STEROIDS: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT

Hey, if film directors can release expanded versions of their movies, with restored footage, why can’t humor columnists reissue expanded versions of their columns, with restored passages?

Sounds good to me.

My entertainment column in the Oct. 12 edition of GO! magazine underwent some cuts because of space limitations. Hey, it happens. It’s part of the business.

The cuts weren’t of the amputation variety, where the whole ending gets hacked off, or a big chunk of the middle. No, these were nip-and-tuck cuts. Nice, neat little excisions here and there.

The result was OK, I guess, but I mourned the loss of some good lines.

I thought they were good, anyway.

And so I am proud to present a “director’s cut” version of the column, with all the deleted material restored. There are no space limitations in cyberspace. Why not take advantage?

Here’s the column in its entirety:

Headline: Steroids muscle their way into the arts

Evidently, it aint over, anymore, until the pumped-up lady sings.
Yes, sadly, opera singers now are being questioned about their use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Good grief. Is the steroid scandal going to spread through the arts and entertainment world, as it already has done in the sports world?
Weve been shocked to the point of numbness by reports of steroid abuse in baseball, football, cycling, and track and field. Gold-medal champion sprinter Marion Jones, who recently confessed to doping up before the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, is just the latest example.
But who knew that opera singers were bulking up, too?
As reported in September by the Associated Press, opera insiders say many singers, feeling the pressures of stardom, competition and sponsor demands, are using alcohol and narcotics to relieve stress, and steroids to strengthen their vocal cords and increase stamina.
German tenor Endrik Wottrich told reporters, Soloists are taking beta blockers to control their angst, cortisone to push their voice, and alcohol is everywhere.
The allegations give new, twisted meaning to the old phrase, It aint over until the fat lady sings.
I mean, how can we be sure, anymore, that the fat lady is even the real thing, and not some unnatural freakazoid inflated with dangerous drugs?
In fact, anything and everything about opera stars is now open to question. Is it suspicious, for example, when they hold those long notes an unusually long time? Are their gestures just flamboyantly theatrical, or are they abnormally flamboyantly theatrical?
Come to think of it, opera stars do sweat very profusely. And their veins bulge. And their voices quaver.
Its all starting to make terrible sense.
And you have to wonder if this plague already has spread to other artistic fields.
Sculptors, for example, certainly are turning out bizarrely misshapen objects these days. And the painters are doing just crazy, shocking things on canvas.
If its true that artists only depict whats inside them, we must speculate darkly about what really is inside them.
Ballet dancers definitely have bulges that leave us shaking our heads.
Movie stars, especially actresses, have been behaving awfully erratically these days.
And has anyone noticed that novels are getting huger and more swollen all the time?
When J.K. Rowling was a young, fresh-faced talent, she wrote economically and to the point, but those Harry Potter novels of hers just got more and more enormous as she went along.
You know, maybe us humor writers are the only true artists left who are untainted by the steroid scandal.
And maybe were just a bunch of dopes, after all.
Maybe we should be taking steroids, too.
I mean, I have to wonder what I personally might gain or lose.
Would my words burgeon and bloom with new strength and vigor? Or would they merely bloat and wobble with no real purpose or even effect, other than growing elephantine, gargantuan and Brobdingnagian?
Would my jokes crackle and spark with new incandescent brilliance? Or would they merely wallow and fester and mutate into malignant deformities notable only for their obfuscation and obliquity?
Would my columns gain new potency and force? Or would they simply grow longer and more meandering and misbegotten with no clear objective other than stretching the boundaries of turgid excess, and establishing new grotesque benchmarks for elongation, protraction and longitudinousness?
On reflection, I guess I will continue to say no to performance enhancing substances. I want my work to be free of taint. I want no stain or shadow on my reputation and legacy.
Most of all, when I become the first humor columnist in history to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, I dont want it to come with an asterisk.

john.weeks@sbsun.com