A night at the Oscars | Bleader

A night at the Oscars

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1) A little late for dinner, though it's just after seven and already the restaurant's deserted. Not Super Bowl Sunday, so it can only be ... "The snow," my partner for life insists, "plus maybe it's always like this on Sunday night." In any case, we're out of there as quickly as possible so Cheryl can catch the Oscars: updating an encyclopedia article on same, wants to do all the primary research firsthand. Meanwhile, I've decided it's time to ...

2) Attack the snow on the walks. Shovel the pavement behind our unit ... then the pavement in front of it ... then the neighbors' walks on both sides, front and back ... then all the walks and street frontage along the north end of the courtyard. Which unfortunately will come to an end before the Oscars do, so it's inside again to find the cat's fuzzy ball and ruminate profusely on ...

3) A very stupid op-ed by David Brooks, published originally in the New York Times, that's been e-mailed to me by a friend. "Sometimes a big idea fades so imperceptibly from public consciousness you don't even notice until it has almost disappeared," Brooks blusters on. "Such is the fate of the belief in natural human goodness. ... Today parents don't seek to liberate their children; they supervise, coach and instruct every element of their lives. ... People are mostly skeptical of social engineering efforts. ... Iraq has revealed what human beings do without a strong order-imposing state." Don't see why he wants to drag in that "goodness" notion--perfectibility's the usual Enlightenment-hating rubric--when all that's actually at stake is a kind of ameliorative response: better to have food than not, a job than not, an economy that's not a priori punishing to more than 30 percent of the people subject to it, and so on and on. Plus now we learn that Ronnie the Gipper was actually an "Emersonian liberal" in disguise: so what's the effect on Brooks's pantheon of "Tragic Vision" thinkers, "many of them ... conservative"? But I'm sure he'd be more than willing to welcome the "strong order-imposing state" into his own presumably upscale, comfortable life ... What, you mean it's not just for all "those others"?

4) "Pan's Labyrinth won for Best Cinematography," Cheryl's come down to tell me. O crap, that cinematography's just plain bad. "Yeah, I know," she agrees with me for once, "and I liked another one better." Except she can't remember what the other one was.

5) Back in a couple minutes: "So guess what won for Best Foreign Film?" Obviously Pan's Labyrinth. "Nope, guess again." Jeez, I can't even tell you what's been nominated. "The Lives of Others!"--which is like sticking in the needle, since we've been fighting over this movie for almost a week: a real stinker, in my opinion, with a big, hulking tomato-can target, like the broad side of the morality barn, but for Cheryl it's close to divine--and where's your human sympathy absconded, tough guy? No emergency counseling for us yet, though ...

6) "What about Best Supporting Actress?" Abigail Breslin on that one--in fact I hope Little Miss Sunshine sweeps in every category it's nominated for. Pure schadenfreude on my part there, like letting "the terrorists" win one for a change ... and why do you hate Oscar so much, Pat? But, fortunately or unfortunately, it's somebody else and we all know who by now, though Cheryl couldn't recall right then ...

7) Finally upstairs to witness the rest of ordeal, and it's Dreamgirls medley time. Pretty appalling stuff at this late stage of our racial disenchantment, more like a throwback to Josephine Baker-style negritude, all that fetishistic sass and shimmy, which seems to me pretty much a white-bread fantasy of what life-affirming "blackness" ought to be about. Must we really go there now? But Forest Whitaker pretty well recouped the disowned territory with his awkwardly charming and disarming Best Actor's acceptance speech: so maybe it's a shared culture after all, where we recognize ourselves in whoever the imagined other is. Didn't like the film much though, also thought Whitaker's work in it way too obvious and overscaled, but damn if I didn't want to shout hooray for the guy!

8) Learned that a lot of obscenely rich male types really do grovel and groove over their new Mercedes Benzes. So what about soccer moms? Not their own fantasymobile, I guess ...

9) Emcee Ellen DeGeneres applies the vacuum to the carpet in the theater's front row and Penelope Cruz obligingly shifts her feet. Hoping against hope that everyone else in the row sits tight ...

10) Well, it's The Departed--and not Little Miss Sunshine--that's sweeping away everything in its path, so it's just about time for me to do a little sweeping too, take out the Sunday trash, the cat litter and recyclables ... Plus I think it's starting to snow again.

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