Scenes From An All Fired Up In The Big Smoke’s Oscar Evening

March 8, 2010

The doorbell rings, interrupting our weekly All Fired Up in the Big Smoke’s Sunday story meeting over roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. (The meat, it’s slightly overdone. The Yorkipud? Perfection.)

At the door stands an all decked out and bee-jouxed Nancy, ready for Oscar Party 2K10©®™. Our surprise at it being Oscar night is matched by her surprise at our surprise. “How could all 3 of you not remember?” Nancy asked. “What the hell have you been doing?” Cityslikr remains unconvinced, absolutely positive that the Oscars happen in April and on Monday nights. “Yeah well, it ain’t the 20th-century anymore, grandpa,” Nancy points out. “Johnny Carson and Bob Hope are dead. Time’s have changed.”

A flurry of activity gets us in front of the TV, ballots filled out with time to spare to even catch the last of the red carpet ceremonies. There is much talk of dresses and hairdos. Cityslikr is already livid at the sheer vapidity on parade. This happens every year but it seems much earlier than usual.

Before the actual show starts, Nancy explains to us that the Oscars are looking to draw in a younger viewing crowd who have long since tuned out, not really seeing it as a Must See event. So it’s all going to be very fast paced and hip with no big dud musical numbers and briefcase toting accountants from Price Waterhouse. “It’s all about the zazz factor tonight, boys!” Nancy promises. We have no idea what that means but don’t really care enough to ask for clarification.

For most of us in the room, the only movie we’ve seen all year is Avatar. Some of us have seen it many, many times. “How many times is too many?” I ask Nancy who seems almost antagonistic to my devotion to the film. She provides no satisfactory answer.

Urban Sophisticat claims to have also taken in many foreign language films including 4 or the 5 Oscar nominated films. “It’s a travesty Broken Embraces was overlooked,” he opines but his authority is seriously undermined after a lengthy explanation about why the Israeli film, Ajami, will win the foreign language category only to see El Secreto de Sus Ojos from Argentina scoop up the award. Apparently it’s the one foreign language film he didn’t see. I guessed it correctly with a simple eenie-meenie-minie-moe choice.

While we find the opening of the show fairly amusing, Cityslikr wonders how co-host Steve Martin brings in the youngsters. Martin seems to concur, joking how the young presenters don’t even know who he is. “Not only is he old,” Cityslikr figures, “but the guy hasn’t made a decent movie since…” No one can figure out the last Steve Martin film they saw which seems to prove Cityslikr’s point.

“They want the young kids, Dane Cook should be hosting this crap.” After explaining to everyone who Dane Cook was (“A hugely unfunny standup comic who mystifyingly fills up Madison Square Gardens for HBO specials.”), Cityslikr thinks that it would be a train wreck he would gleefully sit through.

Urban Sophisticat notices that the shaded Jack Nicholson is not in his usual place front row centre. “Maybe they gave his seat to Robert Pattinson.” Nancy suggests. She then has to explain to everyone present who Robert Pattinson is and all about the Twilight phenomenon.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Half of the room is now asleep. Nancy is desperately texting to find out if there’s another Oscar party in the vicinity. I am sensing an Avatar backlash amidst a groundswell for The Hurt Locker. This is why everyone hates the Academy Awards. They punish success.

Eyes are opened and interest rises when Jeff Bridges wins for Best Actor. It’s pointed out that while he acts like his character in the Big Lebowski, he is looking more and more like Sam Elliott’s The Stranger in the movie. There’s a letdown in the room when he doesn’t end his acceptance speech with “The Dude abides.” Everyone in the room except Cityslikr agrees that the Coen Brothers haven’t made another truly great film since The Big Lebowski. He loves No Country For Old Men. I don’t see it, frankly.

Urban Sophisticat goes on a long, Courvoisier fueled rant about the problems with the Oscars these days. “We already know too much about the movie stars. They’re ubiquitous with all the infotainment shows and channels on TV, supermarket check out aisle magazines. Back in the day,” he (actually) says, “the Oscars were one of the few times we got to see these legends of the silver screen with the guards down, out of their roles. There’s no magic or mystery in the pictures anymore. It all started to go down hill when People magazine came into existence.” No one’s really listening at this point.

Sandra Bullock’s acceptance speech for Best Actress elicits much chatter about plastic surgery and growing old in Hollywood. “She’s 45!” screams Cityslikr. “When did that become old?” Nancy shakes her head, amazed at his ignorance about the real world.

Show concludes. The Hurt Locker is the big winner. I guess I’ll have to see it when it comes out on DVD. “It’s already out on DVD,” Nancy informs me as I walk her to the door. Cityslikr and Urban Sophisticat are curled up together on the couch. We pause for a moment, enjoying the silence. Sensing her general disappointment in the evening, I suggest that Nancy find some other, more movie friendly types to watch the show with next year. She shrugs. “There’s no surprises anymore,” she tells me. “Everybody won who was predicted to win. That’s just the way it goes these days. It’s stage managed to death.”

With that, Nancy wanders off into the night. Once more Hollywood has disappointed her. But how couldn’t it? She didn’t even like Avatar. In this reporter’s humble opinion, if you didn’t like Avatar, you don’t like movies. The childlike magic has gone inside you. As Ally Sheedy’s Allison Reynolds said in John Hughes’s The Breakfast Club: When you grow up, your heart dies.

wistfully submitted by Acaphlegmic


Military On Ice

January 31, 2010

So there I was, minding my own business, having popped in from the cold to play some pool (badly), down some drinks (goodly), clog the arteries with some deep fried goodness (high blood pressuredly). I was quietly rocking out to an anti-John Hughes 80s soundtrack punctuated by the occasional Beatles song which may be the perfect way to listen to The Beatles. One song at a time surrounded by a bunch of music that you actually enjoy. Deep in the background on a massive TV the CBC’s Hockey Day in Canada droned on, mutedly.

Then it happened. Pre-Leafs-Canucks game, our waiter turns up the volume on the television. On it, military personnel start appearing and a Hummer pulls up outside an arena in Stratford, Ontario (host to this year’s HDC). Out steps Ron McLean, a garishly dressed Don Cherry (natch) and a similarly attired kid (ghastly). They make their way into the rink and onto the red carpet where they blather on about the Canadianess of the game of hockey, Our Game®©™. Our servicemen (and women) fill up the cutaway shots.

Jump to the ACC in Toronto where the awesome display of martialistic jingoism continues. Members of the army, navy, air force (we have an air force, don’t we?) fill the screen. Some guy who looks like Tom Cochrane in fatigues but isn’t sings some lame Canada is Hockey, Hockey is Canada, And We Love Our Fightin’ Force Who Is Keeping Us Strong And Free song. By which time, I am completely flummoxed. Who handed over pageantry planning to the dunderheaded Don Cherry?!  (Tip of the hat goes to Christine B. for that notion.)

Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, it did. Spectacularly. Down from the rafters, a figure in full battle regalia awkwardly rappels toward centre ice. Safely landing, it is revealed to be former Leaf great, 85 year-old Johnny Bower. YEAAAAAHHHHHH! YEAAAAHHHHHH FUCKING YEAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!! Johnny Bower in army gear! YEAAAAHHHHHH!!! Wearing a fucking helmet! YEAAAHHHHHHH!!!! What’s next? The dug up remains of Tim Horton and Conn Smythe shot out of a canon? YEAAAHHHHH!!!!!

What the fuck happened to us? When did we officially become American? Isn’t hockey smash your face, beat your chest macho enough without introducing a dick swinging, I love a man in uniform element to it?

A few years back, I was wandering around Melbourne, Australia, taking in the sights. Now, Australia’s a county that shares much in common with Canada although, unfortunately, not the climate. But on the flipside, we don’t have snakes here that can kill you if you even so much as look into their dark, soulless eyes. Both countries were “founded” by European stock who barbarously de-populated their respective lands of its aboriginal inhabitants. We came of age on the international scene by offering our young men up as fodder in the completely senseless slaughter of World War I. Something in which we take a huge amount of historical pride.

In Melbourne, that pride is on display in the form of numerous cenotaphs and statues throughout the city. It struck me when I was there, how quiet Canadians were in terms of trumpeting our military past. Sure, we’ve got our Vimy monument and tomb of the unknown soldier but we always seemed humble in our acknowledgement.

That seems to have all changed now. Fight fear. Fight chaos. Fight distress. Fight. Fight! FIGHT! FIGHT!! FIGHT!!! YEAAAHHHHHHH!!!! Jack Bauer?! Fuck that. We got Johnny Bower! In fatigues! Dangling from a rope, high above centre ice!

And spare me, the whole support our troops trope. If that’s all you got, then you’ve ceded rational discourse to the lame ass, simple-minded sloganeering of George W. Bush, Don Cherry and Rick Hillier. War should only be used as a last, desperate measure and not wielded as some cheap, easy to score PR stunt. I watch hockey to watch the Leafs lose not to bear witness to our fidelity to the fighting men and women in uniform. That’s what the History Channel’s for.

testily submitted by Cityslikr