Random January Thoughts


It’s January, and it’s snowing – a rare occasion in Vancouver.  So rather than risk starting a Netflix binge that could last all week, here are a few random thoughts on a frozen winter morning.

I’m old enough to have survived the great Jennifer invasion.  Remember those days?  You’d call “Jennifer” on a crowded street, and 30 teenage girls would turn around; teachers were numbering their female students and it got so bad parents were spelling it with a “G” (Gennifer) or a “Y” (Jennyfer) or both (Gennyfer.)  Ah, the good old days!  Currently, le nom de jour is Ryan, and I don’t think anyone saw that coming.  After all, Ryan O’Neil is too old to stir the imagination of young parents, and Saving Private Ryan is – uh – just strange.  Either way, our world is up to its elbows in Ryans.  There’s Ryan Reynolds, Ryan Gosling, Ryan Hansen, Ryan Merriman, Ryan Guzman, Ryan Kwanten, Ryan Rottman, Ryan Eggold, that “I’m no genius” swimmer Ryan Lochte, and for you older folks, Ryan Seacrest.  There are even a couple of women, including Ryan Newman.  But the weirdest thing about this phenom is Ryans seem to love to play hockey.  At last count, there were 57 Ryans in the National Hockey League.  That’s more than all the Johns, Dons, Rons, Steves and Toms put together.  In fact, you could field an entire team with nothing but Ryans on it.  Go figure!

Although I spend a ton of time complaining about millennials, I really have no idea who they are.  Honestly, once Gen X was over, I kinda got confused.  Especially when Generations Y and Z started to run together like eggs beaten into cake batter.  (Yeah, they’re different, but good luck trying to separate them.)  And now, apparently, there’s a Post-Millennial generation.  This is too much for my brain, so, like most people, I work on the assumption that if you’re younger than me and an asshole, you must be a millennial.  It just makes things a lot simpler.

Have you ever noticed, in the movies, when Satan comes back to rule the Earth, Hollywood always blames the Catholics?  It’s always some medieval Vatican screw-up that leaves a loophole in the space/time continuum for the Prince of Darkness to slither through.  You never see Tom Hanks trading riddles with the Archbishop of Canterbury or Arnold Schwarzenegger duking it out with a bunch of Baptists.  Protestants are cool and all that, but I’m pretty sure that when the Apocalypse shows up, they’re going to get their fair share of fire and brimstone.  You’d think Hollywood would know that.

And speaking of Hollywood, the Academy Award nominations came out this week, and everybody west of San Bernardino is already starting to apologise — too white, too old, too male – the list of Oscar’s offences is never ending.  Ironically, the only person to ever out and out refuse an Oscar was an old, white male — George C. Scott.  (FYI, it’s a popular misconception that Marlon Brando refused the award.  He didn’t.  He just sent somebody else to get it for him.)  And, incidentally, rather than having to fire another host for 10 year old Tweets or risk a Ricky Gervais ass-kicking, Oscar has decided to go host-less again this year.  If this keeps up, eventually, the Academy Awards are going to be Drive-Thru.

And finally:

Harry, the Englishman formerly known as a Prince, has decided he doesn’t want to be a royal anymore.  I’ve always liked you, Harry, but I don’t have a lot of boohoos for your predicament.  Yeah, it’s tough living in a fishbowl, but if you’re serious, you might wanna think about paying back all the taxpayer money you spent on The Wedding and renovating that house your grandma gave you.  Just sayin’!

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (2016)

taylor and burton.jpgIt’s not very often I feel sorry for young people.  They’ve got tons of brilliant stuff going on — all the time.  They live in a wonderful age when anything is not only possible, it’s downright probable.  And they wear it well, in general.  They’re smart and way more polite than I ever was at that age, but they’re young yet.  However, for the last couple of days, I’ve felt sorry for them – oddly parental – protective, if you will.  Just as if they didn’t get that cool Christmas present, or grandma forgot their birthday, or they’re teenage sad with hungry love –the poor things.   I’m sad for them because they’re never going to sit in the dark and see Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton – the first time.  Liz and Dick are a forgotten cliché now.  They’re on television, Netflix, Yahoo and YouTube.  They’re gone.  They might just as well be Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks.

There’s no way to describe Liz and Dick to the 21st century.  In a world of 24/7 celebrity, they sound trivial — even trite.  They were not.  They didn’t soar above everyone else; they lounged there.  They simply did not share top billing with anyone, and only Marilyn was ever mentioned in the same breath.  There was never any debate.  It was Liz and Dick and then everybody else.  They were celebrities without even trying; to call them Hollywood Royalty or larger than life actually diminishes their stature.  In a time before regulated celebrity gossip, they made news — right alongside Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro.

This isn’t just old man nostalgia either.  I was never a fan.  I didn’t follow them in Photoplay, for example, or tune in when they showed up on Carson or Cavett.  It didn’t matter.  Liz and Dick didn’t care because we were friends.  We, the three of us, shared their movies.  They were on the screen and I sat in the dark, watching them.  We were three consenting adults — together alone.  It just happened that the theatre was full of all those other people who were doing the same thing.

That was the magic of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.  They lived in a conjured world that was real, and they let us watch.  There’s no doubt that it’s Edward who tears his soul apart for Laura in The Sandpiper, but somewhere inside there, it’s Burton and Taylor.  When you see it the first time, it’s personal.  These are people you care about.  You want them to be in love, and in the end, they have such a majestic sadness.  It’s the same in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  It might be Martha and George screaming insults at each other, but, somehow, you’re not sure it wasn’t Dick and Liz who invited Nick and Honey to watch.

But that wasn’t all they did.  They knew they were celebrities.  They didn’t deny it.  They flew to Friday night parties in Europe and flew home Sunday morning.  He bought her jewels the size of Easter eggs.  They drank and smoked and partied without any self-conscious leer at the waiting cameras.  They didn’t demand a normal life; they chose to be famous.  Remember, it was Dick and Liz who invented the paparazzi when they carried their half-hidden adultery across to Italy during the filming of Cleopatra in 1962.  It was a time before Rock Hudson was gay; when June and Ward Cleaver still slept in separate beds, every Thursday night.  And the Kennedy brothers kept their mistresses hidden behind the curtains of Camelot.  It was a time when scandals ruined people and careers — but not Dick and Liz.  They were splashed across every newspaper in the world and reviled by everybody but the public.  They didn’t care.  They did what they pleased.  And they kept doing it, brawling and beautiful, for two and a half decades.

Sometime I’m going to see their movies again, but even the biggest TV won’t do them justice.  Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor are special, beyond Hepburn and Tracy and even Bogie and Bacall.  You need to be alone with them — sitting in the dark.

Oscar is a Grouch (2016)

hollywoodOnly an idiot would get involved in Hollywood’s current Oscar controversy, and my mom didn’t raise any dummies.  It’s been my experience that when a bunch of millionaires are lining up to do battle, we common folk better head for the exits.  However, when entertainers try to be serious, there’s always the opportunity for some serious entertainment.

Some people say (but I’m not one of them) that this entire Oscar debacle started when Will Smith didn’t get a Best Actor nomination for Concussion.  When you’re one of the coolest people on the planet (and a billion-dollar box office asset) you normally get what you want — whenever you want it — so it’s understandable that when Oscar said to Will, “Sorry, not this year,” his response was “WTF?”  Unfortunately, when your carefully crafted image is one of the coolest people on the planet, you can’t actually say WTF out loud — ya gotta dress it up a little bit.  So the reason the Oscar grapes are sour is ’cause they’re just too damn monochromatic, and apparently nobody noticed that before (including both times Will Smith was nominated for an Oscar in the past.)  Anyway, the entire entertainment community is now in a politically correct conundrum — and it’s not pretty.  What to do?  What to do?

Lucky for us, movie stars are smart.  (After all, what would the world do without their wise and thoughtful political insights?)  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will find a way out of this mess — the show must go on.

However, should they need some help … some people (but I’m not one of them) have offered this solution.  Raise the stakes, up the ante, show some muscle and invite Caitlyn Jenner to Oscar night.  Who in their wildest politically correct nightmare would boycott that?  Plus, and this is where the bike helmet meets the pavement, have her present the Oscar for Best Actor.  After all, Eddie Redmayne’s going to win for The Danish Girl.  Let’s face it, folks: this is definitely not going to be Leonardo DiCaprio’s year.  Even with his politically correct crocodile tears over climate change, the guy is just like so-o-o white, he’s blue.  (This is in no way an insensitive reference to DiCaprio’s death scene in Titanic, nor to the number of times he would have died of hypothermia if The Revenant was real.)

Some people (but I’m not one of them) think it’s hilarious that the politically correct Hollywood Hydra is now eating its own tail.  It’s a good thing I’m not involved, or I’d be laughing my ass off right now.

Disclaimer!  The politically incorrect views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of “some people” and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views or opinions held by WD Fyfe.
All characters and events in this blog — even those based on real people — are entirely fictional.  Any resemblance to persons living or dead is only in their own minds.
No actors were injured in the writing of this blog.