Strange as this sounds, TMZ is reporting that “sources intimately connected with the Heath Ledger investigation” are saying “it’s possible the actor died of natural causes due to alleged findings that the toxic drug levels in Ledger’s system was “low enough that it may not have caused his death.” TMZ’s sources are saying that Ledger’s heart simply “stopped…it could have been a heart attack but it’s not certain, at least not yet.” The report acknowledges the bizarreness of a non-obese 28-year-old dying of natural causes, but says “it happens.”
The Obama victory is South Carolina is a “rout,” according to the AP — 58% Obama, 28% Clinton, 13% Edwards (who needs to quit, quit, quit tomorrow morning…it’s over, man!). And “roughly 6 in 10 South Carolina Democratic primary voters said Bill Clinton‘s campaigning was important in how they ultimately decided to vote.” For a brief moment, a cool breeze.
A true Democracy cannot function and is in fact doomed without the participation of an alert, educated and impassioned electorate. Every malignant turn that has happened in the political primary process over the last few months is due to the absence of this, and it is why we are basically fucked as far as the chances of really turning things around.
As long as the majority of voters out there are living in their lazy sloth-bubbles — those stubborn, intellectually insulated comfort-zone attitudes that tens of millions subsist on like fast food — the neg-heads and the fear-exploiters and the dividers will always color the mood and run the show. It’s sad and it’s sickening. Drive me off a cliff.
When that Heath Ledger Joker-trauma quote began making the rounds last Tuesday — the late actor confiding that playing “a psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy” in Chris Nolan‘s The Dark Knight caused him to sleep only “an average of two hours a night” — it seemed lurid to even suggest that his acting in the forthcoming Warner Bros. film had obliquely contributed to his apparent sleeping-pill death. But Jack Nicholson‘s comment about Ledger’s death in London three days ago — “Well, I warned him” — means that this allusion/association isn’t going to go away.
Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson in respective Joker guises
Meanwhile, as long as we’re listening to celeb/performer opinions about Ledger’s passing, Pauly Shore has called the Olsen twins “evil.”
“Something strange happened the other day. All these different people — friends, co-workers, relatives, people on a liberal e-mail list I read — kept saying the same thing: They’ve suddenly developed a disdain for Bill and Hillary Clinton. Maybe this is just a coincidence, but I think we’ve reached an irrevocable turning point in liberal opinion of the Clintons.
“The sentiment seems to be concentrated among Barack Obama supporters. Going into the campaign, most of us liked Hillary Clinton just fine, but the fact that tens of millions of Americans are seized with irrational loathing for her suggested that she might not be a good Democratic nominee. But now that loathing seems a lot less irrational. We’re not frothing Clinton haters like…well, name pretty much any conservative. We just really wish they’d go away.” — Jonathan Chait, a contributing editor to L.A. Times‘ “Opinion” and a senior editor at the New Republic, in a 1.26 article.
I used to hate Hillary but love or least greatly enjoy Bill. Now that they’ve (apparently) succeeded in downgrading the Democratic presidential primary race into a race referendum, in thoroughly putrifying this race compared to what it all felt like 23 days ago, I really and truly despise both of them. If I could find it in my head or my heart to vote for McCain or Romney in the general election, I would do just to spite Clinton (presuming she wins the nomination, which seems likely given the leads she has over Obamain California and NewYork due to the wide support she has among traditional older Democrats and particularly older women). But I can’t vote for McCain (not with his Iraq War suppport) or Romney, and this choice makes me miserable.
Everyone is going to spin Obama’s almost certain South Carolina victory today as a racially-driven and nothing more. The Clintons and their disgusting surrogates have colored this race over the last three weeks, and damn them to hell for doing this.
Here’s a portion of a Peggy Noonan piece that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on 1.25: “Bill Clinton, with his trembly, red-faced rage, makes John McCain look young. His divisive and destructive daily comportment — this is a former president of the United States — is a civic embarrassment. It is also an education, and there is something heartening in this.
“There are many serious and thoughtful liberals and Democrats who support Barack Obama and John Edwards, and who are seeing Mr. Clinton in a new way and saying so. Here is William Greider in The Nation, the venerable left-liberal magazine. The Clintons are ‘high minded’ on the surface but ‘smarmily duplicitous underneath, meanwhile jabbing hard at the groin area. They are a slippery pair and come as a package. The nation is at fair risk of getting them back in the White House for four years.’
“That, again, is from one of the premier liberal journals in the United States. It is exactly what conservatives have been saying for a decade. This may mark a certain coming together of the thoughtful on both sides. The Clintons, uniters at last.”
If you know Ted Kotcheff‘s First Blood (’82) and you fancy yourself as any kind of amateur Sylvester Stallone imitator (i.e., the kind that performs at parties in front of their friends), you know that the key line to use in your act is “they drew first blood, not me.”
Now, I’m pretty good with this line. (I’m also not bad with my imitation of Stallone reading the Edgar Allen Poe line, “Once upon a midnight dreary..:) The thing to remember in any Stallone imitation is that your upper lip barely works. Half of it is mostly paralyzed. And so you have to say, “Ney drew fuss blud…nah-me.”
No “t” consonant in the word “not.” And you don’t say the word “me” — it has to be a combination of a road-runner “meep” (but without the “p”) and a guttural, low-register throat-clearing sound. I’m not trying to be smart-assy about Stallone (whom I respect) or the movie — I worship First Blood. I’m just saying I’m almost as good with my First Blood bit as Kevin Spacey is doing Christopher Walken.
The Philadephia Inquirer has endorsed Barack Obama for President of the U.S.; the N.Y. Times editorial chieftains — traitors! home-town capitulators! part of the problem! — have endorsed Hillary Clinton. Consider their opposing rationales:
“In some respects, Clinton is much better prepared than was her husband, Bill, when he, as Arkansas governor, was elected president in 1992,” reads the Inquirer editorial. “The senator from New York could be a strong leader, comparable to Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, but with a compassion for children’s issues that could glue the nation’s focus on its most precious asset.
“But in an election where change is the operative word, would the former first lady represent that? After two Bush presidencies, many Americans don’t see change in a Clinton dynasty. Hillary’s high negatives in polls may have more to do with her husband’s behavior as president than anything she has done since. But those negatives suggest she could be a catalyst for division when the nation longs for unity.
Given that, Barack Obama is the best Democrat to lead this nation past the nasty, partisan, Washington-as-usual politics that have blocked consensus on Iraq; politics that never blinked at the greedy, subprime mortgage schemes that could spawn a recession; politics that have greatly diminished our country’s stature in the world.
“Obama inspires people to action. And while inspiration alone isn’t enough to get a job done, it’s a necessary ingredient to begin the hard work.”
The final graph of the 1.25 Times editorial states that “the potential upside of a great Obama presidency is enticing, but this country faces huge problems, and will no doubt be facing more that we can’t foresee. The next president needs to start immediately on challenges that will require concrete solutions, resolve, and the ability to make government work. Mrs. Clinton is more qualified, right now, to be president.”
The same words could just as easily been stated by a tut-tutting editorial board during the 1960 election: “The potential upside of a great John Kennedy presidency is enticing, but this country faces huge problems, and will no doubt be facing more that we can’t foresee. The next president needs to start immediately on challenges that will require concrete solutions, resolve, and the ability to make government work. Richard Nixon is more qualified, right now, to be president.”
And you know something? They would have been “right” to say so — Nixon possessed greater experience in dealing with affairs of state than Kennedy — and yet faulty in their allegiance, and missing out on the inevitable rightness of the necessary cultural turnover than a Kennedy win would signify and promise.
The hard-luck Christian Brando, the 49 year-old son of the late Marlon Brando, “died this morning at 1:47 a.m. at the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles,” according to the N.Y. Post. The poor guy — never caught a groove or a break, cursed by the neuroses of his parents (his mother was the high-strung, irrrationally-behaved Anna Kashfi), an erratic upbringing and a murder on his conscience.
CB: “Hey, dad.” MB: “Christian! You’re here! Give me a hug. Wait…what year is it? There are no clocks or calendars in heaven.” CB: “2008…January. I’ll be missing the South Carolina primary, not to mention the Democratic candidates’ debate on Wednesday in Los Angeles.” MB: “My boy, what happened? You were only 49. I’m so sorry. Life is so short as it is. Forgive me, Christian. I love you. You were such a beautiful boy.”
Does the triumvirate of Brad Renfro, Heath Ledger and Christian Brando — three Hollywood kids who died by their own hand — amount to a standard “rule of three” (i.e., the tendency of the famous to die in groups of three within days of each other), or did they pass away too many days apart?
Julie Christie‘s visit last night to the Santa Barbara Film Festival was pleasant enough. Cheerful at times. It could have been wonderful if her on-stage chat with Leonard Maltin had upgraded into a Charlie Rose Show-type exchange, but that wasn’t in the script. Christie obviously dislikes “campaigning” and being fawned over, but she was a good sport about watching film clips and trading memories. But she clearly has a lot more on her mind. Has she been on Rose’s show? If not, it should happen.
Leonard Maltin, Julie Chirstie SBFF director Roger Durling backstage after last night’s event
Maltin didn’t touch a hilarious political comment Christie made about President Bush early on. Talking about the amazing era that began with her birth in 1941, she said, “Who would have thought we’d end up today being led by an elite, priveleged monkey?” A stimulating back-and-forth could have ensued about the current political campaign, the Iraq War, global warming and whatnot, but Maltin responded with one of those frozen-in-place smiles that he uses when things have taken a wrong or awkward turn, and in three or four seconds time they were talking about Billy Liar, Darling and director John Schlesinger.
The evening’s biggest boner was the decision by clipmaster Paul Fagen to include a clip from Christie’s all-time worst film, Demon Seed (’77). When Maltin mentioned this Donald Cammell sci-fier, Christie literally convulsed and went “ugh!” Fagen does all the SBFF tribute reels, but anyone who would select a scene from the godawful Demon Seed and ignore the beautiful final scene she shares with Warren Beatty in Heaven Can Wait, as Fagen’s reel did last night, doesn’t “get it.”
Verdict: Fagen is a good cutter and politically dug-in with the studios and the publicists, but he obviously doesn’t love and understand the best movies the way he could and should.
At one point Christie was talking about the great Richard Lester, who directed her in the superb Petulia (’68), and she said to Maltin, “What was the boat movie? The one with the people on the ship and the bombs in the steel barrels and all that?” Maltin didn’t answer so I shouted out from the my second-row seat, “Juggernaut!” (Santa Barbara blogger Craig Smith reported in his column today that it was SBFF director Roger Durling who shouted out the title of the 1974 Lester film.)
My photos of the Christie event are substandard. I could say I was unlucky or had a lousy seat or need a better camera or whatever, but the fact is I just blew it. Her light brown hair fell in curly tendrils upon her face, slightly obscuring her eyes and cheekbones. But she’s very inner-lit. She didn’t like what she was compelled to do last night, but she gave it hell.