Jellybean's eating corn on the cob...
Jellybean's Morning Adventure
It lasted about 30 seconds...
Then Jellybean's feeder, carrier and chest-bed (me) sneezed and the pigeon flew off.
The windows were closed all the while--it's still like 45 degrees here--so Jellybean had no shot. But she didn't know that. Besides, that pigeon already tasted good in her mouth.
Poor indoor cat. She's such a huntress.
Photo of the Day
Hope you're having a cozy Sunday. Jellybean is.
Jellybean on the Bookshelf
More Jellybean posts here.
Just What the Internet Needs, Erik: A Cute Cat Photo
Whenever Patricia is away and I'm home I send her a photo of Jellybean, our cat, because she misses her. Because look:
Jellybean, in her element.
This is the one from this weekend.
One of P's former coworkers once called Jellybean a fluffy meringue. She was right.
Related: Stephen Colbert on NYC's subway kitten crisis and the one candidate willing to take a stand.
Jellybean's Snack Time
Apologies. I'd write more but someone needs to be fed ...
A Very Jellybean Christmas
This will be our December pic for next year's calendar, “The 12 Months of Jellybean.”
So what'd you get for Christmas? I got “Nixonland” by Rick Perlstein and “11/22/63” by Stephen King and “The Big Screen” by David Thomson and an Ernest Hemingway/For Whom the Bell Tolls T-shirt and a coffee mug from Powell's Books in Portland and an Arc de Triomph pillholder and chocolate. No, but like tons of chocolate. Like so much chocolate you wouldn't believe. Like bars and everthing. Yeah, in the stocking. Plus clothes. So like clothes and books and chocolate. How about you?
Jellybean got a plane. I'm not kidding. But right now she's happy with the wrapping.
Photo of the Day
I think this is from the night before the night before we left on our trip:
Question: Do cats know when they're being cute? They seem to. Or at least Jellybean (above) seems to. Maybe they're attuned to the positive reaction of humans or something.
Photos of the Day: Cat Traps
This was a photo making the rounds on Facebook the other day, which made me laugh out loud, and which, yes, I shared with friends:
It's how we trapped Jellybean, after all. (Photo from Oct. 2010):
"I Know, Captain, a Thousand Questions..."
...or 50 anyway. This is a Facebook meme but I'd rather you read it here than on Facebook. There's usually an intro but you get the idea. There are questions and I answer them. You can, too, if you like.
1. What time did you get up this morning? 6:00 A.M.
2. How do you like your steak? Medium rare.
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? "Funny People." Recommended. Highly.
4. What is your favorite TV show? "The Wire"
5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Paris
6. What did you have for breakfast? Coffee. Joe's O's with blueberries.
7. What is your favorite cuisine? If I had to pick one I'd go Italian, but Thai and Indian are close.
8. What foods do you dislike? "Honey?! What foods do I dislike?!"
9. Favorite place to eat? Cafe Presse.
10. Favorite dressing? What Patricia makes.
11.What kind of vehicle do you drive? 2000 Specialized Crossroads.
12. What are your favorite clothes? What Patricia likes
13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? I do have the chance.
14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? Both answers are correct.
15. Where would you want to retire? Someplace to warm my cold, cold bones.
16. Favorite time of day? Early morning. Before the world is up and causing problems.
17. Where were you born? Minneapolis, Minnesota
18. What is your favorite sport to watch? Baseball. There is no second.
19. Who do you think will not tag you back? Irrelevant.
20. Person you expect to tag you back first? Irrelevant.
21. Who are you most curious about their responses to this? Sorry.
22. Bird watcher? No. But I love people who have that kind of knowledge and passion, who do the thing for the doing of it.
23. Are you a morning person or a night person? Morning.
24. Do you have any pets? Jellybean, the cat. Who's crazy.
25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? I'm going to L.A. tomorrow. Don't know if it's "new" or "exciting" or "news," but there you go.
26. What did you want to be when you were little? Fireman, policeman, baseball player.
27. What is your best childhood memory? Best as in happiest? Happiest then or happiest in memory? Whichever way, I'm not sure. Rehoboth? Bedstefar? Kickball? Camera Day? Fireflies? Charlevoix? It was a pretty good childhood, considering.
28. Are you a cat or dog person? Dog, generally. But condo life is tough for a dog. I feel bad enough cooping up Jellybean.
29. Are you married? No.
30. Always wear your seat belt? Pretty much.
31. Been in a car accident? Fender benders. Not for a while, though. Knock wood.
32. Any pet peeves? Many. Here's one: Capable people who stand on escalators, who don't walk up or down. Here's another: How about using your turn signal? And before you enter the intersection. To quote George: "We live in a society!"
33. Favorite Pizza Toppings? Pepperoni, sausage.
34. Favorite Flower? Whatever Patricia likes.
35. Favorite ice cream? Sebastian Joe's Angelica (hazelnut + coffee)
36. Favorite fast food restaurant? Probably Dick's. Every once in a while I get a craving for a Big Mac. But probably a Big Mac circa 1972.
37. How many times did you fail your driver's test? Didn't.
38. From whom did you get your last email? Nathalie.
39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? I wouldn't choose to max out my credit card.
40. Do anything spontaneous lately? Bought a gelato on the way home from the movies. Hazelnut and coffee.
41. Like your job? Yes. Even before I was just happy to have a job.
43. What was your favorite vacation? When I was a kid: Rehoboth. As an adult: Probably the trip through Europe with Joan.
44. Last person you went out to dinner with? Patricia.
45. What are you listening to right now? Traffic on Boren. Jellybean meowing for dinner. Patricia getting a phone call. It's a wonder a person can think in here.
46. What is your favorite color? Blue.
47. How many tattoos do you have? I'm clean.
48. How many are you tagging for this quiz? Irrelevant.
49. What time did you finish this quiz? 5:36 P.M.
50. Coffee Drinker? Yes, but that's an odd last question. Shouldn't 49) be last? Shouldn't this one be earlier? Not to be an editor or anything.
My Long and Winding Road to a Piece of “Twin Peaks” Cherry Pie
In 1990, I watched most of the first season of David Lynch's “Twin Peaks” at my father's house in Minneapolis, caught the second-to-last episode at my sister's place in Seattle, and saw the final episode of the first season about a month later, in Taipei, Taiwan, when my father (finally!) shipped it to me. You could say I was hooked.
Initially I assumed its locale was Michigan: all those Douglas firs and proximity to Canada, I suppose. Turned out it was Washington state, where I moved in 1991. For a time I worked at the University Book Store, where the diary for Laura Palmer had been bought by someone on Lynch's production team, and every so often I visited North Bend, the true locale for the show, for a hike up Mt. Si. But I never went into Twede's Cafe, formerly the Mar T Cafe, home of cherry pie and that damn fine cup of coffee. Hey, is that how the whole coffee thing began? Does Howard Schultz owe his fortune to David Lynch and Special Agent Dale Cooper?
Haven't really thought about the show much since, to be honest, but Sunday I drove out of Seattle early to hike up Bare Mountain, whose trailhead is approximately 24 miles north of North Bend, mostly on dirt roads. The hike turned out to be a bust. In the first hour I had to climb over five trees that had fallen on the trail, each one an omen; then the trail became so overrun with vegetation, six or seven feet high, that I practically needed a machete to keep going. I fought my way through one patch, then another, weeds scraping my shins and drawing blood; but when the third patch appeared, and I couldn't for the life of me see where the trail might finally rise above the tree line, I feared I was on the wrong path and backtracked, then wound up backtracking all the way to the trailhead. So instead of summiting on a sky-blue day, I had a two-hour walk in the woods and weeds. Not that there weren't rewards:
Driving back over the dirt road, I decided, in order to salvage some part of the day, to finally stop at the Mar T, now Twede's, to check it out.
It took a second for my eyes to adjust to the darkness of the restaurant. One o'clock on a Sunday but the place was bustling. A few booths were open but I opted for the counter, then opted for a burger and fries. So far that day I'd only had coffee and sweet things (trail mix, etc.), so coffee and cherry pie didn't appeal. As I was eating, I did something Dale Cooper couldn't do back in 1990: I checked my email on my smartphone and found a back-and-forth between Patricia and our neighbor Ward about an outdoor dinner party we were all attending that evening in downtown Seattle. Ward talked about picking up the ingredients for a peach pie; Patricia suggested she and I get bread or cheese on the way. To me, an alternative immediately suggested itself:
Two birds. We wouldn't arrive empty-handed and I could finally have my “Twin Peaks” cherry pie after all these years.
Patricia was initially against the idea. Ward was baking a pie, she said, so it seemed gauche, or at least territorial, to bring a pie of our own. Ward overruled her. “You can never have too much pie,” he wrote.
The dinner party overlooked Puget Sound. Drinks and food flowed. The sun set over the Sound.
But as the sun faded, so did Patricia. She'd just had arthroscopic surgery and was still in the recovery phase. In fact, the dinner party was her first night out. So we left. Before the pie. Which we left behind.
The next morning after the usual chores and ablutions—feeding Jellybean, showering, making coffee—Jellybean, now fed and sassy, was meowing by the door. We live in a condo but she still meows by the door to be let out into the hallway, which she thinks is hers. It's part of her morning ritual. And just try to stop a cat from her morning ritual.
When I opened the door, I noticed something on the floor: A white cardboard box. Jellybean began sniffing at it. I lifted it up and, yep, there it was, three-quarters of the Twede's Cafe cherry pie, which Ward, my hero, had brought back for us.
So after more than 20 years, I finally had my slice of damn fine cherry pie. And it was.
Now if I could only get me some of that grapefuit—freshly squeezed.
- I vaguely remember this song, “I Love Onions,” from when I was a kid. It was a popular kitschy, mid-60s song. Was it riding the wave of “When I'm 64” or was Paul riding its wave? The startling info here is that the singer is Jacki Weaver, who plays Bradley Cooper's mom, and Robert De Niro's wife, in “Silver Linings Playbook.” Originally Australian. She's cute. That's the point. A few years ago, she got an Oscar nonination for “Animal Kingdom”? I don't remember that. Also nom'ed for “SLP,” of course. She and everyone. Shame.
- Rick Perlstein reports on a libertarian who comes in from the cold. What turned him? Working at a bookstore, of course. In my mind, everyone should work a year of customer service. I think it would eliminate a lot of dickish behavior in our society. I don't think libertarians are dickish, necessarily; I just think most of them are hopelessly naive about corporate life and human nature.
- In a recent column, Thomas Friedman told us that the world wasn't just connected but “hyper-connected.” He said it as if it was news. Gawker then gave us 14 examples of Friedman using “hyper-connected” in a similar context during the last two years, before following with, “We get it.”
- Chris Nolan is forgiven: He likes “The Thin Red Line.”
- I really wish the Danish version of “The Killing” was available on Netflix, Netflix.
- Eighteen days until the Blu-Ray release of Michael Mann's “The Insider,” one of the best movies of the last 20 years. I'm so there. I might even have to update this paltry review.
- The main Talk of the Town piece a few weeks ago was by Jeffrey Toobin and about voting rights and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and what the Roberts court might do to it. Toobin calls it “the most effective law of its kind in the history of the United States” but knows John, Antonin, Clarence and Samuel aren't fans of Section Five. Necessary reading.
- NY Times headline: 'That Cuddy Kitty of Yours is a Killer.' Not to get all first grade about this, but no duh. Sure, the number of kills is impressive (Yearly: 2.4 billion birds, 12.3 billion mammals) but the headline itself won't be news, and is in fact insulting, to anyone who owns a cat. We named ours Jellybean, which is a cute name, and Jellybean is a cute cat. She's an indoors cat, too. We live on a busy thoroughfare, second floor. She prowls the hallway and hangs out on the overhang about the front doorway. But we're not fooled. Birds show up in the trees outside the living room and her mouth trembles and quivers. She can taste blood.
- And I thought I wrote long reviews. And I thought I disliked the Clint Eastwood movie “Trouble with the Curve,” which was No. 1 on my Five Worst Movies of the Year list. Then I read Joe Posnanski's takedown. Ouch.
- I was always a fan of “The Andy Griffith Show.” I thought it was generally underrated when talking about good, early sitcoms. So I was tickled when I saw this on Facebook the other day. It also happens to be true. I followed the name along the side, Mojopo, and I'm now following her on Twitter.
- You know what I like about Tim Gunn's “17 Films That Shaped Tim Gunn”? It's a truly personal list. I can't imagine anyone else in the world—in the world, mind you—who would include on their list “Waterloo Bridge” and “Valley of the Dolls” and “Keeper of the Flame.” Hell, I can't imagine anyone who would choose both “Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and “Pee Wee's Big Adventure.”
- Speaking of Tim Gunn: He also made one of those great “It Gets Better” videos for GLBT kids. Powerful in its honesty and directness.
- Have you seen the recently released footage of “Back to the Future” with Eric Stoltz, the original Marty McFly, doing the bits that Michael J. Fox made famous? Heavy. Director Robert Zemeckis and proudcer Steven Spielberg decided to replace Stoltz five weeks into the shoot because the laughs weren't coming. Judging from the clips, they were right.
- Really? We're doing this, women? You're complaining about the portrayal of women in “The Social Network”? You somehow think the women in “The Social Network,” the ones seen as prizes, and who see themselves as prizes, are representative of all women? Are you arguing that this doesn't happen? Are you arguing that all the women in the movie are like this? Are you arguing that the men in the movie—dweebs and assholes and rich bastards—are representative of all men? I'm so tired of this conversation. I really am. I've been having it for decades and it just gets dumber. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin responds more diplomatically than I do.
- Now Pat Goldstein weighs in on the misogyny controversy. Goldy is apparently and legitimately shocked that some men treat women as sex objects, and some women acquiesce, or thrive, at being treated as sex objects by men whom they have objectified in terms of wealth and status. We're all as naive as we want to be, I guess. Or is this hypocrisy? Goldy seems concerned about the “disturbing misogyny” depicted in the movie but ignores, or can't be bothered with, the difference between his own headline and URL. The former (the stolid face the L.A. Times presents to the world): “Aaron Sorkin on 'The Social Network's' problematic depiction of women.” The URL (the way the L.A. Times drums up business): “aaron-sorkin-on-why-women-are-such-slutty-sex-objects-in-the-social-network.html.”
- This is a simple, helpful site about what's coming out this week in film, books, music, DVDs, video games.
- Hilarious! A History Channel 3000 look, a thousand years back, at the Beatles: John, Paul, Greg and Scottie. As always with YouTube, please don't read user comments. You'll only get depressed.
- Nathaniel over at FilmExperience apologizes his way through this look at the youngest best actor nominees, but he didn't need to. I love this stuff. And I agree: Eisenberg should get a nom.
- I missed “The Simpsons” episode Sunday night, because I never watch it anymore, but thanks to, you know, this Internetty thing, I got to see it here. First, though, I read Joe Posnanski's take. Why was Posnanski blogging about it? Because it was about baseball. More than baseball, it was about Sabrmetrics, and included special guest voice Bill James (“I made baseball as much fun as doing your taxes!”), and Posnanski was actually at Bill James' house for the episode. Read on, read on, teenage queen.
- Via my friend Vinny: Hyberpole and a Half's look at CAKE. The protagonist in this hilarious story reminded me of no one so much as my cat Jellybean.
- I like the tone in this short, personal story from Jerry Grillo.
- Did you know Hanoi, Vietnam just turned 1,000? My friend Andy blogs about the event from a three-foot hole in the sidewalk.
Jellybean would like some cake, too, please. Also cookies, crackers, corn on the cob, broccoli, edamame, chicken, tuna...really whatever you're having.
We had a good debate party here on First Hill last night, lots of folks, drinks, kids running around and chasing the cat, poor Jellybean, who hid most of the evening but responded well in the quiet afterwards. No ill effects at basically being the tiny Paul McCartney being chased by grasping and clomping Jellybeaniacs everywhere.
As for the debate itself, I thought both sides did well, but my guy — Barack, in case you haven’t been paying attention — did better. He was smart, articulate, tough but civil. He looked presidential. John McCain was rude and crotchety and refused to even look at his opponent. And while he demonstrated extensive foreign policy expertise, nothing he said, either about foreign affairs or the economy, indicated any change in the direction we’ve been going in, disastrously, for the last eight years.
So basically: Barack refuted the concerns that undecideds had about him (that he wasn’t up to the task) while McCain exacerbated the concerns that undecideds had about him (that, in terms of policy, he was an older and more crotchety version of Bush, and will offer nothing in terms of change).
- Andrew Sullivan’s live blogging of the debate
- Footage of a Fox News(!) focus group of independents that gave the debate to Barack
- An article on why and where Barack won. By a 62-32 margin, voters felt he was more in touch with their needs and concerns. But here’s the bigger number: “The CBS poll of undecideds has more confirmatory detail. Obama went from a +18 on “understanding your needs and problems” before the debate to a +56 (!) afterward. And he went from a -9 on “prepared to be president” to a +21.”
- Finally, Michael Seitzman over at HuffPost has a great post about what exactly it is that Barack is bringing that is so appealing and that we haven’t seen in national politics, or even national life, for so long: Grace.
Going About My Business After Boston
I have no insight, no wisdom, about the bombings that took place at the Boston Marathon yesterday. I heard about it relatively early, followed it for about an hour, then did what we all have to do: I went back to work. I continued to write. I did the laundry. I changed those two light bulbs in the kitchen. I fed Jellybean at 6 and again at 8. I read my friend John Rosengren's biography of Hank Greenberg.
Monica Guzman, columnist with The Seattle Times, tweeted about the bombings yesterday at 2 pm. She'd just heard. She was horrified. An hour and fifteen minutes later, she tweeted this:
No answers from the president's briefing. We still don't know who, we still don't why...— Monica Guzman (@moniguzman) April 15, 2013
“Still.” We want zip-zip in this culture. The future is now and now is so 10 minutes ago. We keep trying to keep up with the nothing that's yet to happen.
But there are obvious dangers in rushing to answer. Here's the initial report from The New York Post:
The Post ran other headlines: “Authorities ID suspect as Saudi national...” They kept these headlines up long after we knew that 2 (later 3) were dead and the Saudi national wasn't a suspect.
For a time, people thought the JFK Library had been attacked, too. That was an electrical fire, apparently.
I tend to slow down in moments like these. It seems like the rest of the world gets frantic and angry and demands answers while I just slow down and get sad. I know I'm far away from the scene. I know I'm just experiencing all of it through media. I know real tragedy is happening to real people, as it does every day, but I'm here, viewing it through a screen, and can't help. Wringing my hands doesn't help. So I go back to work. I follow the directive of the cop at the scene: I go about my business.
I know the answer to the question that everyone is asking, WHY?, a word the Reno paper splashed across its front page, will come to us eventually. I also know, as we all know, that that answer will be sad, and small, and stupid. We're just waiting to find out what kind of sad, and small, and stupid.
- Over at The Art of the Title Sequence, they have a cool “Brief History of Title Design” by Ian Albinson: “Intolerance” to “King King” to “Modern Times” to “My Man Godfrey” to film noir and Saul Bass, to Bond and Pink Panther, to Scorsese sandwiched between blockbusters. Short shrift to older films? What's missing? I say this as someone who tends to miss title design.
- And yet, for some reason, 11 years ago, The Seattle Times sent me to review this.
- Alex Eylar has created a mashup called “Supercut - Spoiler Alert,” in which he gives away the spoilers, more or less (they're not obvious, being out of context), from more than 70 films. We watch a surprising number of movie stars (Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Jean Reno) getting shot in the head. My favorite section, though, is the one related to our deep-seeded fear of falling: everyone from Jimmy Stewart to Alan Rickman to Ian McKellan to King Kong to those frogs in “Magnolia.”
- Of course, in the way of the Web, that led to this: the “Get out of There” mashup. Question: Are these kinds of mashups, where we get the same line, the same scene, over and over and over again, ultimately a greater critique of Hollywood than anything Pauline Kael ever wrote?'
- Jeff Wells gets naked with Angie Dickinson.
- Josh Wilker is predicting each team's 2011 baseball season by reading into a random card from that team. It's one of the small joys of spring for me. (In a spring in which I need joys, small or otherwise.) The close-up of Lou Piniella on his '76 Yankees card? “The big fat face of the Yankees will be all up in your grill.” That '81 Pops Stargell card? “The 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates will once again cause their fans to ponder seemingly unbridgeable distances, but I also see a little yellow spark of hope.” Wilker is also quite poignant on Larry Hisle (Twins), Bill Freehan (Tigers), and Barry Foote (Phillies). And probably wrong about the meaning of Barry Foote.
- BTW, his book, “Cardboard Gods,” a must-read, and reviewed by me here, with comment from his brother Ian here, is now out in paperback. Buy it already. Read it. You'll thank me.
- Here's some bad new about Barry Bonds. The second government witness against him is childhood friend and former business manager Steve Hoskins, who, in 2003, recorded trainer Greg Anderson talking about giving Bonds shots, how it was undetectable, how it was the same stuff Marion Jones used.
- Here's some good news about Harmon Killebrew.
- First Avenue South in front of Safeco Field in downtown Seattle has a new honorary name: Dave Niehaus Way. I think we need more than honorary, Seattle.
- The first reason to like Buck Showalter is his lack of faith in rookie pitcher Mariano Rivera in Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS. Here's the second reason.
- You're kidding me. New footage of the Bambino, the Georgia Peach, and the Big Train? How cool is that? I think I'm most blown away by Walter Johnson's pitching motion.
- You're kidding me. New footage of the Bambino and the Iron Horse barnstorming in '27? Have they found any new footage of Cool Papa Bell yet? Cy Young? Abner Doubleday? William Shakespeare?
- Christy DeSmith admits she can be taken in by pomp and circumstance but has questions for Tim Pawlenty and his slickly produced videos.
- Love the Bobcats over at oatmeal.com. Makes me wonder: What bad behavior would our cat, Jellybean, be demonstrating at work? Stealing people's chairs? Watching them eat? Yakking away and complaining when they're trying to work? “Power naps”?
- Oatmeal.com also has a good strip on Pres. Obama meeting the technology gurus.
- Wisconsin Republicans keep getting crazier and crazier.
- Zack Snyder says he's going to show us a Superman we haven't met before. Another way of saying “reboot.” He also wants to create a more “realistic” setting for the Man of Steel. As with Snyder's “300,” “Watchmen” and now “Sucker Punch”? To quote Han Solo: “I've got a bad feeling about this.”
The absurd, insulting realism of Zack Snyder. Yes, Abbie Cornish, you should be hooded and hiding in the background.
DVD Reviews: 1 Win, 1 Loss, 1 Tie
I've been down with a cold for the last five days and wimping out when it comes to movie choices. Last week Patrick Goldstein mentioned that when he's sick, which he is, with the H1N1 virus, he goes for the comfort food of old John Wayne westerns. Not sure what my cinematic comfort food is. Woody Allen? Bogart? I nearly watched “The Insider” again last night but instead went with “Visions of Lights,” the 1992 documentary on the history of cinematography, since I didn't know if I could last the length of “The Insider.” BTW: I'd love to see an expanded version of “VoL.” I could watch cinematographers talking about their craft a good while longer.
I've also been catching up with a few cinematic also-rans from this past year that, if I weren't sick, I probably wouldn't have bothered with. As I said: wimping out. Wasn't as bad as I thought: 1-1-1:
- The Win: The Taking of Pelham 123, with Denzel Washington and John Travolta. Didn't do particularly well with critics (53% from the-ones-who-matter), and did equally so-so with audiences (opening third, behind “The Hangover” in its second week and “Up” in its third, with $23 million, on its way to $65 million domestic—which, by the way, is less than “New Moon” took in yesterday). Jeff Wells over at Hollywood Elsewhere, a fan of the new “Pelham,” has been thrashing around ever since at the idiocy of both critics and audiences. He even recently recommended it for best pic. I wouldn't go that far but it's a good movie: tense, fun, surprisingly relevant. The critics probably turned against it in comparison with the '73 version, and that was certainly my reaction upon seeing the trailer in May. I wrote: “I’m a fan of the original, so this hypercharged version, with cars crashing and malevolent, tattooed villains spouting threats, just makes me feel sad and wish for 1973 New York.” Which may have been the problem, box-office wise: the car crashes were designed for kids, the actors for adults, and the twain didn't meet. It also loses me near the end—you're a civil service dude, Denzel!—but it's a good movie with solid, fun performances. Not best pic but worth renting. Put it this way: It's fun watching actors acting.
- The Tie: Valkyrie: This one did slightly better with critics-who-matter (57%) and slightly better with audiences ($83 million domestic, $200 million worldwide), but as a story it suffers from what “Inglorious Basterds” did not: we know how it ends. Some too-dramatic flourishes by director Bryan Singer (the Wagner record; the cry before execution) but, given the aforementioned, you still get sucked in. Plus the cast is a who's who of British actors you like to see in movies: Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branaugh, Tom Hollander. Also impressed with German actors Christian Berkel and Thomas Kretschmann in small parts. Kretschmann looks like he could play Liam Neeson's younger brother in some future movie. (Check it out.) As I watched, I remembered more about the assassination attempt on Hitler—even the day it happened—and I'm surprised they didn't bring up why it didn't succeed. From what I remember, the table under which the bomb was placed was just too thick and protected those above it.
- The Loss: The Land of the Lost: I went in thinking it couldn't be as bad as critics (21%) and audiences ($65 million worldwide) thought it was and came away wondering how any critic could've given it a positive review. I mean I'm sick but not that sick. I also wondered what they could've done to make it work. What if they'd kept the kids kids? What's the point of turning the two characters into adults? And aren't the characters played by Will Ferrell (who always makes me laugh) and Danny McBride (who never does) too similar anyway? And who wants Will Ferrell in a romance? Yes, I got two or three belly laughs out of it (as I said, Will Ferrell makes me laugh), but most of the movie is startling unfunny and as slow-moving as a Sleestak. Don't be like me. Don't rent it thinking, “It can't be as bad as everyone says.” It is. If you're sick, it'll make you sicker.
Oh, and if anyone's got thoughts on movies to watch when you're sick, by all means...
Addendum: Meant to give a shout-out to my main companion—after Jellybean and Patricia, of course—during this sickness: E.L. Doctorow, whose book, World's Fair, I'm reading again after 20 years. I'm loving it. It feels, in tone, similar to Willa Cather's My Antonia. There's not much greater praise than that...
My Year in a Meme
Following Tim's lead, here's a year-end meme. Feel free:
1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before? Started a blog. Still haven’t figure out what it’s for. Keep going back to that “Simpsons” scene in which a destitute Krusty holds up a sign: “Will drop pants for food.” Bart and Lisa ask how it’s going and he points to a crazy old man, pants around his ankles, and complains, “Not good. That guy’s giving it away for free!” I’m that crazy old man.
2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Might’ve done the usual “write an effin’ book” one, in which case: No. As for 2009, it’s a bit late.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes.
4. Did anyone close to you die? Yes.
5. What foreign countries did you visit? Vancouver, B.C. It felt like home.
6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? A greater sense of national and international stability. Plus less rain. Plus improved French. Should I go on?
7. What date from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? November 4.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Enduring? I was kind of proud of the Slate and the Believer pieces. P and I also took care of a lot of kids without injuring any.
9. What was your biggest failure? They were numerous and more-or-less equal.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Healthy for 10 months, sick for six weeks. Plus the pulled back muscle. To quote J.T.: "You old."
11. What was the best thing you bought? Probably the HDTV. You could also say “an Obama victory” since I contributed, but...the contribution was small compared to how much I contributed to the HDTV.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Well, P put up with me, so that’s something. And Obama here and here. And Andy here. Too many to count, really.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Steve Schmidt? Sarah Palin? John McCain? All those who sacrificed long-term possibilities for short-term profits.
14. Where did most of your money go? Into the housing crisis.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Obama. “The Wire.” Paz Vega. Jean Gabin. That hike Jim and I took near Mt. Baker on an impossible clear and warm Sunday in September.
16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2008? “Oh What a World” by Rufus Wainwright; “F**k Was I” by Jenny Owens Young; “Supernatural Superserious” by R.E.M.; “Breathless” by Dan Wilson; “Ramshackle Day Parade” by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros; “Henrietta’s Hair” by Justin Roberts.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? More resigned. Also hopeful.
18. Compared to this time last year, are you thinner or fatter? Same.
19. Compared to this time last year, are you richer or poorer? About the same. If I were a stock, my shareholders would be pissed. Although I guess not this year.
20. What do you wish you'd done more of? Travel, write, study French. Should I continue?
21. What do you wish you'd done less of? Watched movies that, yes, everyone was right, weren’t that good. Surfed the net meaninglessly.
22. How will you be spending Christmas? Spent it. Nursed burgeoning bronchitis while two boys went slowly crazy with presents.
23. Did you fall in love in 2008? Every day. Or tried to.
24. How many one-night stands? No singles bars, either.
25. What was your favorite TV program? “The Wire.”
26. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? Well, I’m still pissed that John McCain dragged Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber onto the national stage and they haven’t left yet.
27. What was the best book you read? “Dreams from my Father”? Really? I've got to read more.
28. What was your greatest musical discovery? I rely on the discoveries of friends.
29. What did you want and get? That HDTV.
30. What did you want and not get? Oh, honey. Where does one start? Some were good not to get, too.
31. What was your favorite film of this year? “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.”
32. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 45. I’ve forgotten.
33. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Coalescing my thoughts into something that felt substantial.
34. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? Is this waterproof?
35. What kept you sane? P. Obama. Andrew Sullivan. Craig. Jim. Jellybean. Music. Anyone doing the hard work to articulate the trouble and see the beauty.
36. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Paz and Penelope and Obama.
37. What political issue stirred you the most? No one issue. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. The Republicans keep tossing up figures who aren’t that smart but whose minds are closed. Obama, meanwhile, is the smartest man in almost any room he walks into...and he still wants to hear what you have to say.
38. Who do you miss the most? Sharon and Scott. Plus Jordy and Ryan everyday. Plus about a dozen people around the world I could talk to right now.
39. Who was the best new person(s) you met? I’m sure I’m forgetting someone.
40. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008. I keep learning the same things on hopefully deeper levels.
41. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. Twofold.
“Too far out
Too far out
This is what they said would happen
We were warned
We were warned
We were too far out”
— The Tropicals
Honey, it’s alright
Long as I know that you love me, baby,
— Sam Cooke
Live-Blogging the Oscars
3:50 PM: It won't start for more than an hour but thought I'd try a test run. I also want people to know that I'm not doing the traditional liveblog format with the newest entry highest up — meaning you have to read bottom to top. Here it's top to bottom. Like normal. Apologies if this require frequent scrolling.
Patricia's in the kitchen getting stuff ready, Jellybean's sniffing around, wondering why the furniture's changed. She suspects somethng's up. She's right.
Oscar picks are done. P and I disagree on seven of the 21 categories: Supporting Actress (she: Tomei, me: Cruz), Foreign (she: Bashir, me: Class), Editing (she: Button, Me: Slumdog), Cinematography (she: Dark Knight, me: Slumdog), Art Direction (she: Dark Knight, me: Button) and the Sound categories (she went WALL-E, I went Dark Knight). For what it's worth. Not much.
Watching the red carpet shows. Ryan Seacrest to Danny Boyle: "And you brought people from the slums, did you not?" Yuck. I'm forced to mute it every other second out of embarrassment.
4:35: First guests arrived, Jayne and Alex. Laura, our neighbor down the hall, can't make it because she's feeling under the weather. The men at the party will be bummed even if they don't know it yet.
Ryan Seacrest to Josh Brolin: "Why was it important to tell the story of Harvey Milk?" Sheeeesh. Is it me or does Ryan S. make it seem like he's going out of his way to talk to these, you know, "actors" and "directors"?
Holy smack, Penelope Cruz looks beautiful! And Marion Coutillard. And Javier Bardem. OK, I'll stop or this will be pretty boring. Please forgive. I haven't liveblogged before.
5:00: It begins: Hope Putnam, last year's winner, all of five years old, arrives in her PJs. She's ready for a long show.
On the tube, I like the pans down the dresses of the women. It's something that appeals to both men and women: women like the dresses, men like the pan. On the other hand, how sexist is this? If the camera were my eyes, wouldn't I get slapped?
Hey! They're not starting at 5, after all. It's all red carpet. Was I the only one who didn't know this?
Patricia on Miley Cyrus: "That is SUCH an ugly dress."
I have Mike Smith on my left arguing for "Iron Man" as best picture because there's a purity and snappiness to it. It's not a bad argument. Not a great one, but not a bad one.
Hugh Jackman arrives: Now it begins. I like the open, the song and dance. "How come comic book movies are never nominated/How can a billion dollars be unsophisticated?" And the bit with Anne Hathaway was wonderful. "Oh, Nixon." Seriously, they should do a musical together. Plus the close where he declares himself WOLVERINE. That's a guy who knows how to have a good time.
Supporting Actress: The party reaction to the five former winners talking up the category: "Oh, is this going to be a long night?" "Are they going to do this with sound editor, too?" Etc. But I liked the close-up of Viola Davis tearing up. Very sweet. And now I'm one for one. Penelope! I could listen to her accent all night.
The screenplay awards: Great, great speech by Dustin Lance Black. And love the back-and-forth between Steve Martin and Tina Fey. Please more comedians. Please.
When Slumdog wins for adaptated, my friend Jim, across the room, thrusts a fist into the air and announces "I'm taking no prisoners!"
I have to slow down a bit, join the party, this liveblogging/hosting thing is difficult. Plus I need a beer.
6:22: Beer got. So far no surprises with the awards. We're up to costume design. Nobody in the room (my room) has apparently seen "Australia." No one in the room (my room) has seen and really likes "Benjamin Button." We have about 25 people here. And, yes, now costume design to "The Dutchess." No surprises.
So far we've got a five-way tie for first. Five-way.
6:40: A cinematography win for "Slumdog." And still a five-way tie. Too many of us are apparently reading Entertainment Weekly. Was the Joaquin Phoenix thing necessary? I haven't been paying attention to that news but it seems... not very classy.
I find it interesting, too, that Jessica Biel, in her speech, brought up Thomas Edison, since the reason Hollywood exists is because early filmmakers fled the east coast for the west coast to avoid Edison's litigation.
BTW: Where's Hugh Jackman? He did the opening number and then...disappeared.
6:50: How about Seth Rogan laughing at James Franco's tortured German pronunciation? "It's funny cuz it's German."
Ah, Hugh is back! And he's gonna sing again! Yay!
Wait, is this too Broadway? Well, now Beyonce's there, so... LOVE the way she sings "Dustin' off my tails..." Yes, dust. Please, dust.
7:06: Supporting actor, with five previous winners introducing the five nominees. So apparently it's just for the acting categories. I'll refrain from talking about Philip Seyour's skicap. Other blogs I'm sure are all over it.
OK, I LOVE that they have Christopher Walken introducing Michael Shannon. Shannon could play Walken's son. He should play Walken's son. In some movie somewhere.
But I assume this is Heather Ledger's award. I assume there'll be a standing ovation.
And it is. And there it is. Even so, I'm glad. And unsurprised.
Best documentary: The room (my room) just applauded Philippe Petit's antics and coin tricks onstage. Fun stuff. Everyone, see "Man on Wire." Of course I'd love to see ALL of the docs, as Bill Maher suggested, but most don't play in Seattle, even though it's a pretty good movie town.
The sound awards: How often does the sound mixing and sound editing differ? And do we still call that a Nehru jacket?
I'm on my third beer. I'm still tied for first. It's still a five-way tie.
Actually, after the editing award for "Slumdog," Hope, last year's winner, drops, leaving a four-way tie: me, Jim (who's taking no prisoners) Mike (Hope's dad) and Brenda.
8:09: Sorry for being away so long. I had to take a souvenir bat away from a little girl. Then I tried to take another souvenir bat from a little boy. I suppose I should put the souvenir bats away before the kids arrive.
Hey, one of the first big surprises of the evening! "Departures," from Japan. Everyone should still see "The Class" and "Waltz with Bashir." And it would be nice to see "Depatures," too. But...same problem as before. It's not playing here. I wonder if it'll ever play here.
Memorium time: This is always so sad. Cyd Charisse. Bernice Mac, so young. Nina Foch.... Roy Scheider... I didn't know Manny Farmer died!... James Whitmore and that great scene from "Shawshank"... Charlton Heston... Sydney Pollack... Paul Newman...
I wonder over the lack of Heath Ledger, but Mr. B reminds me that Heath died last January, in time for last year's Oscars, which is when he was remembered. It's so odd. He's been in our consciousness so much this year as the Joker, it's hard to remember he's been dead for over a year already.
We're at best director now, and still in a four-way tie for first. Three of those people, including me, have Mickey Rourke for best actor. And that's the only difference. If Sean Penn wins, Brenda wins. If Mickey Rourke wins, it's a three-way tie for first. That's assuming no big surprises and a come-from-behind win by someone else.
Nope. Danny Boyle.
Oo, good Tigger reference. This is a great speech. Well, until the last line. "Mumbai, you dwarf even this tiny statuette..." Yeah, thanks, dude.
Best actress. Standing o for the women. Very classy. Shirley Maclaine talking up Anne Hathaway is a very, very sweet moment.
Yep, another non-surprise, but, what the hell, I love Kate Winslet, and I love her shampoo bottle reference. And the whistle from her dad! Very cute. Some had disparaged her performance but... let me put it this way. The movie was less imperfect than the book because the movie had Kate Winslet.
Best actor. Wow, that's a helluva roster for the best actor nominees. But why isn't Daniel Day Lewis among them? Last year's winner. And doesn't it take away a bit of a charge, a bit of energy, to have this kind of same-sex intro? Who's Adrienne Brody going to be kissing — Ben Kingsley?
Nice Robert De Niro intro for Sean Penn. And Ben Kinglsey asks the right question with Randy the Ram: Why do we care? It is because of Mickey Rourke. Indeed. Maybe that's why he should win...
And he doesn't! Sean Penn! Standing o. "You commie, homo-lovin' sons of guns." Great line. And then he gets serious. As he should. We live in serious times. He's a double winner now. Joining Spencer Tracy, Frederich March, Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks. Others? I used to know this stuff.
Best picture: How interesting that the accompanying pics with each nominee are full of NON-best picture winners: "Citizen Kane," "Saving Private Ryan," etc. The Academy saying, "Whoops, whoops, whoops..."
And the Oscar goes to...
Yep, "Slumdog Milionaire." As someone here dryly says: "Shocking."
So Brenda wins our pool, with 19 out of 21 correct. I tied for second with 18 out of 21. Which means it wasn't exactly a surprising year...
Enough of this. Clean-up duty. It'll be interesting to read what other people thought. Me, I don't even know what I thought. I was too busy doing this.
Live-Blogging the Oscars
1:50 PM, PST: Patricia and I were going to be hosting an Oscar party tonight but poor Patricia came down with the crud and we thought better to keep it mellow and not infect anyone. So instead of a party it'll be just P and me and a cat named Jellybean (a rejected Lobo B-side, I believe).
But their loss is your gain. Or their gain is your loss. I.e., I'll be liveblogging the Oscars.
In the meantime my votes: Who I'd choose if I could ch-ch-choose. (That's a “Simpsons” reference, not a “King's Speech” reference.) This is want-to-win, not think-will-win. Off the top of my head. Or heart:
- Picture: “True Grit”
- Director: Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”
- Actor: Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”
- Actress: Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”
- Supporting Actor: John Hawkes, “Winter's Bone”
- Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”
- Original Screenplay: Christopher Nolan, “Inception”
- Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network”
- Animated Feature Film: “Toy Story 3”
- Art Direction: “Inception”
- Cinematography: “True Grit”
- Costume Design: “Alice in Wonderland”
- Documentary: “Restrepo”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Film Editing: Andrew Weisblum, “Black Swan”
- Foreign Language Film: N/A. I've only seen “Biutiful” and was disappointed.
- Makeup: N/A. Haven't seen anyof these.
- Original Score: Hans Zimmer, “Inception”
- Original Song: Randy Newman, “We Belong Together”
- Sound Editing/Mixing: What do I know about these categories? Less than I know about the others.
- Visual Effects: “Inception”
A lot of these choices are razor-thin. “True Grit” barely over “The Social Network.” Eisenberg barely over Bridges. Aronofsky and Portman because they get you in the head of the character. It's Dostoevsky-type stuff.
The main one I want to win apparently has no shot: “Restrepo.” Maybe someday people will know.
See you in a bit.
3:30 PM: Some Oscar linkage before the broadcast:
- John Lopez of Vanity Fair with a funny piece: “The Complete Procrastinators' Guide to Oscar voting.” Best Foriegn Language film made me laugh the hardest. In my head. It wasn't LOL.
- The great baseball writer Roger Angell talks about the Oscars. Big surprise, he does it well.
- If you're still filling out your ballot, Richard Brody of The New Yorker can help.
- Nathaniel Rogers over at Film Experience is already live-blogging the red carpet.
Talk of the town.
4:20 PM: Question: How come Nathaniel hasn't mentioned Mila Kunis' outfit yet? She's definitely living up to her Black Swan character in that thing. She's even handling Ryan Seacrest well. On the red carpet he asks, “How did you ge that role?” Doesn't it sound like he's asking: “How did YOU get that role?” I barely see the dude but every time it's nails-on-a-chalkboard.
I'm trying to make up for the lack of females here by being catty during the red carpet for Patricia:
“Where did Cate Blanchett get that dress? From Rachel on 'Glee'?”
I know. Needs work.
From Patricia: “What's up with all these strapless gowns? I'm not a fan of strapless gowns. For the last five years there's been nothing but strapless gowns.”
Patricia on Jennifer Lawrence: “She looks gorgeous. And that is a beatiful dress. And it has straps on it!”
4:55 PM: Does Sandra Bullock look like she's had some recent work done? She looks tight and unhappy. P not a fan of the red dress, either. Strapless.
E! broadcasters: “Let's talk about Celine Deon.” Patricia: “Why?”
And there's Jeff Bridges. He'd be back anyway to present best actress but finds himself nominated again. Is that like picking up a spare after a strike? Do you get more points in the final tally this way?
Hey, how many other Oscar livebloggers give you bowling metaphors during the red carpet?
5:05 PM: WTF? I thought the show started at 5:00 not 5:30. Oh, man. See you in a half hour.
5:53 PM: Odd opening, no? It's nice to see the lines of “Winter's Bone” side by side with the lines of such blockbusters as “Toy Story 3” and “Inception”; but Anne Hathaway (AH) and James Franco (JF) going through the year's best picture nominees seemed much ado about not much. (Though I loved her wink at Colin Firth's Duke of York.) And what's with the “Back to the Future” homage? Because AH and JF are the future of movies? I'm confused.
Having the moms and grandmoms stand up was cute. But then they begin with “Gone with the Wind”? “Let's celebrate the best of this year ... by looking back 72 years.”
First award: Art Direction. Patricia wanted “Inception.” Instead: “Alice in Wonderland.”
Second award: Cinematography. I wanted “True Grit.” Instead: “Inception.” Wally Pfister: “Thank you... for all the respect you've shown to all the cinematographers.” Except, of course, Roger Deakins.
6:00 PM: OK, I'm fine with Kirk Douglas. But one should never milk it when one is holding the winning envelope. Just say the name. And one should get offstage when the winner (here: Melissa Leo) gets on it. Though.... Holy crap! She just swore on international television. Fun! She gives one of the oddest acceptance speeches but looks great.
Is anything going right here? Justin T. and Mila K. have nothing going on. Weak back-and-forth. iPhone apps jokes. Blech.
The best line so far is from the winner of the short animated film. “Our picture is about a creature no one pays attention to, so this award is wonderfully ironic.”
Animated feature? Pixar. “Toy Story 3.” I wonder if Vegas would even accept money on that bet.
6:22 PM: AH with a story about the first Academy Awards, which leads to an intro of ... Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem? I am SOOOOO confused.
Adapted Screenplay: Should be Sorkin. And it's Sorkin. Hugs for and from Aranofsky and Eisenberg. Let's see how articulate he is. Hey, shout-out to Paddy Chayefsky! Cool. “I wrote this movie but Darren Aronofsky made this movie.” Classy. “This movie is going to be a source of pride for me for the rest of my life.” Classy again.
Now original screenplay. Getting the writers out of the way early, apparently.
And it's David Seidler for “King's Speech.” Christopher Hitchens is throwing a fit somewhere but screw him. I'm happy for this guy ... who can't find the mic. “The writer's speech, this is terrifying. [pause] My father always said to me I would be a late bloomer.” Great line. Dude has something of Norman Mailer about him, doesn't he? He's been through battles.
6:50 PM: BTW, family and friends: P is already back in the bedroom, coughing and achey. Poor thing. Just me out here alone in the living room. Well, “alone.” I've got a beer.
Another odd bit: AH singing a short, angry song about Hugh Jackman and JF showing up in drag. Plus a Charlie Sheen joke. Is it me or does this feel like the worst Oscar show ever?
Foreign language film. Hey, Denmark in the house!
Best supporting actor. Why Reese Witherspoon as presenter? Who won supporting actress last year? (Psst: Monique.) This category is stacked. First time I've applauded tonight: for John Hawkes. But I'm glad with Christian Bale winning—if only so the world can hear his British accent. “Bloody hell.” “Mate.” Overall, a weak acceptance speech for him. He blew it all at the Golden Globes.
Apologies. Ducked out. Had to get P advil and water and search for a thermometer. Has anyone seen it? She said she left it on the bedside table.
So I've come back to a tribute to... sound? Music? The sound of music? Yes. Best original score. I've heard Desplat will win for “TKS.” But “TSN” was quite good, too. As was “I.” And it goes to “TSN.”
Now it's sound, mixing, for .. “Inception.” Hey, nice looking sound engineer! Lora Hirschberg. Waving to the back row.
Now sound editing. Also “Inception.” That happens often, doesn't it? The sound awards going hand in hand? How often? Anyone know?
7:30 PM: Best line of the night so far: Catie Blanchett's “Gross” for the “Wolfman” clip. And she didn't even have to watch the entire movie. As expected, it wins best makeup. Expertise in the service of mediocrity.
Costume design? I've heard “Alice.” And it's ... “Alice.”
I like Jake G's message about seeing short films throughout the year because it might help you with your Oscar ballot.
But it's the “best live-action short” guy with the Sideshow Bob haircut, Luke Matheny, who steals the show. He wins for “God of Love” and says the following with genuine enthusiasm and meaning:
I should've gotten a haircut. [crowd laughs] Hey, everybody. Thanks to the Academy for this amazing honor, I need to salute my fellow nominees ... I invite the world to check out these films, they can be found on iTunes, you're gonna love 'em ... Finally [I'd like to thank] my mother, who did craft services for the film [crowd laughs], my dad, the state of Delaware, and last but not least, my brilliant composer and love of my life: Sasha Gordon, you're my dream come true.
Now documentary feature. Will we get to see Banksy? Will we hear about the global financial meltdown? We'll hear about the global financial meltdown. “Inside Job” wins.
Now a standing ovation for Billy Crystal. Is that a sign of how badly things are going tonight? Come back, Billy! Come back!
Visual effects. “Inception”? “Inception.”
Film editing. This is a big one. Could be a sign of best picture. And it's ... hey! “The Social Network”! Fingers crossed, babies.
Here's our tally thus far: “inception”: 4; “The Social Network”: 3; “The Fighter”: 2; “The King's Speech”: 1
7:50 PM: Original song. Who cares? I care! Randy Newman wins! Plus his speech is great. He and Luke Matheny in a competition for best accepatance speech thus far.
Final four. Could “The Social Network” pull it out? The tension is ... ehh. I guess it'd be nice but I'm not losing sleep.
But why bring out Hilary Swank simply to introduce Katherine Bigelow? Why waste the time? Hollywood, I dunna understand thee.
Best director: C'mon, Fincher! Fincher Fincher Fincher. And it's ... Tom Hooblah! As expected. So odd. BAFTA gave the award to the American, Fincher, for “The Social Network,” and we give it to the Brit, Hooper, for “The King's Speech.” Grass is greener, I guess. Except they're right this time. Our grass is greener.
Jeff Bridges suddenly seems so at home on the Oscar stage, doesn't he? He fills it.
My god, Natalie Portman looks loverly. And they chose a great clip for her. And they chose her.
Now Sandra Bullock with best actor. Do we like these personal intros? I guess we do. Sandra is particularly good with Jeff Bridges and Colin Firth. And it's Colin Firth. “I have a feelng my career has just peaked.” Classic Brit line. And then the threat of the dance moves. Post-speech commentary. Me: “Very British.” Patricia (back from the dead): “Sooooo cute.
So now it's all pretty much a foregone, in'it? The only hope was Fincher, with director, but Hooper got director, so ”TKS“ will get picture, too. As it does. Just after a great intro by Steven Spielberg, reminding everyone, particularly the ”losers,“ of the good company they keep:
In a moment, one of the 10 movies will join a list that includes ”On the Waterfront,“ ”Midnight Cowboy,“ ”The Godfather“ and ”The Deer Hunter.“ The other nine will join a list that includes ”The Grapes of Wrath,“ ”Citizen Kane,“ ”The Graduate“ and ”Raging Bull.“ Either way, congratulations, you're in very good company.
So (with apologies to Alvy Singer) here's my awards for the awards show:
- Best dressed (female): Mila Kunis
- Best dressed (female again: because who cares about best-dressed males?): Natalie Portman
- Best woman who stunned me with her beauty all over again: Halle Berry
- Best acceptance speech: Firth, Sorkin, and Newman were all good, but I give it to the kid: Luke Matheny
- Best intro: Steven Spielberg
- Biggest surprise: Probably Melissa Leo's f-bomb. There weren't many surprises tonight. Or laughs.
The show was an odd mix of youthful hosts, giving it a go but not being particularly funny, and constant looks back to ”Gone with the Wind“ and ”sound“ and ”Bob Hope“ for no reason I could fathom. Rather than focusing on this year, it kept darting back 70, 80 years, to apparently remind everyone of the glorious history of the movies. Yet when it had a chance to honor that glorious history of movies now, with Coppola and Godard, it did so off-stage. Almost every move was wrong: from the Hugh Jackass song, to the ”mashup" of faux musicals, to the iPhone app. What a waste. Bring back the comedians. Give us new producers. Something.
On the plus side, we found the thermometer.