno...it just IS"!!! The battle of the sexes rages on, eh?!] Anyhoo, the UFC FIGHT we had all intended to watch - a first for Toronto and at which, I read with glee in 24 Hours Vancouver, those Canadian fans really let their hair down! - was completely ignored. Instead, we got down to the nitty gritty of finding the best and naffest '90s music to play over YouTube for the breakout of our bangin' 'big box little box' and 'robot' dance moves. Snap's Rhythm Is A Dancer ("I'm serious as cancer") was of course a crowd pleaser mixed with patriotic picks like The Wolfetones' On The One Road and the inimitable Damien Dempsey's Apple Of My Eye (B.T.W. -- that's for you Angie! -- if you don't know these songs check them out Canadians, you'll love them!)

I'd say the one or two authentic Canucks amongst us didn't know what to make of us at all (but none were left standing when the party finally ended circa 5am!!) And, in retrospect, I think this was the first party I've been to in this fair land that hasn't been broken up by the cops by midnight. Plus it was in a residential area. Hm, go figure...maybe the neighbours were Irish lovers too and let us away with our boisterousness 'cos they've got our ancestry running through their veins!!

Then of course there was the inevitable wedding coverage ALL weekend with continuous replays and the usual hype about the dress, the kiss, the speeches -- insert mindless chatter here -- but the big news for me had to be Mr Michael Scott, a.k.a Steve Carrell, finally exiting The Office after seven delightful years. I defy you to watch that clip and not get the teeniest bit teary eyed!! Apparently they were real tears too which makes it even more authentic.

Sigh.

Then the next big event of course and I mean BIG (which came, as big news has a habit of doing, as I was still fragile from the shenanigans and general tomfoolery of Saturday night) was Barack Obama's shock announcement that Osama bin Laden was dead after ten years in hiding. Wait, were we still looking for him?!

I had a slew of contrasting reactions to this news.

First of all, can I just say that I can't believe it's nearly a decade since 9/11. I remember it like it was yesterday, as anyone who saw those dreadful images of people jumping out of the Two Towers will know only too well.

Second, Osama's name is just too close for comfort to Obama's, which got a Fox newscaster in a right little pickle when he, and several others mind you, momentarily announced that Obama was dead!!!

Third, Obama's late night speech was something else. It filled me with such a sense of national pride that I almost forgot I'm Irish, living in Canada, and I have absolutely no connection to America whatsoever! Obama is such a perfect orator that it seems to me he almost belongs on the silver screen - think Bill Pullman's rousing call to arms in alien sci-fi flick Independence Day which stirs my emotions even now, fifteen years later - eek, again, has it really been fifteen years?! - and after 20 or so viewings, which declares; "We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive! Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!" If that doesn't get your heart racing I don't know what will!

Those now iconic words; "Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children."

With the equally emotive closing; "...today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people. The cause of securing our country is not complete, but tonight we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to...Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America."

Wow. I'm just so thankful this happened on Obama's time. Maybe now it will take the ridiculous sheen off Mr Donald Trump who, until last week, seemed to be a favourite in the presidential race against Obama for his much thought out "show us your full birth certificate" argument. Yeah, but who killed Osama....trump that Donald!! I like you on The Celebrity Apprentice but, seriously dude, it's time to get a grip on reality. And that's actual reality, not TV reality! Money can buy you power but not respect. (By the way, for those of you who missed it there was a great documentary on one of my favourite TV series, The Passionate Eye, recently chronicling the literal turf war between Trump and some salt of the earth locals in Scotland entitled Donald Trump's Golf War. They single-handedly took on the man himself and put a halt to the development of a £1 billion golf course in one of Scotland’s most scenic beauty spots. Definitely worth a watch! Also, check out Obama finally getting his own back on Trump at a White House dinner Saturday night...classic stuff!)

Obama's speech was also an insight into what goes on behind closed doors. Just because we tend to forget who's after who as we deal with one disaster after another as splashed across our TV screens, I had mixed emotions as to this particular reconnaissance mission that's been going on since last August. On the one hand I'm glad someone's looking out for us behind the scenes and seems to know what he's doing. On the other I have a spooky X-Files type feeling wondering just what else these guys are getting up to without our knowledge??!! God knows really (or is that where the problem started?!), but it is strangely comforting to know that someone's after 'the bad guys.' And I'm sure the Pakistanis will be miffed that Osama was hiding in their country all along (in a $1 million mansion yards from a Pakistani military academy no less - no dark caves here), but I agree that they shouldn't have been told as all it takes is one shady character to leak some vital information and he could've gotten away again.

This is all a far cry of course from muggling George Bush and his rallying cries for a call to arms in 2001 which, in reality, only led to the capture of Saddam Hussein as a sort of scapegoat while the real mastermind got away. Hopefully - hopefully - now the American people will see sense and will keep Obama in office as I can quite truthfully say at this moment in time that he is the only politician I actually trust, worldwide. So he must be doing something right!

Cue patriotic images of Americans celebrating in the streets and singing the National Anthem while waving the flag about and shouting "God Bless America." Yes, God Bless America is right but I can't help but feel these pictures may not necessarily do the country any favours. We all remember seeing videos of Muslims seeming to celebrate in the streets after 9/11 which will stay with us for life, but the truth is that this was a tiny section of society and did not represent the majority thinking, as the media portrayed at the time. Political propaganda can be seen the world over - and I think the Average Joe has cottoned onto it by now - as witnessed with Bush's blatant 'Mission Accomplished' declaration displayed prominently behind his head as he announced the end of the war in Iraq in 2003 although, clearly, it was not the end of any war by any stretch of the imagination.

We don't want Osama to become a martyr. Apparently the US military buried his body at sea in order to prevent the grave from becoming a shrine for extremists, but I find that slightly fishy (excuse the pun.) What if we actually want evidence that Osama was killed without having to rely on mere hearsay?

Furthermore, a White House official - the Counter Terrorism Chief no less - said a woman who was also killed in the raid was one of Osama's wives and was shot because he had used her as a shield. How do we know that? Will anyone of authority question why she was killed in the crossfire? Is this another case of twisting the truth to keep the public sweet and, if so, why is the general media not questioning such sweeping statements? Does anyone really care or are we just relieved to be rid of the man himself?

The problem is that a lot of people buy into what they see on TV and in the newspapers without making up their own minds or questioning the powers that be. I'm not an anarchist - far from it - but, having studied and worked in the media myself, I know how easy it is to get caught up in the hullabaloo. I don't want to seem to cower away from what is arguably a great victory for the US and represents some sort of closure for the families and victims of 9/11, but the last thing we want to do is to incite yet more unnecessary hatred across the world by chanting "the bastard is dead."

The simple truth is that, unfortunately, there are many other faceless leaders who will be only too willing to fill Osama's shoes and continue the Holy War on America. A sure time to stay on our toes but, with Obama at the helm, at least we know we have the best man possible on our side...

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