Friday, December 31, 2010

The Decade’s 7 Most Shocking Breakups

1.  Elizabeth Hurley and Hugh Grant (2000)
These two beautiful people led a charmed life the rest of us could only dream of.  Then came Hugh’s arrest, and it occurred to us that all might not be as perfect as it seemed.  Given the outcomes of her subsequent romances, one assumes that poor Liz is a demon at the poker table.

2.  Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman (2001)
Less of an ideal match than Liz and Hugh (in height if nothing else!), these two seemed to settle into a strong union.  Nicole’s cinematic successes helped them overcome the rumors that she was using him as her ticket to fame.  They adopted two children and seemed to be setting up a family to envy.  Then Tom met Penelope Cruz while filming Vanilla Sky, and it was all over.  Those who had previously slandered Nicole now admired the bravery and grace with which she endured her broken heart.

3.  Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake (2002)

Given their age when they met, it would have been far more shocking for them to get (and stay) married.  However, they gave off that vibe that said they’d be together forever.  And certainly Britney’s public declaration that she was saving herself for marriage (itself somewhat shocking) amplified the vibe.  Learning that Brit and Justin had actually done the deed was not as shocking as learning that Britney was the one with the wandering eye.

4.  Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt (2005)
Elizabeth Hurley and Hugh Grant, only more so!  After all, these two beautiful people got married.  And it was a match made in heaven.  Who knew Brad could be seduced away by S&M and PB&J?

5.  Susan Sarandon and Tim Roth (2009)
They were an institution of unmarried partnership.  Sharing their love and their liberal values everywhere they went.  They had been together so long, they had aged out of our breakup forecasts.  Fear not!  We secured highly paid consultants to re-calibrate the model to account for this phenomenon.  And boy aren’t we grateful for that investment (see below)!

6.  John and Elizabeth Edwards (2010)
OK.  It’s not that anyone is shocked to hear that when a man gets his mistress pregnant, and films a sex tape of the two of them, that his wife will consider leaving him.  What’s shocking here instead is John’s sheer brazenness in impregnating said mistress in the midst of a presidential nomination campaign.  While his wife was hiding her breast cancer in order to represent him on the campaign trail.  “Shock” just skims the surface of how we reacted to that hot mess.

7.  Al and Tipper Gore (2010)
As mentioned above, we had a bit of a heads up on this one after we fine-tuned our forecasting model in the wake of the Sarandon-Roth fiasco.  But just by a hair.  Oddly, no credible rumors of infidelity or illegality have arisen to account for the split.  Time will tell, I suppose.

Well, that’s our list of shocking breakups.  Who’s on your list?

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Divorce Joe Francis

Once upon a time, there was a man with an idea for a business venture:  make and sell videos of women’s boobs.  Elegant simplicity at its best, no?  But how can one make a booby video when one lacks the lavish budget of a porn company?  Well, one must do away with the frills.  No sound stage.  No special cameras or lights.  Most of all, no paid talent.  What’s an enterprising young man with a dream to do?  Why, go where the boobies are, of course!

And that’s just what Joe Francis did.  He took his personal video recorder to places where women would be most inclined to show off their boobs for free:  beach locales during Spring Break, where the alcohol flows, the hormones rage, and mature judgment has fled the premises.

The American free enterprise system at its best!

Joe made a veritable mint from his endeavor, making friends along the way with celebrities like Quincy Jones, the Kardashians, and young Christina McLarty, an entertainment correspondent for the local CBS outpost.  Joe and Christina dated on and off for four years.  Much of that time, Joe was battling criminal charges like racketeering, drug trafficking, child pornography, record keeping violations, bribery, possession of a controlled substance, introducing contraband into jail, child abuse, and prostitution.  In all, he served 339 days.  Once he was out, he proposed to Christina in Saint-Tropez, and they said their vows in Mexico in November.  And here it is December, and Christina has left Joe and moved back in with her mother!

If this were 1950, we’d call it a “lover’s spat” and look on fondly and nostalgically.

But these are the final hours of 2010.  A bride who leaves her husband after a four-year relationship must have something else going on.  Christina reminds me of Paula Barbieri.  Remember her?  She’s the lovely lady who waited for over a year to welcome O.J. Simpson home once he was acquitted on charges of murdering his wife and her friend.  But soon after O.J. got home, they broke up.  Christina and Joe have the same thing going on.  While Joe was in jail, Christina could construct an elaborate image of him as the brave entrepreneur trying to make an honest fortune in an industry of insiders and power moguls who resent his youthful good looks and inventiveness.  (Another thing Ms. McLarty and Ms. Barbieri have in common:  the privilege of living in their rich boyfriends’ posh homes during said boyfriends’ incarceration.)  Once married, she was forced to square that image with the jaw dropping narcissism of the man behind Meet Joe Francis.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wedding Wednesday: Nicole Richie and Joel Madden

Just before the Breakup Watch management team departed for their holiday retreat in Cabo, they left us interns with strict instructions to maintain the blog and post new entries.  Check the date of the last entry to see how that went.  Anyway, we think we’re sober enough now to eek something out before Management gets back.

Did you see that Nicole Richie and Joel Madden got married?  Yes, I know it was practically a month ago!  That’s not important.  I’m sure to Nicole and Joel it’s still fresh, just as it should be to you, too.

Anyway, no one thought these two would ever make it this far.  After all, this is Paris Hilton’s best bud and partner in getting-paid-for-being-clueless-while-making-everyone-else-feel-like-saps-for-working-to-pay-the-bills.  Going maternal just doesn’t seem to be what that set does.  I suspect many of them keep surrogates in the same way that Victorian women of means kept wet-nurses.

But then Nicole sort of dropped Paris and went all flower child on us!  (Not really, of course.  Her tie-dye dresses and headbands came from Rodeo Drive.)  And not only did Nicole and Joel had a baby, but they had two of them!  On purpose, apparently.

Then they finally got married.  In Lionel Richie’s backyard.  With an elephant!  And now to celebrate it, Nicole has been released from her latest DUI probation two months earlier than expected.

Oddly enough, I what to think these two have a shot at success.  Joel seems to have a healthy, grounding effect on Nicole.  And I’ll bet that Nicole, as an adoptee, takes the role of motherhood (and family, by extension) very, very seriously. 

On the other hand, their contrasting backgrounds and wealth still threaten to get in their way.  And there are certain risks inherent in being a convicted substance abuser and the tattooed pop punk musician. 

Finally, of course, the care and feeding of a trained elephant can be expensive and stressful.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Breakup Song Watch Sunday: Ne Me Quitte Pas (If You Go Away)

There comes a time, as a relationship ends, when a lover seeks to change the course of history through poetry.  This song is about that time.

Both the English and the French versions of the song make ridiculously desperate promises in the attempt to persuade a lover not to leave. 

From the French:
I will give you pearls of rain come from countries where it never rains.
I will dig up the earth even in death to cover your body with gold and with light.
I will make a kingdom where love shall be king, where love shall be law, where you shall be queen.
Don’t leave me!
Don’t leave me!
Don’t leave me!
Don’t leave me!

From the English:
But if you stay
I'll make you a day
Like no day has ever been
Or will be again
We'll sail on the sun
We'll ride on the rain
We'll talk to the trees
And worship the wind

Pulling out all the rhetorical stops, this guy is!

We’ve all been there, right?  It’s a final gambit to forestall the inevitable.  I will make you stay through the force of my will, as expressed by my fancy words.  Which is ridiculous when you think about it.  It’s not like this affair started over poetry in the first place.  But somehow, luring them back in with poetic hyperbole seems like a good idea at the time.

No doubt about it, love gives us teh stupids.

Here is a video of someone doing a slow, fastidious burlesque to Nina Simone’s rendition of “Ne Me Quitte Pas.”  I have never seen a stripper fold her clothes after taking them off before.  (If only she would stop touching her hair!) 

[Ugh.  Vimeo won't allow the embed without a pound of flesh.  Link here.]

This is such an odd song for a striptease.  I can only think that undressing in public is meant to reflect the debasing of self portrayed in the song:  Let me become the shadow of your shadow, the shadow of your hand, the shadow of your dog, but don’t leave me!  Don’t leave me!  Don’t leave me!  Don’t leave me!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Congratulations Zac and Vanessa!

Congratulations to Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens for meeting that critical milestone of adulthood:  ending their first romantic relationship!

This is big!  Every high school has its long term couples.  By senior year, they’re already so “couple-y.”  They seem to have already “settled down,” with all the good and bad that entails.  Everyone else projects onto them their own feelings about adulthood.  The kids who fear never finding a partner in life envy them like hell.  The kids who fear missing out on the fun congratulate themselves for being smart enough to avoid the chains of relationship.  The teachers place bets on their kitsch-filled wedding and subsequent, drama-filled divorce.

But you know what?  Everyone has to have that first relationship.  Zac and Vanessa are just lucky that they got it out of the way without doing anything stupid.  In that, they are so much better off than Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake after Britney stupidly professed her determination to remain a virgin until marriage, then had to face the piercing stares of people forever trying to gauge the state of her virtue.

I firmly believe that you cannot fully enter adulthood without first ending a serious relationship.

So what’s next for young Zac and Vanessa?  Vanessa will date an older, more famous man for a few years, but it will never go anywhere.  Think Courtney Cox and Michael Keaton.  Zac?  Same thing.  Think Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz.  Or possibly Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

The World Returns to Its Orbit

Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett Johansson are divorcing.  The world can finally return to its standard orbit. 

As far as I’m concerned, Ryan Reynolds will always be the college dude in tight jeans, drinking from a beer bong in Dick.

And Scarlett Johansson is the philosophy major traipsing around Tokyo while she watches her marriage evaporate in Lost in Translation.

These twains should never have met!

As far as I’m concerned, this divorce knocks all those out-of-kilter edges and joints throughout the universe back into place.  I feel better already.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

4 Threats to a Happy Marriage

The following risk factors can threaten your chances of a happy marriage:

  1. Being a television actor.  The travel and the mismatched schedules are hell on marital intimacy.  People give you the  “star treatment,” bombarding you with messages that you’re better than everyone else, and no one holds you accountable when you’re being an asshole.  Ethics-challenged fans have no qualms about hooking up in the bathroom stall of a Miami club just for the chance to say they did it with a star.  These things are not good for your marriage.
  2. Getting cancer.  A bad diagnosis can prompt someone who thinks he won’t be around in a year to make rash decisions with life consequences.  Meanwhile, treatment typically results in side effects that show you off at your worst:  hair loss, incontinence, impotence.  None of these things are romantic.
  3. Marrying your sister.  Even when she’s a foster sister, it’s still gross.
  4. Being a serial killer.  Strive as you might to be a serial killer with a heart of gold, it still has a destructive effect on your relationship.  Lying about where you’ve been, hiding your bloody laundry, justifying credit card charges to pay for your surgical torture instruments.  It’s got to take a toll!

Is it any wonder why Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter are calling it quits after a scant two years?

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Elizabeth Hurley: Back on Familiar Ground

Elizabeth Hurley announced via Twitter that she and her husband are separated.  I repeat:  she announced her breakup via Twitter.  The announcement comes after paparazzi caught her doing the walk of shame as she exited the hotel of a famous cricket player whose name I cannot remember.

Liz is not known for making stellar choices in men.  First there was Hugh Grant.  They made such a beautiful couple!  But they dated for 13 years.  And not in a Goldie Hawn-Kurt Russell life partnership way.  More in a one-of-us-is-more-committed-than-the-other way.  Then Hugh got nabbed for soliciting the services of a prostitute.  I repeat:  Elizabeth Hurley’s boyfriend sought a blow job from a streetwalker.

After they finally broke up, Liz announced she was expecting a baby.  She was 36, and we all assumed she was just following the dictates of her biological clock.  Unfortunately for Liz, her baby daddy refused to acknowledge the child.  I repeat:  the guy tried to deny that he had sex with Elizabeth Hurley.

Then Liz found love in the form of businessman and textile heir Arun Nayar.  Our Liz finally got married!  In extravagant ceremonies in both Britain and India.  Three years later, the walk of shame.  And that’s all we know.

The dude Liz spent the night with?  Apparently both a cricket player and a player player. We can’t help but wonder what would send a woman with Liz’s history into the arms of a notorious womanizer.  The answer appears to be:  familiarity.  When it comes to romance, Liz is most accustomed to being in a relationship with a man who isn’t putting as much into it as she is. 

It’s possible that Arun was just one more of those under-performing dudes, and that made Liz susceptible to the cricket player’s charms.  On the other hand, Liz and Arun were only married for three years, and Liz has shown she has way more staying power than that.  So maybe Arun was the break from the pattern, a truly loving partner.  And maybe Liz just didn’t know how to work with that.  So maybe she just scurried back to her comfort zone.  You think?

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Breakup Song Watch Sunday: Wake Up Call, by Maroon 5

This song is really more a Breakup Alternative Song.  Adam from Maroon 5 finds his girl in bed with Jeremy Sisto.  And rather than letting the betrayal ruin a good thing, he shoots Jeremy dead.  The urgency of disposing of the evidence and avoiding capture serves as a touching bonding experience that brings Adam from Maroon 5 and his girl closer together.  As crises often do.

Of particular interest: 

  • The band is called Maroon 5, but they seem to really like cobalt.  This observation sends me into a pointless philosophical revery, wondering if “maroon” is their word for the color that I experience as cobalt.  I blame Overthinking It.  (Who am I kidding?  I don’t really blame them.  I thank them!)
  • Was the video filmed in Los Angeles?  If so, then Los Angeles cops are way hot!!  I can’t imagine people running away from cops who look like that.  Maybe that should be a new strategy for police forces around the world!  Increase your bad guy apprehension rate by recruiting chicks, giving them breast augmentations, and removing the top buttons from their uniform shirts.  Because who's going to run away from that?  (Is that a sexist thing to say?)
  • Why is the other dude’s height relevant?  I mean, it would make sense if the lyrics were “Eight foot tall, came without a warning/So I had to shoot him dead.”  But six feet tall?  Come on Adam from Maroon 5, don’t be such a wuss!

Here is the original video, with the audio remix by Mark Ronson.  Love Mary J. Blige in this, but wish she were part of the original performance.  How cool would that have been!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Elizabeth Anania Edwards (1949 – 2010)

Elizabeth Edwards lost her 17-year-old son in 1996.  In 2004, she underwent a lumpectomy and radiation therapy to treat breast cancer.  Three years later, doctors discovered the cancer had returned and had spread to her bones, making it inoperable.  In 2008, the world learned of her husband's affair after he fled the press while visiting his former mistress and her young child.  In early 2010, her husband admitted that that young child was in fact his.  Following this revelation, his mistress informed the world that the two of them had actively planned the life they would build together once Elizabeth lost her battle with cancer. Whereupon Elizabeth initiated legal separation, which is required in her state before filing for divorce.

Elizabeth Edwards was a practicing Christian, and so she was probably banking on being in a better place after death than she had so far enjoyed.  Certainly her children and many others who have admired her strength and grace fervently pray that Elizabeth's afterlife is filled with peace, love, and happiness.  One can only hope her children take comfort in that prospect and that their memories of their mother’s love and the spirit serve as a beacon as they forge ahead in this life without her.

Rest in peace, Elizabeth.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Dane Cook and the Green Knight

In Iris Murdoch’s novel, The Green Knight, Lucas is the short, swarthy adopted son, and Clement is his tall, handsome, natural born younger brother.  Early in the novel, we learn that Lucas was poised to savagely attack and murder Clement, with no provocation, when Peter Mir steps in to absorb the blow himself. 

I don’t know what happened after that.  The brother-on-brother violence was so upsetting that I put the book down and never picked it back up again.  Maybe Lucas and Clement made up and lived happily every after.  Maybe Clement came to his senses and beat the ever-loving shit out of Lucas before disowning him forever.  Maybe zombies ate both their brains.  We’ll never know.

Reading about Dane Cook and his half-brother/half-embezzler reminded me of The Green Knight.  Dane Cook’s older brother, Darryl McCauley, was a corrections officer when Dane’s career started moving and Dane need a business manager.  Who better than family, right?  Nearly anybody, it turns out.  Darryl pled guilty this year to stealing millions from Dane, and a few days ago he was sentenced to five years in prison and was required to pay his brother $12 million.

Imagine what family dynamic leads a young man with a budding entertainment career to recruit his older, inexperienced brother to serve as his business manager.  Imagine how much Darryl must have resented feeling beholden to his baby brother/benefactor for giving him an opportunity that he could never have scored on his own.

Why does a man steal from his brother?  Because it’s the only fucking way to get back at him for not being a loser!

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Breakup Song Watch Sunday: Picture, by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow

This song is so confusing.  The singing seems so sincere and heartfelt, but if you listen to the lyrics, the narrative just doesn’t stick together.

So it starts out simple enough.  Kid Rock has holed up in a hotel for three-day bender of booze and coke and women.  As you can imagine, he’s heartbroken to find himself at the bottom of this particular barrel.  So he’s put Sheryl’s picture away, because it seemed tacky to leave it out while doing body shots off tonight’s floozy.  It’s kind of odd that he went to the trouble to take Sheryl’s picture with him to his No-Tell Motel in the first place, but whatever.

Then Sheryl tells her side of the experience:  everyone in town knows something is up but they won’t tell her what, and there’s been total radio silence from Kid for three damn nights.

So far, so good.

But then Sheryl says she had to put Kid’s picture away, too!  Because she can’t look at Kid while she’s lying next to some other guy.  !?!?  So, wait, now Sheryl is doing body shots, too? 

No, I know!  Sheryl is married to someone else, and she and Kid had an affair.  Tired of being the Other Man, Kid broke it off and is now drowning his sorrows.  Yeah, that makes sense.

No, that doesn’t work.  A wife wouldn’t have a picture of her lover out in the first place.

What the hell?

Fast forward to some indeterminate time in the future.  Kid and Sheryl are clearly broken up.  The nostalgia when they run into each other is so thick you could cut it with the razor Kid uses on his cocaine.  Sheryl hopes Kid is coming home to stay.  So that means he wasn’t the Other Man, but the Man.  So what was she doing lying next to someone else?  Or is that someone else only someone she hooked up with after a “decent interval”?  But if so, how can she be encouraging Kid to come back home?  Is she just going to lead Kid back home, and announce to his successor that his services are no longer needed?

What in the world is going on here?

And she swears she’s changed her ways.  What ways?  That means she was doing body shots off some strange guy, after all!  But, she’s a church-going gal.  This makes no sense at all!

And now, as if we weren’t all confused enough, here is a video of the song, set in a medieval game world.  With a penguin!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Words of a Philanderess

Christina Aguilera gave an interview with People to discuss why she filed for divorce from Jordan Bratman.

“Things were so unhealthy and unhappy for both Jordan and me.”  Note the lack of agency there.  Make no mistake.  These are the words of a philanderess.

About Matthew Rutler, Christina’s new beau, she says, “He's the kind of person you could spend hours with on the phone talking to and all of a sudden it's daylight.”

Well that fits.  Not the Yoda-like syntax, but the light it sheds on why things were so tense with Jordan.  People tend to get testy when their spouses neglect them to talk on the phone all night with someone else!  It’s unhealthy for your marriage and likely to make your husband unhappy.  And it’s likely to make you unhappy when your unhappy husband confronts you with your behavior and its unhealthy effect on your marriage.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Doubly Cursed -- at Least!

As already mentioned, we knew this marriage was doomed from the start because Eva made the ill-advised decision to take Tony’s name.

Now we learn that Eva has three Tony-inspired tattoos!  Their wedding date is on the inside of her wrist.  His jersey number is on the back of her neck.  And his initials are hiding in an undisclosed location.  (Interestingly, Tony is known to have tattoos for the wedding date and his own jersey number as well.  Does that mean he has a tattoo of his own initials somewhere?)

Tattooing your lover’s identifying information is a well-known relationship curse!  What else did you do to condemn your marriage to failure, Eva?  Get married under a ladder while smashing a mirror?

It turns out Eva has a pre-nup.  And we all know what a marriage curse that is!

Incidentally, it seems that Tony had hired his best friend’s divorce lawyer to represent him.  Cool beans!  Dudes who divorce together change course together.


Tony’s “best friend” is Brent Barry.  Whose wife is Erin Barry.  Whose texts with Tony are what brought Eva to this brink in the first place.

It’s exactly the sort of switcharoo that made The Practice such a success.  Unfortunately, Tony filed for divorce in Texas, not Boston.  The minute the connection came to light, his lawyer fired him. 

Surely hiring the lawyer of your emotional affair partner’s partner is bad mojo, right?

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