By Cal Kinnear
He was so beautiful, with his pale translucent skin of
shadowy fish moving in clear water, and you could see as
he moved all the way to his fluent, graceful bones. His
smile was a kiss sent floating through the darkened hall
brushing a cheek here, an eyelid there, and his eyes
whispered to them in the undeniable language of their
dreams, It's you I mean, this is for you. And who in town
didn't know it, Spit and image of his mother, they
winked, they smirked. The old turtle has a butterfly, a
hummingbird for a son. Our father would not, No son of
mine! Not if my life depended! would not enter the
theater with its thousand-candled chandelier and its
rococco ornament of gilt plaster and maroon velvet to see
him dance, but our mother slipped away in her fox stole
and peacock plume at every stolen chance to sit in the
back rows where he would know she was sitting and
sighing, and he tipped the pop-up top hat in that certain
way and sailed it into the wings, smoothed out of the kid
leather gloves one finger at a time with the most delicate
flaunt of his hips, and didn't she know it was always her
We were snowed in all day -- nearly four fluffy, beautiful inches that clung to tree branches and made heaps in the backyard and was generally lovely to look at but made going anywhere impossible, since we didn't get plowed until after 7 p.m. So we stayed in and did laundries and cleaned. Or, rather, I did laundries and cleaned younger son's room while hubby shoveled, and the kids attempted to create new disaster areas in the house and the snow to compensate.
Stupid musical things I discovered: 1) Once you get Amy Grant's "El Shaddai" stuck in your head, even if it was from a three-second clip on a commercial on BBC America and you are Jewish like me and have no emotional or spiritual investment in the song, you have to listen to it to get it out of your head. 2) There are about 40 versions of "El Shaddai" available on iTunes...most not recorded by Amy Grant. 3) Amy Grant re-recorded "El Shaddai" with Vince Gill, after their divorces and subsequent marriage earned her hostility from a vocal segment of her Christian pop audience. 4) I don't know whether there is any causal relationship or not, but the lines in "El Shaddai" that always bugged me and lots of other Jews -- "Though your Word contained the plan/They just could not understand" -- have been excised from the new recording. 5) Before I discovered that those lines were gone, making "El Shaddai" a guilt-free experience, apaulled pointed out to me that I might be able to get the song out of my head listening to Barry Manilow, since "El Shaddai" sounds exactly like a less-orchestrated, less-musically-sophisticated version of "Could It Be Magic," which is in turn is a riff off Chopin's "Prelude in C Minor."
Our evening, of course, was the Oscars, starting with Barbara Walters whom I really do not like but watched anyway so I could see Ellen, Jennifer, Eddie and Helen. (I loved Helen refusing to answer questions about how she and Taylor Hackford started dating!) The highlight of the pre-show in this household, of course, was Mumble swimming from Antarctica to Hollywood and meeting people from most of the Best Picture nominees. Other than Happy Feet references and the occasional Pirates of the Caribbean nods, the kids weren't very interested in the awards until they were told to go to bed...then suddenly they wanted to watch everything.
As Ellen said, it was a great year for Mexican cinema, but my favorite moment was on the red carpet when Alejandro González Iñárritu, Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro explained that they are not really amigos -- they don't even like each other, but there's a sexual attraction they can't resist. It would make me so happy if Cuarón came back and directed another HP film, since I was afraid to see Children of Men on the big screen -- way past my violence tolerance. The opening montage with the nominees seemed pretty silly but I did like Ellen ("If there weren't blacks, Jews and gays there would be no Oscars...or anyone named Oscar") and the Will Ferrell-Jack Black "comedians never win Oscars" montage was very funny. (Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda is the last I remember, and of course he has Sophie's Choice to balance out his resume.)
I'm glad Jennifer Hudson won even though I still haven't seen Dreamgirls, arrgh -- wouldn't have been sorry if Cate won, but she has an Oscar -- but I also loved Ellen's line about how Jennifer Hudson was there even though America didn't vote for her on American Idol, and Al Gore was there even though America DID vote for him. I am delighted his movie won, though I actually did start to believe he was going to announce his candidacy from the stage. I am even more delighted that Melissa Etheridge won and that everyone connected with the film spent their speech time demanding environmental change.
Again, the main point of rejoicing in this household was Happy Feet's surprise victory over Cars. Younger son's comment: "Know why Cars won't beat Happy Feet? Because cars pollute the environment and kill penguins." Which may be true, but I also wondered whether there was something of anti-Disney corporate backlash, and in a year when An Inconvenient Truth was picking up awards, maybe the Academy decided to pick the animated film with the environmental message! I am not sure I was quite as delighted as younger son, but I have not even seen Cars, so I was pleased for Happy Feet.
My favorite sequences all evening were the Best Foreign Film montage and the Ennio Morricone tribute before his honorary award...The Mission soundtrack is my favorite film score ever, and the oboe theme ("Nella Fantasia") is probably my favorite piece of music written in the 20th century. Does anyone have an mp3 of the song Celine Dion sang or know where there is likely to be one -- not YouTube but just the music? And, fortunately, James Doohan was included in the Dead People montage, so I will not hear from irate Trek fans this year.
I howled when Ellen announced she had brought in the awards show under time before the top four awards had been given out. There were just too many features, from Pilobolus to the backstage stuff to Ellen chatting in the aisles, like they couldn't pick a theme and stick with it. And couldn't Philip Seymour Hoffman brush his hair? Hurrah that West Bank Story won...now maybe someone will show it where I can see it outside a film festival I can't get to!
I feel badly for Peter O'Toole (even though I have absolutely no desire to see another Angsting Aging Male movie), but when I saw The Last King of Scotland, I thought that Forest Whitaker's performance was one of the most incredible I had ever seen, and I am so glad that he got the trophy. Particularly since Eddie Murphy had already lost to a big-name older actor an award that he was favored to win. Was delighted for Scorsese and his editor, even though I have no desire to see his movie, at least on the big screen -- loved watching the Coppola-Lucas-Spielberg trinity giving him that trophy, and Scorsese being gracious and clearly delighted to be up there. I suppose that since The Departed is out on DVD, I shall have to rent it.
They have plowed our neighborhood and cleared our sidwalks, but we are supposed to get an ice storm at 4 a.m. so I am betting that the kids are home for some part of Monday. gblvr and I are weeks behind on a lunch date because of snow!