Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar wrap-up

Nobody's dress really stood out. Some were stunningly beautiful and some were elegant, but with so much good taste going around taste doesn't stand out. I kind of liked Sherry' Lewis' dress, but I liked a lot of them. Where was J-Lo's answer to the green navel dress (this year's Cleopatra model just didn't work for me). Where was the Cher Bob Mackie number? Dian Keaton didn't even wear a suit.

And what was with jack's hair? Is he undergoing cancer treatments, or is he playing Dady Warbucks?

Ellen was good. The show was quirky and funny and appeared underproduced, but that's ok considering the glam-glitz and tight production the Oscars usually shoots for.

I got ten awards right on my scorecard. Not great, but not bad. I'f I'd had The Departed for best picture (and I should have had, since I picked Marty to win best director) I'd have made 11. I hit all the acting categories though, and Alan Arkin was an inspired choice.

Best speech was Forrest Whitiker's

Best moment was WIll Farrel, Jack Black and John C. Reily's song. I'm not sure what it had to do with anything, but it was great. Second best was when Elen DeGeneres had Steven Spielberg take her picture with Clint Eastwood.

Like everybody at the Oscars I think Al Gore should run for president. I am holding out hope. He's the only potential candidate that excites me in the least. (being full aware that Gerry Brown isn't going to run).

And I didn't leave feeling like somebody got robbed (though most of my students will sa Eddie Murphy did).

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Fashion Police

And, just for the record, I *loved* Cher's Bob Mackie dress. Every year we hear the same thing about how it was the worst Oscar gown ever. For my book it was the best. We're still taking about it, after all. How many people still remember that she actually won the oscar that year?

Just once

A scary vision has been running through my mind. Just once I want to see Al Gore get up and give a speech on global warming--I don't care where, to the UN, Congress, anywhere, and start out by saying "History shows again and again how nature points up the folly of man."

Maybe he can do it at his acceptance speech tonight at the Oscars.

Oscar Night

It's Oscar night Yay! So here's my predictions: Forrest Whitiker, Hellen Miren, Marty Scorcese, and Letters from Iwo Jima--but honestly aside from Forrest Whitiker, nobody stands out (and he could still get deep sixed by a sentiment vote for Peter O'Toole).

Speak Bloody English!

In Seattle this week a new high end dog store and grooming salon is casing a fracass over its name and sign. The name of the store is "High Maintenance Bitch." In supposedly progressive Seattle, the lunkheads complaining about it need to take a pill. That, and learn to speak bloody English!

Friday, February 23, 2007

The most important movie of the 80s

I just watched Die Hard on HBO, uncut and uncensored, for the first time since it was in the theatre, and I had a revalation.

There were lots of important movies in the 70s: The Godfather, Jaws, American Grafiti, Star Wars, Network, Taxi Driver, it's a really long list. The 80s, not so much. But Die Hard is there, sitting on top of them all.

Why do I say that? Not just because it was fun or introduced most of us to Alan Rickman. It's because it was the perfect Big Idea picture. I'm reading Lynda Obst's book Hello, He Lied right now. It's about producing in the studio system. She says Die Hard is the perfect Big Idea pisture becuase it's so easy to explain: terrorists take over a skyscraper. She then notes that it made it easy to make Speed, because you could look the studio boss in the eye and say "It's die hard on a bus."

But watching Die Hard tonight I got to thinking that it is probably the most influential movie since The Godfather. I mean look at how many Die Hards there have been:

Die Hard in a skyscraper (Die Hard)
Die Hard at an airport (Die Hard II)
Die Hard in New York (Die Hard III)
Die Hard on a bus (Speed)
Die Hard on a battleship (Under Siege)
Die Hard on a cruise ship (Speed II)
Die Hard on a train (Under Siege II)
Die Hard on a plane (Executive Decision)
Die Hard on another plane (Air Force One)
Die Hard on and off a plane (Passenger 57)
Die Hard on a mountain (Cliffhanger)

And on and on. All of these movies have the same plot: terrorists come in and take over some place, usually someplace confined in some way, and one guy has to stop them and drive them out. Oh, yeah, and the terrorists are usually not *really* terrorists but are just out for money. Not true in all the movies above, but certainly true in Under Siege and Cliffhanger. Have there been movies like this before? Sure. Usually they were Westerns, when bandits came in and took over a town and only one guy could kill them all and save the day. And Die Hard pays tribute to that all throught the movie, but especially when Hans calls McClain a cowbow. "Yipee kiyay, mother fucker." Yes, there were terrorist movies before. Nighthawks had german terrorists (in the early day it was always German terrorists patterened after the Bader Meinhoff Gang. Rarely was it palestinians, and never islamic fundamentalists). But Nighthawks still wasnt as claustrophobic as the others. Die Hard set the formula. There were even real terrorists. You probably couldnt' have made Die Hard, and certainly not Die Hard II, without the raid on Entebe airport (made into amovie with Charles Bronson). But the combination of the claustrophobic (or agoraphobic in the case of Cliffhanger) setting and terrorists as the new badguys makes Die Hard a seminal work of American cinema.

No, really. I'm serious. Later we'll talk about Conan.


Hey, okld guys!

A seventy year old American vetran, on vacation in Costa Rica, killed an alleged mugger who pulled a knife on him and is party. He put him in a head lock and broke the guy's neck. The story is all over the wires this morning. The following will now occur:

1.) For the rest of his Carnival cruise he will be treated like a king, and sixty year old women will be slipping him the keys to their staterooms.

2.) Next week he'll appear on the morning talk shows and possibly Letterman and praised for his bravery.

3.) In about two months Law and Order will have an episode in which an elderly tourist kills a would-be mugger by breaking his neck, but this will lead to other more sinister crimes.

4.) in just over a year either USA or FX will present a film called "The Carnival Cruise Muggings," in which the tourist will be portrayed by Dennis Farina.

This is because the media loves heroes as much as it loves villains, and it will gladly create one if one doesn't exist. If one does exist then so much the better. It's all grist for the mill. The best, though is win you create a hero and then you get to turn him into a villain, because this keeps the presses running for weeks. Let's hope this guy doesn't have too many skeletons in his closet.

And all I have to say is good for him. My sig-o's dad was attacked by machette wielding muggers in martinique and had a tendon in his leg severed, and was saved only because he could fight back long enouggh for passers by to notice and stop to help him. I'm sorry the guy is dead, but when you pull a knife on somebody you have crossed a line which says "kill me if you can because I may do the same to you."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

It just makes me mad

I've got to stop reading the conservative blogs. Afterall, very few of them read mine (hell, nobody reads mine). It pisses me off every time I do. Of course, pissing me off is part of the agenda. But, since I've been kind of interested in the Dixie Chicks story lately I cruised the blogsphere, knowing what I would see and still being upset when I saw it--which is really my own fault. I did, however, learn a new word to describe myself, "leftard."

These nuckle dragging rednecked conservative morons whould all be rounded up and shot. Is that what they want me to say, becuase they play a strange game. They act like we on the left side of the aisle are all elitist assholes who don't take their views seriously, belittle them and insult them, and then they post stuff on the web calling us morons, leftards, liberal assholes, idiots, hypocritical, and traitors if we happen to believe that the Dixie Chicks winning 5 grammys was (a) a vindication, (b) a symbol of how the political climate has changed since 2003, (c) a good thing, or (d) all of the above (answer, d).

How am I supposed to take any of that or them seriously? They claim I'm being elitist and then they prove themselves to be sophomoric imbiciles. What's a guy to do?

They don't have to agree with what the Dixie Chicks said, but they don't have to lie about it either. In a poll released yesterday fruitcake got higher ratings than President Bush (35% to 32% approval), and yet these yahoos still insist that America loves its president and the Dixie Chicks and the hollywood lefties who support thme are out of touch.

We're out of touch? Are you kidding me? Anybody who still supports GW Bush is out of touch. The Dixie Chicks were just ahead of the curve.

And as for country stations exercising their freedom of speech by burning Dixie Chicks records (and why don't we go burn a few books while we are at it?), I won't argue that. The disturbing thing wasn't that so much as it was one particular monopolistic broadcast netowrk--clear channel--apparently went out of its way to destroy the Dixie Chicks' careers as a way to market itself. That, and the death threats. But hell, if they don't threaten to kill you in showbiz you're probably a failure.

Perhaps what is really bothering those rught wing morons is that the tables are somewhat reversed, and after six years in the wilderness we on the left have come back to the table, and they are the ones on the fringe.

Oh, one more thing, I thought it was a stroke of brilliance (and the right wingers probably thought it made their points) to have the Dixie Chicks introduced by Joan Baez.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Death of the Great American Bimbo

There are lots of people sad about Anna Nicole's death, but you know who's happy? Even happier than her former inlaws, with whom she was locked in a bitter estate fight when she died. Happier indeed is this astronaut woman from Houston. Anna's death knocked her right off the front page of the tabloids, where I don't think she wanted to be.

But for me it's been a grim laugh fest. In the past week I've seen the following headlines: "Lust in Space," "The Hussey from Houston," "Dark Side of the Loon," "Pop-scicle" (on the Daily News, breaking the story that Anna Nicole's daughter may have been fathered by Anna's dead ex-husband's frozen sperm), and the king of them all on today's New York Post: "Who's Yer Daddy?"

Of course the Post was the only paper I saw with the courage to ask the real question on Friday's front page: "Was It Murder?" Oh! How they hope it was!

I've got a simpler question for the Post: Was it news? I mean come on, people, there's genocide in Darfur. There's war in Iraq. There's a revival of soviet dictatorship in Russia. There's communism in Venezuella. Yesterday I was at the gym and (I'm not exagerating here) 22 minutes out of every half hour on CNN was devoted to covering Anna Nicole's death. On CNN! They were camped out side the morgue giving minute by minute updates on her autopsy, even when all they had to say was "Her body is being autopsied this morning and we should have some news in a few hours." I can just here James Earl Jones: "THIS is exploitation." Talk about whoring yourself out!

But I mean, really. Zha Zha's husband throwing his hat into the paternity ring was so amazingly bizare I for one could not shield my eyes from the train wreck. I just couldn't stop watching (or laughing, for that matter).

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Vindictive Republican Bastards

It is one of the little things that really pisses me off. Quite frankly I get more irate over it than I do over the war in Iraq or the Patriot Act, because I take it personally. Even though I'm in Brooklyn most of the time these days, I'm still a San Franciscan as well, and I really chaps my ass.

Every once in awhile some yahoo Republican proposes draining the Hetch Hetchy reservoir. Now if you don't know what it is you need some background. Hetch Hetchy is a valley in Yosemite National Park. It was John Muir's favorite place, and a place photographed often by Ansel Adams. Muir considered it more beautiful than Yosemite Valley. Durring the great era of the great California Water Projects in the early 20th Century, the valley was dammed to create a fresh-water reservoir and electrical generation system for San Francisco. Environmentalists have been yelling to have it dynamited ever since.

Of course it makes no sense to do so. Hetch Hetchy provides 20% of San Francisco's electricity while providing water to 2.4 million customers in the bay area. It's also high quality water too. Having sampled the water in The Sity and compared it to places around the bay who draw their water from the delta, I can atest that the water coming directly from the Sieras is much better. And just today a report was issued saying that the delta is on the verge of colapse.

It makes no economic sense to tear down the dam. But Republicans love to float the idea for two obvious reasons: 1) it targets San Francisco, the conservatives favorite whipping boy (maybe a bad analogy, since many in SF don't mind bneing tied to the whipping post). It is an easy club with which to bash The City, which is seen by people on all sides of the political spectrum as the capital of liberal politics. It's a way to kick the liberals a bit--and the GOPers do it with viscious glee, whether in a frenzy of delight over being in power or out of spite, now that they are out of power. 2) It is a perfect wedge issue with which to divide two of California's strongest liberal constituencies: San Francisco liberals and environmentalists. Naturally, the environmental loby loves the idea, setting them up for a colision course with their traditional allies in The City. Sowing the seeds of discontent is a key republican strategy, and if they can divide the California liberal vote they might win a few seats there come next congressional elections.

And so the Bush administration has included in its new Natioanl Parks budget money to study the positive effects of restoring Hetch Hetchy Valley. Since San Francisco is home to both California's senators and to the new Speaker of the House, that dam isn't going away anytime soon, and the money will be stripped out of the budget quickly. But actually funding the study was never the point. The point was to create an issue that would divide the liberal vote and give the GOP a weapon to wield against the California dems in two years. I garauntee that when the congressional races heat up, you'll hear about how those three women from San Francisco torpedoed an important piece of environmental legislation in order to play to their hypocritical liberal constiuencies. It will, of course, be bullshit. Yes, San Franciscans want to fight keep the Hetch Hetchy project running. It's in their interests. But it's also in the interests of the rest of the state, which already has far too litle water and electricity to go around.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


Is that what they're called? Thos little magnetic grafiti plates with the lights and the batteries that brought Boston to a standstill? I think that's the name. Or is it tossers? They're named because they are magnatized and can be tossed up ont a metal surface and they'll stick there: instant non-destructive grafiti. Turner broadcasting ran some sort of guerilla marketing campaign where they put these things up in major cities all across the country to advertise Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network. There were a couple dozen here in New York City, and they've been there for a month. Then somebody in Boston noticed one, called the police, and they soon discovered they were on bridges all over town. Thinking there were terrorist bombs they shut the city down.

First of all I love this. I love the fact that CN came up iwth the idea. I love the fact that they did it. It was clever. It was artistic. It was a bit guerilla. It was great. But what I lvoe even more is that it was Boston that freaked out and shut the city down. Nobody else noticed. They freaked out. And now they want to put the clever artists who created this sort of thing in jail. I'm reminded of Andre Codrescu in "Road Scholar," which was made wile Romania was still under communist rule, saying "yes, they bulldoze art in my country too." This from the town that banned "Mony Mony" not because it said anything obscene but because they didn't understand it at all. (actually, it stood for Mutual of New York).

I hate puritans. I really hate 'em.

(note, lower case "p." I had some good freinds in high school who were Puritans with an upper case "P.").

Friday, February 02, 2007

A fan (me) speaks out

After the Golden Globes I wrote in this page that I think Forrest Witiker will win the Oscar for best actor this year, for the same reason why Phillip Seymore Hoffman won last year. The only thing that can de-rail him is a sympathy vote for Peter O'Toole (who has been more overlooked than Martin Scorcese IMHO). Interestingly, if he does win, it will be the third year in a row in which the winner will have played a real person who was larger than life, who died within living memory, and who exists in thousads of hours of archival footage. So is the award best actor or best mimic? Just asking.

But the reason I'm writing about it today is this: I've wanted to see The Last King of Scotland since it came out. I'ts floated around Manhattan since in one small out of the way art theatre or another for awile but I never got to it. I had the chnace to see it on the plane to Cali over Xmas, but didn't want to watch it on that small a screen. I opened up the New York Times today and it had a huge add which said it was "Now playing everywhere" and it is. It's on at least twenty screens around New York City, and that is cool. Three weeks ago it wasn't playing anywhere. Now it's everywhere, and all I can say is "thank God for the Oscars." More people should know who Forrest Whitiker is. I've thought so ever since Good Morning Viet Nam. This is the greatest thing that's happened in film since...well, since Capote.

This is so cool.


Ok, so I havne't blogged in awhile. I suck at this anymore. BUt I've got some things to say about the Superbowl. Here it is:

I have been a fan of both teams all year. I'd like eitehr one of them to win. But my take on the superbowl is this: Indianapolis probably deserves it more because they are hungrier. Here's my proof: I was looking at a house in Muncie last week and so I was in both Indianapolis and Chicago. Indianapolis is much more in the spirit of the thing. THe only "GO Bears" sign I saw at O'Hare was a hand letterd sign on an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper hanging in the window of the Traveler's Aide booth. The indianapolis airport was festooned with banners saying "Go Colts." There was a poster of Peyton Manning fifteen feet high. The whole place was decked out in blue and white. It makes sense. Chgicago has won about a hundred NFL championships. If defense wins superbowls then the Bears should crush the Colts. If fan spirit is worth anything, the Colts will prevail. But no predictions here.

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