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.]