Monday, February 23, 2009

81st Annual

7:15pm For the past 30 years, Dodie and I have selected our dates for the Oscars. We have never negotiated rules for this, but I think I can state them: must be a real living person. I think that is the scope of it.

What is sad – and shocking, if you know us at all – is that we have never documented this list, and now our selections of the past are lost to us. An assortment of Mark Hamills, and Parker Stevensons, Alan Rickman (her) and George Clooney (me). She goes for arm candy and mouth-feel. I like a network that will get me to the best parties.

This year, I have chosen Ben Affleck, because I am annoyed by the Best Picture nominees and I want someone who will sit in the back with me and snark on people. I am done DONE with frame-stories and voiceover. Learn to write a screenplay, would you people? Benjamin Shoot-Me-Now actually has TWO frame stories – 3 if you count Julia Ormond repeating Cate Blanchett’s retelling of Brad Pitt, because the both of them mumble and she is the most comprehensible. Tell the story – don’t tell me you are telling me the story.

And whatever happened to narrative build? Is everything now just a series of scenes so we can feel like we are channel flipping even if we stay in the same movie theatre?

I am ranting this now while Barbara Walters tries to humanize Mickey Rourke. He has never been as golden as he was in Diner. Now Barbara is telling us the story of Mickey telling his own story through the Wrestler…because he doesn’t believe in therapy. (And it shows.)

Look, I am going to need some snacks before we get underway, and I expect to stop periodically to empty the work Inbox (155, but most of them can be deleted in a swoop). But I will check in throughout the night, as you have come to expect. I post after the fact rather than in real time because
1) I don’t have TV and internet in the same room and
Well, that’s pretty much it.

My predictions – you have my word these will not be altered – at 7:45pm

Supporting Actress – Penelope Cruz. Because Marisa has already won for Hooker with a Heart of Gold. This is the next best thing. Plus, Woody Allen's supporting actresses have a good track record.

Supporting Actor – Heath Ledger. By a landslide. Not so much for his Jack Nicholson Joker impression, but for the lost potential.

Actress – Kate Winslet. Because I want it

Actor – Sean Penn. I am really guessing here, but most people respect Sean Penn, and knew Harvey Milk.

Director – Danny Boyle. Whatever else the film is or isn’t, it was complicated to make, and it doesn’t look like it.

Best Picture - Slumdog Millionaire. So says the buzz. I don’t find it Best in Show worthy, but it is not amateur by any means. I have script and pacing objections, but it is no travesty if it wins. Benjamin Button is a travesty. Frost/Nixon is a popularity contest, but Ron Howard is a much better film maker than this. The Reader has the Holocaust edge, and is also a good film, a few things we haven’t seen before (creepy disturbing things) but too much we have. Milk you have heard my speech about. If you know nothing about Harvey Milk, you will be riveted and moved. If you do, you will recognize where you have seen this all before. But this is about the Academy. And the buzz says Slumdog.

By the way, if you didn’t see The Reader, Hugh Jackman lap dancing Barbara Walters gives you the picture.

8:38 Standing O for Wolverine. See how Hollywood does not, in fact take itself at all seriously? Your annual company meeting should be so fun.

Angelica Houston is still a man. A twitchy…broad-shouldered man.

Does it seem like the writing has gotten better? Or better delivered?

PENELOPE CRUZ. I am brilliant.

9:15pm Let me reiterate my tirade. This ceremony has more narrative flow than most of this year’s nominees.

I have not commented on Ben Stiller because I can’t imagine what in the world that was all about.

9:50 Production Awards are nearly done. Not one song has been performed, which is a little strange. Does this mean a big montage in our future?

And right on cue…one arrives. Do you think the rest of Destiny’s Child get together to watch and speculate about Beyonce’s pact with the devil? I don’t think Lady Marmalade is from a movie musical. Is it?

Entertainment Weekly had better be able to explain PS Hoffman’s knit cap.

HEATH LEDGER. That one was a gimme.

11pm. If you have just found yourself drawn to AR Rahman, rent the documentary Salaam: Bombay Dreams, the making-of Bombay Dreams. He is adorable, and put up against the Andrew Lloyd Weber machine, you will love him all the more.

Did Hyundai buy these ad spots in bulk?
By the way, if you were channel flipping, NBC was showing “100 Outrageous Home Videos,” 3 of which featured people being humped by animals – wild and domestic – in the 2 minutes I viewed.

DANNY BOYLE. Three-for-three.

And this show will indeed come in on time. Which means the music awards will probably be consolidated from now forward. But I do miss the acting clips.

Who is watching Brangelina’s kids?

KATE WINSLET. She could almost make me forget Jodie. Almost.

SEAN PENN. Folks, I keep telling you. I am not new here. Look at that ovation. Jury of his peers indeed.

11:47pm Of course if I get the Big One wrong it will be punishment for this cockiness. But I don’t think that I will.

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. I didn’t. I don’t mind telling you, I am very pleased with myself.

See you at the movies.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Great moments in home ownership.... toilet shopping

As my own spouse, I get to have the best of both worlds in home repair: I replace things which are not broken and completely ignore the things that are.

So you know that if I am toilet shopping they are all (why, oh why, did I buy this house?) in working order. Just doing my bit to help the economy.

I do not say they are "perfectly good," because they certainly are not, and I don't say "there is nothing wrong with them," because this device has only 2 jobs: empty and fill. It doesn't do either very well.

It empties too slowly, fills the same and much too loudly, and uses a full fish tank to do it. So with a holiday weekend upon me, I announced that I was going toilet shopping (mostly for an excuse to use the phrase).

In the droll way she has of putting things so economically, Jen said, "How does that conversation go?" Well I am here to answer that question.

Do you happen to remember a Mad magazine moment where they parodied the way denture cleansers use giant round "tablets" in place of an actual set of teeth, knowing it would freak us out past the point of buying their product. (Does a question mark go there? I lost the harness on that sentence...) In case you don't.

So the first thing you want to know is: what euphemisms are in play? Really good ones.

Most of the pamphlets and packaging refer to "material." As in, "...moves material quickly away..." "Away," being another nice euphemism. A nice farm, where it can run and play....

Some manufacturers brave the term "mass" and attempt to measure it. In girth, I am afraid to tell you. "...Everything in the bowl," another copywriter tried. A little too on-the-nose, I think. As was "callback." You want the originality of American Standard, the brand so old it didn't have to be clever, until -- I promise you ----

I personally know 4 toddlers who would like to take AS up on this challenge. golf balls? Seriously - see your doctor.

Jim, the Home Depot expert, a strapping old New Englanda just said, straight-faced, "peepee" and "poopie." Well, why not. He also told me he was going to have sit down while we talked because he only had half a lung. So we sat on the edge of the demo whirlpool and talked toilets for a while.

His personal opinion of the AS was that the Champion 4 was hard to get parts for, and he wasn't very impressed with it. He likes the Koehler Cimarron -- which means fugitive, by the way, and I don't need one more appliance with an attitude in this house.

Jim explained about the "rapids ratings" of toilets -- like any body of white water (harhar) you want the highest number possible. I said I want whatever the Marriott buys, with that single button on top that jettisons waste like a NASA pod.

Who are the dual-flush for, you ask? Californians. Here in Clinton, where we don't even pay for the water, we are not so won over by the 1 gal mellow-yellow flush. But we do admit that the 3 gal toilet is just silly.

I have had TWO friends tell me (independently of each other) that I should spring for the soft-close lid system. I did not know this was a problem anyone had. Is there a rash of lid slamming? Don't you know to bend your knees? You open and close your oven and dishwasher all day long and that is a lot heavier. I don't lift the lid. I don't close the lid. hell, I don't even close the door unless you are there, then when I do I remember that the wallpaper is peeling off back there. I can't deal with it now, because I have company, but soon you will be gone and I'll hide it behind the open door.

Here's the info on the whisper-shut or whatever it is. In case you are worried the Feds will bust in and hear where you hid the stash.

And here is a DrawingIn classic in the spirit of the post.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Your Presidents' Day Weekend movie marathon

...and there's a picture of a train....

Anyone can celebrate Valentine's Day. It's all laid out for you.

If you want to really cut through the crowd, let's see you celebrate Presidents' Day. Let's see you take a stand on whether the apostrophe goes inside or outside, or if there is one at all.

One President? The Office of the Presidency?
Two Presidents (Lincoln/Washington)? All Presidents?
No possessive at all -- just the Presidents?

Look, if you're going to take the day off and yank the kids out of school, you could at least pretend to care.

The DrawingIn Room presents the deeper-cut Presidents Day movie marathon, in case you have already seen
  • John Adams (brilliant)
  • The American President (pre West Wing Sorkin)
  • Backstairs at the White House (man, TV used to move slowly!)

If you haven't seen those, do. But if you are looking for a new twist, try this list in this order. You have 3 days. Go.

Valley Forge
Iron Jawed Angels
State of the Union
Dr Strangelove
Thirteen Days
The War Room
Primary Colors
Shut Up and Sing


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Not it

Pardon us while we talk Facebook for a minute. We don't intend to leave anyone out; we are just working through some things within our borders. This has to do with a rash of Tagging games where a Friend posts a certain item -- typically a list, typically a list of things about themselves -- and "tags" a group of other friends to do the same.
This is an online chain letter/slambook/cootie catcher that is delightfully contagious and a riot when you are the tagger. No so much when you are the tagee. Or so we have come to decide... as a community.

"25 Random Things" went from Big Cool Thing to Email Forwarded from Your Aunt Millie in a matter of weeks. Because see, Facebook is an enormous Venn diagram and lacks an important feature (Product Managers, take note): There is no "Not It" feature which says "I already played this game."

So we got tired of it right away. Robert Lanham summarizes much of the backlash. Even within my own circle, I proposed that we shorten our Lists to 10, then promised to only tag the people who tagged me -- not at all in the spirit of keeping the game going. Facebook will allow you to tag up to 10, and that helps spread the wealth. A mathematician could tell you the formula for how quickly you will be tagged by 10 people in your circle who do not know each other. I will just tell you it is "20 FB check-ins later."

What I am so busy with that I can't make a list?

Of course we get on Facebook because we are bored, so why all the huffing and puffing when we are finally offered something to do? Remember being 8, dragging your feet around the living room: "Mo-o-o-m... I'm bor-r-r-r-red..." "Why don't you write to grandma? Read Treasure Island? Polish the silver?" "Ugh. never mind." You haven't come so far.

We want to ready OTHER people's lists. We don't want to have to BE the other people and write lists for OUR Friends. I'll stop capitalizing. I was still being 8.

Maybe if we didn't check Facebook 50 times a day, we wouldn't feel so much to-do pressure. Instead, we could log on to 5 or 10 really interesting lists about people we like. (Shame on you if you put people you don't like in your Friend circle. You get what you deserve.)
This idea came the blog-o-sphere anyway, where it was originally "100 random things about me," but in true FB fashion, it had to be shorter and faster than blogging. (see my tribute, 50 things about Cheez-its)

I have been getting a big kick out of reconnecting with my dorm mates from Freshman year (dictionary note: we were "girls," we did say "freshMEN" and we lived in "dorms." and this was a luxury car. But let's stay focused, please). Most of the friends I had made that first year did not stay -- many of them left after that first year. Not only did I not know what had happened to them for the past 25 years, I hadn't learned much about what had happened to them the first 18. So these women I once knew very well... for a very short time... a long time ago... are presented new to me. Their 25 things really are eye-opening, like little pages torn from their daily planners.

We're the mighty wave, and we shall not be moved...
We have people in our lives that we think we have nothing in common with except our backgrounds. Then you meet them again or ("meet" them) and discover how powerful that commonality can be. And it isn't just that 70 other people thought the Latin Club was as cool as you did.

You make friends after a certain age, and you take the package as it is. You don't ask a lot of questions (well, I don't) and just let things unfold like a Faulkner novel. Caddie smells like trees. nobody knows why. It's just something you know about her. Then you get a little moment of exposition like a 25 things list, and questions you weren't asking get answered.

The friends, family, mates who make up your board of directors will also surprise you in their lists. Suddenly at #17, or #29 there is a who-knew moment that you can't believe you never knew and then are not at all surprised by.
Facebook Nation will move on from 25 Random Things. It is already being parodied, and something new will come along. Plant something and see where it goes. I'll play along.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Banana Splits

The NYT crossword clue was "Fleegle or Drooper."

The answer, of course:
also a dream Scrabble play if it were not two words.

#17 in an occasional series of repressed 70's memories that turn out to be true.

Disclaimer: This is actually a 60s memory. I am splitting hairs. But I get to say what qualifies. The Banana Splits Adventure Hour was off the air by 1970. Cigarette ads lasted longer, and were less confusing.

ADVENTURE! Here are 10 things I learned from adventuring with the Banana Splits.

1. The cast of any TV show should be expected to bust out a musical number/chase scene in each episode. I would have to do a lot more research to identify which cast did this first. Was it the Monkees? Scooby-Doo? The Archies? The Partridges? The Splits? God help us, LIDSVILLE?

If the pioneers are lost to us, the standard they set was lasting. Where once a kids' show could be expected to feature a relay race and/or a pie fight, these LBJ-era programs just needed a dance break.

2. No camera angle is too crazy
Much is made today of "MTV style editing" (hey, pundits, MTV launched 25 years ago. Move on already). The German expressionism of tilted angles, later embraced by the Batman series, got heavy play in the Adventure Hour. See also rapid in-out zooming (also Laugh-In) and the helicopter zoom to a character (let's just say a woolly mammoth made of yarn) on a Scrambler.

3. Hanna-Barbera + the Krofft Brothers = too much of a good thing
Sid and Marty Krofft had their fingers on the pulse of something that was about to sweep through the 70s through brute force, but the cartoon influence of Hanna-Barbera overlaid slide whistles and boing-boings, the brilliant (but too familiar) Daws Butler, and corny vaudeville writing that instantly dated the show by the time Summer of Love was over.

The better way to go would have been to make the Splits hippies with a Muppets level of humor. What's with all the sunglasses? Clearly these dudes are baked.

4. Puppeteers are insane
But you already knew that. I think until just now I had not realized I could trace my puppet anxiety directly back to Sid & Marty.

5. How to be a mascot
This an easy job, even if you can't get a Krofft SuperGig. When in costume, frequently turn your hands over on your wrists like a croupier, then cover your mouth. You are hired.

6. Jan-Michael Vincent
uh-oh, Chongo! I do not remember what the premise of Danger Island was, but it was exciting and Jan-Michael was always swinging from a rope. Judging from the intro, though, it was probably pretty stupid.

You don't get a good look at him here, so punch along the dotted lines and put this pic in your locker.

7. Foreign people are zany
The opening of Danger Island gives you some taste, and it didn't stop there. Arabian Knights was a kind of Jonny Quest rip-off set in Baghdad, whose premise is so complicated, I can't even explain is right now, 2 seconds after reading it. Mostly we liked the idea of I Dream of Jeannie in the daytime.
7a. Apparently, elephants live in Iraq.

I think Hillbilly Bears also falls into this category.

8. I Love Cereal!
sponsored by Kellogg's. Top Kellogg cereals of the day:
Apple Jacks - Cocoa Krispies - Froot Loops - Sugar Frosted Flakes - hell yes, that's what they were called.

9. Someday I will go down one of those giant amusement park slides

Life can seem very exotic when you are this small. I have come to my senses.

10. Buffalo Soldiers
There is no evidence that Bob Marley took his tra-la-la riff from the Splits. But it does allow me to make a Sid & Marley Kroft joke. (honka..honka..). Except if Snorky is not a Rastaman, there is no explaining him.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Why I haven't blogged

a stream of consciousness nightcap.

1. I have too - 2 days ago. I've just been spoiling you.

2. I found somewhere sunny to go
And you know that nothing brings out my yammer like another snowstorm. It is snowing now, though not very seriously, unless you are on Martha's Vineyard, in which case -- are you crazy? It's February.

I missed last week's snowstorm and have the ice rink at my front door to prove it. That ain't goin anywhere. And the icicles over the front door -- remember the one that trapped Snoopy? You'll have to; I can't find a picture of it.

3. I have a headache.
That's not the excuse for the past few days. It was just the excuse for today until I finally got comfortable, and turned on the Big 80s playlist on my iTunes.

People often ask me, "what's 'Big' 80s? why do you say that?" Big 80s are 83-86, son, because I was in college and I didn't have to give a FFFarthing about anything. Late 80s are all double-breasted jackets and acid-wash, and anything before 83 is just the 70s. In Day-Glo. Speaking of which...

4. I got Fame, the series, from Netflix
Take an after-school special, add choreography, a strange Faye Dunaway impression, and scalloped shorts with piping. I have also described The White Shadow.

"in sweat."
I am going to start adding "in sweat" after my fortune cookie reading.

Freshman year, The Fame watchers were at war with the Magnum PI watchers for control of the dial on Thursday nights (kids... please google "appointment TV" if you need more info. Auntie is talking right now), so we would often have to watch on Julia's peephole-sized black-and-white. And we liked it! Julia had been to boarding school and was full of mad skills like these, which we were just beginning to call "awesome," and usually preferred "boss."

what were we talking about?

oh, 5. Facebook is so satisfying.
I can usually get my Internet on without having to be brilliant. Just pithy. And sometimes that's enough for me. I realize it may not be for you.

6. The Mill had something of a layoff.
One of those tiny ones no one else in the Company notices, because my division is politically insignificant. The effect that has on blogging is that the mood around the place gets a little somber at times like this, so there haven't been many stories to tell. I have only been back 2 days.

7. The Mill had something of a business crisis
Unrelated to the layoff, but it one doesn't help the other. You can google that on your own. I'm not INSANE, just risky.
ha-HA! I used up 2 numbers without really saying anything

8. I joined a gym.
Man, endorphins are demanding, aren't they? Machine I am drawn to/afraid of:

The ladder. I am asking you to look at the Ladder.

When I show up at work with a bandage on my chin, this might be how it happened.

9. I got nothin'.
Not true, really. I have a bunch of ideas for the 70s series, and I don't like to do too many of those at once. But I've got some stuff cooking there.

10. I have it on good authority that most of you fall behind and do a big read to catch up. so I think this buys me some time. And generates Buzz.

Talk to you later. Need to put a cool cloth on my head.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Back where the cold is...

If you ever read the blogs I link to (and really, you should, esp when you are annoyed that I have nothing new posted), you'll know that over at Raising the Boys, Susie is practicing Grace in Small Things - finding 5 things for which she is grateful each day.

It is a nice collection. And may be the next stage of blogging, now that Facebook status updates and Tittering have made the 500 word essay seem frightfully loooonnggg..

I can say more about where I've been, but I am taking the easy way out.

5 small things
1. A 2 week vacation
2. Sun on my face
3. A plowed driveway to come home to
4. A 2 yr old's joy at potty success
5. A 25 year friendship through all of the hard stuff

and tigers. Tigers are pretty cool.