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New year, new ''Paradise Hotel''

Dalton outlines his entertainment-inspired plan for 2008. Plus: The ”We Are the World”/”Do They Know It’s Christmas” debate inspires the best reader letter EVER!

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Paradise Hotel

New year, new ”Paradise Hotel”

I didn’t write a column last week. But that was by design. You see, my first New Year’s resolution for 2008 was to give myself a few extra days off. I considered it a little bonus Christmas present for myself, and one which I wouldn’t have to worry about returning because it wouldn’t fit my svelte frame.

[Speaking of svelte, this seems like a good time to give you dear readers an update on Project 150. Project 150 is my on-again, off-again attempt to bulk up — yes, up — to 150 pounds. For the past few years I’ve hovered around the 140-pound weakling mark, which is truly pathetic for a 6-foot-2 man. While preparing for an on-location trip to Palau for Survivor last fall, I was haunted by memories of shirtless pictures of my emaciated frame, from a previous Survivor trip, finding their way into the pages of EW and terrifying unsuspecting readers — so I renewed my commitment to get up and stay at the magic number. However, I have continued to fall short. One night I even went to bed at 152, yet woke up at 146. What the hell is that?!? Losing 6 pounds while sleeping? Forget Sweatin’ to the Oldies — tossing and turning seems to be the best exercise regimen out there. And you don’t even have to look at Richard Simmons! Anyway. I made sure to have seconds — sometimes even thirds — on many a holiday meal, yet still couldn’t crack the golden weight. Maybe I just need to become an alcoholic and start pounding a case of Milwaukee’s Best a night. At least it would make Celebrity Apprentice easier to watch.]

Okay, so like I said, I resolved to take last week off, but my New Year’s resolutions do not stop there. Here, then, are other promises I have made to myself for 2008.

I resolve to continue flummoxing my coworkers by railing against The Hills every single day while also singing the praises about the return of Paradise Hotel to television. (The difference of course, is that Paradise Hotel doesn’t pretend to be offering even a remote facsimile of real life, while The Hills is as scripted as any soap opera.)

I resolve to track down Michael Schoeffling. He played Molly Ringwald’s hunky crush Jake Ryan in Sixteen Candles, rocked a mohawk in Vision Quest, and then was basically never seen or heard from again. Word has it he became a carpenter in Pennsylvania. Not quite sure why this guy never made it. Perhaps his acting was as wooden as the floorboards he now uses to construct backyard decks, or maybe he just couldn’t fathom a life of starring in movies with characters named Long Duk Dong. Whatever the reason, it’s a shame, and I would love nothing more than to share a beer with the guy and hear his story. Who knows, maybe he’ll even give me the keys to his Rolls Royce and let me drive his passed-out girlfriend home.

I resolve to stop telling people to watch The Wire, recognizing that if people haven’t checked it by now — in its fifth and final season — they ain’t gonna start no matter what I or any other critic says.

I resolve to not impregnate any member of the Spears family.

I resolve to stop buying DVD versions of Evil Dead movies. I think the 10 or so I have already are enough to get me through life. At least until I upgrade to Blu-Ray.

I resolve to stop yelling ”We know! We just watched it! We’re not freakin’ idiots!” at the TV screen during those Target episode recaps that appear halfway through every Friday Night Lights episode.

I resolve to never grow a ”strike beard.”

I resolve to stop looking at this picture 312 times per hour.

I resolve to read the book Atonement after seeing the movie, enjoying it, and then being told that people who didn’t read the book dug it more than people who did. For one thing, this makes me feel like some dumb, non-book-reading dweeb. For another, I look forward to turning the whole argument on its head and seeing whether I will now enjoy the book Atonement more or less than people who read it without seeing the movie. Regardless of what I think, I also resolve to then go around saying ”It wasn’t as good as the movie,” just to piss people off.

I resolve to never watch another ”results show” ever again. Life is too short.

Finally, I resolve to watch every hour of Big Brother beginning this February. (Apparently, life is not quite short enough.)

NEXT PAGE: Obsession of the Week, The Five video, and Reader Mail!

OBSESSION OF THE WEEK
This week, I’m obsessed with Kelly Tilghman. Obsessed with the fact that the Golf Channel analyst suggested on air that golfers who wanted to take on Tiger Woods should ”lynch him in a back alley.” Obsessed with the fact that she was only suspended for two weeks for saying such a horrific thing (even if she was joking). Obsessed that I am writing about something that happened on the Golf Channel, seeing as how I have never watched it and don’t even know how to play golf. Look, she may have been kidding around and laughing, but is suggesting that a person of African-American descent be lynched any less egregious that Don Imus’ ”nappy-headed hos” comment about the Rutgers women’s basketball team? Imus thought he was being funny as well. He wasn’t. Two weeks for Tilghman just seems awfully light to me. In better news, I promise this is the last time I will ever write about the Golf Channel.

THE FIVE
The Five Midseason TV Shows I Am Most Psyched About

READER MAIL
Celebrity charity anthems were all the rage in the 1980s. And again in the past few weeks in response to my last column on why ”Do They Know It’s Christmas” is far superior to ”We Are the World.”

I HATED ”We Are the World.” Complete copycat song, what an overproduced, steaming pile of horse poo. The song did nothing to pull my heartstrings or evoke any emotions. ”Do They Know…,” on the other hand, makes me tear up every year. Hello, folks…can you say Bono!?! The video was ”fun” to watch as well (”Hey! There’s the guy from Spandau Ballet! WHY is a member of Kool and the Gang singing this song?!”) Kudos to Bob Geldof…boos to Quincy and Michael for the most unoriginal idea and emotionally retarded song ever made. — Michelle

I love that Kool & the Gang were on ”Do They Know It’s Christmas”! I think they happened to be touring in England at the time. Just wish they had gotten some solo time behind the mic, or done some awkward B-side turned into a video where they walked around Ethiopia trying to get starving children to sing along to ”Celebration.”

Thank you for pointing out the vast superiority of ”Do They Know It’s Christmas” to ”We Are the World.” I tried explaining that to my college friends back in late 1984/early 1985 but it fell on deaf ears as ”World” seemed to garner more attention (jingoism at its finest?). Remember when all radio stations played it at the same time? I was walking back to my dorm room trying not to puke as I heard the song pour out of every open window. But what also makes ”Do They Know” superior is that it prompted this nice Jewish girl to buy a Christmas record. Oy to the world! — Allison Levie

The worst part of ”We Are the World” was the comedian (can’t remember who) that would perform the entire song while impersonating every single singer, whipping out a single glove for Michael Jackson and a red bandana for Bruce Springsteen. Pure pain. Okay, people, strap yourselves in for the next letter. It is truly something special.

Okay, I have absolutely no argument that ”We Are the World” is a deeply sucky song, but I cannot believe that there is any way you could come to any sort of defense of the appalling suckatude that is ”Do They Know It’s Christmas,” even in comparison. In fact, I hate this song so much that I have prepared a line-by-line breakdown of its crapitosity. Please enjoy, and then be ashamed of yourself:

”And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime
The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life (Oooh)
Where nothing ever grows
No rain or rivers flow
Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?”

Now, breaking that down:

”And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime”
Except in the Atlas Mountains and on Mount Kilimanjaro. And, of course, we are ignoring the fact that about half of the continent is south of the equator, where it is, technically, summer. I hear there’s some good skiing in South Africa in July, though.

”The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life (Oooh)”
Isn’t that true for all of us? (Oooh)

”Where nothing ever grows”
Principle agricultural products of selected African countries:
· Kenya: tea, coffee, sugarcane, corn, wheat, rice, sisal, pineapples
· Ghana: cocoa, pineapples, cashews, coconuts, pepper, shea nuts, cassava, yams, plantains, maize, rice, peanuts, millet, sorghum
· Mali: Millet, sorghum, rice maize, peanuts, cotton
· Republic of the Congo: cassava, sugar, rice, maize, peanuts, vegetables, coffee, cocoa
· Democratic Republic of the Congo: coffee, palm oil, rubber, cotton, sugar, tea, cocoa, cassava, plantains, maize, groundnuts, rice
· Chad: millet, sorghum, peanuts, rice, sweet potatoes, manioc, cassava, yams, cotton, gum arabic

”No rain or rivers flow” Average annual rainfall in the Western Nile Basin: 390 in
Nile River: 4,160 mi
Niger River: 2500 mi
Congo River: 2,900 mi

”Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?” Well, seeing as how Ethiopia is the second oldest Christian nation in the world, I’m guessing that at least a few of them do. For the 40 percent of the population who are Muslim, a better question might be, do they care? And what is this, an evangelical thing?

In other words, whoever wrote the song failed sixth-grade geography and based their perception of an entire continent on that one picture of the skinny kid with the big eyes standing in front of a shack in a dusty field. Now, sir, what do you have to say for yourself? — Daisy James

Uhhhhhhhh…Bono sounds cool? Seriously, though, Daisy, I am far too lazy to check all your facts and figures, but thanks for sending what just may be the best Glutton reader mail letter ever. (P.S. The song still rules. Sorry.)

Dalton, what about the charity classic ”Hands across America…hands across this land I love; divided we fall, united we stand; hands across America”? I even went to some random road in St. Louis MO and held hands with some strangers for 5 minutes while supposedly everyone else in the country was doing the same thing. I can’t even remember why we were holding hands. For the farmers? The poor? All I know is, the song stuck in tween mind. — LisaMama

”Hands Across America” was not only a horrible song, but no doubt responsible for the spreading of all sorts of nasty germs that most assuredly led to massive viruses that must have cost our businesses tens of millions of dollars in lost labor. Damn you, Hands Across America and your uncatchy chorus and dirty, grubby mitts!

My vote for preferred anthem is ”Sun City.” It’s way more uplifting — not to mention defiant — than either of the holiday anthems. —Paul Kalomiris

So defiant that many radio stations wouldn’t play it (for criticizing Ronald Reagan) when it came out in 1985, which is why it only went to No. 83 on the charts. Gotta love the lineup, though. In addition to Bruce and Bono, the song featured Run DMC, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Stiv Bators of the Dead Boys, and Gil Scott-Heron. A great, freaky, eclectic mix of musicians. But it doesn’t really matter what I think. How does Daisy James feel about it is what I want to know. Daisy…?

What are your new year’s resolutions? What midseason TV shows are you most psyched to check out? And what is the proper punishment for advocating lynchings of African-American sports stars? Send your questions, comments, and quibbles to theglutton@ew.com, or just fill out the handy-dandy form below. See ya next week!

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