Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I don't even have to write anymore

whatever happened to Arthur O'Toole?

Fred pointed out that the photo of empty-handed Oscar nominee Peter O'Toole appeared to be signed "Arthur" (or actually Arter). And it did. So I checked it out.

It's all right, folks. Go back to your homes. It's all taken care of.

I'm taking the day off. Not because I almost took a swing at someone yesterday, but it doesn't hurt.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar Minus One

I know how important it is to the Readership to get a full day-after coverage of this night of nights. So you are receiving my balcony commentary just in time for your morning coffee.

This is the first year that I have not seen all of the nominated pictures since 1984 when I failed to line up for Passage to India, and probably for the same reason I didn't see Babel or Letters from
Iwo Jima

I don't haaave all day.
(goose your neck when you say this)

Already I have to retract this statement, because I never saw the 2nd or 3rd Lord of the Rings pictures either because, even more than the above statement... I don't give a damn about any of those people.

8:05pm - Lisa Ling just said "leaping out of luxurious limos." So I
shot her.

I have not missed an Oscar ceremony in about 35 years.
1973 is not the year I discovered my love for the movies, but it is the year I discovered grown-up movies, and saw a lot of them. The Sting, American Graffitti, Paper Moon. The Day of the Dolphin. Jesus Christ Superstar. Poseidon Adventure.
Also Bednobs and Broomsticks, Charlotte's Web and Tom Sawyer (oh Jodie! Jodie!)

I remember the Godfather winning the year before, but April 4, 1974 was the first night I had a stake in the game. I wanted American Graffitti, but it was The Sting.

I love it all. I love it when it's bad; I love it when it's good.
I cry through the acceptance speeches; I announce flatly "stupid" to the screen when the dopey production numbers are done.

The way to approach the Oscars is like you might approach any industry awards ceremony you happen to be invited to. Just enjoy the view. I suppose it also helps to really respect the industry too.

Maybe you don't. Maybe you like to sit through the whole 4 hours then come to work all mad about it. Maybe you do the same thing Super Bowl Sunday. Maybe you have no one to blame but yourself.

Me, I think it's nice to see people at the top of their game achieve their wildest dreams thanks to the support of their co-workers, who are also their competitors. You know if you could accept an award in a gown in your workplace, you would elbow your way to the stage.
(said 1991's Emersonian of the year)

The fashion stuff? No, I don't care. But I don't begrudge the people who do. It doesn't last long and is easy to avoid.

8:27 pm the red carpet people have finally shut up.
I am already tired of Abigail Breslin's HP commercial.

I like the presenter pairings. I would like Abby Breslin, Anna Paquin and Tatum O'Neal to present something together.
I would like Jon Voight and Rick Schroeder to come out together.
I would like Jon Voight to finally lose that damn evening scarf.

8:35 - the announcer just stole my copy by saying "top of their game." I demand satisfaction and throw a glove.

8:40 - first look at Jack Nicholson's shaved head.
8:44 - gospel onslaught. See, this is absolutely ridiculous. And why not? You're usually watching Desparate Housewives, which is no more dignified than this.

8:57 - here's how to break down the Comedian at the Oscars number.
Imagine your workplace, where the cool clique gets up and does a skit. Or Henry Becton walks out of a fog of smoke to the theme of Carmen Sandiego. See how I just made an obscure in-joke reference that maybe 5 people reading this will get to explain the in-joke reference?
That's all that is.

9pm - Abby Breslin gets more exposure. Jadan Smith out Elijah-Woods Elijah Wood.
9:07 - first glass of wine.

Whatever happened to Helen Hunt?

9:31 - Did Randy Newman just get nominated for an Oscar...again? And did he just steal the opening bars of Elton John's "Your Song"?
Melissa Ethridge writes another version of her song.

9:38 - Al Gore is played off stage. Funny stuff.
9:41 - the phone company proudly announces that they do not run on electricity. even funnier.

9:50 - now, I love the clip bits. It's like a list. Categorized. On film.

I will not likely buy Apple's new phone. But I like its ad for the same reason. Know your audience.

The Departed is based on a Hong Kong film, in Chinese. Not a Japanese film.

I believe Fran Lebowitz just won Best Costume Design.
I think Gwenyth looks better a little hippy, don't you? I would cut the hair. But that's just me. Ooo... she can rrread e-thpanith naymth. The Academy is determined to make me see Pan's Labrinyth. But they still owe me money for Henson's Labrinyth. Until I get paid, I'm not falling for it.

10:22 - blind joke! oh, how droll.
10:23 - Catherine Deneuve's still got it. And another clip sequence. See more foreign films! Did someone just thank Schwarzneggar?

I haven't commented on the shadow puppet/tumblers because it's just too easy.

10:35 - Jennifer Hudson proves again that Supporting Actress is the ingenue's award. Thank you for not winning it for playing a hooker.
Actresses who got their start with this award: Eva Marie Saint ~ Rita Morena~ Patty Duke~ Goldie Hawn ~ Meryl Streep ~ Jessica Lange
Actresses we never heard from again: Tatum O'Neal ~ Anna Paquin ~ Olympia Dukakis ~ Marisa Tomei ~ Kim Basinger

10:49 - Jodie shot. Notice how I mention that instead of Al Gore accepting the Oscar. Because I am shallow and blinded by her intensity. I don't even know what Al said, but I know she agreed with it.

I think Clint Eastwood might be having a stroke. How can we be sure? Smile, Clint! I had to know what instrument that is that makes the whistle in the The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly theme. This took some doing. It is called the arghilofono, and is related to the ocarina, which perhaps tells you less than you knew before. And along the way I had the opportunity to buy it as a ringtone.

11pm - 2nd glass of wine. Notice how I practice alcohol in moderation. You know what else is nice - a little dark chocolate. The Russell Stover's heart box is now 75% off. Buy one for your desk at work.

11:28 - where've I been? I got distracted during the Dreamgirls music sequence and started searching Netflix for Oscar nominated pictures I had not actually seen (LOTR chapters not included). I decided maybe I really should see A Passage to India and the next thing you know, I had lost half an hour somewhere.

11:40 - the "America" film sequence was a little odd. I would have traded that for the In Memoriam rollcall, which should have happened by now, and I am wondering if it is going to at all. And now The Departed gets its first award as Thelma takes the stage. I have delayed announcing my best picture pic, which is The Departed. The others (that I have seen...) are quite good -- Little Miss Sunshine is an impressive first film.

SHUT UP! IT'S JODIE! I had to interrupt my own thought. May I point out she is reading the roll call.

so - who is Randy Stone and what's the story there? He may be the father of her children, Charlie and Kit. He was a producer, casting director and otherwise movie-maker who died Feb 12 at 48 of heart failure. His other contribution is The Trevor Project.

12:01am - Lead Acting awards. Peter O'Toole's moment? Is he there with Angelica Houston? I rather like Forrest Whitaker.

Three cheers and a Tiger for me! What's with Forest's eye? Strabismus. Look it up. I can't link everything.

12:07 - Director - I am actually predicting the United 93 guy over Marty. And I am wrong. But how happy we are for Marty. It is only 9 o'clock in LA. They are just getting started. Now, seriously, go see this film. And Good Fellas. And Taxi Driver. maybe Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. But not Gangs of New York. or New York, New York.

12:13am - Departed should be a shoe-in now. And Scorcese may be right about the first movie he has ever made with a plot. here's a crazy-ass Scorcese moment - Robert DiNiro's Scorcese impression as Lou Cipher in Angel Heart. Really... really no other reason to watch that film.

I have to post this now. The back of head hurts from the laptop. I have a meeting at 10:30. And it might be snowing.

Goodnight everybody!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Endless family fun

The side of the box said, "Discover endless family fun at Nabiscoworld.com."

And, since they were Premium saltines, and I was curious how long fun could go on, even with the National Biscuit Company family of snack products, I thought..... humor me. I want endless fun.

Right away on the front page, I have questions.

Why does "double stuf" have only one F? Wouldn't 2 Fs more successfully reinforce the "double," besides being the correct spelling?

Now all I can smell is Oreo cream.

NabiscoWorld requires a login. This will not score me Cheez-Its, so I see no point.

As you continually click the Home page, you'll refresh to some new snack item that may entice you to finally create that password. If not Oreos, perhaps Ritz. Or Nilla Wafers.

"see which Nilla recipes are NASCAR favorites!"

I want you to know I am not making any of this up.

And yes, there are games. You do not have to log in to play them, but you can't store your scores without an account. "In your face, Snack Well!"
I played something called "PowerBall," which was basically Boggle as branded by Triscuits. It made an annoying ticking noise and never asked me if I wanted to play again. It just assumed I did.

I don't know why video games feel they have to play music. Don't they know we have the radio on already? I feel this way about Hold music as well.

Just sitting here in my empty house, wishing there were music on -- oh, if I only had a video game!

This game pictured was harder than it appears, but I think it was because I was distracted by trying to figure out how making a match wins me Nutter Butters, and some of them spin around and you have to catch them. And what are some of these cookies, anyway? Is there a game for Sociables?

Real instructions for this game
1.Click on pieces to rotate them and match adjacent colors.
for people who use words like adjacent, but have no other source of entertainment, Nabsico presents "Twistout!"

Later in the instructions
4. Try to set up combinations to increase your bonus multiplier.
"In a minute, honey! I'm increasing my bonus multiplier!" [pause] I'm in an adjacent room!" [pause] "Do we have any Nutter Butters?"

enjoy this:
"Hi kids, when you see "Ad Break" it means you are viewing a commercial message designed to sell you something. Remember, if you are under 18 years old, you should get a parent's permission before you submit any information about yourself or try to buy anything online."
{insert sound of me sucking my teeth}

did you know Zwieback is an excellent cheesecake crust?
dare you
The great state of Maine (that is pronounced Graay' Staay'-a- Maay) is famous for having saved Nabiscos pilot cracker from extinction. Nabisco will still stock it in New England, and airlift it to whoever wants it, but they don't give it no propers on tne Nabiscoworld page, and no recipies.

For Crown Pilot recipies, go here

To sing a song about the pilot, go here

To purchase a lapel pin...

I think www.chebeague.org might have it all over NabiscoWorld.


Saturday, February 17, 2007

What's in a name?

Perhaps the most interesting part of this story is how I got to the website in the first place. It started with an IMDB search of Fiddler on the Roof, to the role of Fruma Sarah (my pearls! my pearls!) to "what's 'Fruma,' anyway?" to this baby name site (Yiddish for Pious) where one can self-indulgently search one's own name for facts that should have no bearing this late in your life.

What I learned from the Behind the Name baby name site.
(about my actual name, not Miss Bender's name. I haven't slipped that far. And since I have an ambisexual name, recently outed on this site by the equally ambisexual "Pete," I got to learn twice as much as you. nyeh.)

On the ratings page, pictured above, I learn that my name is overwelmingly "good," and equally so for males or females. Which is nice, because family legend has it the Germans advised against it.
It is also overwhelmingly "Natural," which is opposed to "urban," and I can imagine several reasons why they would choose "natural" as the opposite of "urban," instead of other options
- pastoral ("what, like...religious...?")
- rural ("Like, Fern? Or Half Pint?")
- white ("oh no you di'int.")

It is more "classic," than "modern," say the 57 respondents (including me) which made me wonder if that's a compliment. So I went to the "popularities" section, where you get a chart like this:

Americans are not naming their boys this anymore. And certainly, the census ratings back up the opinion poll -- not many people naming their girls this either. Still in the top 100, but in its day, when it was given to me, it was #34. And it just kept falling.
You know what's #34 today?
Specifically this spelling. I am the Kaitlyn of my day. #32 is Destiny.

Here are names you may not believe are so popular they are actually in the top 1000 - meaning, more than 1 person thought of it. In order of popularity.
Genesis. # 155. Higher than Karen.
Paris is # 206. And I am so sad for those girls.

My dear sister, greatest of all sisters, without whom I would never survive, was very nearly named Maude. God Bless Miss Maudie, she deserved the honor, but in 1960, it didn't even rank. She got Miss Maudie's middle name instead, a cool # 56.

Incidentally, when in high school, Greatest of all Sisters announced she would name her daughter Autumn. As always, she was ahead of her time. It was only #328 in the 70's, but it was the first decade it made the charts.

The story comes full circle because she did not, in fact, name her daughter Autumn.
She named her after me.

#130 rank be damned.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Why specs matter

I keep staring at it. But that is what it says, right?


I am glad today that I am not a flower delivery man. But you, American Northeast, shall get your flower deliveries! Have no fear! (you have to read that loudly, like Jon Lovitz. It loses something in translaton). Winston's has 4-wheel drive.

It is Snow Day in New England, which in mid-February would not be post-worthy in any other winter. But not only has it not snowed this season, it hasn't even rained -- just cloudless sunny days of 9 degrees, which will make spring feel like a downturn instead of the upturn it usually is.

This is not going to be one of those well-considered, over-researched, insert-third-hyphenate-adjectives posts you enjoy from the drawing-in room. It is going to be more like a letter I might write you, since I am just going to write off the top of my head -- coffee at hand, Pachelbel on the faux-classical station which is playing "romantic classics," whatever those are. Songs your lover has heard of, I think.

This is one of those posts where I feel like I have not posted recently enough (and neither have you, but we're talking about me now). So you are catching whatever is on my mind at 7:45 on a weekday, which as you may already know is indeed how I write a letter.

And I have been as far as the curb to put out the trash, because there is no snowday for them either. I am glad I am not a garbage man. That's generally true regardless of the weather. I hate having to be publicly grateful for a non-essential desk job that today consists of 3 conference calls anyway. But here in my thermal jammies, with coffee and commercially-accessible classical music... I will not choose today to complain.

Because I was not here in 78, the best blizzard story I have is the April Fool's day storm of 1997. And that was nothing to sniff at for sure, as it was only 3 inches short of "the big one." It was the kind of storm you had to keep up with -- going out every hour or so to maintain your tunnel out and free the car in case anyone had a heart attack freeing the car.

I know that a blizzard is no damper on a valentines day if you knew enough yesterday to cancel your plans and buy a roasting chicken, potatoes and gravy, asparagus, and a couple of bottles of wine. You both call in snowy and have the Sunday you always say you are going to have but don't, because someone wants to go running or furniture shopping or "do" the yard. Dr Zhivago is a good rental for a day like today.

I was having a work dream this morning just before I woke to the sound of the plow. I hate to go from the above image to this one, but we are not editing today. Anyway, the senior exec of my department -- that is to say, the Boss's Boss, or "Big Sweaty," -- was there, and dressed in an outfit I think my Ken doll had -- a white v-neck tennis sweater, and possibly shorts. I didn't look. He asked me if I was getting a lot of work done on these at-home days. (and you know what, sir..? no, but that's not for lack of trying) It was not snowing in my dream. Clearly, he was playing tennis. Standing on the porch of some Somerville-style house, where Blythe Danner was vaguely present in the background and for a second Grey's Anatomy's Ellen Pompeo.
[sidebar: Grudge Match - Ellen Pompeo and Calista Flockhart. go.]
[second sidebar: "celebopedia." excellent]

Oh ~~ so, anyway, I said some feathery blahblah answer -- pretty much exactly what I would say to him if he asked me this in real life -- and I awoke wondering if I feel bad about working from home. I do not. I'll tell you what I told the Boss (the immediate one, not the sweaty one) yesterday which was, "It's 2 hours to work, 3 hours of listening to everybody's story about how they got to work, lunch, then leave early because oh...the weather. If I stay home, I can be productive at 7am."

So now it is 8.
One woman's "productive...."
I'll stop.
Time to make the WENUS.
Happy Valentine's Day.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Feed Your Head

I haven't been this jealous of someone else's work ever.
Thanks to Monkeys for Helping for turning me on to this.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Follow the Money

or... How easy it was to get a vaccine legislated.

my earlier HPV vaccine rant

James "Rick" Perry: governor of Texas
Mike Toomey: former chief of staff, now lobbyist for Merck
Deirdre Delisi: current Chief of Staff
Dianne Delisi: State Rep, Chair of the House Committee on Public Health, State Director for Women in Government

$253M - Merck liability to the widow of Vioxx user Robert Ernst, as awarded by a Houston jury
$26.1M - Liability ceiling under Texas state law

$1M - Merck cash donation to the American Red Cross following Hurricane Katrina
$2.6M - Merck donation in the form of vaccines

$87,000 - Merck donations to statewide campaigns
$6000 - Merck donation to Rick Perry's election campaign
10% - Merck's fraction of total Texas campaign donations made by pharmaceutical industry affiliates

$360 - approximate cost of full dose of vaccine
2 - Texas state rank in cervical cancer cases
25% - estimated fraction of uninsured Texans

Texas Executive Order: provision of the state constitution that allows the governor to set policy without legislative vote.

"I look at this no different than vaccinating our children for polio,” Rick Perry
"Democracy functions best when we have an active citizenry. " Rick Perry

4: number of years the vaccine has been tested
None: number of adult women who were vaccinted as girls
Unknown: long range effects of vaccine on adult women and birth defects

one consistency in policy: still against a woman's right to choose.