Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sometimes It Snows in April


Damn, it just doesn't feel real, does it? The headline "Prince Dies at 57" still does not compute, and it's freaky to even type that. I had the same issue with Bowie's death. It's like both Prince and Bowie were sort of these ethereal figures--almost supernatural--like it was just sort of understood that the rules of the universe did not apply to them. They were on a higher plane than the rest of us mortals. 

My writer buddy Dan Kennedy said it best: 


As shocked as I was by Bowie's passing, the fact that Prince is gone just seems harder to fathom somehow. My friend Marcus posted on FB that although both deaths were a huge shock, Prince hits closer to home (for Gen-Xer's like us) because, growing up in the '80s, Prince was "our guy." I totally agree. 

"Little Red Corvette" (1982) was the first Prince song I remember being aware of. I recall my sister and other "big kids" really digging it, but I was just sort of neutral (also, at nine years old I was more obsessed with horses than current pop music). Then in 1984-85 there was an amazing explosion of artists and albums that coincided with that sort of musical awakening a lot of kids have at around 11 or 12 years old and I discovered Duran Duran, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Michael Jackson and Prince--specifically the Purple Rain soundtrack--which blew my mind. 

I saw Purple Rain (the movie) when it premiered on HBO in the summer of 1985. It was so dark and "adult" that it's funny to think of my little 12-year-old self watching that. I mean, my family (along with everyone else in our neighborhood) had gotten premium cable a few years earlier, and it was a big thing for us neighbor kids to secretly try to catch "the dirty parts" of movies like Porky's and Fast Times at Ridgemont High (or if we were feeling really brave, one of the Friday the 13th movies) when we were at each other's houses. But Purple Rain was a lot racier than the typical teen sex films of that era, so I'm pretty sure it was one of those movies I sneaked out to the living room to watch at like 2am while my mom and stepdad were sleeping. That was something I got really good at: creeping into the living room and turning on the TV so it was barely audible and sitting like five inches from the screen so I could hear the movie while simultaneously listening for my mom in case she woke up. (In the event that she did, I would switch off the TV, race into the kitchen, and pour myself a glass of milk so it would look like I'd just gotten up to get a drink. Back in the day, we had to be really creative with stuff like that. I think kids today have it a lot easier, they can just watch whatever they want to on their smart phones and their parents probably don't have a clue.)      

Speaking of access, everyone knows by now how impossible it is to find Prince clips on YouTube; the only ones that exist seem to be live performances from award shows (which are awesome, admittedly), and the only Purple Rain clips viewable online are the ones from the trailer.



I guess this is indicative of how many times I've seen Purple Rain over the last 30 years (um, a lot), because there are a few little flashes of scenes I don't recognize: 

00:28 -- Apollonia in a barn? WTF was that? 
00:51 -- Prince getting smacked around by his dad (I think?) at what looks like a rehearsal space?

Marcus, help me out....do you remember any of this? I'm also unsure about the snippet with the cop car driving by Morris and Jerome. I'm guessing they were deleted scenes, but I want your opinion. 
_______________________________________________________________

Anyway, Prince is gone, and it sucks. I have more to write on this subject but I'm still getting my head together. 


(Psst...looks like someone posted the video for Take Me With U in the past few days, but it will probably get yanked ASAP, maybe by the time this goes up.) 


Wednesday, April 06, 2016


Fuck HBO for cancelling this show. 

When Togetherness debuted last year, I wasn't all that interested. The previews made it look like a grown-up rip-off of Girls (a show that I continue to love, even for all its flaws) only instead of navel-gazing Brooklynites it's a navel-gazing couple and their two slacker friends. But then I checked out a few episodes and damned if Togetherness didn't suck me right in. 

Season two has been even better than season one, kicking things up a notch as shlubby struggling actor Alex (male slacker friend) lands a movie role as a "sexy vampire," which is so off-the-wall for that character that it kind of works.....

Yes, this dude as a middle-aged Lestat in a ruffled shirt. So wrong, yet so right.


Michelle confesses her one night stand to Brett, and he responds by barfing in her lap....



Then Alex and Brett take off for a "lost weekend" in Detroit....



And there's the episode where Tina creates a distraction at the fundraiser party by bursting into an awesome rendition of Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" so Michelle can snoop in that weird chick Anna's email....

I had no idea Amanda Peet was this funny. 

And UGH! Seriously, why is HBO cancelling this show?!?!?





Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!


I'm a bit behind, but I wanted to comment on Episode 6, the Marcia Clark-centered installment of the People V. OJ . Kudos to the writers for providing a window into the nastiness Marcia Clark had to deal with from all sides in regards to her appearance, because even in a supposedly progressive decade like the 1990's, the most important aspects of a powerful female public figure were still her hair, her clothes, her "likability," and precious little else.

It's another aspect of that freakshow trial that they got right; I totally remember seeing a clip of that whore Lance Ito making bitchy comments about Marcia's hair from his perch on the bench. (Seriously, when will men learn not to pick on a woman's hair? Especially when most males are so severely lacking in the follicle department?)

Because if anyone is qualified to rate someone else's looks, it's this hunka-hunka burnin' love.
(Is this Lance's version of "blue steel?")

Marcia should have fired back, "Oh hey Lance, nice work on the comb-over today! You almost managed to cover up that bald spot." Then she should have pointed at OJ and shouted, all lawyer-y and indignant, "YOU! Wipe that smirk off your face before I come over there and do it for you. And Johnnie? Bite my lily-white ass." Of course, she wouldn't have said any of that in court, but I'm sure she was thinking it every damn day of the trial and undoubtedly launched into daily profanity-laden rants about Ito, OJ, and that whole slimy defense team to her friends and colleagues behind closed doors. According to the book the series is based on, Jeffrey Toobin's The Run of His Life (which I read last week. A bit slow in the middle, but otherwise a good read. As dense as it was, I ripped through it pretty quickly), Marcia swore like a longshoreman, chain-smoked Dunhills, and had a hot fling with Christopher Darden. She was more of a bad ass than any of those bitches on the defense team. In fact, she could have totally eaten them all for breakfast and picked her teeth with Cochran's bones, but she was so hamstrung by the gross, sexist atmosphere created by the media and all those assholes at the OJ table, who I believe were secretly petrified of her.

And don't even get me started on that washed-up boozebag F. Lee Bailey and his lame courtroom reference to his lap hog in the midst of all the glove-trying-on shenanigans, trying to awkwardly imply that his own hands were also too big to fit those stupid gloves. (And how ironic that this episode aired just days after Trump made a similar joke during the Republican debate. What is it with these elderly white males and their penis obsessions? Whatever.) And what was with his crack that "(Marcia's) eyesight is as bad as her memory?" Was he implying that she failed to recognize his alpha male virility because she hadn't gotten any in such a long time? Girl, please. M.C. was getting more action than anyone in that courtroom. And unlike F. Lee Bailey, she never had to pay for it.  Marcia should have shut down old F-LeeBay by calling his bluff: "Well whip it out then, whisky dick, and let's see what you got!"

I do love Nathan Lane as F-Lee. Another stroke of genius casting.

Friday, March 04, 2016

People V. OJ Ep 5


Holy shit, I totally remember this! 

I've been wondering about this Hodgman character and waiting to see if the show would address his sudden absence from the trial, because it's one of the incidents I remember quite well. 

Turns out, yep--they did! But in a totally melodramatic it-didn't-really-happen-that-way fashion. 

In the show, they had John Hodgman (Marcia Clark's litigating partner) suffer a heart attack and dramatically keel over right there in court after getting all pissed off at the defense (specifically, Johnny Cochran). Watching that scene, I actually shouted "Bullshit!" at the TV, because I didn't remember it going down like that. Turns out, I was right.  

From Vanity Fair: 
According to Toobin, it was during a closed-door meeting among Clark, Hodgman, and D.A. Gil Garcetti, after the opening statements, in which the discovery failures were revealed and where Hodgman started to feel chest pains. Paramedics were called and he was treated for a temporary stress condition, which did result in his stepping down from the case.
From a writer's perspective, I can see why they took some license with that, even if it was a bit over the top.

Here's what I remember...

The first week of the OJ trial, I was sitting in class talking with my friend Heidi and some other people from school,* and someone mentioned that one of the prosecuting attorneys in the Simpson case had been rushed to the hospital with chest pains the day before. That's when my classmate Cindy said disdainfully, "Yeah, he's having chest pains because he's lying! He knows he's lying!"

It's worth pointing out here that Cindy--a "good ole girl" from Texas--had an African American fiance and two bi-racial children. Cindy was cool; extremely blunt, very funny, and a blast to hang out with (she was part of a group of us who would sometimes high-tail it over to the nearby Chi-Chi's for nachos and margaritas at lunchtime), although she was obviously one of those "OJ is innocent!" people, a stance that I think had something to do with the fact that she was a white woman living in the black community.

The racial tension surrounding the OJ case is something that is definitely not exaggerated for the sake of the show, as it was a very real and very unfortunate aspect of the whole thing. It couldn't be avoided, especially in LA circa 1994-95, when the LA riots following the Rodney King verdict had happened just a few years prior. It's easy to see why the defense team played the race card like they did. Were they dirty opportunistic shyster assholes for doing so? Oh hell yeah. But still, it was pretty much a no-brainer. Of course they'd make it all about race, especially when Mark Fuhrman made it so damn easy. That's why I totally believe the scene where Christopher Darden tells Cochran he hopes they can be respectful to one another in the press, and Cochran goes, "Brother, I ain't trying to be respectful. I'm trying to win." It's another moment comes off a bit melodramatic, but--even if it didn't happen--it totally seems like it would have.

    Oh, just kiss him already.

On another note, I think Robert Morse is perfect as Dominick Dunne. I always get so excited when actors from Mad Men pop up on TV shows and movies.  


Burt Cooper!!!

The dialogue in the judge's chambers where Ito says something like, "I know you have a special interest in this case because of your daughter's murder" was a bit ham-fisted but I guess it was necessary because at this point most people probably wouldn't know or remember that his daughter, actress Dominique Dunne (she played Dana, the older sister in Poltergeist) was strangled by her ex-boyfriend in 1982. Trivia: her murderer, a chef named John Sweeney, really did get off with a ridiculously light sentence (6 1/2 years, and he served only 3 1/2) and soon after his release got a job as head chef at a fancy restaurant in Santa Monica. Upon learning of this, Dunne and his family decided to serve up some Goldman-style realness, standing outside the restaurant handing out flyers that read "The food you will eat tonight was cooked by the hands that killed Dominique Dunne." Soon after that, Sweeney quit his job and left town.


Dominique Dunne in Poltergeist

In yet another strange Hollywood murder coincidence, Marcia Clark was the attorney who prosecuted Robert Bardo, the crazy stalker famous for killing actress Rebecca Schaeffer in 1989. At least in that one, Clark was able to send the scumbag down the river (he got life without parole). I've read a lot about that case, and it's super creepy. One of the things that surprised me was how young Robert Bardo was--only 19 years old--when he killed Schaeffer. You wouldn't think that to look at him, because dude looks at least 35 in photos from the trial, but I guess all that crazy can age a person. By the way, I'm too superstitious to post a photo of Bardo's creepy mug on my blog. Google him if you're curious, but be sure to wear garlic around your neck and sprinkle salt around yourself for protection (I'm only half-kidding) because ewwwwwww. As another blogger wrote, you can almost hear the demon wings flapping inside his head.  

I was glad to see that the show included the infamous "redecorating" of OJ's mansion, where the defense went in and cleared out photos of OJ posing with (white) Playboy models, golfing buddies and girlfriends, replacing them with African art and photos of black family members...supposedly some of the photos they planted there were of random black people OJ didn't even know. And I love that Coolio's "Fantastic Voyage" played over that scene, because how appropriate is that? 

What's the deal with all those rappers wearing button-down flannel shirts at the beach? 
Didn't they get hot?

It also reminded me that Coolio actually did do a song that I liked back in the day, because I hated his one other hit, "Gangster's Paradise," which was so annoying and inescapable that year. (For the record Weird Al's take on it is sooooo much better.) 

*I attended school to be a court reporter from 1993 - 1995. It came to a sudden end when the school folded and declared bankruptcy. (The bright side? I got my student loans forgiven!) I was about 6 months from graduating. Needless to say, I ended up going in another direction job-wise, one of many "Plan B's" I took during my twenties, which was really a decade full of "Plan B's".

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The People V. OJ, Ron Goldman, Studs and Kathie Lee

Best line from last night's People V. OJ installment? Travolta/Shapiro casually asking the assembled members of the defense team: "Who thinks OJ did it?" 

"Oh oh oh ohhh I do Mr. Kotter!" 

Heh.

Anyway, I liked this episode. I'm glad that the show is so blunt about how sympathetic the black women jurors were to Simpson. That's something that still makes me want to vomit. It was bad enough hearing men defend OJ, what with that bullshit sports star hero-worship complex a lot of them (even some members of the media) had going on at the time, but the thought of any woman--regardless of color--sticking up for OJ is totally inexcusable. Would these female jurors have found OJ so "charming" and "charismatic" if they were getting pummeled on a regular basis by this fuckstick? Inquiring minds want to know. 

It was also nice to see Kim and Fred Goldman acknowledged in this episode. As I mentioned before, I've always appreciated their tenacity and refusal to fade into the woodwork during and after the trial, and the way they've kept up the good fight for Ron. Maybe it's me, but I'm baffled by people who preach about "forgiveness" to victims (and families of victims) of violent crime. It's like, yeah, if a family goes on TV after a loved one has been murdered claiming that they forgive the perpetrator, that's all well and good and--if that's the way they really think--they are obviously more evolved than I am. But personally, if (God forbid) I were in their shoes, I'd be on every TV station screaming for justice and I wouldn't stop until they let me escort the murdering bastard to the gas chamber myself. Kim Goldman even wrote a book called Can't Forgive about the murders and her life after the trial, and she talked about Oprah interviewing her and saying something like, "Don't you think it's time to forgive OJ and move on?" (I couldn't find the exact quote), which really annoyed me. Seriously, Oprah? Go back to what you're good at: licking Beyonce's ass and quoting Maya Angelou and don't be pontificating about forgiveness to someone whose brother was callously slaughtered by a smirking psychopath. Oprah can't even talk about people fat-shaming her without getting all teary-eyed and verklempt, so don't even tell me she would be the model of grace and compassion if something similar happened to a loved one in her life. My point is, people have no business telling victims of violence how they should feel about it.  

On a lighter note, remember that show Studs? For you young 'uns, it was a late-night dating show from the early '90s where two guys and three girls would go on dates and then compare notes and hear what they had to say about each other. It was basically Love Connection with younger, better-looking contestants and more bad puns and cheesy innuendo. Studs was considered fairly racy at the time, but now it all seems very quaint and almost innocent compared to the reality shows of today. Anyhoo, it came out back in the day that Ron Goldman had been a contestant on Studs back in 1991, and someone unearthed the footage and posted it on YouTube (the title says 1992 but the copyright is 1991, so I'm going with that)....

Ron Goldman on "Studs"

....and although the clip is basically a big steaming pile of bad 1990's fashion and cringe-y sex jokes, I found it strangely entertaining. (And speaking of cringe-worthy, the Sam Kinison video for Wild Thing is inexplicably tacked-on at the end of the clip. While the song is kind of amusing, the video has NOT aged well, and I'm not just talking about the stupid dancing and big hair. It's all just so rape-y and gang-bang-y and it made me embarrassed for everyone involved).

My biggest memory of Studs is that Hitomi, my senior year ('91-'92) boarding school roommate, was morbidly fascinated by the show, and when she came home with me for October break we ended up watching it every night that it was on TV. We had some good laughs. I also remember something about how Kathie Lee Gifford was horrified by Studs and made a big stink, threatening to walk off when (Studs host) Mark De Carlo was scheduled to be a guest on that morning show she had with Regis. This was several years ago, back when Kathie Lee was all uber-Christian and loved to talk about how religious she was, something that I find interesting now that she's (allegedly) best buds with Kris Jenner, the woman who (allegedly probably) peddled that infamous sex tape of her daughter getting peed on by a D-list rapper to the media. I say interesting. but not surprising, since I'm never all that shocked when a self-righteous moralizer turns out to be a flaming hypocrite. Remember, I grew up in the '80s when Jimmy Swaggart was getting caught with hookers and that whole mess with Jim Bakker and Jessica Hahn (star of the Wild Thing video!) was going down. 

Anyway, Mark De Carlo did end up appearing on Regis and Kathie Lee after all, and here's what the Studs guy had to say about it:    
"Kathie Lee Gifford is a hypocritical, Bible-beating, insincere media whore. She invited me on her show specifically to insult me. I flew on a red-eye from Utah, where I was doing a charity event Christmas week, to appear on her show and she said I was propagating rampant immorality in America. And then the very next week she was kissing Hugh Grant’s ass. So who’s immoral there?” ---Mark DeCarlo 
To wrap it all up, here's a masterpiece from Everything Is Terrible featuring Mr. and Mrs. Gifford, because Kathie Lee totally deserves this.



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

OJ Simpson, Paula Barbiedoll, Bolton Bits, and Kardashian Krap

I know I expressed misgivings about it in the last post, but they've (mostly) been laid to rest; I am really enjoying The People V. OJ Simpson. Now that I've seen the first two episodes, here are some unorganized notes on it: 




  • I love Travolta's portrayal of that preening, high-on-the-smell-of-his-own-farts douchebag Robert Shapiro. And it's not that I loathe Shapiro--I have no more distaste for Shapiro than I have for the rest of the whores that comprised OJ's defense team--but man, Travolta is killing it. I know a lot of people are complaining that Travolta is the "weak link" in the cast, but I vehemently disagree. He's a bit over-the-top, but that can be a good thing in the hands of the right actor. He's awesome at the subtle stuff, too; my favorite moment of last night's ep (the second of the miniseries) was the brief scene of Shapiro grooving to some smooth jazz Al Jarreau in his Merc. (To be fair, it is a bomb-ass song.)
  • I like what David Schwimmer is doing with Robert Kardashian, and it's interesting to see him in a role outside of Friends, but I have trouble with the whole "St. Kardashian" thing. I think the writers knew where they're going with that, however. It's like, you can pray all you want and tote that Bible around, dude, but it doesn't change the fact that you're best buds with an abusive, murderous psychopath. And I believe that he covered for that jackass after the murders, either knowingly or *wink*wink* "unknowingly." And then after the criminal trial, he expresses "doubts" about OJ's innocence? Oh thank you. Fat lot of good that did for the victims, dick. And while we're on the subject, can that one little jokey shot of the Kardashian kids watching their dad on TV please be the last time we see his spawn portrayed in this series? Because I don't like being reminded of their existence.
  • And as for Kris Kardashian/Jenner, Faye Resnick, and the rest of the Brentwood bitches? I know they think everyone is fascinated with that lot, but I couldn't give a shit about any of them. I hope their screen time is minimal, too. Seriously, if I wanted to know about that crew, I'd watch one of those stupid Real Housewives shows. 
  • And more Marcia Clark, please. I love Sarah Paulson's portrayal so far, and I absolutely want to hear more of her outrage at the cops and the system that turned a blind eye to OJ's years-long abuse of Nicole. Still disgusting. 
  • Hoping for some scenes with the Goldmans, who have been nowhere to be found so far. I like Fred and Kim Goldman and I appreciate how outspoken they've continued to be about keeping Ron's memory alive and their justified furor at how the whole mess was handled. They kept it real in a case and trial that was teeming with bullshit from the very start.

It's interesting to go back and read some of the articles that were written about the case at the time. This one details the timeline of events on the day of the murders, and boy is it illuminating. It starts out detailing what the victims and suspect did the morning of June 12, 1994: Ron Goldman played softball at a local park, Nicole Brown Simpson bought some toys for her kids, and OJ--shocker!--played golf and hung out at his country club. Early that afternoon, though, things got more interesting: 
2 p.m. - House guest Brian "Kato" Kaelin sees O.J. in the kitchen of Simpson's Rockingham estate. O.J. makes a series of calls to women, beginning with girlfriend Paula Barbieri. They fight over her request to attend Sydney's recital. Paula winds up flying to Las Vegas to spend time with singer Michael Bolton. During a call to Traci Adell, O.J. says he's unhappy. He also calls actress Jasmine Guy.

Okay, am I the only one morbidly fascinated by the fact that OJ's girlfriend ditched him that day to run off to Vegas with Michael Bolton? 

To be clear, I'm talking about this Michael Bolton....


....and not Michael "Mike" Bolton from Office Space

Wouldn't it be cool if she'd run off with Mike Bolton, though? 
Alas (being a fictional character), that wasn't an option. 

Isn't that just weirdly fitting, though? What a spot-on summation of all that was good and bad about the 1990's. The Good: Mike Judge's Office Space, a biting satire of the 1990's corporate culture. The Bad: Michael Bolton (the singer) representing (to quote Peter Gibbons, speaking about his boss) "ALL THAT IS SOULLESS AND WRONG"--a phrase that also perfectly epitomizes the Simpson murder case and that unholy abortion of a trial. 


As the timeline indicates, Paula Barbieri--D-list model and OJ's sometime girlfriend--took offense to OJ barring her from his daughter's dance recital that night, and (I like to imagine, anyway) screamed "Screw you OJ! I'm going to Vegas to be with Michael Bolton! Love is a wonderful thing!" Seriously though, at least with Michael Bolton you'd have a better chance of surviving the night, as he seems way less stabby than OJ. Come on, dude couldn't even take a pair of scissors to his mullet. That's a peace-loving man, right there. 



Also noteworthy but not as interesting: OJ later called Jasmine Guy (Whitley from A Different World!), whom I hope immediately slammed the phone down on his sketch ass. But we'll probably never know.

Fast-forwarding to the trial, another interesting detail concerning OJ and Paula's relationship saga came in the form of testimony from a witness for the defense, Carol Connors. And when you get a load of the soft-serve bullshit she was shoveling for the defense, it's no wonder they trotted this woman out on the first day of their testimony. 

Apparently, on the night before the murders, OJ and Paula were being lovey-dovey with each other at a fancy charity fundraiser, and--well--Connors testimony of their PDA is just soo special: 

"I happened to witness a very exquisite romantic moment that took place between the two of them," she testified. "And being a writer, I was able to compute it into my brain, and to understand it, and to wish that I had been lucky enough to be in a situation of what I had watched." 

Pictured: Conners and her facelift.

Even better? Said "exquisite romantic moment" was taking place while Simpson was stroking Barbieri's face with Natalie Cole singing "Unforgettable" onstage.*


True story: I had the same hair as Paula from 1989 - 1993. And I had a black dress like that, but mine was from Kohl's. (I'm guessing hers wasn't. Just a guess.)

FUN FACT, KIDS! According to Wikipedia, Carol Connors is a former porn actress (not that there's anything wrong with that) who is married to fellow porn actor Jack Birch, the father of mainstream actress Thora Birch. I've read a bit about Thora Birch and her fucked up parents. To be fair, I think it was this article explaining why Thora Birch seemed to disappear from Hollywood just when her star was on the rise (after making the excellent Ghost World, one of my favorite movies) and the author of the piece blames Porno Dad, who is also Thora's manager and who insists on being an on-set "advisor" during his daughter's sex scenes. Creepy enough for ya? So anyhoo, I guess that Carol Connors--Mama Birch--never experienced the sort of face-stroking Natalie Cole "Unforgettable" love that OJ and Paula Barbiedoll possessed, which I find hard to believe. Seriously, Mama Birch? There were no exquisite romantic moments that (being a writer) you were able to compute into your brain when you were with Thora Birch's Porno Dad? I'm shocked, I tell you. Shocked! Love is officially dead.   

If you want to witness Mama Birch's testimony, it starts at about the 1hr:02min mark in this video. You might want to have a barf bag handy. It's so cringe-inducing, even Johnnie Cochran was gagging.  

*OMG Natalie Cole! Speaking of the dearly departed. Let's all take a moment now to remember where we were when we heard the news of her death. Okay, I'm done. 


Tuesday, February 02, 2016

If it doesn't fit, you can suck my---well, you know.

Tonight, I plan to do something that I may well hate myself for in the morning. Yes, I'm going to watch the first installment of the new miniseries The People Vs. OJ Simpson.



I would say I'm watching it just for camp value, but that's not strictly true. I'd say it's partly for the camp value and hopefully some unintentional hilarity, but I would also add a dash of morbid curiosity and a heaping helping of nostalgia. I don't look fondly upon the OJ Simpson trial--I mean, who does?--but it kinda was one of those giant cultural events that anyone who lived through the 1990's remembers vividly and has very definite opinions about. It was probably like the Watergate of our generation, only even more ridiculous. 

The casting looks pretty spot on. I normally can't stand to see any reminder of that Kardashian family dung heap, but even I have to admit that David Schwimmer playing Robert Kardashian is an event not to be missed, especially since there's (apparently) a scene leading up to the infamous Bronco chase where OJ grabs a gun and locks himself in a bedroom at Kardashian's house, prompting Ross from Friends to shriek, "No OJ! That's where Kimmy sleeps!" 

Oh, the humanity!

Speaking of the Bronco chase, I have my own memories of that evening. My boyfriend and I were having "date night" and it was happening on an actual Friday, something I'd lobbied hard for, since Rick worked at a restaurant as a waiter and bartender and him getting a weekend night off was a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence. It seems kind of funny then that the restaurant we chose for date night was the Provincial Kitchen--his place of employment--but Rick was well-loved there and we were good friends with all of the waitstaff, plus the watering hole downstairs was "our bar" (Johnny Whitaker's Broad Ripple Tavern--or "the BRT" as we regulars called it), so I guess it was just a natural choice at the time. 

Anyway, there we were enjoying our dinner at the Kitchen when this guy Mark--one of Rick's waiter friends--came running up from the bar downstairs to exclaim "You guys! OJ Simpson just took off in a white Mercedes down the LA freeway with a bunch of cops chasing him!" (Yeah, I know it was a white Bronco and not a white Mercedes, but that's what Mark said.) Rick and I were like, "Oh my God, no way!" and we grabbed our drinks and ran downstairs to watch the action unfold on the bar's big-screen TV, followed by about a dozen other patrons in the restaurant who had overheard Mark's announcement and wanted to see for themselves.

Of course, that was just the beginning of the hot mess express that turned into "the trial of the century"--five words that I would get extremely sick of hearing over the next year. 

Still, there was no avoiding it. Even today, I'm surprised at how much I remember. There was the Bronco chase with OJ and his buddy Al "You know who I am goddammit!" Cowlings at the wheel, then there were all the gory details of the murders of Ron-and-Nicole (it was always Ron-and-Nicole, not Nicole-and-Ron), along with the revelation that OJ Simpson--who I only knew as "Nordberg" from the Naked Gun movies--was a scary-ass wife beater. I even remember that dorky TV movie they rushed to make about OJ and his rage-y, abusive marriage to Nicole, a film directed by "Alan Smithee" (haaaaaa) featuring a then-unknown Terrence Howard. 

There was the cast of characters.... 

Kato "Wouldn't you be happy to see me?" Kaelin:  

"Hey OJ, pull my finger!"
Faye "wanna see my tits?" Resnick:

Thanks but no thanks, hon. 

The "Dream Team":

Ugh. You can just smell the giant cloud of Drakkar Noir wafting up from that crew.

This horseshit:

Fuck off Billy Bird, whoever you are.

And then there's this, which--okay--this made me laugh: 


Sure, I'm laughing about the key players involved in a terribly gruesome murder trial, but still, there's something kind of naive and almost (well, not quite) innocent about that point in time. It was pre-9/11, pre-Dubya, pre-all the awfulness that happened over the last two decades. There were no smartphones, no Facebook, none of the other obvious things that make the 1990's so glaringly different from the world of today. 

I guess it's just...I don't know...we were just all so young back then, weren't we?  



Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Yes Donald, homegirl is "special" all right....

Man, it's been a dreary winter. We've lost some loved ones (my in-laws...I may write about them soon), a sweet friend (Miss Susan, my Baton Rouge "mom"), and a few icons (Bowie, et al). Seriously, 2016 is too young to be sucking this hard already. 

But even in these dark times, the stars and planets align, God shuffles His feet, and we get something like this...... 


Some stray observations.....
  • Christ! Her voice could peel paint! 
  • I try not to pay any attention to Trump, so maybe someone can clue me in: what's with his facial expressions? Does he always look like he's holding in a painful fart?
  • The audience sounds like its on opioids. 
  • Speaking of opioids, what exactly is Sarah Palin on? I'm being serious. I've always suspected she was a pillhead (trust me, I recognize the signs) but I think she's taken her "dabbling" a bit too far. My best guess? Suburban speedball (Adderall, Oxy, and white zin).
  • In light of her son's arrest the night before ("Track done beat up his lady friend 'cause of Obama!") I'd say she's definitely on something.
You know what though? None of this shit matters, so here's Bowie:




Thursday, September 17, 2015

PRESENTED WITHOUT COMMENT


Okay, I lied. 

I have to comment because I kind of love this video and I watch it at least once a month. It has a strange hold over me. 

Maybe it's because I've attended and/or run booths at countless New Age festivals, art fairs, psychic fairs, yoga festivals, and various organized gatherings centered around one or more of the following: Eastern philosophy, massage, Reiki, healing, Tarot, crystals, African dancing, drum circles....you know. All that feel good hippie stuff. Maybe it's because I spent a large part of my childhood surrounded by my mom and stepdad's friends; hanging at our house, coming in and out of town for their Hakomi classes and new-thought-type therapy workshops that they were all either teaching or attending. 

Like it or not, these are my people. They must be, because I feel comfortable and at home around them. The weirder the better. 

That said, this video is fucking hilarious. I don't know what it is. But I know I've seen this stuff up close many, many, many times. Hell, I've participated in it. I've walked among these people. 

And it doesn't make it any less funny.

I don't get it, but at the same time I totally get it. It's sort of in my DNA at this point. But that doesn't mean I understand it. 


Thursday, August 06, 2015

RESCUED FROM OBSCURITY
Graham Parker and the Shot
"Wake Up (Next To You)"

Recently I watched the Judd Apatow flick This Is 40, his middle-aged crisis comedy from a few years back. It wasn't very good. I didn't have high expectations going in, as Apatow films are pretty hit or miss. He's partly responsible for Freaks and Geeks, a show that I absolutely adored (though I suspect the real brains behind that one was writer/director Paul Feig, who truly is awesome). But I also enjoyed Forgetting Sara Marshall and Pineapple Express, which I seem to recall were Apatow productions. And of course I love Girls, another show he's partly responsible for. But the rest of his cannon....meh. 

The main problem with This Is 40 are the film's central characters; an unlikable yuppie couple and their annoying kids. And I'm usually willing to give unlikable characters a shot, because they are often--if handled right--among the most compelling. But there's unlikable and then there's unwatchable, and the central family of This Is 40 straddles a dangerous line between the two. I had a similar problem with Friends With Kids, which boasted a stellar cast (Jon Hamm, Maya Rudolph, Jennifer Westfeldt, Chris O'Dowd, and Kristen Wiig, among others) but the characters were so grating I literally only got through the first ten minutes of that one before pulling the plug.

Anyhoo, is all leading up to the only positive thing about This Is 40 that stuck with me, and that is Graham Parker, who is the focus of one of the movie's subplots. You see, Paul Rudd's character runs a struggling record label and he's busting his balls trying to promote Parker's latest effort, with little success. It jogged my memory; I hadn't thought about Graham Parker in years, perhaps not since around 1985, when the one song I'm familiar with was a very minor hit. The song is called "Wake Up (Next To You)," and it's a charming, bittersweet tune with a strong Elvis Costello-y vibe, and enough of an earworm that it's stayed with me after thirty years (which is really saying something). 

The video is pretty cool, too. And like I said, the song is something of an earworm. Good luck getting it out of your head--although it's a great song, so as earworms go that's not a bad thing.  



Friday, July 31, 2015

FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!


Kill Walter Palmer, that is. With extreme prejudice. And while we're at it, let's rid the planet of Kristen Lindsey* and Kendall Jones because fuck them too.

Earlier this month a sunken-eyed, dried-out corpse purportedly known as Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer killed a lion because he's an evil little pindick who's fond of illegally slaughtering any creature he can get within 100 feet of; a diseased turd of a man with hideous fake choppers and a penchant for sexually harassing his female employees.

Picture this abomination of nature forcing you to engage in "unwanted physical contact" involving your
"breasts, buttocks, and genitalia." Makes you want to scream and run under a shower, right?

I've been hyperventilating about this along with the rest of the world, signing online petitions to have his lily-white Romney-supporting ass extradited to Zimbabwe and joining Facebook groups to talk about what a psychopath he is and how anyone who hunts is a cousin-banging, cross-eyed redneck scumbag, and I have nearly hit outrage-fatigue. So I thought it would be cleansing and cathartic to write a brief post pointing out what a putrid, festering hunk of undead flesh this asshole is, insult his penis size, and call him a murderer. 

And guess what? I do feel kind of better now. 

Oh yeah, there's also this:


And this....



 And I'd be remiss if I didn't include....



AND


Okay, I feel much better now. 

*Speaking of that other vile slab of meat, go here for information on filing a complaint to revoke Lindsey's vet license. (Online petitions are great, but this one needs an extra push with official paperwork.)




Thursday, July 16, 2015

Well isn't that special?

Since the dawn of the family sitcom, television writers have had a weird hard-on for sneaking in important moral lessons and cautionary tales along with the requisite wisecracking kid characters and canned laugh tracks. This phenomenon is widely known as the Very Special Episode (or VSE) and the 1980's were rife with them. 

Some Reagan-era sitcoms were more "special" than others. I remember learning about leukemia, epilepsy, racism, child molestation, drug addiction, bed-wetting, rabies, teenage gangs, gambling, hitchhiking, kidnapping, runaways, gun violence, and grand theft (and that was just on Different Strokes!). 

While sitcoms of the eighties seemed particularly obsessed with teaching us impressionable latchkey kids about how fucking dangerous and evil the outside world was, the VSE trend seemed to continue into the 1990's. Although I had long outgrown family-friendly sitcoms by that point, I understand there was a Full House episode where one of the daughters decided she was too pudgy and put herself on a crash diet, prompting her parental figures to take her aside and say something like "But honey, it's what's on the inside that counts!" (like that's ever worked on any teenager, anywhere) and the infamous Saved By the Bell ep where future Showgirl Liz Berkeley took too many "caffeine pills" and had her sad little meltdown. Oh, please. These coddled Gen-Y/Millennials wouldn't know a Very Special Episode if it got them hooked on crack. In the touchy-feely nineties, no one in TV Land was being pummeled by alcoholic relatives, or getting "special hugs" from scary uncles, or offing themselves with pills, or being groomed by fat pedophiles. They didn't pull any punches with us in the eighties. That's why we're all hardcore, and these youngsters are so damn soft. 

Check out the shit we grew up with.   

"SAY UNCLE" - FAMILY TIES


This is the heartwarming episode where Uncle Ned (Tom Hanks!) comes for a visit. Turns out that Uncle Ned Donnelly has a wee problem with the drink (oh those Irish stereotypes). After Drunkle Ned runs out of whisky and beer, he chugs a bottle of vanilla extract and says "It's not Miller Time, it's vanilla time!"then smacks Michael J. Fox's stunt double across the room like he's auditioning for Laurence Fishburne's role in What's Love Got To Do With It. Yeah, it's pretty awesome.

"I learned it from watching YOU, Uncle Ned!"
Careless Memories: This is where I got confused, because I remember that Family Ties had quite a few guest stars who went on to have big careers--River Phoenix, Christina Applegate, Courtney Cox, Geena Davis, Crispin Glover, and Hank Azaria, among others--but I could have sworn that in this particular Very Special Episode the visiting alcoholic relative was played by Michael Keaton. A reasonable mistake, I guess, since the family of Family Ties were--duh, the Keatons--but I think it was also because Michael Keaton and Tom Hanks played a lot of the same type of characters during the eighties; hyperactive funny guys whose cheerful personas concealed a darker side.

Funnily enough, there are actually two Family Ties episode involving a weird uncle. The other one is family fuck-up Uncle Arthur, who makes a pass at Mallory. (Alex: "But Uncle Arthur's known you all your life. He used to bathe you when you were a baby." Mallory: "Yeah, well, I think he wants his old job back." )

The episode is titled "Give Uncle Arthur a Kiss." Yeah, they went there.
I don't remember seeing the Uncle Arthur ep at the time of airing, because it's from season 1 of Family Ties and I wasn't watching the early seasons at the time because they were really lame; it wasn't until season 2 or 3 (around the time of Meredith Baxter-Birney's pregnancy) that the show got a lot better. I'm thinking that Michael J. Fox's growing popularity gave them more freedom (and a bigger budget maybe) to fire the hacky writers and hire good ones. I tried to find internet articles supporting this claim, but no dice. I do remember a write-up in People magazine calling Family Ties "The most improved show on television," so it seems that at the time the general consensus was that the show started out bad and then surprised everyone by getting funny after it had been on a few years.  

*kids, get an old person to explain that joke to you.

"BREAKING POINT" - THE FACTS OF LIFE

I wasn't that into Facts of Life in its heyday. I guess the travails of a group of teenage girls at a private boarding school were a bit beyond me at the age of eight. Ironically, of course, I would end up going to a private boarding school when I was fifteen. But that's another story. As a young 'un, sitcoms like Different Strokes and Silver Spoons were more my speed. I do, however, recall watching The Facts of Life at my friend Heather's house, because her older sister Shannon (the most sophisticated middle schooler I'd ever known) was a big fan of the show. 

This VSE--which I see after Googling "The Facts of Life + suicide episode"--is called "Breaking Point." In it, a girl named Cynthia who we've not seen before and won't be seeing again, is the new golden child of Eastland. She even looks set to defeat class princess Blair Warner in the student council elections. Oh, the humanity! So there's a big build-up to Mrs. Garrett tabulating the election results while Blair divas around, kvetching about having to settle for Vice President if Cynthia wins the coveted title. Meanwhile, this Cynthia chick modestly proclaims how winning isn't important and how she's happy just to be nominated President and blah-dee-blah. She seems vaguely distracted by a bunch of phone calls from her rich parents, and keeps retreating to her room for privacy. Then it turns out that Cynthia is the big winner after all, and Blair is shattered and Cynthia is sort of blase about the whole thing. No one can figure out why she isn't more psyched. 

So in the next scene everyone is sitting around the kitchen and Tootie runs in and screams that she just found Cynthia unconscious in her room next to an empty bottle of pills. Chaos ensues, an ambulance is called, and the girls subsequently hunker down to wait for news. Later, Mrs. Garrett answers the phone and it's the hospital, calling to report that Cynthia is dead as a doornail. Everyone is like, "Why did she do it? She was pretty and popular and smart and she just won the student election!" 

The girls and Mrs. Garrett start packing up Cynthia's room and discover that they're to send her belongings to her mother's new address in Nevada. But why Nevada? Blair wonders. "The only person who lives in Nevada is Wayne Newton!" Heh. Y'know, that's funny, because as you might know, I happen to live in Nevada now. Anyway, they deduce that Cynthia's mom has set up residence in Nevada because she and Cynthia's dad are divorcing. Everyone's like, "Oh! That's why Cynthia seemed all weird and distant!" And this is when I call bullshit, because it was the 1980s, not the 1950s and the days of people going off to Nevada for divorces was ancient history by that point. But okay, whatever. 

Mrs. Garrett then gives all the girls a pep talk, saying "If you find yourself at the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on!" One of the girls suggests setting up a suicide hotline at Eastland. And everyone hugs and all that crap and thus the Melancholy Ballad of Cynthia comes to an end. 

Careless Memories: Not many, although I do remember thinking, "Wow, divorce sucks. I'm glad my parents are never going to break up." Ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. We'll see how long that delusion lasted. 

"THE BICYCLE MAN" - DIFFERENT STROKES
(a.k.a. "The One With the Pervert," "The One Where Dudley Gets Molested" 
"That One Fucked Up Different Strokes Episode," etc.)

Bicycle Man pours the kids a little vino.
And yes, Dudley is shirtless.

This one is the mother of all VSE's. If you were a child in the eighties, this episode is seared into your retinas like footage of the Challenger disaster. You can't forget it, no matter how hard you try. Years of therapy couldn't erase this one. In retrospect, it's no wonder we Gen Xers are known for being cynical and disenfranchised. Dude, we've seen things. Things you don't even know about. Things you couldn't handle. You think that stupid Saved By the Bell episode with the weak caffeine pill story arc was intense? Whatever, man. You don't even know.

First of all, this was a two-parter, so you knew shit was gonna get real. Part 1 of "The Bicycle Man," introduces Mr. Horton (Christ, they gave him such a molest-y name, too. Why not just call him "Chester"?) He's a funny, friendly bicycle shop owner that the Drummonds are suddenly really tight with. The episode opens with the fam (Mr. Drummond, Kimberly, Willis and Arnold) returning their rented bicycles to Mr. Horton's shop after a ride through Central Park. Mr. Horton--who juggles oranges and jokes around with Arnold because he's just a fun guy!--tells Mr. Drummond he hates to see him throw away his money on bike rentals when it's more economical to just buy some for the kids. Drummond is hesitant (like the Park Avenue millionaire can't spring for a damn kid's bike? What a cheapskate!). After some browbeating, Mr. Drummond agrees to buy Arnold a bike. Mr. Horton offers to toss in a free radio if Arnold passes out flyers for his bike shop to the kids at his school. "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours," he tells Arnold, who replies, "You keep coming up with these presents, you can scratch me all over!" 

Uh oh.

So Arnold gets his best friend Dudley to help him promote the shop, and the next thing you know Arnold is popping by the bike shop to pick up more flyers. As he comes in, Mr. Horton is seen escorting a little tow-headed boy out the door, saying, "Don't tell your parents I gave you all that candy. Let's make it our little secret," painting Horton's pre-vert status with a pretty broad brush (the show wasn't known for its subtly). Arnold gets there, exchanges some jokey banter with Mr. Creepypants, who invites him to his apartment in the back of the shop (WARNING! DANGER WILL ROBINSON!) to eat some ice cream and check out all his cool toys and video games. "Gee Mr. Horton, you sure understand kids!"

The clue phone was ringing. No one answered.

The next time we see ol' Horny Horton, Arnold has brought Dudley by the shop to see about a free radio for his pal. Mr. Bike Man is, of course, delighted to meet Dudley and immediately brings them to his sketchy backroom apartment to have some pizza and look at comic books. But--oops--Horton has "accidentally" left one of his porno mags out with all the comics. Yup. So Horton comes back from the kitchen with the pizza and the kids are all bug-eyed over the nudie book. But Bike Man's not mad! No, he explains to the kids that there's nothing wrong with the human body and that "you can have a lot of fun with your clothes off." (Oh God. Hold me.) To illustrate this, Horton brings out a bunch of photos of himself skinny-dipping with some young boys and holy shit I'm not even kidding about any of this. Then he gives the kids some red wine, produces a camera and suggests that Arnold and Dudley play "Tarzan" with him. This involves Dudley taking off his shirt and posing with Arnold in front of a house plant, then the words TO BE CONTINUED flash ominously across the screen.

NOOOOOO!!!!!

Careless Memories: A little backstory. I was nine years old when this episode aired and my parents had just split up (told ya!). I remember that little detail because I watched Part 1 of "The Bicycle Man" at my mom's new apartment (it was a weekend visit; Different Strokes aired on Saturday nights). Needless to say, my mom was a bit freaked out by this episode and made a point to have a Serious Talk with me afterwards, saying something along the lines of "Um, you know it's not okay for a grown man to invite children over to his place for wine and dirty magazines and 'Tarzan' games, right?" Despite being a rather naive and sheltered kid at the time, I confirmed that, yeah, I got it. I mean, the show was pretty obvious in setting up a "That boy ain't rahhht" vibe about Mr. Horton. Helen Keller would have sensed something rotten in the state of Denmark with that guy. So the next weekend I was back at home with my dad, who was warned by my mom in advance that I was going to want to see Part 2 of the Creepy Bike Man Different Strokes episode. I know my Dad was like, "Oh, great. This will be awkward." (My dad didn't handle awkward very well.)

Anyhoo, back to the nightmare.

Part 2 of "The Bicycle Man" opens with a solemn-voiced narrator describing scenes from last week's Very Special Episode, complete with creepy freeze-frames of Arnold and Dudley drinking wine, Mr. Horton showing the boys his "skinny-dipping pictures" and convincing Dudley to get shirtless to play "Tarzan" with Arnold while he snaps photos. I really cannot convey in words how much more disturbing the narrator recapping the previous week's scenes makes this already disturbing episode. Check it out if you want to see for yourself, but I wouldn't advise it.

Trust me, it's not for the faint of heart.
We dive right in, back with Mr. Horton and the boys and the Tarzan game, and the show wastes no time in ramping up the creepiness, taking it to a whole new level now with Horton getting the bright idea of handing the camera to Arnold so Horton can get down on all fours to allow shirtless Dudley to hop on his back (in case it's unclear, Horton's pretending to be the lion that Tarzan Dudley "wrestles." Oh my God.) So that happens, and then Mr. H decides it's time for another round of libations to really get the party started. He pours Arnold and Dudley some more wine, prompting Arnold to make the "L'chaim!" toast (I love when writers throw in some random Hebrew). Then the door to the shop out front rings and Mr. Horton is like "Oh, it's a customer. I'll get rid of them." Right. Be sure to get rid of any potential customers in case they want to give you money in exchange for goods and services in order to keep your goddamn piddly-ass bike shop open, Genius. It just shows what a dedicated pervert this Mr. Horton is. Don't interrupt him with store business when he's in the back cavorting with prepubescent boys!    

Horton goes out front to discover that the customer is--Duh duh DUH--Mr. Drummond, dropping by to pay for Arnold's bike. Shit! Drummond gives him the money and Horton tries to hustle him out of the store, but Mr. Drummond seems to want to hang around and reminisce about the time his old man bought him his first bike and Horton is like sweating bullets and keeps trying to blow him off, but Drummond won't take the hint and leave. Arnold peeks out into the store, sees his dad, and panics. He and Dudley flee out the back door (oh, of course there's a back door).

A while later (a few days? A few months? It's not clear) Arnie and Duds are back at the bike shop again, because it's a Very Special Episode and the script requires them to be a bit dense when it comes to middle-aged dudes who want to be their super-special-secret friend. Mr. Horton's like, "Hey guys! I got some Boston creme pie and cartoons! Come on back!" But the cartoons he shows them are the X-rated variety in the vein of Fritz the Cat. At long last, Arnold realizes there's Something Not Quite Right about all this and gets the hell out of there, leaving Dudley to watch dirty cartoons with Mr. Horton, who tells him that after the video is over they can play "Neptune, king of the sea" in the bathtub. Oh dear.

Yeah, okay. Let's cut to the chase because I seriously need a Silkwood shower after revisiting all this shit. Arnold gets home, spills the beans about Horton, then Drummond, Dudley's dad and the police all converge on Horton's bike shop to find Dudley in back, coming out of the bathroom all dazed. Duds tells the cops that Horton gave him a pill that made him feel kinda funny (translation: he slipped him a quaalude) and then "he tried to touch me." Thank Godfully, that's as Special as things get in this Very Special Episode. Dudley's dad hugs him and tells him it's not his fault and he's not going to punish him. Later, back at Casa Drummond, Arnold tells his dad he's disappointed and feels like he can't trust anyone now. This leads his father to assure him that most people are okay, but (basically) any adult who plies him with gifts and sweets and wants to get overly familiar is Stranger Danger! and to tell an authority figure ASAP. Then Arnold concludes that "some hugs and kisses are okay" and hugs his dad and everything is peachy and normal again.

Wow. As I alluded to, this is all so much worse as an adult, reading between the lines and seeing all the plot machinations and subtext. I now need to binge-watch some Seinfeld to recover my snarky, detached Gen-X sensibility.

Deliver me from this evil, O Mighty Kramer.