T-1, 2006

Obviously. I’ve confused many of you (well, not near-twin Gordon, whose birthday is today. ) MY birthday is tomorrow. Yesterday, I noted that those folks turn whatever they turn on TUESDAY. I think I was being too clever by half. I’ll stop. After tomorrow.

As for tomorrow, I’m taking it off from work. It’s a tradition I started when I was an intern at the Albany Housing Authority back in 1980. There were a lot of strange stuff there, but one of the more civilized things they did was to give one’s birthday as a paid vacation day.

On a normal birthday, I’d get up and play racquetball for an extended time, go home to eat breakfast, read magazines and/or newspapers, watch unwatched recorded television, maybe catch a movie. Or get a massage – boy, I could use a massage.

Not this year.

I’m taking Lydia to her follow-up visit to the doctor for her ear infection, then taking her to day care.

At noon at the library, there’s a tease for a program by Albany Pro Musica called “Voices of Light: The Passion of Joan of Arc”. The actual performance is on Friday.

Since I’m in the building, and since I’m on the board of the Friends of the Albany Public Library, I’m going to help the person who does the new blog for the library.

I’m hoping there will be time to work on MY blog as well.

I may go to this at the west wing of Albany Law School at 4:

The ALS Civil Liberties Union, Black Law Student Association, and the Student Lawyers Guild invite you to a DOUBLE screening of “DISSENT” AND “RACIAL PROFILING”

“Dissent,” tells the stories of everyday Americans who were practicing their right to free speech and protest only to be thwarted, harassed, attacked, or arrested. “Racial Profiling,” documents real people caught up in an illegal practice that destroys families, careers, and the peace of mind that most Americans take for granted.

Sandwiches, soda, and wine provided between these two 30 minute videos.

About The ACLU Freedom Files:

The American Civil Liberties Union and award-winning Producer/Director Robert Greenwald’s have created an unprecedented new series called The ACLU Freedom Files. In ten 30-minute episodes, this series explores pressing issues that threaten the civil liberties of all Americans, regardless of political affiliation. The ACLU Freedom Files features well-known actors, comedians and activists, along with actual litigants and the attorneys who represent them. For more information about the series, visit www.aclu.tv.

This event is free and open to the public.

The invitation came with this:

“WARNING: Due to Presidential Executive Orders, the National Security Agency may have read this email without warning, warrant or notice. The agency may do this without any judicial or legislative oversight.”

Then home for whatever special dinner my dear wife has planned.

Of course, almost every time I lay out such a specific plan, something will come up to mysteriously alter it. Wish me luck.

78th Annual Academy Awards

“Hollywood is out of touch with mainstream America.” That’s what I was hearing all week, because of the five best-picture nominees were not big box office grossers. Again, on the Sunday morning news programs: Larry Elder, the black conservative talk show host, spouting the same rhetoric, on CBS Sunday Morning. George Will even did the “straw man” thing, noting that “Good Night, and Good Luck” was supposed to be “cutting edge”, but that Joe McCarthy has been dead for 49 years, to which I say:
1) It was its cinematography and look which WAS cutting edge and
2) McCarthy may be dead, but McCarthyism lives on, as any early opponent of the Iraq war can tell you. In fact, I think the film is as much about McCartyhy as “M*A*S*H” was about Korea, which was not much.

The Oscars, supposedly, honor quality, not box office. There are People’s Choice Awards for the most popular films. Moreover, there have been plenty of recent films that were both Oscar winners and big box office.

For the record, this is IMDB’s top ten films in terms of domestic box office:

380,262,555 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
288,060,759 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
287,153,504 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
234,280,354 War of the Worlds
216,326,425 King Kong
209,218,368 Wedding Crashers
206,456,431 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
205,343,774 Batman Begins
193,136,719 Madagascar
186,336,103 Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Many WERE nominated in the technical categories. I dare say that most of these films also cost more to make than the five Best Picture nominees, and that a movie needn’t be big box office to be profitable.

Anyway, I watch the Oscar broadcast for those WOW! moments, the emotional or controversial speech, the really funny shtick. There was exactly one WOW! moment in the whole broadcast for me, the performance of “It’s Out Here for a Pimp”, followed by its selection as Best Original Song. I saw both of the other movies from which songs were nominated, “Transamerica” and “Crash”, and I didn’t remember the songs at all.

Oh, there were moments:
*The video intro with former hosts turning down the gig, then Jon Stewart in bed with Halle Berry, then George Clooney
*Clooney’s acceptance speech, where he notes (correctly) that he won’t be getting the directing Oscar, that his obit will read 1997 Sexiest Man Alive, and that he was happy not to be in the mainstream
*The “invisible” Ben Stiller, mildly humorous
*Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin’s somewhat lame attempts to be Altmanesque. The CBS film critic was hoping Altman would give ’em hell, but he was quite gracious
*Carell and Farrell in bad makeup was a visual treat
*The American Express commercial with M. Night Shymalan; I didn’t know WHAT the heck was going on until the end
*Lauren Bacall’s trouble reading the intro for the “film noir” film clips, which was painful

I thought most of those movie film clips were unnecessary and just made the program longer. In fact, the one I would have kept is the socially relevant film clip, introed by Samuel L. Jackson. I did enjoy the “political” clips, though, the supposed slam ads for the best actress and sound editing categories.

By the time Resse Witherspoon predictably won, it was 11:03, and I just went to bed. Wish Felicity Huffman had won; she got so emotional in the red carpet pre-show when one of the hosts showed her a video clip of her four co-stars on “Desperate Housewives” wishing her well, it might have been more interesting television.

I got up at 5 to watch the remaining part of the show:

Glad about all the award winners, but annoyed that the original screenplay winners were cut off by the music.

I’ll admit; when “Crash” won for Best Picture, I jumped out of my chair for joy, in part because I really liked the film, and in part because I actually picked it to win.

But all in all, a pretty boring show, I’m afraid.

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