Monday, February 25, 2008

Academy Awards Recap: Oscars 2008: Wear Red, Even if You're Helen Mirren

BEST WAGGLY WALK: First presenter is Jennifer Garner. She’s been backstage with her therapist going over that Gary Busey molestation thing. She looks blotchy. Possibly a little bit of punitive flagellation.

FIRST LAUGH FROM JOHN STEWART: “If we see a woman or black man being president on television, that usually means that an asteroid is about to hit the earth. If a woman or black man wins the election, how will we know it’s not the future!”

Helen Mirren came to the Oscars with Phillip Seymour Hoffman?

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: Ratatouille. AMAZING! I thought that Important Iranian Film would surely win! Well hey.

BEST MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Amy Adams sings "Happy Working Song" from "Enchanted." I love her, love this song, love "Enchanted." Here is a creature without irony. Examine her. Turn her over and over. Diagram her strange extremities.

I got a little glimpse of Francis McDormand. She looks awesome. She’s wearing birth control glasses.

MOST MAMMARY PRESENTER: Here comes a breathless, nervous, tongue-tied Jennifer Hudson. My husband speculates that she might have five or six boobs in there, considering my original estimate a little low.

MOST WORRYING CELEBRITY: Owen Wilson sounding out words from the teleprompter and peering at us through red eyes. His nose looks like it’s just been punched. Or, he is stoned.

NO! THEY CAN’T BE STILL PIMPING THIS BEE MOVIE!: It tanked, hello! Nobody watched it! It made children scream and run in the other direction! Seinfeld as bee presents the nominees for animated short film. Awful.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: TILDA SWINTON! Wearing a torn Hefty bag! One sparkly cuff her only adornment. No makeup, tousled orange hair, looking very evil queen. This woman admitted on the red carpet that she has never even watched the Oscars on TV. Now she immediately gives her trophy to her American agent, because his buttocks look similar. Oh yes, yes, there might have been some other reason. Not the expected choice.

BEST COEN BROTHER: Joel. They won for their screenplay. It was adapted.

MOST UNFAIR CASTING: Amy Adams had to sing her “Enchanted” song on an empty stage and Kristen Chenowith got to sing “How Do You Know” with a cast of thousands and get lifted off a bridge – totally unfair! Amy Adams *IS* Giselle for heaven’s sake.

BEST ACTRESS: Marion Cotillard. She wore a mermaid dress to the Oscars, and then she accidentally won Best Actress. She gurgles Frenchly for a while and then says, “Thank you life! Thank you love! It is true there are some angels in this city!” Surprising. She like everyone in the audience thought Ellen Page was going to win.

JACK NICHOLSON: In regular glasses! He says nice things about movies and introduces another montage. I saw a movie last night called “15 Minutes.” It was pretty good. If you like DeNiro and Ed Burns, you will like it. On the other hand, there was a whole lot of stuff in the middle about some Czech girl that Dan and I felt could have been edited more sternly.

BEST DRESS OF THE EVENING: Renee Zellwegger has absolutely got the best dress of the evening. It looks completely perfect. Love the short hair too, wow, does she look great.

WORST JEWELRY: Nicole Kidman is pregnant and wearing five thousand diamonds on her neck in the shape of those icicles people hang on their gutters and forget about until April. Sorry, she looks rotten. And there’s a hairpin sticking out of her giant bun. Love Nicole Kidman, but tonight is not so good on the visuals. She’s here to give an award to an old man in a scarf. When the old man in the scarf starts talking, you know it’s okay to go get a refill on the carbonated peach wine.

MOST VILE FASHION TREND: Penelope Cruz is also wearing a sleeveless dress with dead poultry stapled to the front of it. Okay it is a trend. A trend I hate.

LATEST REASON TO SHUN SUBTITLES: All the nominated foreign language films look incredibly depressing. Even the one they excerpted as just a child dancing – you know that child is about to be eaten by a giant crow, that symbolizes the darkness within us all. Remind me to watch more American films.

SCREW YOU, ARTY LITTLE MOVIE: Speaking of joy, why does everyone want a movie song to lift my heart? I like my heart right behind my sternum, thanks. Bring on the Austrian films. Of course, the Oscar for best song goes to some uplifting heart-rearranging piece of syrup from some “little” movie, and all the Enchanted songs get stiffed. Well, I’m going to buy TWO Enchanted DVDs to make up for that ridiculous slight. The pinkfaced sap that wrote it is crying. Bah.

SECOND MAJOR LAUGH OF THE NIGHT: After the unknown, gelatinous, happy pinkfaced chap who made the movie “Once” gets up and cries and grovels and says he’s not worthy, John Stewart comes back on and says, “Wow, that guy is so arrogant.”

Cameron Diaz is next. I’m in suspense: Has she put on makeup, jewelry, or combed her hair? No. But she has dusted her collarbones with something amazing. I can’t look away.

Heath Ledger got the coveted final slot in the “He or she died” montage. Rest in peace.

A bunch of other awards. Blah blah blah.

BEST SCREENPLAY: Diablo Cody wins Best Original Screenplay for Juno. I’m sure it’s all very wonderful. At the end she attempts to hug the award girl, snubs Harrison Ford, and rushes off the stage in a way her dress (leopard print mumu with sparkles!) was not meant to accommodate.

BEST ACTOR: Daniel Day Lewis. He is a cool guy, okay? Pirate hoop earrings and ill-fitting suit notwithstanding. He looks about fourteen. And charming. Just as I am about to forgive and forget the “Last of the Mohicans” line: “STAY ALIVE! I WILL FIND YOU!” Lewis demonstrates his need to be nominated for a cockpunch by waxing ridiculously lyrical in his acceptance speech. Maybe that’s just who he is. Fine, whatever. I am more judgmental after midnight, people.

Did we ever do best supporting actor? Did I miss it? Oh, it was Javier Bardem from the Coen brothers’ movie. He talked about his haircut. Now I remember.

BEST DIRECTOR: Coens. Their third. No Country for Old Directors. Now the other Coen gets to speak but really declines. Joel gets back on the horn and tells an anecdote.

BEST PICTURE: No Country For Old Men. Well done, Coens. You rule.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Liveblogging the Oscar Preshow on E! with Ryan Seacrest

Ryan in a brown shawl collar.
Guilana in lavender with a sequined bandolier.
This picture is old:

Kimora Lee Simmons postulates that girls are having babies and eating and therefore gaining weight. Giuliana says, “I hope we see a lot of that tonight.”

Heidi Klum in bright red Galliano, made for her, which you can buy after the show. Ryan asks who she’s looking forward to seeing tonight, and she says, “No one.”

George Clooney says it’s fun this time because it’s a film they’re all really proud of. So, last time they thought it was a big turd?

Anne Hathaway in bright red with rosettes across the bodice and over the shoulder.
Patrick Dempsey’s arm candy in bright red.

Saiorse Ronan in emerald green.

Ryan Seacrest referencing Steve Carell’s wife’s tampons. Double plus ungood. Steve Carell looks irritated.

Amy Adams in dark green sweetheart sleeveless.

John Travolta’s arm candy in orange.

Miley Cyrus in bright red.

Jessica Alba is pregnant and a purple swan has died on her boobs.

Seth Rogen’s arm candy having savage tits.

Ryan Seacrest dangles Amy Adams’ mesh bag in front of his privates.

Daniel Day Lewis with hunted eyes, pirate hoop earrings, grey hair in a frazzled mom bob. His tuxedo has brown piping around the collar.

Cameron Diaz in a folded napkin and fuck-me bangs and a messy ponytail.

Jennifer Garner and Laura Linney both in sleeveless black dresses.

STOP! Gary Busey has attacked Ryan Seacrest! And then he tongued Jennifer Garner on the neck! He is accompanied by a girl in a lime green tank top. Look for it on YouTube, I’m sure it will be there. Letting Gary Busey out on live television is stoopid.

Keri Russell in a flesh-colored corset dress and great jewels.

Kristen Chenoweth in a Cameron Diaz wannabe contest and has back cleavage.

Marion Cotillard in a mermaid dress with real! scales!

Jessica Alba has beautiful hair but a pregnant woman should not be in a sleeveless dress.

Jennifer Hudson in a white empire waist drapey goddess dress with snakeskin trim. There is no doubt how many boobs she has. Two.

Tilda Swinton with bright red hair, wearing a torn Hefty bag, no jewelry, and looking like an angry young fetus.

Hillary Swank in an upsweep, black feathery dress, one strap, no those are flowers on the bodice.
Colin Farrell has been aggressively tanning.

George Clooney’s girlfriend is wearing my grandmother’s quilt as a corset.

Tilda Swinton has Emma Thompson eye skin and the whole “mumbling through a large mouthful of loose teeth” thing going on.

Diablo Cody who wrote Juno is in leopard and diamond. Lips like a monkey butt.

Ellen Page in a black flapper dress with spaghetti straps, long, long rope necklace.

Harrison Ford as the abominable snowman and Calista Flockhard as an emaciated Nely Galan.

Katherine Heigl in bright red.

Johnny Depp looking studious and devilish.

Viggo Mortensen looking like Kris Kristofferson in a thick multicolored beard.

Cate Blanchett looking like she’s out getting lettuce. Pregnant as a bumpkin and hasn’t combed her hair.

Renee Zellwegger wearing a living diamond, absolutely stunning amazing dress, short hair, she looks great. And I do not like her much. She should have had this haircut years ago. And she should always walk around wearing a crushed chandelier.

That is all. I may add pictures at a later date.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Egyptian Graffiti at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Last week, Joshilyn and I spent a few days stomping around New York City. One of our exciting adventures took us to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was completely a coincidence that we went to this museum the day after we watched the episode of Project Runway where the designers visit to get inspiration from the classical sculpture garden, the European paintings, and the Egyptian temple.

The fact that we did visit all of those exhibits means nothing. We were totally already going to see that Temple of Dendur. Aparently, the US paid Egypt $17 million at some point, to help them with some flooding or some other issue. In return we got to pick one of four temples to have. Have in its entirety -- just uproot and transplant. We picked this one, and he Metropolitan Museum won possession in a lottery with other museums.

Seeing it was wonderful. I always get choked up in the presence of antiquity. It's the same reason I cry at rocket launches. It moves me when our little crawling species attempts to do something fine -- whether it's sending a metal needle up into space, or developing a calendar, or making up a religion. That plaintive reaching, that earnest attempting -- gets me crying. So we were walking up to the temple, and I was having my little emotional moment, and then we got closer where we could look at the carvings and hieroglyphics and whatnot, and I saw this:

You know what that is? GRAFFITI! Graffiti from 1820! Some guy (from New York no less) had scraped his rancorous little name into this Egyptian temple from like 3000 years ago. Now, when we first saw it, we could hardly believe it, because we'd been running a little joke about finding fakes. Like, "Oh, this is a total fake! I see John the Baptist holding a cell phone on this medieval reliquary!" or whatever. However, when we asked the museum guy standing there, he said, yes, it is graffiti, and showed us lots of other places where the temple was marked up. Insane.

The reason it was so interesting (I think) is that 1820 is now antiquity. The day that this guy stood there scraping away with his pocketknife, thinking himself very modern and fresh, is now 200 years ago. Some guy named Biltmore had marked up several different parts of the temple. Biltmore is now dead. His record is now antiquity as well. The graffiti of those early explorers is now part of the historical record. And I, standing there, all shocked and appalled by Biltmore and his buddies, and their defilement, am looking at a temple that has been ripped up out of the earth and transplanted to the middle of Manhattan for dorks like me to get misty over. Layers, my friend. Layers.

New York was fun. We also saw this:

Picasso's portrait of Gertrude Stein. Having finished it, he was unhappy with the face, so he scraped it off and painted another one on later, more overtly mannish and coarse. Interesting. But no one has Sharpied their name into it yet, so it didn't merit its own blog post.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Tom Wolfe: A Man in Full

Since I have been writing about American Idol for two days, I feel the need to elevate the tone of this blog a little. Of course John Irving called this book "entertainment" as opposed to "literature." I'm not going to get into it with John Irving on the merits of various books. John Irving and I have never had a problem before, in all the many times we've exchanged thoughts on art and pop culture.

I very much like entertainment. However, it took me six weeks to read A Man in Full. It is very long. If you had told me on the first of the year that I would spend six weeks of my young, vibrant, fascinating life reading a book about Atlanta politics, real estate developers, bank management, and Stoic philosophy, I would have said, No. However, Wolfe's true subject was one that held me in its thrall from the first chapter, and kept me coming back eagerly, through all 750 pages, during ballet class and through late nights, until the paperback was falling apart from being crammed into my bag. His subject is men. What is it to be a man at the end of the 20th century? What is it to be a man at all? The book follows four men through a twisted plot that would take me several pages to summarize. I'd rather talk about the way the book is written.

Wolfe goes back. Way back. And he goes in. Way in. There are two main characters who meet at the very end of the book, and in a sense the book truly begins when they meet. However, the book begins months in advance of that meeting, and the ostensible impetus for the book is only actually tangentially related to them. There is an alleged crime, if you must know. Which has also got a tangential relation to the real theme (what is a man). The books starts after 700 pages, when the main characters meet for the first time. Using the fake impetus allows Wolfe to begin at the true beginning, when these characters are at a stable place. Then Wolfe can put them in the butter churn and start beating them into butter.
The other thing that I found interesting about the construction of this novel was the episodic nature of the chapters. At the beginning of the book, the chapters focus exclusively on one character or another, and some of them are so brilliantly episodic that they would be amazing short stories, with no context at all. After one of the early chapters about Conrad, the youngest and possibly most sympathetic of the four central men, I shut the book and put it down, because I felt I had just read such a great scene, I had to stop.
Let's talk about the whole concept of sympathetic characters, for a moment. With the exception of Conrad, every one of the men has significant flaws. Even Conrad, if you think about it, is deeply flawed. It's hard to see the flaws of these male characters, however, because they are presented so sympathetically. Well, not sympathetically. The narrative is not sympathetic, but it is exhaustively detailed, claustrophobically close to the characters' consciousnesses, minute. We feel that we know them so well, understand them so well, perceive their contexts and histories so well, it is hard to pull back enough to remember that they are doing things that are pretty reprehensible. It's part of what makes this book so interesting -- the moral ambiguity that's available to the reader, as we are allowed to put on all of these different identities, and really inhabit them without judgment, without even reflecting on right and wrong.
How does Wolfe do this? How does he simultaneously show us all of these slimy lowlifes, and give us permission to cheer for them, to wish them luck, to hope things work out somehow. I am not even sure.

After I recover from the effort, I will read another book by Tom Wolfe. Maybe I Am Charlotte Simmons. Want to trade your copy of that for my copy of this? Wolfe takes a long time to write his novels. I like that about him. A Man In Full was just wonderful. I highly recommend.