Remembering 2010, My Fifth Year Of Blogging

The view from my bedroom window exposed a peculiar scene.  Just moments earlier on that warm late afternoon an alarm had gone off and initially, I ignored it.  (It’s not an uncommon sound around here.)  Inevitably, though, it disrupted my reading.  As it rang through the neighbourhood continuously for several seconds, a quick investigation was in order so I put down my magazine and looked outside.  

A dishevelled-looking caucasian wearing a ball cap over his long, apparently unwashed curly, graying hair was taking something from a parked silver Saturn in a nearby lot.  It looked like a pillow or a mini mattress.  I couldn’t quite tell.  Once this wiry guy had the object of desire in his hands, he quickly fled on his bike.  Soon thereafter, the shrill noise of protection subsided. 

Had I witnessed a petty theft?  It sure looked that way.  I stayed by the window for a few minutes or so then went back to reading.  Serenity had returned.

Less than an hour later, however, the shrillness once again punctured the silence.  This time, I raced to see what was happening.  He was back, hoping to pilfer something else that didn’t belong to him.  He was rummaging through the glove compartment, the front seat and the back seat.  Not caring at all about the possibility of getting caught he took his sweet time bargain hunting.  Finally, he settled on what looked like a large hardcover but it was hard to know for sure from my vantage point. Once again, with stolen object in hand, he fled on his trusty bike.  The car alarm stopped crying for help soon thereafter. 

Roughly a minute or so later, a woman came out to investigate.  After a quick perusal of the vehicle she ran to get her co-worker, the unfortunate owner.

Not too long after that, I left my house and spoke with her.  I learned that the thief had used a big rock to break the glass adjacent to the right passenger side door window which allowed him to get inside.  It was right where he left it, on the ground next to the scattered shards.  The owner, a chubby female who apparently loved her fast food (there were lots of burger wrappers and empty paper soda containers strewn all over the place inside), was more puzzled than anything.  Why did he take her orthopedic something-or-other?  (It was either a pillow or a mattress.  I can’t remember now.)  Ditto her ashtray?  (She didn’t have any reading material in the car so that wasn’t a book I saw him take.)

After giving her a basic description (besides the ball cap, he wore faded jeans, an open jacket that exposed a t-shirt and sneakers), she thanked me and I went back home.  I have no idea whether she got her stuff back or whether the mysterious thief was ever apprehended.  I’ve not seen him since.

You’re probably wondering why I didn’t bother to write about this immediately after it happened.  It’s a very good question.  In fact, it taps into something that’s been bothering me for much of the last couple of years.

As this website approaches its 5th Anniversary this coming February, I’m in a much different place than I was four years ago.  Back in 2006 and even in 2007, I was much more prolific, much braver when it came to writing and posting blunt opinions.  In truth, I still try to be as honest as I can on here but looking back, there was a lot more passion and forcefulness in what I was trying to achieve.  (Just look at all the Sun Media and Sun TV items from that period.)  Back then, I didn’t second guess myself or hesitate to post a strong viewpoint.  The whole process was much easier at that time.  But by 2008, I started to slow down considerably.

Part of the problem involved my old PC.  Imagine trying to write while your cursor constantly lags.  I know.  Many, many people have far greater difficulties in their lives that put my miniscule ones to shame but writing for me is a very musical experience that requires concentration and few distractions.  For me, it’s all about rhythm and making the words flow in a way that is engaging with the reader and emits some kind of interesting truth.  That’s very hard to do with a dying computer that constantly frustrates you.

After needlessly putting up with that for far too long, I started writing less and less, a problem that remains current even though I replaced the PC and the lagging has long since subsided.  Regular visitors will note that several weeks can go by without anything new to offer.

It also hasn’t helped that I’ve been focusing less on writing and more on downsizing.  For years, I collected Entertainment Weeklys without always reading them (what was I thinking?) and since 2004, I started making up for lost time.  By 2008, I went from reading every page of every issue (several piles worth which included other titles like Premiere and Rolling Stone) to just focusing on the articles and kinda skimming through the critical review sections.  With 3 piles left to go through I’m doing a lot more overall skimming and only a little reading, hoping to speed things up considerably.  I was hoping to be done with all of this by the end of this year but hopefully this will all come to an end in early 2011.

All this magazine reading and page flipping has annoyingly reduced the number of movies I’ve screened since 2006 which has meant fewer movie reviews.  (Being easily distracted and deeply neurotic about my focus has also been an ongoing issue.) 

Basically, the initial excitement of working on material for this site was dampened over a long stretch of time by several factors I didn’t adequately prepare for.  Inevitably, I went from being frustrated and disappointed to lazy and resigned.  And as a result, the car theft story, among many other possible ideas I could’ve pursued to completion this year, were set aside.

Thankfully, that dwindling sense of ambition didn’t keep me from writing entirely in 2010.  Of all the pieces I worked on this year, none were more satisfying than my 14-part series devoted to The Beatles re-issues. 

The idea was born in September last year.  I was checking out the public library’s CD catalogue and noticed that they were all on order.  Even better, few patrons had reserved copies.  After placing holds on every one of them, they all arrived at my local branch several consecutive days before Christmas 2009.  I listened to them in chronological order from Please Please Me to Past Masters.  By early January, I enjoyed repeated listenings, watched the CD-ROM documentaries, read the liner notes and jotted down thoughts and facts.

By the end of that month most of the reviews were ready to go.  I decided to post one review a day (in chronological order, of course) starting on February 1st and ending on Valentine’s Day.  It was a lot of work but richly satisfying.  By the same token, I also enjoyed reviewing Madonna’s Celebration collection.

Then came the Vancouver Olympics which completely took over my life for the rest of the month.  (I watched as much coverage as humanly possible.)  I ended up summing up the games in a fun, little piece entitled Unofficial 2010 Winter Olympic Awards.

As usual, there were new movie reviews to offer this year.  Predators, Jonah Hex, I Love You Beth Cooper, My One And Only, New Moon (the Twilight sequel), and He’s Just Not That Into You, all stinkers.  Fried Green Tomatoes was the last assessment reworked from my unpublished early ’90s manuscript, The Movie Critic:  Book One.  Overall, there were about a dozen or so of these critiques “rescued” and properly finished for this website over the years.  I wish there had been more but most of them were too poorly written to be restored.  In the end, I only screened 23 films this year, a pitiful total.  Something needs to be done about that.

Speaking of movie reviews, three of them found a home on MonkeyBiz.  Although it took a while to happen (long story), the site started publishing a good number of my pieces this year including assessments of Jennifer’s Body, The Unborn and Paranormal Activity.

They also posted several of my music reviews.  I was pretty harsh on CDs made by Autobodies and Dirty Penny, both Canadian indies, but was far more enthusiastic about the When You’re Strange Soundtrack (wrongly listed as a review of The Doors documentary) and Morrissey’s Years Of Refusal.  A special thanks to Larissa Cardey and Sarah Glen for their kindness, feedback and enthusiasm for my work.  (I hope to continue writing for their site.)  And thanks to Employment Hamilton’s Wally Stadnicki for suggesting the idea during one of our many meetings and making it happen.

In May, this website made a couple of notable changes.  The Amazon Book List was dropped (not one title was ever sold in the four years it existed on here despite hundreds of clicks) and the layout was changed.  Just five months later, The Writings Of Dennis Earl left Windows Live Spaces, my home since February 19, 2006, and began The WordPress Era.  Naturally, the layout changed yet again.

The new address inspired a bit more activity in the month of October.  As a number of famous beautiful women found themselves suddenly single, I reached out to them.  And when others became unavailable, I mourned their unavailability.  I could’ve written so many more similiarly themed pieces but I didn’t want to spread myself too thin.  Like Regis, I’m only one man.

Having finally finished Eric Clapton’s Autobiography (a 2007 Christmas gift that was mostly read this year), I wrote about 5 standout moments.  Despite its flaws (no comment on whether he dated Sheryl Crow, not a word about his Babyface collaboration in 1996, and few specifics about his fling with Ronnie Spector, among other exclusions), it’s an entertaining read.  If you’re one of the few who still believe in the supposed glamour of alcoholism and heroin addiction, this book will convince you otherwise.  (Just read lesson 5 from my piece.)

For the first time in a long while, my From The Published Archives series made a welcome return.  On my old site, I had a couple of lists that contained every entry I ever made on the Fading To Black blog, a site I wrote for from April 2007 to January 2008.  Rather than restore them for WordPress, I decided to simply repost a few of the original items here.  A commentary on citizen journalism and a two-fer on The New York Times’ TimesSelect online service surfaced in October and November, respectively.  There may be more such postings in 2011.

In 2009, I had written several new poems including Nobody Cares and Looking For A Muse.  This year, there were two more offered in November.  Distortions was written during a thankfully short period of gloominess while Determination, the most recent one, hopefully is a sign of the future.

Other standout pieces this year included criticisms of the maddening Ezra Levant and his continuing feud with the truth, the obnoxious Laura Schlessinger, another One Hit Wonder entry (this one about FM Legends with one Top 40 AM hit) and three items about the sad decline of Mel Gibson.  Thanks to his scary rants, my speakers have never been the same.  Sometimes they come on, sometimes they don’t.  Thanks a lot, jackhole.

Despite the continuing trend of fewer annual entries, I did manage to offer roughly 60 pieces in 2010.  Granted, that’s quite a comedown from the hundreds of pieces put together in the first two years of this website but despite all my distractions, at least I’m still writing. 

I can’t remember now when this happened but at some point this year, Windows Live dropped the Statistics program from all of its sites, which made little sense.  As a result, I don’t have an official tally of hits for this entire year.  However, when I moved to WordPress in October, keeping track of website visits was possible again.

That’s the good news.  Here’s the bad news:  hits are way down.  Since October 9, The Writings Of Dennis Earl has generated a deflating 1100 hits.  The highest daily total was 32 (October 15).  Without a lot of coverage on the ongoing Sun Media travesty, interest has dramatically waned.  (Normally, this site achieves 10000 hits or more annually.)  That’s very discouraging.  I’ve long lost interest in covering that beat (too depressing) and fellow blogger John Cosway is starting to feel the same way.  He recently announced that the popular Toronto Sun Family site will be shelved sometime next year.  Can’t say I blame him.

Having said all that, the most popular pieces accessed on this site in the last couple of months have not been the Sun Media/Sun TV stuff (with the exception of Merry Christmas, You’re Fired).  In fact, it’s mostly entertainment stuff like the Seinfeld box set trivia series (I’ve been thinking about going back to that idea), Brando’s appearance on Larry King Live, and reviews of My Boss’ Daughter and Look Who’s Talking Too.  A good number of entertainment history pieces are in the Top 20, as well.  As someone who has been thinking of focusing more on writing about the past than the present, this is a positive development.

At any event, I need to re-commit myself to making this site great and more successful.  (I crave more readers and need to offer them more material to peruse.)  Quite frankly, I also need to get paid for my work.  (I can’t be the gentile Costanza forever.)  If this site could somehow lead to a life of writing that allows me to make a living as the independent adult I’m certainly capable of being, that would be sensational.  Throw in a return to broadcasting and I’d be doubly happy. 

Add to those professional goals a resurrected love life and maybe, just maybe I might find fulfillment sooner than later.

In the meantime, thanks for visiting.  Happy New Year and see you in 2011.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, December 31, 2010
1:28 a.m.

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Published in: on December 31, 2010 at 1:28 am  Comments (2)  

Winners & Losers Of 2010 (Part Five)

Winner:  Conan O’Brien

He wouldn’t play ball.  And he earned universal respect for it.

The second host of NBC’s Late Night thought his future was secure when in 2004 he signed a deal to take over The Tonight Show in 2009.  Jay Leno agreed to step aside and leave the network.  Unlike the debacle of 1992, this looked like a smoother transition.  Only Howard Stern publicly opined that it was too good to be true, that Leno would never truly relinquish the show he had been helming for nearly 20 years.  (He even told a disbelieving Conan that to his face during a Late Night appearance in 2006.)

Sadly, Stern was right.  Just a few months after Conan began his late spring 2009 run as the new host of The Tonight Show, The Jay Leno Show premiered at 10 p.m.  And that’s when all the trouble began.

Despite strong starts for both shows, ratings dropped considerably.  It didn’t help that reviews for Leno’s prime time Tonight Show retread were dismal.  NBC affiliates revolted.  The network immediately sprang into action looking for a possible compromise.

In January, to the surprise of no one, The Jay Leno Show was cancelled (new episodes continued to air up to mid-February, just before the Olympics).  In turn, NBC weasels made a proposal to Conan:  how about giving the big chin your first half hour (11:35 p.m. to 12:05 a.m.) and moving your show to 12:05?  After much contemplation, the redheaded comedian did something remarkable.  He walked away from his dream job.  As he noted in his famous public statement, O’Brien felt it was a bad idea to move The Tonight Show, a franchise he has a lot of respect for, out of the 11:35 time slot.  He refused to go along with the plan.  Incredible.

That meant only one thing.  Coco was out, Leno was back in.  David Letterman came to life during the whole ordeal ripping on his former friend night in and night out.  (He also got to imitate him to his face in a hilarious Super Bowl ad that also featured Oprah.)  Howard Stern eagerly joined in as did his pal Jimmy Kimmel who did an entire show impersonating Leno.  He even went on The Jay Leno Show to mercilessly goof on the host for his actions.  The Daily Show got in the act, as well.

As a result, Leno’s bogus nice guy reputation laid in ruins.  An appearance on Oprah didn’t help matters.  Meanwhile, the Team Coco movement was in full swing as the awed comedian found himself dumbfounded by the widespread online and offline support for his bold position in an awkward professional situation.  As his comedic jabs at Leno and the network got sharper in his last days on The Tonight Show, Conan put on a brave, defiant face, particularly during his last show where he showed more grace and class than NBC truly deserved.

After securing a hefty parting gift for himself and his loyal staff, O’Brien stayed off the air for most of the year, thanks to a lame legal requirement sought by his former network.  In the meantime, he travelled the United States for two months (April to June) on his acclaimed The Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour, which culminated in an appearance on 60 Minutes.  A month after the tour was announced Coco found a new job as the host of a new late night show for Ted Turner’s TBS.  It debuted in November to respectable numbers and mostly positive critical assessments.  It started off strong with an average of nearly 3 million viewers tuning in that first week (in December, ratings were closer to that of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report; respectable but not huge) but more importantly, it’s the number one late show in the 18-34 demographic.  The first episode featured a terrific pre-taped opening that reminded fans how much we missed our Coco.  And then there were the American Express commercials.

As for Leno, his ratings for his second go-round on The Tonight Show have fallen to levels below even O’Brien’s run.  And, as before, few critics have been thrilled with his version of the show.

If that wasn’t somewhat bittersweet for Coco, consider this:  Jeff Zucker, the former Today Show producer turned network pinhead responsible for this whole unnecessary debacle in the first place, is no longer with NBC. 

Conan might’ve lost The Tonight Show but his integrity and decency remain firmly intact.  The same can’t be said for Leno and Zucker.

Loser:  Tiger Woods

If only he’d kept it in his pants.  The golfing great’s double life as a philandering hedonist was first exposed in late 2009 just before he crashed his SUV following a heated argument with his then-wife Elin Nordgren.  By the time the new year arrived, if Woods thought his worst days were behind him, he was sadly mistaken.

As mistress after mistress after mistress came out of the woodwork to tell their stories and comedians salivated at the comedic possibilities, Woods took a break from golfing and despite a couple of apologetic press releases, he mostly stayed silent and out of public view.  On New Year’s Day, AT&T dropped him as a sponsor.  12 days later, General Motors announced they were ending their association with the golfer, as well, which had already expired on New Year’s Eve. 

In February, he made a more public apology on TV.  Looking like someone had pointed a gun to his head, the shellshocked golfer admitted general infidelity and unBuddhistlike tendencies but avoided specifics.  Considering that only his wife was owed an apology, it was clear the speech was a foolhardy attempt to save his public image.  Few were persuaded.  That same month, Gatorade stopped sponsoring him.

When he returned in March to play in The Masters, he finished a respectable fourth tying with K.J. Choi of South Korea, a result he would repeat in two other tournaments.  However, he would perform no better in any other competition in 2010.  That’s right.  He went an entire season without winning a single title.  That hasn’t happened since he turned pro 14 years ago.  Things were going so bad, his coach quit in May after he withdrew from The Players Championship.

In June, Joslyn James, one of his porn star playthings (who has filed a lawsuit against him), participated in a British documentary entitled Tiger Woods: The Rise And Fall.  During the program, she claimed to have been impregnated twice by the golfer.  The first one allegedly resulted in a miscarriage.  She allegedly aborted the second.  The documentary was also broadcast in Canada three months later.  (It re-airs on CBC’s Passionate Eye tonight at 10 p.m. with an update.)

As for his personal life, his marriage to Elin completely crumbled.  According to The National Enquirer, Woods admitted to an astounding 120 affairs.   They divorced in late August.

Somewhere in the world, Jack Nicklaus must be breathing a huge sigh of relief.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, December 31, 2010
12:26 a.m.

Published in: on December 31, 2010 at 12:26 am  Leave a Comment  

Winners & Losers Of 2010 (Part Four)

Winner:  Chicago Black Hawks

It had been nearly 50 years since this Original Six franchise last hoisted Lord Stanley’s silver cup.  In 2010, the drought finally ended.

After winning 52 of their 82 regular season games, The Hawks were more than ready for the post-season, their second consecutive trip after years of early vacations.  The Nashville Predators went down in six in round one.  Vancouver were also beaten in six in round two.  The Conference Final against The San Jose Sharks resulted in a sweep, four straight victories. 

Then came The Philadelphia Flyers in the final series.  The Hawks were hoping for a better result than their last Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1992.  (That year, they lost to The Pittsburgh Penguins.)  By the sixth and decisive game, it took an overtime goal by Patrick Kane to seal the deal.  As a result, The Chicago Black Hawks won their fourth Stanley Cup, their first since 1961.  Is a fifth on the way next year?

Loser:  Joaquin Phoenix

My friend was right.  It was all a scam.

During an infamous 2009 appearance on Late Show With David Letterman, this Oscar nominated thespian seemed off his rocker.  Showing up in a nice suit while wearing shades, the bearded, unkempt actor spoke little, chewed gum and just sat there as the host went to work on him. 

At the time, Phoenix was the subject of a documentary called I’m Still Here which reportedly details the start of his rap career (and a lot of self-destruction) after he announced his retirement from Hollywood.  Fans and the media were divided on what to make of it.  Some said it was all a hoax while others thought it was totally sincere.  The rest of us were entirely confused.  What was really going on?

Shortly after the film’s release this past September, the truth finally came out.  It was indeed a mockumentary, not reality.  Director Casey Affleck admitted as much in an interview with Roger Ebert.

So, was this elaborate plan to deceive the world successful?  Hardly.  Reviews were decidedly mixed.  Rotten Tomatoes gave it a rotten rating of 54%.  Financially, it was a total stiff.  I’m Still Here made less than $600,000 globally.  (It’s now available on DVD.)

As of this writing, it’s not certain what Phoenix’s next project will be.  But he will likely return to film acting in the near future.

Winner:  The Arcade Fire

This Montreal collective returned with yet another stellar album.   Released in the summer, “The Suburbs”, like Funeral and Neon Bible, their two previous releases, received glowing critical notices.  It was named Album Of The Year by Exclaim!, a Canadian publication, as well as Clash Magazine and Q Magazine, both based in Britain.  Entertainment Weekly named it the second best album of 2010, right behind Kanye West’s latest.  Billboard Magazine and NME also placed it in the runner-up position.  (Click here for Wikipedia’s list of the album’s end-of-year achievements.)   The track We Used To Wait was named the fifth best single by Rolling Stone which also slotted “The Suburbs” in the number 4 spot on its Top 30 Albums list.  It’s already gone Gold in the United Kingdom and has sold nearly 400,000 copies in the United States, a total that will likely go up in the coming weeks. 

Later in the year, the band played a two-song set on Saturday Night Live.  (The Suburbs was the best of the two performances.)  Then, came the Grammy nominations.  The band received its third consecutive Best Alternative Music Album nomination.  After two losses, the third time will be the charm.  Ready To Start was singled out in the Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals category. 

But the most important nomination was for Album Of The Year, a stunning achievement for a band that’s never had a Top 40 hit nor a Platinum selling album in America.  How phenomenal would it be for Canada and the music business if “The Suburbs” actually won?  A lad can only dream.

Loser:  Actors Accused Of Violent Crime

In 2005, Shelley Malil appeared in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, a blockbuster romantic comedy that kept him working steadily in Hollywood.  Three years later, he lost his mind.

In 2007, Malil got involved with Kendra Beebe, a single mom he met through the online personals.  It was not a happy relationship due to the Indian actor’s volatility and thievery.  In August 2008, he paid her a personal apologetic visit to return the items he stole from her only to find Beebe drinking wine with another man.  Irrationally enraged, he stabbed her 23 times with a kitchen knife.

Beebe suffered severe injuries but incredibly survived the terrifying ordeal.  Malil was arrested shortly thereafter for attempted murder, mayhem and burglary.  More charges were added after the initial apprehension.

By late 2010, the case was finally resolved when a jury convicted Malil of attempted premeditated murder and assault with a deadly weapon.  He’s been sentenced to life with the possibility of parole within the next 9 to 12 years.  For his part, he apologized to Beebe who, in turn, hopes he was sincere in his regret.

Then, there was the bizarre story of Michael Brea.  Best known for playing “Man In Restaurant” in an episode of Ugly Betty, the 31-year-old actor has been accused of murdering his mom with a three-foot sword.  He’s facing charges of second degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon.  The New York Daily News later interviewed Brea at Bellevue Hospital.  Based on his quotes, he appears to be suffering from extreme delusions.  Admitting his guilt, he claimed he was ordered by God to kill the Devil he believed was hiding inside his mother who he reportedly had a close relationship with.  Incredibly, his family is supporting him publicly while acknowledging the reality of his steep mental decline.  The case will likely go to trial next year.

Finally, there’s Amy Locane.  Nearly 20 years ago, she was on Melrose Place and co-starred with Brendan Fraser in the moving School Ties.  Now she’s facing jail time for not one but two alleged drunk driving incidents.

On a Sunday night in late June, the Miss Connections star and married mom of two young children hit one car on the passenger side as it was pulling into a driveway, according to The New Jersey Star-Ledger.  When the driver called for help, Locane fled the scene.  The driver followed her and later told police that the actress was “swerving and knocking down several mailboxes.”  (Locane later confessed to police she had several glasses of wine before getting into her SUV.)

The chase lasted 17 miles and ended in tragedy.  Locane struck another vehicle from behind killing a female passenger and seriously injuring her husband. 

Six months later, she was indicted on charges of second degree vehicular homicide and third degree assault by automobile.  If convicted without a plea arrangement, Locane faces a 5 to 10 year prison stint.  According to New Jersey law, she’ll have to serve at least 85% of  that sentence.

Three careers instantly derailed by either poor choices or severe mental illness.  How incredibly sad.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, December 31, 2010
12:05 a.m.

Published in: on December 31, 2010 at 12:06 am  Leave a Comment  

Winners & Losers Of 2010 (Part Three)

Winner:  Jaden & Willow Smith

The son and daughter of actress/singer Jada Pinkett-Smith and actor/rapper Will Smith (who has another son from an earlier marriage) had the kind of year much older folks would kill for.  12-year-old Jaden took the lead in The Karate Kid, the hugely popular June remake of the 1984 Ralph Macchio original.  Raking in over 350 million globally, this 2010 update was a surprise critical favourite, as well.  (Rotten Tomatoes has given it a 67% fresh rating.)  Unsurprisingly, a sequel is in the works.

As for 10-year-old Willow, music was her claim to fame this year.  With the strong backing of rapper/mogul Jay Z, she released her first single, Whip My Hair to much acclaim.  It peaked at #11 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles Chart.  (It was even bigger in the UK where it got as high as #2.)   A full album is soon to follow. 

Not yet teenagers, they’re making the rest of us look like slackers. 

Loser:  British Petroleum

The Columbine murders.  The botched Bay Of Pigs invasion.  Hitler’s birthday.  Historically, April 20th has seen its share of dark moments.  One of the worst happened on that date in 2010.

A fifth-generation oil drilling unit called Deepwater Horizon was put to work in the Gulf Of Mexico near Louisiana.  Close to 10 o’clock in the evening, it exploded then sank, killing 11 workers and injuring 17 more.  The remaining 100 or so employees escaped serious harm.

That was just the beginning.  Then came the oil spill

The Gulf Of Mexico was flooded with approximately 5 million barrels of oil which started to affect wildlife and nearby beaches.  Even after the leak was capped (after a number of failed attempts), more oil flooded the Gulf until September 19, almost exactly five months after the initial explosion.

The fallout was swift and fierce.  British Petroleum, the beleaguered owner of the Deepwater Horizon unit, became the focus of intense media criticism.  It turned out the company has a long history of screw-ups.  In fact, just a fortnight before the Gulf Of Mexico disaster, another spill took place in Texas City which involved the release of a cancer-causing chemical called benzene as well as nitrogen oxide.  Good times.

With the federal government investigating, BP will be under the critical microscope well into next year.

Winner:  Modern Family

This much loved sitcom began the year in the middle of its highly regarded first season.  12 days into January, ABC announced it would be returning for a second one. 

Then came the Emmys.  After stealing the show with a funny pre-taped bit that featured a cameo by George Clooney, the program walked away with 6 gongs including Best Comedy Series.  (The show had 14 nominations.)

When the show returned in September, it saw its ratings increase significantly.  In its first season, Modern Family averaged a little over 9 million viewers per week and finished in the Top 40.  Now the show averages more than 14 million and thus far, has moved into the Top 20. 

Even better, the show has already been sold into syndication.  For Ed O’Neill, there is finally life after Married…With Children and David Mamet.

Loser:  Linda McMahon, Joe Miller, Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle

For all their electoral successes this year, The Republicans did have four high profile defeats.

Former WWE executive Linda McMahon went after a Senate seat in Connecticut and proceeded to spend tens of millions of dollars in order to win it.  The campaign got dirty fairly quickly in May as McMahon’s camp claimed to The New York Times that Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal lied about his Vietnam record, a charge that upon closer inspection didn’t pass the smell test.  (Blumenthal had a huge lead in the polls at the time.  It shrunk to just three points after the misleading story came out.)

Blumenthal countered by criticizing McMahon’s association with professional wrestling and the way her husband’s company treats its employees.  When a number of former WWE wrestlers died during the campaign, McMahon didn’t do herself any favours by appearing callous and unsympathetic.  In the end, all the money in the world couldn’t convince voters to give her the job.  Blumenthal ultimately filled outgoing Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd’s old seat. 

In Alaska, Joe Miller faced the humiliating prospect of being beaten by a write-in candidate.  During the Republican primary, he managed to defeat sitting Senator Lisa Murkowski who refused to give up and ultimately ran against him. 

Aligning himself with the misguided Tea Party movement, Miller soon found himself in the middle of two, unavoidable controversies.  First, there was his previous job as a government lawyer.  In 2008, he accessed office computers for partisan political purposes, an ethics violation that he initially lied about before coming clean.  The story got plenty of media coverage in October.

That would explain Miller’s unprecedented snub of the news media.  With the exception of occasional press conferences, he steered clear of their questioning.  It would also explain why he hired military personnel to run security for one of his campaign stops.  When a reporter tried to do his job during this particular swing, he was handcuffed.  Miller’s unethical behaviour and shocking thuggery cost him the election.  Despite losing, he tried in vain to use the court system to give him what he couldn’t earn legitimately.  Murkowski has now been certified as the winner.

It had been years since Christine O’Donnell, a super conversative activist, had appeared on TV espousing her rather rigid views on sex.  But after she surprised many by becoming the Republican Senatorial nominee in Delaware (she also won in 2008, it should be noted), that old footage was dusted off and played relentlessly.

O’Donnell’s appearances on Bill Maher’s old Politically Incorrect program, where she admitted to dabbling in witchcraft and seemed confused about evolution, were resurrected by the host on his Real Time show as a ploy to get her to make an appearance.  Like Miller, she avoided the media like the plague, including Real Time.  Although there was that “I’m not a witch” campaign ad and the occasional visit to Fox News.

Then, another clip from a long forgotten MTV special was unearthed where she claimed that because the bible says you shouldn’t have lust in your heart and you need lust in order to masturbate, you shouldn’t masturbate.  (Honestly, the woman needs to lighten up already.)

In September, The IRS came calling.  O’Donnell brushed the whole unpaid taxes thing off as a “computer error”.  And let’s not forget her rather cheap way of criticizing ex-Republican Governor Mike Castle.

Needless to say, she never stood a chance in the election.  Democrat Christopher Coons easily took over the seat vacated by Vice President Joe Biden.  (He had double digit leads throughout the entire race.)  As the year draws to a close, O’Donnell now faces a federal investigation into her fundraising practices, thanks to the efforts of CREW, a watchdog organization that drew attention to the matter three months ago.  Happy New Year, Miss O’Donnell.

Finally, there’s Sharron Angle in Nevada.  Like Alaska, her race with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was very tight, literally neck and neck.  But instead of winning over independents and open-minded liberals, she gave them plenty of reasons not to vote for her.

Like Miller and O’Donnell, she refused to deal with the media.  When you consider her positions on the issues, it’s not exactly a shock.  She believes in passing a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.  She wants the Department Of Education abolished.  Ditto Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  She thinks global warming’s a fraud despite voluminous evidence to the contrary.  She opposes all forms of abortion for every reason you could think of (including incidences of rape and incest) and she would like to see the end of Social Security and Medicare.  She opposes the legalization of pot, falsely claimed that sharia law was being practiced in two U.S. cities and wrongly thinks the 9/11 hijackers came from Canada. 

Amazingly, despite all this ridiculousness, she still managed to receive 44% of the vote.  Embattled incumbent Senator Harry Reid was ultimately able to retain his seat.

Despite the depressing news of Republicans overtaking the House Of Representatives in early 2011, at least these four extremists won’t be joining them.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, December 30, 2010
11:46 p.m.

Published in: on December 30, 2010 at 11:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

What Bugged Me In 2010

A couple of months ago I went through the tedious but necessary process of cleaning up nearly 500 pieces on my new WordPress site.  At some point, I came across an item called What Bugged Me In 2006, which I had long forgotten about. 

That year was my first on Windows Live Spaces, the original home of The Writings Of Dennis Earl, and by the end of it, I wanted to generate a lot of year-in-review material, which is why I wrote it, among many other similiarly themed pieces like the annual Winners & Losers series. 

Looking back, I was supremely annoyed with a remarkable amount of people and things in 2006.  Unfortunately, in subsequent years, I never did do another What Bugged Me list which, in retrospect, was probably a big mistake.  (There’s never a shortage of material.)

At any event, for the first time in four years, it’s time to revive this long dormant idea.  2010 was a particularly strong year for personal irritation (although I was much angrier about stuff four years ago) and without further ado, here’s what bugged me over the last 12 months:

1. Greg Weston and Eric Margolis were fired from Sun Media.

2. Christine O’Donnell.

3. Sarah and Bristol Palin.

4. President Barack Obama’s unkept promises and watered down legislative victories.  He’s definitely no liberal.  Glenn Greenwald was right.

5. The continuing lack of respect and coverage for the underrated One Tree Hill.

6. The overexposed Kardashian family.

7. Lady Gaga’s increasingly ridiculous outfits.  We get it.  You’re wacky and you want attention for it.  Stick with the music.  That’s what you’re really good at.

8. England didn’t win The World Cup. 

9. The Edmonton Oilers didn’t make the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year.  No wonder I’m losing interest in hockey.

10. That obnoxious, selfish husband on Sister Wives.

11. Kate Gosselin.

12. Ezra Levant got rehired by Sun Media.  Hope they have their lawyers on retainer.

13. Charlie Sheen’s horrible treatment of women.

14. Supergrass broke up.

15. My computer speakers are on the verge of death.  Sometimes they work (but I can’t turn them off or adjust the volume), but mostly there’s no sound.  Thanks a lot, Mel Gibson. 

16. Mel Gibson’s disturbed arguments with his ex.

17. Laura Schlessinger got hired by Sirius XM.  Oh, and the horrible way she treated that black caller who simply wanted advice on how to handle rude comments from her white husband’s pals.

18. The Republicans won back The House Of Representatives.

19. Leslie Neilsen died.

20. Roger Ebert still can’t talk.

21. Glenn Beck repeatedly smeared George Soros and the Hungarian billionaire didn’t sue him.

22. The Duggar Family.  No more kids, assholes.

23. The Tea Party and its misguided protests.

24. The hypocritical war against WikiLeaks.  There wouldn’t be a need for that site if “Washington journalism” wasn’t such an oxymoron.

25. The increasingly unhinged Republican Noise Machine. 

26. Gay bashers.

27. Muslim bashers.

28. The never ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

29. The Republican Party’s cold-hearted obstructionism.  Are you really that beholden to millionaires, billionaires, big business and big polluters?

30. Sesame Street’s lame treatment of Katy Perry.  So she’s got a big rack.  Live with it.  Russell Brand does.

31. The drug war continues unabated despite its tragic lack of success.

32. The increasingly irritating Daily Howler website which I used to admire.  (No one defended Al Gore more successfully than Bob Somerby, his old Harvard roommate.) Criticizing a movie you haven’t actually seen, raising objections about Howard Stern without specifying a single reason why you hate him, the constant overuse of the word “rubes”, the consistently unfunny and tired “cranky old man” routine, defending Glenn Beck, the ongoing refusal to admit poor judgment regarding comments made over the Valerie Plame debacle.  You think you’re helping?  You’re not.  You’re just adding to the growing mind pollution of politics.  Retire already.

33. Matt Striker.  When he’s not being a transparent asskiss on WWE home video releases, he’s a deeply annoying colour commentator on WWE TV.  Go back to teaching.

34. The constant silencing and blurring of the letter “F” whenever “WWF” is uttered and seen on WWE TV shows and their DVD releases.  World Wildlife Fund, lighten up and drop this ridiculous legal requirement already.  It’s so stupid.

35. Julian Fantino got elected.  Falsely believing that legalizing marijuana is the equivalent of legalizing murder, as the former Toronto police chief once espoused in The Toronto Sun years ago, is one very good reason to bemoan the current state of conservatism in Canada.

36. Jay Leno got The Tonight Show back.

37. Those needlessly intrusive patdowns and body scanning devices in American airports.  They don’t work and they’re an enormous invasion of privacy. 

38. Mark Dailey, the voice of CITY-TV, died.

39. Shirley Sherrod lost her job in the Agriculture Department in the American Federal Government after that slimy liar Andrew Breitbart misrepresented a portion of a speech she delivered to the NAACP. 

40. ACORN filed for bankruptcy after it was similiarly smeared by deeply suspicious videos put together by Lee Harvey Oswald look-a-like James O’Keefe.

41. The BP oil spill.

42. Clicking “YES” on about 50 attractive local women on the Are You Interested? Facebook application and receiving none in return.  Maybe if I was Charlie Sheen or Mel Gibson, they’d be more receptive.

43. Having quite a few potential “bingos” on both Facebook Scrabble and Lexulous but not being able to find a place for them on the board during certain games.

44. Elizabeth Edwards died.

45. The eternally ungrateful Eric The Midget.

46. The New York Times announced it was bringing back that dreaded pay wall sometime next year.

47. Rob Ford was elected mayor of Toronto.

48. Jenny McCarthy.

49. Tiger Woods.

50. Jesse James.

51. This website had its own Amazon Book List for four years and not one title was sold.  No wonder I cancelled it.

52. Justin Bieber’s hair.  The gay Twiggy look isn’t happening, dude.

53. Junk Email.  And here I thought I was huge in Burkina Faso.

54. That insufferable phrase, “The Lamestream Media”.  What does that even mean?

55. That creepy nerd from the Burger King ad who dates himself in drag.  Every time he talks, I get douche chills.

56. Those who still don’t believe global warming is real and smear those who do.  Do you not care about the health of this planet?

57. Jason Davis’ appalling treatment of Janice Dickinson in the first two episodes of Celebrity Rehab 4.

58. “Dinghy” Dale and Scott the jerky, indifferent drunk driver from Canada’s Worst Driver 6. 

59. All the cigarette smoking on Celebrity Rehab.  Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of staying sober?

60. All the awful films I screened this year which included I Love You Beth Cooper, The Final Destination, Sorority Row, The Men Who Stare At Goats and D3: The Mighty Ducks.

61. Being dropped from the TV Feeds My Family blogroll.

62. Viewer Discretion TV advisory messages.  I’m a big boy.  I can handle coarse language and adult situations so stop treating me like a baby, especially during WWE Vintage Collection.

63. The fact that it took 40 years for Florida to pardon the late Jim Morrison over a bogus charge of indecent exposure stemming from a famous gig in Miami.  He should’ve never been arrested in the first place. 

64. America’s Got Talent. 

65. The almost total disinterest in play-by-play announcing on Raw and Smackdown.  Pinfall attempts and occasional moves aside, the announcers are more interested in talking about something else.

66. The constant surveillance of American citizens and the lack of collective outrage over it.

67. Pundits who preach “centrism” in politics.  A meaningless term for a meaningless philosophy.  We need liberals who aren’t afraid of their convictions.

68. My sexless, dateless, jobless existence.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, December 26, 2010
10:05 p.m.

Published in: on December 26, 2010 at 10:05 pm  Comments (1)  

Winners & Losers Of 2010 (Part Two)

Winner:  The Hurt Locker

One of the best reviewed films of 2009 went into the 82nd Academy Awards hoping to make history.  Only one picture stood in its way:  Avatar. 

The James Cameron blockbuster never stood a chance (even though I incorrectly predicted it would).  The Hurt Locker was named Best Picture, making it the lowest grossing Oscar winner ever.  (It made about 50 million worldwide.  Avatar earned nearly 3 billion.)  The ageless goddess Kathyrn Bigelow became the first female to snag Best Director while journalist Mark Boal won for Best Original Screenplay.  The film also took home the Best Film Editing gong and was voted tops in both Sound categories, bringing its total Oscar tally to 6.

How did Avatar do?  It had to settle for three technical trophies.  In the battle of former spouses, the ex-wife easily came out on top.

Loser:  Charlie Sheen 

All his recent troubles began last Christmas.  That morning, the second generation actor and his third wife, Brooke Mueller, got into a heated argument.  They had been drinking.  It was alleged that he grabbed her by the throat and uttered a death threat while brandishing a knife.  Police were called and Sheen was taken into custody despite his desperate assertion that he was defending himself.  Unpersuaded, they ultimately charged him with second-degree assault, menacing and criminal mischief. 

Hanes, the underwear company, dropped him as an advertising spokesman.  Despite looking at a possible one-year sentence for the incident, Sheen, no stranger to the court system, would inevitably be spared incarceration.  Instead, he would plead guilty to misdemeanour assault and not serve a day in lock-up.  (All the other charges were dismissed.)  In August, the judge sentenced him to 30 days of probation, 36 hours of anger management classes and another 30-day stint in rehab.

Even though his hardworking publicist insisted at the time of his initial arrest that the dysfunctional couple would try to work things out privately, Sheen filed for divorce in November.  Mueller eventually sought treatment for her alcoholism.  (As of this writing, she’s moved into a Sober Living facility.)

About a week before he decided to end another failed marriage, Sheen got into more trouble.  According to TMZ, the actor was staying at The Plaza Hotel when he met porn star Capri Anderson at the in-house bar.  She was hired to tag along with him and seven other people to a local eatery where they would dine in a private room.  Sheen’s second ex-wife Denise Richards attended the get-together (she was visiting with their two kids from out of town and had her own room at The Plaza) but “left before eating her appetizer”, according to TMZ.  Apparently, it was an “awkward” situation.  (Anderson later told ABC News that Sheen was “very loud” and “had no hesitations when it came to using derogatory language or cuss words” including racial epithets.)

It got even more uncomfortable in one of the restaurant bathrooms.  According to RadarOnline, Sheen had convinced Anderson to go in one of the stalls with him.  After doing some coke, he started to disrobe demanding sex.  According to the story, she wouldn’t do anything unless she received $12,000, her escort fee (although this report says she was promised $3500 as an “appearance fee” which she nonetheless claims went unpaid).  An unidentified source told Radar, “He didn’t have the money on him so she left him in the bathroom.”  Sheen’s underpaid assistant found him naked, his face covered in coke.

Amazingly, after all of that commotion, Anderson went back to Sheen’s hotel room with him where the atmosphere turned heavy.  The actor couldn’t find his wallet nor his cellphone and proceeded to fly into a truly scary rage.  Furniture was thrown as well as a chandelier.  Anderson alleges that he also tried to strangle her and even threw a lamp at her.  One of her text messages to him revealed that he also tore off the straps of her Prada purse.  (After all was said and done, Sheen caused roughly 7000 dollars in damage.)  A terrified Anderson locked herself in a nearby bathroom.  TMZ reported that she called hotel security who, in turn, called law enforcement.

By the time the cops arrived, Sheen had not yet calmed down.  He even admitted he was high.  (His embattled spokesperson claimed with a straight face that he had an allergic reaction to some medication he was taking.  That deserves a raise.)  They reportedly gave him a choice:  jail or a hospital.  Richards accompanied him to New York Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in the early hours of October 27th so he could undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

The timing of the whole bizarre incident was particularly awful for Richards who was booked to do Howard Stern’s Sirius XM radio show just a few hours later to promote a new TV project.  Refusing to talk particulars, the most she said about it was “It’s been a very eventful trip.”.

As a result of all of this madness, Sheen’s supporters are understandably worried about him falling off the wagon again.  (He reportedly resumed drinking at The Playboy Mansion back in August.)  Furthermore, Anderson announced she was filing a civil suit against him but later, changed her mind. However, Anderson has filed a criminal complaint while Sheen and his attorneys have countered with a claim that she stole his $165,000 watch in their own million dollar lawsuit.  (Anderson claimed that Sheen texted her an offer of $20,000 which his attorney has denied.  The text messages later surfaced on RadarOnline.)

I don’t know what’s more sickening.  The horrible way he has consistently treated women in his life or the fact that he’s attracted all these women in the first place.  Two words of advice, Charlie:  Turn gay.

Winner:  Charlie Sheen

In spite of all the wall-to-wall media coverage regarding these two highly embarrassing situations, the actor still managed to sign a lucrative 2-year contract extension with CBS which will please the many fans of his long running, highly successful sitcom, Two And A Half Men.  He’ll earn nearly 2 million an episode plus his share of syndication royalties.  Because of this last-minute deal, Charlie Sheen is currently the highest paid actor on Television.

Like that neurotic Assistant To The Travelling Secretary, no matter how bad his behaviour gets, Sheen still can’t get fired.  No wonder I’m an atheist.

Loser:  WWE Wrestlers At The Movies

They can’t all be Dwayne Johnson.  But that doesn’t stop them from trying.

Once again, contracted wrestlers from Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment organization tried their luck on the big screen.  The results were dismal. 

In May, Chris Jericho, Mark Henry, Kane, MVP, The Great Khali and The Big Show all appeared in the MacGyver spoof, MacGruber, the umpteenth full-length theatrical version of an original Saturday Night Live skit.  Unfortunately, the Will Forte vehicle was foolishly booked to open on the same day as Shrek Forever After.  The fourth and supposedly final chapter in that lucrative animation franchise made over 700 million worldwide. 

What was MacGruber’s overall take?  A little over 9 million.  It was dropped from North American cinemas after only three weeks, despite a big push from the WWE.  Critically, reviews were mixed.  (Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 48% rotten rating.)  Guess Forte and fellow SNL castmate Kristen Wiig (who plays MacGruber’s love interest) won’t be invited back to guest host Raw anytime soon.

Then, in September, John Cena made his latest attempt at movie stardom by playing a distant older brother who teaches his younger sibling how to conquer his opponents in the world of high school amateur wrestling in Legendary.  It lasted a fortnight and made roughly $200,000.  Critics piledrived it into the ground.  (It earned a 17% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes.)  Wal-Mart started selling the DVD less than three weeks after its limited theatrical run.  It will be more widely available December 28th.  That’s right, after Christmas.

Finally, there’s Knucklehead, another film featuring The Big Show, this time in the lead.  Released briefly in October, the few critics who got to screen it hated it.  (It’s managed only a meagre 10% rotten rating on RT.  Only one critic liked it.)  It’s not certain how much money it took in.  (I couldn’t find any box office reports.)  And yes, it’s already out on DVD.

Did we not learn anything from No Holds Barred?

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, December 13, 2010
11:47 p.m.

Published in: on December 13, 2010 at 11:47 pm  Comments (1)  

Winners & Losers Of 2010 (Part One)

Winner:  The Canadian National Winter Olympic Team

For the first time in 22 years, The Winter Olympics were held in The Great White North.  Expectations were high for the host nation.  The pressure was on to win 27 medals.  It seemed a daunting challenge.  Not one Canadian athlete had ever won the elusive Gold medal on home soil before (at least in an official sport).  During the Calgary Games in 1988, Canada only managed to win 2 Silvers and 3 Bronze.  In the 1976 Montreal Summer Games, our side earned 5 Silvers and 6 Bronze.  Surely, 2010 would offer a more satisfying overall result.

Little did we know just how determined our talented athletes truly were this past February.  The Gold drought ended immediately on Day 3 thanks to an inspired performance by Alexandre Bilodeau in Men’s Moguls.  On Day 5, cutie pie snowboarder Maelle Ricker won Gold in the exciting Women’s Snowboard Cross Final.  Speed skater Christine Nesbitt finished first in the Women’s 1000 Metre Final on Day 7.  The very next day, a supremely pumped Jon Montgomery won Gold in Men’s Skeleton.  The country shared his joy and beamed with pride for all of the medallists up to that point.

By the end of the first week, Canada had also earned 3 Silvers and a Bronze.  But that was just a warm-up.  When all was said and done, Canada’s athletes would earn a grand total of 26 medals, 14 of which were Gold, a new record for host nations. (Click here for the complete list of medallists.)

From February 22nd (Day 11) to the 28th (Day 18), Canada had at least one athlete standing proudly on the top of the podium each day as the national anthem played in front of an ecstatic Vancouver crowd with millions more savouring the coverage on CTV, TSN, The Outdoor Life Network, APTN and Sportsnet. 

It’s difficult to pick a standout moment of triumph for Team Canada.  Most will probably pick either Sidney Crosby’s dramatic overtime goal against the Americans in the Men’s Hockey Final or the awesome display of elegance and grace exhibited by Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir during their historic Long Program in Ice Dancing.  Others will cite Kevin Martin’s redemption in Men’s Curling, Ashleigh MacIvor’s dominance in the Women’s Ski Cross event, Charles Hamelin embracing his beautiful Silver medallist girlfriend Marianne St.-Gelais after taking Gold in one of the short track events or the incomparable Women’s Hockey Team who crushed much of their competition while en route to another first place finish.

But for me personally, no performance was more moving and impressive than that of figure skater Joannie Rochette.  The sudden death of her mom was one of the biggest shocks of the entire games (right up there with the tragic demise of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili during that infamous practice run).  Would she cut her Olympics short or would she carry on and do her best in honour of her mom?  In the end, not only did she prove herself to be incredibly brave for even going out onto the ice to compete in the first place, she did a hell of a job winning that Bronze medal.  Of all the success stories Canada had at the Olympics this year, Rochette’s hard fought 3rd Place finish, in a field loaded with superior talent who didn’t have to deal with sudden, overwhelming personal grief, was, without a doubt, the most inspired.

Loser:  Mel Gibson

14 years ago, he was on top of the world after winning two Academy Awards for his terrific Braveheart.  He was happily married and hugely popular. 

Not anymore.  Of all the bad years Mel Gibson has had in his life, 2010 likely ranks close to the top.  In January, after a long absence from being a leading man, the 54-year-old actor starred in Edge Of Darkness.  Made for a reported 80 million, it barely broke even (and that includes foreign grosses).  Critics were divided on the thriller’s merits.  (Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 55% rotten rating.) 

In April, his longterm marriage to Robyn Gibson came to an end.  The only good parts about that, according to TMZ?  It was amicable and they’ll continue to work together at Mel’s film company, Icon Productions.

Then came the summer.  RadarOnline started posting disturbed comments Gibson had made to his then-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva over the phone earlier in the year.  When he wasn’t being a scary mysogynist admitting to physical abuse, he was freely offering racial epithets.  Comedians and the media had a field day.  It didn’t help that Gibson and Grigorieva were already in the middle of a nasty custody battle over their baby daughter.  Investigations were launched and the whole sordid affair remains unresolved, as of this writing.  Gibson was dropped by his talent agency and Leonardo DiCaprio refused to work with him on a possible film project. 

When the possibility of Gibson making a cameo in the upcoming sequel to The Hangover became news this fall, one of the stars raised such a fuss that the idea was quickly cancelled.  You know you’re truly in the doghouse when the same actor had no problem working with Mike Tyson in the original.

Finally, there’s The Beaver dilemma.  Gibson’s follow-up to Edge Of Darkness was supposed to be released sometime this year but unsurprisingly, it’s been delayed due to all of Gibson’s bad press.  According to the Internet Movie Database, it’s only scheduled to open in three European countries early next year.  It still does not have a firm domestic release date.  (December 16 UPDATE:  It does now.  Summit Entertainment, the film’s distributor, has penciled it in for March 23rd where it will begin an initial limited engagement.  On April 8th, it will get a wider release.  Entertainment Weekly has a brief report here.)

Is it any wonder he sometimes wear disguises when he goes out now?

Winner:  Katy Perry

The buxom singer’s third album, Teenage Daydream, has been certified platinum in three countries and was a surprise Grammy nominee for Album Of The Year.  It’s also a finalist in the Best Pop Vocal Album category.  (On the downside, reviews were mixed.)  Its first three singles – the title track and California Gurls (each nominated for a Grammy apiece) plus Firework – all topped the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart.  (The first two have collectively sold 5 million copies in America.)  She gamely appeared on a Saturday Night Live skit humourously spoofing the ridiculous controversy regarding her untelevised appearance on Sesame Street.  (The producers claimed they received a lot of complaints from overly worrisome parents about her cleavage.  It can only be seen online.)  She released a new fragrance called Purr and married multimedia comedian Russell Brand. 

Will her participation in two films next year continue her hot streak?  We shall see.

Loser:  James O’Keefe

He was once the Golden Boy of the right wing, thanks to his sadly successful campaign to bring down ACORN, an advocacy group for minorities and low income Americans.  But in 2010, he came crashing down to Earth more than once.

In late January, O’Keefe was arrested, along with three fellow conservative activists, by the FBI.  They were caught falsely imitating phone company employees while attempting to wiretap Democratic Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu’s office phone system.  Despite looking at a possible 10-year sentence, O’Keefe ended up being fined for less than 2000 dollars, put on probation for three years and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.  Numerous right-wingers publicly criticized O’Keefe’s actions.

Between March and September, separate investigations by the Brooklyn District Attorney, California District Attorney and The General Accounting Office each failed to substantiate any serious wrongdoing on the part of ACORN employees O’Keefe spoke to on camera.  Furthermore, they noted the suspicious editing of the original videos he made with partner in crime, Hannah Giles.  (Regardless, ACORN has since filed for bankruptcy.) 

In June, O’Keefe released a video on the BigGovernment.com website that supposedly exposed chicanery involving census workers in New Jersey.  ABC News revealed that there was nothing to the story because O’Keefe had edited out footage that would’ve easily disproved his flimsy accusations of criminal wrongdoing.  Even O’Keefe’s political allies in the media weren’t convinced to cover the story in any significant way

In July, O’Keefe and Giles were slapped with a lawsuit by an ACORN employee who lost his job over the videos.

Then came the CNN debacle.  Reporter Abbie Boudreau was putting together a documentary about young right wing activists and wanted to do an on-camera interview with O’Keefe.  After a series of phone calls, Boudreau agreed to meet with him in his office in Maryland.  Unfortunately, O’Keefe was setting her up.  The plan involved inviting Boudreau on a boat that would be decorated with sexual paraphenalia with the intention of seducing her and making her look unprofessional.  The whole thing was to be secretly videotaped but a squeamish female colleague of O’Keefe’s tipped off Boudreau before the ridiculous scam could even get started. 

Later on, CNN obtained emails and documents that shed further light on the whole sordid plan.  There was a script O’Keefe planned to recite from on camera before Boudreau boarded the boat that equated her hair colour with her intelligence (“bubble-headed-bleach-blonde”) and plainly laid out his overall intention (“I want to punk CNN.”).  Instead of discrediting the 30-year-old cable channel and its decorated reporter, O’Keefe exposed himself as a hateful, dimwitted fool with no class and no integrity.  No amount of public backpedalling on his part could shatter that rock solid truth.

Finally, in late October, he released a series of secretly recorded videos from a conference for the New Jersey Education Assocation in an effort to discredit teacher unions.  Curiously, despite calling a press conference, O’Keefe couldn’t even be bothered to show up and stand by his fishy allegations.  (A Tea Party guy did his dirty work for him.)   Like the Census mishap, it hasn’t gotten much traction in the mainstream media.

That’s what happens when you’ve already destroyed your own credibility.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, December 10, 2010
12:53 a.m.

Published in: on December 10, 2010 at 12:54 am  Leave a Comment