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Here's the deal. I can be "opinionated". If you like what you see, please come back from time to time. If you don't like what you see, you can come back too.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Killer Comedy

Something happened the other night that surprised me.  I laughed at OJ Simpson.   
Go figure.
Here’s how it happened.  I went with friends to see “The Naked Gun” at the Screening Room, a local cinema-cafĂ© that shows classic movies.
And when it comes to comedies, “The Naked Gun” is a classic.  It’s on my list of the five funniest movies ever made.  I saw it several times in movie theatres when it first came out, and have seen it approximately a zillion times over the years at home.
But there’s a difference between watching a movie at home and seeing it in a theatre…even a small one.
Seeing it in this setting…a room full of people laughing and giggling along with me (although I was louder than most) made a very funny movie even funnier.
And OJ was truly funny.
The first scene….where he gets riddled with bullets, then burns his hand on a hot stove, has a window slam down on him, bounces off wet paint, gets his foot caught in a bear trap….great slapstick humor.
The same for the scene where the hospital bed keeps folding up on him.
And at the end, when Leslie Nielsen sends his wheelchair careening down the steps at the stadium and he goes flying like a rag doll….laugh out loud funny.
And not once, while I was laughing at OJ, did I think about the fact that he brutally murdered two people.  (Allegedly.  Never convicted.  But we know the truth, don’t we?)
Anyway, while I was laughing at him being bonked and bounced around like one of the Three Stooges,  I never thought about Nicole and Ron.  A savage double slaying that became part of the late night comedy monologues.  A murder trial that was must-see TV.  And a verdict that helped drive a wedge through race relations in this country.
But I thought about all of that after the movie.
I thought about how sad it all was.  I thought about the two people who died, and all the other people who are still suffering.
Including OJ.
Even if you think he got away with murder, think about him today.  Sitting in a Nevada prison cell.
Talk about a fall from grace.  It doesn’t get much more extreme than him.
Hall of Fame football player.  Acting career.  Commercials.  Rich, famous, and really really popular.
People all over America loved and idolized him.  Here in Buffalo, we loved and idolized him even more.
He was ours.  He was the greatest Buffalo Bill of all time.  (Sorry Jim, Thurman, and Bruce….if you only look at skill on the football field, it’s no contest)
Then he became a villain.  And a punch line.  And a convict.
When I worked at Skunkpost, I wrote stories about OJ all the time.  Most were snarky, but some were serious.   Some were even picked up by national publications.  Because all you have to do is put OJ in a headline, and people will read the story.
Skunkpost was 15 years after the murders, and OJ was still making news.
Hell, he’s still making news now.
Just today I saw a story about potential casting for a mini-series about his trial.
The other day I read that ESPN’s “30 for 30” series is going to do a long-form documentary about OJ.
It will never stop.
And we’ll never stop being interested.
Even if for a couple hours in a movie theatre, we forget how much we hate him now, and remember how much we liked him then.
And we laugh.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Oscars and me

In honor of the Oscars, here’s the story of my connection to the Academy Awards.
Yep, I have a connection.  It’s a bit of a stretch….but it’s true.
I’ve never been in a movie….I’ve never been to the Oscars….I’ve never even seen one in person.
But I have a connection to one of the best movies of the last 25 years….and one of the most memorable  movie characters of all time.
And forget six degrees of separation.  There are only two degrees separating us.
It’s all because I was a tour guide in Niagara Falls.
That was my summer job when I was in college.
I was pretty good at it, if I do say so myself.
After all, I like to talk.  I like to tell stories.  So it was the perfect job for me.
And I did it for four summers, so I told lots of stories to lots of people.
Including an actor.  Who was playing a tour guide in a movie being filmed in the Falls.
One day when I showed up for work, they told me they had chosen me to conduct a special tour.  It seems this actor wanted to observe a real tour guide….so they gave him me.
The movie was called  “Last Embrace”.  Roy Scheider was in it.  So was Christopher Walken.  And it was directed by Jonathan Demme.

Despite those names, it wasn’t very good.
The part of the tour guide was played by a young actor named Gary Goetzman.
Who didn’t have much of an acting career.  Just some small parts in a handful of movies and TV shows.
But he became a producer.  A very successful one.
He produced “Mamma Mia” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”.  He was the co-executive producer of “Band of Brothers”.
And he worked with Demme a few more times.
He produced “Stop Making Sense”.
He was the executive producer of “Philadelphia”.
And….the one I’m talking about….he was the executive producer of “The Silence of the Lambs”.
Featuring this guy:
 Yep, the executive producer of the movie featuring the most famous movie cannibal of all time, studied me for a role in a movie!

So I will forever (at least in my mind) be connected to Hannibal Lecter.
Hmmm….suddenly I’m in the mood for some fava beans and a nice chianti.