Yah, yah, yah … I’m still working on putting together a multimedia piece on the OJR Conference on Friday.  Gimme a break – editing this video down takes a while – particularly when I’m trying to use it to make a point about the difference in the streaming vid formats.

Meanwhile, back at Hollywood & Vine … has anyone else ever felt creeped out by the whole pagan-temple Assyrian Ashurbanipal vibe of this place? Lest we all forget, the Assyrians were the bronze-age badasses; they bragged in their mud-tablet records about "building bridges out of their enemies’ dead…" 

Unless that was just their contemporary Rush Limbaugh propaganda … but records seem to indicate that these guys were not at all warm & fuzzy, and that most certainly their rituals involved the sacrifice of randomly chosen beautiful young people to a fiery painful end.  Insert joke about young midwestern wanna-be starlets getting off the bus in L.A. here.

I expect to see most of the Oscar coverage tomorrow center around 3 memes: 1) how the Academy just wasn’t ready for a movie about gay cowboys, and so they chose a lesser, although more vulgar and confrontational movie instead, thus proving … what? The Academy prefers to hear a litany of racial, ethnic or sexist attacks rather than see Heath Ledger spit in his hand in a tent … ? Far be it from me to criticize anyone trying to wring a buck out of the unwarranted drawing of macro conclusions from micro events, but I’m tired of this one already, and it hasn’t started yet.

2) How hip-hop culture has finally arrived, what with the 36 Mob winning for best song and shouting incoherently into the mike for a couple of minutes, with a hit for Gil Cates (dunno if he was the only one in the Academy heierarchy who dealt with them?), and for George Clooney.  The central figure in the red Phillies cap seemed like he had been spending some quality time after their performance backstage getting baked. Once again, thumbsuckers will abound, all about how "hip-hop is now mainsteam" and snarky bits about the fuddy-duddies in the Academy trying to get their groove on and attract younger viewers by giving some statuary to "that noisy rap shit." Kinda like seeing that grandma try to rap in The Wedding Singer, only it lasted longer and made me more nauseous.  Dear Academy: It’s Not Working.  Ticket sales are only going to go down even further this year.  Stop making bullshit movies that have all rough edges milled out of them by your goddam relentless marketing and test audience system. Make something real.  Y’know.  Like any of the best picture nominees…?

and finally, for the most mean-spirited out there:

3) Please, someone put Lauren Bacall on 72-hour suicide watch. That speech was excruciating. The big sweat meltdown bit that Albert Brooks did in Broadcast News seems as agile and effortless as Fred Astaire by comparison.  At first I kinda laughed because it was obvious that Lauren’s eyesight had deteriorated to the point that she was skipping words on the teleprompter. Then she panicked, like an old lady in a parking lot, who’s backed her ’71 Chrysler Imperial over the bag boy as he tried to jam her crates of Metamucil in the trunk, totally losing her place and composure, but trying gamely to soldier on, throwing the big boat into Drive and stomping on the gas, only to drive over the hapless bag boy again.  It just didn’t end.  It lost humor about 20 seconds into it, as you realized that they had jammed the script for this poor old decrepit lady way, way too full of difficult words, and there was no way that she was going to get out of this … I have no doubt but that many of the gossips who conflate nasty with funny will take this one and run much further with it than is really necessary, thus inflaming our sympathies for what was, and is, one of the great Hollywood legends, who was Bogey’s main squeeze, who taught him how to whistle, and who always seemed to be on a classier plane than the rest of us.  Damn the writers and producers who gave her too much to do – a couple of simple sentences, leave the rest to a voiceover, and we all get that warm feeling, and Lauren gets to maintain her dignity.  Small chance of that now.  If she hasn’t stuck her head in the oven yet, I’m thinking that this is the last public appearance this poor woman will make – she’s got her pride after all, and going out like this is just sad.  Please be kinder to her than this telecast was.  Save your snarky attitude for:

[dark horse meme: Dolly Parton’s plastic surgeon.  For God’s sake, stop it.  Really.  Even the Lion Lady in New York was a little freaked. The fact that she can still bounce around on those 7-inch spike heels is some kind of miracle. But whoever authorized that mess of makeup, botox and dermabrasion should have their licenses yanked.  Once again: not pleasant to watch.  Thank God for TiVo.]

To sum up: This Oscar show made me feel the same way I did back when I was a little kid and "Night Gallery" would come on, and I would LEAP behind the couch and peer out through the cushions, and through my fingers, utterly horrified, and unable to leave the room at the same time. Worst of all, the freakin’ TiVo cut out right at the end, since it was programmed only to record 3 hours worth, and I missed Best Actress, Best Director and Best Movie.  What a rip! George Clooney provided the best speech of the night, understated, but firm, and the Academy went out of its way to honor the controversial movies from the past, in what was an unspoken, but clear thumb in the eye of the current crop of pinch-faced moralizers claiming that Hollywood should shut up and make bland, safe Stepford movies, because that’s what The Real ‘Murkins really want. 

The montage of "Heat of the Night," "To Kill a Mockinbird" "Miracle Worker" "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" clips was a great reminder that movies can mean something … all those pictures had ideas and images in them that spread out through us and became part of us in important ways. It’s nice to see the major nominees fitting in with these movies – but sad that the telecast seemed to be suffering from a severe identity crisis.

Any thoughts from the peanut gallery?