Saturday, March 26, 2022

Howard ranks the Oscar nominees

Tomorrow is Oscar night, and I’m back to my annual tradition of listing the Oscar Best Picture nominees, ranked in order of how much I liked or didn’t like them — not predictions of winners.  I did see all ten nominated films.  Ten was too many!  In my opinion, most of this year’s nominated films aren’t special enough to be considered for Best Picture of the year.  But hey, that’s just me.  Maybe the film industry has just left me behind.

So here we go…

1.  CODA.  Fir those of you who don’t know, CODA stands for Child Of Deaf Parents.  Considering that three of the four main characters are deaf, this is a beautiful amazing script.  A warm and gripping family story.  Highly recommended for everyone!  

2.  WEST SIDE STORY.  Considering how much I love “West Side Story”, on stage and on film, it was hard for me to not pick this Number 1, but hey!  This musical won Best Picture in 1961, and I’m not sure that it needed to be done again,but Spielberg did a great job, and this re-make in many ways is better than the first one.

3.   LICORICE PIZZA.   This is a hard-to-describe movie, but I liked it.  Picture it:  1973, Southern California, high school kids coming of age —  but somehow it all works.  And Bradley Cooper makes an appearance, which is always a plus.

4.   BELFAST.    I had trouble with the Northern Ireland accents, but the other people in the audience seemed to get it, so maybe my brain just doesn’t move fast enough.  But it was definitely an interesting and disturbing time in that country’s history, and the film is worth watching to get a feel of the troubles.

5.    DRIVE MT CAR.  Fortunately, I saw this in a theater — a captive audience with a big screen.  On my TV at home, I never would have made it through the three hours .  It’s tedious and complex and actually quite impressive.  In Japanese with subtitles.  Lots of Chekhov references.  Definitely not for everyone.

6.    KING RICHARD.   There is no question that the story of Venus and Serena Williams is cool, but that doesn’t necessarily  make it a cool film.  At times it felt like watching a tennis match for two hours and 21 minutes.  Will Smith may win an Oscar.

7.     NIGHTMARE ALLEY.   It’s brutal and dark, but Bradley Cooper makes it worthwhile.

8.      THE POWER OF THE DOG.  I liked parts of it but didn’t really get it.  This film received the most Oscar nominations and should win for cinematic achievements.  Beautifully filmed.

9.       DON’t LOOK UP.    It’s just too un-special to be a Best Picture nominee.  It would have made a final made-for-TV Movie of the Week.

10.      DUNE.   Who-cares? dialogue leading to the next round of special effects and violence.  Maybe I would have cared more if I had seen it in a theater instead of HBO Max.  Or if I had read the book.  But life is too short.

That’s all I got, kids!  Get out of your recliner and go see a movie.  And watch the Oscars, so that we all have something to complain about.the next day.  

Friday, July 24, 2020

don’t rain on my non-existent parade

It can be argued that baseball in its best is pretty boring.

Last night, in an abbreviated baseball season, baseball summer 2020 season, with no fans in the seats, started.  Up there on the screen were the Washington Nationals playing the New York Yankees.

So what can screwed that up!  How about rain?

A baseball game with no fans and a rain delay?  How we still watching??!

Sunday, July 19, 2020

where to find inspiration

I’m feeling so uninspired these days... But where does a person find inspiration?

From a place?  I recently moved from a home that inspired me to an apartment that so far does not inspire me.  Do I have to move again, or hope for change right here?

From a lover?  Jerry, the love of my life, passed away three years ago, and life with someone else could never be as good, so why try?

From friends?  Maybe, if they are the right kind of friends — if they care whether I am inspired or not.

From within my own soul?  Or has that train left the station?

Saturday, July 18, 2020

weird in a good way

I consider myself lucky that I have visited, at some time or other in my life, all 50 U.S. states.  As I neared that “50th”, I purposely chose a #50 that I was looking forward to seeing, rather than settling for, say, a North Dakota.   It was Oregon.  I had people to see there — relatives and friends — on the Oregon Coast and in Portland, and the state’s reputation for its beauty, its progressiveness, and alternative lifestyles held some appeal for me.

It was October 2011.  The Coast was indeed beautiful, and there was much happening in the city of Portland.  Jerry and I happened to be there during the “Occupy Movement” that started as Occupy Wall Street in New York City and gradually sprouted out across the country.  Occupy Portland was one of the largest and most active of the protests, having taken over several blocks of downtown Portland.  A wide variety of human beings had encamped there over several weeks and were proudly representing Portland’s unofficial city motto — “Keep Portland Weird”.  Jerry and I had been participating in Occupy Minneapolis, and it was fun to see the contrast.  The Occupy Movement was peaceful and made a valid statement.

Fast-forward to Portland, Oregon right now.  In the last few days, peaceful protestors in that city have been violently attacked by unidentifiable federal or military agents in combat gear.  Apparently, Drumpt is attempting to make an example of Portland, to see what he can get away with in repressing alternative political expression.  Pay attention.  This is real and repulsive.  As my nephew Jeff said this morning, “The fascism is no longer hidden.”....

Friday, July 17, 2020

stilted conversation

Remember when there were topics of conversation that didn’t include coronavirus and/or our idiot “president”?

Think of the diversions that normal summers could give us —

—  Sports!  We are already halfway through the non-existent baseball season.  I could have been lamenting how disappointing the Philadelphia Phillies could have been doing!  And how are we going to have a fall without football?
— Summer vacations!  Most people are afraid to get on an airplane or stay in hotels or resorts.  And I for one am not about to sleep in a tent.
—  New movies!  And once movie theaters open again, is somebody even producing movies now that can be released?
—  Concerts and live theater!  I’m dying to see some live entertainment... a symphony orchestra, musical theater, anything!
—  Summer love affairs!  Who wants to kiss through masks?
—  Political conventions!  (Ha!  Just kidding!)

Or maybe it’s just a summer to bask in memories of summers past..... or have a shaky hope for summers future.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

tax day 2020

Normally in the U.S., individual tax-filing deadline day is April 15, a date on the calendar that has generally become notorious.  In this abnormal year of 2020, the deadline, because of Covid, was pushed out by the I.R.S. to July 15th.  Today!

I wonder if Drumpt filed his on time and if we will ever see it.  Now that his lie about his tax returns being “on audit” and thus unavailable has been debunked, he has whined that his tax returns are too complicated for us to understand anyway.

Oh yeah?  I’ve been a CPA for 40 years, dude.  Try me!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

la quatorze juillet

Welcome to Bastille Day 2020.... I don’t know if they are celebrating in France as they usually do.

Bastille Day — or French National Day — celebrates the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789, a protest that led to the French Revolution.

Do you ever feel like storming anything?

And Bastille Day has become just an excuse to celebrate everything French, sort of like St, Patrick’s Day has become a reason to celebrate everything Irish.

For all those who don’t really want to raise a glass to the French, well, let them eat cake!

Monday, July 13, 2020

the Washington (fill in the blank)

Today, the Washington Redskins NFL organization has (finally!) dropped the Redskins team name after years of hearing protests that the name is a racial slur.  A new nickname will be decided and announced at a later date.

Meanwhile, the Cleveland Indians baseball team is considering a name change.

Which brings me to a question....

Christopher Columbus “discovered America” accidentally when trying to find another route to the East Indies, and when he landed he assumed that the inhabitants were Indian, that he had succeeded.  So when he at some point realized that he was in a new land and not in India, why were the natives still called Indian and are to this day?  Somebody couldn’t have come up with a different, more specific and original name?

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Pence with a pistol

People have been talking about the Broadway musical  “Hamilton” because it’s been on TV lately.  The stage version on Broadway was such a smash several years ago that tickets, if a person could manage to locate any at any price, were super-expensive.  It’s a filming of that original stage production on TV now, so it’s kind of a big deal.  I was fortunate to see it live on stage when the Broadway touring version came here to Minneapolis a couple of years ago.  It’s impressive, although the hip-hop music isn’t so much my cup of tea.

A strange hero for a Broadway musical, though — Alexander Hamilton, one of our U.S. “Founding Fathers”.  And even though Hamilton was important in those early years, such as being the first Secretary of the Treasury, he is perhaps best remembered in history for how he died — gunshot wound from a duel with Aaron Burr.  Although it’s hard to imagine how any intelligent men would ever agree to a gun duel, no matter their disagreement, what made this duel even stranger was that Aaron Burr was the sitting Vice President of the U.S.  The duel was illegal, but Burr was never charged.

Can you imagine our current U.S. Vice President in a duel?  Actually, it’s scary to think of him with any weapon of any kind in his hand.  But one thing is for sure:  If he were to survive a duel and be charged with a crime, he could count on a pardon from Trump.  All that butt-kissing would have paid off.

Friday, July 10, 2020

sweating it out — summer 1968

Mid-July in Minnesota, and it’s hot.  On these muggy, miserable days, I take some sort of comfort in the memory that this is nowhere near the miserableness of my summer of 1968.  That’s when I was drafted into the Army and spent those dreadful months in basic training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Fort Polk, Louisiana (Two U.S. Army bases named after Confederate generals — 🙄).

So can you picture me trudging through the swamps of those Southern states with a rifle on my shoulder and a full backpack weighing me down — all for the  now-laughable purpose of preparing mostly-pacifist me to be a killer in those even more miserable swamps of Vietnam??

It was bad, but that was as bad as it got.  After all that prep, I didn’t have to serve in Vietnam.  The universe was watching out for me.  I wish I would have known that as I was sweating profusely, shaking mud out of my boots, swatting mosquitoes and watching armadillos scoot by.  Get the picture?

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Proverbs 3:3

“Never let loyalty and kindness leave you....”

But then — how many people never knew what loyalty is and never had any kindness in their soul?

I could name names.....

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

next plane to Amsterdam

Now that Europe is forbidding Americans to travel there because of our out-of-control mishandling of the coronavirus, I’m of course dying to get back there!  And it’s been too long.....

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

what to do in a sports bar

I stopped at a nearby sports bar, had a glass of scotch on the rocks and a few chicken wings... sitting at the bar, counting at least twelve large TVs around me set on channels that struggled to be something about sports... But what news is there?  Fretting about whether there will be any Major League Baseball this summer or any football games this fall or NBA or NHL or whatever else there might be?

And, just because it has something going on, has NASCAR ever gotten this much attention?  And how the heck is NASCAR a sport?  I drive a car every day, and I love driving, and why would I want to watch simebody else driving a car?

Another scotch, please.... and what might be on the other channels?