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#LiveStream of #OscarsBackstage on ABCDisney just started – with a commercial. Why are we suprised? And after the commercial ran, I found out, once again, without a cable provider I don’t have access to livestream. it’s all about the greed.
I’ve noticed this the past three or more years, particularly at Oscar time. All the good stuff is reserved for the paying customers – This is America, you dolt! What are you whining about? – and they throw snippets at you online. Last year, I could watch the musical performances, but no monologue. I could get the backstage stream through the monologue, but once Ellen started hitting the punchlines, even that was cut off. Is it childish of me to be so petty about being cut out, or is it childish of them to be so exclusionary? One night a year? Would it hurt them so bad to let me watch?
The red carpet didn’t used to be a thing; not for broadcast, anyway. Back in the “Good Old Days”, the ‘60s, there was a red carpet, the limosines dropping off stars for the ceremony is as old as the Oscars themselves; it barely got coverage before the show itself started (at least that’s my recollection). Besides, watching black and white footage of colorful gowns was kind of beside the point, anyway. I think the Red Carpet coverage started with cable; the networks had a world to cover, when E! first started, gaining extra screen time before the ceremony has proven a gold mine.
The E! Entertainment Channel is live-streaming from the #ERedCarpet already. Right now, they’re going over the nominees in the “major categories” (acting, probably director and best picture and the big six awards of the night).
Early word is that Rosamund Pike is the early winner in the red on the Red Carpet.
E! Red Carpet now says: “Thanks For Tuning In”
It was brought to my attention this morning, in today’s paper, that there is movement to insist on more attention to the actress on the Red Carpet, who she is and what she does and is interested in, rather than her designer.
#AskHerMore #Oscars #ERedCarpet
A woman is more than her designer. Ask intelligent women intelligent questions.
I actually kept a ‘diary’ back in those days, but it’s all been dumped into the dustbin of family history, and to this day, I can’t be sure which one was my first Academy Awards. I think it was 1962, when WEST SIDE STORY won ten #Oscars (eleven if you count the Special Award to winning co-director Jerome Robbins for his film choreography in West Side Story). I was ten.
I had to have “the talk” with my mother before going to see WEST SIDE STORY; at nine years old, I wasn’t transgressive enough to do it because it was fun and forbidden, but I felt I needed to ask my mother about the language in WEST SIDE STORY. I’ve always been a Tin Pan Alley baby – my grandfather worked his entire adult life as a projectionist at one of the Broadway movie palaces (that strip of Broadway which are now all hotels with jumbotrons); the first songs I ever learned were the first two cuts on the SOUTH PACIFIC, “Dites Moi” and “A Cockeyed Optimist”. My mother’s response was that my Aunt Margaret loved the movie, so it’s all right with her. Remarkable woman, my mother. Three years later, when I went to see A PATCH OF BLUE, which I thought was a beautiful move, my mother freaked right out – but not until after I got home and told her about the film. “I would NEVER have let you go if I had known…”, which was totally bogus; even at the time I knew it. I didn’t keep secrets (at that point) from my mom, and told her I was going to the movies, and I told her it was a film with Sidney Poitier, so how could she be surprised, much less outraged? At least it wasn’t THE DEFIANT ONES (of course, at the time I was 5 years old).
So I know I saw the 1961 Academy Awards. The next year, when Patty Duke won her special Oscar for THE MIRACLE WORKER, I can’t be certain I remember watching the broadcast of the ceremony (I probably did; I was already addicted), but I sure knew who she was by the time THE PATTY DUKE SHOW premiered that next Fall.
THE SWITCH IS TURNED ON
One night here in Santa Rosa, I was at a local diner when the hostess got all excited about a book she’d just found at a used bookstore – a history of early television, published around 1968! A small enough period of time for a coffee-table book to be fairly comprehensive, nearly exhaustive in its presentation. In 1959, I was seven. My second grade teacher, Miss DeRobertis, put me in the lead of the class play for Valentine’s Day. I was bitten that day, and for twenty years, all I wanted to do was become an actor. What I discovered from looking over that book was that, suddenly, in 1960, it was as if a switch was flipped, and I became an avid TV fan, beginning to notice everything, watching the actors going through their paces as much as the characters going their their narratives. What I noticed was that, after 1960, I remember shows by their initial runs; prior to that, only through early syndication. I remember watching daytime reruns of December Bride, with Spring Byington, but I know I watched the prime-time episodes of Pete & Gladys, probably the first television spin-off series. So, by the time I started watching the Oscars a year or two later, I was heavily vested in the film community. Even as a Tin Pan Alley baby, I was in truth merely a suburban kid growing up immersed in books and television; actual stage performance was as remote to my 10-year-old mind as getting up on that Oscar stage; but I breathed this stuff like most people breathe air.
THE STUFF THAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF
For the rest of the Sixties, Oscar night was a special event, if only for me. Nobody in my family was even remotely interested; I had my comic book buddies, but in grade school, nobody I knew even knew what the Oscar was, much less all it signified.
And I have to talk about this for a moment. In this media-crazed consumer society, award shows are a dime a dozen, there are award shows for everything – and as Emmy history shows us, there are awards for award shows. But in the early 60s, there was only one, and it was Oscar. It was glamorous, it was suspenseful (I only this year read about the 1940 debacle, when the awards were “leaked”, and the winners were known even before the awards were announced. The next year, they started the sealed envelopes tradition, soon followed by the auditors at Price Waterhouse, which to my young mind became as venerable a tradition as the Oscars themselves. Politics of the Academy voters aside (this was, after all, the age before deconstruction), to my teenage mind, the Oscars had integrity, they represented something to me, the recognition and acknowledgment in an industry that was, to my mind, the be-all and end-all of the heights of ambition. And they still do; I cannot shake that early veneration for the granddaddy of all televised awards shows. It meant something then, more than it ever could today.
In many ways, it’s like Beatlemania. That was a phenomenon that can never be repeated today; the culture is too fragmented, there is so much segmentation to the entertainment audience that overlap is the exception, not the rule. The Beatles were a singular phenomenon, above and beyond the rest of an entire industry, and they were publicly recognized as distinct and unique. The Oscars have lost their cachet, and a lot of their value, but the mystique still hangs on. People watch for the Golden Globes – as a precursor to the Oscars, mind you – but the world used to hold its breath for the Oscars.
The Oscars, I believe, was the first international live broadcast I ever saw, and the prospect awed me. People in Europe were watching what I was viewing in my little suburban home on Long Island. People around the world cared, how could I not? Yes, I realize that only certain people around the world cared when Oscar time rolled around, but to me, they were the only people that mattered, and the more that dressed up and went to the ceremony, the more I got to see, the better things were with the world.
Once again, as every year, I’m not going to the #Oscars, so I’m having a #FuckYou #WeDoWhatWeWant I’m Not Going to the #Oscars Either Party. I started hosting these events in 1982, the year before the huge YENTL snub for BS as Director, when Lanie Kazan became the first annual guest of honor, after being passed over for her role as Belle Mae Steinberg Caroca (“Caroca! Caroca!” “I knew of a lethal bantam-weight by the name of Rookie Caroka.” “You’re looking at him.”) in MY FAVORITE YEAR.
MY FAVORITE YEAR is, and remains, my favorite movie. I saw it with St♥ originally in the theater, when it first came out. I had such a rip-roaring good time that when I went home to see my folks, we went out on a double date, my Mom and Dad, my Mom’s sister, my Aunt Marie, and I. I was so gratified that they started laughing right from the start, and we kept on laughing all the way home, and all the way through “coffee and”, until Aunt Marie went home, and we all went to bed. My mother was a seamstress. My father was a dry cleaner, and my mom would would with him, at the front counter and doing repairs; one of her favorite customers was Joe Namath. The Jets would practice at Hofstra University, which was right down the road from my dad’s dry cleaning store (or hell, as we grew up calling it; it was certainly hot as, no matter the season), and he would bring in his tailoring, most famously his fur coat. Selma diamond as Lil captured my mother’s heart and imagination, one being a mirror of the other. Selma Diamond went on to play Selma, the bailiff, on Night Court. I arrived in L.A. on December 2, 1984. On January 8, 1985 (as recorded in my journal), I scored a seat at a taping of NIGHT COURT. The episode (“An Old Flame”, with Jack Gilford) I attended was broadcast, according to Wikipedia.org, on January 24, 1985. During one of the breaks, Selma was pacing the floor with her ever-present cigarette, and I told the audience M.C. that I just wanted Selma Diamond to know that MFY was my favorite film. She stops, points in our general direction and tells the M.C., “Give the boy a t-shirt” (She was dead by that next May). You bet I still have it. It doesn’t fit any longer, it’s way tiny, but it’s mine and it’s here.
It was only the next year that the Academy added insult to injury, and Barbra Streisand is snubbed by the #Oscars when she wasn’t even nominated as director for YENTL. I was so pissed off that year FOR her. That cemented it. I was never going to the #Oscars now, and every year I would host my annual “F*ck You, We Do What We Want” Party for the #Oscars. Some years, there were multiple honored ignored guests by the Oscar committees, and some years there were none.
[He He. This year, the entire black community is up in arms, and the annual F*ck You party is the best place to burn off a little resentment.]
This evening, in preparation for tomorrow night’s #lockout, I went to see the Wachowski’s latest film, another of this years’s overlooked potential nominees. Two years ago was another good year for snubbing the Wachowskis – CLOUD ATLAS was the most profound film of its year, the soundtrack was the most amazing piece of film orchestration I’ve ever heard not done by John Williams, with remarkable multiple performances from each of the lead actors, and almost completely overlooked by the Academy, and certainly overlooked on award night. Both Andy and Lana are welcome guests at my annual Soiree of Resentment.
Lana Wachowski always has a place of honor at my F*ck You parties! I love Lana Wachowski!
When I told Wayne I was going to a showing of JUPITER ASCENDING, I told him I trusted the Wachowskis more than I trust the critics, and my confidence was rewarded. I liked it; I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Here’s the thing – it’s actually a very good science fiction movie; it states its premise, and pursues it to its logical, if a bit romantic, end Sure there were derivative elements to the film, but the entire genre is based on certain derivative elements, not limited to five. And I freely admit I loved the Harry-Potter-inspired final shot.
Not every Heinlein novel is STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, but every single work the master of science fiction turned out was a part and parcel of his oeuvre, a development in his style or substance, an advancement of his worldview (which, like it or not, agree with it or not, was always clearly stated; you knew where the man stood), or a development of his narrative. Some were more trivial than others, but every work by every master of any genre of fiction cannot be a masterpiece, but that doesn’t mean it’s not work investigating. Such is the case with JUPITER ASCENDING.
If you were caught by surprise how much you enjoyed – how much it put you “in joy” – THE FIFTH ELEMENT, and have gone back for repeat viewings, like many of us, I would suggest you reconsider an evening at JUPITER ASCENDING, while it’s still in theaters. It’s not as profound as THE MATRIX, it’s not as complex as CLOUD ATLAS, but it was subtle with lots of action – and that’s a tricky combination to pull off.
— Mila Kunis was … adequate; I didn’t think she was as bad as all that; certainly better onscreen than in OZ THE NOT-SO GREAT AND NOT-VERY POWERFUL.
— Channing Tatum was… feral. Not to be missed.
— Sean Bean was, as always a pleasure.
— and then tonight’s nominee, Eddie Redmayne shows up for good measure.
We’ll chat in the morning about the nominees and the awards show I’m not going to get to see. Catch you on the top side.
I spent last Sunday reading the second of the Carmine Delmonico mysteries, Too Many Murders. I’d read the first one, and enjoyed it enough, and like the characters so well, I’d been trying to get my hands on a copy of this one since last summer, so finally went to the library to borrow their copy. The third novel in the series, Naked Desire, doesn’t show up in the library catalog (an omission I find hysterically funny; but then again, the detective novels are presented in gruesome detail, and it might be too much for some of the reading public, I admit). I finished the (unfortunately) final book in the series LAST NIGHT.
I first read Thorn Birds (1977) in hardback, when it was brand new. I thought it was amazing; the story and the plot were, to me, secondary, because of the quality of her writing. She didn’t write in British-English, she didn’t write in American-English. She didn’t write like an American, or a Brit; she wrote in English, as an Australian, and it was the first time I’d ever encountered such a thing as Australian-English.
She kept writing, I kept reading. When THE FIRST MAN IN ROME (1990 – I read the first two volumes in paperback) came out, I was both intrigued and a little confused. The overarching series title The Masters of Rome hadn’t been popularized yet, and her intent to chronicle “The Fall of the Roman Republic” hadn’t really come to the forefront yet. She wrote in modern terms, for a modern audience of ancient times; she (and her team, I’m sure) did extensive, in-depth research, and came up with psychological realities for all of her characters (without laying on a modern facade over the events), and wrote both accurately (I went back to my college World History textbook, and quickly found the basis for the first book. I’d never heard of Gaius Marius or Lucius Cornelius Sulla, even having studied the history, so all this was new and fresh to me, presented in a way conducive to being read by a modern audience. I had no idea who Marius’ nephew was, at least until the third book in the series (Fortune’s Favorite (1993) that I realized what she was doing – it took me that long to figure out Marius’ nephew Gaius Julius was the world-beater, Gaius Julius Caesar, and that the overarching aim of the series was to chronicle The Fall of the Roman Republic (and how timely has that been shown to be; the woman was a pure genius, no one can convince me otherwise).
She told me things I didn’t know (Brutus’ head is at the bottom of the Adriatic Sea (an interesting tidbit of history that has stayed with me ever since), and presented these historical figures as comprehensible, living, breathing human beings, not plot devices or historical stick figures. It was an accomplishment that alone ranks here among the greatest writers of the turn of the century. She SHOWED me things, and when an author does that, that author hits the top rank of greatest writers, to me. She surprised me, over and over again, a feat to be treasured and lauded for.
Her background in medicine (she “established the department of neurophysiology at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney before working as a researcher at Yale Medical School for a decade”) informed and illuminated much of her writing, sometimes indirectly, in the attention to detail and focus on both the behavior and psychology of her characters, and sometimes directly, as in the Carmine Delmonico mysteries, or the nursing careers of her last protagonists, in Bittersweet.
Her strong sense of history was also present in her tales of earlier generations of Australians and New Zealanders. It turned out that her husband was a direct descendant of the first transports to the prison colonies Down Under, and she tells his tale brilliantly. Then she offers the Carmine Delmonico mystery series, taking us back with her to her decade at the Connecticut of memory, and brings all her literary depth, psychological depth, and historical depth to bear on what at first seems a superficial crime/mystery story. What other writer takes the time to elaborate on the eyes of each character in turn? It’s a most intriguing detail that adds so much – going right up to the window of the soul, and offering the reader what’s there to be seen – that is so unique it had to come from a very singular mind. The Delmonico mysteries, however gruesome- and she presents the business she knows in the most minute detail –delight and illuminate in equal measure. You know these characters as people, and want to keep on knowing them.
Colleen McCullough is one with the immortals of literary history, now. There are those that would- shall we say –squabble over my designating her “The Greatest Living Writer in the English Language”. Let them. In my lifetime, there have been four; until his death in 1963, on the same day as JFK and C.S. Lewis, Aldous Huxley was my only contender for the title. He wrote poetry, he wrote plays, he wrote novels, he wrote the most brilliant essays; he wrote letters, but those were all destroyed as he worked to compile them for publication when his Beachwood Canyon house burned down in the early 1960s (for newsreel footage, you can go here: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/homes-destroyed-in-brush-fire-in-hollywood-hills). While I was an undergraduate in college, begging, borrowing and (admittedly) even stealing to get my hands on whatever Huxley collection I’d not yet read (hey – another secret released; this blogging can be very liberating! – that’s for you, Colleen), the changes wrought by the combination of Huxley’s influence, removing myself from the Catholic fold, and benign LSD experience (it was no longer experimentation, but exploration, after the first time) have influenced everything in my life since.
After Huxley took that final LSD trip, the crown fell to Anthony Burgess. Sometime in or around 1958, Anthony Burgess was diagnosed with a brain tumor that would kill him within a year, a year he decided to dedicate to writing as much as he could. He wrote nine of his first ten novels, including A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, which was published in 1962. The paperback edition I read in college had a glossary in the back, to help understand the slanguage used by Alex (the narrator) and his droogs. I started reading, and kept on reading everything and anything I could get my hands on; I was hooked. I probably first encountered Burgess in college – I saw CLOCKWORK ORANGE (“which Burgess considered to be “badly flawed”, according to Wikipedia) on LSD with my college freshmen dorm mate and his friends from home. I thought it was the wildest cartoon I’d ever seen; my dorm mate’s friend went up the aisle singing “SINGING IN THE RAIN”, just roaring with laughter. And I’d had the good chance to see the original X-rated version with the additional 30 seconds still intact. Flawed presentation of the novel the film may well be, but it was my introduction to the works of the Greatest Living Writer in the English Language of his time. By the time EARTHY POWERS came out, there WERE no other contenders. There were writers I loved, writers whose new works I anticipated eagerly (foremost among them John Irving and E.L. Doctorow – Corey not so much), but Burgess, like Huxley, was in a class all his own, his works inhabited a universe that was all his own. And he was a secret delight; nobody else seemed to appreciate Burgess as much as I did; that cinched it for me.
He wrote, and I devoured, two volumes of autobiography (Little Wilson and Big God, and You’ve Had Your Time – oh, come on; that’s a great title; he was a hell of a ballsy writer), and then he too was gone. The post of Greatest Living Writer in the English Language was vacant, and Colleen McCullough stepped up to fill the post.
Until today. It’s not an era of literary history anybody else will acknowledge, but the post has once again been vacated, and for my money, there is again only one contender. Ladies and gentlemen of the literary sphere, I present to you the Greatest Living Writer in the English Language, Neal Stephenson.
I was working at the Virgin Megastore on Times Square at the turn of the millenium, and there was a book featured by a writer I’d never heard of, Neal Stephenson. It was plain black, with white letters, and nothing else. It was intruguing; it was titled CRYPTONOMICON, yet it wasn’t science fiction, per se, it was a story of cryptography set in World War II, including, in part, the tale of my personal hero Alan Turing, in Bletchley Park. It was a complex tale deftly handled by an obvious master of the written world. I was fascinated, so when QUICKSILVER, the first volume of his Baroque Cycle, came out I was there at the checkout counter, hardback in hand. As the story continued, and I learned the story of Sir Isaac Newton, I fell into a rabbit hole of history, philosophy and just plain exciting reading that left me stunned and illuminated in ways similar to my reaction to the MASTERS OF ROME series.
There are stories that he used one of the ten books from my personal Course in Consciousness as a basis for one of his novels (Snow Crash is purportedly written around Julian Jaynes’ theories from The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind), and he could do that convincingly. I read Snow Crash before I got into Jaynes, and I am eager to take some time to re-read it and find out the facts of the matter.
His new work, Seveneves, comes out on May 19, 2015. Find out why for yourself.
I find myself, halfway between the celebration of John Lennon’s birth and the anniversary of his mourning, listening a lot to, right now, LENNON LEGEND, John Lennon IMAGINE and John & Yoko’s MILK & HONEY – specifically because I wanted to hear CLEAN UP TIME, and none of the CD collections I have (that all precede the re-mastering mania) feature any of the songs from the posthumous album.
I thought I was into CLEAN UP TIME, but still sitting at the ’puter contemplating things like baking soda for the rugs vs. a blowtorch for the boxes, yet doing little else. Then WATCHING THE WHEELS came on, and I thought – that’s what I’m doing. I’m not clearing up, nor cleaning up anything; I’m watching the wheels. The formal analysis is that I’m “detached from life”, but in many ways I feel it’s a mutual disengagement.
Everything I am, and everything I have to offer as a human being is worthless to today’s American society (the one I happen to inhabit), and all I have ever been as a ‘human doing’ is ineffective. I’m not a failure; I’m just not successful at any of it, and success with money is the least of it. Born under a bad sign – the $ sign – or at least born on the dark side of that particular moon; oh, the sun may shine on this side of the mountain, but it’s normal habitat is simply … elsewhere.
If you could bring one rock star back to life,
who would it be?
For me, I answered, it would still have to be John Lennon. The wound is still to fresh; the pain is still ALL THESE YEARS LATER, still to immediate to even yet look away. I added, now would be the time, while the people who knew and love him are still around for him to come say “HELLO GOODBYE” before it’s too late for all of us.
As I considered this, I thought once again, as I have so often in the ensuing years, of the only two murderers in my lifetime that I would personally would like to be the one to pull the switch on, he is one of them. Charles Manson is the other. If I could see to their permanent disengagement with life that they have so dishonored, I would do it and never look back.
WAR IS OVER IF YOU WANT IT.
I have been a lifelong pacifist, I tell people, but then I look back. When it came time to register for the draft in the VietNam War, it was the last (or next-to-last) draft lottery that they held before they disbanded the system. I was number 297 (out of 365 – my number was so high I was effectively out of the draft for my year of eligibility); I was also in college, and the exemption still held, but it wouldn’t matter to me personally. What did matter to me was not even my faith. I was in contact with no priests in my parish, or in my diocese; they were just Church functionaries to me, and I had little respect for the ones I knew in any case; the Catholic priests I personally encountered never impressed me. It was certainly true that none had ever impressed me the way Aldous Huxley impressed me during my years in college. When I left the Church in the next 3 years, Huxley was there to guide me to a wider field of human spirituality.
I was also guided by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. If I say “I was a pacifist because of the war”, it would be upending the argument. I was against the war because I was a pacifist. Yet, looking back, I date my stance against war, guns and violence to John and Yoko’s WAR IS OVER IF YOU WANT IT campaign. The moment I first saw the billboard, WAR was over, for me. There were – there were to be – no two ways about it, I was hooked – or unhooked, as it were. Yoko has always had a profound influence on my thought and my view of the world; she taught me as a college freshman attending YOU ARE NOT HERE a new way of viewing art, and thus life. I’d already been Yoko-hooked, but the relationship was cemented before I was 20 years old. John and Yoko told me that it was possible, and lived to show me that it was – that it is, that it remains – possible to define your thoughts, and your relation to the world – and to be productive and have a positive effect in the world at large.
But he was WATCHING THE WHEELS, you say. He’d already done a life’s work, and his househusbandry was his reward. He WAS back at work; even the expression of disengagement was a sample of his work, the flow never stopped, he just stopped feeding the machine. Every time I think about that I wonder, was he ultimately punished for NOT feeding the machine, was the rage built on resentment of Lennon’s leisure, after 7 of the most grueling years in contemporary history, living inside the BEATLES. The sane among us were proud of his accomplishments, happy for him in his retirement, and hopeful for a future when he would re-emerge to re-energize the world with his life, his love and his music. We were ready because he was ready.
And then, to die at the hands of that insipid coward with the ‘council’ in his head, egging him on, was just the outrage of outrages. That is why, given the choice, I would gladly pull the switch. Vengeance is certainly not mine, and I admit that gladly – it’s too big a burden. But this instance (or in this instance, two cases) I would willing be the one to render judgment. It has been nearly 35 years, and the ache remains, the pain remains, and the willingness to extract judgment – there is no justice in this case – remains.
so, what am I doing?
I’m certainly WATCHING THE WHEELS, I’m disengaged from the world of work and money, disengaged from the world of politics (I follow and post politics diligently, daily; but to actively engage in any of it is beyond me), uprooted and alienated from family, disengaged from the friendships I do have. I’m watching avidly, instead of witnessing, which is feeding back to the universe what you see while watching. Watching without witnessing leads to all manner of mischief, but there you have it. Passivity within, mischief without. Kind of the state of the nation.
But have I given up, surrendered, or am I waiting to catch another wave of inspiration, to Start Over? All I know is I can’t do it alone. I can no longer spend time alone at home in front of the computer and feel productive in the world.
But does the world want me? And what does the world want of me? I’m waiting and watching, even witnessing as to what I see, if only sporadically, but I’m not seeing. So I wait, and I watch, and I listen.
UPDATE: And today, on www. imaginepeace.com, Yoko uploads a campaign of WAR IS OVER materials – posters, et al., to go with a short film about the campaign, John Lennon & Yoko Ono: WAR IS OVER! (If You Want It).
We may not be in touch, but we are in contact, that Yoko and I. We’re listening to the same winds of time and space, perhaps; we’re certainly on a common wavelength – in many ways, she’s put me there.