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.