Monday, February 28, 2005

Best. Oscars. Ever. And in this, I must disagree with the normally right-on Cintra Wilson, who blasts the ceremony in today's Salon.

She's right that the Oscars sucked ass, but I feel strongly that they were 50% less sucky than in recent years. There was a reason to sit through the truly god-awful musical performances and the self-serving speeches and the ridiculous sight of the film community giving a humanitarian award to a man best-known for his work in film preservation.

And the reason these were the Best. Oscars. Ever. is not merely because "Million Dollar Baby" won -- though that helps, because I have it on good authority that it's a great movie. (I, like 98% of America, haven't seen it.)

And it's not merely because Jorge Drexler utterly humiliated El Banderas by singing a few notes of his Oscar-winning song to remind viewers why it deserved to win.

And it's not merely because it was shorter -- because of the sped-up pace and the fact that I watched the whole thing on a 45 minute TiVo delay after putting the little guy to bed, zipping through the commercials and 98% of the songs.

No -- it's Chris Rock. Chris Rock made the Oscars come alive. And as a punishment for that, Chris Rock will never be permitted to host the Oscars again. Never, never, never. They're already in talks with sweet little Billy Crystal.

Rock committed three mortal sins in three hours:

1. Forcing an audience of shameless publicity whores to face the fact that there is a difference between a "star" and "someone you've heard of." That's the most unwelcome message of all in the rarified atmosphere of Hollywood. (e.g. Melanie Griffith's recent hissy-fit in the Los Angeles Apple store when the clerk told her they were sold out of iPod Shuffles. "You have some in the BACK for STARS. I KNOW you do. Don't you KNOW who I AM?") And though it may be harsh for poor Jude Law to face it, he's not a star. No one ever went to see a movie just because Jude Law was in it. He's "that guy you've heard of." And when he said it, you could hear the air wooshing out of the auditorium. I know you thought that was the sound of sucking, which is the normal sound of Hollywood, but it was actually the collective sound of three thousand people sucking in air between clenched teeth. (You could also hear mutters of "Sh*t! Jude Law is several ranks higher than I am!")

2. Forcing the Academy to confront the fact that no one in the real world has seen any of the nominated movies. But everyone had seen "White Chicks"! How glorious! How sad, really, but how glorious! Favorite movie this year? "Saw." "Chronicles of Riddick." And that one chick gave a better Oscar acceptance speech than any of the actual winners. "Hey! Back up off me, Chris..."

3. Being the first one to shoot down the Academy's tasteless choice to cut short the ceremony by avoiding the walk down the aisles. When one winner was cut short, Rock said something like, "Come on, man, he actually got to walk up here..." Now, I know that I praised the fact that the ceremony was so short, but the in-the-audience stuff was ridiculous. And thanks to Charlie Kaufmann pointed out the 30-second shot clock that was right in each winner's face. It was a nice way to pierce the veil -- though it also reminded me that there really was no need for these folks to go on for more than 30 seconds.

But the best thing of all about last night was Halle Berry's acceptance speech. She became only the second person in history to actually go to the Golden Raspberry Awards and accept her Worst Actress award for Catwoman. (Tom Green was the first.) Oscar in hand, she reenacted her 2002 Oscar acceptance speech -- tears and all -- as a parody of herself. Honestly, I didn't think she had it in her.

 7:54 AM

Monday, February 21, 2005

Two celebrities dead this morning: Sandra Dee and Hunter S. Thompson.

I'm sure there's a deeper meaning in this, somewhere, somehow.

I have to say that the NPR story on Sandra Dee was much kinder than journalism of old. After fondly describing her film successes (and her "struggle with anorexia" -- who knew?) the reporter delicately described her later "battle with alcoholism" and liver disease. In a lesser, more honest age, she would have been called a drunk.

Meanwhile, the man who injected horse tranquilizers into his eyeballs and still managed to crank out columns, the man who invented the nastiest things ever said about Richard Nixon, the man who would have torn off Sandra Dee's head and sh*t down her neck -- he blew his own head off.

The human mind tries to find patterns, even when there are none. But I keep trying to understand this one.

 7:39 AM

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Iraq the Vote

A flashback, courtesy of Kos:

U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote:
Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror

by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times -- Sept. 4, 1967

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.

A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam.

The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the Saigon Government.

 8:03 AM

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