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Return of the Dolls!!

Ringleader_1Speaking of why I’m not rich yet. I’m trying to earmark $300 of my future earnings for three new Cher dolls soon to hit the store. I hope I won’t have to pay $50 each, but this is what underground dolls sites are asking for the dolls in pre-orders. Yes, I will get two dolls each for the future Chersonian Institute – one to be MIB (mint in box) and one to pose in the outer-box universe.

Barbie and Mattel sites show no signs of these new creatures set to arrive in June or July. But I’m very excited about the prospect. As we know, the 90s Bob Mackie doll left much to be desired; if the doll didn’t have the word 'Cher' emblazoned on the box cover we probably would have thought it was Phoebe Cates. Sure, it was fun to see Will and Grace promoting the doll on their show, but it was hard to get over the fact that the doll didn’t really look like Cher (even with her new nose). Some more artistic fans repainted the doll’s face to look more like her. Drastic measures – but I understand completely understand.

Sqaw1_2Halfbreed2The outfits are looking up this time around. One doll is quaffed in the ringleader ensemble, the new and fabulous outfit representing Cher’s 3-year historic farewell tour in America and Europe. Another doll is decked out as V.2 of Half Breed. This is a recreation from the 70s half breed fit and a scrubbed up retread, but it’s surely Cher’s most representative outfit from the 70s decade. But here is where things get really good: an 80s outfit. Encroyable! And the doll Gods have picked the hole fit!! Can you believe it?. This is big news because it elevates this mostly-ignored but oft-worn and re-designed hole-strewn uni-tard up to the iconic status it so deserves. Check out Ape Culture and scroll to the bottom of the concert review to view a retrospective of the hole fit as it has evolved throughout modern times.Holedoll_1

My fingers are itching on my wallet to purchase these babes. If only I could find out when Target will get their shipment? O’ where can I go in the free market to buy my Cher dolls? Stay tuned…the summer promises many good things: the last Harry Potter novel and now this!

You can see the new doll prototypes at these sites (just plug ‘cher’ in the search box).

goantiques.com
guyzanddollz.com
islandofdolls.com


Cher Spaces

Chersite Rumor had it that Cher.com officially sanctioned the news about Cher replacing Celine Dion at Caesars Palace in Vegas next year. Although I dreaded doing it, I visited Cher.com to see if this was true. Almost immediately I was reminded why I never visit this official Cher website. There’s been no news update since her auction last year, and certainly no mention of any upcoming Vegas deal, upcoming album, upcoming movie, or links to Cher causes so fans can join the bandwagon and donate, or any other such things that a fan of a major celebrity website might expect. There’s even a broken link in the main navigation to the Cher store. A broken main navigation link!  What a ghost-town this site is!

Cher’s official site has always been high on effects and low on content. The maddening thing is that this is also what the public-at-large has accused Cher herself of being: all fluff and no substance. Well, the site subliminally confirms. As usual, I am frustrated in three minutes and I leave in a huff.

One of Cher’s great strengths is that she resists a kind of Dolly-Parton type of Unchanging Presence. I love Dolly, don’t get me wrong; but Dolly has habits of image that have stuck years upon years. Cher re-invents and this is why she is so representative of her time, decade after decade. But unfortunately that kind of skill of habit is what you need to run a decent web site.

Crappy site or not, Cher fans are very loyal. It’s a very unrequited relationship: “Rejection always was our bitter pill.” Getting information out to the fans is a low priority and the site would be a ghost-town except for its still-active forums, which on Cher.com can be a veritable insane asylum.

So there's been recent talk among fans about Cher having a MySpace page at www.myspace.com/cherdotcom. Is it fer real? The big yahoo Cher group has been debating the issue. Here are my two wooden nickels on the subject:

Yes it is?
Because Cher.com is a lonely place without Cher actually being there, we’d love to believe Cher has an active Myspace page and this page is definitely friendlier than Cher.com , certainly with a lot of words and links splashed around. What I hate about MySpace is the messiness of the layout and complete absence of any information architecture. Everyone looks like a maniacal ego trip in two columns -- with or without some zany background tile. This is why I have yet to join Myspace (along with my general dislike of joining things). It's hard to read.

Can we image Cher devoting her time to a Myspace page? I would more likely believe it if someone in her entourage advised her of its marketing advantages, (they’re so popular with the kids and all), and she decided to relegate it to some under-appreciated, over-worked, personal assistant underling. This Myspace page reflects a more low-key Cher and definitely hits upon her up-to-date interests, unlike the web site: Harley motorcycles, the men of the US armed forces, and a corner of memorial space for Sonny Bono.

But no it isn’t!
There’s just something in the “About Me” section that seems off-tone. Cher describes herself as a “mature actress.” Mature is not a word I’ve ever heard Cher use to describe herself. Then the page incorrectly claims Cher won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Silkwood. She didn’t win that award. Linda Hunt did. It’s very hard to swallow the idea that Cher or any Cher peon would forget how many Oscar’s she had. Also, the home page pictures are not personal or rare;  they’re all news photos, something any fan could grab off the Internet. I can’t access the photo album or blog; but I’m tempted to join just to get a peek at them. On the Yahoo group, one fan doubted this site’s authenticity, commenting that official Myspace pages generally have a music player at page top (see Taylor Hicks’ official page). This proves legitimacy apparently because one has to be certified as themselves before installing such a player.

But yet it could be…
Well, if you’ve been a fan of Cher for a long time you know that sloppiness isn’t a stranger to Cher product from time to time. So unfortunately that doesn’t rule her out. Peons do make mistakes after all, player installations could be too much of a hassle, and since when has the Cher camp actively promoted any Cher music but what has been on the store shelves for under 6 months. Besides, in Cher’s Friends’ Comments, Tommy R. of Malt from Shoppe Productions seems to think the space is real.

So Cher sites, real or not, give us no reliable link to Cher news. Even the official fan page has been deserted of late. It’s a pity. I guess until those hot little Vegas tickets show up on the Caesars Palace or ticket bastard websites, I will never feel sure Cher will indeed replace Celine Dion. I mean just because Liz Smith writes about it: it aint necessarily so. In Cherworld, that’s just a declaration of intent.

But I will be happily surprised when the time comes to shell out hundreds of dollars for a new Vegas Cher show. Seriously. I’m not being facetious. Well, not entirely. I’ve always wanted to see Cher in Vegas. I just thought I’d be a rich adult when the time came.

   


Kansas City

Bbq So where in the hell have I been? I left for a weekend of Meet-The-Folks and came back to find two weeks worth of ASAP emails and ToDos! I was swamped and couldn’t catch my breath, as the fearless leader of the Barry Manilow fan club used to say.

I left sunny Southern California on Friday and arrived in Kansas City just as the blizzard did. What an interesting ride to our hotel in rush hour, slipping and sliding around the roads with the poor commuters, except we weren’t grouchy because we were on vacation.

While I was in town I met my significant roomie’s mother, sister, brothers, nieces and nephews (everyone was very welcoming and friendly; however, there’s a short story in there somewhere), had some delish BBQ (I’m a vegetarian; I dipped my fries), and the best milkshake I’ve ever had at Winsteads.

Another highlight of the trip was touring the Steamboat Arabia, a riverboat some treasure-hunting yokels dug up in the yard of a farmer. Yes, you heard me: a river boat sunk deep under some dude’s corn field. The boat hit a snag and sank in the 1800s; and then the river up and moved. No foolin. Definitely worth a trip to see.
    


Rich as Roosevelt

Ad1I realize I’ve been a real Negative Nellie lately. Which is silly because things have been pretty good. In fact, I’m traveling this week to a new city—something I love to do. I’m also making progress on  recently neglected financial and artistic fronts. So why focus on the negative in I Found Some Blog. Let’s focus on the positive: Cher is rich!

“You’re as rich as Roosevelt!” That’s what Olympia Dukakis shouts out to Vincent Gardinia in Moonstruck when he doesn’t want to pay for Cher’s wedding to Danny Aiello. I love that line for all its grumpy ‘tude; but does it make any sense? I mean, are we talking about Teddy or Frank here? I’m pretty sure Franklin was not that rich. At least that’s what they said when we went on that tour of his house off the Hudson River in New York. Maybe Teddy was the richie. If I was more of a history scholar, I’d be able to answer that among other pertinent questions. But, as it is, I’m Cher Scholar and can only answer questions like “Is Cher Italian?” or “Is Cher rich?” No and, as reports of late would indicate, yes. However, it should be noted that we Cher fans have always thought Cher was rich. It’s just that we were wrong sometimes.

Well, what do we know? We scan Cher atriums in four or five Architectural Digest issues throughout the decades and it’s easy to see how we could get the wrong idea. But as it happens, during the late 60s and mid 80s, to cite two examples, Cher was actually, as they say, paying the chauffeur with milk money and the cat was pissed.* Another thing to note: this information about Cher’s richieoicity came from an un-sourced posting on Cher groups claiming Cher was now worth about $620 million dollars. But I say we shouldn’t believe it until Cher makes the Forbes list of richest celebrities. Allegedly, the bulk of her wealth is a result of her real estate holdings, art collections, and the new Caesars Palace contract worth $60 million. But should we believe such Vegas-ness will even occur before we get the hot little tickets in our hands and have forced three of our non-Cher-fan friends to promise they'll go with us? Maybe there’s money coming in from a new fragrance product I heard a whiff about last week. Speaking of rumors, I still don’t know what this mysterious Cher Charitable Foundation is. Like everything else, until I see a poster, a website, or a billboard…talk to the hand.

And I mean “talk to the hand” in a good, positive way. :-)

*M.E. Ladd


Peripheral Melodrama

7536189_2It's been quite a week of celebrity scandals. One for the books, you might say. What a sad story is the life and death of Anna Nicole. If you’re interested in my thoughts, check out the Ape Culture blog.

 

This Ryan O’Neal family drama is particularly ridiculous. If you haven’t heard, apparently there was a brawl between Ryan and his sons and a girlfriend or his son and a girlfriend or his sons with him intermediating. Everyone has a different story but long story short: girlfriend has a black eye. In any case, one son is accusing Ryan of battery, Tatum appears to be is supporting her brother who is, for some reason, telling her to bug off. And meanwhile, the step-brother was allegedly tied up in a basement at one part of the fracas and Farrah, his mother, is just a mess over it. And that last part is the only thing that’s not news.

   

I saw the E! True Hollywood Story on Ryan which, if it is to be believed, suggests he has banked up a dastardly large amount of bad karma in his life…which is probably what is kicking him in the fracas right about now. Whether he did anything or not.
 
Which inevitably brings us to Faithful, that painfully slow and unbelievable Cher movie that came and went back in the mid 90s. Why-oh-why did Cher get tangled up in a Ryan O’Neal movie thereby forcing me to suffer through his awful, charismatically-challenged, whiney performance? Much like his performance in front of the paparazzi this week. Is there a wailing wall for situations such as this?Chertatum_1

I have never in my whole life understood the hoopla over Ryan O’Neal. I’ve always seen him as a over- rated Playboy, skinny (now bloated), pasty-faced, white bread, absentee father near-do-well who has skated by his whole life all too easily like some asshole high school sports hero from some Americana small town. To add insult to injury he carried around some air of Hollywood entitlement and I just don’t get it. On top of that he raised dysfunctional kids. Remember Tatum on The Cher Show? Awww…poor little white-trash rich girl. She’s a mess now. And she’s the good one!

    

Ryan is one of those people who remind me of that great scene in The Color Purple when Celia’s sister Nettie is running away. I see Nettie staggering back along the outside of the fence sobbing, “Until you do right by me, everything you do is gonna fail!”…except it isn’t Danny Glover she’s cursing at, it’s Ryan O’Neal.

    

By the way, my iPod shuffle feature continues to be an education in juxtaposition. Yesterday, I heard back-to-back Sonny’s ode “Laugh at Me” (S&C Live Vol. I version) followed by Neil Diamond’s “Captain of a Shipwreck.” And a most interesting, groovy shipwreck it was.

 


Enquiring Minds

74_movie_mirror I’ve been thinking a lot about this latest tabloid story mentioned in my last post. First of all, we should remember: tabloids murdered Princess Diana by causing her to flee too fast through a tunnel. I can’t condone buying them. They're sinister and they make celebrities cry...for no good reason than to feed our insatiable appetite for gossip.

That said, I tried to buy my own copy of Cher in the aforementioned rag last week. But I never found it. Or rather, I bought the wrong issue, mistaking plain-face Lindsay Lohan for Cher on the cover. I KNOW. It’s very embarrassing! Not only did I spend way too much $$ for a magazine full of lies on recycled paper, but my Cherdar was way off. I was mortified about it, believe me. I ended up stashing the "wrong copy" in the downstairs bathroom so I could brush up on the antics of Pamela Anderson Lee Rock at my leisure.

But I was even thwarted in that when my significant roomie read the thing faster than I could and threw it out before I got two articles in. Was I miffed!

So the whole episode was an exercise in disappointment. How could I mistake Linday for Cher? How on earth could that happen? Am I getting senile? Have I lost my touch? In high school, I used to be able to pick out "Cher" from a scan of teen mag text in seconds. I was a sort of Cher-savant. I had mad celebrity obsession skillz. So what happened?

The Internet, that’s what. The Internet Cher groups have made me lazy. I now wait for the next generation of Cher teen fans to do all the hunting and scanning. I sit back in my office and wait for the news posts to rain in through my email and tell me when the next Cher appearance on TV or in print is. It's been comfortable life, yes. But I've missed a few things.

It’s made me soft.

But it was the Internet that came through in the end. The rag scans eventually appeared online. It was interesting to finally see the photos some bozo captured of Cher walking on a beach. How creepy if you fully visualize the scene: some dude following Cher around in the sand, walking backwards with his camera.

Cher is so  far from fat in the “Now” photo” and possibly too thin in the “Then” photo. You can just as easily say Cher is 26 pounds away from being too Nicole Ritchie in the “Then” photo. And where do they get the 26 pounds from anyway? It completely robs the story of any credibility. Maybe the family cat, lurking near Cher’s knee at the bathroom scale was the crucial leak to a reporter, a man lurking with a can of Fancy Feast by dumpsters at the Cher compound gate. Or does this rag have some special photo-scanning weight software that measures muscle to body fat? If so, the software is probably extremely buggy and can’t take into consideration shadow-camera pounds and sea-wind interference in pantaloons.

The whole country is crazy. We're either all too fat or too thin. Our collective conscious is contradictory, self-abusive and meaningless. Who’s gained 20 pounds today? Who’s lost 20 pounds tomorrow?

I’m working on a new poetry project that involves a lot of research on Zen Buddhism. In the Buddha’s teachings of The Noble Eightfold Path, he discourages gossiping which is opposed to Right Speech. Think of your karma. Indulging in salacious gossip is never done is good spirit. These rags reek of bad karma.

But we’re so human. We fold like cards. I rationalized my mis-purchase in order to "weigh in" on the photo debate - was it real or was it Photoshoped; but I really wanted to satiate my curiosity about the possibility of there ever really being a fat Cher. Aren't we Cher fans are lonely for Cher news, too. She hasn’t been in a legitimate magazine for a while, let alone done an interview.

As Chris Rock said many years ago: I'm not saying it's right; but I understand. Let’s all move on from this unsavory incident. If you must engage in this sort of activity: play the Cher Scholar Tabloid game instead.

Speaking of gossip: is that Mimi Machu up there with Sonny? Scholarship, gossip...it's a fine line.


The Elijah Blue Allman Project

Elijahcher2 Last week I started a new job doing content updates for a company in Internet governance. My commute is less than three miles and I sit in a quiet office with a view of the lovely marina in Marina Del Rey. I love it! I'm mostly swapping out War-and-Peace amounts of Internet policy documents. Not exactly sexy in the land of Hollywood and pop culture but I like it. It appeals to my inner nerd. I also get to learn Dreamweaver, web compliance standards, and how the Internet works. Never considered that before. I look forward to the next few months of coding, editing and watching LA sunsets from my window.  Plus the bathrooms are clean. Which is more than I can say for my last LA office job downtown. *Shudder*

As I was doing laundry this weekend, I read up on my Ann Wylie/PRSA newsletters full of writing tips. There I found out about a new word: verbidical which means “ a condition that exists when a person believes he or she is skilled in the use of words (a verbalist), but in reality is grammatically challenged.”

For some reason, this word immediately reminded me of Cher peripheral Elijah Blue Allman. Maybe this is because I just perused the latest Deadsy CD (Phantasmagore – their second album). I caught up on Elijah news and Deadsy history with Wikipedia. The CD was released last August, 2006. If you remember, Elijah went on Howard Stern to promote it and made headlines for his comments about Paris Hilton being unclean in her nethers.

Where do I start with Elijah? Why talk about Cher-spawns at all? Normally I would say leave the kids out of your celebrity obsessions! However, Cher’s two children are very public by choice: both have put out either records or books, or made reality TV or radio appearances. And both talk about life with Cher; so their experiences seem relevant to my continuing, albeit pointless, Cher scholarship.

In trying to process the Deadsy project, I've had to wade through an onslaught of artifice that leaves even Cher in the dust. Such artifice includes:

  1. Band mates all having pseudonyms: Elijah only goes by Phillips Exeter Blue I. But hey, when you have an unusual name to begin with, self-picking an even odder name has no effect.
  2. Deadsy image making is so heavy-handed. For the album Commencement, the images were about boarding schools, secret societies, uniforms. But it was a vapid message; I never gained any insight into these institutions.
  3. In this albums incarnation, the band has color-coded outfits intended to represent the following categories: academia, leisure, war, horror, and medicine/science. There's some overlap here: academia encompasses medicine/science and horror overlaps with war. And what does this gesture serve anyway? The album's lyrical content doesn’t fully support the gimmick. Instead, I just feel the sudden urge to play Trivial Pursuit. Or maybe we’re already playing it.
  4. In interviews Elijah likens the lyrics and band to an art project or a David Lynch film but not any specific school of art or specific David Lynch film. And here is where I feel Elijah and the band are intellectually lazy. Their art gestures are too general.
  5. The band has a logo: a TV Test Pattern which reflects back to artifice #3. I know. Why?
  6. Wikipedia claims the band has a manifesto. I know I should have read it but as Susan Sarandon says in Witches of Eastwick, sometimes I just can’t face it.
  7. Deadsy refers to their fans as legions. This fact elicited laughter from my significant roomie who declared, “that’s the most ironic statement of all.”

If there's truly irony or satire here, it’s empty overkill. The fact that the project may be ironic and may be serious is a weak position. You have to be brave with satire and irony.

Elijah, being the product of two unique vocalists, is likewise unique. However, his hardcore, menacing vocals feel inauthentic to me. Like he’s trying too hard. But far worse are his interview snippets in reviews where he attempts brilliance that try even harder. What results are nonsensical posings. It doesn’t even work as satire. These antics are the predictable exercises of every budding artist….in high school. But from a man who's just crossed the threshold of 30, it’s plain adolescent. And the content just doesn’t back up the bravado.

Okay, maybe I have a bad attitude about Deadsy or Elijah or the whole circle of 30-something nere-do-wells who produce the bulk of Hollywood gossip right now. I did go see Deadsy a few years ago at the Roxy in LA. The band kept stopping mid-song (I don’t like it when Lucinda Williams does it either – but at least she is truly brilliant). Elijah blamed “electricity.” On Howard Stern he said his performance wasn’t up to par due to jet lag. Snap out of it!

And must you have contempt for everything? The problem is he doesn't come across as any smarter than what he has contempt for.

As I read aloud funny interview blurbs, my significant roomie weighed in with this conclusion: When you grow up in the cradle of celebrity and money, you don’t get to say how stupid society is. Because you’ve never truly lived it, slum around all you like. It’s like William Shatner & Joe Jackson singing Common People:

"Smoke some fags and play some pool
pretend you never went to school;
but still you’ll never get it right
when you’re lying in bed at night
watching roaches climb the wall.
If you call your Dad,
he could stop it all.
You’ll never live like common people;
you’ll never watch your life slide out of view
and dance and break and screw
...because they’re nothing else to do.”

(Banks, Doyle, Mackey, Senior & Cocker)

You have plenty else to do: like get a record deal or visit Howard Stern and talk about screwing Paris Hilton (call her unclean); or talk about screwing Bijou Phillips (3 o’clock slop) or screwing Heather Graham (dumb as a shoe). 

Elijah as a person owes us nothing. As an artist, he owes us something for our attention. I wish he would just give us something honest about his life experience instead of this elaborate junk which just accentuates what is possibly a low self-esteem. Maybe not. But if all the drama with heroin, goth artifice, and hatin' on women hadn’t betrayed him yet, the emptiness of Deadsy will eventually.

Not that anyone asked…(aw heck, I ask myself)….if I were Elijah what would I do? I would strike the slate clean. Revamp, refurbish, rethink it. Take it all down and start from a more genuine place. Cherfamily_1 Own up to who you are. There’s nothing wrong with being a son of celebrity. It’s one thing to say that; it’s another thing to believe it. Besides, you have no choice. And what’s left to be said about artifice in 2007 anyway? Even David Foster Wallace is giving up irony and digging the riverbed for solid gold sincerity.

So what do I like about Deadsy? Well, the z-tar. I like their “Paint it Black” cover. I am intrigued by Elijah’s influences in the low registers as I tend to like same. I have a theory that Elijah and I were both fetuses inside deep-voiced women. My mother’s smoker’s voice puts Lauren Bacall to shame. While Elijah was in Cher’s womb and Cher was on TV shows singing 70s pop songs like "Rhinestone Cowboy," she must have sounded like a hump-back whale to little fetus Elijah. Possibly we are drawn to those sounds because we listened to them in the womb.

Also -- Elijah rarely bad mouth’s his mother or his half-sister Chastity. I like that about him, too.