Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Celebrity News

Now there's a title you never expected to see on this blog. Don't worry, I haven't suddenly developed an interest in manufactured pop stars climbing out of limos sans underwear, or who wore what, who wore who, or what wore who to self-congratulatory awards ceremonies. I just don't feel like writing a major treatise on anything tonight, and there are actually a few celebrity stories floating around that interest me. I'll be keeping these brief by my standards, but some heavily slanted commentary is a given.

David Letterman has reportedly married his longtime girlfriend and the mother of his child. (No, he's not a polygamist, they're the same woman.)

I was a huge Letterman fan for many years. I once went about seven years (from junior high to university) without missing a night. No, not an episode, a night. Including reruns. This was not healthy. Granted, I often set the VCR to tape it, went to bed, and watched it the next day, but that's still a lot of hours.

I'm glad he finally took this step. He often joked that having been married once before "was plenty", but I really expected him to do the right thing after his son was born, right around the same time as mine.

Here's the commentary for this one: I highly recommend marriage, to put it mildly, for anyone who's ready for it. And if somebody is ready to shack up and play house, they're ready for marriage. Common-law "arrangements" are disrespectful to both parties involved, and downright irresponsible once children are involved. I'm happy to see Letterman and his wife setting things right.

I could rant on this topic much longer, and probably will one day (it's on the list), but let's move on.

In other marriage news, Eddie Van Halen is also engaged. That fact isn't as interesting to me, though, as what Eddie said in this interview about his planned nuptials: "My brother is going to marry us. He can actually legally marry us. He’s an ordained minister. Reverend Al."

I'd love to think that Alex Van Halen has actually become a Christian - or, at least, a public one, since I've never heard him say that he isn't already. I'd love to think that he was honestly saved and went through the training to become a legitimate minister of the Gospel. I'd love to think that about any of the members of Van Halen, or pretty much anyone else for that matter.

Why, though, do I suspect that Alex Van Halen's "ministerial credentials" were obtained through a website that will certify anyone as an ordained minister (or locksmith, or dietitian) for fifty bucks?

In other self-destructive musician news, Steven Page has left Barenaked Ladies. I'm disappointed by this, first because BNL was one of the newest bands that interested me. I haven't enjoyed one of their albums all the way through since Born On A Pirate Ship, but each album since had at least a couple of good tracks, which isn't a bad batting average.

When BNL first showed up, I thought they were a novelty act. All I heard were the "big singles" - mostly If I Had $1000000, which was omnipresent. Then one day I decided to listen to Gordon, their first major release, all the way through, and was blown away. These guys were actually good, far better than the funny singles had indicated. I loved the thoughtful songs, often featuring lyrics that bordered on self-loathing, like Wrap Your Arms Around Me and The Flag.

They really hit their stride with the next two albums, Maybe You Should Drive and Born On A Pirate Ship. Of course, being more intelligent, these albums didn't sell nearly as well as Gordon. The band was considered a one-hit wonder novelty act for a while. I loved both of these albums, and Page's contributions both as writer and vocalist were big reasons why. Great Provider, "A", I Know, and I Live With It Every Day are masterpieces, and Page's vocal on Break Your Heart is one of my favourite performances.

The bloom came off the rose for me with Stunt. They had finally made a comeback, largely by breaking through in the United States, but the songs just weren't as good as the old ones. There were still highlights, like One Week and Call And Answer, but the album as a whole was weaker than the last two. It's all been downhill from there, as each album since has had fewer tracks that appealed to me.

I wasn't surprised to read later that Page had suffered from depression and substance abuse through the nineties. In retrospect, it was all there in the lyrics. Like John Lennon, Page seemed to use the recording studio as a confessional.

I was still disappointed to see later that Page had separated from his wife and been arrested on drug charges. It seemed like he was destined to become a Behind The Music cautionary tale. Seeing now that he's out of the group doesn't lessen those fears. Over the past few years, Page has lost his wife and his band, and obviously fallen prey to a worsening drug problem. I worry that he's adrift. A lot of his identity would have to have been wrapped up in his marriage and his career with BNL.

I hope this all ends well for him. I don't want to see a news story (it wouldn't make the front page, but it would be on the Net, and it would make the back pages of the papers here in Canada) that starts, "Steven Page, former singer with "If I Had $1000000" band Barenaked Ladies, was found...."

Linking this to the last story, several years back I felt the same trepidation for Eddie Van Halen. His marriage ended, he had medical problems, and the band that had been his life for decades was in shambles. He seems to have made it through and turned things around. I hope Page can do the same.

In other Canadian news, I am pleased to note that zombie guru George Romero has reportedly become a Canadian citizen.

As a zombie movie loving Canuck, I would like to welcome Mr. Romero to our chilly nation, and urge him to get to work on several more films whose titles end with "Of The Dead", toot-de-freakin'-sweet (that's how we talk up here - he'll need to know that).

It's nice to see Canadian immigration officials make a good decision. I'm not sure how George was allowed in, what with having no terrorism or prostitution charges (that I know of) on his record, but I'm glad they didn't apply those usual admission standards to him.

While I'm in this neighbourhood, I'd like to take a moment to encourage Canadian border agents to stand by another good call and keep terrorist cheerleader George Galloway out of Canada. He's making thinly veiled threats to just show up at the border trying to bluster his way in and dare them to arrest him.

If he does, call his bluff. Arrest him and any members of his entourage who want to press the matter (giving them each an opportunity to back off), and "extraordinary rendition" their butts off to a prison in one of those countries that Galloway likes so much more than Western democracies. I hear Syrian prisons are as far from nice as you can get at this time of year. Or any time, for that matter.

Confiscate all their luggage, of course. Anything that's nice and looks like it might fit can be given to George Romero as a welcoming present.

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of the train station platform from which we watched a parade of huge terrifying electric fish. That's my son standing right-of-centre (genetics win out!) in shorts and blue T-shirt.


Anonymous said...

Richard Pryer has a brilliant bit on his cocaine use. Guess what- it's bad for you. I have trouble mustering sympathy for Stevie Page or any other cokehead who has all the success he could want and then blows it up his nose. He's a real socialist, so he might not know much about the importance of personal responsibility.
It's too bad- the BNL were a great band. I remember Zirbert's father coming into the room, delighted about this great song he heard that referenced Yoko Ono.

Back when we was fab...


HomeSchooler said...

TB - You made me think of a great quote, coined by my best friend: "People have different ways of dealing with stress. Some people drink. Some people do coke. I drink Coke." Although it's still not "good" for you, it's better than the other two options.

Derek, Ella, and I have all been enjoying the BNL most recent project, "Snack Time." It's nice to have a CD for kids that the parents can enjoy too. Most children's CDs are truly terrible! My personal favourite: Crazy ABC's (though I question their use of the apostrophe). It's particularly sad that Page's arrest and subsequent leaving the band happened so soon after its release.