Friday, December 31, 2010



As we stand on the precipice of 2011, looking back on the Entertainment Year That Was, one thing is painfully evident: By and large, the rich and famous are nutty, and the fans who make them richer and famouser are even nuttier.

Walk with me on my annual stroll down memory lane and remember the highs and lows, triumphs and woes of The Beautiful People, especially those who engaged in some not-so-beautiful behavior. Sung to the tune of “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” this ditty is suitable for all ages, anytime, anywhere. Feel free to belt it out in public – the grocery store, school, church – but don’t blame me if you get ejected, expelled or excommunicated.


It’s the most ponder-ful time of the year!

When we review the news
Of celebrities whose
Antics we booed and cheered!
It’s the most ponder-ful time of the year!

The recap-cappiest season of all!
Who got hitched, who got ditched?
Who went broke or got rich?
Whose high jinks did appall?
The recap-cappiest season of all!

“Jersey Shore” – looky, looky! – at overtanned Snooki!
And that dimwit we know as The Sitch!
Every cast member’s face was all over the place
And Jwoww? Hey, wow, she’s such a … witch!

We were plagued by “Bieber Fever” this year!
Fangirls fainted and screamed
For this pubescent dream
With the haircut we jeered!
We were plagued by “Bieber Fever” this year!

The songbirds on “Glee” dominated TV
With Jane Lynch and her humor so dry!
In her red jogging gear, Sue Sylvester struck fear
In the body of McKinley High!

Betty White made a big comeback this year!
When it seemed “SNL”
Soon would ring its death knell
Hostess Betty appeared!
Golden Girl brought back the laughter this year!

Viewers started rebellin’
When “Idol” got Ellen
She’s awesome, but not in that role!
And they really cried “foul” when that grump Simon Cowell
Announced that he was leaving the show!

L.A. cops worked hard in two thousand ten!
Paris Hilton played dumb
Claimed the drugs looked like gum
Lindsay Lohan … again!
L.A. cops worked hard in two thousand ten!

Cher’s kid caused quite a stir;
Printing presses did whir
When her daughter’s news got back to them
Some folks found it outrageous, but some called it courageous
When Chaz became HIM ‘stead of HER!

Tiger found himself bleeding
And quickly retreating
When caught swinging off the golf course
His indiscreet cheating earned him a sound beating
As well as a costly divorce!

We bade farewell to some legends this year:
Lena Horne, Dennis Hopper
Blake Edwards, Lynn Redgrave
Lots more we held dear!
Yes, we lost several bright stars this past year.

Goodbye, lovely June Cleaver
From “Leave it to Beaver”
Gary Coleman’s death gave quite a jar
Same goes for Corey Haim – both were once household names;
Two of Hollywood’s biggest child stars.

So please join me again this time next year!
We’ll reflect, retrospect
Speculate, contemplate,
All the star news we hear!
Tune in same time and same channel next year!

Friday, December 17, 2010



Happy holidays, readers!

Just wanted to share with you my yearly holiday letter – you know, the one in which I ooze joy and season’s greetings, and point out that I have a bigger house/car/income than you, that I’m spending Christmas in Aruba, and that my super-prodigy wonderspawn make your honor-roll kids look like “Dumb and Dumber.”

Oh, wait … I live in a one-bedroom apartment, drive a 14-year-old car and have no children, so that’s definitely not MY holiday letter! But we all know someone who mass-mails those annual missives (I call ‘em “brag bulletins”) that give a play-by-maddening-play recap of the last 11 months in their incredibly awesomer-than-yours life.
They spout geysers of love, glad tidings, and wishes for a prosperous new year, but often they serve to boast about impressive job promotions, luxurious new homes and genius offspring – and to remind us of all the things we didn’t achieve in 2010.

Folded inside deceptively festive Christmas cards, they lay in wait to ambush us like single-spaced, double-sided, three-page ninjas. They’re typed in microscopic font on red or green stationery, and chock-full of corny prose, cutesy kid stories and in some cases, outlandish claims that don’t just stretch the truth but make fib-flavored taffy out of it:

“We are so proud of Madison, who had a very productive year. During a break between volunteering with the Peace Corps in Malawi and building houses with Habitat for Humanity, she finished her second novel, received straight A’s – well, one was an A-minus because she missed two days to host a fundraiser for the Foundation for Kittens Without Mittens. Nevertheless, she found time to attend her fourth-grade graduation.

“Chase turned 5 in June. For his birthday, he received his first set of LEGO building blocks, which he used to build a scale model cathedral with a fully-functioning baptismal font! He showed off his architectural talents on a CNN special about gifted children and was subsequently commissioned to assist in the renovation of Notre Dame, as well as given honorary citizenship of Vatican City by The Pope.

“Last, but not least, we learned this morning that we won the lottery for $382 million!”

Fortunately, the one holiday letter I’ve received thus far is from friends whose updates make me feel pretty good about my own life:

“Clem moved out in May to live with a bunch of roommates in Leavenworth. We manage to visit him once a month, usually on Saturday or Sunday. He says the food is decent, but he’s sick of body cavity searches and making license plates.

“The baby is 18 months and talking up a storm. His vocabulary consists mostly of “No!” and “Mine!” and assorted grunts and barking.”

As I wait dreading more seasonal scribblings from friends and family,
I invite you, dear readers, to fill my email box with holiday cheer by forwarding your own holiday letters. I never pass up a chance to read good fiction.

Friday, December 03, 2010



Say the phrase “Christmas movies” and many people think of classics like “It’s A Wonderful Life, “A Christmas Carol,” and “Miracle on 34th Street.” Visions of more farcical films dance in other folks’ heads – “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “Elf” and “Bad Santa,” to name a few.

My personal pick is “A Christmas Story,” which TBS airs each year as a 24-hour marathon, allowing me to spend Christmas Eve following Ralphie Parker over and over on his quest for “an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot-range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time.”

But there’s a segment of the viewing audience whose yuletide yearnings lead them down a more twisted path, where Santa slays instead of sleighs and his elves wield hammers for purposes more nefarious than toy-making. For these folks, ‘tis the season to be gory and shirk the traditional fare for more horrifying holiday films – and I don’t mean Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Jingle All the Way.”

An in-depth survey of respected horror movie experts – by which I mean, “slightly disturbing conversation with a 16-year-old who probably should be heavily medicated” – turned up a dozen recommendations for those planning to have themselves a scary little Christmas:

1. “Tales From the Crypt” (1972) – In the segment “All Through the House,” Joan Collins’ Christmas gift to her husband is a fireplace poker upside the head. While trying to dispose of the body, she’s terrorized by a homicidal Santa trying to break into her house. It’s British so it’s bloody (literally) brilliant.

2. “Black Christmas” (1974) – The terrifying phone calls are coming from – where else? – INSIDE THE HOUSE in this Canadian creeper that’s widely regarded as the best Christmas horror movie ever made.

3. “Silent Night, Bloody Night” (1974) – This predecessor of the ’80s slasher genre doesn’t really revolve around Christmas; it features a killer taking revenge for something that happened four decades earlier on Christmas Eve.

4. “Christmas Evil” (1980) – Harry loves Christmas so much that he dresses as Santa and keeps tabs on who's naughty or nice … and woe unto the latter!

5. “Don't Open Till Christmas” (1984) – It’s Santa who’d better watch out in this British slashfest!

6. “Christmas Nightmare” (2001) – After witnessing the murder of a presidential candidate just before Christmas, a campaign manager targeted for assassination is taken with his wife to a safe (translation: haunted) house miles from civilization.

7. “Silent Night, Deadly Night” (1984) – For committed fans – or fans who should be committed – this movie’s main character dresses up as Santa and kills people in a variety of beastly (but undeniably creative) ways.

But wait – derrrrre’s more! Four more, to be exact. Numbers nine through 12 are sequels to “Silent Night, Deadly Night” released in 1986, 1989, 1990 and 1992. According to my teenaged source, the dreadfulness of each installment rises exponentially with the body count. Case in point: Part V features a toy maker named Joe Petto (get it?).

Watch at your own risk, as these movies could cause many an insomnia-plagued night. Then again, maybe it’d be safer to stay awake. After all, he sees you when you’re sleeping.