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September 2009 Archives

September 7, 2009

My Facebook for the World to See

I am now 136 cocktails, 17 apple trees, 14 WPA posters, a set of toenail clippings and a case of Ebola virus behind in my Facebook giving.

I have been a been a member of Facebook for about three months now, and I have yet to get the hang of the process. I joined at the urging of many friends who had established communications networks on the site, devised pop quizzes (meaning both "immediate" and "pop culture"), and played games such as Mafia Wars and Farm Town with "friends" across the globe. At last count I had 103 Facebook friends, many of whom are friends of friends or simply people I have heard of, or whose writing I have read and liked (including several Scene4 columnists). I have tried to use the service to advertise upcoming events, with varying success. I have taken a few of the quizzes, and was beguiled to find out that I would be Claude Monet if I were a dead painter or Jerry Garcia if I were a dead rock star. (I haven't yet grown a beard yet to enhance the dual resemblance, but I'm thinking abut it.) Mostly, however, I have been inundated with gifts and with exhortations to reciprocate. Facebook has officially listed my gift-giving status as "Scrooge." I will only tell my friends that I really do intend to return their kindness, as soon as I figure out how to unlock the pina colada or the Clydesdale horse.

So far the most fun I've had with Facebook is with my personal description on my home page. It provides an opportunity to do a little tongue-in-cheek personal mythologizing, and also to mess with people's minds by changing the entry frequently. Here are the descriptions I've posted so far:

* Miles David Moore is famous for his efforts to popularize classical music. His CDs include "Disco Webern," "Frescobaldi Goes Country," and that platinum-selling hit, "Hip-Hop Hindemith."

* Miles David Moore is one of the reigning superstars of his time. He lives in an impregnable fortress in Malibu, Calif., with his wife, Jennifer Lopez, and their twins, Neon Meate and Dream Octafish.

* Miles David Moore does not exist. For proof, read Richard Dawkins' sensational bestseller, "The Fatslug Delusion."

For further jocularity, keep checking my Facebook page. Meanwhile, I have to rustle up a round of strawberry daiquiris and some swine flu.

September 20, 2009

Life Lessons from a Ghost

This was the summer in which all the obituary writers had to cancel their vacations. The necrology of the great and famous was so relentless that merely keeping track of it became impossible. We can remark on the loss, within a few weeks of each other, of Karl Malden and Budd Schulberg, united forever in every film fan's memory because of "On the Waterfront." We can note that Les Paul, as inventor of the electric guitar, is as strong a candidate as any for the title of Coolest Dude Who Ever Lived. We can acknowledge the tragicomic irony of Farrah Fawcett, who, fighting a losing battle with cancer, meticulously prepared video diaries of her last days as a legacy to her fans, only to have her passing wiped off the front page by the death of Michael Jackson the same day.

From that long list of the deceased, perhaps the most inspiring personal story came toward the end of the summer, from an actor who--ironically enough--gained his greatest fame playing a ghost. In a 20-month battle with pancreatic cancer, Patrick Swayze presented the world with an impeccably dignified, courageous public face, continuing his career without the slightest trace of self-pity. Swayze belongs to that distinguished group from the entertainment world who, given a short reprieve from a death sentence, did everything they could to make that time count. Art Buchwald continued to write his column, Yul Brynner did a farewell tour of "The King and I," Warren Zevon recorded two albums, and Patrick Swayze signed on as the lead in a TV series. All four men will continue as shining examples of how to make an exit.

One is hard put to find any kind of prima donna behavior at any point in Swayze's career. He worked hard, he never complained, and whatever peccadilloes he had, he kept to himself. Of course he played mostly the romantic and action-hero roles that were offered him because of his looks and athleticism, but occasionally he was given the chance to show greater range. Just now a friend asked why none of the obituary writers has mentioned Swayze's masterful comic performance as a drag queen in "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar." With this blog, I hope to rectify that oversight.

Seeing this column, some readers might object that I am ignoring a greater recent example of courage, grace and determination in the face of death: Edward Kennedy. Certainly Sen. Kennedy must be given his due. But there was a difference between Kennedy and Swayze. Tabloids regularly pick over the bones of the famous, and certainly few people have suffered as much from the predations of the gutter press as Edward Kennedy and his extended family. But, with the news of a fatal illness, statesmen tend to get a reprieve from the worst of the death-watch coverage. With movie stars, the buzzards circle thick and fast. Throughout the last 20 months of his life, Patrick Swayze was plagued with weekly headlines screaming that he was at death's door. The pain this caused him and his family can scarcely be calculated. Swayze replied to these headlines calmly, pointing out that he was still working, that he was receiving treatment, that this treatment had improved his condition. He refused to respond to the hysteria of the gutter press by becoming hysterical himself.

Patrick Swayze may not be considered one of Hollywood's greatest actors. But he proved at the end of his life that he was a great man.

About September 2009

This page contains all entries posted to MDM in September 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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