A deep, analytical look at child star bands

My tendancy to obsess over menial subjects continues. This week's target topic is Former Child Star Bands, which you have to admit is completely fascinating. Unable to cope with being out of the spotlight once puberty hits, a disproportionate number of ex-kiddie moppets from our favorite shows and movies wind up assaulting our ears with their side-project "art." I knew all that alleged two-hour-a-day, on-set-tutoring was bullshit; in reality, they are all getting high in their trailors dreaming of being the next Brandon Cruz. So how are they doing anyway? I tried to be non-objective in my approach here (meaning whatever annoying character they played in the past has no bearing on my assessment), but who am I kidding? Corey Feldman singing theatrical metal? This entry practically wrote itself.

Bad 4 Good (Danny Cooksey)
It doesn't get any better than this. Annoying Sam from "Dif'rent Strokes" singing "I'm bad and I ain't even dead!" Aside from the Cooksey association, two friends brought to my attention that this band also features a young longhair by the name of Thomas McRocklin, who was a little protege of Steve Vai. I mean, who can even compete with a name like that? I don't care if it's a stage name—Thomas McRocklin + Danny Cooksey = gold, Jerry, gold!
Cheesy awesomeness factor: 10
Actual talent: 6
Overall assessment: Goes past bad to good and all the way back to bad again

Elephone (Ryan Lambert)
Before the Mickey Mouse Club became the hotbed for young pop talent, a little show called "Kids, Incorporated" showcased the next generation of precocious brats that would go on to make shitty music. Martika, Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson and Ryan Lambert all sprung forth from the demon loins of this godforsaken pre-teen variety show. While Martika now dabbles in goth-pop, and Fergs overcame her meth-addicted girl-group days to pee her pants on stage with the Black Eyed Peas, cute little Ryan went on to front the "indie/rock/Hawaiian" outfit Elephone. It shouldn't come as any surprise that they're all emo-ed out with smart-boy glasses, brush haircuts and Kitson boutiquewear. The sound is Radiohead-ish, via The Smiths with a side order of My Bloody Valentine.
Cheesy awesomeness factor: -5 (just like the old days, when he was pretending to be a riverboat captain, Ry-Ry still takes himself far too seriously)
Actual talent: 6
Overall assessment: OK, I'll admit I didn't hate it and Ryan is kind of cute. But the pretentiousness level is hilariously high, and thus, it sucks. Let's be realistic...the only reason anyone would go see them is to see the kid from "The Monster Squad". Don't hide from your past, Ryan, embrace it. It's all over YouTube now, so there's no getting away. Just do a cover of the "Kids, Inc." theme and get it over with.

New Radicals (Danielle Brisebois)
Danielle, who played the charming little foil to Archie's grumpy curmudgeon on "All in the Family", may arguably be the most successful of the child star banders, thanks to the New Radicals' "You Get What You Give". Do you remember them? The lead singer always wore a frat dink bucket hat and that song had the living hell played out of it in the late '90s. I fucking hated it. So even though Danielle was involved in something that might be recognizable to the general public does not mean it doesn't suck.
Cheesy awesomeness factor: does not compute
Actual talent: 1 (well, they play their own instruments...)
Overall assessment: Sucks

The Papercranes (Rain Phoenix)
Though not as well-known as her actor bros Joaquin and the late River, Rain Joan of Arc Phoenix has a couple of respectable roles under her belt, as well as appearances on "Family Ties" and "Amazing Stories". She also looks DISTURBINGLY like her brother Joaquin. Hey, didn't the Phoenix family belong to the Children of God/Hookers for Christ cult? If so, that puts a whole new twist on this Fiona Apple-lite, twingy-twangy, keyboard-plinky, sad-girl-looking-out-a-rainstreaked-window alt. pop. Maybe this music that nearly lulled me to sleep was MEANT to do that, so it could fill my head with quasi-religious messages that will lead me to shave off all my hair and wear ankle-length skirts all the time.
Cheesy awesomeness factor: 1
Actual talent: 3 (she's not completely tone deaf and she's a Phoenix)
Overall assessment: The Papercranes are fucking awesome. They are the best band of all time. They are better than The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley combined. Oh, wait, I mean the subliminal messages didn't work on me! What I meant to say is: it sucks.

Tiffany Brissette
Hm, that name doesn't sound familiar, you say, to which I reply, "Does VICKY THE ROBOT ring a bell?" How could you forget the thought-provoking genius that is "Small Wonder"? And while Jerry Suprian hasn't really won any Nobel Prizes for Physics, it turns out the greatest robot character actor in the history of television and film has really moved on to the music industry. More specifically, the contemporary Christian music industry. While that is really not all that surprising, what is is that she's allegedly slated to be on the next installment of the Surreal Life. It would be better if she was exposed as a meth-guzzling beastiality porn star, but it might still be fun, especially if she's one of those "Jesus is Cool" people and she ends up on the show with someone like Ron Jeremy.
Cheesy awesomeness factor: 9
Actual talent: ? (but if her skills at impersonating a robot are any indication, I'm guessing it's going to be pretty high)
Overall assessment: OK, I didn't actually hear any of her songs, but did I really need to? Have you ever heard any cotemporary Christian song that didn't sound exactly the same? So my guess is going to be: sucks.

Truth Movement (Corey Feldman)
Log onto Corey's website and you are immediately assaulted with an elevator version of "I Will Survive." Pretty optomistic message from ol' Feld-dog. I barely survived checking out the clips of his music on Amazon; I'm not even sure if what I heard was the actual music or a "Welcome to Windows MediaPlayer" intro. The only clue I had was the singing, because his singing voice sounds exactly like his speaking voice. Then I started picturing him doing Michael Jackson dance moves and crotch grabs and that pretty much put an end to this whole experiment.
Cheesy awesomeness factor: off the fucking charts
Actual talent: -2.5
Overall assessment: Imagine a lite-rock version of a Cradle of Filth song playing in the dentist's office. Then imagine how you felt after waking up in the dentist's office after having your wisdom teeth yanked out. Which is strangely exactly how I feel right now...


Where have you gone, Jackie Earle Haley?

If there's one thing I like to do for my readers, it's to shamelessly resort to internet stalking to get answers to the hard-hitting questions that are on everyone's minds. Such as, "Whatever happened to the guy who played Kelly in The Bad News Bears"?

You know who I'm talking about. He was the little shit hotshot player who rode around on a motorbike and kept taunting Tatum O'Neal because she was a GIRL. I think he drove a van with an airbrushed desert scene on the side in the sequel. All I really remember about it is the Bears made it all the way to some championship at the Astrodome and there was a "let them play" chant at some point. Didn't Corey Feldman play him in the TV version? Anyway, his real name is Jackie Earle Haley and you may also remember him as Moocher in "Breaking Away," and as the male nymphomaniac that upstaged Tom Cruise in "Losin' It."

So just as I was preparing to post on this all-important topic, I check out the newly announced Oscar noms and guess who is up for Best Supporting Actor: JACKIE EARLE HALEY! Isn't that too weird? I'd say it's a one in a million chance that something like this happens again. It's like saying, "Hey, remember that annoying kid that played the brother on 'Small Wonder'?" then the next day reading that Jerry Supiran has just won the Nobel Prize for Physics for his groundbreaking development of laser-based precision spectroscopy, including (but not limited to) the optical frequency comb technique. (And for the record, I looked up his name...my no-lifed-ness does have a limit!) So if Jackie wins, he should totally thank me in his acceptance speech because of this convaluted psychic ability I seem to have.

Turns out Jackie had been doing pretty well even before his award nomination. I looked him up online and found this website for his production company. He's a very successful commercial director and seems to be a very respected personality in the entertainment industry. And good for him. After working with Tatum O'Neal, Tom Cruise and Danny Bonnaduche it would seem that this is one child star that beat the odds.

So now that my heart has been warmed, I have another burning question for you: whatever happened to Danny Cooksey? Remember him as the precocious redheaded moppet on "Dif'rent Strokes" who was quite possibly the number one most annoying person on television ever (with the exception of Scrappy Doo)? Oh, god, I shouldn't have asked because I got curious and looked him up...he's still acting! And his latest star turn is as "Minnesota Drunk Slob" in the fabled blockbuster "Bottoms Up". You may also recognize his legendary voice work as "Pizza Man/Agent Disembodied Head" on "Invader ZIM". I had no idea that was him and I Tivo "Invader ZIM" every day (ha, ha).

Oh yeah, and he's also in a band. How shocking. And they're called Bad 4 Good. I don't think they are anything like Color Me Badd; by the looks of that picture my guess is that they are going for a Blind Melon-meets-Silverchair vibe. And I wouldn't want to see any of those guys shirtless either.

You know what would be really awesome? If Bad 4 Good went on tour with Thruster (fronted by former "Family Ties" brat Brian Bonsall), Elephone (featuring Ryan Lambert of "Kids, Incorporated") and Corey Feldman's band. It could be the Back in the Biz Tour or something like that...my god, that's such a great idea. I think this needs to be a whole separate post.

If you can think of any other former contestents on "Battle of the Network Stars" I can do a "Where are they now?" on, let me know via the comments section. Suddenly my interest has been piqued. What about hunky Tyler Benchfield from "Life Goes On"? Or the kids from "Alf"? Or the guy who played Beans Baxter? And how many more examples of bad television can I admit to watching? So many questions, so few answers.


He's here, he's queer...and he's a robot

I'm going to be honest—I'm going through another rut. For the last couple of weeks, I've been experiencing an almost abnormal lack of motivation when it comes to blogging. It's not that I don't care; I just think I've fallen victim to seasonal affective disorder. For those of you who don't know, us Ohioans don't see that warm, glorius ball o' flames in the sky known as the sun pretty much from November to March straight. It's highly depressing. People get really bitchy and turn into hermits. The good thing is that we haven't had any snow to speak of yet, and my fingers are crossed that Cowtown could possibly get the first drift-free winter ever. I don't care what Al Gore says; I think global warming is a good thing, if it will get rid of the dreaded "wintery mix" once and for all.

However, a little ray of sunshine did come into my life in the last week: Gay Robot. Here's the plot outline of the first ep: "At the Alpha Tau Kappa fraternity on the Central Illinois University campus, lives Professor Edwards' creation... Gay Robot. Like the men of ATK, Gay Robot is just looking for love. When his fraternity brothers Tito, Rick and Marty attempt to set him up with a compatible suitor and fail miserably, Gay Robot is left to his own devices to find a date for the formal dance."

Yeah, it's only the best thing ever. As a tantalizing treat, the pilot episode of this upcoming Comedy Central series been released onto Myspace; I've managed to embed it right here so you don't have to do any more time-consuming clicking. It's got the talent of "Reno 911", the smarts of "Chapelle's Show" and the all-kinds-of-wrongness of "Strangers With Candy". Get ready to laugh your ass off. (NSFW)

Gay Robot

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Remember yesterday, walking hand in hand

Help me, I can't stop with the end-of-the-year stuff! And I thought it would be rather interesting at this juncture to revisit some of the misfit toys I've written about over the past year and see where they are now. Don't you think that would be fun? I do! So here we go:

Corey Haim, elephantine former child star/pill popper
When we last left the Haimster, he had suffered a drug-induced stroke and was an aimlessly drifting vagabond; recently rumors swirled that he was filming a reality series with '80s pal Corey Feldman that I predicted would be the greatest show to ever appear on anything ever in the history of the whole world. Well, get ready for this: according to IMDb, this alleged reality show is 100 percent real, is currrently in production and is set to air on A&E later this year! Those geniuses over at A&E...they really know what people want. Let's hope they mimic the style of Intervention and refuse to step in and put a stop to the action when stuff starts getting good—the Coreys smoking up and then getting in a naked fight would beat the Zapruder film in historical importance, if you ask me.

David Blaine, guy who does stuff for long periods of time
Remember when I blogged Blaine's live breath-holding stunt as it happened? Two hours of my life wasted, that I will never get back. I'm not sure who is more brain damaged: me or him. Well, OK, he may be edging me out—in November, he embarked on his latest absurd stunt, which was to spin around in a "gyroscope" for 16 hours and then free himself from the aparatus as it was moving. I'm not making this up. Part of me wishes I had more information on this ridiculousness, but another part of me would rather forget I ever mentioned the name "David Blaine" in this blog, so I'm just going to stick with that one and move on.

The Duggars, brood o' zealots
Don't remember the Duggars? I have two words for you: Wholesome Swimwear. Yes, the Duggars were the esteemed winners of the coveted Most Morbidly Fascinating Stupie for 2006 (shared, of course, with the Count). At last count, happy homeschooling parents Jim Bob and Michelle boasted a grand total of 16 rugrats, ranging in age from 17 to five months, and all of whom were featured in three sickly intriguing Discovery Health Channel specials. In one of the specials, they all loaded into the family shuttle bus (that's not sarcasm; their vehicle is a fucking shuttle bus) and set off for a psycho-Christian homeschooling conference, singing songs the whole way. Anyway, since winning the Stupie, the family has finished building their 7,000-square-foot compound BY HAND and moved in, presumably to get started on Duggartown. And, oh yeah, Michelle's pregnant...AGAIN. No joke.

Glen Benton, devil-loving, metalhead lusus naturae
From the godly Duggars we move on to the guy who burned an inverted cross into his forehead. You may recall that Glen was the recipient of the best threat letter ever, which was sent to him by a group of animal activists pissed off about his live-sacrifice posturing. Well, these days it's more of same. As you'll recall, Deicide released an album on 6-6-06 cagily titled "The Stench of Redemption", and they are currently touring off of that album in Europe. I have been unable to find any info on if the Animal Militia has been following Glen around on tour, making his life a living hell (which you would think he would enjoy), but I can only hope they haven't let up on their relentless smear campaign. There's nothing like driving a point home with abject, unrelenting violence; true boyfriends of Satan wouldn't have it any other way.

Jeanne Bice, nutjob "fashion" "designer"
I'm almost ashamed of myself for the amount of vitrol I poured out about this woman and her horrific Quacker Factory QVC clothing line. It doesn't feel good to hate that much, let me tell you. But just take one look at the frumpy tunics and novelty-print stretch pants and I'm sure you'll feel the same intense detestment as I. Unfortunately, Jeanne continues to foist her shitty clothing on the world, and recently hosted a Thanksgiving special from her fabulous Sunshine State home that I'm totally jealous of. And before you ask, yes, she's sadly still wearing stuffed, bejeweled headbands with matching velour muumuus and sturrup pants, which I'm sure are all very comfortable in the Florida heat. There's got to be a good Jeanne-ism in there: "When life gives you an intensely hot, sauna-like day, wear all the bedazzled velvet you want—'cause that's what us wild and crazy Quackers do!"

Lynx & Lamb Gaede, teen folk-singing neo-nazi twins
This write-up was actually one of my most popular posts (I got five emails!) and how could it not be? It's about teen folk-singing neo-nazi twins. Anyhoo, it's pretty much business as usual with these two—they continue to release their tone-deaf, rah-rah Hilter songs under the moniker Prussian Blue, and are even starring in some kind of documentary, which is being filmed now. I'm betting it will be a gritty "American History X" meets "A Mighty Wind" meets "Capturing the Friedmans" sleeper hit in the art theaters that will spur an avalanche of press coverage, incite activists and will lead the twins' creepy stage mom April to brag about how much publicity they are getting, even if it's negative. Interestingly enough, the Gaedes were chased out of California when word got out about Prussian Blue and concerned neighbors decided they didn't want the likes of these kooks in their neck of the woods; they have since relocated to Montana. Are the Freemen still operating up there? Seems like they would all be pretty good pals.

Matt Smith, pious ex-Real Worlder behind NoMoHo.com
Matt can usually be found smugly preaching about purity, pimping his shitty chastity belt buckles and/or trotting out suspicious data on connections between porn and crime. These days he is—wait for it—planning his wedding. Go ahead and barf. I hope the missus-to-be doesn't mind wearing a NoMoHo belt buckle until the big day to remind her to keep her knees pressed firmly together until Matt's pastor says it's OK. Wouldn't it be funny if Matt invited all of his Real World friends and they used the reception as an opportunity to get wasted and have a camera-whore hot tub orgy? Matt would be so shocked by all the action that he'll spend his wedding night facing the corner and trying to find a happy place.

All right, enough with the riff-raff and now for the two who miraculously didn't take out restraining orders on me in the last year. Eric Avery, musician extrordinare, has completed his solo album (YAY!) and has been keeping up with his blog and even responding to fan questions in his comments section! In case you're wondering, I haven't left a comment or question for him. If I do, it better be something good, you know what I'm saying? We'll see...maybe one of these days when I'm feeling like everything I say is cool...

And as for Ville Valo, the loveliest boy in Narnia, I'm pleased to report that his physique is no longer Haim-like in proportion. He's still looking a little scraggly and more than a little lost. Don't worry, Ville, you'll find your way. Fat or thin, you're still hotter than a mofo and I have high hopes you'll get it all together in '07.

I just realized that nearly all of these entries involve religion in one way or another. Is that a character flaw? And which circle of hell will all this relegate me to? I'm guessing I'm lined up for either five for all the wrath I've unleashed or two for making lewd comments. It will be interesting to see how things turn out, and that might be a good post for another time.

Anyway, happy new year and next post I promise won't have anything to do with the past.


The stars make my eyes burn

On Saturday, I will have officially been blogging for a whole year. Woo hoo! There's an excuse for Miller Time, if you need one. Honestly, I can't believe I've managed to stick with one project for this long, so I guess that means I'm officially awesome. I may just have Miller Time myself.

As for my first post of 2007, I thought I'd talk about heroes. Well, 180 that and make it non-heroes. I got the idea from this informative little article that counts down the worst role models of 2006, as elected in AOL and AP polls. Bet you can't guess who is in the top nine:

9. Angelina Jolie
8. Lohan
7. Federline
6. Nicole Ritchie
5. Michael Richards
4. Tom Cruise
3. Mel Gibson
2. Paris
1. Britney

I can't argue with most of the choices, as they are mostly pretty fucking obvious, and honestly hearing the names of these people over and over again is making me want to cut off the oxygen to my brain. But I'm a little surprised at seeing Angelina on the list after all of the do-goodership she's exercised this year, such as having a baby in a fourth-world country and standing with and smiling at world leaders. Certainly she doesn't belong on a list next to these other baby pea-brained dips who worry mainly about appearing poolside wearing the same bikini twice. I can't imagine Angelina leaving Maddox strapped in a car seat in the Bentley with a sippy cup full of Pepsi while she goes prancing around at Hyde with Kimberly Stewart. Or marrying Brad Pitt even though she's obviously into chicks. Or appearing on Monday Night Raw.

I think those that participated in this survey were given a list of celebrities to choose from. Had I done the survey, the list would have been quite different. Leaving out the serious candidates like the Bushes, Kim Jong-Il, O.J., anyone on the 10 most wanted list, etc., how about:

• Brad Renfro—Have you ever seen a super-talented, insanely attractive child actor fall so hard so fast? Watch "The Client" for a little refresher...he's magnetizing. Then he tried to steal a boat, but got caught because he couldn't get it untied from the dock. Then there were a few requisite drug arrests. But when he was busted buying heroin in the middle of the day in downtown Los Angeles, and got his picture on the front of the LA Times in handcuffs and what appears to be a Cub Scout uniform, looking like a 47-year-old Venice Beach burnout, I knew he was on the Eddie Furlong bus straight to the Leif Garrett Pier. He's even using the Corey Haim Toll Road because that way is faster.

• Bratz—Because it's such an awesome idea to miniaturize adult film stars, cut off their feet, create a skanky, sold-separately wardrobe for them and market them to children. And now there is an even better idea: Baby Bratz! Now the skanks are even smaller with bigger eyes and frostier hair. Maybe the FBI should keep an eye on the Bratz design team, as it seems it may be staffed entirely by on-the-lam paedos.

• Katie Holmes—I feel uncomfortable just looking at her. She just looks so intensely silent, as if her lips have been sewen together like a corpse being prepared for viewing. All I know is that I wouldn't want any kid of mine thinking it would be a great idea to marry a gay midget mental patient, primly walk two steps behind him at all times, robotically blather about how deleriously happy she is and chuckle demurely when he jokes about eating the placenta of her soon-to-be-born child.

• Brandon Davis—Picture fat Elvis sweating profusely on the toilet seconds before he has a massive heart attack and slides off the bowl onto the vomit-covered floor. Only this time he doesn't die. He simply lies there wheezing, with his bloated, sluglike body covered in persperation, hair gel and peanut-butter-and-pickle-sandwich crumbs. That's Brandon Davis.

• Tara Reid—The Jesus was only slightly gnarlier than this green-toed logjammer, who even now wouldn't qualify for the Little Lebowski Urban Achievers, as she may even do less than Paris Hilton. If the bad plastic surgery, chronic nip slips and perpetual beligerant drunkenness aren't enough, just watch this funtastic clip of her "counting" down to the new year. Warning: viewing this video may cause irreversible destruction to your own perfectly healthy and functioning brain cells.

• Pete Doherty—Because the classics never die.

To be fair, this survey also included questions on the most positive role models. This good guys list includes Oprah, Michael J. Fox, Clooney, Brad and Angelina (again), Bono, Sylvester Stallone (what?) and Bill O'Reilly (WHAT??). Again, pollsters just don't know what they are talking about. What about Dog the Bounty Hunter? Or Britney's sister for having to live with her? And where in the world is the Pixy?? These people need to get their priorities straight. A new year, new directions, folks. Get on it.