Posts filed under ‘Celebrity’
So, that review was kind of snide and snarky. And I did like the book in one way, and that is that I thought that it was entertaining, even if it was only half-way original. I think Jonathan Franzen is definitely talented. So, I have some second thoughts.
Even if the date rape was clichéd, I still recognize that the reason that it may feel clichéd is that is so true to life. After all, I wrote my own post that was somewhat similar to a Lifetime movie, only it wasn’t fiction, it was from my very own damn life.
It’s not just a cliché, it’s also my life.
In addition to that cliché there was also the love triangle between the “nice” guy and the “sexy” guy, as if nice can’t also be sexy. It struck me, after reading the book and then also reading interviews and biographies of Jonathan Franzen, that perhaps this book was somewhat personal. Richard and Walter are stand-ins for someone else, and that someone else is Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace.
Even though Franzen is the bigger environmentalist and the bird watcher and probably the less flashy of the two, and even though Wallace superficially resembles Richard, with his greater charisma and physical beauty and tobacco chew, I think that Walter and Richard are actually just dual aspects of Franzen’s personality. It’s Franzen against Franzen.
Also, if anyone is Walter, the more spiritual one, the kinder one, the more worthy one, it’s Wallace, who couldn’t possibly hurt a fly other than himself, if it weren’t for the one fact of his suicide. Wallace was the “churchgoer,” the one with the reputation as the “nice” guy, and yet it was Wallace, and not Franzen, who hanged himself on his own porch for his wife to find his body. Maybe not so selfless a death as David Foster Wallace would have wished for himself, if he had been in his right mind at the time.
It strikes me that Walter’s eventual forgiveness of Patty, and, by implication, Richard, is Franzen’s final tribute to his friend David Foster Wallace. And with this act, his overvalued novel is somewhat redeemed and maybe even worthy of half of the superfluous over-the-top “critical” literary views, if the idea was to transcend the selfish and self involved characters of his Seinfeldian universe, with this one final act of grace.
It occurs to me that the repitition of the word and the ideology of “freedom” in David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech and the fact that Jonathan Franzen’s novel is titled, Freedom are no coincidence.
This weekend I spent a lot of time reading, but on Sunday I rode the bus downtown and got off on Congress Avenue to take in a double feature at The Paramount where the Summer Movie Series is happening. I caught Sabrina the first weekend, and I’ve bought a package of discount tickets, so I’ll be going back frequently. I hadn’t been to the movies at The Paramount in a long time, so I forgot that it’s more fun to watch from the balcony. This time I remembered, and I watched from the balcony.
What’s fun about a double feature is that people you don’t know will talk with you in between the movies. The guy who picks out the movies introduces them and gives you a bit of trivia. Pretty cool. You can get that at Austin Film Society screenings and at the Alamo Drafthouse. It makes going to the movies feel like a more collective, social experience.
The double feature was two John Hughes comedies. I should say that I love John Hughes. He’s the single biggest cultural influence of my adolescence. And what’s not to love? His comedies are sweet, although seeing them now I recognize how often I see things in them that I wouldn’t want to show a child. The day two years ago when John Hughes died was a sad one, and I think I remember it and the day that Jim Henson died the way that a baby boomer might remember the assassination of Jack and Bobby Kennedy or Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
The first movie was Sixteen Candles. I remember liking it a lot when I was a kid. It’s dated and doesn’t age very well. It’s entirely wish-fulfillment fantasy (like all romantic comedies – let’s face it), with not a hint of realism thrown in for good measure. The freshman geek with a face full of metal bags the Prom Queen? The Prom King drops the girlfriend that he can “violate in ten different ways” for a sweet, sophomore redhead who’s admitted that she has a crush on him. The redhead’s dad gives her a thumbs up as she ditches her sister’s wedding reception to run off with some strange boy. Ye-ah. That’s gonna happen.
Jake Ryan is the guy who doesn’t exist in American high schools. I’m not saying that the nice guy doesn’t exist. There are lots of them. I’m just saying that he doesn’t look like he belongs on the cover of Tiger Beat, drive a glossy red sports car, live in a suburban mansion, play football and date the head cheerleader. Later, this guy might become a decent guy, but it’ll be sometime in college before it takes hold. It was true then, and it’s true now.
So, Sixteen Candles was every teenager’s dream come true. But did you know that if Hughes had had his way that Molly Ringwald would have ended up with Anthony Michael Hall? I read on the internet that he wanted the Ringwald character in Pretty in Pink to end up with Duckie. The studios intervened in each case. However, they didn’t win in the end with Some Kind of Wonderful. This was like Hughes’ middle finger to the system. He thought, “I’ll show you. The geeks will fall in love, and I will make you like it.” And sure enough, he does.
Some Kind of Wonderful is another Hughes film with a song title. It’s one of his lesser known films. I’ve seen it before, but the first time I saw it was on television some time in the 1990s. Hughes wrote it and was highly involved in the filming, but someone else directed. Howard Deutch was given the script as a peace offering after he made Pretty in Pink with the alternative ending that audiences preferred, where Molly Ringwald gets her Blaine.
I’m a little surprised they didn’t film a third version where she ends up with James Spader, the Iago of John Hughes villains. Seriously, everything’s better with James Spader in it. I would put him in my morning coffee if I could.
If the internet is a reliable source of information (in other words, be somewhat skeptical), when Some Kind of Wonderful was filming, the leads Eric Stoltz and Lea Thompson were dating in real life. A scene where Eric Stoltz and Mary Stuart Masterson are practicing kissing and then blush so charmingly? It’s said to be real since Thompson was on set. After filming wrapped, Howard Deutch married Lea Thompson. Eric Stoltz went on to make Mask, and Mary Stuart Masterson went on to the Chick Flick Hall of Fame in Bed of Roses, Benny & Joon and Fried Green Tomatoes.
Some Kind of Wonderful is a better movie than Sixteen Candles. Lea Thompson plays Amanda Jones, the popular girl from the wrong side of the tracks who landed the wealthy and popular boyfriend, Hardy, (Craig Sheffer) who just so happens to be the world’s biggest douchebag. Chynna Phillips has a small part as Mia, Hardy’s mistress, if you will. Stoltz plays Keith, the sensitive artist who moonlights as a car mechanic. Masterson plays Watts, his tomboy best friend from the third grade, a tomboy who wears boxer shorts and t-shirts as lingerie and plays the drums. She and Keith are inseparable. He pines for Amanda Jones, and she doesn’t seem to realize she’s got a thing for Keith until Amanda is actually within his grasp.
When Amanda catches Hardy whispering sweet nothings with Mia one time too many, she dumps him very publicly, and Keith quickly steps up to the plate. She accepts his offer to go on a date in order to solidify her decision to dump Hardy. She doesn’t really want to go out with Keith. She just wants to hurt Hardy. Hardy is too much of a narcissist to be “hurt,” but he decides that Keith must be punished for having the audacity to “steal” a girl out from under him, even though Keith is so obviously socially inferior.
It’s pretty basic, predictable fun from there. I won’t spoil it for you, but Watts steals the show. The ending is plausible and sweet. In the end everybody gets what they deserve, including Amanda Jones. The best lines in the movie come at the end.
Keith: Why didn’t you tell me [you were in love with me]?
Watts: You didn’t ask.
Keith (to Watts): My future looks good on you.
Yesterday legitimate news sources confirmed what had been rumored in supermarket tabloids for months. Marie Osmond remarried her first husband nearly 30 years after their first marriage. She wore her first wedding dress, which is supposed to make us go, “Awww,” but which I just find thoroughly creepy. Is there anything about this story that doesn’t scream, “Marie, please take your meds!”
Marie’s first husband is Stephen Craig, a former semi-pro basketball player. They married in 1982. They separated and reconciled twice. Then they divorced in 1985, with her claiming “mental cruelty” and amidst rumors of infidelity on his part. Apparently, he was disciplined by the Mormon Church for his behavior during the marriage.
After that unhappy union, Marie remarried not even a year later, to music producer Brian Blosil, or, as he is otherwise known, Mr. Marie Osmond. He adopted Stephen’s son, Stephen Craig, Jr., and together he and Marie had two biological children and adopted five more. They also separated and reconciled after Marie’s very public battle with post-partum depression.
In 2007 they jointly announced their intention to divorce. He’s apparently such a winner that one of their sons refused to retain his last name, and he didn’t attend that son’s funeral after he killed himself. Reportedly, the other children didn’t wish for him to attend, either. He sounds like a really swell catch.
Remember how Mr. Blosil adopted Stephen Craig, Jr.? Well, apparently, Stephen Craig, Jr. has been in contact with his biological father, and, following her divorce from Blosil, so has Marie. Stephen Craig is now a motivational speaker, and he’s been courting Marie and family at her home in Las Vegas where she now performs in a musical revue with her brother Donny.
I love Marie Osmond. I used to watch The Donny & Marie Show when I was a kid. I had a Marie Osmond Barbie doll. My brother and I had a really lame storybook about Jimmy and a robot. I bought one of her books and read it (not the one about the depression), and I watched her on Dancing with the Stars. I watched the talk show she had a few years back with Donny. I defy you not to like her. And for 51 years old, she’s smoking hot. She’s always been a very attractive woman, but ever since she lost that weight on Nutri-System or whatever, I would think she’d have the silverfox Mormon men crawling out of the woodwork for a chance at that.
Why does she feel the need to jump into the magical time machine that is her wedding dress and relive a grave and obvious error in judgment? I also love how she’s reconstructed her history. Like the redeemed villain of a soap opera, this cheater has swooped in to save Marie from a life of depression and loneliness. Everything will be strawberries and whipped cream this time around!
Remember again how Brian Blosil adopted Stephen Craig, Jr.? You should. This is the third time I’ve mentioned it. Here’s her official quote on Stephen now:
“I am so happy and look forward to sharing my life with Stephen, who is an amazing man as well as a great father to my children.”
If he’s really such a great man, then why did you divorce him the first time around? And if he was really such a great man, then why did you say he was guilty of “mental cruelty”? That doesn’t sound like he’s such a great man. If he’s really such a great man, then why did the church sanction him based on his behavior during your marriage? Was it just a case of the LDS Church being afraid to bite the hand that feeds it? Or was he legitimately immoral, unethical, and cruel? And finally, if he’s such a great father, then why did his biological son have to be legally adopted by the kind of father who wouldn’t attend his own son’s funeral?
Of course, it’s Marie’s privilege to not answer these questions for us. In fact, it would be inappropriate for her to do so. Some things should remain private. But I hope she’s asked them of herself. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believes that a temple marriage seals spouses together for all eternity in a celestial marriage that not even death can tear asunder. I hope that she’s not yoked herself to a cheater.
I wish you well, Marie. And I sincerely wish that I am dead wrong. People can change, and you married young the first time around. Maybe you’ve both matured. Congratulations!
Dear David Eagleman,
I was 3 minutes late to work this morning because I was busy reading the profile on you and your brain research in The New Yorker. Fascinating stuff. I needed to think about something to write on my blog today, and it was between you and the documentary Inside Job, so I thought I’d lighten up and write about you because our economy is serious stuff. Nothing funny about it. Also, I want to finish the director’s commentary before I write about Inside Job.
I have decided, after reading about half of the article in The New Yorker, that you will receive the honor of being my new “celebrity” crush. I think you are awesome. Studying the brain’s perception of time! And before that you studied literature and tried your hand at stand up comedy and screenwriting! James Franco is so jealous.
*SIGH* What is up with that Chippendale dancer pose with the tight t-shirt and jeans in front of the whiteboard? Where’s your smoking jacket, pipe, and cravat? What kind of an academic are you? Not a very dignified one. I like it.
Dude, I checked out your picture on the Baylor College of Medicine website, too. You got it going on with that smoldering profile against the amber background. Was that photo taken at Geek Glamour Shots? You look like you have a very sexy intellectual secret that you will not be sharing. Seriously, it’s a great photo. I don’t even care if the author of The New Yorker profile said you walk like Pinocchio. Can I be your Jiminy Cricket?
Now, before you answer that question, think about the distinguished company that you will be joining. My past celebrity crushes for the last 3 years or so have been smokin’ hot, and at least one of them is smart. (I limit my celebrity crushes to the last 3 years’ worth because we really don’t have the time to get into the full history, and I used to be in love with both John Denver and Kermit the Frog simultaneously. I don’t want you to think that my tastes haven’t evolved into more sophisticated selections lately.) I have excellent taste in celebrity crushes, really I do.
Take Robbie Williams, for instance. Hot and talented. I really don’t know if he’s smart or not. I’ve never met him or seen him interviewed on The Charlie Rose Show. But, you know, he could be. And he’s an international superstar, so presumably, even though he’s never really caught on in America, he must have something going for him.
More recently, there’s been The Soup Peddler. He’s a local entrepreneur. He is cute, and he writes this funny blog. Really smart. See? If you replaced him in my affections, then this would really give you some bragging rights. I mean, The Soup Peddler is a dream. Nice Jewish boy. He cooks delicious soup. He delivers it on his bicycle. Well, not anymore. But you get the picture. Grassroots business success story: what’s not to love?
Don’t answer yet. I know that you will want to know what’s involved in agreeing to be my new celebrity crush. Well, technically, I don’t have to ask your permission. I’m just being polite. What do you have to do? Precisely nothing.
That’s right. Nothing. Just continue to breathe. It would be nice if every once in a while you might drop a crumb for me like another interview in a magazine or on a website or The Charlie Rose Show or what’s the PBS talk show with Evan Smith — that one, but that’s not required. I will keep scouring the internet for new information daily until my infatuation wears out. If you have any videos on TED, I’ll watch those, too.
I will also read at least one of your books after I purchase it on half.com. I’ll be honest. I’m unlikely to read an academic textbook about neuroscience. I’m pretty fickle. I give this thing about six months. And the great thing is that at the end of that six months, if you are ever the subject of a Trivial Pursuit question or a category on Jeopardy I can guarantee you that I will kick some useless information ass!!
I know that this crush might cause you to be fearful for your life or think about the need to hire bodyguards, but I assure you that even though Houston is less than 3 hours away on Highway 290, I will not be stalking you. I just like the idea of you, and if I met you I am sure that in some way the idea of your perfection would burst like a bubble, and it would kind of ruin the fun for me. Like, I bet in real life that you fart or scratch yourself or something like that. I just really don’t want to be confronted with that, so like I said, you are completely safe. And if you don’t believe me you can just ask The Soup Peddler and Robbie Williams and the Austin Police Department and the FBI. Really. Completely safe.
In the meantime, while you contemplate my heartfelt proposal, I will leave you with this: our song. Think about it. And then don’t call me. Really. I mean it. Don’t call me. You’ll ruin the magic.
Previously I’ve written about Greg Mortenson, his non-profit, the Central Asia Institute, and his book about his journey to build schools for the children of rural Pakistan and Afghanistan. The book is called Three Cups of Tea, and its accuracy has been called into question by Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes and journalist Jon Krakauer. In addition to alleging that Mortenson’s autobiography is less than truthful (remind anyone of James Frey?), there are even more serious allegations of money mismanagement.
In addition to the tall tales that Mortenson supposedly told in his books, Krakauer and 60 Minutes are saying that Mortenson has not built as many schools as he claims he has. Many of the schools Mortenson claims that CAI has built or is funding are not currently functioning. Central Asia Institute has only furnished one audited financial statement in its 14 years. Several board members have quit over misgivings about financial accountability. And Mortenson’s travel costs are paid for by CAI while Mortenson himself retains speaking fees for speaking engagements and promotional tours for his books. The proceeds from the books go to Mortenson and not to the institute.
Some of the allegations here shouldn’t be terribly shocking to anyone who read Mortenson’s book. Mortenson himself admits that he is a poor planner, ineffective with time management, money management, and people management. But for some reason he has a knack with the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan. And no one is alleging that he isn’t an effective advocate for girls’ education in developing countries. No one is stating that he hasn’t vastly improved the lives of literally thousands of children. What they are claiming is that Mortenson has not been a good steward of CAI resources and that perhaps he’s indulged in some tall tales or some creative license with his story.
In one portion of the scandalous expose, 60 Minutes interviews a man that Mortenson identifies in a photo from his book as a member of the Taliban who kidnapped him for several days. Kroft interviews the man, and the man says he’s not Taliban and that he didn’t kidnap Mortenson. But honestly, if you were a member of the Taliban or if you had kidnapped someone, would it be in your best interest to admit to it on American national television? Why would we take this guy’s word at face value any more than we would Mortenson’s? And what due diligence did 60 Minutes undertake to ensure that this guy really was who and what he claims to be? We’re not told.
Three Cups of Tea was co-written by a seasoned journalist named David Oliver Relin. I have a hard time believing that he didn’t do any research on Greg Mortenson and his claims. After all, his professional reputation was on the line. I’d be interested in getting his take on things. Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times has asked that the public reserve judgment about Mortenson. Kristof is unimpeachable.
As for 60 Minutes and Krakauer, I’d like to say that, to be fair, the piece isn’t a complete hatchet job. Kroft indulges in some sensationalism in following Mortenson to a public book signing. Shame on you for grandstanding, Steve Kroft! It’s beneath you. And Krakauer may feel duped for having given $75,000 to a man who’s perhaps been less than truthful. Or maybe, just maybe, he’s envious of Mortenson’s greater success with his books. Krakauer wrote two bestsellers, one of which was made into a movie that was directed by Sean Penn. But his books haven’t sold as many copies as Greg’s, and Jon Krakauer probably can’t command the same speaking fees. Maybe his motivations are not entirely pure.
Even if Greg Mortenson has done a lot of good in the world, as I’m sure he has, he should still be held accountable. At the very least, Mortenson should start freely sharing audited financial statements on an annual basis. I cannot in good conscience recommend that anyone contribute one penny to CAI until this happens. Mortenson himself has admitted that he’s a lousy businessman. Why shouldn’t he continue to be the front man for his charity and hire someone else who’s experienced and knowledgeable to handle the day to day nitty gritty of being CAI’s executive director? I am sure that there are plenty of qualified individuals who would love the challenge of reforming such a worthy charity.
60 Minutes has tried to turn a hero into a charlatan. The truth is most likely somewhere between those two extremes. The jury’s still out on this matter, as far as I’m concerned. However, there are many questions that need to be answered. If Greg Mortenson is really concerned with helping the children of Pakistan and Afghanistan, then he’ll do his best to answer those questions honestly and to behave honorably with regards to the money that has been entrusted to him for those children’s welfare. Mr. Mortenson, the excuse of naivete will only get you so far. It’s time to grow up and do the right thing.