Saturday, October 31, 2009

"Saying Something Sucks Is Not Necessarily A Bad Thing..."

This just in...

And...just in...time for Halloween.

Dracula is no longer just a creature of the night.

He's a bovine of the barnyard, too.

More on that shortly.

(CNN) -- Move over, Edward Cullen.

Tell those bayou bloodsuckers from "True Blood" to step aside, too.

More than 112 years after he first climbed out of the coffin, the world's most famous vampire is back -- and he's bloodier than ever.

"Dracula the Un-Dead," released this month in the United States, is a sequel to Bram Stoker's 1897 classic written by Dacre Stoker, the original author's great-grandnephew.

The book, co-written by Dracula historian Ian Holt, picks up 25 years after the Victorian-era monster is supposedly killed in the original and is based in part on 125 pages of handwritten notes that Bram Stoker left behind.

But while many of the original characters are here -- troubled couple Jonathan and Mina Harker and vampire hunter Van Helsing among them -- the horror has gotten a 21st-century update. The sex and violence that Stoker deftly alluded to in the original are, at times, front and center in his descendant's sequel.

"You've got to keep in mind the perspective," said Dacre Stoker, a native of Montreal, Quebec, now living in Aiken, South Carolina. "The degree of sex and violence he had, in this very stuffy and conservative Victorian society, was cutting edge at the time. Even the exposure of a woman's flesh, the piercing of the flesh, was a metaphor for the sex act."

And with authors from Anne Rice and Charlaine Harris to Stephen King and Poppy Z. Brite having crafted their own, sometimes lurid, reworkings of the vampire legend, Stoker said he knew that the new book couldn't just be a straight continuation of the first.

"We've got to keep up with what other people are doing," he said. "Otherwise, our story would be toast."

Of all the books, movies and other tales to use Dracula's name throughout the decades, the novel is the first since the 1931 Bela Lugosi movie to have the Stoker family's endorsement and input.

Response to and reviews of the book have been largely positive.

"This daring sequel captures the essence and gothic glory of the original," USA Today's Carroll Memmott wrote.

I'm not the type who sticks his neck out, so to speak, by huffingly and puffingly asserting that sequels, such as they are, are always inferior and a form of literary sacrilege.

Most of my philosophy on the issue comes out of the "lighten the f**k up" folder.

Personally, I'm more a fan of the "spin" style of furthering a character's adventures, that being defined more of a "what if" as opposed to a "what's next" narrative...for example, rather than "Dracula-Picking It Up Where We Left Off", how about"what if" the Drac Attack survived until modern times and cleverly altered his physical appearance to sufficently fool the American public into thinking that he was an articulate young black man who then got himself elected the first African-American Pres....well, you get the idea....

The MSNBC critics would shred it.

The Fox News Channel critics would nominate if for Pulitzer.

Now, while this project bears, at least, the mild aroma of legitimacy because it's written by a relative, it still has the eyebrow that always arches at questionable intent arching.

I mean, come on, would new written adventures of James Bond necesarily be as wry, satirical and entertaining just because they were written by third cousin Floyd Fleming?

Or would it bomb, James Bomb?

All of that said, I appreciate that great grand Dacre makes it bloody plain that any whining from purists is a cross he doesn't plan on bearing.

Dacre, who is touring the United States in support of the release, said he was prepared for the inevitable backlash from pure-blood purists who don't think the original should be sullied with a follow-up.

"I have heard just a bit of it," he said. "People say it's better to leave some of these mysteries alone; let's not solve them all. Believe me, when you read our story, you'll know we don't solve them all."

And he has some other advice for those diehards: Lighten up.

"This is entertainment. Go with it," he said. "If you don't want to read it, you don't have to."

Good for you, young Stoker.

And I think you deserve props for being up front by, if in an admittedly veiled way, fessing up what this whole thing is about.

Evolving the iconic Dracula from a creature of the night...

...into a bovine of the barnyard.

Cash cow, baby.

And, hey nephew, if people don't dig what you've unburied...

Tell em' they can bite you.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"If I Could Put Time In A Bottle, I'd Probably Spill Half Of It..."

Stop me if you've heard this one...

"Gee, I wonder what we did to waste time before..

My Space...



and, of course, Facebook..."

Personally, I'm chockablock full of rationalizations as I account for the minutes I spend or have spent in those pursuits.

Goes a little like this...

My Space? Did it for a bit when it was "the" thing to do. Havent been there in months. No. Really. No, it's NOT like "I've been sober for months". I really havent been there. Geez

Twitter. Signed up. Logged on. Got three hundred and sixteen posts from Paula Abdul in a ninety minute period. Oh, and one from a friend of mine who gave the thing a try, too. Quickly started wondering why people who use this thing aren't referred to as "Twits." Logged off. Havent been back since. Still get the emails letting me know that the porn stars are following me, though. Uh, I'll pass, thanks.

LinkedIn. Signed up when somebody "invited" me. Turns out we both made the same mistake...the thing isn't a trivia tribute site to the 16th President of the United States. Haven't been back since. Besides, I understand it's a professional business networking thing. Come on, I work in radio, for heaven's sake.

Facebook. Signed up. Go there a couple of times a day, but (and here's where the rationalization thing kicks into overdrive)I now count, among my "FB Friends" such droppable names as Michael Nesmith (The Monkees), Don Grady, Stanley and Barry Livingston (My Three Sons), Paul Petersen (The Donna Reed Show), Andrew Gold ("Thank You For Being A Friend", B.J. Thomas ("Raindrops Keep Fallin on My Head"), Mark Lindsay (Paul Revere and The Raiders)and an assorted group of Nashville music industry movers, shakers who may or may not, at some point in the future, real or imagined, might be just the person I need to further my career goals and aspriations via their well connected assistance.

Oh, and/or real life friends and acquaintances who I have enjoyed reconnecting with and/or reading their daily movements, real and/or imagined.

Oh, and the "older" girl I made out with in the 11th grade.

Forty years ago.

It occurs to me that the answer to that question I offered up at the front of this piece is a very simple one.

What did we do to waste time before My Space, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook?

Apparently, nothing.

That's why we invented My Space, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Pie In The Face Trumps Knee In The Groin..."

Hearing about famous people dying is automatically cause and effect.

The obvious effect being an awareness that the top half of my own particular hourglass has less sand in it today than it did yesterday.

Michael Jackson. Farah Fawcett. Patrick Swayze.

Tick tock.

Well, whatever sound sand makes that's equivalent to tick tock.

We all hear it, we all feel it, we all have an hourglass on the shelf there with our name on it.

But when the famous name belongs to someone more of my parent's generation than my own, there is a kind of "buy one, get one free" thing that comes with the news.

The aforementioned awareness of said sand sound.

And a specific awareness that I have gotten older.

Admittedly, there's a thin defining line between the two.

The hourglass thing is entirely about the simple passage of time, something we all experience, no matter the chronilogical state of our lives. From the first slap to the last breath, the sand goes south.

Getting older, on the other hand, is defined as coming upon specific points of reference along the way.

It most often presents in the form of verbal expressions like "when I was younger...", "I can remember when..." and, of course, the most insidious of all...

"In my day..."

And that one, kids, is the one that usually two by fours us right across the psyche and brings us face to face with the damnable truth of it all.

We have, at some unknown moment, stopped being the visionary, engergized, inspired and motivated "younger generation" that knew better than, and was determined to correct the mistakes of "our elders."....

...and become the elders.

The passing of Michael and Farrah and Patrick gave me moments of poignant pause and brought up the volume of that swishing sand just a scoche.

The passing of Soupy Sales, on the other hand, began the bonus round.

Because as I spent a few fun minutes checking out some old You Tubes of Soupy's shows, I found myself thinking what lots of folks who remember are thinking at the moment...

Here was a guy who had a massive following of young people for a lot of years who was, times and culture taken into account, a pretty funny fellow and who didnt seem to need to utilize orifices, toilet humor, four letter words, yada yada in order in invoke laughter from his audience.

Was the stuff juvenile, even a little "oh, come on..."?


But that little five year old kid that resides inside all of us can't honestly deny the urge to, at least, chuckle somewhere along the way as the silly Soupy stuff plays out.

And put up against the scatological slant that so much of today's humor club seems to require to succeed, the slapstick Soupy shtick is, if absolutely nothing else, a testament to paradox and irony.

Ancient history that seems almost like fresh air.

I realized, though, as I watched a couple of minutes of it, that enjoyment of this material comes with a price.

If I admit it's funny, then I have to admit that I'm getting older.

Because a lot of contemporary comedy is bordered, top and bottom, by boobs and crotch.

And in my day...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"...The Old South is the New South is the Old South..."

Forrest Gump was wrong.

And, if the court please, I offer the following in evidence to substantiate that assertion.

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- A justice of the peace in Louisiana who has drawn widespread criticism for refusing to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple says he has no regrets about his decision.

"It's kind of hard to apologize for something that you really and truly feel down in your heart you haven't done wrong," Keith Bardwell told CNN affiliate WAFB on Saturday.

Bardwell, a justice of the peace for Tangipahoa Parish's 8th Ward, refused to issue a marriage license to Beth Humphrey, 30, and her boyfriend, Terence McKay, 32, both of Hammond.

Bardwell's actions have elicited reactions from some top officials, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who called for Bardwell's dismissal.

"This is a clear violation of constitutional rights and federal and state law. ... disciplinary action should be taken immediately -- including the revoking of his license," the Republican governor said Friday.

Bardwell has not returned repeated calls from CNN this week. But he told Hammond's Daily Star in a story Thursday that he did not marry the couple because he was concerned for the children who might be born of the relationship and that, in his experience, most interracial marriages don't last.

"I'm not a racist," Bardwell told the newspaper. "I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house. My main concern is for the children." Bardwell, stressing that he couldn't personally endorse the marriage, said his wife referred the couple to another justice of the peace. Humphrey and McKay received their marriage license October 9 from another justice of the peace in the same parish. They have reached out to an attorney to determine their next step, Humphrey said.

"We would like him to resign," Beth McKay said. "He doesn't believe he's being racist, but it is racist."

The National Urban League called for an investigation into the incident by the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, saying in a statement that Bardwell's actions were "a huge step backward in social justice."

According to the Census Bureau, Tangipahoa Parish is about 70 percent white and 30 percent black.

The U.S. Supreme Court tossed out any racially-based limitations on marriage in the landmark 1967 Loving v. Virginia case. In the unanimous decision, the court said that "Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State."

I spent my junior high through college years living in Louisiana and moved back to the Deep South a couple of years ago to follow the broadcasting career path.

And while the rest of the country may have moved on into the 21st century, trust me when I tell you that around this here neck of the woods, deer stands are still a popular gift item, Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights are reserved for praising a Jesus who apparently still doesn’t get bent out of shape that his teachings are only followed on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights and where life would be idyllic if it could just be put back the way it was before those “Negras” who knew their place were given the impression that they were anywhere near as valued a life form as the aforementioned Bible quotin’, deer stand occupants.

But I digress.

As I said, Forrest Gump was wrong.

Because, your honor, he testified, in error, that he was “not a smart man” when recent activities in Tangipahoa Parish seem to disprove his contention.

You see, he also said this.

“Stupid is as stupid does.”

Sounds like a smart man to me.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

"Peace Out...Dawg..."

The mystified/confused/perplexed/annoyed/outraged citizens (translation: Republicans) who are in full knee jerk and/or old-fashioned apoplexy mode about Obama being given the Nobel Peace Prize are missing something.

The point.

And before those of you who are predisposed begin the eye rolling, cluck cluck cluck of “yeah, yeah, here comes another other full throated defense of Barack The Boy Wonder”, let me save you the wear and tear on your eye roll apparatus and clucker.

My personal O is that he isn’t entitled to the prize.

In the spirit of full disclosure, though, I should share that, in my world, there is a difference between being entitled to something and deserving something.

But that’s a semantic distinction best addressed at another time in another blog.

Or maybe I’ll add it to a revised edition of my book “Three Hats”, a terrific holiday gift idea for any one and everyone in your family and/or life, available in hardback and paperback online at

And now, back to the show…

The point that my aforementioned affronted citizen/friends are missing is that the correct doorstep on which to deliver the big ass bag of “WTF?” isn’t the one at 1600 Pennsylvania.

It’s the one over there at Nobels-R-Us.

Because even those folks who are still walking around with a beatific smile, their pupils dilated from the inauguration ceremony, lo that ten months ago, are very likely, in the night when Mr. Sandman throws a few rational thoughts in their eyes along with the sleepy dust, thinking to themselves, “wtf?”

Even if it’s only the lower, rather than upper, case “wtf?”

Because no one, friend, foe, supporter, non-supporter, ally or enemy, can totally get past the feeling that there’s something rotten in Denmark.

Or Norway, as the case may be.

Actually, I think “rotten” is unnecessarily hyperbolic.

What’s happened here isn’t so much simply incredible as it is sadly inevitable.

So far (and when I say so far, I mean so far, the jury is still out), I like the guy, so I’m inclined to cut him more slack than, say, any one who smiles, nods and drawls “hell, yes!” when asked if they’ll plant a Palin 2012 yard sign next to the cinder blocked El Camino in their front yard.

Or who lives in Mississippi or Alabama.

Potato. Potahto.

But, slack or no, I think, despite the Nobel homies best efforts to dress up the package in the rationalizing ribbons and bows of “strengthening international diplomacy” and “fostering a spirit of hope”, what they’ve really done here is succumb to a virus spreading through the world at a pace giving H1N1 a first class run for the money.


An inflammation of the sensory system resulting in starry eyes, vapid facial expressions, intense feelings of admiration, adulation, sometimes bordering on worship of everyday men and women who, through some professional, vocational and/or occupational effort (or just plain dumb damn luck) have come to the attention of the general public with their singing, dancing, acting, rapping, movie starring, TV appearing, talk show bantering, cheating, philandering, lying ways.

In other words, a whole big damn chunk of the people in show biz.

And just about anybody in politics.

Love him or hate him, Kanye West is a star.

Love her or hate her, Paris Hilton is a star.

Love her or hate her, Sarah Palin is a star.

Love him or hate him…

Barack Obama is the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Recipient.

There are those already whining that this award is diminished by giving it to someone in anticipation of what they show the potential to someday do in the cause of world peace, as opposed, of course, to having actually accomplished something in the cause of world peace.

What do you say we try to put our bickering aside and really join hands and find some common ground?

Let’s not say that the Nobel Peace Prize has been diminished.

Let’s just say that it’s been put into a new 21st Century perspective.

And has, in fact, been elevated to a place equal to those awards of achievement that our society and culture have, by their actions and attentions in recent years, shown to be the most precious and prestigious.

America’s Got Talent.

Dancing with the Stars.

The Biggest Loser.

The Apprentice.

Ad nauseum.

And, in that spirit, I say, yea thee, Barack Obama for adding that natty Nobel to your trophy case.

Who knows?

With that kind of momentum, you may, someday, even find yourself at the very pinnacle of world recognition.

Personally, I think you can do it.

Randy, Kara and Ellen will be with you from the get go.

But winning over Simon…

Now, THAT will prove you deserve to be a player on the world stage.

Break a leg, Mr. Prez…