Department Of Putting It Off Until The Last Moment
Last Thursday I checked my list: only Roma and Vice were remaining. I needed to see those two movies in order to have seen every movie nominated for a major 2019 Academy Award.  And what, you may ask, are the major awards (and who decides such things?). The parenthetical answer is that moiself decides what is a major award, and they are the awards for:
– writing (best original and adapted screenplays)
– acting (best leading and supporting roles)
– best directing
– best picture
Roma was streaming; I watched it at home last weekend. I had put off going to see Vice and wasn’t sure, until the very moment I was walking toward the theatre, if I was up for it: I didn’t want to subject myself to the images, memories and history of that gang of incompetents and liars, torturers and thieves (Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, ad nauseum), even if their stories were presented satirically, by actors. Nevertheless, the theater got my money, and I’d say I got my money’s worth. 
Thus, when it came to our annual Movie Awards Dinner party on Sunday (a tradition I’ve written about previously in this space), I had fun watching the telecast, holding my sample Oscar ballot and commenting oh-so-knowingly on the categories (“Well, Sam Elliot gets my vote for best supporting actor, but I think the Academy will go for Mahershala Ali, even though he was nominated in the wrong category ….”) .
I found most of the awards spot on, was disappointed with a few, and was relieved that Roma didn’t win best picture – a category for which I had no personal pick as I deemed them all (except Roma) more or less worthy of the nomination.  Right up until Julia Roberts made the Best Picture announcement I feared the Academy would do what they have done in the past – choose an “artier” film to show that we here in America can recognize and appreciate Serious Cinema ®. But while I found Roma to be beautifully shot (it won the cinematography award, and also Best Foreign film), it was too languid and plot-meandering for me. It’s like I made myself watch it because it was nominated for several awards and…because I was supposed to watch it. You know, the cod liver oil criteria? (drink this stuff watch this movie; it’ll be good for you).
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Department Of Not That You Asked….
As for the Oscar telecast itself: Yo, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, are you listening?
With the recent unintended -but-successful, host-less telecast, y’all Motion Picture Academians or whatever you are finally appear to be at least trying to get on the right track. Apparently the show “numbers” you are so concerned about  improved this year. But you still have some work to do. Like other pressing issues in this world – be they related to human rights, geopolitics, nutrition,  space exploration, you name it – things would be so much better if Those In Charge Just Listened To Me ®.
Thus, here are my suggestions to get a watchable (read: well under three hours) presentation:
* This year’s show proved that no host is necessary. Do not return to the Host format.
* However, do have Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler provide the intro to the show. Every. Single. Time. You simply cannot go wrong with those three.
*Combine the presentation of awards with similar categories, saving stage entry/exit time for the presenters (you already did this, in at least two categories, during the recent show. Good on you). Have the same presenters announce all the awards for writing (original & adapted screenplays), “short” subjects (Documentary, short film/live action, short film animated), sound (editing and mixing) and the “staging/production” awards (costume; makeup/hairstyling, etc.)….
* Leave the singing to the Grammies and ditch the live performances of the nominated songs!!! You don’t have other actors read the soliloquies from best acting award nominations, do you? Simply air a film clip of a snippet of each nominated song, showing where and how it fit into the movie – just as you play a brief (~15 sec) portion of each movie/acting performance nominated.
And about those acceptance speeches:
There must be a way to attach some cattle prod to the stage microphone – or give the Academy Award orchestra conductor some kind of fart noise-producing device to use – to humiliate encourage the winners to shorten their acceptance speeches.
I suggest the Academy send, via certified mail requiring a signature of confirmation – a contract to all nominees, informing them of the RULES – NOT SUGGESTIONS for their acceptance speeches, and then go over said rules at the banquet or whatever you throw for the nominees prior to the ceremony:
* Absolutely NO thanking of your agents, managers, accountants – no one who makes money off of you. Your $ucce$$ is thank$$$ enough.
* Also, do not thank your film’s casting agent, director, writer, costume designer, etc. Not only are these thanks boring and gratuitous (your winning of the award validates their choice to work with you), it also comes off as if you are ass-kissing greasing the wheels in hopes of getting future roles. You may indeed be boundlessly grateful to director Spike Lee and his crew for taking a chance on your bony white ass – that’s great! But tell them privately, after the ceremony, when it will seem more sincere and less self-congratulatory.
* Tailor your time on camera for the audience watching the show – you know, the ones buying the tickets that keep the movie business in business? Say something humble and touching about your friends and family, and/or tell an odd/amusing/self-deprecating and BRIEF anecdote about what got you to where you are today ( anyone else remember composer Marvin Hamlisch thanking Maalox during his acceptance for Best Original Dramatic Score?  ) and then GET OFFSTAGE.
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Department Of And I Mean Every One, As In Every Single Fucking Person…
Dateline: riding the Max (light rail) train to Portland, to see the movie Vice. After I boarded and the train began moving I noticed that everyone in the car (and once I noticed what I was noticing I craned my neck and turned to look forward/sideways/backwards to try to see every person on the train), including the Hillsboro High School wrestling team (on their way to a tournament), bowed their heads, in unison. Was it respectful meditation time?
Really; it was odd. As soon as the train began to move, all aboard (save for moiself) dropped their gaze to their cell phones and/other other electronic devices they held on their laps. Or, perhaps they found their own crotches to be particularly fascinating? Meanwhile, looking out the window, I espied a majestic great blue heron standing in the middle of the field next to one of the train stops – a beautiful sight, oblivious to the crotch-gazers.
Here are just a few of the sights my fellow train light rail passengers missed:
* a Canadian geese couple (or a couple of Canadian geese – I shouldn’t assume they were a couple; they may have just been good friends, or on a first date) confronting a squirrel over the squirrel’s cache of goodies at the base of a maple tree;
* the afore-mentioned heron;
* two people hoisting a blanket, which was rolled up into a way that made it look as though they were transporting a body in it;
* a rather disaffected-looking young man vigorously picking his nose in the boarding area at the Sunset Transit Center.
But, nooooo. Ig was if aliens had forced everyone’s head down. For a moment, when the train approached my stop, I thought of throwing a question into the void: Hey folks, are your crotches really that fascinating? 
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Department Of (Yet Another) Podcast You Should Be Listening To
(And Not Looking At Your Cell Phone While Doing So)
Disclaimer: Moiself is not anti-digital technology; I am pro personal interaction.
Most people are familiar with Alan Alda as an actor, but the self-professed science geek hosted Scientific American Frontiers for 12 years. Alda is presently channeling his lifelong interest in getting people – particularly scientists – to communicate clearly by working with the Center for Communicating Science.  He also hosts a podcast, Clear + Vivid, in which he and his guests explore how to better connect and communicate with others in every aspect of life.
In a recent episode of Clear + Vivid, “… How We’re Losing Touch With One Another and What We Can Do About It,” Alda speaks with MIT professor/clinical psychologist Sherry Turkle, who has spent the last 30 years studying “…mobile technology, social networks, AI, robots…our relationships with our devices and how our constant connectedness isn’t always the best thing for us — and what we can do to disconnect from our technology to reconnect with our humanity.”
While speaking of her research Dr. Turkel made one of the more profound observations about modern/present communication I’ve ever heard. She nailed it, I thought, when she described about what happens between people who are talking face to face (or backseat to front seat) when they are in the same place with one another – what happens when, for example, someone pulls out their cell phone when they are having lunch with a friend or dinner with their family. Whether or not it is their intention, the phone users have removed themselves from the interaction, without having taken a step out of the room:
“…there is that sense of a shared space…one of the things that has come out so poignantly in my research is that when you go to your phone you’re basically saying, ‘I’m leaving the shared space.’ When you take out a phone, you aggressively leave the common space of the people you’re with.
…It has to do with presence. What the phone does at its worst is take us away from – give us an alternative to – presence.”
* * *
May you realize it’s never too early to start honing your
2020 Academy Awards acceptance speech;
May you consciously endeavor not to be one of the crotch-gazers;
May you, when inhabiting the common space, put down your phone
and actually be where you are;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 Confession: I (along with the majority of movie-goers) missed the one about Vincent Van Gogh that had William Dafoe (nominated in the best Actor category) in it. It was not playing in a nearby theatre and not streaming – there was nowhere for moiself to see it.
 In other words, thumbs up…if somewhat painfully.
My criteria for best picture includes which one(s) would I be willing to see (and pay to see) again?).
 Comedian Kevin Hart was scheduled to host the telecast, but abruptly backed out in December when past homophobic tweets of his came to light, and the show’s producers could not find a replacement host(s).
 That would be, the ratings. The “Oscar” show had had years of declining viewing audience, especially among younger (as in, under age 40) viewers.
 For The Way We Were, 1974.
 Although, in the case of the wrestling team, which was composed of buff teenage males…you could make an argument for a vigorous and sincere YES MA’AM! answer to that question.
 A multidisciplinary organization, the Center for Communicating Science is a cross-disciplinary organization founded in 2009 within Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism (Stony Brook, NY), with the goal of helping scientists learn to communicate more effectively with the public.