Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Democratic Debate, The Resurgence of an Old Word, and Thoughts on the 80th Academy Awards

The debate's about to start, and I thought I ought to post up a blog post while it's going on. You only really have to pay attention to the questions and the first parts of the candidates' answers to know what's going on.

[Holy cow, Tim Russert's got what looks like a passel of moles on his face. Jeez. Is he unwell? Maybe it's just bad lighting.]


While puzzling through a re-reading of "Moby Dick" late last year (yeah, I have some time on my hands), I encountered a word that stumped me: counterpane. I'd never seen it before. Through context and repeated usage, I discovered the word is a nineteenth-century word for a comforter, as in a thick, bed-covering blanket. For dorks like me, that's kind of fun to know. Seeing it again in another book written during the same time period, I figured it was an obsolete word, relegated to a bygone age, and so set to annoying my wife and others by using it when using the word "comforter" would be the less-annoying choice. But it turns out I was mistaken about the word "counterpane." It's not a relic after all. While reading Stephen King's new book, "Duma Key," I discovered King using the term. Looking it up on dictionary.com, the word "counterpane" is classified as "older use"; just short of obsolete, I guess. Well, maybe King's a closet word-nerd. But finishing the very short new book by Ian McEwan, "On Chesil Beach" this evening, I came across it again. So it's official: "counterpane" has either made a comeback in the 21st-century, or, more likely, novelists have been using it forever and I'm only now catching on. Anyway. My wife thought I should bore all of you with this; you know, share the pain.

And no, you can't have that minute back.

So, the Oscars! What a dreary show, first off. I guess uncertainty about whether or not the strike would be over in time for the Oscars ultimately wrecked the show more than I'd predicted. I would figure 10 days would be more than enough time to write and film one of those great filmed intros with all the requisite celeb cameos and in-jokes, but, as it turns out. Nope. Ten days is just enough time to write a short okay-ish monologue and a bunch of patter for the stars to read off a teleprompter. But complaints about the broadcast aside, I was happy to see "No Country for Old Men" do so well in the major categories. For the last couple years the Academy's done an admirable job of handing the Best Picture Oscar to the film that I thought was actually the best picture of the year. I was similarly pleased to see that the irrational exuberance over "Juno" didn't result in a lot of hasty Oscars a la "Crash" or "Million Dollar Baby." It was a good movie and all, but not, I thought, one of the top five movies of the year.

Some other thoughts about the show: I really liked the Best Song award-winner and the couple singing it did an excellent job performing it live. [I'm trying to find it on iTunes now and I discover the track is an 'Album Only' purchase. Oh well.] I'm thinking I'm going to have to check that movie out. Tilda Swinton gave a weird and surprisingly earthy, funny speech, which is in total contrast to the characters she's always asked to play, which are usually cold and remote. Her giving Clooney shit for being in "Batman and Robin" in front of millions of people was ballsy and hilarious. And I also liked seeing the cutaway to Cormac McCarthy standing up and cheering when Denzel read out the Best Picture award winner. Looking at the awards altogether, I think it's a little disheartening that in 2007, a year widely-considered one of the best years for movies in recent memory, that only one of the top five nominated films made more than $100 million dollars. Hopefully next year we can look forward to a few movies that turn out to be both commercial and critical successes in the same vein as "The Godfather," "Jaws," and "Silence of the Lambs."

And, totally unrelated, take a look at this. Kinda fun. It's Jimmy Kimmel's response to girlfriend Sarah Silverman's video, "I'm F#%king Matt Damon." It's a little over-wrought, maybe a little overdone, and not as funny as Silverman's, but it had me grinnin'.

[So the debate's over. I thought, and this is no surprise coming from me, Obama won, but I did think that Hillary's probably not being paranoid when she says the media's giving Obama an easier time than they've been giving her. I think that the debate moderators, and Russert in particular, seem to enjoy throwing hardballs at Hillary where Obama rarely sees anything trickier than a curveball when he's up to bat. I don't know for sure whether that's a function of media bias (as Tina Fey and the SNL writers seem to think) or just that reporters and debate moderators don't have as much to go after Obama with as they do with Hillary on account of her longer record. Anyway, an interesting debate, but at this point, I'm not sure how illuminating these things are anymore. The issues they've decided to "differ" on have been hashed out endlessly over these 20 Q&A's and I don't think there's any new information to be gleaned in by having more "debates" in this kind of format. I think Tuesday's primaries in Texas, Ohio, and Vermont will end up being decisive. Needless to say, I'm very excited about where this race is headed.]


Anonymous said...

Good points Crainiac!

Dude, Danny McBride was on Conan last night and totally channeling Andy Kaufman/Tony Clifton! This was viral marketing par excellance. Wonder if Conan was in on it. It was great when Danny started talking shit to Will Ferrell - awesome!

Anyway - went to the David Green retrospective last night (an ingeneous way for the studio to market his new films coming out) - and saw almost everyone there. They showed George Washington to a packed house - solid out! I'm bummed because I'll miss the premiere of SNOW ANGELS on Thursday. Best to wait when it comes out in regular theaters.

As for the elections - don't get too excited now...


As I've mentioned numerous times, the Repubs are in an excellent position to win it all. McCain, if he plays it right - can coem out of this with the prize. The Dems are in a nasty sectarian bloody battle - and this will only help McCain in the long run. Whoever comes out on the Dem side will be mortally wounded and there will be no time for recuperation.


1) Aging baby booming population will go with McCain or maybe Hillary - but not Obama.

a) most red state moderate repubs who voted Obama in the primaries - will then stick with their party loyalty come election time.

2) We are staying the course in Iraq (whether we like it or not) and most Americans are gonna wanna win - so they want someone with experience - McCain - not a neophyte like Obama or someone who is unabashedly pro-right wing Israel and myopic like Clinton. This annoys the typical American who is implicity anti-semitic but just doesn't want to admit it.

3) McCain polls better than Obama on economic issues.

Doesn't matter that Obama won 10 primaries in a row - important ones are coming up in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania - and Hillary is winning in all three so far. I see her obtaining the nomination for President and then losing to McCain by 1-3% of the vote.

Once McCain gets in office (also much of this depends on who his running mate will be due to age - quite possibly an ingeenous move would be to run with Huckabee to get the Southern vote and Evangelical base) - he will:

1) Stay the course in Iraq
2) Attempt to destabilize Venenzuela and Cuba
3) Reform the Torture/Rendition and some of the nastier aspects of our terrorism against the middle east.

He will forment a less bellicose attitude in the White House and work with Dems on key issues and do much better on the diplomatic front than Bush Junior. He isn't as good of a NAME brand for corporate power as Obama, but also people from the US eschew anything resembling a European flavor (which Obama represents).

McCain is like a Reagan-Democrat (which Americans adore for some reason) - so he will probably work to curb future tax cuts, deepening campaign finance reform, and other marginal social program reforms that will be insignificant in the long run.

America will be business as usual for the next 4-8 years where life will feel like we are standing still, going nowhere - a perpetual immediacy.

We will see the Senate and Congress remain with the Dems for the next 4 years or so....Unless the Dems start moving farther to the right on economic issues - which you could see another rebirth of the right as Arlen Spector/Arnold S type leaders (learning from the mistakes of the Bush junta years).

Americans for the most part are too lazy, brainwashed and scared to push for real change within the system. They are too mediated by the the spectacle and depend on "specialists" to help make decisions for them. They are too individualized, isolated from each other and excellent sheep for the new fascism that is emerging.

God forbid Huckabee IS selected as McCain's running mate. McCain is quite old and has battled cancer. If he does win and dies - we will be stuck with a Christian Populist Nationalist. Think about it. Is this enough to get Americans to wake up out of their NASCAR stupor? I don't think so.

As for the Academy Awards. Come on - this is a corporate congratulatory event like any other in any other industry.

I swear - I think I make myself suffer for 3-4 hours just to see a few minutes of artistic truth (like Glen Hansard and Marketa) winning best song for ONCE. And what did the dumbass producers of the Awards do? They overproduced the song by adding orchestration!!!

Overall - In my humble opinion most of the solid films this year were either small indy projects or foreign films. American films leave much to be desired. Sorry...


blankfist said...

Who's blog is this?

Gretchen said...

No shit, Heaf.

blankfist said...

Cranie, if you like the Ben Afleck video, then you like this parody of a parody of a... well, it has Seth Rogan.

watch here

Anonymous said...

Ok Ok - my posts are too long.

I will try to be more concise with my points.


JudgeHolden said...

Paul, it's cool -- post away; space on the comments is free.

And I actually caught the Seth Rogen parody earlier today -- I was surprised at how unfunny it was. Maybe I was in the wrong mood for it. Or maybe it was the chick's acting.