Wednesday, January 23, 2008


By now, most folks have heard about the untimely death of Heath Ledger. Gossip hounds have already begun circling, spouting off about who's apartment he was found in; was he found in the nude or not; and my, there were pills in the vicinity. But what's important is that a gifted young man has died too young, and left a child who will never know her father beyond the pictures, the films and the commentary on his passing.

But there's an element of this all that bothers me, I'm afraid (beyond the salacious nature of the gossip already floating around). Before I get to that, though, I feel I should preface this with this statement: I respect Heath Ledger as an artist. I've always enjoyed his performances, even when it was in dreck like A Knight's Tale. His turn as Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain is in my Top Ten All-Time Favorite Performances. And it is a damned shame that he died. But here's the thing: it's no more a damned shame than when any 28 year old dies, or anyone, for that matter.

That's what bothers me; all this talk of how he was such a talented actor and what a loss it is to the world at large. Well, how is it any less a loss when a 28-year-old press mechanic dies in a work-related accident? How is it any less a loss to that person's family and friends? Is that how we measure a person's worth: what he means to the greater world at large? Are some people imbued with more currency than others? I think this dialogue exposes an unfortunate truth about celebrity and how society-at-large overvalues such a thing. I suppose that's bloody obvious, though, with how much the media is inundated with 24-hour celebrity news. We as a public feel this sense of proprietorship over those that occupy the entertainment industry.

But as much as I enjoyed his work, I refuse to believe that Heath Ledger's death is any more important than that 28-year-old factory worker's. No life is worth more than any other. And while we should mourn the loss of Heath Ledger, we should damn well mourn the loss of any life, no matter the station that person occupied.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


So, here's something fun: a trivia contest! The first person to correctly identify what movie this quote came from, as well as who said it, will win themselves a Cadbury creme egg! Eee!

Here are the rules: try not to use IMDB or Google. In fact, if you can stay away from the Internet, even better! If there are no winners by the end of the week, I'll give everybody a clue. Here's the quote:

"If I told you the Loch Ness monster hired me to hit the harbor, what would you say?"

Now, maybe this is too easy. If it is, next week's will be more difficult. That's right; this is going to be weekly fun. Woo!

Monday, January 21, 2008


Here's some '80s goodness from the boys in Motley Crue, just 'cause today felt like a good day for it. You're welcome.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Still don't think Tom Cruise is batshit crazy? Watch this video.

What, is this becoming an epidemic? Another asshole threw an infant off a bridge.

Some knuckleheaded editors and publishers tried to keep the whole "Lynch Tiger Woods" debacle alive, even as the clock on the incident was running down. (Yes, I'm aware I'm a journalist. But this is just sensationalism)

Some Mormons are concerned about the heat and attention Mitt Romney's bringing the church. Well, maybe if you weren't two steps from a cult (but five steps from the lunacy of Scientology. Aces!), people wouldn't worry so damned much.

A Wisconsin father is arrested for taping a Packers jersey to his son. He said it was a "joke." Hope it was "a fine and restraining order" funny.

A sitter is charged with murdering a one-year-old boy after swinging him around in a sleeping bag.

I guess living in a tropical paradise doesn't remedy road rage.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


The Rev. Al Sharpton wants Kelly Tilghman fired.

Guess what, cupcake? People in hell want ice water, but ain't nobody handin' 'em a glass.
Tilghman made the gaffe du jour last Friday while covering Hawaii's Mercedes-Benz Championship with co-host Nick Faldo. She and Faldo were discussing how young golfers might dethrone the golfing force of nature that is Woods. Faldo suggested up-and-comers "should just gang up for a while until ..."

"Lynch him in a back alley," Tilghman offered.

And that's about when the shit hit the fan.

Tilghman quickly realized she'd made a mistep and apologized on air. And reps for Woods said the golfer didn't take it personally. In fact, he and Tilghman are friends. The Golf Channel, Tilghman's employer and the station airing the broadcast, said the comment was a "non-issue." But good ole' Al had worked up a head full of steam over this latest in public missteps and began creating a ruckus, calling for Tilghman's ousting. And as word of the incident circulated rapidly throughout the media and blogosphere, the Golf Channel rescinded its previous stance and suspended Tilghman for two weeks.

But that's not enough for Rev. Al, who wants Tilghman fired, since it's still illegal to pillory someone. Sharpton said he's gonna get his group, National Action Network, to picket the Golf Channel's Orlando, Florida, headquarters.

The round reverend says it's the word -- not the person or their history -- that matters. In fact, he compared Tilghman's statement to calling for a woman to be raped or for a Jewish-American to be sent to a gas chamber. Rather interesting righteous indignation for someone who has publicly slandered Jews in the past, referring to them as "white interlopers," and calling for the segregation of New York, blacks from the Jews.

"Lynching is not murder in general. It is not assault in general. It is a specific racial term that this woman should be held accountable for," the reverend said. "What she said is racist. Whether she's a racist -- whether she runs around at night making racist statements -- is immaterial."

Big Al's right; the word is evocative of a specific period in American history. And it does conjure up images of African-Americans swinging from tree branches. But he's wrong about it being a specific racial term. The term has been around far longer than racial problems in America. And he's wrong to say that the context or a person's history and frame of mind are irrelevant.

Sharpton, of course, went so far as to say that Tilghman's comment may have been a mistake, but that it's evidence of a deep-seated and well-cloaked racism. What kind of fool makes such a blanket statement? Just because a person says something that's possibly inappropriate does not make them a racist. And just because Mussolini got the trains running on time in Italy didn't make him a decent person. What Tilghman said was a poor choice of a joke, for which she was embarrassed, as she should have been. But she's not like Don Imus, Howard Stern or any other name on a long list of people who have a history of making wildly inappropriate remarks belittling minority groups. She made an extemporaneous comment that, if circumstances were different (i.e. if Tiger were white) would have disappeared into the ether of television.
There is such a thing as being respectful of other cultures. And then there's having every square inch of the PC yardstick inserted in your rectum. Were Michael Richards' comments during his onstage meltdown wrong? With a capital "If-I-Had-a-Career-Still-It-Would-Surely-Be-Over." But the context was different. He wasn't kidding. He was most assuredly upset and attacking his hecklers in the most personal way he knew of in the moment. He unequivocally attacked the men's nationality and conjured up images that were very race specific and meant to wound. As for Imus, well, he's just a jackass who likes to torque people. But in both instances, Richards and Imus' histories were taken into account, as were the contexts of the situations. And you know what, race relations were none the worse for wear after the dust had settled. They weren't necessarily any better, but that's because both sides are clinging onto some very old ideas and indignations. And until we're willing to let those go, we're never going to get anywhere.

Sharpton's biggest problem is that he loves to hear himself speak. And he considers himself the mouthpiece for black America. Well, then, it must chafe like a sonuvabitch that Tiger Woods shrugged the whole shebang-a-bang off. But wait, this is larger than the golf pro.

"It's not about Tiger Woods," Sharpton said. "It's about the station. It's about using public airwaves to offend people."

Mr. Sharpton? It's the pot calling for you. He wanted me to tell you, you're a black kettle, sir.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


So, I love this website, I Can Has Cheezburger. People take funny photos of animals, submit 'em to the Web site with a humorous caption, and the caption gets translated into LOLCat speak (if you're not familiar with it, you really need to read it to understand). Good stuff...especially if you're having a bad day. Here are a few of my faves...


I took this quiz on Billy Joel's song, We Didn't Start the Fire over at Mental Floss to see how well I knew the lyrics. Scored me a 90 percent. The only problem is, I couldn't remember all of the words, so I used my history-geek powers to ascertain which answer fit historically with the rest of the lyrics.

Man, I'm a dork.

Friday, January 4, 2008


I love Men at Work. There, I said it. It's true. Growing up in the '80s, I fell in love with Men at Work's catchy melodies and was transfixed by their absurdist videos. However, I wasn't so much concerned with their lyrics.

As ashamed as I am to admit it, I lost sight of the group through the'90s. In fact, it wasn't until Zach Braff reacquainted the world with lead Men Colin Hay via the Garden State sound track and Scrubs that I remembered my appreciation for the boys. And now, it's with the presence of mind of an adult (most of the time) , so I can chuckle at Hay's combination of satire and social commentary.

Lemme tell you; these songs are still a treat to listen to. Go ahead, you know you wanna.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


So, the new year is upon us, and it started out with a bang for me. Or rather, a subtle cracking sound as my glasses broke on New Year's Night while I was cleaning them. I was wiping the lenses, and suddenly, I'm holding what amounted to a monocle in both hands. Whee. The good news? I called several optical places, and was told that it would take about 7 to 10 days to get a new pair, and I couldn't just walk in and get a new pair, either. Thanks to a regulation in the state of Pennsylvania, eyeglass wearers must undergo an exam every two years. And wouldn't you know it, my last appointment was two years ago. Wait, did I say good news? So, I'm sitting here, wearing my prescription sunglasses and listening to my co-workers make jokes about my future being so bright, I have to wear shades. Or, "Hey man, where's your white cane. But my personal favorite -- every seven minutes, someone starts singing "I wear my sunglasses at night," a la Corey Hart. Thank you, Canada.

But I digress.

In honor of the new year, I thought, why not list a few of my fave-oh-rite things of 2007? Now, this isn't just a list of the best music or movies (For a great list of the best music of 2007, head over to Liz's Rants and Ramblings. Good times). Oh no, it's just a random collection of crap I enjoyed for 12 months. And of course, some of these things may not have debuted in '07, but I probably didn't discover them until then. Narf!

Favorite movie: In the Valley of Elah. I didn't get to many movies this year, and most of the ones I did were disappointing in one way or another. But I went into In the Valley of Elah with few expectations, and it shocked the hell out of me. Of course, Tommy Lee Jones was fantastic, doing more with less than most actors do while chewing their way through the scenery. Perhaps my favorite part was watching his fastidious nature crumble the deeper he delved into the truth of his son's death. And while I'm usually underimpressed by Charlize Theron (with the exception of Monster), she almost managed to keep up with Jones (see the scene in the bathroom with the dead woman. If ever regret was writ upon someone's features, that's what it would look like).

Favorite book: An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison. This autobiographical book actually came out in 1997, but I didn't get around to reading it until a decade later. The true story of a doctor of psychiatry's struggle with manic depressive disorder (known clinically as bipolarism) is at times harrowing, heartbreaking and redemptive. It uncovers an illness that comes not only with bouts of elevating mania and crushing depression, but also an unbearable stigma. Jamison's writing personalizes the disease, and in giving it a face, makes it easier to understand and with which to sympathize.

Favorite sporting event: (tie) The Red Sox winning the World Series and Chuck Liddell beating Wanderlei Silva at UFC 79. The World Series gets a vote because (A) I love me some baseball, and (2) because since the Phils were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs after an historic comeback, I had to throw my support behind the Sox, since Liz is a huge fan. Also, they crushed the Rockies, who eliminated my Phils, so that sweet, sweet vindication. And it was just nice to see my boy Liddell get back in the win column -- outlasting Silva, nicknamed "the Axe Murderer -- after gut-wrenching losses to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, who stripped the Iceman of his light heavyweight title, and Keith Jardine, who fights as though he were in the midst of an epileptic episode, and who looks vaguely like Michael Berryman.

Favorite song: You Can't Fail Me Now, written by Joe Henry, performed by Loudon Wainwright III on the Knocked Up soundtrack. In a year that saw Britney's successful return to the charts with Gimme More (even if she suffered in fairly all other realms of, well, life), Rihanna's catchy Umbrella and Timbaland's solo single Apologize (both of which I just can't get enough of), as well as the triumphant return of the Boss and fantastic Indie fare like the Editors' An End Has a Start and great albums by Silversun Pickups and the National (thanks, Liz) and Amy Winehouse before the meltdown, it's this intimate folk-infused ditty that won me over. And lemme tell you, it was far and away the best part of that movie. Step back, Rufus and let your old man show you how it's done.

Favorite performance in a movie or television show: Well, since I don't watch television if it's not on DVD, this is going to be primarily a silver screen category. And I'm a-have to say it's a tie between Angelina Jolie in A Mighty Heart and Ben Affleck in Hollywoodland. Jolie was transcendent as Mariane Pearl, conveying the composure and heartache of a journalist who wanted to know all the angles in the story of her missing colleague, as well as a woman who just wanted her husband back (see the moment where she finds out her husband was killed if you want to see heartrending misery at its finest). And Ben Affleck, well, he just had to go and prove that no matter what the tabloids said, or what shuddering piece of crap film he'd been in lately, he actually does have talent. His portrayal of George Reeves, a man who fell short of his hopes and dreams while soaring through the imaginations of children the nation over as Superman, was exhausting, and I mean that in a good way.

Favorite news story: A north Texas woman concocted a story about her six-year-old daughter's father dying while serving over in Iraq for an essay contest, all to win tickets to a Hannah Montana concert. Of course, her old man happened to be alive and well, working as a carpet cleaner, and had never served in the military. I don't condone or advocate lying, or baldly playing on the emotions of others. This story just amuses me because, seriously, Hannah Montana? What is it about Miley Cyrus that has everyone in such a fuss?