Category Archives: Icons

All the brilliant, shiny people.

You Wanna Hot Body? Call Britney.

black cutout heartThere was a window of time, back in my 20s, when I could have been considered a “gym rat,” meaning I went there a lot because I didn’t have much else to do. As a result, I lost a bunch of weight and fit into a pair of tiny pants that I wore to that one party that one time and never wore again. I found them four years later while cleaning out some old clothes and marveled at the circumference of the waist. It was an oddity, like excavating Pompeii and uncovering the sleeping dog forever frozen in ash.

I know what was motivating me then: I was single. Now that I’ve been married for a long time, I need new motivation and it came in the form of standing in a dressing room and looking at what was becoming of my body. I looked at my back fat and thought, “I’m not ready to give up.” I’m not going quietly out to pasture, or worse, to the glue factory. I can still be foxy.

But I needed a task master. Enter Britney Spears.

Britney Spears, Work Bitch video

If anyone knows what it’s like to go to seed, Britney does. If girl doesn’t watch it, she tends to get a gut. But still, she came back from paunchy, jean-short wearing baldness to be pretty fly, so I feel safe in her hands. That’s why her song “Work Bitch,” is my absolute fav workout song.

heart-2.1You wanna hot body
You wanna Bugatti
You wanna Maserati

You better work bitch

Yes, yes (I had to look up what a Bugatti is but, yeah, it’s pretty hot) and sure, why not? Let’s stay with that hot body for a second. At least Britney is being honest with you… you want a hot body? Look, you gots to put in the time. And if that means you have to stay on that elliptical machine in front of the gym window, staring out into a January night of sub-zero temps wishing for all the world you were at home on the couch with a pint of caramel/cone/fudge/pretzel ice cream, so be it. And for God’s sake don’t be one of those women who read a magazine while they work out.

Look, if you’re tired of the arm flab, if you can’t stand to let your thighs expand one more inch, you better crank that mo-fo up to level 11.


You wanna Lamborghini
Sip martinis
Look hot in a bikini

You better work bitch

OK, so there’s more emphasis on cars than I’d like (do you think she had trouble thinking of other things to want?). I drive a Kia. The most envious I can remember being of a car was on a recent snowy day when a woman with a new Subaru Outback plowed right through a snowy parking lot like it was no biggie.

But, hell yes, I want to sip martinis and I want firm arms while doing it. I don’t want to reach for my martini only to have my triceps wobble like I’m doling out mashed potatoes in the lunch room. Double points for me if I’m sipping a martini on someone’s fab yacht while wearing a bikini (in my mind, when I’m on the treadmill, this bikini is always white. A white bikini is super Britney, isn’t it? Maybe I need a white bikini. With little gold stars all over it.)


You wanna live fancy
Live in a big mansion
Party in France

You better work bitch

Everyone knows you can’t party in France if you’re fat! They are all skinny over there! Really though, I don’t need a mansion. A house with two bathrooms would be just fine. But I do want to live fancy by having some hot jeans that look great in the butt.

Which brings me to exercise payoff #1: since my renewed attention to exercise, I achieved a dream: I fit into a pair of jeans I’ve been saving because they used to fit me and I was sad that they no longer did. I remember wearing this pair of jeans and having extra room in the ass. Then all the sudden (it seemed) I couldn’t get them over my ass. Now they are up and zipped and just somewhat tight. I can sit in them comfortably.

I am so into them. And these are cheap jeans! These are not Rag and Bone or Hudson or even 7 For All Mankind. I think the brand is TINT, which probably folded up shop after producing jeans in Bangladesh for about 2 months back in 2007. They are not even skinny jeans because skinny jeans weren’t even invented yet when I bought them. I don’t care. I’ve been rocking the TINTs like every other day.

black cutout heartBring it on
Ring the alarm
Don’t stop now
Just be the champion
Work it hard like it’s your profession
Watch out now
‘Cause here it comes

The last time I did my cardio workout and was sucking air in mile two of my run, this song came on and when she sang, “Work it hard like it’s your profession,” I thought, “Hell, yes, working out is like a second job.” I finish work and I go to my part-time job at the gym, which is becoming a hard body.

heart-7Go call the police
Go call the governor
I bring the trouble
That means the trouble y’all
I make it bubble up
Call me the bubbler
I am the bad bitch
The bitch that you love enough

Yes, alert Governor Mark Dayton: I’m working out again. You will want to sip martinis with me and discuss the shortage of propane this winter and if you are super nice I will show you my biceps.

Honestly, this is the most ridiculous part of the song, especially if you grew up in Wisconsin calling a water fountain a “bubbler.”

But it ends on just the right note: be the bitch that you love enough (to whip into shape.)

If you have a hard time working out, I suggest losing yourself in a fantasy. Pretend you’re Britney. It’s 2009 and your hair is almost all grown back in. The meds are working. You divorced Kevin! Now The Circus starring Britney Spears Tour is about to begin and all eyes are on you. You’ve committed to some sexy costumes, including a spangly bikini. If Britney could do this all this stuff (granted she’s got resources, but it still couldn’t have been easy), you can go on the treadmill and pretend to be her for twenty minutes.

So hold your head high
Fingers to the sky
Now they don’t believe ya
But they gonna need ya
Keep it building higher and higher
Keep it building higher and higher

Work work work work work work work work (Work!)

Britney Spears with whip

Dead at the Movies: Hitchcock

Drawing of the director Alfred Hitchcock.

Oh, the agony of trying to draw Hitchcock. You can’t see it here, but there were practically holes in the paper from erasing.

Hitchcock, our third biopic this week about someone famous + dead, tells the story of “the influential filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and wife Alma Reville during the filming of Psycho in 1959.”

While the study of the relationship between Hitchcock and his wife is probably highly entertaining, I think the real reason for the entire movie was so that they could cast Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh in Psycho and get her in that shower scene. That’s got Maxim Magazine cover written all over it.

Also, I’ve read that the Hitchcock and Alma relationship is surface at best – no dark demons here. There is another Hitchcock biopic out on HBO called The Girl (didn’t something like this happen with two Truman Capote biopics at the same time a number of years ago – both of them regrettably forgettable?), which movie critic Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune says is about the harassing relationship between Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren during the two films following Psycho: The Birds and Marnie. It’s a lot darker than Hitchcock, so if you’re looking for dirt, plan on watching The Girl.

Or wait for my scathing, no-hold-barred biopic about the making of Vertigo and Hitchcock’s inappropriate,  Svengali-like relationship with Jimmy Stewart.

Dead At the Movies: Lincoln

Number 2 on my list of biopics to see this fall: Lincoln!

Drawing of Abraham Lincoln, the greatest American president of all time.

This one speaks for itself – or has already been spoken of enough by others that, if you are at all inclined to see a 2 hour and 20 minute film about Lincoln, you would at least be aware that it was released. If it needed a harder sell in the first place, Spielberg wouldn’t have called his movie just Lincoln. He would had to have found another title to enthrall us. Guess What Happened in 1865? or Back When Things Were Less Cool Than They Are Now or Patriotism Unveiled.

Really, I just wanted to draw a picture of Lincoln. But I did see this movie over Thanksgiving weekend and I gave it a “B.” Daniel Day Lewis will of course take home an Oscar but I wanted him to turn that folksy dial down just a few notches. I haven’t seen that much walking around with a blanket wrapped around one’s shoulders since the days of Newlyweds with Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey.

But still… Lincoln!

P.S. If you’re a Mary Todd Lincoln fan, I invite you to read my post about her from back when I was examining the First Ladies and their cookery.

In Our World, There Lives a Little Mountain

I’ve shared my portrait of Bob Ross before but I want to revisit him today.

I’ve been in a weird sleeping pattern lately. I go to sleep easily only to wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning, wide awake and thinking. It’s the low-quality thinking, repetitive, that accomplishes nothing. I’m certainly not solving anything.

But it’s hard to break the thought cycle on your own, especially at that time of night.

So I’ve been trying to think of things to help me get back to sleep. Suddenly I remembered Bob Ross because of his voice. He had one of the calmest voices I’ve ever heard. I thought, “If I could listen to Bob Ross in the dark, I could fall back asleep.”

I finally got around to Googling “Bob Ross mp3” tonight.


Someone in the world is super awesome. Because they put up free mp3s of a full season of Bob Ross’s Joy of Painting TV show right here. I’m listening to an episode called “Blue Winter” now.

So if you’re ever having one of those nights, embrace Bob. Put on the headphones and lie back. He’s no longer physically with us but he’s so with us.

Happy little clouds this Friday.

Xciting Xmas Gift Guide… Er… No… Something Better

I was going to come out with Part IV of my Xciting Xmas Gift Guide but today I decided no, I will not. It’s every human for themselves when it comes to gift decisions and procurement at this stage of the game – there are so many gift guides, sales, promotions, stores, etc., that surely people can manage to find something.

When in doubt, make a donation in someone’s name to the Human Fund. Done and done.

So let’s talk about Family Feud instead.

Richard Dawson hosting the game show Family Feud.

The other night I was cycling through my limited TV channel options (no cable) and I saw Steve Harvey hosting Family Feud. They finally got around to a black host! He seems to do an OK job for a game show host, although he’s not off the Danger List yet because of his book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy and Commitment, which reduces women and men to easy cliches who all want, think, need the same things. Actually, I might make my book club read this.

The Family Feud moment I caught was Steve complaining about his wife scolding him for peeing on the toilet seat (clearly, in complaining about this, she was not thinking like a man). She admonished him with this rhyme:

“If you sprinkle while you tinkle, be a sweetie and lift the seatie.”

High hilarity, that. I think I saw that  on a dusty cross-stitch at a thrift store the other day.

But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. How many hosts has this show had? It seems like 20 but the actual answer is six. Let’s start at the beginning of the Family Feud timeline with the host I grew up with (and will forever judge all other hosts against): Richard Dawson.

The King: Richard Dawson, 1975-1985 & 1994-1995

Richard Dawson was the coolest host of Family Feud ever.Richard Dawson is a Brit with a melodious voice and the wearer of sweet haircuts that rivals those of early 00’s George Clooney. You may, if you are old(ish) or just really into TV, recall that he was on Hogan’s Heroes, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and a year of The New Dick Van Dyke Show.

Question: Could someone with the last name Van Dyke make it in showbiz today?

Why was Dawson the best host of the Feud? Because he always seemed tipsy, jonesing for a smoke and completely uninterested in who actually won the game, preferring instead to concentrate on his real hobby: kissing the female contestants. When I was a girl watching Family Feud, I tried to imagine what Richard would smell like when he came in for the smooch – cigarettes, expensive cologne and maybe a bit like pastrami on rye.

Here is a round-up of the best things about him:

1. He ran away from home to join the Merchant Marine.
2. His early stage name was Dickie Dawson.
3. His first marriage was to a British sex symbol, back when people still said things like “sex symbol.”
4. In 1967, Dawson released a psychedelic 45 record – just two songs – and then never released any more music.
5. At one point he was on a show called Masquerade Party that also featured Nipsey Russell. Do you know Nipsey? He’s rad.
6. His love of kissing the ladies on Family Feud earned him the nickname The Kissing Bandit. I don’t believe any lawsuits were ever filed against him. It was a simpler, less litigious, time.
7. “On Dawson’s first show (on Feud) upon his return (1994)  he received a 25-second standing ovation when he walked on set.” Seriously. They timed that shit.

Dark Legacy: Ray Combs, 1988-1994

Ray Combs was the second host of Family Feud.Combs was a comedian who quit his job as a furniture salesperson in Ohio to move to Hollywood with his family and make it. He found work doing audience warm-ups for shows like The Golden Girls and Amen. He appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and got roles on sitcoms… he was a hard worker. Finally, he got the regular gig hosting the Family Feud reboot. However, by 1993 the rating for the show were on such a slide that the network decided to bring Dawson back in order to save the show and Combs was fired.

Can I just share with you this awesome anecdote about this?

“The taping of his final episode aired in first-run syndication on May 27, 1994. During the “Fast Money” bonus round, the five answers given by the second contestant each netted zero points. Ray joked, “You know, I’ve done this show for six years and this [is] the first time I had a person that actually got no points and I think it’s a damn fine way to go out. Thought I was a loser until you walked up here. You made me look like a man.” Then, instead of mingling with the two competing families at the end of the show, Combs walked off the set immediately after his sign-off.”

Here’s where it takes a dark turn: Combs never really recovered after the Feud. He had a car accident that messed up his spine, he had some comedy clubs that failed, he got divorced and he lost his house in Ohio. He became suicidal, was admitted to a psych ward for 72-hour observation but managed to kill himself by hanging himself in his closet with bed sheets.

Wow. Sorry for the downer. I’m going to take a short break.

The Caustic Clown: Louie Anderson, 1999-2002

Louie Anderson hosted Family Feud for several years.We all know Louie. Well, we do here in Minnesota because he’s from Minneapolis and we cling to our few celebrities here pretty tightly. See, we’re funny! We’re talented! Home to Louie Anderson and don’t forget those Coen Bros.

Louie is a stand-up comedian who had some runs at shows of his own – an animated series for Fox and then The Louie Show for CBS, which aired 6 times. But kudos to Louie for portraying someone from Duluth on national TV.

What stands out about Louie’s tenure on the Feud is contentiousness. First, he beat out Dolly Parton for the position and I think we as a nation would have benefited from a Dolly Parton-hosted Family Feud, so thanks, Louie, for robbing us of this opportunity. Next, he asked Richard Dawson to come on the show for the first episode and kind of, lay hands on him, or crown him as the new king  but Dawson refused.

Well-played, Dawson.

Finally, Louie got the boot and was replaced by Home Improvement star Richard Karn (yeah, that other guy from Home Improvement). On his way out, Louie said the show would not last, could not possibly go on without him, for more than a season. It did, and of course it would, because that’s life, Louie. Everyone is replaceable.

That Guy From Home Improvement: Richard Karn, 2002-2006

Richard Karn hosting Family Feud.Maybe the coolest thing about Richard Karn is that he found out about the casting call for Home Improvement while at traffic school for a ticket he received. This seems to be right up there with sitting at the soda fountain at the drug store and being discovered by an agent. We do like our Hollywood Lore, after all.

He was a guest star on the pilot episode of the show and then became a regular.

And that about sums up the coolness factor of Richard Karn. After he was replaced on Feud, he went on to host a game show called Bingo America.

I think our examination of Karn is complete.

J. Peterman 4-Evah: John O’Hurley, 2006-2010

John O'Hurley hosting Family Feud.No matter what crappy show John O’Hurley might show up on for the rest of his professional life, he gets a pass because he played J. Peterman on Seinfeld. For example, he could host Bingo America and be known as The Beloved Host of Bingo America. In fact, I can do better than that and give you a real-life example – he was on Dancing With the Stars but that shit rolls right off him, like hurling turds at a Teflon wall.

But what really gives this guy cred is his love of dogs. Dude loves dogs and hosts The National Dog Show on Thanksgiving every year.

Also, in 2001 he financed the relaunch of the real J. Peterman Company and became part owner. How much does that kick ass? Go take a look at their clothing  here and pick up something for that upcoming safari.

Pretender To the Throne: Steve Harvey, 2010-present

Steve Harvey hosting Family Feud.I tried to like Steve Harvey at one point in my life, specifically after seeing the movie The Original Kings of Comedy. He’s a stand-up comedian and he can command a stage, which is really what the Feud needs. It needs to be led, damn it!  But after reading the following, I can’t throw  my full weight behind Steve, although I’d rather wish him luck as the host of Family Feud than, say, U.S. Senator or even a science teacher.

From Wikipedia:

On March 27, 2009, Harvey appeared on an episode of  The Tyra Show with Tyra Banks to promote his book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. During the course of the interview, Harvey advised that women should not date atheists, saying: ‘You sitting up there talking to a dude and he tells you he’s an atheist, you need to pack it up and go home. You talking to a person who don’t believe in God . . . what’s his moral barometer? Where’s it at? It’s nowhere.’

Later that year, on May 30, Harvey appeared on an episode of Larry King Live guest hosted by Joy Behar.  During that interview, Harvey reiterated his assertion that women should not date atheists, who he claimed have “no moral barometer.”  Harvey stated that he refuses to speak to anyone claiming to be an atheist, who he said are “idiot(s)”. Harvey went on to suggest that modern astrophysics and evolutionary biology are without merit.”

This is the kind of jack-assery that Richard Dawson would never have engaged in. Instead, he would have had a belt of whiskey, a smoke and asked the show’s producer if there were any foxes on the show that day.

Long Live The Family Feud King.

Richard Dawson, the best host Family Feud ever had.


Now Can You Hand Jive, Baby?

I learned over the weekend that Annette Charles, the actress who played Cha Cha DiGregorio in Grease, died from cancer.

From Access Hollywood (I know, I know):

Annette, who famously danced with John Travolta in the classic movie musical and told the movie’s Pink Ladies, “They call me Cha Cha because I’m the best dancer at St. Bernadette’s,” was also a speech professor at California State University Northridge, in Northridge, Calif., following her career on the big screen.

Annette quit acting sometime in the 80s and went on to graduate from the NYU School of Social Work in 2001, then became a professor.

I can’t tell you what an impact Cha Cha had on me as a child seeing Grease in the theater. I know it sounds strange, but I found Cha Cha to be exhilarating and even a bit scary. She was rough, sure of herself and sexy. I love the scene at the school dance competition when she steals the show dancing the “hand jive” with Danny. It seemed delicious and wicked, something no “nice girl” would ever do.

When my sister and I played Grease at home, I was always Danny and she got to be Sandy. This was because I had dark hair and she had blond hair. But the truth of the matter was that, while I was also awed by her in the final scenes of the movie, I would have made a crap Sandy. I was not soft and pleasant. I was not a “girly girl” and I really had no interest in that.

I probably identified more with Cha Cha, the bad girl I was always just a bit too shy and unsure of myself to become.

As a movie-goers, I felt like I was supposed to be against Cha Cha – the temptress, the villain. But I’ve always loved a villain, even at age five. And Cha Cha did not disappoint. I had never seen dancing like that – she takes a fake slap across the face! She picks up her dress and exposes her (full-coverage) underwear! She writhes across the floor and between Danny’s legs and then snatches the trophy at the end. It was all too much.

Oh, that moment when Danny, caught up in the moment, starts dancing with Cha Cha without giving Sandy another thought! Haven’t we all been there, ladies? A sliver of the bad girl in me never felt bad for Sandy as she ran from the gym.

This movie electrified me. My sister and I listened to the album over and over again after first seeing i, essentially wearing it out. I’ve seen the movie more times than I can count, can say many of the lines, know all the songs and yet I never tire of watching Cha Cha’s big dance number. I also remember hoping, please God, that Grease would be exactly what high school was like. Please let me wear a big, poofy dress and flip over someone’s back at the school dance!

It didn’t turn out that way but it doesn’t matter. I still have Grease.

Rest in peace, Annette, and thank you for a memorable movie.


Elizabeth Taylor: Reflections In A Violet Eye

We’ve seen the photos this month – a frail Dame Elizabeth Taylor in a wheelchair, ghastly thin, breathing with the aid of an oxygen tube. It’s a reminder that Dame Elizabeth might not be with us much longer (although if Zsa Zsa is still holding on, Elizabeth could go another 5 years!). Still, it’s a good time to brush up on our Elizabeth Taylor Facts & Figures.

elizabeth-taylor glam shotElizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born in Hampstead, a district of West London, in 1932. Her parents were American but she was granted dual citizenship because she was born in England. That’s why she got to become a dame.

The Taylors moved to Los Angeles after things started looking rough in Europe prior to the outbreak of World War II.

Elizabeth was born with double rows of eyelashes. It’s a genetic mutation but it sure made her look glamorous on camera!

She appeared in her first film at the age of nine. The film was There’s One Born Every Minute.

Her career took off in 1942, with the film Lassie Come Home. Because of this she was signed to a seven year contract with MGM. Her next big hit was National Velvet, the movie about horses, at the age of 12. She made another Lassie movie, Courage of Lassie, in which a different dog named Bill, an Allied combatant in World War II, regularly outsmarts the Nazis. I think this is an excellent plot for a film.

Animals seemed to have played  a large role in her early acting success.

Her nickname “One Shot Liz” was not reference to something sexual. It meant she was known for being able to get a scene right on one take.

Her first adult role that met with big success was in Father of the Bride.

In 1960, she became the highest paid actress in history when she signed a $1 million contract to play Cleopatra. This was the film set where she met Richard Burton, the man she would marry and divorce twice. He played Mark Antony.

Continue reading Elizabeth Taylor: Reflections In A Violet Eye

Charlene Tilton Week: Day 6

Just when you think that maybe you’re getting tired of Charlene, something like this comes up:

charlene made in usa

Charlene Fun Fact O’ The Day: Charlene was married to country singer Johnny Lee from 1982 to 1984. I thought I’d never heard of Johnny Lee, so I went out on a search. And it turns out I sure as shit do know who Johnny Lee is! This song used to play on the radio when my dad drove my sister and me to Wednesday night CCD class in his pick-up. For those of you who aren’t Catholic, that’s a class where public school kids are indoctrinated into the Catholic faith, in the evenings, after being at school all day. You can imagine how excited we were to go!

Anyway, watch this and see if you, too, remember Johnny Lee:

Johnny had love with Charlene for two years and they had a daughter, but then he was adrift again, looking for love in all the wrong places.

Charlene Tilton Week: Day 5

At Studio 54, perhaps? Can we bring back these combs with the shiz hanging from them for Spring 2011?

charlene_tilton disco dress

Charlene Fact O’ The Day: In the 1990s, Charlene was a spokesperson for the Abdominizer, a piece of workout equipment. “Rock, Rock, Rock your way to flat abs.” This commercial does not feature Charlene, but it’s still worth a look.

But she is in this commercial, which is unremarkable in and of itself, except that someone actually videotaped their TV in order to capture it. And also amazing – black nylons and black Reeboks for her workout attire.

Charlene Tilton Week: Day 4

After yesterday’s debauched photo, back to All American Girl:

charlene tilton cowgirl

Charlene Fact O’ The Day: In 1979, Charlene appeared in the TV movie Diary of a Teenage Hitchhiker. The official summary of the movie is, “The girl by the side of the road. You’ve seen her standing there. Thumb out. Smiling. There are thousands like her all over America. And you’ve heard about what happens to some of them when they get in the wrong car. This movie is about one of these kids. And about her family. But it could be about your family. Where is your daughter tonight?“  This movie also starred Dominique Dunne, daughter of Dominic Dunne and later teen star of Poltergeist, and Dick Van Patten, star of TV’s Eight Is Enough. And Craig T. Nelson, a.k.a Coach.