Monday, January 17, 2011

Plastic Surgery is a Bitch

What the hell did she do to her face? How old is this girl? Why is her face lumpy like Meg Ryan's? It shouldn't look like this until at least 2020....I knew she was nuts and all, but damn. It may be time for the 2011 version of Homer's Hot 10, just to get her the hell off of the list.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bring Out Your Dead

I'm still waiting on some people who are allegedly putting their pools together, but in the meantime I just wanted to write a bit about two people who I never met, but nonetheless deserve some recognition as they have passed in the short time 2011 has been here.

The first is bass player/songwriter Phil Kennemore from Y&T. I've written in the past of my love for this band. Growing up in the Bay Area in the 80's and listening to hard rock/heavy metal, you could not escape Y&T. The band never got the recognition they deserved back in the day, but have enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in the past couple of years. The band was on tour in the midwest last year when Phil's back started to hurt. It turned out to be cancer and six months later he's gone. Music is an intensely personal thing, so I just thought I'd pay homage to a man whose music I've enjoyed since I was a freshman in high school (which was a long damn time ago).

The other is a man who needs no tribute from me, but will get it anyway, is Major Richard Winters whose military career was documented in the book and mini-series Band of Brothers. The man was simply what all men aspire to be, but know somehow that we'd fall short. Without the sacrifices of men like Major Winters, the world would be a much worse place.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Warning.... Offensive Language Inside

Huckleberry Finn – The NewSouth Edition

I was at lunch the other day when the topic of the NewSouth Edition of Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn came up. Being surrounded by people who share my love of books and literature, we all shared the same bit of outrage over the idea of an editor and publisher coming along and sanitizing a work of art that has stood as the quintessential American novel for over a century. Huckleberry Finn is part of the fabric of our culture, for better or worse.

The heart of the controversy is, of course, the use of the word nigger in the text as it refers to the character of Jim. The NewSouth edition removes this word and replaces it with a word that the editor, Dr. Alan Gribben, feels conveys the same meaning, without the negative connotations. It also cleans up the word Injun so that "both novels can be enjoyed deeply and authentically without those continual encounters with the hundreds of now-indefensible racial slurs."

My immediate reaction was disgust. Then I took a step back and reflected on what this all means, which to be honest isn’t that much.... No one reads Huck in classes anymore, and the language has changed so much over time that it has become a difficult read for younger kids, so the only thing this really affects is a college student. So upon reflection, how do I feel about the whole thing?

I have two words for Dr. Gribben and his ilk: fuck you. I know that Dr. Gribben will never read these words and that using a profanity is likely to have my opinion discounted, but the sentiment is real. Words matter, that the intent of an author, especially one like Twain, is reflected in the words they choose to use. Twain used nigger (critics like to cite the fact that it is used 219 times in the novel, when you count the table of contents) for a reason. If you don’t like it, then don’t read it. It is very simple. If the book is assigned as part of a college curriculum, then guess what buttercup? You need to man up and read the book. What you will learn is that you should be offended by what you learn in college; you should be challenged to question your beliefs, whether they are religious, social, or historical.

The general perception of this new edition is mixed, but two writers from the Washington Post seemed to sum it up best for me. Alexandra Petri wrote:

The word is terrible. But it's a linchpin of this book. What makes The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn so radical is the fact that in a time when the horror of slavery was still fresh and the specter of inequality hung over the whole country, Mark Twain was still able to use satire to show how wrong it was.

Huckleberry Finn is uniquely marvelous because it is of its time yet manages to transcend it. In spite of the limitations of vocabulary, cultural expectations, and racial stereotypes, it lays bare the inhumanity of slavery through the power of satire. To remove it from this context is to strip it of its power -- and to needlessly whitewash a period that deserves no whitewashing.

There is nothing quite parallel to this sort of change. It's not about avoiding an awkward classroom moment, or they would have removed the word "ejaculate" from Victorian novels, where everybody is always ejaculating about everything.

Jonathon Capeheart picks up from there with this:

It's that awkward classroom moment that I want to zero in on. As the only black kid in class, I know all about those awkward moments. Reading aloud and hearing passages in history books about slavery or in literature about the disparaging views and treatment of blacks the awkwardness for me would range from embarrassing to painful. Each utterance of the N-word or some other derogatory term (say, coon or darkie or Sambo), even in context, was like a kick to the groin that hurt worse than that time in the fifth grade when I got a little too cute on the balance beam after school.

But I wouldn't trade that pain for a cleaned-up version of history in order to make me or anyone else feel better. Maybe it's the journalist in me, but I prefer the unvarnished truth to one sanitized for my protection.

Great art does not exist to make us feel better.... it exists to teach us something about ourselves, so when we go around putting fig leaves on statues or editing out words we don’t like out of books, we aren’t hurting the works so much as we are hurting our chances of learning from our past, both positively and negatively, and for that I sincerely hope Dr. Gibben and company apologize.

The Walk of Shame 2011 Edition

1. Jamie Pressly was arrested for DUI this morning.... I couldn’t bring myself to put the mug shot up as I have a weak constitution this evening. Suffice it to say that she looks like she mistook her character from My Name is Earl for a template for life.... Funny enough, People magazine is saying that she looks ‘dismayed’ but otherwise well put together in her mug shot. I suppose, if you are into the Meth-Chic movement. Now if we could just get Catalina to jump around for a little while...
2. Khloe and Lamarr are going to get their own reality show, allegedly. What the hell did we do to deserve this? Oh yeah, her smaller sisters are hot. How does that reflect onto this monster though?
3. Apparently John Mellencamp and Meg Ryan are getting their farmer freak on. Good for them, although it would have been a lot more interesting and relevant twenty years ago.... Too bad he’s obviously gone blind, Meg is more than a little frightening anymore. Since I’ve never seen the movie, can someone confirm or deny that Meg starred in that new Piranha movie? Although Meg Ryan in 3-D sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Dead Pool 2011 – The Abraham J. Simpson Division

I know, you would think this would be the C. Montgomery Burns Division, but I’m convinced that between Smithers’ sycophancy and medical science, Mr. Burns will end up immortal.... Not a lot of points available with these guys, but they are a surer bet than the Coleman division. Anyway, these are the old bastards that have hung on against all odds, but are going to take the dirt nap this year (finally!):

Abe Vigoda - Really? This guy is still alive and processing oxygen? He was old as hell on Barney Miller and that was a loooonnnnnggggg time ago. He still does voice work, which is good because it allows him to continue making payments to the Devil (who has facilitated his longeivty), but it is past time for Abe to shuffle off this mortal coil....

Clint Eastwood – has been making movies for, what seems like, an eternity. His turn on Birth of a Nation signaled a new era in art, and he was a badass mutha in the Dirty Harry movies. When you see him now though, you see a man who has traded places with the Crypt Keeper.... He has a Hollywood-esque “surprised” look about him, one that isn’t a result of surgery, but rather the look of a man who is mildly surprised he was able to get out of bed in the morning.

Betty White – It’s been a nice story. Really it has, but you can only cheat death with human sacrifice (Rue Mcclanahan) for so long. In other words, it’s going to get mighty cold in Cleveland real soon.

BB King – The last of the men laying claim to the title “King of the Blues” is also the least talented of the three (Freddy and Albert were so much better.... but BB is good on television). Too bad he’ll be meeting with the real Lucille before 2011 ends.

Wayne Newton – How old is this miracle of modern medicine? Only 68? The man’s face has looked like a futuristic robot mask since the mid-70’s.... I’m voting him only because he’s far enough removed from his ill-fated attempt at purchasing the Aladdin that he’s finally going to get his gangland-style execution.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

2011 Dead Pool Part 1: The Gary Coleman Division

I was inspired by Bill Simmons today as I was pondering my Dead Pool. He usually breaks up his NFL picks into divisions, usually named after notorious players or coaches.... So I am going to break my picks into two parts, the first is what I am calling the Gary Coleman (Under 50) Division. Here are my five under 50 year-old selections to expire sometime during 2011:

Todd Bridges: The last man standing as it were. He's been sober for a few years now and living the good life. Well, as good a life as one can live with a crippling crack addiction in ones past.... couple that with his memoir and his lovingly told tales of drugs and depravity (he really liked telling about the time him and his drug dealer buddies found crack-whores that they could violate with the handle of a Louisville Slugger.... He's a prince), that it just feels like the ghosts of Conrad Bain and Charlotte Rae will just haunt him into the grave this year.

What? Conrad and Charlotte are still alive? Who knew?

New Jersey Shore girl(Deena Nicole Cortese): Calling my shot here. If they are bringing this woman in to ramp up the crazy, then the only thing I can assume is that after her and the situation bang, is that Snookie and Angelina are going to butcher her like a hog while J-Wow and Ronnie line up some fat rails on her corpse.

Kevin Smith: What is a dead pool without a big fat guy? I'm not saying that Kevin has let himself go, but I heard that when they were thinking about planning the Star Wars sequels (movies 7-9) they asked Kevin if he wanted to play Jumbo the Hutt, you know Jabba's brother who is out for revenge. Kevin would have taken the part but Lucas didn't know how to work the Jumbo and a donkey footage into the green screen.

Megan Hauserman: I know, another reality whore, but c'mon. She was only saved from a brutal murder last year because of some dude's animation fetish, I figure between her spiral to strip-club irrelevance and the fact that she's looking for one last ride on the fame express that we'll read about her deep love of Bret Michaels in her suicide letter.

Vince Young: He's rich, entitled, and enabled.... and he just got fired. It is only going to be a matter of time before Vince gets in another strip-club confrontation ends in an OK Corral-style shoot out.