Space Wants Filling

I may be less floppy than you'd expect, but I remain rather charmingMy new gig at Sympatico/MSN requires me to write two longish pieces every week — one about whatever’s arriving on DVD, and another about whatever’s arriving in theaters.

In the industry, this kind of article is called a “thumbsucker”, referring to the art of mulling over of something trivial. And I have no illusions about what I do — everything I write about is ultimately trivial. We’re not curing cancer here. We’re not even curing scabies.

Coming up with 104 interesting pieces a year is a little intimidating. But I get a little shot of hope when I stumble across something like Shinan Govani’s piece in today’s Post about Hugh Grant’s hair. Or, more specifically, Hugh Grant’s hair in “Music and Lyrics”.

Now, this is a thumbsucker. It’s not a review of the movie (though Shinan does come up with a pull-quote — “It’s positively pee-in-your-pants!” — that’s as alluring as it is unusable), it’s a review of an actor’s head.

Shinan spends hundreds of words on the evolution of Grant’s coiffure through the past decade, invoking such icons as Cary Grant, John Wayne and Gertrude Stein — sorta — and even takes a languid detour to evaluate the current state of the actor’s chest.

(Grant’s character is a survivor of an ’80s pop duo whose solo career flamed out while his partner’s soared — basically, Andrew Ridgeley –which accounts for his deflopped hairstyle and dissolute physique.)

I’m not bringing this up to make fun of Shinan, by the way. He’s very, very good at what he does, and I know as well as anyone how difficult it is to fill a fixed space every day.

I mean, does anybody remember my “Big Picture” column in GTA Today / Metro Today / Metro, where I had to spotlight a different movie every day? That turned into a real challenge after about six months, and it ran for nearly three years.

But articles like this one give me hope: If Shinan can get 500 words out of Hugh Grant’s hair, then surely I can pull 800 words out of the movie in which the hair is featured.

So: How many words are in this post?