Friday, February 29, 2008



The Smurfs turn 50 this year, which is surprising since not one of them looks a day under 100 – the age, according to legend (and Wikipedia), of all Smurfs except Papa, Baby, Nanny and Grandpa. Though the little blue imps came to Americans’ attention in the ‘80s, they’ve actually been around since 1938, when Belgian cartoonist Pierre Culliford, aka “Peyo,” introduced them in a comic strip.

For those who didn’t come of age or have small children between 1981-1990, Smurfs are a “family” of small blue creatures (said to be three apples tall) living in wooded communal harmony a la Hanna-Barbera. In their homeland, they were known as "Schtroumpfs," which thankfully, the Dutch translated to "Smurfs." Otherwise, America would have sounded like it was in the throes of a collective head cold:

“Look, Mommy! Schtroumpfs!”
“Gesundheit and God bless you, Billy!”

The Smurfs enjoyed the fruits of stardom, winning Emmys and fans as they romped in their idyllic mushroom village, blissfully unaware of the big, bad outside world. But the merriment came to a halt in the early ‘90s, when the creators decided the American market was becoming oversaturated – or over-Smurf-urated, as it were, so they brought the Smurfs back home to Belgium. Now they’re planning a comeback – or as we humans might say, having a mid-life crisis.

With the original series coming out on DVD soon and a 3-D flick in the works for next year, Smurfomania is upon us once again.

How will the Smurfs fare in a world that has changed tremendously since their heyday? Can they hold the attention of today’s kids, who can play sports, drive cars and become guitar heroes with the flick of a wrist? After all, we are living in a material world and flower-pickin’ Smurfette's not exactly a Material Girl. How will they contend with today’s issues when their biggest obstacles have been evading the evil Gargamel and his foul-tempered cat Azrael and suppressing the biological urges that arise from living in a community where the gender ratio is hundreds of males to one female?

Valid questions, yes, but I know what you’re all really wondering: What have the Smurfs been up to in the nearly two decades since disappearing from the U.S. limelight?

Well, I have it on good authority that Vanity, the stylish one who sported a pink flower in his hat and spent much of his time staring into a mirror, stars in the Belgian hit series, “Queer Eye for the Smurf Guy.”

Jokey Smurf is killing ‘em on the comedy club circuit, Handy Smurf runs a house-flipping business, Greedy Smurf is a representative for the Smurfy Craig weight-loss program, while Papa Smurf has retired in luxury, i.e., a four-bedroom, ranch style home in the ‘burbs – a veritable palace by Smurf standards.

And what of Smurfette, she of the flowing blonde hair and fluttering eyelashes, that flirty coquette who loves the attention of anything in white pants? Word has it she’s now going by the stage name “Smurfis Hilton.”

Friday, February 15, 2008



Mustaches are making a comeback and I, for one, am hyena-happy about it. I’ve had enough of the pitiful face-fluff Hollywood’s been fobbing off on us for the past couple of decades. I’m sick of the scruffy stuff that screams, “I spend my paycheck on hobo wine instead of razors!” and the wan wisps reminiscent of pubescent boys going for a look that says “gangsta,” but ending up with “Got Milk?”

According to the American Mustache Institute (I swear I didn’t make that up), the end of the ‘70s began a Dark Age of discrimination against the hair-lipped. The St. Louis-based organization, which hosts an annual “‘Stache Bash,” battles negative stereotypes and fights for the rights of the oppressed Mustache-American masses. Indeed, the time has come to return to the masculine mouth-mantels of yesteryear. From studly (Burt Reynolds) to silly (Groucho Marx) to shaggy (Wilford Brimley), the mustache has a proud, well-groomed history among celebrities. So wear those lip-whiskers with pride, boys … they aren’t just for truckers, Hell’s Angels or Gene Shalit anymore.

If you’re thinking about letting your hair down, here are some noted mustache mavens you might want to mimic:

* Clark Gable in Gone With the Wind – “Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a damn if it itches when I kiss you.”

* The biker from The Village People – Mucho macho, man!

* Dr. Phil – Warning: Side effects may include smugness and slavish devotion to Oprah. If you experience an overinflated ego lasting more than four hours, please see your doctor.

* Lionel Richie – A look guaranteed to have you dancing on the ceiling all night long. Jheri Curl optional.

* Frank Zappa – There aren’t too many guys who can rock the horseshoe ‘stache. Case in point: Hulk Hogan.

* Charlie Chaplin – The Little Tramp was well-known for his little “toothbrush” mustache. Unfortunately, so was Hitler.

* Tom Selleck – While he won an Emmy for his portrayal of Magnum, P.I., his facial hair deserved an award for Best Supporting Actor.

* Sacha Baron Cohen – Is true that man who look like Borat always make sexy time with the ladies!

* Mario of Nintendo fame – Sudden increases in firepower and running abilities may occur.

No list would be complete – and this one’s nowhere close – without a tip of the razor to rugged veteran actor Sam Elliott, whose mustache is truly a wondrous thing to behold. In fact, I think it deserves a place on the National Park Service’s list of natural monuments, right up there with Yellowstone Park and the Everglades.

If you’re still uncertain about flaunting your facial foliage, visit, where you can upload a photo of yourself and get a sneak peek at what you’d look like with a ‘stache. As for me, I don’t need the preview to know what I’d look like with facial hair. Thanks to middle age and Mother Nature, I’ll be finding out soon enough.

Friday, February 01, 2008



It’s a good indication of what we’ve come to expect from celebrity parents when the typical reaction to the name of Christina Aguilera’s newborn son is, “Max? But that’s so … normal!”

Indeed, it’s becoming difficult to imagine the rich and famous sending their well-heeled whelps off to kindergarten with monikers like Jacob and Emily, the top names of choice among the non-famous in the past year. As celebrity baby names grow increasingly off-the-wall, little Max could be rubbing elbows with schoolmates whose names consist of unpronounceable symbols. Imagine roll call: “Bratman, Max ... Spears, Jayden … uh, Three Lines With A Curly Doodle On Top.”

I’m all for unusual names, but there’s a fine line between “unique” and “most likely to receive wedgies on a daily basis.”

When Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay hubby Chris Martin, named their daughter Apple in 2004, folks thought they’d gone bananas. Now, their kid’s name is scarcely a blip on the weird-o-meter, for beyond the Apples and Suris and Maddoxes of Hollyweird is a whole new breed of names that prove that there just ain’t no cure for stupid.

Submitted for your disapproval:

* Kal-El, son of actor Nicolas Cage. Kal-El is Superman’s birth name. We get it, Nic – you’re a comic book fan. But why not Clark or Kent? Sure hope your boy can run faster than a speeding bullet when the schoolyard bullies are on his tail.

* Pilot Inspektor, son of actor Jason Lee, is named after, “He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's the Pilot,” the opening song on Grandaddy's 2000 album, “The Sophtware Slump.” Good thing Lee didn't listen to the whole album or the tot might be “Jed the Humanoid.”

* Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches and Pixie, daughters of singer Bob Geldof and late British TV personality Paula Yates. I’m thinking they wanted puppies instead of children.
Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, daughter of late INXS frontman Michael Hutchence and the late Paula Yates. “Hiraani” sounds exotic. “Heavenly Hiraani,” however, sounds like a Ben & Jerry's flavor.

* Audio Science, son of actress Shannyn Sossamon. I'm pretty sure I took this class in junior college.

* Tu Morrow, daughter of actor Rob Morrow and future star of a TV show called “How Thinking I Was Clever Made My Kid Hate Me.”

* Tallulah Pine, daughter of Duran Duran's Simon LeBon ... and also the scent of my car air freshener. Fellow Durannie John Taylor's daughter is Atlanta Knew. Wonder if she'll be followed by brothers called Buffalo Heard and Cleveland Rocks?

* Rocket, Racer, Rebel and Rogue, sons of director Robert Rodriguez. Or Japanese anime characters. Or future WWF superstars. You decide.

* Moxie CrimeFighter, daughter of magician Penn Jillette. Penn's theory: Most people don't use their middle names, anyway, so why not “have some fun with it?” Right. Now explain “Moxie.”

* Jermajesty, son of Jermaine Jackson. The only thing more frightening than the pretentiousness of this name is the fact that it makes Michael seem like the normal parent.