Countdown to Cougarpalooza and Other Iconic Diversions

by Jeffrey Payne

Countdown to Cougarpalooza and Other Iconic Diversions

New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys are touring together under the collective moniker NKOTB/BSB. They’re coming to Toronto in June, and the shows have already been announced with tickets on sale.


I can remember when the Rolling Stones played Detroit in their heyday. There would be an announcement on the radio, “Tickets go on sale in twenty minutes. They’re only available at the venue, which is inconveniently located in the bowels of the most impoverished congested metropolitan murder capitol of the United States.” The show would be sold out in half an hour, without the convenience of online purchases or satellite ticket office locations.


Whether it’s a sign of the times or skepticism concerning how well the NKOTB/BSB show is going to sell, it seems alarmingly early to be so worried about it. This begs to wonder, who is actually going to buy tickets to watch these washed-up, middle-aged former teen idols perform.


New Kids on the Block saw the peaks of their careers mercifully end twenty years ago; the members are close to forty years old. Backstreet Boys are all aged between thirty and thirty-nine; their greatest days were fifteen years ago. Based on an average age of fifteen for fans of both groups during their top popularity, that means that former BSB fans are probably in their thirties; the “Block Heads” are approaching their forties.


This tour could be called Cougarpalooza 2010; the perfect sponsor would be Botox. I’m sure that both nights in Toronto will sell out. There won’t be a dry seat in the house. Highlights will be captured in photos shot by ubiquitous cell phones and distributed across the world before the final encore is even over. The follow-up tour can be sponsored by Depend.


Besides Cougarpalooza, other monumental events that await our attention include Super Bowl XLV. If you are an NFL neophyte, one particular team is playing extremely well, the Philadelphia Eagles, with their maligned quarterback Michael Vick. If their team performance continues like it is, they could very well find themselves playing in the most widely watched sporting event in North America, the Super Bowl.


Michael Vick was convicted of involvement in dog fighting. I’m an animal lover, specifically a dog lover. Vick’s actions were unspeakably reprehensible, savagely cruel, socially backward, and quite honestly hard to forgive. However, sports fans and the league will be willing to forgive him, as long as he delivers a kick-ass fireworks show in Dallas on February 6, the climax of the NFL season.


Here’s where the fun begins. There is going to be a large group of people who aren’t willing to forgive him, and they are likely to make dynamic statements about their views in front of the largest single worldwide television audience of the year. If you’re not an NFL fan, the telecast will still be worth watching, just to witness coverage of wackos in the parking lot, dressed up as blood-drenched pit bulls.


Chances are that the night before the Super Bowl, NBC Dateline will televise a special “Super Bowl Edition” that includes in-depth features on dog fighting, climaxing with videos of Michael Vick running across a field of daisies with a pack of pit bulls, culminating with him massaging the animals’ shoulders and kissing them on the lips. Priceless.


Before the forty-fifth Super Bowl even happens, it will be worth a channel flip just to witness the new American Idol at least once. There is such a tremendous chance that the show will end up looking like a Monty Python cartoon, as we watch this poor bereft franchise clawing for its last notion of credibility and ratings. Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and Steven Tyler are now the judges, Tyler replacing the venerable TV presence of Simon Cowell.


You’ve got a burned-out drug addict rock star, coupled with a desperate and talentless has-been actress/singer, along with a guy who’s only there because his contract hasn’t run out yet. Randy Jackson’s probably just hoping to escape the season with his reputation somewhat intact after being party to this televised atrocity. It should make for endless amusement watching the network number crunchers and slimy tabloid entertainment reporters commenting on audience counts and disappointed public opinions every week.


Here are my suggestions to give the program some of the panache it emanated in its glory days. Number one: Give J-Lo Percocet; it was always great fun watching Paula Abdul floating through the show, gushing about how “wonderful and special” every contestant was, even if they weren’t.


My second suggestion: Take Steven Tyler’s Percocet away. He’s going to have some pretty mean-spirited shoes to fill taking over for Simon Cowell. There’s nothing more surly than a guy who’s coming off painkillers. Feed him OxyContin all week; then cut him off the night before the show and watch the fireworks.


Two other televised events that take place before the end of the year are the finales of Survivor and The Amazing Race. I have a suggestion to make both shows much more climactic: brutal fist fights! What better way to capture the interest of the viewing public?


For example, on The Amazing Race, the final two teams head to the finish line. Phil Keoghan waits to award the million-dollar prize. Suddenly, the members of the first place team are tackled, and the team in second place starts pummelling them with one of those clue boxes. “You gave us a U-turn in Istanbul you pricks! We had to eat a bowl of caterpillars just to catch up! Taste this!”


The problem is that we would never see that part on TV. Both shows are taped, except for the finale of Survivor. That’s the opportunity for someone to really make their lasting impression on live television.


It would be the stuff of YouTube infamy for years to come. The soft pudgy little weasel that should have been voted off the island on week number one, somehow makes it to the final two competitors and the coveted one million-dollar prize.


After being deprived the money, he has a mental breakdown, “I should have won! You stole my hidden immunity idol and my bowl of rice you bitch!”


He cries, froths at the mouth and rips off his clothes. Pulling out a handgun that he’s hidden in his anal cavity, he opens fire on his millionaire opponent and the Survivor jury. All of a sudden, we get to see how well Jeff Probst maintains his cool, calm, cocky composure when contestants’ entrails are blown all over his safari hat. Now that’s reality TV.


Of course, I don’t advocate violence on television, except for of course in the NFL, especially during the Super Bowl. It’s good to know that even on the dreariest of winter days, all we need is basic cable, and our lives can become vicariously more vibrant and significant than we ever dreamed. Thank you network television!