The Trump and Judy Show

Let’s talk about legends and the people who inhabit them.  The common dictionary definition:

Legend:  An extremely famous or notorious person, especially in a particular field.

Of course, that’s only part of the story.

Renee Zellweger gives an astonishing performance as the legendary Judy Garland in the self-titled new film, Judy.  It’s not so much that Ms. Zellweger exactly recreates her singing voice or her entire autobiography during the last few years of her life.  It’s that somehow, and in so many ways, she captures the essence of Judy’s legend.

Make room on your shelf, Renee!

Or at least what we believe was, or could have been, her essence.

It’s there in her tremulous voice, her humor, her raw vulnerability, her fight, the nuances of her mannerisms and her underfed yet somehow still powerful physicality.

Not only is a tour de force of determination in her every and many close-up(s), it’s a channeling of duality.  She shows us the core of what we publicly saw of Judy in her many stage, screen and TV appearances AND she gives us a peak into the charming and yet not always admirable part of her humanity that we never knew and might not have ever imagined.

None of us are ever one thing all the time.  We are a mix of light and dark, good and bad, strong and vulnerable and, trite as it may sound, love and hate.

This is amplified ten times over with those we’ve crowned as our legends.

No doubt Donald J. Trump will go down as an extremely different type of legend in our history, but a legend nevertheless.  Most American presidents in history occupy legendary status during their era and for many the legend manages to sustain through generations and even centuries. (Note: See above definition).

Sigh… I really need to stop looking at pictures like this #coolobama #sighagain

The breadth of career, the various distinctive looks, the marriages, the overly insistent publicity, the rise and fall and rise again – these are among the many things Trump and Judy share.  It may be a sobering thought but it doesn’t make it any less true.

What is also true is that ultimately those are artificial markers we, as society, have constructed for ourselves in order to understand how one human rises into the public consciousness and manages to stay there for years, decades and very often even beyond that.

Roughly as long as the shelf life of a Twinkie #thatsalongtime

Trump and Judy might both be modern day legends but in so many other, more important ways, they couldn’t be more different.

Trump from the beginning used his role as a renowned entertainer to divide people.  The phrase that cemented his stardom in the mass media zeitgeist was, YOU’RE FIRED!  He ran for the presidency on a platform of Make America Great Again but never before in American history has the country been this divided.  While Trump certainly did unite a significant subset of the country he polarized us a whole and continues to do so as he and his presidency amble towards impeachment.

Haven’t we been crawling there all along? #itstime

A deeper dive into specifics allows us to see this is not where it ends.  Trump’s talent is self-promotion, grievance and sheer rage/anger.  It can be amusing in cynical, seemingly too politically correct times but it doesn’t cause true pleasure like the lilt of a spectacular musical note.  Nor does it allow us to relax and let down our guard when we watch a scene in a film or on TV where a performer is bold enough to expose publicly the kind of vulnerabilities we keep secret for fear of risking our own personal shame.

With Trump weakness is BAD, not a given.  It is an aspect of our ourselves so impossible to admit that it must be put through his own personal, branded wood chipper and spew out as aggressive disdain and a call for destruction of whomever we deem as the other.

What my brain will do to 2016 – 2020

Rather than cleanse ourselves through a good cry or the spontaneous live energy of a song delivered by a legendary vocalist, we cloak ourselves in an adrenalin rush of negative performance art that blocks out everything else.  We are assured that no matter what our problems are it’s the outside world that is responsible for them.

The system that’s failed the collective us has made us believe that what we deem as our many rights have only been made wrong by weak leaders in today’s age.

The Trump worldview harkens back to his late eighties mantra that it’s you against the world and that greed and gold and gilt for you and your family are what’s good.

Gee thanks, Gordy #UGH

If you don’t have those it’s the fault of the Mexicans, the drug lords, the non-white invaders, the too privileged leaders who are a disgrace for selling out the real Americans, those people whose bodies they used and willingly stepped on and over to get them where they are today.

What made Trump legendary from the beginning was his lack of shame and ability to vomit out his authentic self no matter what the elite thought of his antics.  He was a crude, trash-talking, show-off with seemingly endless cash, with an amusing glint in his eye and an ability to crack an off-color double entendre or blatantly dirty jokes in public the way we and our families all did in private behind closed doors.

Trying to think about Trump as a legend #imtrying

Whatever we say about Trump he evokes for many what publicly passes as an authentic self.  Many would argue Judy did the same, from her Wizard of Oz days on through the territory covered in this latest film of her life.

Certainly, the public persona of any legend is not truly authentic.  No persona, light or dark, good or bad, can ever be all things any human being is in any given moment or in total.

Except Julie Andrews… she is EVERYTHING

What is most important when we speak of our legends is considering not who they are or were but what they truly do for us and why.  In whose company do we want to live in through our eternities?  Which of these legends, despite their humanness, gave us something positive to consider, and which others of them brought us down as a collective whole?

Renee Zellweger – “Over the Rainbow” (From Judy Soundtrack)

Royalty

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 12.19.35 PM

I was dating someone in the music industry in 1981 and one night they excitedly put a cassette in a tape player that contained a song by an artist I’d never heard of. For those who don’t know or can’t remember what cassettes are, think of it this way:

  • Records
  • Reel-to-reel tape
  • Eight track tape
  • Cassette
  • CD
  • Downloadable content
  • Virtual Reality
  • Extinction
But probably this first

But probably this first

Anyway, that’s not the point and it only makes me, and perhaps some of you, feel right on the precipice. What is pertinent is that I thought my industry pseudo boyfriend, who worked for a company associated with Warner Bros., would lose his mind as he cued up the tape and gushed that the about-to-be-heard song was by this kid from Minnesota who did everything. He played every instrument; wrote, produced and mixed all of his own songs; performed them with abandon; had a gay androgynous look complete with makeup; and, most importantly, was quite short and sexy. Of course, me being massively insecure, in my early twenties and only 5’7” I immediately forgot the artist and appropriated the last two adjectives into a personal compliment – one that positively ensured my future with the Industry Guy.

This, of course, is something only someone in his or her twenties can or should be allowed to do – seeing the world totally in terms of yourself and appropriating free-floating compliments as your own. That is because it blinds you to the greatness of what’s right in front of you. In this case, it wasn’t the boyfriend (Ahem – that didn’t end well).  It was the artist….formerly known as Prince…who when he unexpectedly died on Thursday of this week was once again simply known as…

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His song was a nice little Prince ditty called Controversy and while I liked it I can’t honestly say I was overly impressed. Though after the 12th time it was played – yeah, this industry guy was nothing if not insistent about me sharing his opinion of things – I started to get it. And knew, at least this one time, he was right.

There was something about the beat, the repetitiveness of words – some of which I couldn’t even understand, the sometime squeaky yet tuneful multi-octave voice that sounded like nothing I’d ever really heard before. Eventually I couldn’t get the song or this kid/guy/artist/whatever Prince out of my head. And that was before I had actually read and studied the words:

I just can’t believe all the things people say/Controversy/

Am I black or white, am I straight or gay?/Controversy

Do I believe in god, do I believe in me?

Controversy/Controversy/Controversy

I can’t understand human curiosity/Controversy

Was it good for you, was I what you wanted me to be?/Controversy

Do you get high, does your daddy cry?

Controversy/Controversy/Controversy

Do I believe in god, do I believe in me?

Some people want to die so they can be free

I said life is just a game, we’re all just the same, do you want to play?

Yeah, oh yeah

Controversy/Controversy/Controversy/Controversy/Controversy/Controversy.

Just... mesmerizing

Just… mesmerizing

There are more verses but this sort of says it. He wasn’t quite drawing on the sexual fluidity of David Bowie, who came right before him, and he bore little resemblance to Michael Jackson – the other young Black, somewhat androgynous artist we had all grown up with. At that time, and probably at any time, there was never anything sexy about MJ no matter how often he grabbed his crotch and gyrated in later years. But Prince? He was kind of…dangerous? The embodiment of the performer you’d see if you snuck into the fantasy club your parents would never let you attend.

What made Prince special were so many things musical. As a writer he not only churned out hits for himself but handed off songs he had written to countless other performers that became their signatures – Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2 U and Manic Monday for The Bangles are just two examples. His live shows were massively colorful, even edgy theatre pieces with costumes that evoked a sort of schizoid mix of Liberace, Little Richard and James Brown. But even when he stripped things down, literally – they didn’t take a back seat to what he was singing or he and his bands were playing.

The many faces of Prince

The many faces of Prince

When Doves Cry, Let’s Go Crazy, 1999, Kiss, Purple Rain.   I could go on and on for years and years – duets, solo records, thousands of hours of unreleased material he notoriously stocked that we may or may not hear one day. But again, you get the picture.

I guess what I want to say is what he did he did it. As himself.   Yet somehow maintained an enigma. Some people that knew him didn’t know him and others that did knew him well. But by all accounts, no one entirely knew him. As you can’t really know anyone. What a dichotomy in an age when we know too much about everybody – even those we don’t know.

There’s talent and then there’s egotism. Of course, there is a double edge to talent. Not everyone is brilliant at everything. No one could ever accuse him of being a great film director (Graffiti Bridge). Nevertheless, he won an Oscar. Some wouldn’t call him a great business person for signing a contract that he later felt enslaved him to WB Records and cause him to forgo his real name for a number of years when he asked people to refer to him as a symbol – and then simply The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. But that too he did with originality – whether we liked it or not.

Truly only he could get away with this

Truly only he could get away with this

Not every one of us is Prince. No one in fact. But we do all have the ability to chart our own path, listen to our own voice and forge our own journeys artistically and otherwise. At 5’2” he was the tallest guy in the room and there is always something sexy about that. Not the height – but the stature.

Oscar Redux

Behind the scenes with the Chair

Nothing I’ve done in my life since my bar-mitzvah has ever evoked in people such excitement, admiration and curiosity as my recent trip to the Oscars last week.  I’m not sure if that says more about me or more about the ceremony itself (or perhaps more about who I hang out with).  But I’m not lying when I tell you that since that evening I’ve been inundated with pleas to tell almost everyone I know or people I barely know who know I went “what it was like.”  When I ask them exactly what they want to know the usual response is a blank stare and then the same question: Well, what were they like???? (Hint:  I added the “well”).

It took me a while but I get it.  The Oscars are iconic, symbolic and larger than you and I (me?).    They’re celebrity times googol (as oppose to the Google, which is a celebrity within itself and one day might arrive at iconic Oscar status). They’re really not about movies, or what is best, or what is being left out, or what falls short, or even about whether Billy Crystal was too old to host (Hint #2:  It’s not about age.  How much would you love to see Jack Nicholson as emcee – and he’s a lot older than Billy).

The truth is – the Oscars are about —  Well, they’re about magic.  They’re about an idea.  They’re about some weird sort of childhood fantasy come to life.  Forget that on some level they’re really about money, marketing, popularity, taste (or lack of it), fashion, movies and an extreme version of your high school prom whether or not you attended or whether or not you claim you cared about attending.  Like those who say they have no interest in ever attending an Oscar ceremony, you prom naysayers are lying.

We all want to be asked to the party and see what all the fuss is about.  Or perhaps being asked makes us feel special, which is a dangerous way to think about your value if you’re a person who works in the industry or a teenager looking for a date.  As the Dali Lama or your local self-help book or your inner voice will tell you, you are already special – and yes, I did say that and most days (because I’m only human) I actually do believe it.   And not because I’ve been trained to do so from years of therapy (maybe partially) but because it’s the only way to survive in the entertainment industry and in life.

Anyway, in my case I didn’t get officially asked by the Academy, so don’t fret, I’m still sort of on the outside like most everyone else.  I was invited by friends.  It’s not quite the same as being courted by Oscar himself to attend the ball (and who knows if that would be better, he asks hundreds of people but only chooses a select few to go home with him, when it comes down to it), but it’ll do for now.  Yes, it’s fun.  And yes, it is odd.  And when the subject comes up, it’s guaranteed to be a conversation starter in some circles or perhaps get you a bit more attention or perhaps even a date in others.

For that, and for many other reasons, I thought I’d pull back the curtain a beat more than last week’s tweets would allow and give you an inside look.   In no particular order, here they are:

OSCAR REDUX

1. ACTORS ARE HUMAN — Anyone who doesn’t think Angelina Jolie wasn’t in on the joke when she stuck her leg out of her Versace gown at the Oscars and struck a pose either doesn’t know anything about actors, movies or Hollywood in general.  I mean, you don’t really believe that someone who has achieved superstardom and stayed there for any length of time has done it by accident, do you?  Or solely on talent   Or by being totally clueless?   There is now a twitter feed, website and countless photo shopped images of Angie’s leg on fictional and non-fictional characters.  My favorite is the one of the Dowager Countess from “Downton Abbey” – or as she is affectionately known to those of us over 40 – Dame Maggie (also an Oscar winner, by the way).

There are no words...

Now, I’m not saying Angie knew her wide stance would evoke such reaction, but it’s not as if she didn’t know it would evoke some reaction.  And here’s something you might not know.  When adapted screenplay winner Jim Rash (“The Descendents”) imitated the Angieleg pose upon accepting his award, the real Angie and her leg were laughing quite visibly.  Unfortunately, it was off-camera and no one saw.  But now you know.   She was in on the joke.

2. EVERYONE LOOKS GOOD IN A TUXEDO, BUT… – How else to account for a record 300 plus likes of a picture of me and my significant other in tuxedos on Facebook.   Perhaps it was the OSCAR in the background???  (Though I do think we cleaned up quite nicely.  Still, I’m not fooling myself).

The Chair and the Good Doctor

3. THINK BEFORE YOU DISH – The first celebrity I saw when I got there was Michelle Williams.  Yes, she got good reviews for her gown but as good as she looked on the TV carpet, she was 1000% more stunning in person.  As was every actress there, even the misses.  They’re wearing expensive stuff and are styled and coiffed beyond belief.  And – if you were a movie star and had all those people working on you – you would look THAT good.  Okay, maybe not with bare leg, but no one is twisting your arm (or leg) on that.

4. THE DRAPES MATCH THE CARPET – The Hollywood Highland Complex, which houses Oscar’s home in the Kodak Theatre, is an expensive shopping mall with hundreds of storefronts, in case you don’t know.  But after you walk on hundreds of yards of red velvet carpet, you glide up stairs and escalators only to be surrounded by more walls of beautiful red carpet all around you.  I didn’t realize until half an hour later, “oh, there used to be stores there.”  Actually, there still are.  They’re behind all the red velvet wall hangings that cover Banana Republic, et al.   This is how movies can convince you you’re vacationing in Maui with the perfect golden tan (or golden person) in the best shape of your life when you’re really sweltering in Spanx or a man girdle on a Valley back lot.  Next to an extra.

5.  NO AUTOGRAPHS, PLEASE – Tons of waiters give you free champagne in the various lobbies before the ceremony.  You see famous people but you don’t ask for pictures or autographs because you pretend you’re one of them tonight.  And you ignore the loudspeaker voice that tells you to take your seat because you know it’s a TV taping and these things never start early.  Besides, everyone knows when the Oscars really start, please.  Note:  Most of the nominees enter from an orchestra stage entrance moments before the show so you are more likely to run into celebs like Virginia Madsen and Nate Berkus where you are.  But I did spot writer-director Alexander Payne, who was happily talking with lots of friends and co-workers and being very welcoming and relaxed.  That’s how you want to do it.  Of course, it probably helped that he already won once. (And he has now officially won a second time, which will exponentially help at all future Oscar ceremonies at which he is in attendance).

6.  EAT BEFOREHAND!!!  It’s a long show.  At least three hours.  And you arrive an hour or two before.  One power bar in your tuxedo pants pocket or special purse won’t cut it.  And don’t count on the hors d’oeuvre beforehand.  They are literally the size of a mini-pea.  (For the record: the free popcorn didn’t arrive in my mezzanine seat until the last half hour of the show and was the best popcorn I EVER had.   The people in the two balconies were either fed after me or fainted.  Needless to say, the orchestra-seated nominees were all well fed.  Well, I guess this is their night).

all that remains...

7. OSCAR NEEDS TO COMBINE THE OLD AND NEW.  Calling:  Jack Nicholson; Robert DeNiro; Al Pacino; Diane Keaton; Warren Beatty; Shirley MacLaine; Annette Bening; Barbra Stresiand (well, she was there for a moment in a filmed interview); Pedro Almodovar; someone who has worked with Woody Allen because he’s not coming a second time; Goldie Hawn; Denzel Washington; Samuel L. Jackson.

Then how about dangling a few more carrots at some not young but not old stars like Will Smith; Julia Roberts (okay, they’re middle-aged); Johnny Depp; and Jennifer Aniston.  Do I care what Edward Norton thinks about the moviegoing experience in a taped TV interview?  If you want to include Ed, then how about a great film clip of him in  “American History X” or his Oscar turn in “Primal Fear?”

8. OSCARS NEED TO INCLUDE MOVIES – Not people talking about movies; not comedians doing bits that are non sequiturs; not lines about how rich and out of touch those who live in Beverly Hills are with the way most people live (I can attest they still do go to the bathroom because I saw more than a few in there) or futuristically strange acrobats swinging over you without a net.  Movie moments???  Not unless you get Meryl on a high wire, which I have no doubt she could (and probably will) master at some later date.

9. TOO MANY FAMOUS NEWCASTERS – Every freakazoid entertainment show host or correspondent you have ever seen anywhere on every channel is in attendance.  You don’t know all of their names but recognize their faces or their dimples or their fake boobs, or hair transplants or Botox or Restalyne injections.  They, too, are looking their best.  Or some version of what they perceive as the latter.  No, I didn’t see Sasha Baron Cohen dump the ashes on Ryan Seacrest.  I can’t be everywhere!!!

10.  PIZZA WON’T BE YOUR GO-TO FOOD IF YOU EAT IT EVERY NIGHT – Perhaps the Oscars are not as exciting on TV anymore because the stars are accessible and everywhere.  Elizabeth Taylor never used to give interviews.  And by the way, she was THE last movie star.  Which reminds me, couldn’t they give her a separate moment alone after two best actress Oscars, a Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and a lifetime of moviedom memories for all of us through all of eternity?  Closing out the somber “In Memoriam” segment didn’t seem to quite fit the good time gal who donated an oil painting of herself to the place where, in her later years, she most liked to hang out in – the West Hollywood gay bar, The Abbey.

The patron saint of the Abbey

11.  OSCAR GOLD — The statuettes are still the coolest looking of them all up close. They’re pretty.  They’re shiny.  Oh, and side note — It used to be that winners had to bring their Oscar to the Academy where they were sent off to be engraved with your name (well, not YOUR name, the winner’s name) and returned a month later.  Now, right after the ceremony, the actual winner (that means you, Jean) have to go to a table at the Governor’s Ball, where a small plaque is soldered on to your statue by an expert technician and you are quickly sent on your way.    (PS – The statues are heavier than you think.  I’ve held them several times.  Though not that night, alas).

12. THE AUDIENCE IS ON ITS OWN – Billy doesn’t talk to you during commercial breaks.  But there is a man who periodically brings out the largest broom/Swiffer you’ve ever seen across the stage to make sure it stays shiny.  And some of the best action is off-camera between the presenters.  J-Lo and Cameron giggling and pointing; Emma Stone reassuring Ben Stiller that she wasn’t seriously insulting him (why not??); and standing O’s for Octavia and Meryl (but you should’ve seen those, along with Angie and her leg laughing).

13.  ALL DOGS GO TO OSCAR — You can’t go wrong with a movie that has a dog, especially a Jack Russell terrier.  Check out “The Artist” and “The Beginners” and tell me who really deserved Oscar in those films.  And yes, I have a Jack Russell Terrier.  Her name is Rosie.  And she is not going to have a career in the movies.  I don’t want her to turn out like Lindsay Lohan’s dog.

The Artist's REAL star

14.  FANCY MEETING YOU HERE – One of my favorite moments was when a very attractive young woman in a pretty pink gown and a cool diamond stud in her nose called my name.  I stopped and finally realized it was one of my former students from not too long ago – a working director who was at the ceremony with a friend.  I fully expect her to be in the front orchestra one day, getting her popcorn first and being seated moments before the show.  Yes, it can happen to you.  And any of us.   But only if you get to work.  Right now.  Don’t worry about what you’ll say or what they’ll say about you much later.  People like to talk.  And — as far as what you’ll wear to this most iconic of events where you’ll be watched by, like, oh, a billion people – don’t worry, it’s gonna be free.  And most of all — it’s gonna be faaabulous.

Future Oscar winner, Rachael

Til Oscar’s next glitzy night…

When Good is Bad

Photo credit: Steve Tropiano; Editing by: Jon Bassinger-Flores

Praise and positive reinforcement (treats) work extremely well in dog training and with humans.  The difference is, with dogs one can’t give too much praise when they do something good because of their simple and pure natures.   They like repetition in general, and when we add (even minimal) compliments to it, they’re sold.

Not so with us humans.   Our culture is caught in a time suck of overpraise.  Nothing is “good” anymore.  It’s fantastic!  Unbelievable!  Genius!  Imagine a canine demanding you up the ante from “good boy!” to fantastic, brilliant super dog?  Sure, they (and us) have a weakness for treats.  A dog might want to consume 12 steaks instead of a small plate of beef if we weren’t around to stop them.  But they have us to dole out the treats because our brains are bigger.  Yet who is really going to tell you to stop indulging?  (Note: Do NOT try this with your spouse, date or significant other, trust me).  Or be honest when the praise has gotten a little out of control?

Isn’t it okay for a movie or TV show or political candidate or business deal to be just good anymore?  Does it have to be BRILLIANT?  On the flip side, can’t a play just be disappointing or fair instead of being awful, offensive or a waste of time so great that one wants to see the producer/writer/director run out of town on a rail hanging by their toes?

I went to see “Super 8” this weekend and was so annoyed with its gargantuan plot holes that I left angrily just as the credits rolled and began to talk to anyone I could about just how much I “hated” it.  Of course, I didn’t hate it.  I loved Elle Fanning (on what plane of reality were she and her sister Dakota raised and can I redo my childhood?) and thought the lead young boy was wonderfully real.  In fact, I was so taken with their story that once the (spoilers, sorry) train crashed, the alien was hunted, the superheroes survived, and the unexplained bad guy government stuff started it was as if someone had told me I could never have pizza again and I started rebelling.  So much so that I missed what I’m told was the best part of the film – the short, finished Super 8 movie over the end of the end credits. (Have no fear, I’ll watch someone’s Academy screener because I’m still so mad at these filmmakers that I will not give them one more cent of DVD/Netflix or cable streaming revenue).  I guess I’m still p.o.’d, even now, which, I’ll admit is only slightly embarrassing because I think I’m right.

More Elle, less everything else

Speaking of the Academy, we spend about 50 years with only five best picture Oscar nominees and two years ago some committee decides to DOUBLE the nominees to 10.   Really?   As if to say they were wrong, the Academy several weeks ago announced it will now have 5-10 best picture nominees per year, all to be dictated by a top secret mathematical formula they hired a fancy accounting firm to design in order to better serve the membership.  In a further cost cutting measure, here’s some free advice.  JUST CHOOSE FIVE FILMS!  There must be a way to cut down this year’s list of “Black Swan,” “The Fighter,” “Inception” “The Kids Are All Right,” “The King’s Speech, “ “127 Hours,” “Social Network,” “Toy Story 3,” “True Grit” and “Winter’s Bone” and have the losing filmmakers still survive.  In fact, it might even make them stronger and give them something further to strive for (or totally defeat them and break their spirit but hey, survival of the fittest).

In the case of the Oscars, the issue is deeper than overpraise.  It’s marketing – selling – hype!!  Everyone knows it’s worth many more bucks (though it’s unclear how many more) if you can slap a “best picture nominee” and a little Oscar on your DVD box or in your advertising.  But the more people or things that have a logo, the less its worth.  Remember when Louis Vuitton, Beanie Babies and Cabbage patch dolls were something to crave?

I actually do have some friends with young children and occasionally they do (perhaps unwisely) let me around them.  Lately, I’ve noticed even their rooms are littered with awards.  (Third place?  Runner up? ) Here’s a thought — do kids in camp all really need a trophy, even when they’re lousy ball players?  I mean, I never won a sports trophy ever and I’ve only been in therapy on and off for 24 years.  Okay, 25.

Has anyone gone to a screening, performance or reading of the work of a friend recently?  What do you do when it’s over and it’s not brilliant, amazing and genius?  What do you say?   In my case, I was at something that I thought was good.  Solid.  It wasn’t great but it didn’t have to be.  Yet I found myself…well….stymied.  Good really isn’t good enough, is it?  Because then you’re met with – “what’s wrong with it?”  Or others suggesting – “hmm, maybe he’s jealous?”  (moi?)  Perhaps it has nothing to do with any of those.  Perhaps good is exactly what it seems to indicate in the dictionary – “to be desired (I’ll take that!) or approved of.”

Like the animals we love, we humans do crave approval.  But if everything is genius or great, then nothing is. Or is it?  People nowadays love to say – “no worries,” or “it’s all good.”  But if it’s ALL good, then does that mean spending two hours at “The Green Lantern” is equal to two hours watching, uh, “Star Wars?”  Or “The Seventh Seal?”  Or “The Godfather?”  At least one of them has to be a dog.  Sorry creatures of beautifully simple and pure natures.

Please don't make me see "The Green Lantern"

I’m not sure where this all ends.  I was planning to include a list of films (and TV) that I felt were good, but not great/fair but not awful – but I chickend out. OK.  It started with “Forrest Gump,” which I claimed to have hated at the time, but now admit is just fair, well-made but not at all my cup of tea.  It was going to end with “The Voice,” which I seem to love and am addicted to because I have wished my whole life that I could be a singer.  I know it’s not a brilliant TV show and just a good, well-made one.  But in the case of “The Voice” good is good enough.  In a really good (meaning positive and desirable) way.

Except, for some reason, I think that show is JUST GREAT!!!!!!