Thursday, March 31, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor 1932-2011

"Now, I have to go make love to my wife, Morgan Fairchild. And, uh, my other wife, uh, the young Elizabeth Taylor."
Tommy Flanagan, pathological liar

Big asked me the other day why I didn't write an obituary on Elizabeth Taylor. I told him it was because I had nothing to say about Elizabeth Taylor. He said, "But you write up a blog post on every celebrity that dies." I said, "No, I don't. Just the ones that made an impact on me." He said, "You're telling me Bea Arthur made an impact on you?"

It was something to think about. And then Big reminded me of something I said to him once (or maybe thrice) about Liz Taylor, around the time that Britney Spears got really fat. And I changed my mind.
So, Elizabeth Taylor died. Of congestive heart failure. News reports were calling her the last of the great Hollywood movie stars, but sadly, when I mentioned it at the clinic that day, nobody there knew who she was. She was seventy-nine.

Well, as a kid, Liz Taylor was the only actress I ever remember my dad saying was beautiful. I remember being in front of the TV in the living room, and they said it was Taylor's birthday on Entertainment Tonight or something, and my dad made this comment. I said, "Who? That fat old lady who gets married all the time?"

He said, "Son, you have no idea how pretty she was when she was young. She was beautiful!"

I just couldn't believe it.

"And not like any of the homely women you get so excited about today," he said, much more typically. "No, she was the best-looking woman in the world."

Well, this totally blew my mind. My dad NEVER talked about women, except to criticize them, and here he was acting like he had a crush on the fat divorce lady.

I told Big this story when we were working together, and Britney Spears gave an interview where she said, "I'm a mother now. That's my focus, not being all sexy and stuff."

I said, "Years from now, our kids--your real kids and my imaginary ones--will see Britney Spears on the late night talk shows, or the programs featuring has-been celebrities, and they'd wonder why she's on there. 'Why is that fat old woman famous, Daddy?' And you'll say, 'Son, once upon a time, she was the sexiest girl in America. Maybe the world. She'd coo and the knees of males would quiver, she's pout and tears would come to your old man's eyes. She'd bend over and boys would start growing chest hair, she'd claim to be a virgin and guys would fill their Fruit of the Looms.' The child would never believe you, just like I never believed my dad, even if you said, 'Son, it was Britney's "Oops I Did It Again" video I was thinking of the night you were conceived.'"

So, no, I don't really have anything to say about Elizabeth Taylor's passing, except to say that I was once thin, and seventy-nine doesn't seem that old to me anymore.

Rish "Butterfield 666" Outfield

P.S. Britney Spears has since tired of her children and tried to get back into shape and on magazine covers again. But it just isn't the same.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Thank Bossk it's Friday

So I heard that song "Friday" by Rebecca Black for the first time today. Time Magazine apparently called it a trainwreck, and Yahoo! called it the worst pop song ever made. The singer's a thirteen year old girl, singing about what she knows, and she's a hell of a lot more genuine than Ke$ha.

Here's the video, which has . . . wait for it . . . nearly sixty million views as of today.

Okay, her voice is pretty annoying, and I can understand some of the resentment people are feeling toward it (apparently, it's shooting up the I-Tunes charts, and has already eclipsed the Beatles in global influence), but honestly, the only difference between this song and one by Ke$ha is . . . you can't get chlamydia from listening to "Friday."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ben Stiller's Right, Kids

I never thought I'd be saying those words.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Stupid Thing of the Week

I went to A&W today to partake of their super-cheap Country Fried Steak meal. The girl behind the counter asked if I wanted to get a drink with it for a dollar more (as she does everytime I go in, like a good little droid), and of course I said yes.

But then, I went to the soda machine and tried to get a Pepsi . . . but nothing came out but brown water. The Wild Cherry Pepsi was foamy brown water. The Mountain Dew was . . . well, I can't even imagine, since I don't drink it, could've been--gasp!--regular Mountain Dew. Their world famous root beer wasn't working either.

I went to the counter and said, "This machine seems not to be working." "I know," the girl said, "We called somebody to come fix it later today." I asked if she could get me some Pepsi from the drive-thru drink machine, and she said, "No, they're all out right now."

So I sat down and ate my meal dry, but filled up the cup with ice, and filled when I got home.

It was only then that I realized that she charged me for a drink, knowing the machine was broken, and that--more importantly--I could have asked for my money back on that drink. But didn't.

So, where does the stupidity lie?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What Do I Know?

In going to a karaoke bar more times in the past couple of months than I had in the rest of my life, I've heard a lot of good performances . . . and a lot of bad ones. I remember the last time I went, wincing through a performance of Bon Jovi's "It's My Life," thinking that if the guy only stopped and listened to what key the song was in, and matched it, instead of barrelling on with his own off-tune rendition, it would be far less painful for everybody. But when the number (mercifully) ended, the audience clapped, and nobody else seemed to have noticed the desecration of John Francis Bongiovi, Jr., I started to wonder if I was the only one who suffered through it.

What if it sounded fine to everybody else? What if I'm only musically talented in my mind?

The other day, at Jeff's house, his daughter (who is at that lovely know-it-all-stage, constantly telling me it's "Wingardium Leviosa, not Levio-SA") told me that some animated characters on the television were green, not yellow as I had referred to them. Her mother also told me I was wrong, and that, just like construction equipment on every building lot in America, the creatures were green. Well, I expected Jeff to get my back, but he sided with the girls, claiming that women have less colorblindness than men, and that I was as foolish as ever. I wonder why he'd have me as a friend all these years.

It did get me thinking, though: what if summertime lawns, and treetops, and bullfrogs, and the Hulk, and limes, and Polaris's snatch, and crayons marked Green really are yellow, and I've been wrong all this time?*

A thought I don't like to dwell upon.

And today, I was outside raking the lawn, listening to a fiction podcast--one of those that have hundreds of times more listeners than my own and hence must be much better--and found the story to be anticlimactic, unsatisfying, and ultimately pointless, and realized that this was the fourth or fifth one on that particular show I had listened to in the short three months of this new year that I felt that way about, and yet every one of those stories had made it through slushpiles, received praise, and every one of those authors were paid more money than I am for my work, and I started to wonder . . .

What if I have no idea what makes up a good story? What if I've been wrong all this time, and a story doesn't need enjoyable dialogue . . . or a sense of character . . . or a good first and last line . . . or a climactic action toward the end . . . or even a point to them being told? What if everything I know is wrong? Black is white, up is down, and short is long?

It's chilling to think about, really.

Rish "Is That Even My Name?" Outfield

*Of course, I asked my mother when the commercial came on a couple of days later, and she said they were yellow too.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Stupid Thing of the Week

I was at a poker game at my brother's house last night. I lost, as usual.

But what's making me type this is that one of the player had brought their kid over, and he was boredly running around while the rest of us played, and at one point, went out to the car to get something. When he came back, he seemed overly timid, and his mother asked him what was wrong. Turns out he had locked the keys in the car.

So, my brother-in-law called the local police and asked them to come over and get the door opened. As penance, the boy had to keep watch by the window for them to arrive, while the rest of us played our game.

I told the boy to signal us when the cops arrived by saying, "You guys, I smell bacon." A couple people laughed at that (even though it wasn't all that funny, but ah well), and the game continued. I don't know why I continue to go to these poker games when I always lose, but I guess I'm dumb that way.

An hour or so later, the doorbell rang, and the boy answered it. Two cops stood on the doorstep.

I kid you nod, he turned and shouted, "Hey everybody, I smell bacon!"

This, folks, is why mother nature has decreed that I shall not have children.

Rish "Role Model" Outfield

Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Voice of my Muse

I was in a foul mood today. As I am most days. I got in the car and headed to my friend Jeff's house, upset about work, upset about my social life, upset about my computer being so damn slow it nearly causes me to curl into fetal position.

I always have an audio book loaded on the CD player in my car, for when I drive to Big's or to Jeff's, but most of the time, I just want to listen to the radio, sing along to some song that I love, and let someone more musically talented than me lift my spirits.

But today, there was no fixing my mood. I grabbed my mp3 player and shouted bitter, defeated words into it as I sometimes use it as a little audio journal. And that didn't really help much either, except to put into words exactly how I was feeling.

But then I wondered what the very first audio journal entry I had on there was. So I turned it on and listened to myself talk, a me from the past, recording a message for the future. It was the first week of October, and I needed to come up with a scary story for my annual contest with myself. I had no ideas, so I brainstormed for a few minutes, coming up with scenarios of "wouldn't it be scary if . . ." or "I'd like to write a story where . . ." and the like.

And then, I seemed to have hit on something. "No, wait. I've got it," I said, and began to talk through a short story. I meandered and backtracked and changed my mind and rephrased, but I went from beginning to end on the story, even spelling out what the last sentence would be, and man, this was pretty good, inspired work.

And what was strange was, I had absolutely no memory of recording this. I didn't know where the story was going to go, and I couldn't remember coming up with it, and I certainly never wrote it down (not for that particular OSSE or ever), but because it was me thinking it up, it was totally down my alley and to my own personal taste. It was as if I had stumbled upon a story that was written specifically for me, by somebody who knew exactly what I'd like.

And wow, did it brighten my mood. If I had been going home instead of to Jeff's, I'd have gotten on the old, slower-than-melting-glaciers computer, and written it up.

The funny thing is, I never listen to those old audio journals. They just sit on my mp3 players until the memory gets wiped, or I transfer them onto my computer hard drive, where they are promptly forgotten. I have fifty or more of them, and who knows how many story synopses or plot threads might be on there, just waiting for somebody to discover them?

There's a hopeful thought. Thanks, me.

Rish "The Schizo" Outfield