This long, fallow season of bitterest autumn is almost behind us, and already store windows are festooned with baubles signifying the harvest to come, while an eager nation prepares its cornucopias of pumpkin-flavored good feelings and fatted turkeys stuffed with breadcrumbs and hope. Yes, soon we'll be bundling the kids up in our cars and driving them over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house… Oh, except the kids might be a little busy kicking kittens around like footballs until they're so mutilated they have to have their legs amputated. Also, the auto industry is collapsing on itself, so good luck getting proper parts for SUV once all the suppliers go under. On second thought, maybe you should just go ahead and drive into that river. Much like Lindsay Lohan, grandmother is only going to have a few uncomfortable words about the "nation's first colored president" anyway. So maybe it's better to just dump your kids in Nebraska, then stay put and have a regular old feast of sorrow with us. Pass the hot buttered Friday Buzzkills. - Ah, but we forgot: We're living a new age, one where "all things are possible," right? Why, you–yes, you reading this–could grow up to become the President, or even better, a pop star! All you have to do is want it badly enough and never give up on your dream, even if that means public humiliation on a national scale. For example, let's say your lifelong ambition is to be a popular singer like Paula Abdul, but even your hero pans your American Idol audition. Why, you know what you have to do then, Horrorshow Alger? Pull yourself up by your sequined hi-top bootstraps, stalk the object of your bizarre affection for a few years in an attempt to gain their trust, then commit suicide right outside their house with their picture dangling from your rearview mirror. You may not get famous for the right reasons, but damn it, you'll be famous–and this week, there was arguably no one more famous than former AI contestant Paula Goodspeed, whose cringeworthy audition tape (in which she shows off a mountain of "life-sized Paula Abdul drawings" before mangling "Proud Mary") went from laugh riot to disturbingly prescient psychological profile overnight. Here it is again so you can recall how you too were culpable in her eventual mental unraveling. New season starts January 13!
- But although even the typically level heads at FOX News allowed themselves to wonder aloud "Did American Idol Play Part In Former Contestant's Death?" (Answer: No), the blame for Goodspeed's death can't really be laid at the door of pop culture–this time at least. Not like Mark Twitchell, the aspiring Edmonton filmmaker and avowed Dexter-obsessive who has been accused of murdering a man in his garage on Halloween night. Twitchell's alleged victim disappeared after setting up a date with a woman through the web, and although the man's body has yet to be found, police did find a screenplay written by Twitchell, about a vigilante serial killer who "lures a cheating man to his death through an Internet dating scam in which he pretends to be a woman," then decapitates said man with a power saw. Even worse, the killer in the script also works for the police–just like Dexter–and investigators also recovered a hockey mask from the supposed crime scene, which once again proves that all filmmakers are completely out of original ideas. - So maybe television does cause violence? In fact, you can bet your big ugly hat on it judging by last weekend's near-riot at Southfork Ranch, site of the Ewing family mansion made famous in the 1980s documentary Dallas. Fans of the show paid anywhere up to $1000 for the privilege of mingling with stars like Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy, but hundreds of alleged "gatecrashers"–who paid only around $100! Those are Fort Worth prices!–were able to get up close and personal with the cast, while those who'd gone through the properly outlandish, can't-believe-you're-throwing-away-money-on-this-while-we're-in-a-goddamn-recession channels didn't even get to make uncomfortable small talk with them, let alone tell them all about their fanfic script where Bobby and Sue Ellen finally end up together. (Sorry, Steve Hyden.) You'd expect more from a show based on greed, venality, and moral relativity. - Perhaps the reunion fell apart because Dallas' creator David Jacobs is still here among the wretched living, rather than the great dailies room in the sky where he can exert some real influence. After all, it's clearly the benevolent intervention of passed-on mega-producer Aaron Spelling that's made the updated 90210 such a runaway critical and commercial success, right? That's what original 90210 cast member Jason Priestley thinks, anyway, as he told People that he believes Spelling is "looking down on all of this and smiling very broadly"–because in Heaven, there are no trade sheets. (We already know there's no CW.) Poor Aaron Spelling: Stuck in repeats even in death. Here's hoping that when Priestley finally hits the afterlife, he's forced to watch Calendar Girl over and over again. Because Hell is kind of like TBS on a Sunday afternoon, right? - If Spelling and his fellow angels really have nothing better to do than "smile down" on us, they're no doubt keeping a close eye on Britney Spears, who once again shocked the world this week by allowing her son Jayden to have an allergic reaction. That negligent bitch. Thank God the media had the courage to follow this story insanely closely for several days, then call up Kevin Federline's attorney and ask them if they've considered pursuing a court-ordered investigation. Because that is absolutely a logical reaction in this circumstance, and shame on you for not being more concerned about the welfare of the children of former pop princesses. Why, you probably weren't even aware that Christina Aguilera's son Max is doing great, and even "inspiring" his mother to write the song "Keeps Getting Better," where she talks about "being a super girl" and of her "new appreciation for women and what our bodies are capable of undergoing." (So, it's a song about the surprising elasticity of the cervix? Sounds like a hit!) But lest you think that Dirrty Xtina has lost her edge now that she's Xpelled her son from her uterus, Aguilera swears, "It's very important to me as a mother to not lose sight of who I was before becoming a mother. I want to share with my son, what I'm passionate about, what I was about before he was born." Oh, don't worry. He'll know.
- And once little Max Aguilera has fully come to terms with his mother's Stripped-era skankiness and amassed enough stories about her bitter fall from the public eye, of course, he'll probably have enough material to write a tell-all autobiography. And if he's really lucky, it'll get picked up for an HBO series like Anthony Kiedis' Scar Tissue, which was all about Kiedis' life as a rock star dealing with heroin addiction (a subject which Kiedis should really get around to writing a song about some day, in addition to finally doing something on California), and which has now inspired a forthcoming show called Scar Tissue, which is all about Kiedis' "unconventional rock 'n' roll" childhood with his drug-dealing father. Neither of which should be confused with the song "Scar Tissue," which is, like all Kiedis songs, about stringing together words picked randomly from his rhyming dictionary and somehow working in "blood." Still, we have higher hopes for this project than this collaboration between the Counting Crows' Adam Duritz and the Broken Lizard comedy troupe, who are pooling their respective audiences in a social experiment to bring frat boys face-to-face with their future middle-management selves. Sha la la, na na na. Yeah. - Sometimes, when the thought of cranking out another Friday Buzzkills column starts to weigh heavy on us, and we start wondering how we'll ever meet all of our various deadlines and why we even bother trying, we like to stop and think about the old guard of journalists–tough-talking guys who pounded sidewalks and typewriters with equal fervor, who never slept when there was a story had to be told, and who managed to produce enough reams of paper to lap two of our lifetimes in all this spilled digital ink, and who did it all without complaint. One such guy was Joe Hyams, a journalist and accidental confidante to the stars who (legend has it) while on assignment covering illegal immigration for the New York Herald Tribune, also managed to rack up interviews with Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and Frank Sinatra in one week. (While we, as total lightweights, require at least a half-day's prep for 10 minutes with Kristen Bell.) Hyams became a giant in celebrity journalism, covering Hollywood in his syndicated column throughout the 1950s and authoring more than two-dozen biographies, including the famed Bogie and James Dean: Little Boy Lost. (And yes, Internet ironist: He co-authored The Secret Of Inner Strength: My Story with Chuck Norris.) In between he also wrote novels like The Pool and non-fiction investigative works like Accomplices To The Crime: The Arkansas Prison Scandal (later adapted into the 1980 Robert Redford film Brubaker), and spent 50 years studying martial arts, which formed the basis of his book Zen In The Martial Arts. Oh, and if that weren't enough, he spent nearly 20 years being married to Elke Sommer. In short, he lived the kind of life postmodern pansies like us will never have, and it's sad to see yet another writer of Hyams' industrious ilk passing on–which he did last week at the age of 85. Meanwhile, this generation is stuck with… us. Have a super weekend! [Friday Buzzkills will return Dec. 5]