I tried to leave you, I don’t deny. I closed the book on us at least a hundred times. But here is a man still working for your smile. Well, not so much your smile… No doubt you’ve had plenty of those in the interim while we’ve been off the air. Did you, in fact, enjoy your vacation? I spent mine communing with Tibetan monks in Nepal, learning that there is no such thing as happiness or sadness, only a shared cosmic mediocrity, so why not shave your head and go sit your ass on a mountain for a few dozen years? Unfortunately I’m not an outdoorsy person, so here I am, back in the thick, combing through the trades and tabloids and looking for some signs of springtime rebirth. So let’s see… When last we left off, the economy was shaky, Hollywood was banking its future on tacky reality shows and chintzy remakes, and something called the Octomom was generating a ratio of 12 headlines a day for every vaginal spore. Oh, how quickly this crazy world turns. Climb into this narrow bed and into our wide-open arms, and let Friday Buzzkills put some new skin on this old ceremony.
- One thing that did change during our hiatus is that everyone from celebrities to porn stars to politicians suddenly started Twittering their fucking brains out. All the salient points about the damage Twitter is doing to that wheezing, shuffling cadaver known as “traditional media” and our already “meth-addled toddler”-level attention spans, and how it’s hastening our culture’s devolution 140 characters at a time have already been made, so no need for us to “Retweet” them. But as it turns out, Twitter is more than just a place to find out what Ashton Kutcher is wearing today, or bask in the Byron-esque musings of John Mayer: Like cartoons, rock ’n’ roll, and Kirk Cameron before it, it’s also a great way to get kids to be down with Jesus, as evidenced by the Trinity Wall Street Church’s ongoing “Twittered Passion Play.” Now you can relive the drama of Easter weekend through the eyes of Jesus, his apostles, and even tertiary characters like “A Serving Girl” as the stages of the cross are relayed in real time, just like the string of inanities spewed by your average self-absorbed douchebag. Sure, you may already know the whole story, but only through Tweets like, “Pontius_Pilate: They want this done by nightfall. I sent my soldiers to break the dead men’s legs. Are my hands clean of this?” (“Jesus_Christ: @Pontius_Pilate ROFLMAO”) can you comprehend the true misery and ultimate glory of Jesus’ sacrifice, sandwiched between what your coworkers thought of this week’s episode of House.
- But enough about Jesus; we already have someone new to look up to, someone who gives us faith in ourselves, someone one who “moves mountains” by simply putting himself out there, and bravely refusing to let any physical handicap stand in his way of becoming a huge, famous celebrity. So, so brave. We’re speaking of course of our newly anointed messiah, recently ousted American Idol contestant Scott MacIntyre, who proved to the world that it doesn’t matter if you’re mostly blind: You can sing Bruce Hornsby tunes off-key and be dead serious about wanting to be the next Billy Joel on a contest targeted squarely at teenaged girls, and everyone will still kiss your ass because they’re afraid of looking like jerks on national television.
Of course, weeks and weeks of patronizing, mollycoddling, and Paula Abdul searching vainly for an unused synonym for “inspiration” apparently wasn’t enough for MacIntyre, who responded to his dismissal from the televised A&R focus group with just as much hubris and pomposity as any fully sighted “contestant” would have, telling People that the judges made a mistake when they didn’t elect to continue wasting everyone’s time by saving him. And lest you thought his declaration that choosing to put mousse in his hair and warble some Survivor was his “punk side coming out” denoted the limits of his self-delusion, recently MacIntyre said of his performance, “I’m so glad I got to bring out the shredder and go down in a blaze of glory… I really felt like it would be a tremendous surprise to America if they saw me with an electric guitar on my shoulder. [I thought] they’d be hanging on the edge of their seat waiting for me to play that first chord.” So, so brave. But hey, MacIntyre isn’t being cocky. In fact, he’s very, very grateful… that the judges took one last opportunity to blow some “you’re so special” smoke up his way: Of Abdul’s totally off-the-cuff closing remarks that he was an “inspiration,” MacIntyre says, “It meant a lot to me that she recognized that and she felt compelled to say something.” Yes, thank God someone finally said it. Now trundle on home to gaze at yourself in the mirror, Tommy-style, and continue your amazing journey from humble underdog to self-aggrandizing fameball. So, so brave.
- While MacIntyre is living proof that anyone can overcome adversity to become kind of an arrogant prick just like the rest of us, he’s still got a few more teeth-grittingly obnoxious press statements to go before he reaches the level of, say, a Billy Corgan. The guy who used to front a pretty cool band called Smash And The Pumpkins until he fired everybody and hired their non-union look-alikes, Corgan these days is better known for Andy Kaufman-esque pranks such as playing a hilarious character (winkingly named “Billy Corgan”) who posts longwinded, masturbatory blog posts about how he’s not a “poster boy for alt-nation” and wants only to “be in the love and light with you,” and how he “plays a “baby-faced killa on the darkened stage,” but that many people “lack the sophistication” to understand that that’s not “who Billy Corgan really is.” How brilliantly meta! And just when you can’t take anymore, he reveals that he’s working up a multimedia project that involves writing 44 songs (“because 44 seems to be the magic number”), release plans for which he’ll announce later so as to “keep me from losing my way in the evil forest.” But we have to say, Corgan really tipped his hand when he revealed that not only is he wandering the evil forest, he’s also traipsing through the treacherous thatch of Tila Tequila. Stop it Billy, you’re killing us. (Seriously. Stop it.)
- That Corgan is busy staging his own Joaquin Phoenix-style pseudo-breakdown and getting his cherub rocked by Tequila means erstwhile amour Courtney Love is probably going to have to permanently scratch him off her yellowing list of “Talented People I Can Feed Off Of”—which is too bad, because she could definitely use him now more than ever. Commemorating the 15th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s passing this week, Love honored her late husband the same way she did when he was alive: by trying to squeeze more money out of him. After a long, lost weekend that’s lasted give or take a decade, Love suddenly realized that, hey, everything that Cobain had left her and daughter Francis Bean was gone—which is totally weird, because it’s not like Love has had an expensive drug habit to maintain and/or kick with lavish spa retreats or been filling her closet full of Versace dresses while taking nearly five years to record an album or do anything else to earn a living besides occasionally getting her tits out for Italian Vogue.
And since she’s already sold off Nirvana’s publishing catalog so that you’ll be hearing Muzak covers of their songs in Target commercials in about two years, and hocked almost everything else Cobain had ever touched in one of the world’s saddest estate sales, and yet she’s still coming up short, why, it’s bound to be the work of swindling lawyers! So Love hired some lawyers of the non-swindling variety to get to the bottom of it—one of whom deadpanned this week that “Courtney noticed the money was gone when there wasn't any left”—and reportedly discovered a trail of “greed and moral turpitude,” and now they plan to file a series of civil cases until they uncover those evil, underhanded people using the Cobain name for their own profit. Ah, Courtney Love. Maybe if you were just a tad more self-aware, you wouldn’t need so much attention.
- Call us insensitive, but it’s especially hard to feel bad for the likes of Courtney Love when things are tough all over for everyone—specifically people who never had anything to piss away in the first place. Hell, not even employees of “The Happiest Place On Earth” have much to sing about: Disney’s been forced to slash nearly 2,000 employees from its theme parks, many of whom have been there for decades. (Take one: Even worse, their severance was paid in Disney dollars! Take two: They should change the name to “Harsh Reality Kingdom”! Hey-o!)
But it’s not just the good guys going down: Even Darth Vader is broke—or rather, the actor who did all the heavy lifting while James Earl Jones sat in a cushy recording studio with a hot cup of chamomile. David Prowse told The Times this week that he’s yet to receive any residuals on Return Of The Jedi—currently number 27 on the highest-grossing films of all time, with a worldwide box-office take of over $572 million—because according to Lucasfilm, the movie has not returned a profit. Of course, some have pointed out to Prowse that that’s because he’s not entitled to a profit yet on the 1997 “special edition” re-release, because the $88 million it took in was not enough to cover its production costs. You see, it takes an awful lot of money to fuck up a movie that outrageously.
Still, Prowse should take heart: After all, this economy is bound to turn around soon enough, because we have a smart and capable guy like Barack Obama on the case—um, just as soon as he’s doing watching one of his favorite shows (one he reportedly even scheduled his campaign around), Entourage. Yeah, where’s your messiah now?? (Oh, right. On Twitter.)
- A man who snaked his way through our country’s political history and pop culture like the sneaky secret agent he was, Tom Braden had such a diverse and storied career that his biography is truly stranger than fiction. Braden got his start in the intelligence community as an officer with the OSS; when it later became the CIA, Braden was installed as the head of the International Organizations Division, where he battled the Red Menace in groups like the AFL-CIO. In ’54 Braden retired to a civilian’s life and took over the California newspaper The Blade-Tribune, where he wrote a popular column, later expanding to political commentary on the radio and even running for governor. Then things took sort of a weird turn: Braden wrote an autobiographical book about his experiences being an ex-CIA operative, a journalist, and husband to a companion of the Kennedy family that was mainly focused on his hectic life being a father to eight children. (Interesting side note: he and his wife had an open marriage, and she carried on very public affairs with Nelson Rockefeller and Robert McNamara.) Television producers snapped it up, dumped all the political stuff, and turned it into the hit series Eight Is Enough. Braden’s television career continued when he launched the popular CNN show Crossfire in 1982, where he served as its “liberal” voice and sparred with longtime opponent—and oddly enough, close friend—Pat Buchanan. Braden died this week at the age of 92.
- With his 1970 medieval game Blackmoor, David Arneson dreamed up a fantastical world where people could pretend to be wizards and dwarves and embark on quests that required them to use only the power of their imagination. He later introduced it to his friend Gary Gygax (who died last year), and they set about creating a more refined version in 1974; they called it Dungeons And Dragons. Arneson was responsible for developing many of the most rudimentary fundamentals of role playing, including the ideas that, according to a statement on the official D&D website, “each player controls just one hero, that heroes gain power through adventures, and that personality is as important as combat prowess.” Arneson and Gygax had something of a falling out after Arneson felt he wasn’t given proper credit for his input, which led to him being hailed as something of an “unsung hero” in the gaming world. He continued to design D&D and Blackmoor modules and publish books on both until as recently as 2006, while also getting into software with his founding of 4D Interactive Systems and Zeitgeist Games. Arneson died this week at the age of 61.
- Jack Wrangler became a nearly overnight sensation in the world of adult films thanks to his rugged cowboy persona and piercing blue eyes, at a time when “porn chic” was all the rage. But even more important than Wrangler’s "stud work" in films like The Devil In Miss Jones: Part II was his openness about his homosexuality, which has long made him a symbol to other gay men who have looked to him for inspiration. Wrangler’s strange life—including a marriage to a woman 22 years his senior, big-band singer Margaret Whiting, despite the fact that Wrangler continued to identify himself as gay—has been documented many times over, including an off-Broadway one-man show, his 1984 autobiography The Jack Wrangler Story, Or What’s A Nice Boy Like You Doing?, and more recently, the 2008 documentary Wrangler: Anatomy Of An Icon. Wrangler (born John Stillman) died this week at the age of 62.
Have a super weekend!