No Gimmick Required

Some Random Crap

Guatemala, Ted Turner, Hulk Hogan and commas.

by Raywat Deonandan
February 14, 2003

This column is a regular feature on It is reproduced here with the author's permission.

I'm back! Sorry for my scantness of late, but it's a rare couple of weeks these days when I'm in any one country for an appreciable duration. Just got back from Guatemala, land of lost Mayan cities, short people, Spanish schools, cheap fruit, volcanoes and coffee. Here's a pic of me in the ancient jungle city of Tikal, atop a Mayan pyramid:

I actually dropped my phone/PDA (a Treo 180) from the top of the pyramid (which is nearly the height of the Washington monument), but caught up to it after only a few bounces. It still works! If anyone from Handspring is reading this, I'm available for an endorsement deal!

After travelling for about 13 hours, I finally returned to DC early Saturday evening, in time to receieve a call from my old friend Simon Houpt, who is the New York-based arts critic for Canada's national newspaper, The Globe and Mail. He invited me to attend a special press screening of the new Civil War epic, Gods and Generals.

If you must know, the film was overly long and a bit too self-involved and cheesy, but featured some tremendous acting and detailed cinematography. I bring it up because whom did we encounter in the men's room during intermission, but none other than its producer himself, billionaire Ted Turner. (Yes, the man pees without an entourage.)

He tried to sing O Canada in recognition of The Globe's and our origin. Ouch. Then, upon exiting the men's room, he pointed out a leggy brunette. "This is my girlfriend. She's French. She wants me to make movies about Napolean." And so on. The man really is "the mouth of the south."

I tell this story not just to relate my latest brush with celebrity (since such tales, while spewed by each of us without exception, ultimately lay bare our pathetic insecurities), but to give my impression of the rumours of Turner starting a new wrestling federation: nope, not gonna happen. The man dumped a total of $90 million (including marketing costs) into this epic movie, over a three year period. (As he said to Simon: "When I started, it was 3% of my net worth. Now it's 15%!") And, from having seen the end product, I believe that he will not recoup much of it, even considering Hollywood's infamous accounting sorcery.

A wrestling federation is a risky business at the best of times. Turner lost a bundle on WCW, then lost a lot more with the buy-out of his media empire and devaluing of his assets. His energies and fortune seem focussed on historical drama, whether it be more Civil War movies or the appeasement of his girlfriend's Napolean fetish. That doesn't seem to leave much room for beefy men prancing about on a wrestling mat.

Then again, what the heck do I know? This is all based on taking a piss near the man, after travelling 13 hours from Central America.


Before I forget, check this out. It's the theme song to the old Gummi Bears cartoon German! There's something genuinely creepy about Germans sounding cute.


Congratulations to Joshua Grutman for winning the 411 readers' poll Best Columnist award. Richly deserved. By the way, JG, one can use letters from "John Cena" and "Brock Lesnar" to also spell "Bran Cereal." Eerie, huh? (Well, you also get 'jock snarl," "horn crab" and "joke barn," which aren't quite as eerie.)

Congratulations to Scott Keith, too, for early success with his new book. I'm looking forward to receiving my review copy! (Um, you can use the letters from "Scott Keith" to spell, um, "coke tits." Or, um, "sock tithe." Yeah.)

Speaking of wrestling books, I finally finished reading Hulk Hogan's "autobiography." It took me two weeks of trips to the toilet to complete it. Seriously, the thing never left my bathroom (in case anyone has ideas about borrowing it). And, really, that's where it belongs.

It's an entertaining read, for what it is. The problem, of course, is separating Hogan's crap from genuine history. However, wrestling is all about the working of fact to fit into a fictitious scenario. With that in mind, Hogan's book is fairly appropriate. If you don't approach it with a scholar's fact-checking comb, it'll give you a better, and maybe healthier, understanding of the man who is undeniably the shiniest icon of this industry.

What I don't understand is where they find these 3rd rate ghost writers. Sure, I don't expect Terry Bollea to write like Faulkner, but I do expect his assigned literary handler --Michael Jan Friedman-- to demonstrate a better understanding of the appropriate uses of the comma, that most maligned and abused of punctuation marks. A quick search for Mr. Friedman's other projects allows a better understanding of his failings: the man writes fricking Star Trek novels. Geez.

That's all for today. I'm Raywat Deonandan, and you can visit me at Bye bye.