Friday, December 22, 2006
By BELINDA M. PASCHAL
It's the most wonderful time of the year
Looking back on newsmakers, the movers and shakers
Who perked up our ears
It's the most wonderful time of the year!
It's the hap-happiest season, you know
When we review the news -- oh, that crazy Tom Cruise
Gave us quite a freak show
It's the hap-happiest season, you know!
When TomKat had a baby, some folks thought that maybe
Young Suri just didn't exist
Then Cruise married Holmes in a wedding near Rome
And left Oprah off the guest list!
'Twas a most productive year, so it seems
The stork brought Brangelina another bambina
Soon, they’ll have their own team
'Twas a most productive year, so it seems!
Britney's life was a train wreck, but she regained some respect
By finally dumping K-Fed
Then she dressed very scanty (but forgot her panties)
And partied with Paris instead!
It's a most interesting look at this year
Nicole Richie got thinner … someone, please buy her dinner
Lest she disappear
It's a most interesting look at this year
Lindsay Lohan got wasted, then finally faced it
And checked herself into A.A.
There was hardly a blink when Lance Bass of NSYNC
Announced to us that he was gay!
'Twas a year of star breakups, it's true
Pam and hubby Kid Rock -- well, now there's a big shock
Nick and Jessica, too
'Twas a year of star breakups, it's true!
There were meltdowns from hell -- first an actor named Mel
Put his true colors on full display
Gibson claimed that the booze made him slander the Jews
No excuse for his acting that way!
Then the guy who played Kramer, he blamed it on anger
When his mouth got him into a mess
Caused a helluva scandal; a pro would've handled
A heckler with much more finesse!
Looking back at this star-studded year
At the highs and the lows, Ashlee Simpson’s new nose
It’s abundantly clear
There’ll be even more star turns next year!
Friday, December 08, 2006
BY BELINDA M. PASCHAL
Christmas music – I love it as much as the next person. Classic choral arrangements, standards like Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, R&B gems like Donny Hathaway’s This Christmas and many of the better pop covers of the last couple decades.
I’ll admit to singing along with Alabama’s contrived tearjerker, Christmas Shoes, more than a few times and even Gayla Peevey’s I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas can’t dampen my holiday spirit. But I absolutely draw the line at Elmo & Patsy’s 1984 hit Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer. Sure, it was funny the first time I heard it. Then I sobered up.
Don’t get me wrong – novelty songs can be funny and deserving of a place in the canon of comedic Christmas carols. Case in point: Bob and Doug Mackenzie’s Twelve Days of Christmas. (You can’t help but love a song in which the first day’s gift is beer.)
However, some songs should come with an expiration date; still others should never even see the light of day. Take, for instance, Jingle Bells Boogie by the Jingle Dogs. You know, the one with dogs barking to the tune of Jingle Bells.
Now, I’ve got nothing against Jingle Bells … when sung by humans. But if I were trapped on a deserted island with no music other than the Jingle Dogs’ version, I would hollow out my own leg and use it as a canoe to escape this torture. That goes double for anything by the Jingle Cats. Folks, please have your pets spayed or neutered before they’re old enough to sign a recording contract.
While the Jingle critters make me long for hermetically sealed ears, they pale in comparison to Rosie O’Donnell’s A Rosie Christmas and Another Rosie Christmas, released in 1999 and 2000, respectively. Not even a respectable roster of bona fide musical talent including Elton John, Lauryn Hill, Gloria Estefan, Trisha Yearwood, Jewel and Celine Dion can make up for this felonious assault on the ears.
On the second album, The Mouth That Roared teams with the Dixie Chicks on Merry Christmas from the Family, inarguably the only holiday song to mention tampons.
Other "Too Awful to Be Real, But They Are" tunes:
* Even Squeaky Fromme Likes Christmas – The Rev. Glen Armstrong. ‘Cos nothing says "holiday spirit" like a gun-wielding Charles Manson devotee (Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme) who tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975.
* Here Comes Santa – Joe Pesci. Yep, that Joe Pesci. Before becoming an actor, he was an aspiring singer who called himself Little Joe Ritchie. You think he’s funny? Like he’s a clown? You will when you hear this song.
* Santa Doesn't Smoke Anymore – Uncle Larry Nestor. Apparently, St. Nick voted NO on Issue 4 and YES on Issue 5.
These are just a drop in the bucket of horrendous Christmas songs. Here’s a quick shout-out to Hanukkah/Chanukah, which comes with its own medley of musical missteps:
* Hanukkah Rocks – Gefilte Joe & The Fish, billed the world’s only Jewish senior-citizen rock band! In other words, the American version of the Rolling Stones!
* The Dreidel Song – The Christmas Chicks & The Fowlharmonic Symphony featuring The Kosher Chickens. No, seriously.
On that note, there’s only one thing I have to add regarding the final two entries: Oy to the world!
Friday, November 24, 2006
BY BELINDA M. PASCHAL
(PERMANENTLY ON THE NAUGHTY LIST)
‘Tis a month before Christmas and all through the shops,
Are customers pulling out all of the stops.
They’ve cashed in their IRAs and 401k's,
To flee to the mall in a gift-buying craze.
More rapid than eagles those shoppers do bound
To be first in line at a store across town.
"Hey, move it! Shove over!" They glare and they glower,
"That’s my parking space; I’ve been waiting for hours!"
They race to the stores like a bat out of hell
Brushing past Santa Claus ringing his bell.
"Donation?! I’ve credit card bills yet to pay,
"So can it, fat boy, and get out of my way!"
All through the mall there arises a clatter,
For holiday shopping’s a serious matter!
They streak down the aisles fast as their feet can run,
Clocking 95 on Hot Wheels' toy radar gun!
Their patience is low, but their fervor is ample,
They sprint for the entrance, the weaker are trampled!
To the front of the store, to the toy-bedecked walls!
They dash away, dash away, dash away all!
They charge through the crowds, throwing left hooks and elbows,
Competing to snag the new Tickle Me Elmo.
Pushing and shoving and being obnoxious,
Grabbing iPods and I-Dogs, I-Cats and X-Boxes!
Their offspring demand it, they rush to supply:
Speed Stacks and Fly Wheels and Bratz dolls - oh, my!
What does every tot need if he wants to feel cooler?
A digital camera made just for preschoolers!
To counter the gadgets of modern technology,
Etch-a-Sketch has returned, and so has Monopoly!
There's traditional favorites, like footballs and bikes,
Plus a new generation of Cabbage Patch tykes!
Just when the parents think that they’re all done buyin’,
They’re hit with TV and film merchandise tie-ins!
Like Happy Feet, Dora and Tumble Time Tigger,
Making Mom and Dad's shopping bills bigger and bigger!
Soon the shelves are depleted, picked clean of their stock,
And those who got nothing stand rooted in shock.
When what do their wondering eyes soon espy?
The last PS3 on a shelf way up high!
The crowd fixed its stare on this season’s big prize,
Then ran to that shelf with a fierce battle cry!
The game toppled forth and then slowly, it fell
Into the hands of the grandma from hell!
She barked, "Don't try to grab it, that would just be in vain,
"I'll knock your lights out with this solid oak cane!"
Then she parted the mob like it was the Red Sea
Heading straight to the checkout line, cackling with glee.
The shoppers left, bruised, scarred and limping in droves,
One had a concussion; one had broken his nose.
One poor soul sat crying in front of the store:
"I never got even a foot in the door!"
They spoke not a word as they filed to their cars,
Some bleeding internally, some seeing stars.
A kind-hearted stock clerk, whose shift was just ending
Could see their morale was in need of some mending.
"Cheery up, weary shoppers! Your gloom is for naught!
"I’m certain you’ll find the right toys for your tots!"
He said all the right things to lighten their mood,
The people perked up as their faith was renewed.
The spirit of Christmas was thick in the air,
As the clerk bade the shoppers, "So long and take care!"
Then I heard him exclaim after giving them hope:
"Next year start shopping at Easter, you dopes!"
Friday, November 10, 2006
BY BELINDA M. PASCHAL
Less than three months after getting his walking papers from Paramount Pictures, Tom Cruise is making all the right moves to become a Hollywood top gun again.
Paramount ended its 14-year relationship with Cruise in August, citing the actor’s "unacceptable conduct" (See: "Wingnut, Acting Like A"). Now Cruise is having the last laugh as a new part-owner of United Artists.
Cruise and his producing partner, Paula Wagner, have teamed with MGM to resurrect UA, the Hollywood studio founded four score and five years ago by Charlie Chaplin and a bunch of other dead famous people.
With Wagner as his chief executive officer, Cruise will produce about four movies annually – a number expected to increase in years to come – as well as star in some of the movies. According to MGM chief Harry E. Sloan, MGM will fund, market and distribute the films, but Cruise and Wagner will have almost-total control of greenlighting and developing new productions.
This is a win-win situation for Tommy Boy, a very shrewd career move that will allow him to orchestrate a comeback on his own terms. Say what we will about Cruise being nuttier than a pecan pie, the man is intelligent and a skilled self-promoter. He has put himself in the perfect position to reestablish his credibility in Hollywood while giving his colleagues the security of knowing UA is being run by someone who knows the business from an artist’s perspective.
It’s also his golden opportunity to woo back fans who wrote him off as an arrogant, opinionated crackpot. Moving from Oprah’s couch to a producer’s chair may help "de-kook" his image, as well as lessen the likelihood that we’ll be subjected to such projects as a Placenta: The Other Other White Meat cookbook.
Jests and jibes aside, Cruise is as passionate about his craft as he is his much-publicized religious beliefs. And underneath all the Tom-foolery, he’s oddly charismatic in a way even his detractors can’t ignore as they insist, "I’m so sick of reading about him" – while scouring the gossip rags for TomKat headlines.
With his persistence and never-say-die attitude, Cruise stands a good chance of succeeding in his new venture. An entertainer who can’t salvage his career with the support of a powerhouse like MGM would have to be a hopelessly lost cause. Or Mel Gibson.
So hats off and good luck to you, Tom Cruise. I sincerely wish you the best because: a) Eccentricities notwithstanding, you are a compelling actor; b) You have a respected track record (true fans eventually will forgive you for Mission: Impossible III, I promise); and most importantly, c) I can hardly wait for the release of When Harry Met Xenu.
Friday, October 27, 2006
BY BELINDA M. PASCHAL
With pre-Halloween parties going full-tilt this weekend and the holiday itself just four days away, there’s still a ghost of a chance for Johnny-come-lately types to find the perfect costume. Sure, a witch’s outfit is easy to throw together and what it lacks in originality is made up for in … well, nothing. So give Grandma’s lacy, black shawl back, unless you’re going as Stevie Nicks.
The key to throwing together a last-minute ensemble is to keep it simple yet clever. The idea is not to be instantly recognizable, but to make people interested enough to ask, "Who or what are you?"
Some years ago, I bought red horns and a matching tail, a plastic pitchfork and a navy-colored thrift store frock. It cost me less than 10 bucks, but the inexpensive price tag was worth the fun of telling people I was The Devil with the Blue Dress On. (Ba-dump-bump!) Groan if you will, but it got their attention and won me many compliments on my ingenuity.
I was celebrating Halloween in L.A. that year, so it was no small feat to stand out from the other couple hundred partygoers – especially that Courtney Love lookalike. I still shudder at the memory of that belligerent, sunken-eyed … wait – that wasn’t a lookalike.
My point: You don’t have to spend a fortune to be interesting and unique this Hallows Eve. Hollywood offers a broad spectrum of themes to be imitated and improved upon, so that’s a good jumping-off place. Here are a few ideas off the top of my little pumpkin head.
A big Cher fan? Pick an era, any era – there’s a wide array of looks since her career has spanned from the 60’s to the present – then recruit a friend to wear identical garb (butt tattoo optional if you opt for latter-day Cher). Two is always better than one, especially when you Cher and Cher alike. (Thank you, ladies and germs, you’re a lovely audience!)
Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette is a lovely choice, but you can add a twist simply by adding a platter of Ho-Ho’s. Why the desserts? So you can let them eat cake, of course!
Remember the classic black bodysuit with a skeleton on the front? The bad boys wore them in The Karate Kid when they welcomed Ralph Macchio to the neighborhood with a beatdown. Add a pair of gi-normous sunglasses, top it off with a blonde wig – and voila! Instant Nicole Richie!
Wrap yourself in an oversize leather jacket, wear an impeccably styled, side-parted dark wig and a wise-beyond-your-years Mona Lisa smile – poof! You’re Suri Cruise. Unfortunately, you’ll have to remain out of sight most of the evening or the effect will be ruined.
Throw on a Medusa wig – any Halloween shop worth its salt will carry them – then strap on a pair of cardboard wings with "TWA" written on them and look, Ma, Snakes on a Plane!
Don’t despair if you haven’t the time or resources to bring these ideas to fruition. If all else fails, you can make a giant leech costume out of a Hefty trash bag and go as Kevin Federline.
Friday, October 13, 2006
BY BELINDA M. PASCHAL
It all started with Bennifer.
By merging the names of then-couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez a few years back, the media created a monster of Frankenstein proportions. Two became one … kinda like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly, but scarier.
Bennifer begat Brennifer, whose life was cut short when its components defected to new mates. Brad Pitt was swallowed into the gaping maw of Angelina Jolie to become Brangelina, while Jennifer Aniston merged with Vince Vaughn, forming Vaughniston.
Eventually, Bennifer also split. Lopez became J-Lo, then married singer Marc Anthony. But Bennifer did not die an easy death. Affleck paired with another Jennifer – she of the Garner variety – and the media dubbed them Bennifer II. But this new amalgam was seemingly normal, at least by Hollywood standards, and therefore deserving of its own identity. Thus was born BenJen. Or Garfleck, depending on which tabloid you read.
And of course, there’s the unforgettable TomKat, created by the coupling of the volatile (translation: crazier than a sack of rabid weasels) Tom Cruise and the younger, utterly smitten (translation: quite possibly a robot) Katie Holmes.
From there, the combined-name trend has mined the depths of silliness and come up with fool’s gold: Romber (former Survivors Rob Mariano and Amber Brkich) and RenKen (Renee Zellweger and Kenny Chesney), as well as numerous soap opera couples renamed by daytime TV viewers.
What’s with the fusion confusion? Are today’s celebrities more noted for their couplehood than for their individual merits? Or maybe Hollyweird relationships come and go so quickly that we can’t be bothered to remember them as individuals.
I mean, you’ve never heard Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman referred to as Woodman, have you? Or Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton as Elizaburt.
Humphrey Bogart plus Lauren Bacall never equaled Humphren. Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn … Traceburn? I think not.
What started as a semi-cute, amusing idea has deteriorated into gimmicky self-parody. Next thing you know, Mattel ™ will jump on the bandwagon with a new Karbie doll. Hey, it’s not like this thing could get any sillier. Could it?
Of course it could. If the trend continues, there’s no limit on the unholy unions that might result. Rapper Nas could hook up with Carmen Electra and become NasCar. Perhaps Emma Thompson will go slumming with Eminem and become Eminemma. Robert DeNiro and Tyra Banks? Rob DeBanks. What if Oprah dumped Stedman for Hank Williams Jr.? H2-O, of course.
Here’s a little more merger math for ya:
* The Rock + Star Jones = Rockstar
* Comedian Rita Rudner + David Duchovny = R2D2
* Naomi Watts + Paul Newman = WattsNew
* Rob Lowe + Winona Ryder + Lowryder
* Lance Armstrong + Ivanka Trump = Armstump
* Condoleeza Rice + actor Aaron Eckhart = RiceAaronE
* Madonna + Marilyn Manson = MadMan
* Heath Ledger + Barbra Streisand = HeathBar
* Mira Sorvino + Macaulay Culkin = Miracul
* Paris Hilton + Andrew "Dice" Clay = PariDice
* Courtney Love + rapper Warren G = Love ‘n’ War
* Orlando Bloom + Penelope Cruz = LanCruzer or Dope
I hope it doesn’t come to this, as most of these pairings are downright ooky. Besides, in the event that Andre Agassi goes temporarily insane and asks for my hand in marriage, I certainly don’t want to be known as PasGas.
Friday, September 29, 2006
Danny Bonaduce. Todd Bridges. The Coreys – Feldman and Haim. Drew Barrymore. River Phoenix and Dana Plato, may they rest in peace.
Former child stars falling into the clutches of drink and/or drugs – it’s nothing new. It’s a sad story made sadder by the fact that it’s all-too-familiar and unfortunately, expected. But nothing could have prepared me for the addition of li’l Rudy Huxtable to the list.
According to the celebrity gossip web site, Bossip.com, ex-Cosby Show star Keshia Knight Pulliam allegedly has an affinity for snow – and I don’t mean she’s a skiing enthusiast. I’m talkin’ about cocaine. Nose candy. Blow. Toot. Dust. Powder. California cornflakes. Booger sugar. You get the point.
At age 6, she was the youngest actress ever nominated for an Emmy and possibly one of the Top 10 cutest kids in TV history. (And I’m not just saying that ‘cos she looked a lot like me at that age.) She’s a college grad with a degree in sociology – a sorority girl, even. She won celebrity editions of The Weakest Link and Fear Factor. Now, "friends" speaking anonymously to Bossip have reduced her to a sensationalistic headline.
Perhaps they had good intentions, but we all know how the road to hell is paved. Perhaps they went public thinking the attention and criticism would motivate KKP to get help. That makes about as much sense as going on Jerry Springer to break up with your girlfriend because you’ve been cheating with her: a) Mother; b) Sister; c) Brother; d) All of the above, plus you suspect you’re not her baby’s daddy.
(Note to KKP’s "friends": Interventions are supposed to be private, not internationally broadcast.)
Sigh. What would Cliff and Claire do? In an ideal world, the solution would be a stern admonition from Mom – "Rudy Lillian Huxtable, go to your room and don’t come out till you can act like you got some sense!" – while Dad hovers in the background wearing colorful sweaters and funny facial expressions. Problem solved, all wrapped up in a neat half-hour package (including commercials). Unless it’s A Very Special Episode. Then they get a whole hour.
But this is the real world, where young people, famous or otherwise, sometimes make bad decisions and engage in risky behavior as part of the growing-up process. All we can do is hope they learn from their mistakes before it’s too late. I’m talking to you, Lindsay Lohan. You were great in Mean Girls. You have talent, charisma and seriously great hair. Get it together, Missy, and start working that LiLo magic again. But please, no more albums.
I jest, but the problem is serious and very real. Any child star, no matter how wholesome, can fall into the trap. Just last month, Haley Joel Osment – the apple-cheeked waif from The Sixth Sense – celebrated his entry into adulthood with misdemeanor charges of DUI and marijuana possession. The 18-year-old actor tested at almost twice the legal 0.8 blood alcohol level after crashing his 1995 Saturn into a brick pillar in L.A.
Oh, Haley J. Pull it together, little man. You’ve got genuine acting chops; you don’t need Hollywood Bad Boy antics to get noticed. Jodie Foster and Ron Howard turned out just fine. Seeing dead people? Cool. Becoming one because you drink and drive? Not so much. Besides, when you’re the most bankable kid actor of the early 2000s and you drive a’95 Saturn, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion coolness is not your forte.
Come back to us, HaJo. Get yourself back on track. Then pay it forward by making sure Dakota Fanning doesn’t end up with a standing reservation at the Betty Ford Clinic.
Friday, August 25, 2006
GYPSY, TRAMP AND THIEF
Have you heard about Shaft? He's a carpet-cleaning man, and no one understands him but his woman.
I was talkin’ ‘bout Shaft, but my then-5-year-old self wasn’t aware that John Shaft’s woman knew not only her man but the correct song lyrics and would describe him as "a complicated man," rather than an employee of Stanley Steemer.
Faulty hearing can turn out highly amusing interpretations. So prevalent are such gaffes that the Internet has countless sites devoted to the subject, most notably www.amiright.com and www.kissthisguy.com. The latter borrows its name from the widely misheard line, "’Scuse me while I kiss the sky," in Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze.
These mishearings are known as "mondegreens," a term writer Sylvia Wright coined from her own childhood misunderstanding of the Scottish ballad The Bonny Earl of Murray. What she heard was, "They hae slay the Earl of Murray and Lady Mondegreen," when what they’d actually done to the earl was "lay him on the green."
In the early ‘70s, when Cher still had all her original parts (including Sonny), she went to No. 1 with Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves, a mondegreen smorgasbord for the aurally challenged:
What it says: Gypsies, tramps, and thieves … [b]ut every night, all the men would come around and lay their money down.
What they heard: Gypsies, chimpanzees ... [b]ut every night, all the men would come around and lay their monkey down.
What it says: I was born in the wagon of a traveling show.
What they heard: I was bored in the wagon of a trampoline show.
The Temptations’ Papa was a Rolling Stone was mondegreened as the result of a homophone – words that sound alike but are spelled differently.
What it says: When he died, all he left us was alone.
What they heard: When he died, all he left us was a loan. (Perhaps Papa’s unpaid debts led to his untimely demise.)
Merilee Rush had a hit with Angel in the Morning in the ‘60s; the song has since been re-popularized by country-pop singer Juice Newton in 1981 and reggae star Shaggy five years ago. Each version was popular, but that didn’t prevent the perpetual mondegreening of "Touch my cheek before you leave me" to "Brush my teeth before you leave me." (Despite its inaccuracy, the latter is good advice for avoiding the dreaded morning breath.)
A friend of mine once thought the chorus of Soul Man (originally by Sam & Dave, revived by The Blues Brothers) proclaimed, "I was soooo mad!" (Perhaps The Soul Man was experiencing residual anger from being "brought up on a side street.") Another pal’s bad hearing turned Van Halen’s Panama into Padded Bra. Yet another buddy misheard Bruce Springsteen’s Tenth Avenue Freezeout as "Tell the devil I’m in the freezer aisle." (Just in case ol’ Lucifer was looking for some brimstone-flavored ice cream.)
Even when the word-butchering is intentional, the results can be entertaining. For instance, the Four Tops had a hit that proclaimed, "Ain’t no woman like the one I got!" Thanks to my nephews’ twisted minds, this declaration of love became, "Ain’t no woman like the one I shot!"
I’d offer more funny examples, but I’m tired from writing into the wee hours. So, like Round John Virgin, mother and child, it’s time for me to sleep in heavenly peas.
Friday, August 11, 2006
It’s a pretty good indication that a celebrity’s career has hit the skids when: a) Their name is follows the words VH1: Behind the Music; b) They’re on a 3 a.m. infomercial pimping stepladders for dogs and products with names like Stink-B-Gon; c) They’re constantly mistaken for Gary Coleman, even though they’re female. And Caucasian.
Well, Jaleel White – better known as "Steve Urkel" – isn’t a faded rock star, hasn’t hit the infomercial circuit, and is too tall to be mistaken for Gary Coleman. So where is he? When a star falls out of the public eye, speculations start flying, the usual options being "rehab," "mall security guard" or "dead."
In White’s case, the final option is reputed to be his final destination. The most popular nerd of the last decade allegedly has gone on to that great big Geek Convention in the sky, according to a story currently traveling the email circuit: "Following the cancellation of Family Matters in 1997, friends claim White became obsessed with the character and grew despondent … neighbor and friend Bradley Spencer alerted police after hearing what he described as ‘a loud bang’ coming from White's Los Angeles apartment," the story reports.
"Authorities state that upon entering the home they discovered a young African-American male with an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Also found was a note, which read simply, ‘Did I do that?’ – a popular catchphrase from the show."
Now hold on, Urkelmaniacs, don’t get your high-water britches in a knot! The story is a hoax – a poorly executed one, at that. For one thing, Family Matters ended in 1998, not 1997. Had the "writer" done a little homework (It’s called fact-checking, nimrod. Look into it.), he/she would know that White recently finished two upcoming films – no easy feat if you’re dead. Unless you’re starring in a remake of Weekend at Bernie’s.
If he’s now a member of the corpse corps, how to explain the blog White maintains for NBA.com? I’ve heard of ghostwriters, but never in the literal sense!
We haven’t seen much of His Urkelness in the last eight years – during which he graduated from UCLA’s film school – but he’s been working quite steadily, including producing/starring in a short-lived UPN sitcom and providing the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog.
Gossip grapevines also report spotting White a couple weeks ago partying with the bunnies at the Playboy Mansion. Eat your heart out, Arnold Horshack!
Fabrications about the demise of young celebrities are nothing new. There was the now-legendary "Paul (McCartney) is Dead" hullabaloo of the late ’60s, and just last year, Napoleon Dynamite star Jon Heder shook hands with the Grim Reaper either during a car accident or a cocaine overdose, depending on the source. When asked if he was aware of the hoax, Heder told a reporter, "Yeah, and apparently it's not true." His film alter ego would have said it better: "Ugh! Freakin’ idiot!"
Friday, July 14, 2006
By BELINDA M. PASCHAL
AKA "B. DIDDY"
Why Diddy do it … again?
His mother gave him a perfectly nice name, but apparently, Sean John Combs just doesn’t carry enough street cred. I could see if he’d been born, say, Marshall Mathers – Eminem was wise to veer away from a name that screams, "I’m the kid who smells like cat food and sits in the back of the class eating paste."
But I reckon "Sean" is not a handle befitting the über-cool of a hip-hop and fashion impresario. A man like Mr. Combs needs to "maintain his sexy," as he proclaims in his infomercial for ProActiv acne solution. And so, Sean Combs was compelled to fell back on his high school nickname, Puffy. Which is a fine name if you’re: a) A big, bad wolf threatening three little pigs with your amazing lung power; b) Sporting one helluva circa-1973 Jackson Five afro; or c) A woman in the throes of PMS.
Puffy gave way to Puff Daddy – heaven forbid we confuse him with the other members of the Puff family – Puff Mama, Puff Granny and Puff Cousin-Once-Removed. Just when we’d gotten used to that moniker, he pulled the fast-change again in 2003, dubbing himself P. Diddy.
Then, deciding he "needed to simplify things," he 86’ed the P. and became plain ol’ Diddy – "One word. Five letters. Period." Like Oprah, Sting or Usher. Except I don’t have to wonder what Oprah, Sting and Usher will be answering to next week.
"Nobody knew what to call me," Diddy said last August. "People were uncomfortable when I'd meet them for the first time … they'd ask me what they should call me."
Call me crazy, but could that be because … oh, I don’t know … you keep changing your name?!
Now, after less than a year of Diddy-hood, he’s gone and done it again. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my dubious pleasure to introduce you to … The Puff. Yeah, I know. This is … The Ridiculous.
The Puff – or as I like to call him, "The Artist Formerly Known As Puffy Formerly Known as Puff Daddy Formerly Known as P. Diddy Formerly Known as Diddy," is reincarnating as such an exponential rate that soon, he’ll have more personalities than Sybil.
Next thing ya know, he’ll re-christen himself as P. Diddle Diddle and introduce us to his latest protégé, The Cat and the Fiddle. Being of an entrepreneurial bent, he could market a nutritious chocolate drink and rename himself Cocoa Puff. Those who prefer their beverages in just-add-water form could enjoy a similar libation sold by Powder Puff! Personally, I’m looking forward to the day he does a stint on Sesame Street as Puff, the Magic Rapper.
It’s anybody’s guess as to what The Puff will be calling himself by the time this goes to print, but I have a suggestion. One word, two letters. Just drop "The," as well as the two f’s and you have the perfect name: P.U. ‘Cos frankly, Mr. Puffy Puff Diddy Daddy, all this name-changing business STINKS.
Friday, June 30, 2006
BY BELINDA M. PASCHAL
Anarchy in the playroom! God save the Beanie Babies! Never Mind the Barbies … Here’s the Sex Pistols!
Whether you view them as punk revolutionaries, a masterwork of sensationalism or the greatest scam on Earth, the Sex Pistols undeniably carved their own distinctive niche in the rock’n’roll landscape. Now they’re making their mark in the toy industry.
You can relive the days of mile-high mohawks and strategically placed safety pins with Medicom’s 30th anniversary commemorative Sex Pistols Kubrick figurines. The Japanese toy maker has given the Pistols the cute treatment, creating a limited-edition, four-piece set that goes for 42 to 60 bucks a pop at sites including http://www.funkyzilla.com and www.sweatyfrog.com.
Kubricks, by the way, are block-figure collectibles, generally 2½ to 3 inches tall. Each figure starts from the same basic blocky body, and different heads, body attachment and paint jobs are used to recreate any character. There are Kubricks of music groups, companies and organizations, as well as anime, television and movie characters – Star Wars is on its sixth series of collectibles.
What better way to memorialize to a band created by hype and hawked like the pre-fabricated product that it was? Besides, nothing says "rebel" like cuddling your very own Sid Vicious doll.
If you’re not a fan or toy collector, buy ‘em for the kids. Throw in a set of Sesame Street Kubricks and voila – Celebrity Death Match! Oscar the Grouch would give Johnny Rotten a run for his money, plus they have the same hairstyle. Or display them on your desk to show your coworkers there’s still an iota of the anti-establishment maverick you used to be, before you were forced to bow down to The Man in order to make a decent living.
Obviously, celebrity dolls are not a new concept, but for the most part, they don’t do anything. What if they truly reflected the personalities and behaviors of the people they represent? It would give a whole new meaning to "action figure." I can see it now: An 11-inch replica of Tom Cruise with turbo-action, spring-loaded feet – perfect for spontaneous couch-jumping! Or a model of Naomi Campbell – wind her arm up and watch her throw a telephone! Buy one and get the phone-chucking Russell Crowe figure at half-price!
Just imagine these dolls arriving fresh off the assembly line:
* Michael Jackson, King of Pop figure: Grows progressively whiter with age! Accessories include penny loafers, one glittery glove, red pleather zipper jacket and an assortment of attachable noses. Veiled children dolls sold separately.
* The Jolie-Pitt Clan: Mommy Angelina and Daddy Brad form their own little United Nations with babies Maddox, Zahara and Shiloh! Comes with: Extra car seats, as family is likely to expand. Pro: They’re awfully purty to look at. Con: You’ll soon get tired of looking at them.
* The Britney, Sean P. and Baby-to-Be Makes Three Playset: Hear lifelike Britney chirp, "Oops, I dropped him again!" and "It was the nanny’s fault, y’all!" Comes with collapsible high chair.
The set would not include a Kevin Federline doll, as it would make sales plummet even lower than his so-bad-you-gotta-laugh single, PopoZão.
Friday, June 16, 2006
While many singers avoid cosmetic facial surgery because it might irreversibly alter their voices, Ashlee Simpson is rumored to have gone under the knife anyway. Recent pictures of her sans the small bump that made her nose distinctive suggest the rumors are nothing to sneeze at.
She's also gone back to her natural blonde. I will concede that she's significantly cuter than she was a year or two ago, when she looked frighteningly like the love child of Gomer Pyle and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. However, the changes in her appearance have led me to a rather disturbing suspicion: Ashlee Simpson is gradually morphing into her sister Jessica.
At the rate she’s Jessifying, she may have to modify the chorus of her hit, Boyfriend, to: Hey, how long till the music drowns you out?/Don’t put words up in my mouth/I didn’t steal your boyfriend … just your face.
I’m tellin’ ya, all she needs is an ex-boy band husband and she will have completely assumed her elder sib's identity. She's starting to look more like Jessica than Jessica does! Come to think of it, when's the last time anyone’s seen Jess in public? Hmm.
Initially, Ashlee denied the nose-job rumors, despite "before" and "after" photographic evidence to the contrary. The difference is as plain as ... well, the nose on her face. Later, she laughed off the speculation by stating, "Everybody's already saying it, so I just don't talk about it. I'm like, OK, whatever. It doesn't bother me."
Hey, maybe she, like, totally got, like, a nose job because her much-publicized acid reflux or whatever was, like, eating away at her septum. (And causing spontaneous outbursts of lip-synching on live television.)
I honestly believe Ashlee's goal is to become totally Jessified, then surpass her sister on the Ladder of Sexy. In April, she boasted that she's ''hotter" than Jessica, telling Scotland's Daily Record: "I'm taller than … and my legs are longer … I got lucky because my chest size isn't completely massive."
Ah, but, my dear, the very reason you have attained The Hotness is because you look like your sister now. Tsk, tsk. Don't bite the face that feeds you, Ash.
Sadly, it's not difficult to be hotter than Simpson the Elder at the moment. Make no mistake– I think Big Sis trumps Li'l Sis in both the looks and talent departments. (Yes, I mentioned Jessica Simpson and talent in the same sentence. Sue me.) But since her breakup with Nick Lachey, she's been looking a little ... well ... let's just say she's a black wig away from being mistaken for the old Ashlee.
But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's not Jessica whose place Ashlee is trying to take. If you close one eye and squint with the other, she does bear an uncanny resemblance to Kirk Douglas. Or maybe she's impersonating Paris Hilton.
If that's the case, all she has to do is replace her brain with a small crayon drawing of a brain.
Friday, June 02, 2006
BY BELINDA M. PASCHAL
They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, and that’s also true of its title. For example, fiction author Francesca Lia Block makes the bestseller lists with such horrifically titled tomes as Necklace of Kisses and Psyche in a Dress.
That same philosophy can be applied to albums. Take, for instance, Fiona Apple’s critically
acclaimed 2001 release. Make no mistake -- I love me some Fiona. But my favorite sullen girl must’ve been off her meds when she came up with When The Pawn Hits The Conflicts He Thinks Like A King What He Knows Throws The Blows When He Goes To The Fight And He'll Win The Whole Thing 'Fore He Enters The Ring There's No Body To Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand And Remember That Depth Is The Greatest Of Heights And If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where To Land And If You Fall It Won't Matter, Cuz You'll Know That You're Right.
Thankfully, this is commonly abbreviated to When the Pawn – I passed out from lack of oxygen while requesting it at the music store.
When album titles are good, they’re very, very good – e.g., Exile On Main Street by The Rolling Stones and Funkadelic’s One Nation Under a Groove. But when they’re bad, they’re horrid – like Sum 41’s Does This Look Infected? (No confirmation to the rumor that this was Sum singer Deryck Whibley follow-up question after asking for Avril Lavigne’s cloven hoof in marriage.)
I could write a series of columns listing some of the most wrongheaded album titles. (And depending on the severity of my writers’ block this month, I just might.) Here are some inductees in my personal Album Title Hall of Shame:
* Limp Bizkit: Chocolate Starfish & the Hot Dog-Flavored Water – The meaning of this title isn’t printable in a family newspaper. Let’s just say Fred Durst deserves a punch in the "bizkit" for such pretentious idiocy.
* REO Speedwagon: The Earth, A Small Man, His Dog and a Chicken – By the same band who gave us You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can't Tuna Fish, this title sounds like it should be followed by " … walk into a bar."
* Butch Yelton and Upbound: Swing That Gospel Axe – He will, he will … smite you!
* Robyn Archer: Mrs. Bottle's Absolutely Blurtingly Beautiful World-Beating Burp – I wonder if Archer’s next album will be Mr. Fletcher’s Positively Fabulously Fantastic Flame-Fanning Flatulence?
* The Peanut Butter Conspiracy: Is Spreading – The columnist. Is gagging.
* Circulus: The Lick on the Tip Of an Envelope Yet to be Sent – For this, Circulus gets the Foot in the Butt of a Kick Soon to Be Delivered.
* The Ministers Quartet: Let Me Touch Him – Not even with a 10-foot pole.
* Alanis Morrisette: Under Rug Swept – Talks like Yoda, Alanis does.
* Freddie Gage: All My Friends Are Dead – No, Freddie, they’re just really, really frightened by this title and they’ve entered the Witness Protection Program.
* Billy Ray Cyrus: Some Gave All – And clearly, Cyrus shouldn’t have.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Radio is going to the dogs.
Well, that’s been obvious for years, particularly since a corporate monster whose name rhymes with "sheer flannel" stomped across the U.S. like King Kong on a steroid bender, devouring more than 1,000 stations along the way.
In this instance, radio has literally capitulated to the canine crowd – in the form of Internet broadcasting. The recently-launched DogRadioThailand.com features barking deejays playing vocal and instrumental music 24/7, reports the Bangkok Post.
Anupan Boonchuen, director of a dog grooming school, started DogRadioThailand because he believes listening to music has an effect on canine behavior. "I've noticed that dogs often respond to music. Some wag their tails. Some lift their heads while lying on the floor."
Not much different from my response when a Michael Bolton song comes on. Of course, I’m only lifting my head to gain momentum as I violently drive it back down against the cold, hard linoleum.
"We found that when we turned on music the dogs' mood improved," Boonchuen said. "They were more obedient and let us trim their hair easily."
Again – not much different from my reaction when I hear James Blunt caterwauling You’re Beautiful. I, too, become obedient. And by "obedient," I mean "brain-dead and drooling."
Ten human students from the school have been hired as deejays. Boonchuen said one of the main qualifications for the job included "must be good at barking." I’m guessing another requirement is "must lose anything even remotely resembling dignity."
The programming on DogRadioThailand.com will be primarily Thai pop music. I’d like to see this expand to include Western pop, which is a hit among the human population of many foreign countries. I envision a multi-genre play list catering to canines from all walks of life. For the old dogs, there’d be classics by The Beagles (featuring Paw McCartney), The Rolling Bones, Barky Manilow and Steppenwoof. Music-loving pups can shake their tails to the likes of Collie Clarkson, Garf Brooks and of course, Snoop Dogg and Bow Wow.
Eventually, the station’s offerings will include segments during which the disc jockey will talk and canine listeners will be encouraged to respond.
"At 9 a.m., we may have a dog greeting show, in which we'll repeat ‘sawasdee’ (‘hello’) over and over," Boonchuen said. "In some houses, the dog may lift both paws in response. In some houses, the dog may lift only one paw. It depends on how the dog was trained."
If DogRadioThailand catches on, it could lead to a whole new industry aimed specifically at man’s best friend. Imagine the first just-for-dogs sportscast:
"Here’s Jim Kibbleson-Bitts with the WWK9 sports news."
"Thank you, Steve. In yesterday’s go-fetch tournament, the Dayton Dobermans took a bite out of the Middletown Mastiffs, and Barkley the basset hound received a special award for being such a good boy."
One question – will the weather reporter be required to avoid offending the audience by saying, "It’s raining cats and humans"?
Friday, May 05, 2006
Madonna did it. So did Jamie Lee Curtis. And Bill Cosby and John Travolta and Jay Leno, among others.
No, the answer isn't "starred in some incredibly lousy movies." Well, yeah … they did, but that's beside the point, which is: They've all written children's books. For some reason, celebrities feel uniquely qualified to write books for an audience that largely has no idea who they are. With a few exceptions, these literary forays are as horrible as, say, Leonard Part 6. Or Battlefield Earth. Or Shanghai Surprise. Take your pick; they all suck like a Hoover.
Madonna jumped on the bandwagon a couple years ago with the explanation, "I'm starting to read to my son, but I couldn't believe how vapid and vacant and empty all the stories were. There's, like, no lessons. There's, like, no books about anything." (That’s, like, profound.)
Other scribes for the sandbox set include Sting, Jerry Seinfeld, John Lithgow, Talking Head David Byrne, Katie Couric, footballing brothers Tiki and Ronde Barber, ex-president Jimmy Carter, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, Prince Charles and Whoopi Goldberg. Ally Sheedy was 12 when she penned She Was Nice to Mice, which, incidentally, is much better than most of the claptrap scrawled by grown-up celebs.
Eighties songstress Kylie Minogue (Remember Locomotion? I’m still trying to forget it.) is among the latest stars to publish a kids’ book, The Showgirl Princess, due out in September by Puffin Publishing. According to a press release company, the picture book is geared toward "little girls who dream of dressing up and going onstage" as – what else? – showgirl princesses.
Right. Just the sort of aspirations we want to encourage in the women of tomorrow.
Even rogue rapper 50 Cent has taken his "get rich or die tryin’" credo to the publishing world with a book in which he draws on his past experiences to teach children lessons about life. ("See Jack run. See Jack run from the 5-0. Run, Jack, run!")
I can only imagine the lessons to be learned from the eloquent Mr. Half-Dollar. I can see it now -- stacked somewhere between Beverly Cleary and J.K. Rowling, will be such classics as:
* The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf and Got Smacked Down for Bein’ a Snitch
* Malice in Wonderland
* The Lord of the Bling
* The Crackhouse at Pooh Corner
* Goldilocks and the Three Pimps
* Little Red, Ridin' in Tha Hood
* The Chronic of Narnia
* Hush, Little Baby, or So Help Me, I’ll Give You Somethin’ to Cry About
* Harry Potter and the Chamber of Bullets
* The Gingerbread Man: Original Gangsta
* The Adventures of Sherlock Homeboy
* Little Bo Peep THIS
* Georgie Porgie: Playa of the Year
* Car-Jack and Jill
* Curious George Learns to Mind his Own *$&% Business
Thanks, but no, Fiddy. I'll stick to Dr. Seuss. On second thought, I MIGHT pay 50 cents for your books. But you're gonna owe me change.
Friday, April 21, 2006
By BELINDA M. PASCHAL
Colin Farrell’s The New World stinks and it has nothing to do with overacting or Greeks with inexplicable Irish accents.
Really, the 2005 drama about the Brits settling the Jamestown colony and the love story of John Smith and Pocahontas isn’t so bad. It’s breathtakingly shot, if a bit ponderous, and boasts one of the most compelling under-18 actresses in recent filmdom, Q’Orianka Kilcher, cousin of singer Jewel and a multiple award nominee for her breakthrough performance in the Terence Malick-scripted film.
That’s nothing to sniff at … unless you live in Tokyo, where The New World opens later this month. Whereas U.S. viewers had to settle for the standard popcorn, Milk Duds and keg o’ cola, Japanese audiences will get a different treat to enhance their cinematic experience – Smellovision.
During the film, a bouquet of aromas will waft through the theaters to coincide with the emotional tone of various scenes. Love scenes smell like flowers, anger carries a hint of eucalyptus and tea tree, and joy is a citrus-y blend of orange and grapefruit. The peppermint-y aura coming from the back of the theatre? That’s not the guy in the last row chomping on a wad of Wrigley’s … that’s eau de sadness emanating from special scented oil machines under the back-row seats in two Tokyo theaters.
Actually, Smellovision isn’t new. Considered one of the more curious gimmicks of the time, it was introduced in 1960 in the movie Scent of a Mystery, which was something of a stink bomb. Twenty years later, John Waters paid tribute to Smellovision with scratch-and-sniff "Odorama" cards distributed at showings of his 1980 film, Polyester.
Imagine if all movies came with Smellovision! OK, so Thank You for Smoking and The Stink of Flesh probably wouldn’t pull in the crowds, but Charlie and the Chocolate Factory would drive concessions sales up 200% as moviegoers begin drooling like Pavlov’s dog at the first whiff of an Everlasting Gobstopper.
After painstaking research (translation: stream-of-consciousness daydreaming), I came up with a plethora of movies that suitable for Smellovision adaptation. Here are some I can actually print, along with their accompanying scents:
* The Ten Commandments – Verily, verily, I smelleth a burning bush.
* The Exorcist – Green pea soup. Mmmm, heavenly!
* Forrest Gump – A box of chawk-lits, of course.
* Popeye – Spinach and olive oil.
* Citizen Kane – Rosebuds.
* The Elephant Man – Peanuts.
* Last Tango in Paris – Butter. ‘nuff said.
* Soylent Green – What’s that smell? It’s PEOPLE!
* Cheech & Chong's Up in Smoke – As if you couldn’t guess.
* The Godfather – Fishes, as in, "sleepin’ wit da."
* The Silence of the Lambs – Some fava beans and a nice Chianti.
* Apocalypse Now – What else? The smell of napalm in the morning.
* Fatal Attraction – Boiled rabbit.
* Rain Man – Pepperoni pizza on Monday, yeah … ‘course, Wednesday is fish sticks.
* The Sixth Sense – I smell dead people.
* Evita – I’m not sure what the fragrance would be, but with any Madonna movie, you can be sure of one thing: It reeks.
Friday, April 07, 2006
By BELINDA M. PASCHAL
Sweetie, come here. Sit down. We need to talk.
You’ve done television and that’s working out pretty well. I’ll admit I’ve laughed – guffawed, even -- on numerous occasions at your high jinks with Nicole Richie on The Simple Life. You’ve done movies and that’s working out … well, you’ve done movies. Yes, House of Wax counts.
Can’t you just stop there? Are you on a campaign for total entertainment world domination? It’s not like you need the exposure – a certain videotape from a couple years back gave you more than enough. Seriously. Stop.
Do you have to ruin music, too?
No, that’s not a typo. Music. Ms. Hilton is continuing to milk her long-expired 15 minutes of fame by recording an album. Just what kind of fare might one expect from the vacant-eyed, party-hardy heiress? Bubbly, synth-laden dance pop, right? Wrong. Word has it that La Hilton is gettin’ her gangsta on by teaming up with rap crew Three 6 Mafia. Really.
I can think of nothing more frightening … well, maybe Paris pairing with Kevin Federline for a duets album.
See, this is what happens when people become famous for nothing other than being famous. With no real talent to peddle, they stumble into the spotlight like drunken hogs on ice skittering around an all-you-can-eat buffet trough. A little bit of this … a little bit of that … And why? Because they can.
For those not in the know, Three 6 Mafia scored an Oscar for their song It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp from the movie Hustle & Flow. They’re not exactly the Limp Bizkit kinda band that chicks like Paree consider "hardcore." Without censorship, most of their songs would be a series of bleeps with intermittent noise words, e.g., Get kicked out of this (expletive) like, (expletive) that (expletive) – an actual censored line from an actual Mafia song.
Can Paris prove her street cred on her new album? Show that she’s down with the homeys? We’re talking about a girl for whom "the hood" is found on the back of an Abercrombie & Fitch pullover and "peeps" are sugary little Easter chickies.
I can just imagine what Hiltonized hip-hop would sound like:
"Check one, check two, check – EW! Like, who writes checks anymore? I totally use MasterCard Platinum … and Visa Platinum ... and American Express Platinum … and … what? Oh, we’re rolling? That’s hot.
‘Kay, so, like … I’m a fresh, fly honey from the big, bad city
My folks call me Paris – you can call me P. Hitty
I grew up on the mean streets of Beverly Hills
I go slumming in Bel Aire when I need some cheap thrills
Everyday I pull drive-bys – that’s a cold, hard fact
Like, I drive by Wal-Mart on the way to Saks
Think I’m a dumb blonde? Well, I’ve got you conned
See, I’m not really dumb – and I’m not really blonde!
Like, WORD … or whatever."