Observations on the Oscars & Then Some

If you watched the Oscars earlier this week, then you already know.

That I wasn’t invited to present an award or to perform one of the nominated original songs.

Furthermore, unlike years past, none of the winners refused to accept the award on account of the plight of polar bears in the Antarctic, pirates in the Red Sea, or because they don’t believe that what happens in Vegas should stay in Vegas.

"Argo" wins for best picture.

“Argo” wins for best picture (and isn’t even nominated for Best Costume Drama). Sigh.

Not a soul gave a shout out to the Pope for being the first Pope to resign, not just in decades, but in centuries. And no one speculated on whether Kate and William are expecting a boy or a girl.

No one said boo about the impending sequestration this Friday, though First Lady Michele Obama, who presented the best picture award, came close when she winked into the camera. I know it was her way of saying, “Run for the hills! The sequestration is upon us!”

Yet, if anyone had done any of the above, it probably would have been Kristen Stewart, in an effort to distract us from her messed up hair, bruised arm, and an angry look that said, “I was just making out with Quentin Tarantino, but if you tell Robert Pattinson, I’ll come after you.”

And, by the way, blame me for Kristen’s hairdo. Or lack of it. Earlier that evening she’d lost her hairbrush and asked me to run to Target to buy her a new one. I was in such shock that she’d actually spoken to me at all, I plumb forgot. (Actually, it’s safe to say we never met.)

Anyway, on to my other observations of the evening:

The Oscars are predictable. Pretty much because anyone who’s won in other award shows, ends up winning an Oscar, too, and yes. If you ask me, Argo deserved Best Picture, Best Director (which it didn’t get, thanks to the incomprehensible wisdom of the Academy—sorry, Ben!); and Best Costume Drama (also did not get, don’t ask my why). I mean, did you ever see so many cool, retro fashions from the 70s since, well, the 70s? It’s like they raided The Rockford Files set and crashed head on into the cast of Barney Miller.  And, I swear one of those women was wearing the exact same pair of glasses I had back then. The kind that are so big, you look like you have the face of a fly. It’s no wonder they called me Bug Eyes back then. Sheesh.

The Academy makes mistakes. Ergo, leaving Argo’s Affleck out of the Outstanding Director category (and not inviting me to be a presenter).

Either ya got it or ya don’t.  Taste, that is. Those who wear stunning gowns always look, well, stunning, and those who wear “What was she thinking?” outfits, clearly never do.

Unlikely duos #1:  And, will somebody tell me why First Lady Michele Obama presented with Jack Nicholson, of all people? What was that all about? When he introduced her, I thought it was a joke, and I kept waiting for the punchline. In fact, I’m still waiting.

Unlikely duos #2:  There is such a thing as monologues that overstay their welcome. McFarlane’s seemed like it would go on forever. In fact, I’d appreciate if someone explained to me the William Shatner and Seth McFarlane bit. A little strange, a little off. But, it did provide McFarlane an opportunity to showcase his singing and dancing talents. Loved the soft-shoe he did with Daniel Radcliffe and that other guy whom I’ve seen before but can’t remember his name.

Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in "The Way We Were."

Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in “The Way We Were.”

Sexism is for the birds. Maybe it’s me, but the “We Saw Your Boobs” number was dumb and pointless. Haven’t we moved beyond such rudimentary “entertainment” by now? Last I checked, the sixties are over, so it’s okay not to be sexist. At least, that’s what I’ve heard.

I loved when the cast of Le Miserables came out and sang, in my estimation, one of the best songs of the musical. So riveting, emotional and empowering. Made me want to get up and fight the French Revolution with the rebels. Come on-a my house, Hugh Jackman, and I’ll give you one day more!

Finally, Barbra Streisand’s tribute to Marvin Hamlisch. Beautiful. Tugged at my nostalgic-ridden heartstrings, harkening me back to the streets of New York City, saying goodbye all over again to Hubbell—that gorgeous hunk, aka, Robert Redford–and stroking his hair. Enough said.

Oh and by the way, why wasn’t I invited to present–or sing, for that matter–at the Oscars?? Oh, well. Their loss.

September: Fifty/Fifty Challenge

I read an entire book!

So, take that, Fifty/Fifty Challenge!

Now, I know there are plenty of you out there who can read a whole new book every week and, frankly, I’m jealous. I’m sure, that for you, reading 50 books in one year is quite doable–as easy as making a run to Starbucks for a grande, no-foam, non-fat latte.

But, for me, 50 books in 12 months is Mt. Kilimanjaro–daunting, impossible and out of my reach.

So, imagine my delight when I was able to finish one more book in the month of September! Which brings my book quota to 14 so far this year!  With three months left to 2012, I’m so close to reaching my challenge goal. Right?

Hardly.

Well, I could start getting all despondent over it and sulk, but, here’s the way I see it:

There’s always next year!

So, what book did I read?

An autobiography titled, My Lucky Life in and Out of Show Business, a Memoir by Dick Van Dyke.

And, sure, the book was under 300 pages, but hey, at least it wasn’t one of those unauthorized autobiographies, if you know what I mean. At least, Dick Van Dyke approved what he wrote, which makes everything, in this “tell-all,” true!

Though, it wasn’t one of those juicy kind of tell-all’s at all. If you ask me, for a Hollywood star, Van Dyke led an ordinary life. Which, actually, is pretty refreshing.

Dick Van Dyke is one of my favorite comedic actors, hailing back to his days on the Dick Van Dyke Show, which was hilarious. Carl Reiner was the writing genius, who created the series, but Dick Van Dyke carried it, making it the perfect show for families to gather around the old television console and watch.

Remember the episode where Dick Van Dyke, as Rob, is remembering the story of how his son, Richie, was born, and the guy with the sandwich cart enters the office and somehow ends up spilling coffee on Rob’s pants? And, while Rob’s pants are sent to the cleaners, and he’s left in his boxers, Rob gets a call from Laura, his wife, to let him know she’s gone into labor? Which leaves Rob with no choice but to borrow Buddy’s trousers, that are way too short and wide for Rob. Throw in the police, a fender bender, a nosy neighbor, and a phone that ends up falling into Rob’s pants, and you’ve got the ingredients for one of the funniest and freshest sitcoms in TV history. Oh, Rob!

In his memoir, Van Dyke writes joyously about his lucky life. About his childhood, and how his parents would leave him alone in his crib when he was two, and go out on the town, and, how, when he was six, he’d babysit his younger brother, Jerry, while his parents went to the movies. He’s also candid about his personal struggle to give up drinking, his smoking habit, and his painful divorce.

The book also affirms what I always new: that Van Dyke is a nice guy who deliberately sought out to make the kind of films that families could see together. He’s a deeply spiritual man, too, who once considered becoming a minister, but then got the acting bug. He didn’t think himself a singer, but he loved to dance and do pratfalls. He loved making the film, Mary Poppins, but he didn’t like having to learn to talk with a British accent, as it proved very difficult for him. He married his high school sweetheart and together they had four children.

He is a man of compassion, speaking on behalf of civil rights with Martin Luther King, Jr., and later, when he was on his church’s board, suggesting that his all-white congregation reach out to the nearby African-American church in order to forge a relationship. But, when the other church members rejected his idea, he left the church for good.

He loved his career and shares snippets of memories of working with Mary Tyler Moore, Carl Reiner, Julie Andrews, Paul Lynde and Chita Rivera. He didn’t want to retire, but when it was suggested, during production of his last series, Diagnosis Murder, that the show needed to move at a faster clip in order to appeal to a younger audience, Van Dyke did not go “gently into the sunset.” Instead, he said this:

“Growing old is not a leper colony where an unfortunate few are sent to die. It is a precious gift given only to some lucky human beings.”

My Life in and Out of Show Business is a must-read for anyone who has fond memories of Dick Van Dyke.

In the Fifty/Fifty movie challenge, I’m doing so much better, having been able to watch a few films while my daughter was home for summer break. Among them:

Bye Bye Birdie, a 1963 musical starring Dick Van Dyke, Ann-Margret and Janet Leigh.

A double-feature of Bridget Jones Diary and Bridget Jones the Edge of Reason (Yay! Colin Firth!)

Grey Gardens, an HBO movie starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. Based on a true story, Drew won an Emmy for her portray.

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, fun chick-flick with Kate Hudson.

The Company Men, good but depressing movie, starring Ben Affleck, filmed during the height of the economic downturn.

So, what books did you read? What films did you catch up on last month?