March Rambling: mostly about me

I’ve been Superman, Abraham Lincoln, and a Georgia O’Keefe painting.

roger2
My old buddy Augustus (who you FantaCo customers might have known as Matt), put this together for my birthday. Pic on the left is from the cover of the FantaCon 1988 convention program, drawn by the late Chas Balun. The image is on the right was John Hebert’s rendition from Sold Out #1, c. 1986.
This is about me because: It was so cool. And he wrote: “Thank you for turning me on to a world of literature far beyond science fiction and fantasy. You are still an influence on this boychik. Long may you arrange. (books in order).” And you thought I couldn’t blush.

Now Jaquandor KNOWS how to celebrate my birthday. He added me to his sentential links here. He answered my question about football.
This is about me, obviously. (Sidebar: some highly educated person wrote: “As is my want” recently in a mass e-mail I received. You have NO idea how difficult it was for me NOT to correct him. Jaquandor would NOT make this misteak, er, mistake.)

Tom Skulan of FantaCo is being interviewed for Theater of Guts.
This is about me because: I worked at FantaCo for over eight years I took the photo of Tom, and also the pic of the late Chas Balun looking towards the ceiling. I find it interesting that my photos of the store and the FantaCon have been so heavily used since I am really a lousy photographer.

Dustbury answers my question about women’s fashion. Not only does he know more about the topic than I do, but he also knows more about popular music.
This is about me because: as a librarian, I am always ready to defer to people with greater expertise.

Occasionally, I’ll do one of those BuzzFeed games. This month, I’ve been Superman, Abraham Lincoln, and a Georgia O’Keefe painting.
This is about me because: actually I found the first two descriptions relatively accurate; the third, maybe not so much.

Meet Jeopardy!’s new master–and his controversial strategy, [Podcast interview] by Glenn Fleishman, two-time JEOPARDY! winner. Plus Arthur Chu’s social media brand, from the New Yorker.
This is about me because: I like to watch JEOPARDY! And now that Chu’s 11-day run is over, these articles will stop, at least until the Tournament of Champions. See also, Ken Jennings’ interview with Julann Griffin, the mother of JEOPARDY!

Tosy continues to count down his U2 song rankings, from 144 to 135 and 134 to 125 and 125 to 115 and 114 to 101.
This is about me because: When I wrote that I was linking to his return post last month, he wrote, “Thanks, Roger! I need the pressure!” I THINK he meant that in a good way.

Eddie, the Renaissance Geek, links to Green Day songs.
This is about me because: I mean it’s GREEN Day. Yeesh. How is it that American Idiot is MORE relevant now than it was a decade ago?

In the years 1965-1966, Pete Seeger hosted a television series, Rainbow Quest, devoted to folk music. Here are 13 of the 39 episodes.
This is about me because: I loved Pete Seeger’s music, and I used to sing folk music, and this was posted by a sort of relative.

Incredibly dirty R&B: gloriously filthy music from the 30s-50s
This is about me because I really like music, as my posts this year should suggest. I’m particularly interested in the history of music in the United States. Yeah, that’s the story.

Why Sharp Little Pencil writes.
This is about me because: we lived in the same county (Broome, NY), at the same time, once upon a time. And because she speaks truth to power, which I find to be an admirable thing.

RodSerling.BinghamtonHS.
Here is, on a wall of Binghamton High School, a picture of Rod Serling.
This is about me because: Rod Serling went to what was then Binghamton Central High School, as did I. He was student government president, as was I. I got to introduce him to an assembly, sort of.

Mark Evanier linked to twelve songs, all but one sung by Mel Blanc, voicing a different cartoon character, each a “Happy Birthday” song for a different month. Here’s
January and February, and
March and April, and
May and June, and
July and August, and
September and October, and
November and December. PLUS Happy Birthday played on “the 5th largest organ in the world”
This is about me because: did I mention this is my birth month?

12 YEARS A SLAVE: portraits of Solomon Northup’s descendants
This is about me because: what it says about our preconceived notions. And because it’s about movies. And Northup lived around here.

My cousin Dr. Anne Beal is leaving one important job for another.
This is about me because: my family had Thanksgiving dinner with hers, and about a dozen other people, in 2013.

Stephen Bissette‘s open letter to DC on Facebook about NBC’s Constantine.
This is about me because my friend Steve’s dissection of DC is so deliciously understated, and addresses the issue of common courtesy.

Rory O’Neill, aka Panti Bliss, a leading drag performer in Ireland, speaks about homophobia.
This is about me because the narrative reminds me of certain people on a certain “news network” defining racism for black people.

Lisa retells the story of Esther, which led to the holiday of Purim.
This is about me because: about 20 years ago, I played Haman in a church play.

What’s the reality behind “senior moments”?
This is about me because: because…because…oh, yeah, because this TOTALLY explains mine.

Anthony sees an anxious face in this picture of a building.
This is about me because: so do I.

The Lost Art of the Unsent Angry Letter from Jaquandor, and the AmeriNZ response.
This is about me because: I seldom respond quickly to comments on the Internet so that I can avoid unnecessary noise.

SamuraiFrog is linking to Muppet stuff, such as Sequel Song and Lipton Tea commercials, and searching for sushi and St. Patrick’s Day.
This is about me because: The Daughter REALLY wants to see the new Muppet movie, so I GUESS I’ll just HAVE to take her.

Les Miserables is back on Broadway, and Sesame Street has put together an excellent cookie-themed parody of it.
This is about me because: I love theater and Muppets. And COOKIES!

picket

Frog is also still writing his 50 Shades of Smartass. Here’s Chapter 17 and Chapter 18 and Chapter 19 and Chapter 20.
This is about me because: now I have an excuse to REALLY NEVER EVER have to read the books.

Dustbury notes that a strange story about the woman’s auto-payments hid her death for six years!
This is about me because my auto-posting on this blog, and directed to Facebook and Twitter, would probably hide my own demise for a month.

I love this church sign.
This is about me because: I TOTALLY mean it. Bring it on, Westboro! Here’s my Fred Phelps tribute post. Here’s Nathan Phelps’ statement on the death of his estranged father. And Dustbury points to the new Westboro poison meister.

My Oscar predictions, 2013 films edition

The Act of Killing sounds AMAZING: “A documentary that challenges former Indonesian death squad leaders to reenact their real-life mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish.”

12_years_a_slave_soundtrackFor whatever strange reason, I’ve watched the Academy Awards for decades, more often on DVD or on tape than live in recent years, but still. It’s NOT to find out who won because I can read THAT in the newspaper the next day; it’s what they say, and how they say it. The program will be on Sunday, March 2 this year; they’ve been bouncing around the date in recent years, in late March for a long time, then late February.

Oscar picks don’t always go to the BEST film or performance, but some other socio-political and popularity factors. I haven’t even seen all the films, but that never stopped me before from predicting the winners.
* Indicates I saw it

Best Picture:
“American Hustle”
“Captain Phillips”
“Dallas Buyers Club”
“Gravity”
“Her”
“Nebraska”
“Philomena”
“12 Years a Slave”
“The Wolf of Wall Street”

Is this the largest list of movies for which I need to make a parenthetical reference that it’s a movie? Gravity, Her, and Nebraska all make lousy indexing terms. (Here’s a futurist reviewing Her, and missing the point.)

As for the winner, I’d pick 12 Years a Slave. It’s well-reviewed, it’s important, and it allows Hollywood to show how progressive it is. Yet, I’m feeling unsure because the Oscars uses Instant Runoff Voting, where one ranks the pictures, a good way to get a consensus choice.

So fans that like Wolf the best, and those who pick 12 years as their favorite, both tend to pick American Hustle as their second or third pick among nominated films; if Hustle wins, it would not be a shock.

Best Supporting Actor:
Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
Jonah Hill, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Jared Leto at some point was supposed to be the Next Big Thing, and wasn’t. He disappears into this role. (If not him, then Abdi.)

Best Supporting Actress:
Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
June Squibb, “Nebraska”

The Academy loves picking non-familiar people here. Lawrence won an Oscar too recently, and lots of people hated Osage County. Sally Hawkins has worked well in a few films, but it’s going to be between a woman who’s been a working actress for six decades (June Squibb, who was fine) or another virtual unknown. I pick Lupita Nyong’o

Best Director:
David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
*Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”
Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Gravity might have won Best Picture in another year, but as a consolation prize gets Alfonso Cuaron a trophy. He’s already won the Director’s Guild award.

Best Actor:
Christian Bale, “American Hustle”
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
*Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyer’s Club”

The Oscar math favors MM: change in career trajectory, from doing romcoms to doing serious stuff + great physical change (lost 47 pounds for the role) + noteworthy role in ANOTHER film (Wolf of Wall Street) + great performance in the nominated film. If not him, then DiCaprio, because Hollywood also likes the hyphenates: actor-producer.

Best Actress:
Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Judi Dench, “Philomena”
*Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”

If the Pope were voting, it might be for Judi Dench; the movie was viewed by Francis, and he’s met the real Philomena, along with movie creator Steve Coogan. It won’t be Streep, who won too recently. Of the other three, they really like Sandy, but she won too recently. Most of the early awards went to Cate Blanchett, but I wonder about the Woody Allen backlash. So I’m going with Amy Adams, who has paid her dues in other films, who was in another nominated film, Her, looking quite different, and who was in a cast that won Best Ensemble at the Golden Globes, but there’s no such category in the Oscars.

Best Original Screenplay:
“American Hustle”
“Blue Jasmine”
“Dallas Buyers Club”
“Her”
*”Nebraska”

Wow, saw all five! American Hustle, I’m thinking, as another way to honor a well-liked film that’s not going to beat 12 Years or Gravity for Best Picture. Though I wouldn’t be shocked if Her won; that sounds like such bad grammar.
wolf-of-wall-street-leonardo-dicaprio
Best Adapted Screenplay:
“Before Midnight”
“Captain Phillips”
*”Philomena”
“12 Years a Slave”
“The Wolf Of Wall Street”

I’ll say again how I loved Philomena. But this goes to 12 Years A Slave.

Best Animated Feature:
“The Croods”
“Despicable Me 2”
“Ernest & Celestine”
*”Frozen”
“The Wind Rises”

Two of these, E&C and Wind, didn’t even have wide releases. Frozen was great, and certainly was far better than the other two.

Best Foreign Feature:
“The Broken Circle Breakdown,” Belgium
“The Great Beauty,” Italy
“The Hunt,” Denmark
“The Missing Picture,” Cambodia
“Omar,” Palestine

Broken City Breakdown, which I’ve seen the previews for, felt like an American film, with American country singing without accents. But my guess is The Great Beauty, which has reviewed quite well.

Best Visual Effects:
*”Gravity”
“The Hobbit: The Desolation”
“Iron Man 3”
“The Lone Ranger”
“Star Trek Into Darkness”

I’m guessing Gravity.

Best Cinematography:
“The Grandmaster”
“Gravity”
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
*”Nebraska”
“Prisoners”

The three I saw looked good. I’ll guess Nebraska, just because of that great black and white, though Gravity wouldn’t surprise.

Best Costume Design:
*”American Hustle”
“The Grandmaster”
“The Great Gatsby”
“The Invisible Woman”
“12 Years a Slave”

American Hustle did catch the 1970s well, but I heard great things about Gatsby, so I’ll guess that.

Best Documentary Feature:
“The Act of Killing”
“Cutie and the Boxer”
“Dirty Wars”
“The Square”
*“20 Feet from Stardom”

I really did enjoy the one film I saw. But The Act of Killing sounds AMAZING: “A documentary that challenges former Indonesian death-squad leaders to reenact their real-life mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.” The movie reviews I’ve watched were slackjawed at how much these people revealed.

Best Documentary Short:
“CaveDigger”
“Facing Fear”
“Karama Has No Walls”
“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life”
“Prisoner Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall”

No clue.

Best Film Editing:
“American Hustle”
“Captain Phillips”
“Dallas Buyers Club”
“Gravity”
“12 Years a Slave”

I’m guessing 12 Years.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:
*”Dallas Buyers Club”
“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa”
“The Lone Ranger”

I just don’t see either of the latter ones winning, regardless of the actual skills involved. DBC.

Best Music (Original Score):
“The Book Thief”
“Gravity”
“Her”
“Philomena”
“Saving Mr. Banks”

I’ll pick Her because I liked it best, of the ones I’ve seen.

Best Music (Original Song):
“Alone Yet Not Alone” from “Alone Yet Not Alone”
“Happy” from “Despicable Me”
*”Let It Go” from “Frozen”
“The Moon Song” from “Her”
“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”

My daughter’s been singing the song from Frozen ever since she saw the movie.

Best Production Design:
“American Hustle”
“Gravity”
“The Great Gatsby”
*”Her”
“12 Years a Slave”

Not my best category, so I tend to go with the front-runner, 12 Years.

Best Short Film, Animated:
Best Short Film, Live Action:
Won’t see them before the Oscars, but if they are still in town on my birthday, I plan to see them all and second-guess the Academy.

Best Sound Editing:

“All Is Lost”
“Captain Phillips”
*”Gravity”
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
“The Lone Survivor”

One of the Lord of the Rings movies won this a few years back, so I’ll go with The Hobbit, though Gravity was great.

Best Sound Mixing:
“Captain Phillips”
“Gravity”
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
“Lone Survivor”

Sometimes this where a film that would otherwise win nothing else picks up a win. So I’ll guess Llewyn Davis, though again, Gravity is most deserving.