Brittany Murphy – the new Karen Carpenter?

I awoke today to the news of yet another celebrity death, albeit not anyone I was particularly a fan of, nor did I know much about her… but the news struck me as eerily similar to another celebrity death that still, to this day, haunts me.

Take a look at the pictures below.

Brittany Murphy and Karen Carpenter

On the left is Brittany Murphy, who died today at age 32 of cardiac arrest.

On the right is Karen Carpenter, who died in 1983 at age 32 of cardiac arrest (which was later attributed to Anorexia Nervosa).

Aside from those similarities, note the similarities in their facial features.  The gaunt, stark chin.  The long, flowing hair that disguises the thinness of the neck.

I’m not a doctor by any means… but I can’t help but wonder if Anorexia didn’t play a part in Ms. Murphy’s death.

I find it frightening that the entertainment industry as a whole has still not learned its lessons from Karen’s passing.  Why are our actresses, singers and other performers being subjected to this mentality?  What is this teaching our children?

These photos do not show either woman at their worst.  I have seen much worse photos of Karen Carpenter, where she looks like a skeleton with skin on her face; and I have seen much worse photos of Brittany Murphy, where the effects of what had to be an eating disorder were very apparent.  But photos aside, the similarities– which COULD just be coincidences– are just too obvious to ignore.  Time will tell.

The Rule of Threes – Ed, Farrah and Michael

The Rule of Threes struck again, and it struck with a vengeance, especially today.

I remember as a kid, when a celebrity or notable person would die, my Dad would say, “Well, two more to go – they always go in threes.” He was always right. Somehow, another notable person would die, and then another, and the three were chosen.

This never became more apparent to me in 2006, when my family suffered three losses — first my cousin Arlene, then my Dad, and then my cousin’s Grandma Madge. The Rule of Threes was most painful that year.

When Farrah Fawcett died today, I posted a tweet on Twitter that said, “Rule of threes – Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett… will Walter Cronkite be next?” It seemed to make sense. Just days earlier, news reports stated that Cronkite, the veteran news reporter, was “Gravely Ill.” I didn’t realize at the time just how wrong I could be.

I never expected Michael Jackson to be the one to round up the Rule of Threes, and certainly I never expected it to happen that same day.

So what to say of these three losses…

Well, for one thing, each of them reminds me that I, myself, am growing older. The heroes and idols and superstars that I remember from my youth are quickly fading away.

I look at their careers and wonder if they lived happy lives, good lives, fulfilling lives.  Some did… some had harder times.

Ed McMahon lived a long, full life. He had many careers – military, music, entertainment… he seemingly did it all, and did for a very long time. As memorable as Johnny Carson was, so too was Ed and his hearty laugh and his legendary introduction to the Tonight Show, “Heeeeere’s Johnny!” Many nights I can recall laying in my bedroom trying to sleep while my parents were in the living room watching Johnny walk onto the stage through the rainbow-colored curtain after that hallowed call. Then when I got old enough, I, too, enjoyed Ed and Johnny’s antics. They were friends of mine too. And now they’re gone.

Farrah Fawcett, with her windswept, dirty blonde locks, was every boy’s fantasy… even a burgeoning gay boy like me. I can’t deny that I wasn’t fascinated with her– I was. She got all the men, and she did it all with the flip of a feathered lock. But there was much more to Farrah than “Jiggle TV” showed, and she knew it. She knew she had the talent to make a name for herself, and stuck up for herself to prove it. She was a survivor, and a fighter. Those truths about Farrah don’t come out often enough, and I hope they do now, because she needs to be remembered for all of her accomplishments. Her final fight, cancer, was probably her greatest. Angered by tabloid trash talk about her disease, she decided to the turn the cameras on one last time, and tell the truth… and she did so with amazing dignity and perserverence. I watched “Farrah’s Story” and was moved by her bravery in the face of death. She knew– she HAD to know– that her end was coming, but she wasn’t afraid to tell the world that she wasn’t afraid. So she kept on fighting, right up until the end. Ryan O’Neil said he loved her more than ever during those months… and I have to say that I did too. Rest well, Farah… you’re truly an Angel now.

But Michael Jackson was the greatest shock of all. Poised for a comeback after many years out of the spotlight, which was rare for the superstar who had been in the spotlight since he was a very small child; it looked like Michael Jackson was on the road to recovery after the trials and accusations that faced him just 4 years ago. There is no sense judging him for all of that now. That isn’t my place, anyway. I want to focus on the brilliant music he made, from his meager beginnings with the Jackson 5 to his incredible years with Off the Wall and Thriller… and his countless charitable and humanitarian works. Michael Jackson may have become a persona later in life, and his odd behavior turned off a lot of people; but most of those who were turned off by the oddities agreed– the man knew music. The King of Pop? Maybe an overblown title… but he sure as heck sold it the best way he could. He truly was a legend, and I’m still stunned that he’s gone.

Each of these legends… icons… were present in my youth and adolescence. And now they are gone. Life goes on, but it’s a little sadder than the day before.

Change is here… hopefully!

This should be the happiest moment in many years for all Americans.  

We have just inaugurated a new president.  The air is filled with a spirit of hope and change, and all of that is for the better.  The prospects of a happy and healthy future for America look better than ever, and that has nothing to do with Republican or Democratic politics; but everything to do with a fresh outlook and a new, positive direction for our country.  

But as with every change, there is sure to be resistance.

Naturally, I am seeing resistance from staunch Republicans who think that Barack Obama’s policies are “a lot of talk that will cost us a lot of money.”  They are sure that he will fail, and that America will not step up to the challenge to come together and work for a better future for our country.  And while I respect these people for having their opinions– because they are certainly entitled to them– I wish they would just step back and give Mr. Obama a chance to prove himself before they declare him a failure.

The most frustrating thing about this whole situation is, the same can be said for many of my GLBT brothers and sisters. 

I have spent the past few weeks being a relatively silent observer to the historic events taking place around me.  

When Prop 8 passed in California, I, like many other GLBT people across the country, felt the sting of disappointment.  I wanted to join the protests but couldn’t; yet my feelings on the situation were the same as everyone else’s.  The GLBT community voiced its disappointment with a resounding and unified cry– the likes of which has not been seen since the days of Harvey Milk or the outbreak of AIDS.  It was inspiring and exciting to see.

However, in recent weeks, I get a sense that we as a community are going way too far… to the point where we could be called “The Community Who Cried Wolf.”  

Since that first group of protests, there have been at least 4 other organized protests around the country, including here in Chicago.  Those protests started out with clear goals – one was in protest of the Cinemark theatre CEO, who supported Prop 8; one was demanding that Obama repeal the Defense of Marriage Act– but when the protests actually happened, they were paired with other, much more obscure measures– measures that I had never even heard of.  Instead of unifying our voices to one cause, we began spreading ourselves too thin, and our voices became muddled.  I decided that I would not participate in any of these protests unless they were for clear and completely understandable goals.  

This spirit of anger has also begun to permeate into the support of our new President.  We have grown entirely too gun-shy… too skeptical of every move he makes; and most of the criticism came before he even took the oath of office.  

When friends and acquaintances bemoaned the selection of Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback Church, to give the Inaugural invocation; I kept my opinion to myself until I got all the information I could on the selection.  At that point, I decided that his selection was probably not the best move, but the message it sent to people on all sides was a message of inclusion for all- even differing viewpoints.  Later, when Bishop Gene Robinson was selected to give the invocation at this past Sunday’s “We Are One” event, I felt that the gay community’s concerns were alleviated, and we got the reperesentation we needed by our incoming President.

But when the broadcast of the event occurred, and Robinson’s invocation was cut, immediately the community started crying “Foul!” and “Betrayal!”  Granted, I was disappointed that his invocation was cut, but once again our community started laying blame before we got the whole story.  I’m sure protests against HBO and the Inaugural committee are sure to follow.

The point I’m trying to make here is:  We have a new president, with much more progressive ideas and beliefs than our former president.  As his new website outlines, he is planning to do more for our community than has ever been done before.  I just wish that our community would give the man and his administration time to find their footing and get the ball rolling before we start condemning him.  Besides, there are much bigger fish for them to fry than our concerns anyway.  They have an economy to rebuild, two wars to manage and hopefully end, and countless wrongs from the past to hopefully right.  Our concerns are just a few of a great many.  Will they all get addressed?  Probably not.  But let’s see where things go before we pass judgment.

Oh… the Agony…

I missed last night’s Emmy Awards ceremony because I was at Chorus rehearsal.

Thank God.

I’ve heard and read such awful things about the broadcast that I’m not sure I’ll be anticipating next year’s ceremony with any sort of excitement.  Honestly, after that painful writers’ strike of last year, you’d think these guys and gals would come up with something that would have given us, the viewers, something to relish and appreciate.  Instead, we got train wrecks like this:

(WARNING: Please do not watch if you have recently eaten a meal.  You may involuntarily purge)

Clip courtesy of Best Week Ever

Overheard in the Doctor's Office

A pair of older ladies– a mother and her daughter– were seated opposite of me at the doctor’s office yesterday.  The daughter was probably in her mid to late 50s.  The mother in her mid-late 70s or early 80s.  The daughter was reading the Chicago Tribune to her mother, and I couldn’t help but overhear a portion of their conversation:

Daughter: Oh my goodness, Mom did you see this?

Mother: What, dear?

Daughter: These two women got married in California.  Ellen DeGeneres and her girlfriend.

Mother: Really?

Daughter: Yes, you know they passed that law in California that allows them to get married.

Mother: What does it say?

Daughter: Oh it says what they wore- Ellen wore a white pantsuit and Portia wore a white dress.  And they talk about the cake and the music and who was all there.

Daughter: Hm.

Mother: Hm.

Daughter: Well to each his own, I guess.

Mother: Yep.

Daughter: I guess if they’re in love, it’s a good thing.

Mother: Yep.

Daughter: Oh doesn’t she look pretty?

Mother: Sure does.  Just lovely.