Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My Oscar Prophecy

I was browsing through this weeks Entertainment Weekly and decided to try my hand at fortune telling.  The latest EW is mostly about the Academy Awards; "TheOscars."  I shall predict what I feel will win and what I feel should win.  There is a difference.

First, before my previsions, let me illuminate you on the Oscar.  The following Oscar information is from Wikipedia:

Official Name: Academy Award® of Merit, Material: Britannia metal, plated in copper, nickel silver, and 24-karat gold; Height: 13½ inches, Weight: 8½ pounds, Number of Awards Presented: 2,809, First Recipient: Emil Jannings, named Best Actor for his performances in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh in 1929, Design: A knight holding a crusader’s sword, standing on a reel of film. The film reel features five spokes, signifying the five original branches of the Academy (actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers), Designer: Cedric Gibbons, chief art director at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Sculptor: Los Angeles artist George Stanley, Manufacturer: R. S. Owens & Company in Chicago, Manufacturing Time: 3–4 weeks for 50 statuettes.

The name (Oscar) has a hazy origin. Bette Davis, Walt Disney,  Academy's Executive Secretary Margaret Herrick, Columnist Sidney Skolsky, and Oscar Wilde all have claims to the naming.  Nobody will know definitely the source of the name, yet we do know the naming officially occurred in 1939, over a decade after the first statuette was presented.

The first movie Oscar was for "Wings," the only silent movie ever to win best picture.  In 2011, the best picture winner was for a nearly-complete-silent movie called "The Artist."  "The Artist" is roughly 90% without dialogue.  This year, 2014, the nominations for Best Picture are:
  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Gravity
  • Her
  • Nebraska
  • Philomena
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
I have yet to see "Nebraska" and "Philomena," yet I feel I have a firm enough grasp on the selections to choose a winner.  According to articles I have read, the choice for best picture will be between "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave."   Being a true story, "12 Years" should take home the Oscar.  This is what I believe will win.  What I think should win is "American Hustle."  I enjoyed all the nominations (with the two exceptions I have yet to see) and the one that held my interest for the entire movie, no weak spots, and had  me reflecting on for many a day after viewing was "American Hustle."  This was a true story changed slightly (poetic license) that was presented magnificently.  I still cringe when I recall the story and think how corrupt our government had been 30 years ago.  In a similar matter from the same time period, I still shudder when I remember the footage of John DeLorean being set up for a cocaine deal.  How disgusted I was with our government for attempting to corrupt DeLorean into being a drug smuggler.  If you ever get a chance to watch the filmed "drug buy," it is obvious that DeLorean knew nothing of what was happening around him.

Anyway, my choice for Best Picture: "American Hustle" and my prediction for winner: "12 Years a Slave."  

Next up is best actress.  The following is the list of women who are nominated for the gold statuette.

  • Amy Adams
  • Cate Blanchett
  • Sandra Bullock
  • Judi Dench
  • Meryl Streep

Once again I have seen all but one, "Philomena."  And once more my personal favorite and who I believe will win the Oscar are two different women.  The actess who stretched her acting chops to a new and unique level is Meryl Streep.  Meryl, the golden guy should be yours but since this is your 18th nomination, I do not think you will win.  The person whom I believe will take home Oscar will be Sandra Bullock.  Even though I think Sandy will be the worthy recipient of the Academy's choice (this was tough because it was a toss-up betwixt Sandy and Cate Blanchett), in my heart I still feel Meryl has the stronger performance.  Way stronger.

My choice for Best Actress is Meryl Streep although my crystal ball proclaims Sandra Bullock as winner.

My prognostications in this post will be for best actor, actress, and picture.  I cannot go further at the moment. Mayhap in the near future I will reveal more of my soothsaying.  At this point I shall relay who I feel will win best actor and who I believe will win.  The nominations for best actor are:

  • Christian Bale
  • Bruce Dern
  • Leonardo DiCaprio
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor
  • Matthew McConaughey

This time I have seen all movies except "Nebraska."  Unlike my previous four predictions, this time I believe who I think will win and who I think the Academy will select will be the same man.  To forego any further suspense I now will divulge my personal choice, and my choice of who I believe will actually receive the Oscar; Matthew McConaughey.  "Dallas Buyers Club" is a great story, a true story, of a man's infection, fight to survive, and death sentence, from an incurable acronym.  Matthew plays Ron Woodroof, a hetero-sexual told of his impending death.  In 1985 Ron has contracted AIDS (we never find out from who) and refuses to give in to the Doctors 30 day estimate of life.  He goes against medical advice, checks himself out of the hospital, and begins a search for a way to halt the disease.  If not a complete stop, then at least a slowing down of the destruction.  And he is partially successful.  Being not the only one who is dying from AIDS, Ron decides to share his secrets and drugs (at a profit) with fellow sufferers.   He partners with Rayon (portrayed by Jared Leto), a flaming transgender, who has the friends and acquaintances in the gay community who are, Rayon too, all HIV positive.

Well, I don't want to reveal too much of the movie.  Lets say that the government, once again, tries to interfere with Ron, to halt someone who is actually doing good (be it at a profit for him), and force him to withdraw from his own working cure and go back to a government approved treatment that does more harm than good.  

I sidetracked here.  The portrayal of Ron Woodroof by Matthew McConaughey is seamless.  For this role, Matt went as far as to lose 50 pounds for showing the devastation of AIDS.  He became almost unrecognizable by the weight loss.  The only other actors I can think of that have physically put themselves in harms way to portray a character, are:

  • Shelly Winters - gained weight for "Night of the Hunter" and continued to gain weight to match character description in her upcoming films. "The Poseidon Adventure" asked for an additional 25 pounds.
  • Robert DiNiro - in "Raging Bull" intensily worked out to strengthen his body as the younger Jake LaMotta the boxer, and then gained 60 pounds to portray the older LaMotta, the nightclub owner.
  • Donnie Wahlberg - cast as Vincent Grey in "The Sixth Sense" lost over 40 pounds to play the pivotal character of the movie.
  • Tom Hanks - for "Cast Away" he gained weight to appear as the pudgy Chuck Noland in the first half of the movie and then lost over 50 pounds to shoot the second half as the healthier trimmed down and muscled version of his character.
  • Christian Bale - lost over 70 pounds, to be skin and bones, for his portrayal of Trevor Reznik in "The Machinist." This is supposedly the record for extreme weight loss for a movie role.

There has to be more than these, but this sampling is an example how far an actor will go for his art.  Matt McConaughey went this extra step for his art, and  I believe the Academy will also reward him with this year's Best Actor Oscar.

So these are my choices.  If you disagree with me, you can check back to this post after the March 2nd ceremony to see who was right.  At that time one of us will get to scoff at the other. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Latest on Groucho Marx

In case you are unaware, I am a Groucho Marx fan.  Back in 1977, Groucho had the misfortune to die the same week as Elvis Presley.  Thus the covering of Groucho's passing was overshadowed by that fat toilet guy.  I remember reading a paragraph on his death in Time magazine.  The following is Time's milestone:

DIED. Julius Henry ("Groucho") Marx, 86, doyen of American comedy; of pneumonia; in Los Angeles. A wizard of wisecracks and a prince of puns, Groucho began his nearly seven-decade-long career in vaudeville with his zany brothers Harpo, Chico, Gummo and Zeppo. They reached the pinnacle of Broadway in the mid-1920s and went on to hilarious movies, such as Horse Feathers (1932) and A Night at the Opera (1935), that still enjoy a huge cult following and invariably feature Groucho as an appealing rogue capable of fast-talking his way out of any difficulty. On his radio and TV quiz show You Bet Your Life, he was able to deploy all his famous trademarks: the loping gait, arched eyebrows, lecherous leer and emotive cigar. He was, above all, the master of the rapid-fire wisecrack. Examples: While accepting a medal from France, he quipped, "Can it be hocked?" When asked why he was always accompanied by beautiful women, he retorted, "They're very useful at night and frequently during the day." When being wooed by a club, he sniped, "I wouldn't want to belong to a club that would have me for a member." Observed Steve Allen: "You can start laughing at Groucho when you're very young, and never stop."

That was it.  I remember at the time how I was disappointed with Time.  Yet, being one not to hold a grudge, I forgave Time and I still subscribe to their weekly publication.  Because of my subscription, I can access their archives.  This is how I got a copy of Groucho's obit.  I looked up the issue that held the milestones for August 19, 1977 (Time August 29, 1977) to test my memory and sure enough, the issue was crammed full of Elvis and one mere paragraph on Groucho.  I wondered if I was alone in feeling cheated.  I searched the archives in the weeks following for "Letters" to the editor, to see if anyone else would complain, and once again I reiterate "sure enough!"  The following is Letters to the editors from Time's September 19, 1977, issue:

The King of Comedy

Three and one-half pages on Elvis and one paragraph on Groucho [Aug. 29]? Shame on you.
Dennis Staples
Fremont, Ohio

Groucho was the divine king of comedy, and his passing is disheartening to his fans. Your article was far too short to encompass his accomplishments or even to describe the joy he brought to millions. His impact will never be forgotten.
Steven Casper

I can only assume that the Groucho Marx I knew is not the same one whose passing was noted briefly in your Milestones column.
I hope the excuse is not that he chose to die on a weekend. I doubt that TIME would want to suggest that, of all people, Groucho's timing was off.
Dick Cavett
New York City

Is it my imagination, or were you guys a little skimpy with the Groucho Marx obituary?
Woody Allen
New York City

I always liked Dick Cavett and Woody Allen.  I now know why.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Oxford-English Dictionary, New Inclusions On The Way

I have been listening to old music from T-Rex.  Particularly "Jeepster."  I like the song a lot but I have to admit that I do not know what a "jeepster" could be.  "Girl, I'm just a jeepster for your love."  Thus began my quest to discover the meaning behind "Jeepster."  (Be advised, this is a short quest, nothing like the search for the Holy Grail.)

First I requested the meaning from dictionary.com and received this reply:
No results found for jeepster:
Did you meankeester

No, I do not mean keester.

My next stop on the internet highway was Wikipedia, and Wikipedia informed me that I am searching for info about a Willy-Overland Jeepster that was "an automobile originally produced by Willys-Overland Motors from 1948 to 1950. It was the last true phaeton produced by a major automaker."

Did Mark Bolan believe he was this car?  He may have, but I doubt it.

Next stop was UrbanDictionary.com where the first meaning quotes the lyrics to the T-Rex song and the second meaning was:

2. Jeepster 
a charming average guy, who is willing to go anywhere for the object of his affection---namely, a "jaguar" (a "jaguar" is a super hot girl).

This I liked.  Yet, it made me think that Mark Bolan (the songwriter of "Jeepster") simply made up the word.  And why not.  New words, or new meanings to existing words have to come from someplace.  Armed with this revelation I turned to Linda and said "I will always pillawfullaw (pē-LAW-fû-law) your beanderbach (BĒ­­­­­­-and-der-bách)."  She may not have understood the words, but I knew she could feel the emotion behind my proclamation.

So, men, if you want to make your lady feel extremely special, you're welcome to plagiarize me.  Tell her you will always pillawfullaw her beanderbach!  And be sure to emphasize passion while saying it. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Detroit Demons: Morgus the Magnificent, Sir Graves Ghastly, and The Ghoul

I always had a taste for the bizarre. Growing up in a Detroit suburb, my first access to demonic characters was on television.  Whilst I were a mere eleven years old, Morgus the Magnificent left New Orleans and began appearing, via Detroit airwaves, on my television five weekday afternoons and one midnight hour every Friday.  The afternoon broadcasts were five minute weather forecasts.  The reports were at 5:55 pm usually following a Bowery Boys movie.   Morgus on Friday Nights was the emcee for one horror movie or another.

By the time Morgus left Detroit television, Sir Graves Ghastly had taken over.  I don't recall if they overlapped or not.  I know Sir Graves started in 1967.  I know Morgus weather reports had ended a few years earlier but he may still have had his Friday night show.  Sir Graves' movie hosting would not have been a worry to Morgus because Sir Graves was on Saturday afternoons.  No time slot battles.  Also Morgus was a mad scientist and Sir Graves was a vampire.  Which is strange if you think about it.  Saturday afternoon and its sunlight would be a hazard to vampires.  I was not a fan of Sir Graves.

A fan of the Ghoul I was.  The Ghoul came across the boob tube in 1971.  One of his favorite pastimes was to go through his mail and find a model car some adolescent had assembled, customized, painted and sent in.  The Ghoul would take this treasure, stick firecrackers in it and proceed to blow the car into smithereens.  The Ghoul had one lens of his horn-rimmed glasses blacked out, wore black tape for a mustache and goatee, and dressed in t-shirts, lab coat, jeans and sneakers, and topped it off with a fur(?) hat (fright wig?).  A regular Beau Brummel.  He consistently mocked his audience and belittled his biggest fans.  He also was notorious for talking over the movies he showed.  He was unique, warped, and out-of-control.  The budget for his show wouldn't cover lunch at White Castles.  Yet, the Ghoul managed to delight and entertain every week.

I enjoyed the hosts of Detroit's horror movies but I think I would have enjoyed the host more if I lived in California.  After all, they had Vampira and Elvira.