The Essential Man

We have a habit of turning sentimental about celebrities who are struck down—Muhammad Ali, Christopher Reeve—transforming them into mystics; still, it’s almost impossible to sit beside Roger Ebert, lifting blue Post-it notes from his silk fingertips, and not feel as though he’s become something more than he was. He has those hands. And his wide and expressive eyes, despite everything, are almost always smiling.

Siskel & Ebert were my prophets when I was a wee wolf. I remember tuning in to listen to their argumentative sermons on the latest Hollywood offerings, at first always paying obeisance to these scions of cinematic debate, later processing their opinions with my steadily developing disagreeable demeanor.

Gene Siskel’s death broke that magic spell, and I never felt quite right about watching the partially patched ship of Ebert & Roeper. So, sadly, I didn’t even realize at first that Roger Ebert had slipped away from the public eye, his voice lost to a series of surgeries to save his life from the insidious spread of thyroid cancer.

So to see Ebert, profiled in this extraordinary Esquire article, was quite a shock to me. I’m sure it was a shock to most people, since he really hasn’t been seen by the public in almost 4 years. At first blush, we might be tempted to already start eulogizing him in our minds, his surgery-misshapen face and gaunt frame leading us to automatic assumptions that, when we read this article, prove to be greatly exaggerated.

Yes, Ebert is, as the article states, “dying in increments, and he is aware of it.” (Then again, as Ebert points out in his blog, aren’t we all dying in increments?) Not only can he no longer speak, he can no longer eat or drink. His is now a life of many vicarious pleasures. But it is also a life refocused. He has returned to the written word with a vengeance, not only as his sole means of communication but once again to the passion of his prose. He journals profusely, continues to review movies, continues to write books, continues to wield the power of his thumbs like a samurai wields his sword. He is, as the article states most factually, The Essential Man.

I cannot praise this Esquire article enough. Chris Jones has written, not a eulogy, but a tribute of eloquence and intimacy to a man still full of life in all its opinionated glory. Though quite a lengthy piece, I assure you, you will reach the end and be left craving more.

BEVATAR

I’m foregoing Flashback Friday this week, denizens. Today was hella busy at work (it was the first day back in the actual office since last Friday), and the more I thought about writing a flashback, the more irrationally irascible I became. So instead I’m posting my latest Gates McFadden/Beverly Crusher-inspired PhotoShop trickery.

Do I really need to say how much this poster delights me? If only this had been the movie Cameron made…

Oh, and you can see ZomBeverly here, in case you missed her the first time around.

And So It Begins…

Remember all the times that I’ve talked about the English singing sensation known as Craig Bevan?

No?! Why not? What, do you think I type things here for my own personal amusement?

Okay, don’t answer that. Just go here and here so you can catch up with the conversation.

Finished? May I continue now? Okay, good. So this is what’s happening now with the Fabulosity Known As Bevan:

Local talent shines in the UK’s biggest original music competition.

Craig Bevan from Leeds has wowed the judging panel and sailed through the audition stage of Live and Unsigned. Craig will now be competing against the other most talented bands and artists in the country at the live shows of Live and Unsigned 2010 – all in a bid to be signed!

Craig battled against hundreds of auditionees to secure a spot in the live shows and now has the opportunity to prove that he is the best in the region. Acts that have made it through auditions will now take part in a live head to head battle in front of thousands of spectators and a professional judging panel to progress to the Live and Unsigned Festival at the 02 in London.

Live and Unsigned is the biggest original music competition in the UK for unsigned bands and artists. Attracting over 30, 000 entries in the past three years, it has set itself apart from its predecessors by offering and promoting originality. It’s now established as the definitive music competition for original acts and is open to all genres of music from Heavy Rock to Rap.

Chris Grayston, Events Director of Live & Unsigned explains “This competition really is worlds apart from X Factor and other TV talent contests – we’re all about originality, Live ability and credibility. We don’t accept demos or submissions and everyone auditions live. We’ve got some fantastic prizes up for grabs this year in a £60, 000 prize pool so there’s a lot of opportunity for everyone entering and not just the winners – that, along with the Festival means 2010 will be the biggest competition yet!”

All the acts that audition in the competition are battling it out for the chance to play at the Live and Unsigned Festival at the 02 in London! Which gives acts the chance to perform at the ultimate live music venue in the country. The overall winner of the competition is offered a recording and management contract with Future Music with an investment of up to £30, 000 to release their single. The winners will be crowned the UK’s best unsigned act in front of a capacity crowd on the main stage of the festival. A&R and celebrity judges last year include former Sex Pistols Manager Malcolm McLaren, pop RnB star Dane Bowers and Radio 1’s Annie Nightingale. Radio 1 DJ Greg James has already confirmed for 2010.

Acts will of course be competing for two main prizes, which include a management contract with Future Music and the opportunity to design and develop their own clothing range with Extreme State. On route the competition offers a comprehensive winners prize pool and acts will have the opportunity to win some fantastic prizes including Marshall state of the art amps, development through recording studio time in some of the UK’s finest studios and seminars and courses with ICMP. Other goodies up for grabs include an Extreme Element experience day, a year’s worth of Extreme State clothing and MUZU.TV will be contributing an all expenses paid trip to Dublin to film a music video and play at a festival.

Previous winners of the competition include Kiddo 360 who went on to pick up a Vodafone Live Award, B-Kay and Kazz who broke into the top 30 charts and last year’s winners from Glasgow The Detours who have just signed an exclusive clothing deal with Extreme.

The winners of 2010 will be thrust into the media spotlight through television, radio and the press and will have the opportunity to tour the UK. The tour involves as many as 100 gigs across the UK including the chance to perform live at some well-known festivals. One contestant who has caught the judge’s eye this year is local talent Craig Bevan, now competing in the Regional Final. Craig made it through the auditions at The Willows in Salford, Manchester amongst hundreds that queued for their turn in front of the judges. Craig is now preparing for the live show on the 7th of March at The Willows for the opportunity to progress towards the Live and Unsigned festival at the O2 in London.

For more information go to the website www.LiveandUnsigned.UK.com. Or better still come down and support local talent; you can purchase tickets on the door or from Craig personally.

See? I told you that Craig was destined for wonderful things. I have unwavering faith that he is going to rock this contest like it has never been rocked before. His voice is pure wonder and his soul is pure gold. He’s going to give incontrovertible proof that nice guys can and will finish first.

So what can you do, dear denizens? If you’re across the pond where all this excitement is going down…well, first off, the white wolf is an unflattering shade of green right now. Since I can’t be there to support Craig, I’m putting it to you: Go, get your tickets, and watch him perform. Scream for him like the groupies you know you are. And if anyone tells you to pipe down, you tell ’em LobaBlanca sent you. That and a 20£ note will hopefully get the bouncers off your back (I’ll pay you back later, I promise).

Seriously, though, if you can support Craig when he performs on March 7, please do. He is all-around amazing in everything he does, but especially when he sings. And he is one of the kindest, funniest, sweetest guys out there. If anyone deserves this, it’s Craig.

So sayeth Loba. And you know Loba would never lie to you when it comes to Bevan.

How Kara Thrace Killed the Bionic Woman

I will smoke you good

Okay, so maybe Starbuck isn’t entirely guilty of this crime of bionicide. But it makes a catchy title, no?

What geekery has me in a lather now? It’s the 2007 attempt to restart the Bionic Woman television series. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I own the 2-DVD set released after this show’s inevitable cancellation. Of all the myriad ridiculous reasons behind my ownership is the fact that it’s awesome to play during my evening workouts. I just finished re-watching the eight episodes yet again. It’s a great sorbet in between my marathon viewings of shows like the new Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek: Voyager.

What struck me as particularly interesting during this re-viewing is how many BSG alumni pop up throughout BW. Of course, there is Katee Sackhoff, she of Starbuck fame, playing Jaime Sommers’s arch nemesis, Sarah Corvus. But Mark Sheppard (Romo Lampkin) played another recurring character, and Aaron Douglas (Chief Tyrol) and Callum Keith Rennie (Leoben Conoy) made guest appearances. I’m willing to bet there were others who crossed over as well, but I’m horrible at face recognition so these are the only ones I’ve got for you.

Seems like Universal was hell-bent on shuffling some of its BSG viewership ratings over to BW in the laziest way imaginable (of course, I’m sure it helped that the series creator was BSG producer/writer David Eick). Don’t worry about the writing…just make sure that those BSG actors are showcased in advertisements. Seems like Universal felt that loyalty among sci-fi geeks is transferable. Oh, how very wrong they were. Sci-fi geeks are some of the ficklest fans EVAR. Sure, maybe we’ll tune in originally because Kara Thrace and Leoben are there. But you’ve got to give us more to keep us. Plus, I didn’t even know who Kara Thrace was at the time. I was still in my “I’m not getting addicted to that fracking over-hyped sci-fi show” mindset. So those parallels were completely lost to me the first time around.

No, I came to BW because I loved the original Lindsay Wagner show when I was a wee Lobita. I’m still waiting for that series to be released on DVD, but thanks to legal issues between Universal and Dimension (one owns the show, and one owns the rights to the original source material), that might never happen. At least Hulu.com is currently showing the first season.

What I found was a reboot that, like most of the drivel that Hollywood spews out anymore, wasn’t worth the effort. I’d like to say that at least their hearts were in it…but if their “hearts” were anything like their focus, then they were all over the place. Just like the scripts. And the character development. And everything else for that matter. This show needed a lot more pre-planning before it ever headed to the development process. The characters needed way more fleshing out. Some of the characters were so last minute that they needed “Wet Paint” signs around their necks. Perfect example: Jaime’s little sister, Becca. That character was originally supposed to be deaf and was played by a completely different actress. Scrapped at the 11th hour, she instead became some kind of nondescript computer hacker fugitive. But only in the first episode. All subsequent appearances portrayed her as a typical surly teen with severe rebellious tendencies. Of course, I’d rebel, too, if I knew I was around only as a plot device that would just as quickly be forgotten whenever Big Sis needed to go on a covert mission that would inexplicably take her away for days at a time.

Hair? Check. Makeup? Check. Wardrobe? Check. Solid Character Development? Anyone? Oi!

Then there was Jaime herself. The new bionic woman is an early-20s college dropout-cum-bartender? Yeah, she gets all super-duper souped up because of an accident, but we learn in the second episode that her doctor/scientist/bionic savior dead BF had been keeping a dossier on her for years, apparently because he thought she would be perfect as his human lab rat for Berkut’s bionic program. Really? Why? Do something anything to establish right from the start what makes her so special. Besides the fact that she looks great wearing black leather and fighting in the rain with sexy Sarah Corvus. That was their first failure.

No. I take that back. Their first failure is the fact that the very first character we meet is Sarah Corvus. Anyone familiar with BSG knows that Katee Sackhoff thoroughly kicked ass as Starbuck. She equally kicked ass as Sarah Corvus. Every single time she appeared on BW, it was like getting a defibrillator jolt to a rapidly dying show. Sackhoff was literally the brightest spot of the series. She appeared in the first four episodes; the final four were decidedly Corvus-less. And that was when the already discordant show began to seriously unravel. It was like removing a jellyfish’s spine. All you’re left with is jiggly blubber.

[Okay, I’m way off in my biological comparisons right now, but cut me a little slack…my brain is still partially holiday-closed, dammit.]

Bottom line was that Michelle Ryan could not compare to Katee Sackhoff. The guest outshone the star each and every time. In Ryan’s defense, this was a) her first big starring role and b) her U.S. debut. So you put her up against an American actress with several years’ experience under her belt in working on a regular sci-fi series that’s heavy on action, heavy on CGI, heavy on everything that Ryan’s not used to? And you put her into a role that is severely under-developed on a show that is lacking even the pretense of knowing what it wants to become or where it wants to go?

Did anyone actually want Michelle Ryan, or for that matter, this show to succeed? Because, honestly, it’s a terrible show. Jaime Sommers as re-imagined by Eick & Co. is an abomination, an embarrassment to the genre. And that’s a serious shame. I wanted this show to succeed more than any other that debuted that 2007 TV season. I was so stoked about BW that I set my Outlook calendar to remind me when it was airing. I watched every episode during the original airing. Yes, I was 1 of the 12 who was still watching right up to the bitter end. I kept hoping that it would find its footing. But the writers’ strike pretty much knocked the sand-slippery slope that the show was already on right out from under it. Michelle Ryan returned to England, Katee Sackhoff went back to toasting skinjobs, and yet another show that could have been a beacon of brightness for women in a still decidedly male-dominated genre was completely doused.

Ah well. I still have my 2-DVD set. And I will say this: It’s awful, campy goodness that’s so laughably terrible that I easily forget about the horrible things I’m making my naturally sedentary body do for the 45-minute duration of the shows. That makes it solid platinum in my book.

The Four Faces of Toni

I’m so glad that Hollywood is finally leaving behind all those sad, disturbing portrayals of Multiple Personality Disorder. You know, like Sally Field’s Sybil or Joanne Woodward’s Eve White…er Eve Black…Jane? Stop this crazy thing?

Anyway, now we’ve got a far funnier, far lighter take on this disease, now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder. You know, because a lot of the classic mental illnesses needed a bit of pizazz to liven them up a bit. It’s not manic depression! It’s bipolar disorder! Now, what can we call schizophrenia? How about “Can You Hear Us Now?” Syndrome?

Am I sounding a bit flippant? I do apologize. I think, however, that anyone who has lived with a severe mental illness in their life, whether their own or that of someone they love, develops a bit of a gallows humor when it comes to discussing such things. It’s been a part of my life since I was 10, and I have a wicked sense of humor about it, as does my family. It’s a coping mechanism, a way to process the fact that sometimes horrible things happen and there’s no real way to “fix” any of it. Just tame it with pills, temper it with therapy, and accept that it is what it is.

Besides, it makes for a great ice breaker when you can tell the story about how you spent part of your 16th birthday in a locked ward, sharing cake with schizophrenics.

Anywho. So this show, United States of Tara, is all about Dissociative Identity Disorder, or DID. The titular Tara, played by Toni Collette, houses several distinct personalities within her: Alice, the hyper-happy housewife who’s like Donna Reed on Speed; Buck, the grizzly beer-bonged Vietnam vet; and T, the 16-year-old nympho-minx who gets away with a hella lot just because she happens to “look mature for her age.”

Here’s the happy “family” all together: Buck, Alice, Tara, and T.

Buck is Tara’s protector, the Alter meant to keep her safe from the memories of whatever trauma she survived in her adolescence that left her fractured into all these different personalities. He also keeps safe those Tara loves; he surfaces when there’s trouble in Tara’s life that she is simply ill-equipped to handle. He’s a lefty with a mean right hook, gruff and offensive, but secretly kind and caring. Alice is the Ladies Home Journal ideal of femininity and motherhood. She surfaces whenever Tara is unable to deal with her children or her marriage. She’ll bake you some muffins, mix you a martini, and wash your mouth out with public restroom liquid soap if you’re not careful. T, probably the most obnoxious of the Alters so far, is a foul-mouthed sex-crazed teen, possibly Tara’s exaggerated way of reclaiming her right to express herself freely, unshackled by the chains of whatever repressed trauma left her this way.

Just for the record, Buck is undeniably my favorite of the Alters.

It’s a delicate dance, this show, dealing with unfunny truths in a wickedly funny style. When I first heard about it, I was über-wary. I knew that it was from Diablo Cody, who was quite the “IT” craze for a while because of her screenplay for Juno. I didn’t really like Juno all that much. I didn’t care about that titular character at all and didn’t really give a shit about the story. Plus, I was so sick and tired of hearing about Stripper Pole Diablo that I wanted to wretch. Needless to say, hearing her name associated with this show was quite the turn-off.

I’m so glad I got over that hurdle. This might possibly be one of the best shows I have ever seen. The writing is exquisite, the casting is perfection, the stories are an amazingly adept balance of wit, humor, irreverence, and sincerity. Plus, there’s a vein of matter-of-factness that snakes all throughout, helping to keep us all anchored in the wake of the tsunami of crazy we’re just getting to know. It’s not new to her family. She’s been like this for years…ever since her husband met her, ever since her children were born.

I think that’s one of the greatest, boldest, most realistic aspects of this show: the way Tara’s family copes with their situation. And that’s just it…they cope. As best as they can. Her husband, played by John Corbett, is the coolest cat in the world. He doesn’t fight the tide, just treads water as he averts the flirtatious affections of Alice or the machismo threats of Buck. He loves his wife, Alters and all. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t get pissed or want to fix what’s wrong. It just means that he’s in it for better or worse. Period. Max is Tara’s greatest champion. Without ever beating this point into our brains with preachy dialogue, we understand that Max is the reason that Tara isn’t wearing Hefty bags and pushing a shopping cart down alleys while fighting back her Alters alone. How many people living on the streets are there because they have no Max? No champion to help them? Or, more accurately, no Max with insurance to cover the cost of their treatment?

Tara’s children, Kate and Marshall, both have a special place in my heart. Played respectively and wonderfully by Brie Larson and Kier Gilchrist, they are testaments to the resiliency of youth. This is the life they’ve always known and these are the parents (and Alters) they’ve got, like it or not. They’re acerbic, angry, resigned, embarrassed, coping with the peaks and nadirs of adolescence while contending with the ridiculousness of what they’ve come to view as mundane. Or at least par for the crazy course. Of course they’re rebellious and belligerent and desperate to have a normal life. But they also know that this is the hand they’ve got and, blow-ups and tantrums aside, they love their mother, fractures and all.

Another wonder of this show is, again, the subtle commentary that strikes deep without offputting preachiness. The show kicks off with us learning that Tara’s Alters are starting to resurface now that she’s decided to go off her medications because of how they leave her feeling non-functional. These anti-psychotic medications that doctors dole out to their patients are unmerciful Catch-22s in pill-form. If you take them, you’re lethargic, you’re unfocused, you’re antsy, you’re hungry, you’re all variety of side effects printed in super-tiny font for three pages of medi-babble. If you don’t take them…you’re catatonic, you’re talking to god, you’re telling ‘Nam war stories while lighting your farts of fire. So what do you choose? Crazy? Or a medicated fugue that passes as “normal” while it ravages your liver in ways worse than a constant IV drip of grain alcohol?

And now we get to the best part of this show: Toni Collette. I adore Toni Collette. I think she’s one of the most marvelous Australian exports EVAR. Definitely way better than Vegemite. In fact, I don’t ever think I’ve seen her give anything less than a stellar performance, no matter what she’s in. She kills as Tara. And all the others. This is the keystone. This premise could have gone completely shazbot if the wrong person had been cast to play Tara. Collette slam-dunks this role with fierceness and compassion. You believe her as all of her Alters. Even more importantly, you believe her as Tara. She is wonderful, and most definitely deserving of the Emmy she won last year for this role.

So there you go. If you haven’t seen United States of Tara yet, the first season is now on DVD. Check it out. I’ve already added it to my wish list, and I can’t wait to see the second season. If it’s anything like the first, it’s going to be more wonder than one person(ality) can stand.

ZomBev

So I’m not seeing a big increase in hits based on my previous zombie references. Maybe I’m not being specific enough. Maybe I should have said something like Zombie Barbie. Or Rob Zombie.

Or maybe I should combine zombies with the one topic that has proven, much to my geeky delight, to bring in the most hits to the lair: Gates McFadden.

I kid you not, denizens: Teh Interwebz is full of love for the Dancing Doctor. Thanks to a couple of incoming links, my Flood Gates posting is by far more popular than anything else I have written here since the lair’s relaunch. My own love for the lovely doctor is such that I am perfectly okay with this fact.

However, this leaves me in a bit of a quandary. I’d hate for my ImagiFriendsTM to be incorrect in their supposition about the popularity of zombies. So, after a bit of thought (and apparently too much spare time), I’ve come up with a satisfactory solution: I simply have to combine the two.

Therefore, I present to you…Zombie Dr. Crusher. Or, more in line with my affinity for portmanteaux, ZomBeverly.

ZomBev

I’m sorry if this distresses anyone, especially considering how this is supposed to be the festive holiday season…not the festering one. But I’ve been a bit absent in my blogging lately, and I noted a distinct drop in numbers because of this. So please forgive me for what I acknowledge is a pathetic attempt to increase the number of hits I log each day.

Of course, you do realize that if this works, I might end up making this a regular feature in which I turn various other Trek characters into zombies. Ooh, or maybe I’ll start turning Dr. Crusher into characters from various other movies, shows, and books! I like that idea much more.

Not that I’ve given it any sort of serious thought or anything…

Sometimes Bad Is Better…

…but sometimes it’s simply bad.

What am I babbling on about this time? Well, have you ever set out to watch a movie because you know it’s going to be 100-percent undeniably awful? Sometimes these are the best movies in the world. They’re so horrifying that they somehow transcend their awfulness and become something wonderful, something to be treasured far above rubies. Or rubes. Whichever is your pleasure.

I sought out such a movie last night. I remembered all the hype and bashing of it when it hit the theaters. I knew there was no way in Sto-Vo-Kor that I was going to pay to see it then, but I logged it in my mental vault of things to watch out for on cable.

And then…there it was in the OnDemand Free Movies section: I Know Who Killed Me.

Oh. My. God.

I’m beginning to think that I have deeply ingrained sadomasochistic tendencies that choose to surface in my entertainment choices, because this movie should be listed as a viable torture option for Gitmo detainees.

Yes, before you ask, this is that “big girl” movie that Lindsay Lohan made 2 years ago, as a means of defining herself as being more than the little girl who used to star in all those Disney movies. Seems that somewhere along the line, someone in Lindsay’s confidence convinced her that undulating around a stripper pole somehow equaled gravitas and maturity on screen. From what I’ve read about Miley Cyrus’s latest performance at the Teen Choice Awards, this same person is now in Miley’s confidence. Billy Ray, you have been warned.

This movie is atrocious, and most definitely not in any sort of transcendent way. I’m amazed that any recognizable name would sign on to what should have been a direct-to-DVD flick starring the actress who played “Goth Girl in Crowd” in one of a slew of teen parody flicks that recently clogged Hollywood…or something like that.

What made it impossible for me to laugh at it is the fact that, beyond having severe torture porn moments, this seemed to be the line of delineation for when Lindsay Lohan wandered into the woods of her own very public personal meltdown. Actually, though, I think the meltdown had already begun, because the release of this movie seemed to be almost secondary to all the craziness that was going on IRL.

I can’t help but draw a comparison between Lindsay Lohan and another actress who started out as a Disney girl: Jodie Foster. The comparison is made even stronger by the fact that both played the precocious teenager in their respective versions of Disney’s Freaky Friday.

The same year that Jodie Foster made Freaky Friday, she also did a little movie called Taxi Driver. One could argue that this was the equivalent at the time of Lindsay’s role in I Know Who Killed Me. Only with a much better…everything. Jodie Foster was 12 years old when she played Iris, the runaway prostitute. I’ve heard Foster discuss how she had to meet with a psychiatrist to make sure that she was well-adjusted enough to play the role of Iris.

That might sound silly to us now, but think about the significance of that: Here were people involved in filmmaking who were concerned with how such a role would affect Foster’s well-being. And from what I’ve read of the role Foster’s mother played early in her career, Foster had no dearth of people around her, protecting her and making sure that she made right choices while still retaining as much of her privacy (and, subsequently, dignity) as she could. Looking at Foster now, you kind of have to agree that she grew up pretty well for someone who has spent practically her entire life in front of a camera.

Do you think there were any such people on the set of I Know Who Killed Me, looking out for Lohan’s well-being? No, Lohan wasn’t 12 when she was sliding down a pole in her stripper garb…but I kind of get the feeling that even when she was 12, there were more people in her life trying to figure out how to make a buck off her than there were people trying to help her realize that while there might not be such a thing as “bad” publicity in this celebreality we live in, there are such things as bad decisions that can have as damaging an effect on you as all those horrible chemicals in your Oompa Loompa spray-on tan.

I’m not even sure what I’m trying to say with this post. All I do know is that I’m so tired of watching celebrities self-destruct in the media. And I can’t help but notice that it’s mostly young women doing the destructing. I’m also tired of how we’ve become a culture addicted to lapping up the viscera of these meltdowns like kittens bogarting the milk bowl. I don’t understand how people can make a living highlighting (exacerbating?) other people’s flaws and stumbles. With all this instant global connectivity, shouldn’t we be striving to build each other up, to support each other, to find common grounds and ways to work and live together? Or is that simply too namby-pamby for what seems like a large swathe of the population who finds comfort in the celebration of famous people schadenfreude?

Wow. I’ve gone way down the rabbit hole on a post about I Know Who Killed Me. Let’s reel it back in, shall we?

One final thing. Lindsay, sweetie, I say this with all sincerity: I would love to see you succeed. I remember seeing your cute little Disney movies and thinking that you had something special that could be turned into something great. I wish that you had more people in your confidence who felt the same and said similar things to you. I wish there were more people in this world rooting for you to succeed as opposed to angling for how to make a buck off you when you stumble and fall.

Fall, not fail. I don’t think you’ve failed. You’ve just strayed away from the path that’s going to lead you out of your woods, that’s all. I hope you find your way back on track soon.

Dead Guy in a Little Coat

It’s not a new thing for companies to resurrect deceased actors to plug their merchandise. Fred Astaire came back for one more dance…with Dirt Devil cleaners. His Funny Face co-star Audrey Hepburn was reanimated for some dancing as well, to advertise skinny black pants for GAP. And, as if their beer wasn’t reason enough to stay away from them, Coors did the ultimate in tacky by bringing back The Duke to hawk Coors Light. Really, guys? Do you think Marion Morrison would drink your skunky light beer?

But this latest one? It made my soul shrink a little bit from the sheer misery of it all.

What. The. Hell.

It’s one level of tacky to bring back long-gone actors for some forced product shilling. But Chris Farley has barely been gone more than a decade. Never mind too tacky…isn’t this simply WAY too soon? And David Spade? We all know that you pretty much lost your meal ticket when Chris died, but this really nailed that fact home in a huge, ugly way. You’re still riding his gravy train, man, and now it’s not just sad…it’s sick.

I love Tommy Boy. I think it’s one of the greatest movies to come from a former SNL cast member. Chris Farley was a brilliant physical comedian with demons far larger than even he could tackle. But what he left behind still makes me laugh (and occasionally cry out “Holy Schnike!”). To see his work reduced to nothing more than background noise to Spade’s Direct TV spiel? To quote Tommy Boy, “Richard, what’s happening?!”

Dis-temper

Know what makes me tired? How so many recent events have proven that we are a society trapped in a downward spiral of uncontrolled rudeness and stupidity. What am I talking about? Why, what everyone else is talking about, of course: Joe, Kanye, and Serena, oh my!

We start out with Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst during Obama’s address to Congress. It was disrespectful, yes. Then again, so were the Democrats who booed George W. Bush during his State of the Union address in, I believe, 2005. Wilson, however, is also being labeled racist. (Those booing Democrats, in case you’re wondering, were never labeled moronists.)

I’ve gone over this one before, but apparently I’m screaming into the wind yet again. Now even former presidents are getting in on the racism tagging. To Obama’s credit, he refuses to take this tired, stale bait. Perhaps because he realizes that this is simply another smokescreen to detract our attention away from an honest debate about important issues. Kind of on the same level as death panels and tea baggers (yes, please giggle if you must at that one).

That’s what Republicans are guilty of at this juncture: not being blatantly racist. No, their specialty is fearmongering as a smokescreen to deflect attention from real issues. How do you think they convinced half the country to re-elect Dubya even though he didn’t have enough qualifications to be elected school crossing guard? Fear. “If you don’t vote for George W. Bush, the gay terrorists will invade and turn all your children into gym teachers and nancy boys! And they’ll do a FABULOUS job of it!”

Same difference now. “Obama’s health plan will mean Great Aunt Myrtle will have to be put to sleep because she’s too old! Obama’s going to personally euthanize her! Then he’s going to turn her into Soylent Green and serve her to the unemployed!”

Okay, that last part was a bit over the top…but so are the death panels. What purpose does this kind of panic serve beyond the obvious of detracting from intelligent discourse? Yeah, like we’re capable of such a thing in this country.

Actually, though, I’m derailing myself. I’m not here to talk more about the universal health care issue or all the other political piffle that’s been irritating me. It’s too early in the day to get my blood pressure that high. No, because now we move from Joe Wilson to Kanye West. I don’t want to say much about him, because he’s really not worth a lot of commentary. I’m simply acknowledging that he was a big douchewanger…yet again. But then there’s Serena Williams threatening to cram a “fucking ball” down someone’s “fucking throat.”

All righty then. Women, we still don’t make the same pay for doing the same work as a guy, but we’re now able to throw tantrums in the sports world, like the big boys do! Just like Mary Tyler Moore, looks like we’ve made it after all!

Now, of course, all three of these hotheads have apologized. It took Serena a little longer, but she finally came around (after much pushing from her agent and others within her financial inner circle, I’m sure; we mustn’t tarnish ourselves too much or the money won’t keep rolling in). And now all will be forgiven (well, at least for Kanye and Serena; Joe’s going to keep getting dragged through the racist ringer a bit longer).

But why should we accept their apologies? Better yet, why should we tolerate this kind of behavior at all? Why shouldn’t Joe Wilson be censured? Hell, why weren’t the booing Jackasses..er, Democrats from 2005 censured? It’s the State of the Union, not a pep rally! Why shouldn’t Serena Williams be told she’s out the rest of the tennis season? Yeah, she was fined. $10,000. Wow. That’s pretty much the equivalent of fining one of us mere mortals a dime.

(Why am I not trying to punish Kanye? I think he’s punishment enough, both to himself and to anyone who listens to his music.)

Why am I bothering to rant about this, as if what I say here is going to make any difference? Will Serena read this and realize the error of her ways? Will Kanye tweet me his apology for being a wanker yet again on national television? Will Joe Wilson care that a Democrat outside his jurisdiction is commenting on him? Why should he? He’s raised more than a million dollars thanks to his outburst. And Kanye got me to talk about him (because Lord knows I sure wasn’t talking about his music). And Serena? Hell, she earned $350,000 just for getting to that match where she had her little meltdown. She’s a winner no matter what the score, if you ask me.

Which, of course, no one did. But I shared anyway, because that’s the kind of wolf I am. Now it’s back to work. I promise I won’t try to shove my mouse down anyone’s throat, although if you’d like to pay me $350,000, I’ll see what I can do. I do have that infamous red-haired temper working in my favor…