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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.

On Erdélyi Tamás

Johnny may have been the General, the guy who made the trains run on time, but in a pinch he always deferred to Tommy. That’s because Tommy was smart as hell and could visualize this thing called the Ramones before it even existed. Necessity planted him behind the drums (no one else really grok’d this sound), and how lucky for us. Tommy worked like a dog behind the scenes but that percussive attack was so even and strong that some fans insist the Ramones stopped being the Ramones once he quit.

And only in a band like the Ramones could other members actually harass Tommy for being relatively normal. Witness: the interview snippet in End Of The Century where Dee Dee admits he gave Tommy so much shit back in the day because he was jealous the guy knew how to cook. Regardless of interpersonal dynamics, to fans Tom was Teflon Ramone, the Ramone you just couldn’t dislike for any reason. He drummed on the three best albums (Ramones, Leave Home, Rocket To Russia), produced the best two he didn’t play on (Road To Ruin, Too Tough To Die), wrote the lion’s share of their undying anthem “Blitzkrieg Bop,” and remained pleasantly normal as the years rolled on.

Once the Ramones were done, Tommy seemed like the peacekeeper. He wasn’t arguing with Joey on “Howard Stern.” He wasn’t writing books full of dubious claims against his Bruddahs. Tommy just wanted to preserve the legacy and love his fellow Ramone—or at least dispel the myth that they all openly prayed for each other’s death. “Believe it or not, we really loved each other,” he told the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame during the Ramones’ induction. “Even when we weren’t acting civil…we were truly brothers.”

Tommy spoke those words with conviction, clarity, and palpable emotion. Unfortunately, that portion of the ceremony was quickly eclipsed by Johnny announcing “God bless President Bush” as he cradled his statue and Dee Dee thanking himself for being so wonderful (a cute moment, admittedly). In that sense, the induction was typical Ramones: a fat chunk of heart smothered in patriotism and self-reference.

Despite what you may have heard or read (even by my own hand), the Ramones are my favorite musicians in the history of recorded sound. Nothing else fills me with the same joy and excitement, and I mourn the loss of the last surviving original architect.

Thanks for everything, Tommy.

“You Really Embarrassed Me Tonight At Red Lobster.”

Some generations have the JFK assassination. Others, the “it was all a dream!” episode of “Dallas.” For me, I’ll never forget where I was or what I was doing when Santino first broke out his devastating impression of Tim Gunn on “Project Runway.”

I don’t know why they didn’t spin Santino off into “The Fake-Ass Tim Gunn Hour.” That would have been quality programming right there.

“…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.

¡Viva Gorditas!

Found this gem at my parents’ house a couple weeks ago, failed to unload it on eBay for ninety-nine cents. I guess the revolution is over.

Is this the same lonely aching “ALF” fans felt when they discontinued selling his puppets at Burger King? Now that was a promotion. I remember my mom driving me clear across Connecticut to obtain Heavy Metal ALF!

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.

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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