Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Remember when movie stars were mysterious?

Internet has connected the world – no doubt about it. And in general, this is definitely a Good Thing. The media are on top on every move and event, which gratifies the news and/or gossip junkies among us.
However, there is a drawback to knowing all the ins and outs - the demystification of movie stars.
My grandmother used to swoon with her friends watching Rudolph Valentino galloping through the (fake) desert on the silver screen. Living in Europe, she didn’t have a clue about his personal circumstances, which left lots of room for wishful thinking and daydreaming.
In the 30s, the platinum blond bombshells looked like they hadn’t got a clue where the kitchen in their houses was, let alone know how to cook. But they knew how to be glamorous and to party- big time. Since all we knew about them was what the studios put out, we never knew that Louise Brooks was desperately unhappy (to phrase it mildly).
The leading ladies in the ‘40s and ‘50s were mysterious indeed – Garbo and Bacall looked like they had hidden secrets and dark desires, fixing us with sultry looks from the screen.
Reality did not interfere with the illusion – in Bacall’s case, being married to Bogey put her in a different realm all together. Perky ‘60s icons such as Doris Day and handsome leading men like Rock Hudson kept us spellbound with their onscreen antics. We didn’t have a clue what went on offscreen, which was for sure a blessing for Hudson.
In the’80s and ‘90s, movie stars were called “actors and actresses”, which already gives you a hint how the audience perceived them. They started to refer to their vocation as “jobs” and “crafts” touting university degrees and spouting nonsense like “method acting”. For crying out loud, I pay good money to escape reality, so don’t treat it as a nuclear science project, OK?
They are bending backwards to ensure us that they are ordinary folks. Well, sorry to say, but I don’t care. I want to loose myself in a movie without having additional and unwanted information that the leading man is going through a divorce, or that the leading lady just gave birth and doesn’t want to hire a nanny. Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.
I want my leading men and women to be mysterious. I don’t even need to know their real name – let alone their family situation.
Of course, the public’s hunger to know every little detail of an actor’s life has consequences. Apart from the privacy and stalker issues, it is also a two-way street. Celebrities are happily preaching to the masses about their religion (Madonna on Kabbalah; Tom Cruise on Scientology), about their vegetarian lifestyle (Pamela Anderson on PETA, Alicia Silverstone on being a Vegan), about guns (Charlton Heston), about breastfeeding (Julia Roberts).
Let’s face it, none of them are experts on any of those subjects and their opinion has the same value as yours or mine (or my cat’s come to think of it).
So I appeal to all existing and would-be movie stars in the making – please shroud yourself in mystery. Let us dream away without knowing what you paid for your facelift, who performed it on you and that your kid is in therapy since the tyke didn’t recognize you. Keep your private life private – no matter on which team you play.
Don’t air your laundry, dirty or clean – driers were not invented for nothing.
I know, it’s difficult nowadays to stay off the radar– but it can be done.If you are not able to stay out of the press and Internet at all, just do what the movie stars of old used to do – create your own (cyber)personality. Believe me, many of us will be grateful for letting us float on the stream of illusion. And you might save some major bucks in therapy as well……

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

What the Michael Jackson jury should have looked like

So another jury let a celebrity off the hook…. and Michael Jackson walks (for now).
Don’t get me wrong; the idea of a jury is in itself a legitimate one – providing the jury consists of 12 peers. And that’s the crux of the matter. Michael Jackson never had his panel of peers. Who should have been jury members? My suggestion would be as follows.

Jury # 1: Ronald McDonald
Reasons: Also kind of creepy, white faced, outlandish dress code, sexually ambiguous.
Lives in a dream world since he promotes junk food as being good for kids.
Obviously never touches the stuff himself, considering he is not shaped like the Goodyear Blimp.
Risk factor: Might corrupt the jury pool with junk food.

Jury # 2: Paris Hilton
Reasons: Striving to reach the same level of celebrity. Not doing too shabbily considering she is more or less half the age of the accused. So involved in herself that she for sure would be impartial. Would also add a nice splash of pink on Court TV.
Risk factor: Will make a reality show out of it “The Creepy Life”.

Jury # 3: Bill Clinton
Reasons: Same level of notoriety. Knows how the game is played – and how to win.
Risk factor: Will write a book about it “My Jury Life”.

Jury # 4: Donald Trump
Reasons: Also has bad hair and an egomaniac disposition. Tries to reach the same fame level. Is already successful on the kitsch level.
Risk factor: Would try to rename the court building Trump Hall of Justice.

Jury # 5: The Runaway Bride aka Jennifer Wilbanks
Reasons: Also knows all about family pressure and also doesn’t have a grip on reality.
Also caught on camera looking like a hare caught in the headlights on the verge of the mental breakdown.
Risk factor: Might run off during a break.

Jury # 6: Mike Tyson
Reasons: Has been there, experienced it – the hard way. Was also considered an icon.
Risk factor: Anyone addressing the jury with “please lend me your ear”.

Jury # 7: Madonna
Reasons: the Queen of Pop on the jury of the King of Pop – how fitting. Knows about reputations. Also had an ambiguous sex life style.
Risk factor: Will try to convert the jury to Kabbalah.

Jury # 8: Judge Judy
Reasons: Also slender, prune faced and also has an inflated self-image. Knows a thing or two about law.
Risk factor: Will shout as fellow jury members that they are stupid and idiots.

Jury # 9: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Reasons: Understands about creating one’s own reality. Doesn’t mind aliens with strange accents and voices. Knows what it is to be part of a famous family and do what’s been told.
Risk factor: Could terminate fellow jury members when they don’t understand a word he said.

Jury # 10: Bill Gates
Reasons: Richer and more powerful than the accused. Same age and also pale faced. Also afraid of his kids being kidnapped. Also created his own Neverland – in a high tech fashion.
Risk factor: Would insist on every jury deliberation to run on Windows, which would delay the verdict by months.

Jury # 11: Oprah Winfrey
Reasons: Richer and more powerful than the accused. Also an icon that has been around for decades.
Risk factor: Will discuss it ad nauseam in her program.

Jury # 12 and jury spokesman: Peewee Herman
Reasons: Also pale, slender and slightly creepy. Also speaks in a high-pitched, child like voice. Created and lived in Peewee’s Playhouse which resembles Neverland.
Most importantly: been there, done it.
Risk factor: Might want to compare notes with the accused.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I love television, I really do.

I have the best of times when I can zap to my heart’s content.
I found out that there are clusters of programs in the US, which makes life a lot easier for novice viewer like me.

For starters, there are the court programs. No, not the Perry Mason kind, but “real judges that deal with real people and real cases”. At least, that’s what they claim. Sure, and I am a real blond.
If you think this has anything to do with justice, forget it.
The judges have “I was a high school nerd and I was bullied a lot” written all over them. In contrast to dating shows, they are way below average looking. I saw a bold, chubby male judge, a round and flat faced male judge with a hairline that started 1 inch above his eyebrows, a dark female judge who kept waving blood red fingernails like daggers around and a senior citizen prune faced, foul mouthed female judge, who must be a direct descendant of Medusa. It seems that there is a negative correlation between an academic degree and looks. (Unless you play a MD on ER, but that is beside the point)

All of these judges share the same characteristics:
a) They will not/ cannot let any of the parties finish a sentence
b) They correct any grammar or style mistake they can find by rudely interrupting the parties
c) They start shouting when parties interrupt them
d) They strive to be as sarcastic as they can be, throwing in some insults as well
e) They are impatient, keep making faces, waving hands and telling parties to hurry up
f) They all have a superiority complex

All of them have to deal with a whole bunch of boring, mundane and run of the mill cases, that normally only assistants would handle.
However, on camera, they deliver their verdicts with the panache of a King Solomon.
I don’t know if these verdicts are final, but I would strongly recommend all parties involved to appeal by default. Unless this is the norm in the US courts. Then emigrate.

A second group of programs are dating shows. There are heaps of them.
Like everyone else on this planet who did not get married at 18 and has been living in eternal bliss in crime-free, clean and pleasant American Suburbia ever since, I can relate to these. All you fellow (ex) blind-daters know what I am talking about. If you don’t, you are (1) a member of the clergy or (2) need a life –immediately before you turn into Jack the Ripper.
Anyway, these programs range from the Barbie style romantic to the kinky bizarre. (Don’t get me wrong, to each his/her own, even though I am not in favor of one or the other).
On one end of the scale, we have the Barbie Dream. Bachelor/Bachelorette/Millionaire looking for love. Now, I ask you, if you are a drop-dead gorgeous hunk of a guy, with a six figure income and no rap sheet to speak of - why the hack should you go on international TV to date a whole bunch of bimbos with the aim of marrying one?! Do yourself a favor, follow the George Clooney example and stay single until you are in your 40s, or 50s…
Date them and dump them in private, that’s my advice. And make sure they cannot sue you for breach of promise or palimony or some other American invention….

At the other end of the scale are the really sleazy ones (yummy!). No pretense of happy endings, more along the lines of “yes, you can even stay for breakfast before I kick you out”.
My favorite is a sort of “two is company, three is a crowd”. Two guys are going out with three girls. The girls are typecast as : a nice girl (yes, she even claims to be a virgin), a wild one (yes, she claims to be naughty but nice) and a really, really slutty one (yes, the “let’s take no prisoners” kind). Guess what? The nice virgin looses each time. Don’t try to find a moral here.
The best part of the program is the pop-up feature. Delicious and vicious comments, but so funny. Gives you a Jerry Springer feeling.
That brings me to the next cluster of programs, talk shows.

The US must be the Birth Nation of the talk shows. Somehow, it seems to be a life ambition of a lot of celebrities to have their own talk show. I really do not understand why. Being an actor, or the wife of a hard rock musician, does not train you to be a talk show host. There are only a few that have a natural flair for it. Oprah (holier than thou) is a good example. Built a whole empire with it. Not my taste, but good for her.

Jerry Springer is also good. Being a scandal-ridden politician honed his skills. (You think what I think….Tonight with Clinton Show?) I think that Springer’s show was entertaining, cannot be sure though, since I could only get one out of ten words. The other nine were 1) beeped out, or 2) in such a strong local accent that I did not understand even one syllable. The fact that most of his guests did not have teeth did not help. I am not sure if this was already the case before they came to the studio or the result of all the on-camera fighting. Yes, the one of the fisticuffs and furniture smashing kind.

Ricky Lake is another one that did well. Did not see her for some time now. I loved the way she would look permanently surprised. I may know why. I think that they tricked her into believing that it was part of a movie, and the surprised look came from her not being able to follow the script (or the plot). Well, her guests were also in a constant state of bewilderment – most of the time about their love lives and sexuality. Since these two are related, I can understand the confusion. Lots of female guests with hair constructed like the Eiffel Tower, waving around French manicured hands and calling each other “girlfriend”. Funny, if I would tell my Mum I had a girlfriend, she would worry…..really worry…..

And then there are the shopping channels. They fascinate me. Since I am an anti-shopper (shoppephobic?), I love to check out the useless, overprized junk they try to sell to the innocent masses….
The main product lines are : jewelry, clothes, beauty product and fitness.
For all you out-of-touch persons, fitness is an outdated term, and is now replaced with “wellness”. No connection to any wishing well, although you are throwing your money down a bottomless pit.
Wellness products also cover all kinds of massage items. All of them are a) expensive b) take up lots of space c) will only be used 5 times tops d) promise fat burning and muscle building without any efforts.
Now do yourself a favor, go to a fitness center, hire a personal trainer (about $ 50 per hour) and work your fat body parts off. Or go for a long weekend with your lover to the Virgin Islands. Same money, same result and lots more fun. Trust me.

Lets move to murder mysteries (or lack of it). Don’t try to find any recent or decent murder mysteries such as “Murder, she wrote” like who-done-its. Reality TV truck again in this genre, and the closest thing on TV nowadays is “Tru Calling” and the “CSI” franchise.
Tru Calling has no connection to any vocation (Catholic or otherwise), but is about a ditzy chick (Tru) with wavy long brown hair who keeps being grabbed by stiffs (yes, of the really dead people variety). These stiffs open their eyes, stare at our Tru and say “heeeelllpppp meeeeeee” in a gothic voice. Being not a very practical kind of girl, she does. She starts running around flipping her long brown hair. (Clairol, give the girl a sponsorship). She keeps having flashbacks, repeatedly lives through the same day (my idea of hell) and keeps changing it until the stiff finally stays alive. Go figure.
Now, I have to tell this Tru person the following. Stop touching dead people. It is not nice. You never know what they did before they kicked the bucket. You are also approaching the fine line between being really weird and committing necrophilia. You should get a restraining order from all stiffs and morgues; you should go to university and get yourself a degree and a nice career. The one where you have living colleagues. (Although, if you choose high-tech, some of them might be brain dead, but they are still breathing and warming their seat). And if you go into med school, you could even hook up with a nice follow doctor. THAT would make you mother proud, especially if she is Jewish.

CSI is a different cattle of (dead) fish. It reconstructs crimes based on forensic evidence. That was considered a dead bore when I was in university. Funny how all these nerdy professions become sexy.
Anyway, on CSI all of these extremely good-looking professionals are brilliant and well dressed, even in the direst circumstances. They are all career minded, but remain Compassionate. Go figure. Reality-show Hollywood Style. Every stiff they find is interesting, and had an exciting time (24 hours or so) before they died. They all have dark secrets that they wanted to hide. Even simple car accidents turn out to be complicated murder plots. Not that I am complaining, mind you. But don’t you think that it is rather bizarre that that even dead people on TV have a more exiting life than you and I have? And won’t you love to work in a place with flexible office hours, nice clothes, even nicer company cars and a hunky boss who begs you to take time off to relax and have a cafĂ© latte outside of the office? And I bet that they make more money than I do…. both on and off screen…. Come to think of that’s not such a miracle.

Last but not least, my favorite: SF!
Yes, a whole channel is dedicated to this genre. Many, many episodes of “creepy evil aliens attack defeated by brave human crew that sticks together through thick and thin”. Not much of a moral in most of them: beauty defeats ugly, good conquers evil.
Still, since I became a faithful fan at the age of 8 (thanks to Mr. Spock), I am addicted to it. Enterprise, Galactica, X-files, Andromeda, Twilight Zone, you name it!
Tell me, what was the last time you secretly thought “beam me up, Scotty” during an extremely boring meeting? Mmmmm?!

Like I said, I love television!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Letter to Camilla (2)

From: Debra
To: Queen Camilla

Dear Camilla,

So you did it…. despite my misgivings…your choice!
Here I am, writing to you again to review Your Day.

For starters, it was really a bummer that Chucky had to fly to Rome to attend the funeral of the Pope, so you had to postpone the wedding by one day. Pity Chuck-Dear will be head of the Church of England one day. If you guys would have been Jewish, you could have (and even should have) gone ahead. Once a Jewish wedding date is set, nothing (providing the bride and groom are able to attend) can stop it. Would have saved you a lot of stress and money….
But I understand that he had no choice….

Let’s discuss the logistics first. Shuttling wedding guests to and from the town hall in minibuses is tacky – doesn’t the Windsor Clan have a whole fleet of limousines and other luxurious automobiles? I know that fuel prices went up, but cutting costs by transporting your family and guests in buses for a 3 to 5-minute ride is pushing it. Also having the “Windsonian” name and logo sprawled all over the sides of the buses is overdoing it…or did your stingy mother-in-law make a sponsor deal?
Talking about your prim-and-proper mother-in-law, why was she wearing off-white? Did she want to upstage you? I know she is fashioned-challenged, but wearing white and off-white to weddings is a no-no, unless you are the bride of course. But then, it has been decades ago that she was a blushing bride…
I must say - your outfits were stunning. I trust you paid for them with HRH’s credit card. I read somewhere that his is platinum, so no fear that you will max it out in the near future. And even if so, what can he do, sue you?

So now you joined the ranks of the highly dysfunctional W. family. I don’t know whether to congratulate you on becoming the second most powerful woman in Great Britain or to pity you. BTW, I checked the legal side of your chances being Queen once Charles III takes the crown. Unless the whole commonwealth (we are talking about dozens of countries!) change their local law or constitution, you will automatically be Queen, nothing to be done. The present Queen might be able to bully Blair to change the law in England, but I have my doubts that the Scots, Canadians, Aussies and Kiwis will so easily fall into step. So don’t worry, you will be Queen Camilla one day and have “the face that launched a thousand stamps”.
I bet the Queen Mum is frowning from above, notwithstanding her own shady origins.

I read that your great-something-mother was the mistress of Charlie’s great-something-father. As I wrote before, I find it a shame that you didn’t stick with this excellent scenario but decided to make it all legal and proper. Not very emancipated, but then, you don’t strike me as a brass brazier burning activist. So I honestly wish you well.

The two of you were endearingly klutzy during the whole ceremony.
You have to invest in some waving-to-the-crowd lessons. I know that it’s hard to wave with a limp hand, but waving around your bouquet is not the answer. Not that I have any experience, mind you, but if you want to be a Royal Barbie, you have to act the part.
The weather was fine – British style. No rain, but the wind played havoc with your hat – I was afraid you would be scalped. Apart from the flapping feather contraption, your roots were showing. I don’t mean to be bitchy, but you really should use Chuckey’s platinum credit card for a decent hairdresser.

I understand that Queeny behaved, well, like herself.
I tell you, the woman can reverse global warming with her frosty demeanor. Even in church she was standing like a log of wood, even unsettling her uncouth husband. It might be me, but not singing the hymns and songs with the rest of the congregation seems disrespectful, and I am not even going to comment on her “when will this farce finally be over” facial expression….
I know that the Derby was on and she probably bet a small fortune (for us simple mortals, not for her) on one of those four-legged racers, but starting her speech at the reception by saying that she had an “important message” and proceeding that “Hedgehunter won the race” is really low. I would not be flattered to be compared to a horse, but then, you are British so you might find her remarks a) funny and b) not offensive. Personally, I would have put a nice fast working laxative in her champagne and see Beth run.

Your guests were a bunch of strange birds, or at least dressed like ones.
The American anchors covering your wedding were completely baffled by the feathery concoctions that most female guests sported as hats.
The Colonials seem to prefer classic wide-rimmed hats, which make a lot of sense to me.
I would love to see Ms. Bush wearing the hat your daughter was sporting, could you may be arrange something to that effect? The Americans need a good laugh.
At least none of your guests was wearing a bird’s nest or some other Ascot-like creation, so we should be grateful for small blessings.

Your honeymoon is another concept I don’t quite understand. Why are you roughing it out in some kind of ancient hunting lodge in Scotland? I can tell you from personal experience that they don’t invest in heating and/or isolations, so you will suffer. But then again, being British, you might be used to it (or even like it).
If you want some nice pointers on a more exotic (and warm) honeymoon, I can give you the name and email of a recently married friend of mine. She is money-wise not in your league yet (although she made a very nice career move!), so I’m pretty sure that if my friends could afford to fly to a tropical paradise, so can you. But then, the lodge is free of charge, since Chuck inherited it from his granny. I hope for you that at least the food is good and you don’t have to suffer on a diet of black pudding (made from blood) and haggis (made of unidentified animal organ parts).

Dear Camilla, although you still behave too much like an aged Barbara Cartland heroine, I implore you to stir things up a bit in Buck House.

Your still concerned friend Debra

Letter to Camilla (1)

E-mail Message
From: Debra
To: Queen Camilla

Dear Camilla,

You don’t might that I address you like this, do you?
I am writing to you to lend you a sympathetic ear and offer you some advice.

You have been with Chucky for 30+ years now, off and on, as his “love interest”, correct?
I am really disappointed that you are making it official. Don’t you think that you owe it to all dowdy looking middle-aged couples to carry-on your illicit relationship?
The world is filled with stodgy married couples of advanced years and you do not want to turn out like your future mother-in-law, do you?
The two of you really spiced things up with your cell phone conversations. (Although I never looked at sanitary products the same way again).

Apart from that, why do you want to join the ranks of this highly dysfunctional family? And Jug Ears is not exactly a knight in shining armor, poor lamb. His career path is limited to him waiting for Mummy Dearest to keel over. Knowing her, he will have a hard time peeling her of the throne – she seems to have superglued herself to it.
My estimation – considering the age of her mother when she joined Victoria & Albert in the Heavenly Hanoverian Court – Beth will last another 20 years, which will put poor Charley in the Pope age group once he takes office. He will be a pensioner before he will be a ruler. You will have to schlep your own aging body along, nothing to be done. Are you up for that? Would you not prefer to frolic around at some tropical island instead? The Teutonic Windsors (formally know as Von Battenberg) are not known for their humor and racy lifestyle, so you run the risk of slipping into a boredom coma.

As you know, Buck House is all about Protocol. Look what they did to Wallis the Witch when she snared the heir to the throne. And Diana was also not treated like a favorite pet. I bet that the corgis got more respect than Dashing Di.
Talking about Diana, please note that people will never forgive you for not being more glamorous than she was. Forget about the rest, they judge you by your appearance. Your horsy looks - with a touch of a strict Nanny mixed in- just don’t sell tabloids, sorry. But since hubby-to-be has money coming out of his Windsor flapper ears (just check the financial records of the Duchy of Cornwall), you have enough resources to improve them. Don’t overdue it though – you don’t want to freak him out by turning into a Di-clone.

Did they already force you to sign a pre-nup the size of the Guttenberg Bible?
I understand that you got your antique platinum-and-diamond engagement ring from the Windsor jewels under the condition that it returns to the crown jewels once you join wife #1 in the hereafter. It might be me, but couldn’t Chuck Darling spring for an original instead of borrowing from Betty’s treasure trove? He is not exactly strapped for cash, is he? Be careful there is no pattern there – before he starts clocking the time you spent in the hot shower and counting the peas on your plate…

It is sweet that you are over the moon and act like a lovesick teenager. However, you have to realize that it damages the image of all cynical, independent women in their advanced prime (like me) worldwide. Before we know it, our Significant Others expects us to fawn over them as well. Since most of us do not have access to a full-staffed palace, it means that we will be stuck again with all the household jobs that we fought so hard to cram down their masculine throats. You did not think about that, did you?!

I understand that since you two announced that you are going to tie the knot, the courtiers at Buck House have worked overtime to make this as difficult as possible.
It was clear that you could not marry in the Church of England – Charley will be Head once he becomes monarch, and the CoE doesn’t recognize divorce. So unless your ex-husband ceases to exist, you are persona-non-grata. Which is rather ironic, since Henry VIII made himself head of the church when he solved his marriage problems in a rather unorthodox way.
So you opted for a civil marriage at the cozy home of Queen B. I wonder if that was also Chuck’s idea to save a penny?

The courtiers were busy blocking you from being the future Queen. This puzzles me - if Latifa can be Queen, why not you? So know you will be the King’s Consort, which sounds a lot like the King’s Floozy to me. I bet they are adapting the law to that effect. Anyway, I understand that they were so busy with your future title that they forgot to check if there were any ramifications for the two of you tying the knot at Bess’ abode. The Queen had another Dies Horribilis (Shitty day in Bush Language) when they finally stumbled upon the fact that once Q. opens the doors for her Heir and His Consort to get hitched, she would have to allow others to do the same for the next 3 years. Quel Horreur! (Holy shit in Bush Language). So she hastily informed the world that you two “are delighted” to get married in the local Civil Hall next to a hamburger joint. Queeny also saw a golden opportunity to weasel out of the whole marriage charade by announcing that she “complies with your wishes to keep it simple” and she will therefore not attend. Her unruly offspring immediately followed suit (afraid they will be disowned?).
For you this is a blessing in disguise – you do not want their sourpuss faces in your wedding pics.
The big Q. went on to assure everyone that it was not a snub and that she is going to pay for the wedding reception. (My bet: she will order from the fast food joint next to the City Hall, so she can get all the munchies free of charge).

I understand that you set the day in April, so you have enough time to reconsider. I urge you to cancel the whole shindig and to merrily carry on as you two have been doing for the last three decades.
And if you really, really want to go down the bridal path, at least be clever and tie the knot in Las Vegas. I saw some convenient drive-through wedding chapels, so all your problems will be solved in one shot. And there are enough fast-food restaurants for your wedding reception and hotel rooms for your honeymoon.

Dear Camilla, there is still time enough to stop acting like a menopause Barbie and join the living together-set again.

A concerned Debra