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Q: Whattya Reading Lately?

A: Thirty-Nine Years Of Short-Term Memory Loss by Tom Davis; yes, he jumps all over the place and spends too much time talking about the Grateful Dead, but it’s still an entertaining read that offers many a colorful Al Franken story (if you can’t handle Al Franken at his worst you don’t deserve him at his best). All I Did Was Ask by Terry Gross; she mines gold out of Albert Brooks and Grandmaster Flash, manages to handle the entitled jackassery of Gene Simmons with grace. Flipped through Growing Up Brady by Barry Williams; apparently he had great difficulty straightening his hair as a youth. Flipped through Titanic: The Ship That Never Sank? by Robin Gardiner; reads like incomplete text book translated from a few different languages.

Just started Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking; so far so candid and engaging.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm

Have you ever noticed how United States Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell looks like Jack McBrayer in old age makeup? Have you also ever noticed how Arnold Schwarzenegger is melting into a Tommy Lee Jones doppelgänger? And what of Smokey Bear’s “no eye contact” policy as of late? What’s that guy hiding?

Give Me Delta Or Give Me Death

Orlando Weekly let me go last week. They said it was a budget thing, but to be honest with you I think they were sick of me pitching Delta Burke stories every day. Hey, it’s not my fault the world’s most beautiful and talented actress hails from this corner of the universe. It’s like Plato said: you can either get on the Delta Burke train or you can get flattened by it.

Stay tuned for the soft launch of my new periodical, Burke Beat, where you’ll finally learn “the real deal” about Delta’s experiences overseas filming Where The Hell’s That Gold?

The Luxury Of My Name

I can close my eyes and pretend they’re talking to me.

“…And All Of A Sudden, You’re Kurt Loder!”

“Norm Macdonald Live” can be pretty hit or miss; this episode with David Koechner is total hit, possibly the best they’ve done. Discussion of / jokes about the Replacements, “SNL” lore you haven’t heard a squillion times, and Norm’s frighteningly accurate Nixon impression. As always there are some NSFW moments, but the toilet humor seems to be developing a deft hand. Is Norm starting to care, slightly?

Whatever the case, I give it five stars, Jim Bob says check it out.

Kal-El’s Consolation Prizes

“I know it must feel pretty crummy to be crowded you out of your own sequel. It’s really not your fault. No one could have predicted audiences wouldn’t connect with an underwear-on-the-inside Superman. At least you got this sweet chair and the t-shirt. What’s on it again? Bunch of logos from companies no one’s heard of? Ah, it’ll be a knock around the house shirt!”

The 50 Million Dollar Question

If you’ve got two hours to spare, allow me to recommend this amateur documentary that pieces together the rocky saga of Dave Chappelle and Neal Brennan from pre-existing interviews. I’ve always been a voracious fan but this doc still learned me a thing or two about how it all (allegedly) went down. It’s also a great reminder of “Chappelle’s Show’s” absolute brilliance. I literally spit up all over my computer screen laughing at some of the bits, which is incredible considering how many times we’ve all seen them.

Commence au Festival

Today marks twenty-five years since the release of Tim Burton’s Batman, a.k.a. Batman ’89. The arrival of that property seemed like the most important event of its decade (please note: I was only a decade old in 1989). It was definitely the most important Batman movie—the first outing since Adam West’s goofy tenure. Could they reclaim Bats from the campy mire of his 1960s tv series? Imagine if they’d messed it up. Twenty more years might have passed sans Batman. On the other hand, a chasm like that would have left the floor open for something totally wild, like a Wonder Woman movie.

There are, of course, folks out there who think they did mess up Batman ’89 and that the one true Bat-film is Batman Returns or The Dark Knight or one of the animated features. I am not one of those people. I dig Batman Returns, Dark Knight is probably my favorite film of the current era, but Batman ’89 is pure intoxication. The perfect meld of 1940s gothic and ’80s decay, a grime-streaked world where inky blackness acts like some kind of bizarre security blanket. They had trouble replicating that atmosphere even in the sequel where Burton was directly involved. And how can you top the disturbed, punchy combo of Keaton and Nicholson?

Sure, they cut a few corners. The Joker as the guy who murdered Batman’s parents is too convenient and in the end pointless when all they do is have Bats and J argue about it like sixth graders. They posit Vicki Vale as some big shot journalist but the solution to the Batman mystery is just served up to her on a plate. What do you want? No movie is perfect. Nothing’s perfect. Methinks the dialogue is crackling enough to cover these stumbles in plot.

This is the part where I remind you my parents did not let me see Batman ’89 at the cinema; a friend’s mother told my mother it was too violent. I must have complained all summer and fall because my dad brought it home on VHS that Christmas. He wouldn’t let me watch it straight up, though: first I had to sit through The Bells of St. Mary’s, which is one of those Bing Crosby movies where he breaks up fights between altar boys and croons for nuns. I appreciate this torturous move now but at the time I was pretty outraged. Still, I endured, and then Daddy-o let me watch Batman in peace.

To celebrate today’s auspicious occasion I will of course engage in some binge listening of Prince’s Batman ’89 soundtrack. I think a few Pat Hingle impressions are also in order. By the way, I’ve never understood those who gripe about the Prince music in Batman. The sexual undercurrent of pop funk accents the blackness and grit so nicely. Also, like the Joker, Prince is a garish weirdo outfitted in purple who is constantly on the verge of either kissing or slapping someone. Would you have preferred Michael Jackson? MJ was originally approached to write for the movie but couldn’t commit.

It could have been worse. They could have asked some hair metal band to write a power ballad about the Batmobile. One of the greatest joys Batman ’89 brings me is that I can watch it and not think about Vince Neil.

Q: Who’s Your Favorite “SCTV” Cast Member?

A: What an outrageous question. I am outraged! I can’t pick one. They were all fantastic. If they were all drowning and I had only one life preserver I’d jump in myself because I wouldn’t want to be burdened with that decision.

Q: Where Were You During O.J.’s Bronco Chase?

A: Safely ensconced in my Connecticut bedroom. I think my dad yelled up the stairs for me to come check it out, which was the custom in our house regarding important news (I will never forget the dark evening a few years earlier when I heard Father’s shout from the lower level: “Pee Wee Herman got arrested for touching himself!”; convinced the old man was trolling me, I shrieked something to the effect of, “SHUT UP, STOP MAKING FUN OF PEE WEE!”).

What stands out most in my memory is how nothing seemed to happen once O.J. and A.C. pulled into O.J.’s driveway. Cops did not swarm the vehicle. Gunfire did not erupt. Obviously the scene was chaotic and tense, and the documentary June 17th, 1994 does a great job conveying just how gripping it was, but watching on tv all we were seeing was a motionless driveway. The L.A. riots conditioned me to anticipate shocking violence. I didn’t want to see it, but I expected it.

Little did I know this was just the start of wall-to-wall-to-ceiling O.J. Simpson coverage. I didn’t have much investment in Juice as a heroic sports figure. To me he was just the dude from the Naked Gun movies. He seemed like an alright guy before he allegedly murdered two people. Suddenly he became O.J., inescapable figure of American tragedy, captain of a lurid nightmare smeared across every waking minute of television available.

O.J. absorbed so much of our time you didn’t notice the rest of your life. A blanket lifted when the first trial ended in 1995. What the hell? What year is it? I’m how old? Wait, when did “Empty Nest” go off the air?

And of course, every basic cable subscriber alive at that time remembers the Dana Carvey special where he did a solid twenty-five minutes on O.J. “We’re frrrrrrrrramin’ O.J!” That punchline bounces around the recesses of my mind like an apparition trapped between mortality and the afterlife.


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