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Into the Abyss of Madness

Not long ago, Pete and I were talking about the pathetic sham that is my life, and Pete made the wise observation that I should develop some sort of hobbies that will get my out of the house more, offer me some moment of respite and otherwise take my mind off the pathetic sham that is my life.

I now understand what Pete meant. Because tonight, while cooking up my Tuna Helper, I flipped around the TV dial and lingered ever so briefly upon the CBS Television Network which was broadcasting "Kathie Lee: Home for Christmas," starring the abnormally peppy Kathie Lee Gifford and her 123-year-old husband Frank.

"No doubt," I thought to myself, "this will offer choice moments of comedy for my viewing pleasure. Why don't I sit down with a hearty serving of Tuna Helper and let the comedy nuggets flow freely from my television."

In many ways, I'm a stupid man.

"Kathie Lee: Home for Christmas" offers a sobering look into the horrific existence of Kathie Lee Gifford and her hapless family. My own experiences with the aggressively vapid Kathie Lee had previously been kept to a bare minimum, in part because Kathie Lee reminds me of the nattering, chirping women who attended the Lutheran churches of my youth and made me seriously contemplate converting to catholicism.

This Christmas special is like watching people you don't much like, doing things you really can't stand and singing songs you especially don't care for.

The premise -- and only in Kathie Lee's sick and twisted alternative universe would a Christmas special need a premiss -- is that Kathie Lee and Frank and their demonic spawn are spending their Christmas at the family compound in Vail and that they invite all their Hollywood pals like Aaron Neville and Andy Williams to spend the holidays the Kathie Lee way. Because what successful celebrity wouldn't want to spend Christmas locked in a cabin with Kathie Lee Gifford?

(Incidentally, after watching "Kathie Lee: Home for the Holidays," Andy Williams' absence from the public eye as of late no longer puzzles me...)

The scene where Frank and Kathie Lee sit down to discuss who to invite to their home for the holidays is a hoot, one of those wonderful moments like when Howard Cosell called a football player a little monkey or the entire run of "The Chevy Chase Show" when the world as I am accustomed to understanding it no longer existed and chaos had the run of the place.

"Hey, Kathie Lee," Frank may as well of said. "Why don't we invite Lord Satan? After all, he's the one you sold your soul to in order to have a career."

The special was pretty much Kathie Lee sitting around with her house guests having inane discussions about the holidays, while Frank cooks pancakes and her troubled offspring run amok. Every now and then, someone -- usually Kathie Lee -- sings.

It would be acceptable if Kathie Lee opted for actual Christmas carols. Instead, her special is mostly made up of New Age touchy-feely easy listening tunes about nebulous subjects like "Giving" and "Love" and "Peace" -- the kind of music you hear at the dentist's office that makes you say, "Hey, Doc, hurry up with the gas."

What kind of parent is Kathie Lee to subject her doomed children Cody and Cassidy to this drek? If nothing else, she has doomed them to years of school yard beatings from classmates who will remember being forced to listen to Kathie Lee warble some God-awful song about "Giving Love and Peace at Christmas" or "Christmas is a Time for Pancake-cookin' with Frank." And the teachers and principals will stand idly by as the blood begins to flow out of Cody's and Cassidy's respective ears, for they too will know the horror of watching Kathie Lee sing about the gift that Frank gave her ("What I Really Gave You Was My Heart").

If nothing else, this special is a testament to Kathie Lee's mammoth-sized vanity and incalculable self-conceit. Who among us would not want to be immersed in even the most banal details of my life, Kathie Lee seems to be asking. When Andy Williams -- who earned some measure of fame by making some Christmas specials of his own -- sings, the majority of the camera shots are not of Andy, but of tight close-ups of Kathie Lee, listening with rapt attention. This speaks volumes about Kathie Lee's world view: even when she's not the center of attention, she damn well better be.

God, whom Kathie Lee claims to be quite a fan of, has a fair amount to say about such behavior, particularly around the Book of Proverbs.

To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech...

Which pretty much sums up the content of "Kathie Lee: Home for Christmas."

At one point, Kathie Lee and Aaron and some chick whose name I didn't catch and Frank, apparently waiting for his pancake batter to cool, are sitting around saying deep things about Christmas.

"The only way we'll ever have peace on Earth," Kathie Lee says, nodding earnestly at her own wisdom "is to have a world where children know they're loved by their parents and loved by God."

Or to have a world where Kathie Lee doesn't have specials in prime time.


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