Paula and the Chili Cheese Fried Burrito — Together at Last

The ongoing speculation over where Paula Abdul will manage to land in her post-“American Idol” life has little to do with the recent introduction at Wienerschnitzel of a (drum roll, please) Chili Cheese Fries Burrito. But bear with me for a few hundred words, and I promise to tie them together in a quasi-profound way. […]

Last Updated: August 14, 2009 @ 10:41 AM

The ongoing speculation over where Paula Abdul will manage to land in her post-“American Idol” life has little to do with the recent introduction at Wienerschnitzel of a (drum roll, please) Chili Cheese Fries Burrito. But bear with me for a few hundred words, and I promise to tie them together in a quasi-profound way.

Let’s start with Abdul, who inspires a fanatic level of dedication and loyalty that feels entirely baffling. Perhaps this is because I lack the “Idol” gene, which automatically labels me a sad outcast.

 

As with religion, I don’t denigrate anyone’s commitment to a program that comes across to me somewhat stilted, superficial and overblown. But hey, whatever.

If your eyes and ears are glued to the show each week from January through May, then I suppose it makes perfect sense that Paula and her employment situation should be hugely meaningful to you — and that “American Idol” without her might appear like, say, an octopus without a snowmobile. Or perhaps better, Larry and Moe minus Curly.

Assuming this is the case, my question would be a big fat: Why?

 

Why does a woman whom everyone has spent the better part of the past couple of years mercilessly bashing as erratic, spaced-out, unstable and quite possibly self-medicated suddenly reside at the center of a “Can ‘Idol’ survive without her?” debate?

Evidently, the feeling is, “Well sure, Paula’s a train wreck. But she’s our train wreck!”

 

Or at least, was. What’s most amusing is the fact the argument has never been about whether “Idol” should want Abdul back — given her recent history of loose cannon-dom — but how much they ought to lay out for the privilege. Not that you can ever put a true price tag on incoherence.

If the only yardstick for value is “Because Ryan’s getting $30 million,” our standards are now unequivocally warped. Maybe I’m just the last to get the memo. But given her recent history, the notion that Abdul is a goldmine waiting to relocate is not only peculiar but disturbing.

Quality, or even lucidity, no longer so much as enters the discussion. All that evidently matters is that Abdul was a judge on a top-rated show, and “head case” has become simply another euphemism for “controversial.”

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the hot new culinary item in the world of junk food. How could I? The traumatic memory of having seen it in that first commercial this week continues to fuel my nightmares and haunt my every waking thought.

I’m stunned that any human walking the planet could eye this 99-cent example of irrational thinking outside the bun and be struck with, “Whoa! Lunch!” As if the coagulated monstrosity of chili, cheese and fried potatoes weren’t quite enough, it had to be wrapped in a flour tortilla.

I mean, why not just drape the thing in bacon, deep fry it and top it with hot fudge, too?

 

The Chili Cheese Fries Bacon Fudge Chimichanga! Yum! No doubt, it would put to shame the mere 470 calories, 21 fat grams (9 of them saturated), 53 grams of carbs and 1650 grams of sodium in the current edition.

You can bet they’ll soon promote it as a heart-healthy alternative because it’s got only 2 grams of sugar.

How can such a gastronomic affront to the senses, such an artery-clogging atrocity, such a mouthful of death, pass the FDA’s inspection? Oh right, the government reserves that for stuff that can really hurt us, like supplements that lack any political lobbying effort. Fast food outlets are permitted to serve up coronary disease with impunity.

Here is how this all ties back to Ms. Abdul’s situation:

 

There has been a circuit disconnect in our ability to differentiate things that are good from those that aren’t. Plainly, no fully rational person could think either that Paula merits the contents of a Brink’s truck or that the Wienerschnitzel travesty of the taste buds is worth its weight in angioplasty.

The only viable explanation for either the rabid Abdul support or the consideration of chili cheese fries burrito consumption surrounds the ingestion of marijuana. No doubt, both the former judge and the alleged foodstuff start looking particularly good after a few hits of some potent weed.

So the next time I hear someone yammering on about why Paula deserves the financial windfall that’s soon sure to come her way, I’ll be moved to ask, “What? Are you stoned?”

I’m pretty sure I know what the answer will be.
 

An entertainment journalist since 1984, Ray Richmond has served variously as a television reporter, critic and columnist for Daily Variety, the Hollywood Reporter, the L.A. Daily News, the Orange County Register and the late Los Angeles Herald Examiner. He is also the author of four books, including the bestselling "The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family." When not writing, he can often be found hustling quarters as a street mime in Spokane, Washington. Email: tvrayz@aol.com. He also regularly blogs at www.manbitestinseltown.com.