With Age Comes A Certain Amount Of Wisdom December 9, 2013Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Entertainment, Uncategorized.
Tags: birthday, huffington post, kirk douglas
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I’m only 60. I’m not there yet. But I liked this piece from Kirk Douglas on Huffington Post, who can honestly claim to have lived long enough to have figured a couple of things out:
My Birthday Wishes
Today is my 97th birthday. I am a lucky man. I’ve been married to my wife, Anne, for 60 years and she continues to captivate me.
When you get to be 97, you can reflect on the lessons you’ve learned in almost a century of life. Mark Twain said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
I won’t pretend that getting older is easy. But I find that it’s given me a perspective that I lacked when I was younger. I was always running everywhere — from meetings to movie sets, from shooting films all around the world to serving as a goodwill ambassador for the State Department in over forty countries. Staying still was something I did not do well.
Now, I treasure the quiet times: reading books that make me think about new ideas; watching my roses bloom; gazing at the palm trees shimmering against the afternoon sky; seeing the simple path of a cloud across the sky; and especially sitting with Anne in front of the fire at sunset — the Golden Hour.
So I asked myself, what do I want for my birthday? There’s nothing I need, other than good health for my wife and my family.
Suddenly it occurred to me that I knew exactly what I wanted — a better world for my grandchildren.
But have you ever tried to put 97 candles on a cake? You can’t. So I put 10 candles to represent the 10 decades of my life. Here are my birthday wishes:
- A world where weapons, big and small, are symbols of weakness, not strength
- A world where religion informs values, not governments
- A world where the air is breathable, the water drinkable and the food is healthy and plentiful
- A world where poor people are the smallest percentage of the population
- A world where education and health care are available to everyone
- A world where prejudice based on race, religion and nationality is non-existent
- A world where smoking tobacco is considered a ridiculous practice from a bygone era
- A world where all diseases are curable and physical pain is no longer a part of life
- A world where we control technology, not the other way around
- A world where greed is never considered good
Excuse me — I have a lot of candles to blow out.
Celebrities Actually Behaving Pretty Well: Carrie Underwood Brought Tears To My Eyes December 6, 2013Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Entertainment.
Tags: carrie underwood, critics, jaded, NBC, new york, the sound of music
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Look, no one is ever going to accuse me of having an over-abundance of class, and as far as my cultural tastes, I love “The Amazing Race” in the winter and “Big Brother” in the summer. I have no idea why anyone finds Kanye West talented, but I still can’t believe that Rolling Stone not only didn’t name Frank Sinatra as the greatest voice of the twentieth century, but they didn’t even include him on the top one hundred. I’ll even go so far as to admit that I’m still addicted to “American Idol”, even after Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul left, and the show awarded top honors to a series of bearded young men whose names I don’t remember and whose music I’ve never listened to much longer than it takes to hit the channel change button on my Sirius XM. But Idol got a couple of things right in thirteen seasons, and one of them was Carrie Underwood.
Last night NBC attempted something that hasn’t been done since most of us baby-boomers were kids. They presented a Broadway musical live on national TV. There were no second takes, no do-overs, and no pumping up any weak voices with electronic wizardry at the soundboard. If you miss a line or a step or a note, you have to do what any Broadway performer does…make it look and sound as if it was intentional. I’ve never performed on Broadway, but a million years ago I used to do musicals in high school, and I can tell you it’s anything but easy. Remembering lines and lyrics and blocking and choreography and cues requires hours and days and weeks of rehearsal and repetition and study…and then on opening night, every performer is a complete bundle of nerves. I can’t imagine that it’s any different for the pros, and last night on “The Sound of Music”, it was not only opening night, but closing night as well. One and done. And in my humble opinion, they did a hell of a credible job.
On American Idol, Randy Jackson has told young performers for years that if they are going to take on an iconic song by an iconic performer, they’d best knock it out of the park. You can’t get much more iconic than Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, and virtually every tune from “The Hills Are Alive…” to “Do Re Mi” is more iconic than the one before. I’m not sure what all the New York critics were listening to, but when I heard Carrie Underwood’s first notes of the opening song, I literally had tears in my eyes, and those same tears kept popping up throughout her performance. She did it all live in front of tens of millions of viewers, and she never missed a note or stepped on a lyric. Her voice never wavered whether she was frolicking on the mountain set or crawling on her four poster with seven squirming children. She’d never even attempted anything like that in her life, and she pulled it off with aplomb. I was blown away.
I was hoping that I’d open my browser this morning to some triumphant words of praise for the production and the star, but I guess the world has grown jaded…at least the world of theater criticism in the Big Apple. Kevin Fallon in The Daily Beast said that Underwood was not good as Maria, but that the whole production was “kinda fun” (damned with faint praise). Hank Stuever in the Washington Post called the show “ambitious yet disappointingly stiff”. He praised Underwood’s vocals (unlike Fallon), but called her acting “as flat as the label on a Swiss Miss package of cocoa”. Ok, I’ll give you that Underwood isn’t going to challenge Meryl Streep or even Jennifer Lawrence just yet, but it was clear that she was nervous. Who wouldn’t be? Yet there were a few moments where she shined, particularly when delivering a comedic line, and I think she has a lot of potential. When it comes to great singers trying to be actresses, is Underwood any worse than Madonna in “Suddenly Seeking Susan” or Barbara Streisand in “Yentyl”? Again, it was three hours of live television, something no one has attempted in a very long time, and I think she and NBC and the whole cast did an exemplary job. It’s a shame they didn’t do it in front of a live audience, because I’m pretty sure that Carrie would have cried herself at the standing ovation.
Bye Bye Bashir, Hello Benny December 4, 2013Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Entertainment, Journalism, Politics.
Tags: Alec Baldwin, coprophagia, martin bashir, msnbc
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My blogmate and I are pretty much in agreement that Martin Bashir deserved to be let go by MSNBC, and to be perfectly honest, I could never figure out why Alec Baldwin deserved a show there in the first place. But here’s the thing: I’m retiring next week and I’m going to have time on my hands. That 11pm slot is a little past the hour when I routinely have my warm milk and Metamucil, but Martin Bashir’s 4pm show would be perfect for me. I’ve got lots to say, my politics are a little to the left of Al Gore, I’m moderately well-informed, and I generally shy away from not only sophomoric humor, but coprophagic humor as well. It’s a match made in heaven. I’m here, MSNBC. All you need to do is call.
Just For Fun December 4, 2013Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Entertainment, News Of The Weird.
Tags: AARP, seniors, seniors dancing, supermarket aisle
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As a ballroom dancer of no small regard (ok, probably of very small regard) and a guy who no longer immediately recycles my AARP magazine the moment it emerges from the mailbox, I just had to share this three minute video of “seniors” dancing“. If for no other reason, you need to see the guy at the 2:20 mark dancing down the supermarket aisle when he thinks no one is watching…if any of you can honestly report that you’ve never done the same thing, I’ll personally mail you a bright shiny new quarter (and a note suggesting that you lighten up).
Tags: Bill O'Reilly, Daily Show, fox news, jon stewart, sarah palin, war on christmas
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Don’t Righties Ever Tire Of Being Outraged? December 2, 2013Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Entertainment, Politics.
Tags: harvey fierstein, kinky boots, macy's, outrage, righties, santorumville, thanksgiving day parade
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During Thursday’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, there were lots of bands and singers and dancers and clowns and fellows on horseback and motorcycles and ATV’s. There were performances by the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes and Carry Underwood, who coincidentally will be starring in the live presentation of “The Sound of Music” on NBC this Thursday (NBC also sponsors the Macy’s parade). It being New York and Macy’s parade, there were also a number of performances from New York’s singularly unique and American entertainment product, Broadway musicals. Among these was a rousing number from the Tony Award-winning “Kinky Boots”: which is where all that conservative outrage comes in. Fairly typical of the comments from the various wingnuts over there in Santorumville was: “Our country is morally bankrupt! To allow such a mockery of everything sacred is despicable! If Macy’s allowed this, there should not be one person show up for the parade next year. Those are sick people who need help… not to be paraded in front of children and the whole world. It’s an embarrassment for America of which I am very ashamed.” Asked over and over again by all those furious Righties was, “How am I supposed to explain this to my children?” Aside from the obvious answer that perhaps their children should be explaining it to them, I’d advise them to note that men have been dressing up as women onstage for at least half a millenium, dating back to a fellow of whom they may have heard even at Liberty University, William Shakespeare.
You’ve got to love the response to all the controversy from the cast of “Kinky Boots”. On Black Friday, the cast went shopping at Macy’s in full costume, including all the male cast members in the sky-high boots seen above. And the show’s co-writer (along with Cyndi Lauper) and producer, Harvey Fierstein, had this to say: “I’m so proud that the cast of Kinky Boots brought their message of tolerance and acceptance to America’s parade. Ten years ago I was humbled to ride a float dressed as Mrs. Claus, and it was the thrill of a lifetime. Congratulations to Macy’s, on leading the world, not only with your salesmanship, but also your humanity.“
Listen, Rush, and Glenn, and the rest of you…Merry Xmas and Happy Holidays. Be a patriot, go do a little shopping, have a mug of wassail laced with a hearty dose of rum…and CHILL.
No Celebrities Behaving Badly On Black Friday November 29, 2013Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Entertainment, reader interaction.
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I already have twin 18 month-olds and a 3 year-old at my house, behaving pretty much as you’d expect a pack of rugrats to behave. Meanwhile, I’ll promise a double CBB next week. I’m thinking of doing Alec Baldwin’s greatest hits and titling it “Motherbonding Foghats”.
JFK: One Last Thing November 22, 2013Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Entertainment, Politics.
Tags: 50 years, arlo and janis, jfk
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Celebrities Behaving Badly: Flatulence Edition November 22, 2013Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Entertainment, Scandals.
Tags: 18, adam levine, catching fire, jennifer lawrence, kendall jenner, letterman, nipples, sexiest man, shit pants
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It’s Jennifer Lawrence’s week, what with the opening of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”, which I’d happily go to see if it wasn’t a million years ago that I read the book. This whole business of stretching every novel into a seven part movie saga is good for the greedy producers and not so good for aging and memory-challenged bloggers like me (see under: The Hobbit…how in the name of all that is holy can “walk a little, fight a little, walk a little, fight a little” fill up six or eight hours of valuable screen time? Get a freaking editor!) But I digress. The image of the lovely Ms. Lawrence above brings to mind a bit of folk wisdom I acquired back in my undergraduate days at Northwestern, when I was lucky enough to be taking a graduate level creative writing course. I always remember a little essay written by a fellow named Jory Goodman, who is now a psychiatrist in L.A. (I found him on Google). The point of his piece was that as you went along in life, there would be fabulously gorgeous and hot women who were simply unattainable by those of us in the shorter, fatter, nerdier, poorer, demographic…but that it was all a matter of perspective. Bridget Bardot and Raquel Welch and Ann Margaret (those of you born after 1990 will need to look them up) are just as human as you, so when you are mourning the fact that you will never be any closer to them than you are to a Nobel in literature, all you need do is imagine them seated on the throne, suffering from a bout of constipation, beads of sweat on their foreheads and veins bulging in their necks, and you’ll instantly feel a lot better. Fast forward to 2013 and Jennifer Lawrence’s appearance on “Letterman”. She tells him that she had to go to the hospital, fearing that she had an ulcer, the exact quote being: ”You can only shit your pants so many times, before you have to go to the hospital.” Here’s the best part…after undergoing various tests, including an “endoscopo-something”, the doctors arrived at a final diagnosis…bad gas. See, don’t you feel a lot better about yourself now?
Sadly, that feeling of euphoria and self-worth will be short-lived, because there are a couple of guys on the planet who DO get the unattainable women, like:
who are just a few of the women who might swap precious bodily fluids with you if you happen to be: Adam Levine, the “sexiest man in the world.” It’s refreshing to see a nice Jewish boy make good…
Some other “good guys” actually behaved rather well this week:
Hugh Jackman shared a post-op photo after having a basal cell carcinoma from his nose, and included an admonition to use sunblock. Good advice…my own father ended up with a nose smaller than Michael Jackson’s after spending the war years in the California sun.
and Danielle Radcliffe noted that he neither Tweets nor Facebooks, and that celebrities who do, letting us know that they’re “buying shoes at Macy’s” or “having a cappuccino at Starbucks” or “hanging at Kanye’s” then have very little cause to subsequently complain about their lack of privacy. Wise lad for one so young.
But just so you know that Hollywood hasn’t gone completely soft and the earth continues to spin on its appointed axis, we can always depend on the family K for a dose of scandal: those perky nips belong to none other than Kendall Jenner. But no worries, pedophile police…she turned 18 a few weeks ago. Mamma Kris must be so proud.
That’s it from the grassy knoll. More next week.
Celebrities Behaving Badly: Butts Gone Wild November 15, 2013Posted by Benjamin Wendell in Entertainment, Scandals.
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[Hearing a mash-up of Barry Mannilow's "Copacabana" and the Doobie Brother's "Rio" playing in my head...] Did you know that they actually have a contest in Brazil just to see who has the best ass in the whole country? These people know how to live:
This year’s champion is Kim Kardashian’s long-lost Brazilian cousin, Dai Macedo, who was accused of bribing the judges…although I can’t imagine with what…
Speaking of the aforementioned Kim K, the rumor is that she and baby-daddy/fiancee Kanye West are living in separate residences. Give it a year…tops.
If that contest were held here in the home of the finest butts on planet earth (never say I’m not a believer in American exceptionalism), two of the semi-finalists would almost have to be ex-American Idol judges Mariah Carey and Niki Minaj. Niki, however, might be disqualified based on…ahem…silicone augmentation. If Mariah Carey had her way, Niki might be eliminated, period. Mariah described working on AI with Minaj: ”It was like going to work every day in hell with Satan.” Hey, Mariah, don’t hold back. Tell us what you really think.
But when it comes to butts in the news, there’s only one I can enthusiastically get behind: It’s the robobutt, a mannequin invented by Dr. Benjamin Lok to help train medical students and residents in performing a prostate exam. The truly magical part of the dummy is that it’s linked with a virtual “patient” bending over a desk on the monitor in front of the examiner…a patient who gives realistic feedback. (See under: moans, groans, whines, grunts, and blubbering like a three-year old.) When it comes to interactive entertainment, how long do you suppose it will be before this thing is available on the Adam and Eve Adult Toy site?
No week is complete without a Lindsay Lohan update. This week, after noting that no one anywhere was talking about her, she did what anyone in her position would do. She lit up a Camel, unhooked her bra, and sent out an Instagram: Sure she’s cute with the freckles and all…but she must taste like an ashtray. Ugh.
Likewise, can we really go a full week without the latest evidence that Justin Bieber is a dick? This week he performed (such as it is) in Argentina, and capped one of his shows by dragging an Argentine flag offstage with his feet…an act which in Argentina can earn you four years in prison. Just imagine the Biebs in an Argentine dungeon for four years. Someone could make a billion bucks putting a web cam in that cell. I’m guessing they could use the soundtrack for Dr. Lok’s teaching program.
On page two of “dicks in the news” is Alec Balwin…who is a dick with his own news show. Go figure. Baldwin verbally assaulted a paparazzo outside his Manhattan digs , calling him a “faggot cocksucker” (which is kind of redundant, when you think about it). Baldwin at first denied the report, which was called a homophobic slur by my fellow media critics, saying, “I called him a fat-head. It’s clear on the tape.” Later, when the flames eminating from his tongue were finally extinguished, he issued an apology of the “if I said anything that anyone found offensive, I apologize” variety. I don’t know about you, but Alec Baldwin reminds me of how happy I was as a kid when the only thing I knew about movie stars is what I saw in movies.
Speaking of flames and tongues and smoke… Miley Cyrus lit up a home-rolled cigarette of some type at the Europe Music Awards. You know, I’m beginning to like Miley a little more every day. I’ll be happiest when this kind of story is no more newsworthy than a dog barking at a car or cable repair guy arriving late.
You’ll never guess who’s involved in the latest Twitter war. It’s Jennifer Lawrence…and…wait for it…you’ll never guess this one…Joan Rivers. I’m impressed that Rivers even knows how to use Twitter at her age. I’d figure that she’d just thing “twitter” was something her boobs would do in a stiff wind. You go, Joan.
In this week’s progress notes from the Betty Ford Center:
Sam Donaldson was acquitted on his DUI charge in a Deleware court. The judge found there was no “probable cause for arrest”. Take-home lesson: If you have enough money and power and a good enough lawyer, and you were neither found in bed with a living boy nor a dead woman, you can beat just about any rap. Come to think of it, if you are Michael Jackson, that living boy thing doesn’t apply either…but he had “giraffe money”.
Zac Effron, who was recently discharged from rehab, fell at home and busted his jaw…but there were no drugs or alcohol involved…that’s his story and he’s stickin’ to it.
Finally, and this one is for my blogmate, who I know waits each Friday with high anticipation for the weekly edition of CBB: Andy Kaufman’s brother says that Andy’s death was a hoax and that he’s still alive. Presumably he’s holed up on the top floor of Parkland Memorial Hospital with Elvis and JFK: