Blog Archives

Crime, Crime, Baby

“Stop… incarcerate and listen!” (NBC News)

For awhile there, it seemed as if the career of former rapper Vanilla Ice (a.k.a. Robert Van Winkle) had turned a corner. I mean, he hosts a do-it-yourself show called The Vanilla Ice Project, for goodness sake, something for which he actually has talent.

Sadly, it seems as if his career may be headed for the trash heap yet again.

Last Wednesday, the 47-year-old artist behind the short-lived hit “Ice Ice Baby” was arrested and charged with burglary and grand theft of a home next to one he was renovating. He was just released on bond and claims it was all some kind of misunderstanding, but I see it more as a cautionary tale of fame gone bad.

Word to your mother!

Another “Walking Dead” Casualty

We’ll miss you, Beth (and Emily Kinney)! (AMC)

I suppose that I should preface this post with a SPOILER ALERT. Those of you who have not yet seen last night’s midseason finale of AMC’s hit show The Walking Dead should probably stop reading now. The news I have to report is not good.

As has been the case with past midseason finales—most notably last season’s beheading of Hershel by the Governor—another beloved character has been killed. Last night saw the quiet, pure and unassuming Beth meet her untimely end at the hands of Dawn, a cop gunned down seconds later by Daryl.

Now Glenn is the only “family” that Maggie has left.

Like many other fans, I was shocked to see Dawn accidentally blow Beth’s head off following a scissor stab to the neck. I also expected a bloodbath to ensue with the remaining hospital survivors, but alas, two deaths seemed to be enough to pacify TWD gods. And like so many others, I was grateful for that.

So farewell, Beth. You will be missed.

Loving Anna Kendrick

anna cover

You better be nice to Anna K! (Marie Claire)

In the December issue of Marie Claire magazine, actress Anna Kendrick—who also made the cover—discusses her physical appearance and the criticism she often receives for her looks.

“The most common thing that I get is, ‘Am I the only one who doesn’t think that Anna Kendrick is pretty?’” she said. “And you’re like, ‘No, you’re not the only one. Arguably, all of the boys in my high school agree with you.”

Apparently, this wasn’t the first time Kendrick had to defend her image. Something similar happened last August in an interview with Glamour magazine.

“The thing is, my appearance—that’s never been my moneymaker. I’m fine being small. I’m fine being all the things I am. And I’m happy I’m not supposed to be on the ’50 Most Beautiful’ list all the time, because that would be super fucking stressful,” she said.

What strikes me most about all of this is the fact that Anna Kendrick is absolutely gorgeous, talented and amazing in so many ways. How could anyone not only find her looks unattractive, but also find cause for criticizing her appearance so much she feels obligated to defend her physical form publicly?

Some people truly are dumb as shit. And I tell you what: if no one out there appreciates how beautiful and unique Anna Kendrick is, then she can come straight to me. I’ll make sure she’s treated as well as she deserves. And not a day will go by when she won’t feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. I promise you (and Anna) that.

Jacquan and Diane?

Think you know Mellencamp? Think again! (Wikipedia Commons)

If you grew up in America in the 1980s, odds are you’ve heard the 1982 John Cougar Mellencamp hit “Jack and Diane.” It’s a “little ditty” about a couple of American kids “sucking down chili dogs outside the Tastee Freez.” Ring a bell?

Well, here’s something you probably didn’t know about the song: it was originally written about an interracial couple!

During an interview on HuffPost Live yesterday, Mellencamp confirmed that in his original lyrics, Jack was actually a black guy.

“Originally the line was Jack was not a football star, Jack was an African American,” the popular singer confessed. “In 1982, when I turned the song in to the record company, they went, ‘Whoa, can’t you make him something other than that?”

Mellencamp wasn’t interested in changing his lyrics initially, but did so “because he thought it was a little much for the early eighties.” And a brother has to get paid, right?

Fortunately, Mellencamp doesn’t regret his decision—most likely because the song is so popular, even today—and as someone who grew up in the 1980s, he likely made the right choice. Of course, he could reissue the song with his original lyrics… and I even provided him with a new title.

“Little ditty about Jacquan and Diane…”

Duck Dynasty and the Islamic State

This “Duck Dynasty” star has no future in diplomatic relations (Deadline.com)

On Tuesday night, Phil Robertson from the reality television program “Duck Dynasty” stopped by the Fox News show “Hannity” to share his thoughts about the Islamic State, otherwise known as ISIS. In a month’s time, members of ISIS have executed hundreds of people, including two American journalists who were beheaded on video to avenge American air strikes in the region.

And to say Robertson was upset by these murders would be an understatement.

“In this case, you either have to convert them, which I think would be next to impossible. I’m not giving up on them, but I’m just saying either convert them or kill them,” the bearded wonder said. “One or the other.”

As if this wasn’t unrealistic enough, Robertson went even further.

“I’d much rather have a Bible study with all of them and show them the error of their ways and point them to Jesus Christ,” he said. “However, if it’s a gunfight and a gunfight alone, if that’s what they’re looking for, me personally, I am prepared for either one.”

She should probably stop talking, too (Wikipedia Commons)

Although I can understand Robertson’s anger—as well as his desire to convert everyone to Christianity, which so many people believe to be the cure for society’s ills—I can’t help but ask myself one basic question: Who gives a shit what this guy thinks?

Getting diplomatic advice from Robertson is like asking Sarah Palin for her opinion on anything. Nobody cares! To make matters worse, I fear that Robertson’s opinions may be seen as reflective of all Americans: if ISIS members won’t conform, then kill them.

I’m sorry, but isn’t it possible that a misconception like this could cause even more violence in the future? The answer is obviously yes, so my advice to people like Robertson is simple: shut the freak up and perhaps fewer Americans will lose their heads!

Matt Damon Kicks Ass

You're the man, Matt! (Water.org/YouTube)

You’re the man, Matt! (Water.org/YouTube)

Given all the celebrities completing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and donating thousands of dollars to ALS research—which at last count surpassed $80 million in total contributions—I thought one particular celebrity deserved some extra attention: award-winning actor Matt Damon.

Damon was nominated by his close friend and Good Will Hunting screenwriting partner, Ben Affleck, as well as television host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel.

Unfortunately, dumping a bucket of freezing—yet clean—water over his head wasn’t an option. California is currently experiencing a drought—which makes wasting water almost a cardinal sin—but Damon had another reason for being wary of this challenge: he co-founded Water.org, a non-profit organization whose goal is to provide clean water and sanitation to developing and underserved countries around the world.

As you can see, it simply wouldn’t be prudent for Damon to dump clean water over his head, so he took a different approach: he used water collected from toilets around his home.

Check out his unique take on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by going HERE.

Like many of you, I have watched endless videos of famous and not-so-famous people completing this challenge—as well as some hilarious failed attempts—but none of them even comes close to the heartfelt, considerate approach taken by Damon, one of my favorite actors.

So kudos to you, Matt. And thanks for showing us that fame and fortune don’t always change what lies deep within a person’s heart.

Dead Poet

Farewell, O Captain, my Captain (Fanpop)

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,

Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,

Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)

Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,

Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,

Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,

The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

That you are here—that life exists and identity,

That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

-Walt Whitman

I can’t believe he’s gone.

Around noon yesterday, police found the lifeless body of beloved actor Robin Williams in his Tiburon, California home. According to the most recent reports, he died of asphyxiation, the victim of an apparent suicide.

Like millions of other fans around the world, I am in complete and utter shock.

I mean, I knew Williams struggled with depression after surviving addictions to both cocaine and alcohol. I just didn’t know things had gotten so bad that he would take his own life as a result. And now the world he once filled with joy and laughter seems a little darker and more depressing now that he’s gone.

Williams and Dawber in “Mork & Mindy” (Universal Press)

Robin Williams first endeared himself to me in the television show Mork & Mindy, a spin-off of one of my other favorite shows of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Happy Days. He was quirky, energetic and downright hilarious. And it certainly didn’t hurt to have the sexy, high-waisted Pam Dawber at his side, either. I give her credit for planting the seed that eventually turned me into an ass man, but that’s neither here nor there.

During his career, Williams starred in some of the greatest and most entertaining films ever made, including Good Morning, Vietnam, The Fisher King, Mrs. Doubtfire, Hook and one of my personal favorites, The World According to Garp—an adaptation of my favorite John Irving novel. After being nominated for three Academy Awards, he finally took Oscar home for his performance in 1997’s Good Will Hunting—a film that also won golden statuettes for screenwriters Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.

Of course, it was Williams’ role in 1989’s Dead Poets Society that inspired me the most. As English professor John Keating, Williams encouraged students at an elite all-boys school to “seize the day” and to “suck the marrow” out of life. At the time, I had just graduated from high school and planned to attend college as a criminal justice major. However, thanks to Professor Keating and some other influential instructors, I soon changed my major to English and have never looked back. Thanks for that, Robin.

Oh yeah… it didn’t hurt that Williams and I shared the same home town, either: Chicago, Illinois.

Losing such a great talent is never easy, even though none of us really knew the man behind some of our most beloved characters. Robin Williams brought laughter to everyone he encountered—both on- and off-screen—and for fans who grew up with him—like me—it seems as if a family member has passed. Life just won’t be the same without him—and for now, the joy and laughter he once provided have been replaced by tears and sorrow.

Rest easy, my old friend. I miss you already.

The Last Day

Grim will visit us all soon enough! (FreeVector)

Death is something I read about every day—given how dark and depressing most news stories are—but in general, I try not to ponder my own inevitable demise. Granted, this is something I was preoccupied with in my youth, but as I grew older, I decided life was too short to worry about dying. Death is inescapable and spending too much time dwelling on it can distract from what little life we all have left. Focusing on the days ahead rather than the end of those days is preferable, after all.

Then I started watching documentaries on Netflix and came across a Dave McRae series entitled Final 24, which chronicles the final day in the lives of famous people, all of whom died under mysterious circumstances. And now, much to my chagrin, I find myself thinking about death yet again.

Punk bassist Sid Vicious (Fanpop)

The first episode focused on Sid Vicious, the bassist for the punk band The Sex Pistols who died of a heroin overdose in 1979. After being arrested for the murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen—a murder he could not remember perpetrating—Vicious went on a drug-fueled bender, sponsored in large part by his own mother. In fact, some believe his mother gave him a fatal overdose on purpose, to spare him from another traumatizing stint in prison. Whatever the case may be, Vicious’ final 24 hours were dark and depressing—as they likely are for most just before they die.

Episode two turned a lens on one of the greatest comedic performers of all time, the great John Belushi. Like Sid Vicious, Belushi spent his final day of life blitzed out of his mind on drugs, including cocaine, marijuana and—go figure—heroin, a drug he had just begun using during his final trip to New York City. Unfortunately, he didn’t just shoot up heroin; he injected speedballs, deadly combinations of heroin and cocaine. As you might imagine, things didn’t go well for Belushi and he overdosed on the concoction, which ultimately caused his death and put an end to one of the most promising careers in entertainment history.

Deceased comic genius John Belushi (Getty Images)

The remainder of the Final 24 series includes stories about other famous people and their tragic deaths: Marvin Gaye, John F. Kennedy, River Phoenix and Hunter S. Thompson. I plan to watch them all, of course, but I am trying hard not to dwell on my own impending death. I say “impending” because it could be today, next week or even fifty years from now. You just never know.

Of course, I hope that when my number is finally up, death comes in the most peaceful and painless way possible. Isn’t that something we all wish for? I mean, the last thing I want is to die while doing something embarrassing—not to me, necessarily, but to my friends and family members. One such scenario might involve masturbation—having a heart attack while stroking off and being discovered in a compromising position. Nothing would be more embarrassing, especially if rigor mortis set in and my hand had to be pried off my junk with a crowbar or something.

We can’t all die in our sleep, after all!

Beatles vs. Beetles

The Beetles start a new invasion (Samantha Nardelli)

The Beetles start a new invasion (Samantha Nardelli)

In 2004, a pine tree was planted in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park to honor legendary Beatles guitarist and avid gardener George Harrison, who died in 2001. The sapling was planted near the Griffith Observatory with a plaque commemorating the famous musician.

Sadly, the plaque is all that remains thanks to an insect infestation… of beetles!

Yes, in an ironic turn of events, beetles actually killed the tree planted for a Beatle—a fact many feel would have been appreciated by the famous musician for whom it was planted.

“Except for the loss of tree life, Harrison likely would have been amused at the irony,” LA Times reporter Randy Lewis wrote recently. “He once said his biggest break in life was getting into the Beatles; his second biggest was getting out.”

The good news is that plans to replant the tree are underway—and it should last as long as “The Beetles” don’t stage a reunion anytime soon!

Batman Ben

When I first heard that Ben Affleck had been cast as Batman in the 2016 sequel to Man of Steel, I was as skeptical as the next guy. Batman has always been one of my favorite comic book characters and honestly, Affleck didn’t seem like the best fit. I’m willing to give him a shot, though, and judging from this photo from the set of Batman vs. Superman, it looks as if he could be a good fit after all.

I admit that Ben looks pretty cool as Batman! (Zack Snyder/Twitter)

I admit that Ben looks pretty cool as Batman! (Zack Snyder/Twitter)

Any thoughts?

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