03.09.10 – A Tuesday

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word

repartee [rep-er-tee, –tey, -ahr-] n. 1. a quick, witty reply 2. conversation full of such replies 3. skill in making such replies

birthday

Amerigo Vespucci (1454), Samuel Barber (1910), Mickey Spillane (1918), Ornette Coleman (1930), Raúl Juliá (1940), John Cale (1942), Bobby Fischer (1943), Charles Gibson (1943), Robin Trower (1945), Jeffrey Osborne (1948), Bobby Sands (1954), Linda Fiorentino (1958), Steve Wilkos (1964), Juliette Binoche (1964), Emmanuel Lewis (1973), Thor Halvorssen (1976), Julia Mancuso (1984), Brittany Snow (1986), Bow Wow (1987)

standpoint

Two nights ago, we were all once again treated to the annual hullabaloo that is The Oscars. Lots of us were watching the show. 41.3 million of us. Granted, that’s not even 10% of the United States’ population but it’s still a large group of people, the largest in five years. Whoopdee-doo.

But why were we all watching? I suspect some of you actually watched out of your sheer love for the art of cinema. Or maybe you watched in an attempt to make sure you weren’t the only one in the office the next morning who couldn’t participate in the endless post-Oscar debates and be forced to, like, do work or something. Or maybe you flipped through the channels and happened upon the show and became immediately engaged by the obvious sexual tension between Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, this year’s co-hosts. Or maybe you’re like me and you simply watched the damn thing to beleaguer yourself with one of the prime examples of how crappy our culture has become.

I watched it, albeit in my usual offish fashion. But I did notice some amusing peculiarities.

→ In what’s being dubbed a “Kanye Moment,” some woman named Elinor Burkett, apparently one of the producers of  something called Music By Prudence, stormed the stage and stole the allotted speech time from the film’s director, one Roger Ross Williams. Some described it as “uncomfortable to watch.” Uh…all right. Now Burkett has two things in common with Kanye West: They both display an irreverent attitude toward award show decorum, and they both look like dudes.

Neil Patrick Harris needs to pull in the reins a bit. Does the guy know he’s allowed to turn down offers? At this rate, we’re all going to be sick and tired of him sometime later this week. Hey, NPH, maybe just be a homebody for a while, do a crossword puzzle (or maybe you’re a sudoku man, I have no idea) or repaint the living room like you’ve been saying you’re going to since forever. Or, here’s an idea. Maybe watch some television and try to find a channel you won’t see your own face.

Fisher Stevens, the guy who played that goofy scientist in Short Circuit and was in that episode of Friends that time won an Oscar for a documentary that had something to do with dolphins. Johnny Five is indeed alive.

→ Always the cutup, Ben Stiller came onstage to present the award for Best Makeup all done up as a character from Avatar. I thought he looked a lot like what Michael Jackson might’ve looked like twenty years down the road.

→ Throughout the entire show, George Clooney had a look on his face that, I swear, made me think the guy has some sort of beef being stuck in a chair with a camera up his nose for four hours. What’s up with that? Lighten up, buddy, you’ve come a long way since Booker Brooks.

The Hurt Locker won 6 times. Two of them involved sound and were accepted by some guy who looked like a recovering zombie. Also, the lady who directed it won Best Director and Best Film but all anyone wanted to talk about was that she was once married to fellow nominee James Cameron. I was glad she was able to get back at the Academy for what’s still considered one of history’s biggest snubs when it completely ignored Point Break. Not even a courtesy Best Supporting Actor nod to Gary Busey, for crying out loud. But Kathryn Bigelow showed them. Now who’s laughing? Definitely not Busey and, even if he is, he’s laughing about something only he fully understands.

→ I liked that thing they do when 5 actors get up on stage and say something seemingly heartfelt and ostensibly accurate about the nominees for Best Actor and Best Actress. Oprah Winfrey spoke about Gabourey Sidibe from Precious in the way she does about everything. No matter what Oprah’s prattling on about, she’s really just talking about herself. Sidibe probably didn’t care as she was most likely couldn’t stop thinking about hunky Gerard Butler, who she met and delivered the proposition, “Let’s grab a bottle of champagne and see where the night goes!” Later, she told more than one reporter, in regards to her attraction to Butler, “I’d hit that.” Whatever happened to playing hard to get? Gabourey, it’s all about the hunt and the chase. Don’t just throw it out there.

→ One of my favorite actors, Jeff Bridges won for Best Actor. Of all the movies mentioned during the show, Crazy Heart was one of two I’d actually seen. (Star Trek was the other.) Kudos to Bridges, by the way, who, in giving his acceptance speech, contributed yet another item to the long list every stoner keeps of shit you can still do when you’re high.

Overall, I enjoyed watching The Oscars. I might even watch next year. Hell, I might even get out there and see some relevant movies for a change. Who knows?

quotation

These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves.  From each of them goes out its own voice… and just as the touch of a button on our set will fill the room with music, so by taking down one of these volumes and opening it, one can call into range the voice of a man far distant in time and space, and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart.Gilbert Highet

tune

Sometimes, I’m resistant to things for no good reason. What can I say? I’m hardheaded. You love that about me, by the way. In any case, my wonderful girlfriend asked me to watch the new OK Go video about five times before I had the good judgment to trust her. I learned an important relationship lesson: Believe her when she tells me I’m definitely going to like something she’s sent me. (Five times.) Not only did I realize that (a) I like OK Go and, as is the case from time to time, I miss out on good music due to a some sort of stigma I’ve created out of thin air, and (b) I can’t ascertain how I’ve managed to escape the incredible ingenuity of Rube Goldberg Machines. They’re absolutely fucking nuts. Here’s the new OK Go offering titled “This Too Shall Pass.”

And if you suddenly find yourself yearning for some more Rube Goldberg Machine videos, worry not, I’m happy to provide them. Check these out.

gallimaufry

Reunited and it feels so good. T.O. and D-Nabb put aside their differences for (What else?) money. Poor Antonio Gates, stuck with those two as teammates.

→ Some may argue that Facebook made this possible. I’d say FB made it easier would be more accurate.

→ I didn’t need another reason not to vacation in balmy Alaska. But I got one anyway.

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05.06.09 – Wednesday

Word: levity [lev-i-tee] n. 1. lightness of mind, character or behavior; lack of appropriate seriousness or earnestness 2. an instance or exhibition of this 3. fickleness 4. lightness in weight

Birthday: Maxmilien Robespierre (1758), Sigmund Freud (1856), Christian Morgenstern (1871), Rudolph Valentino (1896), Orson Welles (1915), Willie Mays (1931), Rubin Carter (1937), Jimmie Dale Gilmore (1945), Bob Seger (1945), Tony Blair (1953), Roma Downey (1960), John Flansburgh (1960), George Clooney (1961)

Standpoint: Recently, I moved from the City of Philadelphia to one of its suburbs, East Norriton. I grew up in the ‘burbs and, throughout my adult life, have gone through several suburban stints. But mostly, in the past decade and a half, I’ve lived in some section of Philadelphia. Obviously, there are differences. Here are three that I’ve noticed so far this time around.

  • Driving – There are  sidewalks out here but they’re used about as often as that Snuggie you got last Christmas. No one walks anywhere from what I can tell. In the city, pedestrian traffic almost drove me insane. Now, it’s the other cars on the road that are filling that hole in my life. Because hardly anyone demonstrates a sense of urgency. Also, gratuitous use of one’s horn is frowned upon. I’m not asking my fellow drivers to hop the curb or run a red light. But the other day I was driving behind a woman talking on her phone and not moving after the light had been green for about five seconds. I was only looking for a little understanding when I gave a little honk, informing her I’d be agreeable if she put down the cell phone and pushed the gas pedal. She did put the phone down. Then she gave me the finger. Then she pushed the gas pedal. In that order. The next morning, the guy in front of me, driving what looked like the first pickup truck made by Ford, didn’t use his turn signal while pulling into the Sears Hardware at a speed that would’ve made a parade procession appear supersonic by comparison. Apparently, I missed the memo about Fred not having to worry about the proper rules of the road when he’s going to drink coffee in the Sears parking lot with the rest of the guys who feel that using a turn signal is just plain bothersome/uncool. Again, my horn use was met with the middle finger. OK. Message received loud and clear. No honking of the horn. Let’s move on.
  • Civility – In the city, I can remember going to Wawa, the local convenience store, collecting my targeted items, taking them to the counter, paying for them and walking out the door. Without uttering a single word. I didn’t know anything about any of the people who worked in a store I frequented at least once a day. And – I’m sure this’ll sound ruder than I intend it -but I really didn’t want to get familiar with the crew at Wawa. I’ve always felt that idle small-talk in a convenience store makes it significantly less convenient. Out here in the suburbs, it appears there is some expectation of chit-chat during the customer-clerk exchange. My first day here, I was in line at 7-Eleven behind a woman who the clerk referred to as “Liz.” She was probably about 30 years older than he and affectionately called the clerk, “Mitchy,” although the name on his shirt clearly read “Mitch.” After their five-minute conversation about her ambitious gardening enterprises and the latest shenanigans of a dog she was “about ten seconds away from driving out to the goddam country,” Liz managed to make her way out of the store. Mitch turned to me, “How’re you doing today, sir?” “Doing well,” was all I could get out. The rest of my time with Mitch was spent in uncomfortable silence. Next.
  • Hours of Operation – Gone are the days of random 3am gunshots from the low-income housing behind my bedroom. No more coming home at midnight to find half the neighborhood still awake, yelling at the television or each other. Besides the McDonald’s and the APlus, it’s tough work finding something open after 10pm. Lights off. It’s bedtime. I’m sure you can imagine how troubling that might be for a night-owl like myself. Last night, I was in bed at 11pm. I don’t think that’s happened since I was actually 11. My only options for going out somewhere were to either (a) do about 50 round trips through the Mickey D’s drive-thru or (b) head down to the 7-Eleven and engage Mitch in a discussion about Liz’s misbehaving canine. Thanks, but no. On the upside, I’ve never gotten better sleep. Hmmm. Think there’s something to that?

That’s all I got for now but I’m sure I’ll be making more discoveries in the course of readjusting to suburban life. Stay tuned.   

Quotation: And all this means you can expect an unrelenting, unyielding effort from this administration to strengthen our prosperity and our security – in the second hundred days and the third hundred days and all the days after.President Obama

Tune: A while back, I heard Marching Band‘s “For Your Love” on an episode of “How I Met Your Mother.” Having a song featured on a TV show or a movie has become the new “making it big.”

Gallimaufry: Yesterday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke informed Congress that the economy should experience an upswing in the second half of this year. He went on to say that all would still not be right with the economy but there would be mild improvement. Hey. It’s a start. ∞ Everyone can rest easy. The Wayne Coyne-Win Butler brouhaha is now officially over. You might recall I covered this back in March. Coyne, lead singer of The Flaming Lips, has apologized: “I wish whatever had been said wouldn’t have been taken as such a defiant statement by The Flaming Lips because it wasn’t…I was talking about the dudes running their stages.” Weird. Compare that with his previous statement: “Whenever I’ve been around them, I’ve found that they not only treated their crew like shit, they treated the audience like shit.” Whatever happened to real rock feuds? I mean, neither Axl Rose nor Vince Neil looked like they could’ve beaten their way out of a wet paper bag, but at least they talked a good game. As of yet, there’s no official response from Butler and Arcade Fire to Coyne’s back-pedaling. ∞ After what must have seemed like an eternity (I know it did to me), the 13th Annual Webby Awards, “honoring excellence on the internet,” were announced. Among this years Special Achievement Award Winners, Jimmy Fallon for Webby Person of the Year and Twitter for Webby Breakout of the Year. No word yet on where I fell in the voting. I’m sure I’ll be receiving a call sometime soon. ∞ After completing this post, I found out that Dom DeLuise died yesterday at the age of 76. My immediate reaction was to watch the outtakes from Cannonball Run. I’m not sure why. Rest in peace, Dom.

Incoming: TomorrowAnnoying Sayings & Misused Words Friday3 Things To Do In Philly When You’re Dead and some other interesting stuff.