Who’s Allowed to Criticize Patton Oswalt and a Neighbourly Update

If you don’t know Patton Oswalt, please allow me to introduce you. I’ve been a fan so long, I used to have to order his stand-up comedy CDs (CDs!) from the US. He’s funny, smart, original and thinky without being Dennis-Miller-over-my-head thinky. He also played Spence on King of Queens and a computer geek/genius on Two-and-a-Half Men, among other things. 

Comic Patton Oswalt talking on a microphone and smiling

Patton Oswalt at Comicon by Gage Skidmore

Patton Oswalt’s wife, crime writer Michelle McNamara, died in her sleep a year ago April. They have a daughter, Alice. Patton shared his grief with the world in a beautifully written obituary and essays about the painful realities of going on with his life, and raising his daughter, without her mother. He clearly loved Michelle and his life with her and he suffered after the loss of her. He laid his emotions out for the world to observe, and the world loved him for it. So when he became engaged to actress Meredith Salinger perhaps he thought that the masses who adored him in his grief would be happy for him. Apparently not. The Internet likes sad, grieving Patton. It doesn’t want happy Patton and it told him so with cutting comments about how he could possibly move on from widowhood so fast.

So, who is allowed to criticize Patton Oswalt for his decision? No one. Not a one. Not even someone who has been in his situation and chosen another way forward.

Sometimes I long for the days when we would pick up a People magazine and see that, say, Elizabeth Taylor is getting married for the eighth time. Maybe we’d remark to a friend that it will never last, and then go on with our day. If Liz was still alive and on social media, some people would actually feel compelled to let her know they didn’t approve. They’d carry that thought about something that’s none of their business into the life of the famous person whose business it is. People actually think they have a right to do this! “I paid to see her movie! She has to know what I think!” No honey, you paid and saw a show. End of transaction.

Update to the saga of our neighbour about whom I wrote back in January. She’s in a heaping helping of trouble.

Last week, a man driving past her home around 6:30 am noticed smoke coming out a window. Her house is still covered in tarps and signs about the contractor who she claims abruptly left a half-finished job she had paid for in cash. The passerby pulled in and banged on the doors and windows to rouse anyone inside but the house was empty. A neighbour heard the commotion and called 911. Fire crews put the blaze out and waited for the homeowner. Three hours later she ambled up claiming to have been down at a local park, walking her dog.

Police surrounded the house in crime scene tape and they, along with the Fire Marshall, launched an investigation. On Friday, they announced that she was facing criminal charges of arson and endangering the property of others. How the fire is alleged to have started, why they are calling it arson, and how come it takes three hours to walk a dog the size of a tissue box are all outstanding questions. Stay tuned.

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1 Comment. Leave new

Dan Brown
18/07/2017 16:05

You are an amazing writer. You are so good, you are UH-MAZING.

You have a way with words. You are smart AND funny. There’s no higher praise I can give.

As for Patton Oswalt, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Christ once said something about casting stones . . .

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