Monday, March 15, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Blogging the Oscars

Steve Martin & Alec Baldwin... thought I was going to be disappointed. Not at all.

What’s up with Clooney? Smile for hell’s sake!

Why won't Woody fix his teeth?

Christopher Walz, good.

Cameron Diaz still has the face of a clown.

Ed Asner is still alive?!

Wow, Up dude looks like thin Frankenstein.

Not a fan of the tux neckties. Bowties only please.

"Please welcome two actresses who have no idea who we are."

Mylie Cyrus talks like a pack-a-day smoker.

Randy Newman nominated again... twice? Doesn't win again. Is he ever in the crowd?

T Bone Burnett, creepiest man alive.

What is Tina Fey wearing? Me Tarzan, you Tina? What is Downey wearing?

Original screenplay goes to Hurt Locker. Okay, would have preferred Inglourious Basterds. Good speech.

Molly Ringwald?! Oh, it's a John Hughes thing. Is Molly Ringwald really tall, or is Matthew Broderick really short? Wow, for the most part John Hughes movies are filled with the broken dreams of young actors. Wonder why he gets so much more than the usual In Memoriam. In retrospect, nothing was better than "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." A great, great film.

I need to see Up.

Ben Stiller rules. James Cameron has no sense of humor.

What's with Jeff Bridges and the Colonel Sanders look?

Best Adapted Screenplay. Please don't give it to "Up in the Air." Good. Nice cutaway to "all the black people" after Precious writer's speech.

Has Queen Latifa lost weight?

Penelope Cruz is friggin' gorgeous and has the best taste... every year.

Best Supporting Actress... give it to Anna Kendrick, the best part of "Up in the Air," although she looks like a young Tom Cruise in the movie. Goes to Mo'Nique. I'd give it to her based only on the clips, haven't seen the movie. Forgot to thank the director.

Sigourney Weaver is wearing the drapes.

Art Direction should really be a more prominent award. Avatar, no surprise. Gotta start forwarding through the speeches, need to catch up on the DVR...

Awesome cut to a clueless Keanu Reeves after not getting a writerly joke from Martin & Baldwin.

Sarah Jessica Parker is scary, scary, scary. As Anne has pointed out, she looks like Dee Snyder from Twisted Sister.

Why are they saying "the winner is" instead of "the Oscar goes to"? I mean, I prefer it, but it's been a no-no for years.

How can you show Charlize Theron without a closeup?

Is there a lot of noise constantly in the background or am I crazy?

Horror doesn't get the respect it deserves? Puhleeze. The montage only reinforced how much better the genre used to be. Okay, except for The Birds. Oh man, Carrie still gets me. So does The Shining. Is Quentin Tarantino's face made of plastic?

Irony: The audio quality on Morgan Freeman's VO on audio editing ... sucks. Audio editing winner looks like Christopher Walken crossed with an albino witch. Hurt Locker surprisingly winning technical awards I thought were locks for Avatar.

Brad Pitt should have been nominated.

What the hell is it about James Cameron that really bothers me?

Why was Demi Moore not with the Brat Pack? Too good?!

In Memoriam coming ... James Taylor, sweet. Beatles, even sweeter. Dom Deluise died? R.I.P. Larry Gelbart.

A dance number ... fast forward.

Jesus, what is wrong with George Clooney? Almost caught up now ...

Will Avatar win Visual Effects? Is the pope German?

Good screenwriter joke, Mr. Baldwin's writer.

Snuggi joke good. Keanu Reeves bad. Always.

Don't know why main dude in Hurt Locker wasn't nominated. Oops, he was.

I kind of liked these "peer to peer" things last year; not sure this year. Clooney, get a haircut. I really love Clooney, but I have to say one more thing: He's starting to look more and more like he was drawn by Matt Groening.

Imagine a bunch of CPAs publicly loving each other as much as these actors do. Kudos to Tim Robbins for not taking it that seriously.

I love Kate Winslet. Even if she looks like toothpaste being squeezed from a silver tube.

Jeff Bridges. Haven't seen the movie yet, but good for The Colonel. He's stoned.

T. Bone Burnett, child molester.

Why is everyone wearing Martin Scorcese glasses?

Sandra Bullock, too much lipstick.

Wishing I could still fast forward ...

Why is Oprah being all mentory on acting? Good speech, though.

Most overused word on Oscar night: "brilliant."

Capping nominations rule, good bit.

Sean Penn: well meaning, never articulate.

Best Actress goes to ... Sandra Bullock. Kind of a letdown. "Did I really earn this, or did I just wear y'all down?" Good line. Great speech.

Who's the goon behind Helen Mirren?

Time for Director. "it could be, for the first time, a woman, or an African-American ... " But no, it's going to be another white dude who's already won. I'd actually love it if Tarantino won this one, but there's no chance. It's Bigelow! Good, the time has come indeed. Downright embarrassing that it took this long.

Who does Katherine Bigelow look like? Driving me crazy.

"I Am Woman"? Really?

Hurt Locker wins! Wow, quickest announcement (Tom Hanks) in history. Good for them. Sorry, James, you'll just have to go home and count your money. Feels good. A victory for theme, writing and acting.

"The show is so long that Avatar now takes place in the past."

Good show. I'd take Mssrs. Baldwin and Martin over every other host, except of course Billy Crystal.

Good night.

Friday, March 5, 2010

40, Part 1

As I close in on the last two months of 40, it's high time I finally wrote about this disturbing age, which has been somewhat of an obsession for me. May writing about it exorcise its many demons.

For as long as I can remember--or at least as long as I've been watching too much TV--I've feared mid-life crisis almost more than death itself. Why? Because it's always seemed clear to me that the 40s are the decade when men lose their minds. Why else would so many fictional men with wonderful fictional wives suddenly trash it all for the sports car and the aerobics instructor? (I'm talking to you, "Fatal Attraction" Michael Douglas and "American Beauty" Kevin Spacey.)

For most of the women I know, 40 is a liberating age. There's an easing of pressure accompanied by a comfortable acceptance of self. The weight of self-consciousness lessens. Old insecurities lose their punch. Hair shortens.

For men ... well, I won't speak for men ... I'll speak for me and see if other men agree: 40 has the opposite effect. The pressure is threefold. The acceptance of self: eh. Self-consciousness? Probably greater. Insecurities, still nagging, still pestering.

The dawn of subtle physical and mental changes starts the ball rolling. Why do I suddenly misjudge distances, banging my hand on the cupboard when returning a dish? Why do I bend differently to pick a toy up off the floor, knees akimbo like an old man, rather than easily and effortlessly from the waist? Why can I suddenly not remember the names of movie stars? Why do I seem to always feel my eyes, and why am I constantly clearing my throat when I speak?

Then it hits you: 40 isn't just mid-life. It's not like you had 40 years of health and growth, and now you get 40 more. Your healthy years are over, dude ... and that's if you're lucky to be alive and haven't had any major health issues to this point. You suddenly wonder what cumulative effects your past habits have exerted on your physical state. All those gallons of pop I ingested in my teenage years, all the Frito-Lay chemicals I shoved down the gullet, the acid from 20 years of coffee drinking, the second-hand smoke from years of playing gigs, the nearly first-hand smoke from working that summer in the cramped underground Dublin nightclub. Yikes. And I've lived pretty clean ...

Then there's that whole mortality thing. If you're the over-sensitive type like me, you already make a habit of noticing the elephant in every room. By 40, you realize that the elephant in every room is death. It's the backdrop to and context of every human action and expression: football, art, procreation, blogging, hedge funds ... it matters not, mere mortal. When you see everything through the death lens, you realize that every human endeavor is in some way an attempt to achieve immortality. It's so painfully, painfully obvious.

At the same time, you reach a point in your intellectual development where you either cling even more tightly to your prior beliefs, shut the lid on exploration and become more fundamentalist ... about your religion, your politics, your vegetarianism, your musical taste ... or you blow it wide open, question everything all over again and begin a new blank slate. I highly recommend the latter.

And, perhaps most interesting of all, you try to find a way to live with this: When you're in your 20s, you think you know everything and the rest of the world is stupid. In your 30s, you get enough of a taste of how things work to realize that you don't know anything and there's actually a reason why things are the way the are. Then you hit 40 and realize that the screenwriter William Goldman was correct in a much broader sense than even he intended: Nobody knows anything.

This is at once terrifying and liberating. On one hand, there's very little actually holding society together. At all. On the other hand, you look at the things that used to intimidate you, all the things you never thought you could do, the places you never thought you would go, and you shrug your shoulders and say, "Why not?"

NFZF #2 (No Fly Zone Friday)

NFZF #2 proceeded as follows:

8:00 a.m.
Dunn Bros. (Snelling & St. Clair)
Coffee and New York Times

10:00 a.m.
Accolades (Randolph & Cleveland)

10:30 a.m.
Highland Park Library
Checked out books on histories of Mpls & St. Paul (screenplay research), two books for James, audio book: "The Quest: Historians' Search for Jesus & Muhammad" by F.E. Peters

11:15 a.m.

Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Marco Breuer Photography Exhibit
Frank Lloyd Wright
French & American Impressionists
Minnesota Artists

3:00 p.m.
Nina's (Western & Selby)

4:00 p.m.
Common Good Books (beneath Nina's)