Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Death threat, over-accessorized

Anthony Pellicano, a "celebrity private eye," was recently indicted on a smorgasborg of charges, including racketeering, unauthorized computer access, interception of wire communications and possession of a wiretapping device. By itself, this would not really trip my my carefully calibrated celebrity "news" trigger. However, the article contains this gem:

Pellicano's troubles began in 2002 when, prosecutors claim, he hired Alexander Proctor to threaten Anita Busch, then a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, who was working on a story about actor Steven Seagal and possible links to the Mafia. Proctor allegedly placed a dead fish with a rose in its mouth on Busch's car and made a bullet-sized hole in the windshield. He also left a sign with the word "stop," court documents show.
Picture the scene: Proctor, eager to please on his first job as a death-threat maker to the stars, has located the reporter's car and placed, let's say, a dead fish on it. Classic! The reference to the "Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes" scene in The Godfather is unmistakable, and especially appropriate since the whole point here is that the reporter shouldn't mess with the mob.

But then doubt starts to creep in. What if, he thinks to himself, she thinks someone just dropped a fish on her car by accident? I'd better make it clear that this was purposeful. I know! I'll shoot through her windshield!

Bullet hole accomplished, he surveys his work again. Now he starts to worry that the overall message has gotten jumbled. The whole "sleeps with the fishes" thing isn't actually accurate given that nobody's has been killed yet, and the bullet hole has a similar connotative problem. One way to address that, he decides, is to spell out what threatened individual is supposed to do--in this case, stop investigating Steven Segal's links to the Mafia. Proctor finds a scrap piece of paper in his back seat and starts to write this down, but his printing is too big, so he shortens it to "Stop."

OK, now there's a fish, a bullet hole, and a sign that says "Stop." Surely the threat is now complete? Proctor isn't sure. He wants his work-product to be just perfect, and he's afraid he's neglected the fact that the reporter in this case is female. Is it really appropriate to threaten a woman with all these harsh symbols? A touch of femininity could make the overall scene more personalized, more attractive, and thus ultimately more frightening. He runs down to the corner store, buys a single rose, returns to the car and carefully arranges it in the fish's mouth.

When Coco Chanel said that you should look in the mirror before you leave the house and take one thing off, she may have thought she was talking about jewelry, but it is now clear that she was making a plea across the ages to Alexander Proctor, the Mary-Kate Olsen of the celebrity death threat world. Please, darling, less is more!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Turin Hills 90210

The TV gods have finally answered our collective prayers that they fill the void in the trashy prime-time soap opera universe they created when they smote 90210 and Melrose Place from the earth lo those many years ago.

Working as they do in mysterious ways, they didn't do by improving season 2 of Desperate Housewives as you might have expected. Instead they turned the Olympics into a soap. Speed skating, previously a weird cross between the junior-high roller skating rink and NASCAR, has now become a juicy catfight worthy of Brenda Walsh in her prime.

Shani Davis was the first to bare a claw when he ditched the team pursuit event, thus dashing Mark Hendrick's chances at winning five gold medals, and declared he "could care less what other people say about me." Meow! When Davis won a gold medal in the 1000 meters, Hendrick was there in the stands, glaring into the distance the way an angry diva does on a daytime drama after her rival has left the room--you half-expected him to explain his plans for vengeance to the camera. Grrrrrr! Then Hendrick threw a tantrum when the press mentioned Davis, saying, "This Shani thing is really getting on my nerves right now because I'm the one with the gold medal." Hissssss!

I, for one, could not be more psyched about the Olympics' newfound bitchiness. I can barely wait for ice dancing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Welcome back, Katie?

Gawker reports that Life & Style (a not-particularly-credible USWeekly wannabe) says TomKat is breaking up. They've denied it three ways from Sunday. The question is, if it's true, why are they (reportedly) trying to keep up appearances by pretending to be together until the baby's born? If Katie has realized that she doesn't really wanna be the fembot arm-candy of an insane Scientologist midget, why can't she see that the rest of us don't want that for her, either?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Wherein George Clooney loses, but quickly regains, my eternal love

It was just a normal Saturday afternoon--Mr. T&A watching the Olympics; me barely paying attention, wondering when Turin changed its name to Torino; whether luging is really all that hard, involving as it does mostly lying down; whether luging is a verb--when all of a sudden a Budweiser ad snapped me back from my reverie.

Whose oh-so-familiar voice was narrating? Deep but not too deep, gravelly but not too gravelly, sultry but not in a Fabio way--OMG, George Clooney, why have you bartered your soul to a peddler of pee masquerading as beer?

Mr. T&A foolishly thought I might be wrong about the identity of the narrator, but a quick Google revealed I was right.

However, before my shock could harden into disgust, Georgie started to work his magic charms to win me back. First, he distracted me by directing my ire elsewhere. The article about the Budweiser ad mentions that Russell Crowe has dissed George and other actors, including Harrison Ford and Robert DeNiro, for appearing in ads, saying they had broken their "social contract" with audiences. Oh yeah, Annoying Russell?, I thought. Au contraire, I think you had already broken that particular contract with the phone you used to hit a hotel clerk in the face. George then suavely completed the task of putting me back on his side by joining in my anti-Russell jeering:
Clooney hit back with a jibe at Crowe's band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts. "I'm glad he set us straight. Harrison, Bob and I were putting a band together called Grunting for 30 Feet, and that would also fall under the heading 'bad use of celebrity'. Thanks for the heads up," he said.

Ahh, George, you're so funny. And hot. Can somebody get me a Bud?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Kilts I have known and loved

In my senior year of high school, I wore a red kilt and a long red wool vest to the Homecoming dance. I bought it at the Limited, and I felt it was quite fetching and fashion-forward, and certainly a considerable improvement over my previous Homecoming ensembles, which included two shiny, frilly silk shirts; a black velvet choker; a pair of dyeable shoes; and one tight, forest-green suede skirt.

Perhaps that sense of progress, of challenges met, bad outfits bested, obstacles overcome, explains why I kept the entire outfit (minus the large brass safety pin that went on the kilt, which disappeared when some girl borrowed the kilt to wear as part of a schoolgirl costume in college, for which I still resent her somewhat) for 10 years. I packed it up and moved it, unworn, approximately 12 times in that period, each time thinking something along the lines of "Some day kilts and long red wool vests will be cool again."

It was only two years ago that my friend M. finally shattered this false fantasy by asking me to try the outfit on in front of other people. Soon after that incident, the kilt and its vesty partner were offered up at a garage sale, and then, after being snubbed by bargain-hunters, banished to the Salvation Army.

That might have been the end of that story, except for this:

That is my kilt. I mean, I don't think it's my actual kilt--I think mine was a smaller size--but you kind of never know with kilts, their expandability was part of the appeal. This picture appeared in this Washington Post article about how the ponytailed fellow tried to challenge his New Jersey school district's dress code, which bans shorts in the winter, on the grounds that it discriminated against boys, since girls are allowed to wear skirts in the winter. The ACLU helped come up with a compromise solution wherein he can wear a skirt too: hence the kilt.

The entire article is about what a bad fashion decision the kilt is, and you really can't argue with the analysis. But what does this mean for me and my erstwhile kilt outfit? Was it just random chance that it was this dude, and not me, profiled in the WaPo for our unfortunate high school fashion decisions? How can I chide DC for its pleated pants whilst some sequel to the kilt might be lurking in my closet even as we speak?

Sobering thoughts. Watch out, baby Goodwill donations box, momma's got a big, fat nightcrawler of fashion missteps for you.*

*This is a poorly executed reference to the Colbert Report.