Cult Of Celebrity!

red-carpet

It may be too much to hope for, but it looks as if the terrible, terrible plague that has gripped our planet for far too long may be over.  … SERIOUS PAUSE … Uh – no – not that one, the other one: the soul- eating Cult of Celebrity.  Maybe — just maybe — our unholy obsession with celebrities could be in its final days.

It all started in March when Wonder Woman and her tone deaf (that works on so many levels!) choir trotted out John Lennon’s ode to hypocrisy, Imagine.  Although they meant it as feel-good manna from the ruling class, it didn’t take the peasants more than a few minutes to “imagine” Gal and the gang were a bunch of assholes.  After all, millionaires telling a bunch of people who are having trouble paying the rent to “imagine no possessions” is kinda adding insult to injury.  And from there, it just got worse.  Ellen DeGeneres, the world’s mightiest sycophant, told us that living in her multi-million dollar mansion was like “being in jail.”  Clearly, Ms. DeGeneres has never been in jail, seen a jail or even had a jail carefully described to her.  And of course, since then we’ve all learned that, even as she spoke, her smiles and chuckles production company was treating the staff as if Ellen was the warden.  Then along came Madonna, the Queen of Pop, and named Covid-19 the “the great equaliser.”  Oddly enough, she did it stark naked in a bathtub that probably cost more than my car!  Apparently, some of us are more equal than others, huh, Madge?  Then there was Jennifer Lopez frolicking in her huge backyard; Pharrell Williams, asking for money; Katy Perry, bored out of her mind, and on and on and on.  But for sheer audacity, nothing beats the crew of really, really white people on Twitter, celebsplaining how much Black Lives Matter in their “I Take Responsibility” campaign.  These Malibu militants were giving it their best shot, but it was almost impossible not to laugh at their “Dammit, I’m sincere!” sincerity.  First of all, they’re actors – Duh!  Secondly, we all know their only brush with black anything is probably Will Smith.  And finally, aside from wearing a T-shirt and maybe giving the housekeeper a Christmas bonus, these folks were done.  When they shut off the camera, they were going back to their enormous homes, their manicured lawns, their nannies, their drivers, their personal assistants and a little Grey Goose by the pool.  The message might be “We’re all in this together,” but anyone who’s watching knows we aren’t.

The truth is without Award Shows, Red Carpets, parties, photo-ops and the Late Night Jimmies (Kimmel and Fallon) the celebrity emperor has no clothes.  When push comes to shove and serious stuff is on the table, it’s painfully obvious that celebrities are less than useless.  In fact, they’re part of the problem, because they insist that fame somehow makes them relevant — that their political insights, their social awareness and – OMG! — their medical advice actually means something.  It doesn’t.  It’s just muddying the water.  Personally, I’m praying that, as more and more people discover this, when the New Normal finally gets here, there won’t be any room for these parasites.  We can only hope!

Neglected Spy Movies

spies

I love spy movies.  Everything from the dirt-under-your-fingernails realism of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy to the “Oh, c’mon!  Plastic masks don’t work that way!” un-believability of the Mission Impossible franchise.  It all started when I was a kid and saw Dr. No.  (I was just an eyelash too young to fully grasp what Sylvia Trench was doing in Bond’s apartment, but I instinctively knew it had to be something cool.)  I went home and — in one long, grueling, dark, freezing Canadian winter — read all of Ian Fleming’s James Bond books, in order, cover to cover to cover to cover.  By Christmas and From Russia, With Love, I’d figured out the Trench/Bond dynamic.  Spies get the girl – all the girls.  I was hooked.  However, after all these years and literally hundreds of movies, I find there’s one subgenre of the spy movie that’s been woefully neglected – the Espionage Rom-Com.  There just aren’t that many of them.  Here are some of the good ones that immediately come to mind.  (Feel free to add to the list.)

Get Smart (2008) – One of the few made-from-TV movies that actually works.  Why?  Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway.  They are the natural evolution of Maxwell Smart and (they still didn’t give her a name) Agent 86.  He’s no longer Gilligan’s Island incompetent, and she isn’t hiding behind Max’s propped up ego.  And, they’re not heavy-handed with the 60s catch phrases, either.

Knight and Day (2010) – Ethan Hunt meets I Love Lucy.  Think about it!

True Lies (1994) – Seriously dated (It’s so old Arabs are still the villains!  Awkward!)  But Schwarzenegger gives it just enough Arnie to make it an action movie, and Jamie Lee Curtis gives it just enough Jamie Lee to make it a comedy.  Plus there’s a terrific tango scene at the beginning, Bill Paxton plays himself and, of the roughly 8 million bad movies Tom Arnold has appeared in, this is his best.

The Tourist (2010) – I’ve included this because, even though it’s not technically a com (Depp has his moments but …) it’s definitely a rom.  The critics panned it because critics are pompous asses.  It’s actually a good movie.  Trivia Time.  The movie was shot in less than 2 months because Johnny Depp was between pirate movies.  It features an ex-James Bond, Timothy Dalton.  And rumour has it that it was originally written by Julian Fellowes, the guy who wrote Downton Abbey.

The next four are not actually spy movies but hired assassins are part of the greater international intrigue genre

Mr. Right (2015) – Okay, Okay Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick have made some schlock, but they’ve made some really good movies, too, and together they make this one work.  Francis and Martha are the quirky lovers everybody wants to be – going about their business, together alone – while the rest of the world just doesn’t get it.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017) – Ryan Reynolds plays Ryan Reynolds.  Samuel L. Jackson plays Samuel L. Jackson.  And Gary Oldman can convincingly play anything on this planet (including Boris Johnson’s comb.)  This film features not one but three romances – Ryan Reynolds and Elodie Yung, Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek and Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson.

Grosse Point Blank (1997) – International assassins have to come from somewhere.  This movie answers the question – whatever happened to that stand-alone, moody-cool guy from 12th grade?  Plus, it’s got John Cusack in uniform (Does he even own a different tie?) and a kick-ass soundtrack.

And finally:

Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005) – This is the Espionage Rom-Com by which all other Espionage Rom-Coms must be measured.  You can actually see Angelina Jolie lusting after Brad and Brad slowly, unconsciously, then consciously, then willingly, leaving Jennifer Aniston.  There are several mere “glances” between the two stars that are hug-your-knees sexy and it looks as if they’re doing the fight scene/love scene for real because — OMG! — they are!  Plus, two dance scenes and Mondo Bongo by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros.

Another Puzzle – 2020

houses

This puzzle has been attributed to Albert Einstein, and it has been claimed that only 2% of the population can solve it.  I doubt it.  It’s rather simple, actually, once you discover the key.  There is no trick to it; it’s pure reason.  However, there is a method – and that’s the key.  I’ve updated it slightly for the 21st century, but other than that, it’s the same puzzle I was given [mumble, mumble] years ago.  Now, it’s your turn to give it a try.  Good luck!  (I’ll give you the answer next Tuesday.)

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There are five houses in a row.  Each is painted a different colour and each inhabitant is a different nationality.  They each own different pets, drink different beverages and drive different cars.

From the clues below, figure out who drinks water and who owns the zebra.

1 – The Englishman lives in the red house.

2 – The Spaniard owns a dog.

3 – Coffee is drunk in the green house.

4 – The Ukrainian drinks tea.

5 – The green house is immediately to the right of the ivory house.

6 – The man who owns snails drives a Buick.

7 – The man in the yellow house drives a Cadillac.

8 – Milk is drunk in the middle house.

9 – The Norwegian lives in the first house.

10 – The man who drives a Ford lives next to the man who owns a fox.

11 – The house with the Cadillac is next to the house with the horse.

12 – The man who drives the Chevrolet drinks orange juice.

13 – The man from Japan drives a Dodge.

14 – The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.

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Tuesday’s Puzzle Answers

Here are the answers to Tuesday’s puzzle.  I’ve left a space after the first two in case you want to go back to Tuesday’s post and try your luck again

A, P and A are the 3 M
Athos, Porthos and Aramis are the 3 Musketeers
There are 2 S to every A
There are 2 sides to every argument

puzzle

88 K on a P
88 keys on a piano

24 H in a D
24 hours in a day

90 D in a R A
90 degrees in a right angle

6 S. on a S S
6 sides on a Stop Sign

3 S and you’re O
3 strikes and you’re out

There are 8 N in an O
There are 8 notes in an octave

8 P in the S.S. plus P
8 planets in the Solar System plus Pluto

1 P is worth 1,000 W
1 picture is worth 1,000 words
7 W of the A W
7 Wonders of the Ancient World

1 W on a U
1 wheel on a unicycle

64 S on a C B
64 squares on a chess board

20,000 L under the S
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

G and the 3 B
Goldilocks and the 3 Bears

1 is the L N
1 is the loneliest number

12 L of H
12 Labours of Hercules

28 D in F except in a L Y
28 days in February except in a Leap Year

Every C has 9 L
Every cat has 9 lives

12 D of C
12 days of Christmas

4 S in a S D of C
4 suits in a standard deck of cards

2 is C; 3 is a C
2 is company; 3 is a crowd

76 T led the B P
76 Trombones led the Big Parade

12 M in a Y
12 months in a year

K 2 B with 1 S
Kill 2 birds with 1 stone

13 in a B D
13 in a Baker’s Dozen

3 B M
3 blind mice

1001 A N
1001 Arabian Nights

4 H of the A
4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse

3 P in a H G
3 periods in a hockey game

40 D of R in the G F
40 days of rain in the Great Flood

4 Q in a D
4 quarters in a dollar

6 P on a S F
6 points on a snow flake

12 S of the Z
12 signs of the Zodiac

S W and the 7 D
Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs

9 P on a B T
9 players on a baseball team