Archive for the ‘Celebs’ Category

It’s only been election day in the States for a little under an hour now, but on this side of the world the morning is heading toward afternoon and that has me thinking I should be sitting in front of the TV and listening to Wolf Blitzer yammer on about exit polls.

This is certain to be one of those days that I resent the hell out of whoever has yet to get around to inventing the beamy-uppy thing, as I would LOVE to be in the US for all of this particular Tuesday in this particular November.

I’ve not minded at all missing out on the hoopla of the last two Presidential elections … in fact I casually contemplated passing myself off as Canadian (or a Kiwi like Sis, but I can’t do the accent) … but this one brings such promise that I’m sorry to be missing the party … Democrat, of course.

My beautiful and bright daughter, Jenn, has been stumping for Obama in North Carolina, and I would love to be sitting with her as the results come in. Not that I’m counting unhatched chickens from way over here in the Indian Ocean … no way! I’ve been out of America long enough now to harbor no illusions about the potential of pinheads to rise like over-yeasty bread and take over the world, reminding me in no little way of the creature introduced in Michael Landon’s first film, “The Blob”.

Could it be, though, that this time around intelligence counts? Could smart and honorable and vital and committed and fresh and fill-in-a-positive-adjective-here carry the day?

Do the world a favor, and get out and vote today, and if you’re still undecided and of the mindset that a movie star should tell you what box to tick, feel free to let my brother influence you. After all, he’s a smart guy, too.

I’ll be over here waiting with fish on my tongue (baited breath … a groaner, I know, but it’s an inside joke aimed at a few) for the results to start coming in on CNN’s website … Anderson Cooper is cute, isn’t he just, and isn’t that what TV news is all about? … and hoping for the promise of a new and brighter world.

We all sure could use that.

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It’s no surprise that the adoption world is easily offended when babies are used as props, since a good part of the debate that fumes mightily has everything to do with children posed as possessions to be wrangled over. But it could be argued that kids are not only “property” in the yours, mine and ours sense, but also in the theatrical sense, being that they can be quite handy for setting a scene or revealing character, and they look great posed between the dog and the tree on Christmas cards.

Who doesn’t attempt to position a child adorably for posterity, frame the results to gaze gleefully in perpetuity from the family room wall and send copies off to Granny, and maybe even to parenting magazines with the certainty that a wide audience is prepped to awwwwww? Being that there’s no shortage of kids being dragged from audition to audition in hopes of being the next Daniel Radcliffe, putting kids through their paces for the sake of “art” wouldn’t seem to be considered objectification of obscene dimensions. Would it?

Art being art, objectification and obscenity would both fall within the realm of beholders’ eyes, as what’s art to one is shit to another, and vice versa.

Take for example the paintings of Turner Award-winning artist Chris Ofili whose medium of choice is elephant dung.

How about the centerpiece of an exhibition in London correctly and descriptively titled: 21 Anthropometric Slabs Made Of Human Faeces By The People Of Sulabh International, India, or a shit retrospective in New York that featured “a dense concentration of scatological art dating from 1961 to the present,” some made from the real thing?

Now that we’ve established that art can be tasteless and still considered worthy of the title, and of people paying loads of money to bask in its glory, we can perhaps approach Vanessa Beecroft and the fuss being made over her, her breasts and Sudanese twins.

Ms. Beecroft is a star. An art star. She is not known for being nice or sensitive or caring or generous or … pick a pleasant adjective, any pleasant adjective you would attach to someone you’d like to spend time with. Vanessa Beecroft is not that person.

She is, in every sense of the word, a piece of art (see above). She is her own work, as her eating disorders attest, and with that always in mind, well into promoting Vanessa for Vanessa’s sake, even to the point of having a film made about having pictures taken of having the experience of having a conscience.

This debacle involves photographs of herself breast feeding twin Sudanese infants, a prompt that has immediately been sucked with relish into the black hole of celebrity adoption media spin:

At times Beecroft’s behavior is appalling, her motives and methods highly questionable, but it is difficult to turn away, and the more you watch, the more you wonder: What is best for these African children — to be adopted by a wealthy vain celebrity, an Angelina, a Madonna, a Vanessa (who admits she is a little crazy), or for the babies to live with their relatives in a hut, and take their chances with poverty and disease?

Yeah … like that’s what this is all about.

This is a woman who left her breastfeeding child at home in L.A. while she took off on a self-serving art quest to Africa, and if anyone is thinking the breastmilk-and-black-babies thing was a spur of the moment happening they are seriously missing something.

With a film budget and all to worry about, it makes sense that Vanessa would pull out all the stops on hype, and how better to get coverage outside the wacky art world than to slap the “celeb adoption” card on the table that issues press passes?

And, of course, it worked. Why wouldn’t it? There is no point, but why should there be? it’s art, and for art’s sake.

As Beecroft says:

“I really enjoyed this criticism. It is what I work for. I want people to exercise their thoughts, and I provoke with this image. Because the image was intentional also, not only a souvenir. But it had an intent to provoke. So I was happy with this reaction. That is part of my work. To create a little bit of irritation for the audience.”

The photographs are for sale for $50,000 each.

Here’s the link to her site where you can see the poster for the film … boobs, babies and all … an perhaps make an offer on a print … ?

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“My theory of evolution is that Darwin was adopted.”
Steven Wright

Steven Wright cracks me up. His droll delivery of distilled nuggets of simple, yet warped observation always strikes me as funny, and often gives an amused pause for thought. Getting to where he ends up requires strolling in from new and unusual directions, something that can be very good for keeping perceptions fresh and challenged.

The line above, of course, caught my eye and started me down a thought path that has led to a blog post. How handy, since a blog post was on today’s “to do” list.

Although “The Evolutionary Benefits of Adoption” is a ridiculously grand title that appears to claim one hell of a lot of ground this post never even begins to approach, it makes me laugh … striking me as funny on many levels … and reflects my morning ponderings prompted by Mr. Wright’s one-liner.

There are plenty of people who would never choose to put the words “adoption” and “benefit” in the same sentence, some even going so far as to suggest that adoption itself spawns nothing less than mass murderers, serial killers.

The website “Adopted Killers” … picture lurid, blood-red copy on a black background … that postulates this connection is high drama, courtroom photos and turgid bombast that in spite of supposed intent ends up making a pretty good case for adoption.

(Keeping with the theme of amusing lines, one from this site is a classic, although I doubt it was devised to entertain:

WHY are there twice as many Adopted Killers who are known to be in the category of Adoptees Who Killed Their Adopters?

Now, really … isn’t that one of the funnier lines you’ve seen in a while? Not only the spontaneous use of capital letters which is always a hoot, but the heart and soul –no mention of brain, of course — of this classic example of nonsense and illogic. I have to laugh ever time I see it … and it is fairly widely quoted by those who apparently don’t see the joke.)

As I read through the sketchy examples of adopted killers, I can’t help but notice the damaging effects of inappropriate kinship placements, foster care, mental illness and genetics, and it occurs to me that some of these people may have found less dangerous paths if adoption had been more a feature in their lives, rather than less.

As for evolving humanity, the examples of adopted people making huge changes for the positive in the world are impressive.

From way back in the 300s BC when Aristotle’s parents died … he wasn’t officially adopted, but raised by a guardian, then married an adoptee and adopted himself … and the basis of what we now call science was born, to the 1800s in America that saw George Washington Carver, one of this country’s most important inventors, adopted after the death of his mother, the evolution of our humaneness has been spurred by adoption.

Would I be writing or you be reading today without the contributions of Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison and who they became at least partly through their adoptions? Perhaps, but there would be long odds on the information age developing as it has had they not forged the trails they did.

So, perhaps there are some “evolutionary benefits” of adoption, after all, since the world has more than marginally improved through the efforts of adopted people who have passed along the positives.

If nothing else, I suppose, those opposed to adoption might take comfort in the idea (?) that twice as many adopted killers are adoptees who killed their adopters, therefore suggesting to anyone equating adoptive parents with evil incarnate that the result is fewer of those.

I wonder what Steven Wright would do with that …

(Here’s a list of famous people with adoption in their backgrounds.)

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The day the music died may have been in 1959, but twenty-seven years ago today the world lost not only one of the most brilliant and creative musical minds in modern history, but a bit of its soul and a lot of its conscience.

220px-johnlennon1.jpgDecember 8, 1980 was the day Mark Chapman shot and killed John Lennon outside the Dakota building in Manhattan as he and his wife made their way home.

For more on this, check out:
A Tribute to John Lennon (October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980)

Photo credit: Wiki commons

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It’s a big dividing point between American expats as far as maintaining a capacity to take in and digest present day events in the country, the 12th of June 1994.

You are forgiven if the date doesn’t set bells clanging, as events of the day easily float to the bottom of the cesspool that started filling then and continues to this day. To put it simply, this was the day Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were brutally butchered in a Southern California condo.

What followed could now probably be traced as the headwaters of Reality TV, and it ended with OJ Simpson winning the “Got Away With Murder” award.

People living in the States through that process followed along, joined the discussion, watched the glove show-and-dance, knew what Johnnie Cochran drank, how F. Lee Bailey took his coffee and what Marcia Clark was going to do next with her hair. Who didn’t have an opinion on Lance Ito, was more than a bit uncomfortable with Mark Fuhrman or thought Kato Kaelin was a moron? Eating, drinking and sleeping the OJ trail was common behavior as a cult-like fixation drew in more and more media junkies.

The verdict brought whatever emotions it brought, and those who lived through it can still be brought to a froth over specifics.

Those who left the country BOJ (Before OJ) … me, for instance … certainly heard about the case, most likely a lot, but didn’t live and breathe it. We weren’t surrounded by the story, didn’t run into video of white Mustangs and blood-soaked walkways twice a day, and weren’t assailed by details, speculation and conjecture every time we turned on a radio or opened a newspaper. We didn’t live with OJ’s oversized smirk popping up on every corner, live coverage and endless footage of the same scenes and statements over and over and over again.

Because we missed all this, we never moved into the groove that grew accustomed to the frenzy, that began to see the hype as justifiable and the massive media as a citizen’s right to know, and we didn’t for a moment see the verdict coming. In other words, we found ourselves left out of the loop that found getting away with murder a logical consequence of celebrity.

Much that has happened since in America remains puzzling to BOJs like me. The 2000 presidential election is one example; the bullshit blind involvement in Iraq, another.

Today, it’s a CNN piece that has me scratching my head … the one about the University of Pennsylvania professor who beat his wife to death last year as she wrapped Christmas presents. He’s finally fessed up and is likely to do 4.5 to 7 years for his crime.

Excuse me, but WTF kind of sentence is that?

And what kind of sentences are these … ?

“What kept them there [in the marriage] was their undying love for their daughter Olivia,” said Art Gregory, who is now raising the girl. “Both of them put Olivia first, beyond anything else, unfortunately to a very tragic end.”

Rafael Robb apologized to Olivia, who was not in court, and said he was “very remorseful.”

“I know she liked her mother. … And now she doesn’t have a mother,” he said, stifling tears..

This is how cold-blooded murder is covered in the US today? With “stifling tears” and not one single mention of how appalling it is that a creep who bludgeoned his wife to death in the middle of her Christmas prep will probably be out by Christmas 2009 … having to do his own gift wrap, thankyouverymuch … seeing as how he’s unlikely to find a wife to kill while in prison, so should get time off for good behavior, and probably also for time served while hoping to slip the noose without having to admit that he bloody well did it?

Like coming into “Lost” in the second season, having missed the OJ show I just can’t get up to speed with so much in America these days and the point of the plot is lost on me completely.

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There are topics arrayed before me like so many tubs of ice cream at a Ben & Jerry’s, some even looking as potentially tasty as Chunky Monkey, but I haven’t the energy to dip.

You see, I’ve already written almost 2000 bloggity blog words … 1,811 to be precise… on three blogs, and although I do this most days AND manage to plop something here since it’s NaBloPoMo, today it’s simply not in me to wax on again about the fact that today is Mark’s birthday or the very interesting “All Things Considered” piece on race in America or the new blather on Angelina Jolie’s adoption issues.

If you’re interested in what I’ve written, you can check out the News Blog, the Older Parent Blog, or the International Adoption Blog.

I’m going to go for a nice, long shower and get myself smelling sweet, brushed and tidy so I can welcome my Birthday Man home in an hour. Once clean and dressed, I’m going to sit down and read to my kids until Daddy’s truck pulls up and we all run to greet him with smiles on our faces and joy in our hearts.

Oh, one thing …

This morning, Mark asked Sam if he had any presents for him. Sam answered, “Of course I do, but you don’t get anything until tonight!”

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Before attending to anything else today, before a word is written on any of my pro blogs, before I work out, shower, dress, before I do a thing other than get my kids off to school, I have to make a confession …

I hate mime.

From my days as a young child, I’ve hated mime. Clowns scare the crap out of me, and street mimes are more annoying than breaking a heel on a manhole cover. In fact, watching a mime is very much like a hasty navigation of busy sidewalks with a dire need to pee, no toilet in sight and one Jimmy Choo four inches shorter than the other.

Why does a well-loved art form (Who are those people?) bug the bejezzus out of me, raise my intolerance levels to just below the slapping point and set me spinning off in the opposite direction, even if that involves some Irish git blowing his lungs into a digerado?

First, we’ve seen it all. How many ‘walking against the wind’ impressions must one view in a lifetime?

Second, what’s with the whiteface? It’s cadaverous and grotesque. It freaks me out. And it looks SO greasy. Yes, I know it’s called GREASEpaint, but knowing the name doesn’t make it any less disgusting. Mouths surrounded by the stuff become revolting caverns of obscene pinkness is comparison, and those half-way-up-the-forehead painted eyebrows, although apparently intended to radiate expression and convey silent emotions, end up looking like a couple of over-enthusiastic punctuation marks in search of a sentence.

Third, as I tell my kids about twenty times a day, “You have a voice, so use it already!”

There are at least as many more reasons as stripes on a mime’s shirt to have the silent silliness of ‘man walking up stairs’ and such grate, but I’ll forego the lot to join the French … the French are big on mimes, well, French mimes, of course … and most likely Robin Williams, in noting the passing of Marcel Marceau who died this week at the age of 84.

Since the guy didn’t talk much, I hadn’t heard that he was big in the French Resistance and that his father died in Auschwitz, but I will admit that I’d never given much thought to where the world’s greatest mime came from.

Reading his obits, however, I have … too late, I know, but what would he care anyway? … come to appreciate much about Monsieur Marceau’s life, if not his art.

Wiseass that I am, however, my first thought on reading of his death was: How can they tell?

My second … wondering if he’s been posed in his coffin with his hands facing away from his chest, his palms forward in that “pushing’ position we all know far too well.

“Man in a box” has been done to death!

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Bill Gates is moving into my neighborhood.

Yep, the quiet, sleepy confines of the part of this island I call home is undergoing some huge, noisy and ugly changes, and there are billionaires’ fingerprints all over it.

Hardly a day passes without me being jolted out of contemplative blog-writing revelry by a blast of dynamite shattering granite boulders behind my house to smithereens … the dogs and kids are really fond of these terrifying booms, as I’m sure you’ll understand … and like the cannons in the William Tell Overture, the explosions merely add emphasis to the buzz of chain saws, the roar of dump trucks, the shouts of 850 imported Indian workers, and the pounding thrum of dozens of machines designed to move mountains and turn forests into roads and hillsides into villas.

It’s a Four Seasons Hotel project that’s going in … a hotel, plus a slew of multi-million dollar holiday homes … a company Mr. Gates recently moved into major shareholder-ship in.

Not featured yet on the web site, we will nonetheless be surrounded by extremely rich people within a relatively short period of mega-construction time.

How these people are to integrate with the local population, or how they’ll avoid doing just that, are topics of most conversations around here, as you can well imagine. Somehow, folks don’t see these newbies shopping at the local SMB franchise and being philosophical about a temporary dearth of onions or butter or toilet paper or milk or yogurt or salt or sugar or … well, you get the idea: we often live without stuff some could get used to always having on hand.

Then there’s the issue of beaches.

MY beach … meaning the one at the end of the road where I’ve been splashing around at least once a week for the past eleven years, and Mark has enjoyed since childhood … is soon to be surrounded by $6 million private homes. Any guesses as to how the owners of said homes will react to Gay and I tromping through their gardens with our snorkel gear and the kids’ pails and shovels? Of course, to do that we will have had to scale walls and avoid snazzy security equipment, I’m sure.

And what about the pickup-loads of Sunday picnic people; those festive folks who descend on mass ladened with boom boxes and barbecues for a fun-filled day of drinking and dancing and volleyball? Will they be welcomed with open arms by the super-rich Saudis and Russians who are already putting deposits down on these properties?

Um. I don’t think that’s likely.

Of course, maybe I’m jumping ahead to a scenario that won’t play out. Perhaps everyone will chip in with necessities when the shops run out of stuff and be happy as happy clams to share the beaches as we have always done… and maybe Bill and Melinda will invite Mark and the kids and me over for sundowners on his veranda.

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Really, folks … can some please tell me WHAT IN THE HELL is going on in America these days?

When today’s perusal of the newsal pops up with this … the Huff Post’s report on Paris Hiltons’ failure to pitch a hissy grand enough to keep her out of jail … what can possibly follow but a jaw-drop, a head-scratch and a WTF?

I am suddenly so pleased that the loop in which this spoiled brat of a nothing special is focal only rolled into my world a few weeks ago … not being at all familiar with a Paris Hilton that isn’t a hotel … and can’t begin to comprehend, “… paparazzi sprinting in pursuit and helicopters broadcasting live from above …”.

Let me get this straight …

This pampered young woman, a life-long recipient of special favors and undue positive attention who may very well be accustomed to having staff whose job it is to take whatever punishment has been deserved since she was old enough to shout orders at underlings, gets busted.

She’s given parole. While on parole, she gets busted not once, but twice for the same dangerous and totally illegal behavior. A judge decides she’s just not grasping the whole consequences thing, so ups the ante by putting her in what is likely the first time out of her life.

Being that all this takes place in L.A. where every nobody would give their left leg to be a somebody, even if everybody agrees that nobody is ever all that impressed with anybody because they’re all so busy trying to impress everybody else so nobody is looking at anybody but the somebody everybody already knows, this modern-day ZhaZha (No offense … I could have easily used Charo, but she’s a bit too talented for the comparison.) had the opportunity to talk or blow or grease her way back to Mommy … or at least to Mommy’s big house with all those people there who do what they’re told.

Now, a judge … that’s a guy who’s in charge of laws and stuff, so therefore able to make decisions … sends her back to the pokey, apparently unimpressed by tears and tantrums (Wow! He must be really tough!), and the scene carries more media weight than global warming or the discovery of a new planet?


As if it wasn’t disturbing enough to learn that my home country now worships at the feet of the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Simon Cowell … a dawning awareness that had me asking a few weeks ago, “What the hell are you thinking over there making mediocrity so lucrative?” … do I now have to start accepting the fact that my compatriots have completely substituted absolute rubbish for sustenance?

Any idea where that leads?

I’ll tell you where it leads, and it’s not pretty … it leads to mental starvation and brain death. Keep this up for much longer and you’ll soon be putting morons in the White House and getting yourselves involved in un-winnable wars.

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Sgt. PepperI can remember where I was the first time I saw and heard Sgt. Pepper. I’m not going into any detail about stances … neither circum nor sub … but I’ll admit to a drummer named Charlie and some really pretty colors that drifted around as “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” premiered in my head FORTY years ago this month.

Excuse me? Can that be right?

Well, of course it can.

It was June, 1967, and I was just about to turn sixteen. I’d recently been relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area to a hell of a Hooterville in Northern California called Red Bluff.

There was no doubt that I was too cool for school, and was even the subject of a call-in radio show on KBLF (K-bluff? Perfect … ), where hick parents accused me of wearing tights to ‘hide the needle marks in my legs’ … yes, that’s how much they knew about drug use — morons … and worried that I was out to corrupt the heck out of their drunken, redneck, brawling, screwing darlings with my peacenick ways and long-haired friends from out of town.

Yes, I had, thankfully managed to locate some hippies after my own heart in the bigger town up I-5 — Redding.

Days in the upper Central Valley in June are hot, and the heat lingers long after the sun takes its 9 pm dive over the horizon. It was an expanse of grass in someone’s front yard that seemed the ideal place to stretch out with Charlie and listen to the brand new Beatle’s album.

It was magic … total, complete, compelling, enthralling magic. Every track amazed in new ways, and with a little help from my friends who popped out with a new doobie every few minutes, Charlie and I were swimming in harmony, beat, notes, riffs and lyrics.

Who now doesn’t know all the words to “When I’m Sixty-four”, end any mention of “It was 20 years ago today … ” with anything other than, “Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play”, and hasn’t woken up more than once with the special refrain of “Good Morning Good Morning”, a la the Fab Four running through the brain along with a bit of chicken talkin’?

Back then, however, it was all new, and it was breathtaking.

Paul McCartney is almost more than sixty-four now, and though I doubt he got many Valentines this year … being in the throes of a messy divorce and all … he does still have hair.

Heck, John Lennon has been dead for twenty-seven-and-a-half years, a thought that still makes me so very sad at the loss the world suffered on the 8th of December in 1980.

I’m weeks away from hitting the downhill slide from 55.

June 2007. Forty years after Sgt. Pepper. Wow.

And here’s a thought … it’s almost half way to 2008 already.

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