Saturday, March 31, 2012

William Sampson

I don't normally venture into the fields of politics or current affairs, but this news item has affected me quite emotionally. I would not have even been aware of the death of William Sampson at age 52, had it not been for a a chance sighting of a fleeting mention on the news ticker on CBC News Network. While it was later mentioned during the actual CBC news broadcast, the news of his death has been largely ignored by the Canadian and world media, including our own national newspaper, The Globe and Mail. And that is a travesty, in my opinion.

William Sampson was a Canadian citizen working in the pharmaceutical industry, stationed in Saudi Arabia. In 2000, he was abducted and charged with some car bombings that resulted in the deaths of several of his colleagues. It is now widely believed that he and several others were falsely accused of these murders because the Saudi authorities were looking for some easy scapegoats and did not want to conduct a proper investigation that might have turned up a situation embarrassing to their own government. While in captivity, Mr. Sampson was beaten and brutally tortured, and deprived of sleep for more than a week at a time, before eventually being coerced into giving a phony confession to the murders. He also suffered two heart attacks believed to be due to long periods of sleep deprivation, and was sentenced to beheading for these trumped up charges. Though he was finally released from the Saudi jail in 2003, it was more due to the efforts of the British consul, not the Canadian, as the latter always just believed at face value what the Saudis told them without further investigation.

I remember being first aware of William Sampson a number of years ago when he was interviewed at length by Peter Mansbridge on CBC. I recall crying while watching him relate his horrific saga, and the man's story has stuck with me through the years since. So this week William Sampson has died of a heart attack, having been failed and forgotten by successive Canadian governments who were reluctant to do anything that might ruffle the feathers and embarrass their friends, the Saudis. Politics and mindless bureaucracy triumph once more. For those of you among my readers who are just as concerned over the plight of individuals like William Sampson as I am, please take the time to watch this interview with the man conducted by Democracy Now back in 2005. Aside from his account of his own horrific treatment, I appreciate his words (at 47:30) regarding what others have similarly experienced at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. It seems somehow tragically ironic that this good man has now died from a heart attack the very same week that former VP Dick Cheney has received a heart transplant, the same Dick Cheney responsible for okaying so many dubious interrogation techniques in the name of seeking "intelligence". Disgusting...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

RIP Robert B. Sherman

I read the sad news on one of my favourite sites, Cinemaretro, that Robert B. Sherman has passed away. Robert along with his brother, Richard, were the talented songwriters who wrote much of the music that we all loved from the Disney films and theme park attractions throughout the 60's, 70's and even into the 80's. Since I was a child of the 1960's, Disney films such as The Sword in the Stone, The Jungle Book, and The Aristocats were very much a part of my formative years, as well as their absolute masterpiece, Mary Poppins. Actually, I had just screened my DVD of Mary Poppins over the Christmas holidays, watching it for the first time on my big HDTV, and was awestruck by the sheer craftsmanship that is in abundance at every level in that film. I was a bit teary eyed in fact as I listened to "Feed The Birds", remembering that it was the song that Walt Disney would often request that Bob and Dick play for him in his office when he was in a reflective mood.

The music of the Sherman Brothers is strongly melodic with witty and whimsical lyrics, making everything they wrote memorable and timeless. For me, their songs, combined with the orchestral scores by composer George Bruns, were so much a part of that warm and wonderful era of Disney, and I am grateful to these talented men for the legacy they have left us. Bob, I hope you're now enjoying a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Monica Bellucci

Yeah, I know it's a long time since New Years Eve when I last posted on this blog. Blame it on a lack of creativity on my part, as well as my general feeling of disinterest in that which passes for entertainment in this 21st century thus far. I'm afraid I'm very much out of step with the tastes of modern society, and that's why most of what you'll see here at The Cartoon Cave is dedicated to my nostalgia for a better era.

Still, I have to post something to keep you folks interested in coming back, so here is a brand new caricature I just finished yesterday of that beautiful Italian goddess, model and actress, Monica Bellucci. She's the featured subject this week on Caricaturama Showdown 3000. The initial sketch was done from watching her in the Italian film, Malena, in which she plays the title character, a beautiful yet terribly ill-treated young woman in Sicily during World War II. However, I decided to portray Monica just as herself in more glamourous mode. By the way, as today is also the birthday of my Italian buddy, Cory Crivari, I shall dedicate this caricature of Ms. Bellucci to Cory, as he well appreciates the charms of a lovely woman as do I. Happy Birthday, Cory!

Here too is a montage of clips from the film, Malena: