Hollywood and the World at Large Mourn the Loss of Norm Macdonald

Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…”

This is a line from Joni Mitchell’s hit song “Big Yellow Taxi,” which was written back in 1970.

Mitchell’s words perfectly capture the feelings that a lot of folks are having right now in trying to deal with the passing of Norm Macdonald – Hollywood actor, writer, and most notably, stand-up comic extraordinaire.

Many of his peers are remembering him as the funniest man they’d ever known.

A natural stand-up talent, he followed the universally relatable comedic tradition of observational humor, which has been practiced by so many iconic figures of the comedy world, including the greats Richard Pryor, George Carlin, and Jerry Seinfeld.

His career arc took him in a rather novel direction that combined pivotal aspects of life with deadpan minimalism.

He managed to keep his stoic nine-year battle with cancer secret from the public, but on at least one occasion he was able to memorialize his angst in a joke that deals with the whole notion of a person somehow losing the battle with the disease.

“I’m pretty sure, I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure if you die, the cancer dies at the same time. That’s not a loss, that’s a draw,” Norm said.

Developing his stand-up brand in Ottawa, Canada, he made a name for himself across his native land.

After appearing on the television series “Star Search,” he landed a job as a writer for Roseanne Barr’s smash TV series “Roseanne,” which started its run in the 1990’s and is still going strong in syndication.

Speaking of things that are still going, Macdonald was blessed with a stint on Saturday Night Live (SNL), where for a total of five seasons he served as part of the SNL cast.

He ultimately secured the coveted anchor throne on the “Weekend Update” segment of SNL, where he got to reign for three and a half seasons.

He guested on other TV shows, “The Drew Carey Show” and “NewsRadio” being a couple of them.

He appeared in movies too, and became a regular on the talk show circuit with hosts the likes of David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, and Howard Stern.

The time-honored joke structure was deftly modified by Norm and his unique form of comedy. He would stretch the set-up section of a joke to the point of audience impatience and would then abruptly spew out a minimalist punch line.

Comics many times serve as the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, sending out a warning to society that it better start paying attention to the critical issues that hover around.

Norm embraced the role. He was a truth teller and wasn’t timid about aiming his humor crossbow at some pretty powerful targets.

On one such occasion his venture into humor, rooted in truth, actually cost him his job.

An NBC executive had reportedly fired him because of a decline in the show’s ratings. But he and others claimed that the dismissal was due to some O. J. Simpson jokes that he had let loose with in the “Weekend Update” segment.

After his termination from the show, he returned to SNL as a host.

Sporting his trademark grin, he used his opening monologue to slam the network for firing him, quipping that the only reason he was asked to come back and host was because the show had “gotten really bad” since his departure.

He was the final stand-up comic to appear on the “Late Show with David Letterman.”

Letterman had told a specific joke during a 1970s appearance on a Canadian talk show. In the studio audience was a 13-year-old comedy fan, Norm himself.

He loved Letterman’s joke and never forgot it. In tribute, he performed the bit during the last stand-up act of the final Letterman show.

Ending the set with tears rolling down his cheeks, he told Letterman that he loved him.

Interestingly, he exhibited an intellectual depth that is not typically associated with modern day comics – a Christian perspective with a desire to defend it.

A few years ago he used his Twitter account to question the value of the Enlightenment, bringing a predicable reaction from the liberals, who were upset at the prospect that Norm was Christian friendly.

He penned a post, which he later deleted.

“The Enlightenment turned us away from truth and toward a darkling weakening horizon, sad and gray to see. The afterglow of Christianity is near gone now, and a Stygian silence lurks in wait,” Norm wrote.

He was referring to the loss of artistic reverence for the sacred and a move toward human focused post-modernism, which paved the way for a variety of 19th-century movements, most unfortunately, communism.

Once while serving as one of the judges for the NBC reality show “Last Comic Standing,” he had to deal with a contestant who had mocked the Christian faith.

While other judges characterized the contestant’s jokes as “brave,” Norm stated, “I don’t think the Bible jokes are brave at all.”

He went on to tell the audience, “If you think you’re gonna take on an entire religion, you should maybe know what you’re talking about.”

He was later asked why the contestant’s material had bothered him.

“Oh, just the smugness. There are a lot more hack ‘smart’ comedians nowadays and atheist comedians. It’s so dull. To be talking about being an atheist living in West Hollywood is not the bravest stance to take,” he said.

He put out the following tweet in 2017: “Scripture. Faith. Grace. Christ, Glory of God. Smart man says nothing is a miracle. I say everything is.”

C.S. Lewis said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”

Catch your act there, buddy.

Travis Tritt’s Quarter Notes

Travis Tritt has a brand to which very few musical artists can lay claim.

He’s one of the original country music singer-songwriters to combine country rock with urban soul.

For decades the double Grammy winner has been topping the charts, churning out hits that include “Country Club,” “Anymore,” “Can I Trust You With My Heart,” “Foolish Pride,” and “Best of Intentions.”

But his signature song, “Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares),” paints a bigger picture, one that speaks volumes about a man who values dignity over concession and principle over popularity.

Tritt’s musical talents were nurtured in his youth. He grew up listening to the Sunday school choir at his church and eventually joined the church band, performing at other nearby houses of worship.

Much like the lyrics in his songs, his verbal communication is simple and straightforward.

He recently shared his perspective on some of the current vaccination policies that are being implemented within the entertainment industry and in certain municipalities.

“In light of recently announced policies and mandates from some entertainment companies, promoters, and local municipalities which would discriminate against specific concert attendees who are not vaccinated, I feel compelled to make a statement,” Tritt said in a press release provided to the media.

Although not specifically singled out by Tritt, the largest concert promoters in the country recently announced some unprecedented medical mandate requirements for concert attendees.

Live Nation has placed conditions on those who wish to attend concerts. Beginning Oct.1, only those who are fully vaccinated, or those who are able to produce a negative test prior to an event, will be admitted.

And for all concertgoers and employees, AEG Presents is calling for full vaccinations, with no testing options, beginning Oct. 4.

Tritt is currently in the midst of a tour called the Brooks & Dunn Reboot Tour, which runs through Oct. 9 and is being promoted by Live Nation.

In his press release, Tritt chose to focus on the rights of individuals in making their own medical decisions.

“I have always been a huge defender of basic human rights and liberty for all. No government, employer, or private entity should ever be allowed to infringe on those rights and liberties,” he explained.

In response to the proliferation of inoculation mandates, he views unvaccinated persons as being discriminated against by the policies.

Tritt is fully supporting “anyone who is willing to publicly stand against discrimination and the squelching of any specific freedoms and basic human rights around the world.”

He concluded his statement with the following quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Although some fans may not be happy with the ideas that Tritt has expressed, this musical artist is no stranger to controversy.

On the night of the 2020 election, he blasted Fox News for the network’s early call of voting results in the state of Arizona prior to officials having tabulated all of the votes.

“No matter what the final results are tonight, one thing is extremely clear. @FoxNews can no longer claim to be the fair and balanced network they once were. There are a lot of biased hacks there now and a ton of folks are noticing. It’s now @newsmax for me for election results,” he tweeted.

Last May Tritt released his first studio album since 2007, titled “Set in Stone.”

In his recent single from the album, “Ghost Town Nation,” he sings about how “headlines are preaching impending doom.”

Then he prescribes a countrified remedy, with the following positive lyrics:

“Making the best of a bad situation

Getting by just fine in a ghost town nation.”

In a revealing recent appearance on the Jesus Calling podcast, Tritt opened up about his deeply held religious beliefs.

“My mother and sister and I were in church every single time the doors were open. … I grew up with the understanding of what God meant to my family’s life, to my life. We had Bible study on a regular basis. It was a great place to build the foundation for the rest of your life,” Tritt said.

He also noted in the podcast that when difficult situations arise (which incidentally are often the subject of his song lyrics), answers may be best received when we’re on our knees.

“The power of prayer is extremely strong. I believe in it 100 percent. I know what it’s capable of. I know what God’s capable of. And if we bring those things to Him in prayer, He will not leave us and He will not forsake us,” Tritt shared.

Patricia Heaton’s Soul Survivor Tips

Patricia Heaton is best known for her iconic character Debra Barone in “Everybody Loves Raymond,” the enormously popular TV sitcom that ran for nine seasons and, via its widespread syndication, has become one of the most watched television series in the world.

Unlike so many other celebrities who make it big on the little screen, Heaton managed to strike ratings gold for a second time with the hit television series “The Middle,” in which she plays the lovably quirky wife and mother Frances “Frankie” Heck.

She currently has three shiny Emmy Awards on her trophy shelf, one of which is a surprising daytime Emmy for hosting a cooking series on the Food Network, aptly titled “Patricia Heaton Parties.”

Branching out from television, Heaton has taken on big screen projects as well, which include roles in “Memoirs of an Invisible Man,” “Beethoven,” “The New Age,” and “Space Jam.”

Additionally, she is a World Vision ambassador and was also one of the producers of the film, “Amazing Grace,” a 2006 drama about William Wilberforce, who dedicated his life to the abolition of slavery in 18th-century Britain.

While Heaton has experienced continued success within the entertainment business, she has nevertheless not shied away from expressing her viewpoints. She has even been willing to go against the grain on multiple occasions.

In the wokest of woke worlds, this makes her truly unique. It is especially true when it comes to her willingness to share her deeply held religious beliefs.

Heaton recently used her Instagram account to relay a touching story via video. The caption attached to the footage reads: “[There is] A lot to celebrate this month,” and she included the hashtag reference “#3years.”

While finishing a 3.5 mile hike in the hills surrounding Lake Hollywood, she tells (in a video “selfie”) of celebrating “three years of freedom from alcohol.”

Like others who have fought the addiction battle and lived to tell the tale, Heaton extends a helping hand to those dealing with similar issues.

“Message me if you are thinking about doing that, and if you are doing that now, and you need some encouragement or anything at all,” Heaton implores.

Sounds like a celebrity who really is a friend to her fans.

There is another issue that is dear to her heart, one that is not easy to champion when you live and work in Hollywood: The protection of the unborn.

Heaton is the honorary chair of Feminists for Life, a group that supports pro-life causes from a feminist perspective.

She recently posted a statement on her Twitter account that underscores her belief in the sanctity of life.

“I don’t understand why pro-life people want to know if they are ‘welcome’ to join the democrat party,” she writes, adding, “Why would any civilized person want to support a barbaric platform that champions abortion for any reason through all nine months funded by taxpayers?”

Her values appear to have been shaped by her faith upbringing, having been raised as a devout Catholic Christian. Her sister Sharon is a Dominican nun.

In 2011 Heaton revealed details about her family’s faith in an article that she wrote for Guideposts.

“We went to church as a family every Sunday.” Heaton writes. “We said grace before meals and read stories from our collection of books on the lives of the saints. God was in everything that we did and we soaked it in.”

She describes the impact of losing her mother when she was just 12 years of age, when her mother tragically suffered a brain aneurysm. As is often the case when people have to deal with enormous challenges, faith not only helps to get us through, it strengthens our innermost being in the process.

“Losing her was the hardest thing I’d ever gone through, but at the same time it cemented my belief in everything I’d been taught,” Heaton explains. “Especially that life is a journey, and it’s short, so we should live for God and do the best we can.”

The actress reminisces about a portion of her life, during which she was still struggling with her career. She went on a church mission trip to a Mexican orphanage, where she worked with other volunteers to directly assist the needy. Being part of the loving acts of charity moved her deeply.

After she returned home, she knelt down and prayed aloud. While in prayer, she explains how she experienced a realization of the real meaning of transcendent fulfillment.

“As I spoke it hit me that in all my years of praying and going to church, this was the first time that I had relinquished complete control of my life to God,” she writes.

As searchers before her, as well as those who are to come, Heaton left the faith of her childhood for a while and went off looking for other kinds of Christian worship. But her journey would lead her back home.She describes her return to the place where she first got her start with superlative phrases, “…a great joy” and “…a beautiful thing.”

Heaton once posted details on her Twitter account of an otherworldly encounter with God.

“Spent Mass internally grumbling about lame sermon; received Eucharist, knelt down, burst into tears. #NoOneExpectstheHolySpirit,” Heaton shares.

In 2019, in an appearance on the “Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” she took the opportunity to share aspects of her faith.

From Heaton’s perspective, we all have a purpose for our lives, and it has little to do with self.

“…there’s only one thing that can be the center of your life and that’s your faith. And I think I wasn’t doing that. And I think God was withholding everything until … He made sure that He was the center of my life and not the career,” Heaton says.

In January of 2021, when a whole lot of people of faith were feeling a sense of disorientation and despondency, Heaton posted words that were comforting then, and still apply all these months later.

“If you’re a common sense person, you probably don’t feel you have a home in this world right now,” she wrote.

Then she was quick to note, “If you’re a Christian, you know you were never meant to.”

Chuck Norris Is Living the Meme

Chuck Norris has achieved a level of Internet fame that could make a Kardashian turn green.

The multi-dimensional Norris is recognized internationally as a martial artist, actor, film producer, best-selling author, and authentic digital phenom.

His fame began when a friend and fellow actor invited him to portray a villain in a martial arts movie. The film is called “Way of the Dragon,” and the friend who encouraged him to take the role was none other than martial arts legend Bruce Lee, who plays the lead.

Norris has scores of films to his credit, including roles in “Code of Silence,” “The Delta Force,” and “Firewalker.” And he has had major success on the small screen as well, playing the long-running title role in the television series “Walker, Texas Ranger.”

One of Norris’s sterling attributes is courage, which has served him well in his capacity to speak his mind in a straightforward and bold manner, without having someone else provide him a script.

He recently criticized the current administration for policies that deepen America’s dependence on China. Norris zeroed-in on the effects of the ballooning national debt, the harm to the economy, and the potential threat to national security.

“There has been much said and written about the White House’s new world-record-breaking $6 trillion dollar budget. But what I have to say will absolutely convince you the fiscal insanity coming from the Oval Office will cripple our economy and your future and family, too,” Norris stated.

“The size, scope, growth and communist political regime of China make it the No. 1 threat to U.S. economic and national power, stability and security, according to Market Watch,” he added.

Norris’s words carry a great deal of weight, thanks to his additional status as an Internet icon.

Satirical bits about the actor-martial artist began to spring up on the web in early 2005. Initially, college students were the ones who shared the memes, but the trend soon spread to people of all ages and backgrounds.

The amusing linguistically sophisticated one-liners, referred to as “Facts about Chuck Norris,” have taken on a life of their own, and over the years have grown into a massive collection of exaggerated tongue-in-cheek statements about Norris’s superhuman capabilities.

Choice “Facts about Chuck Norris” examples include the following:

–“Chuck Norris threw a grenade and killed 50 people. Then it exploded.”

–“Chuck Norris counted to infinity. Twice.”

–“Chuck Norris’s computer has no backspace button. Chuck Norris doesn’t make mistakes.”

–“Chuck Norris makes onions cry.”

–“Chuck Norris can strangle you with a cordless phone.”

–“When Chuck Norris enters a room, he doesn’t turn the lights on. He turns the dark off.”

This phenomenon continues to spread far and wide, permeating the pop culture with books, video games, and advertising campaigns.

Norris himself has appeared on major television talk shows, commenting on the “Facts” sensation, and even making it a point to visit military fans stationed in Iraq.

He is a faithful unapologetic Christian, whose official website includes a comprehensive Christian Resource page complete with audios, videos, articles, and downloadable books to assist believers in their daily walk.

One of the many Internet “Facts” actually prompted Norris to share his personal Christian testimony.

Appearing on the web for all to see, the spoof typified the hyperbolic humor of the Norris “Facts” mania. It read as follows: “Chuck Norris’s tears cure cancer. Too bad Chuck Norris has never cried.”

He responded by talking about a real person, who has supernatural healing power.

“There was a man whose tears could cure cancer or any other disease, including the real cause of all diseases – sin. His blood did. His name was Jesus, not Chuck Norris. If your soul needs healing, the prescription you need is not Chuck Norris’ tears, it’s Jesus’ blood.”

Norris’s relationship with God was kick-started at the age of 12, when he attended a Billy Graham crusade. He has freely shared his experiences with the trappings of celebrity, which are riddled with distractions and obstacles to faith’s path.

“Unfortunately a lot of times in the entertainment industry, sometimes you lose sight of what’s really important in your life.”

When he paid tribute to his 100-year-old mom this past Mother’s Day, he shared the importance of intercessory prayer in relation to his own life experience.

“My mother has prayed for me all my life, through thick and thin,” Norris explained. “When I was born, I almost died from complications. When nearly losing my soul to Hollywood a few decades ago, she was back home praying for my success and salvation. She even prayed for me to find a woman to change my life, and it worked.”

Interestingly, one thing Norris’s admirers and detractors can agree upon is that this extraordinary man has led an impressive life.

In an interview with CBN’s The 700 Club, Norris gave credit for his life’s blessings to the Creator.

“It’s amazing because people come up to me and say, ‘Chuck, you’re the luckiest guy in the world to be a world karate champion and a movie and TV star.’ When they say this to me, I kind of smile because luck had nothing to do with it; God had everything to do with it.”

How God Saved the Life of Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper, known prior to his fame days as Vincent Damon Furnier, credits his faith in Jesus Christ, along with his daily scripture readings, for freeing him from the vice-grip of alcoholism.

Cooper’s public religious professions convey an especially hopeful and deeply moving message to those who find themselves facing the same life circumstances or those of a parallel nature.

The iconic singer and songwriter is frequently referred to by music critics and pop culture aficionados as “The Godfather of Shock Rock.”

Known for his elaborate goth-tinged stage shows, Cooper’s Hollywood persona stands in stark contrast to his present day personal life. He is a devout family man who has been married to his bride Sheryl Goddard for four and a half decades. The couple has three beautiful daughters together.

The name “Alice Cooper” was originally used by a rock band, which came to fame in the 1960s. After the band broke up in 1975, the name had become so closely associated with Furnier as an individual, he began using the band’s moniker as his stage name as well as his legal name.

Having initially dubbed themselves “Nazz,” the band members discovered that another successful music group, headed by rock icon Todd Rundgren, were already using the same name. The group subsequently chose “Alice Cooper” as its new brand.

Following an audition in front of another rock music legend, Frank Zappa, the group was signed to Zappa’s new record label, Straight Records.

An interesting pop culture anecdote. The Alice Cooper band experienced an exponential surge in its trajectory at one pivotal point, due to an unusual spontaneous event that was actually severely misreported at the time by the press. The occurrence took on the apt label of “The Chicken Incident.”

In September of 1969, while the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival was raging on, a live chicken somehow managed to make its way onto the stage. The bird proceeded to nestle into a feather pillow that Cooper used during his performances.

With little familiarity or experience with farm animals, and making an assumption that chickens could fly, Cooper threw the bird up and over the heads of the crowd. Instead of flying off into the distance, the chicken fell beak first flat onto the front rows of attendees, who reportedly mishandled the poor bird and unfortunately precipitated its untimely demise.

The following morning an embellished version of the story appeared on the front pages of newspapers all over the world, where it was reported that the frontman of the band had bitten the head off of the chicken and had even drank its blood.

Zappa had become aware of the media coverage and called Cooper to ask him about the veracity of the story. When Zappa was told the details, he reportedly said, “Well, whatever you do, don’t tell anyone you didn’t do it.”

The news quickly spread and became part of the Cooper legend, which cemented the notion that he was the originator of the “shock rock” genre.

It was in the early 1980s, following a period of denial, that Cooper would come to realize that his alcohol addiction was endangering his life. Like so many other public figures who have wrestled with alcohol addiction, the rocker was able to hide his substance abuse from the public. However, as he recently described to the New York Post, it was on one crucial day that he came to the understanding his alcohol use had taken a severe toll on his body.

“I woke up one morning and I threw up blood and that’s how I kind of knew it was over. My wife grabbed my ear and said, ‘Hey, the party’s over,’” Cooper revealed.

He reminisced three years ago with the New York Daily News about this critical time in his life, saying, “Everything that could go wrong was shutting down inside of me, I was drinking with Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix and trying to keep up with Keith Moon and they all died at 27.”

After completing rehab, Cooper was amazed to discover that the intense craving for alcohol he had lived with before had vanished. It was a miraculous occurrence that had graced his life, and he gives full credit for his mended state to the Lord of the Universe.

“Even the doctor said, ‘This is an absolute miracle.’ I said, ‘Why?’ They said, ‘Well, you should be hiding bottles all over the house and you should be sneaking drugs.’ I said, ‘I have absolutely no desire for that at all,’” Cooper told the Post.

“Everyone said, ‘Oh you have such great willpower.’ I said, ‘No, God has great willpower. He took it from me.’ My dad was a pastor, my grandad was a pastor, Sheryl’s dad was a pastor. I had such strong prayer for me,” Cooper shared.

People are continually awestruck by the same book that Cooper reads each day. The Holy Scripture describes numerous unlikely figures that God chooses over time to fulfill his divine plans.

And so it seems fitting, within a supernatural context, that an individual who has been immersed in a secular shock rock world can be brought to a place where he can lift up others.

After God secured a victory for him over his addiction, Cooper seems to have been anointed as a kind of adjunct lay minister of the music industry. He now provides help and counsel to other rock musicians who struggle with substance abuse issues, often answering calls in the dark of night from those in need.

Much like the relatability and candor of his song lyrics, the rocker describes his religious faith in a way in which others can freely accept.

Christianity, according to Cooper, merely “has to do with a one-on-one relationship with Jesus Christ.”