Monday, May 29, 2017

Pearl



It was like seeing a unicorn.

To be there, in the sunshine, under the blaze of a spring sky, to gaze at the vista they saw that day, to breathe the salt of the same blue waters…to both fulfill a fervent wish for a visit and remember what we’ve learned in the history books, seen in the movies, pictured in our minds. 

Yep, a unicorn…maybe rarer. Pearl Harbor. In color…in Honolulu. For real.

Recently, Seth and I were fortunate enough to visit that storied and world famous naval base. You all know the facts…an early morning attack led to America’s entry into World War II, stole the lives of nearly 2,500 Americans and, maybe, some of you want to visit like we did. Seth, being a history buff, making me into one, as well—we always knew we’d get there if we could.

And there we were. Goose-pimpled on an unnaturally hot and still day in Hawaii. My reputation for bringing freakish weather to places I travel intact, the locals all commented on the extreme temperatures as we sought the shade of a palm tree’s umbrella and guzzled bottled water, returning the many “alohas” of nearly everyone we met. 

Shimmering in the heat, out in the harbor, the eerily beautiful memorial for the USS Arizon rested atop the rusted hulk of the sunken battleship. Nearby, we saw the markers for the ships that were hit but still salvageable.

The mighty battleship Missouri, most famous for hosting the surrender of the Empire of Japan, waited beyond a maze of ramps. We boarded in awe and stood in reverence on the exact spot where Douglas McArthur oversaw the signing of the documents that ended World War II. Later, emotionally spent, drenched in sweat and seated at a beach-side bar, our waiter -- noticing my wilted lei and Seth’s fresh sunburn -- dutifully asked what we “tourists” had been up to all day. When we told him we’d been to Pearl, he stopped and looked directly into my eyes to inquire if we’d felt “the spirit.” “Yes,” I told him. We’d felt it.

Normally, careful about timing and not missing things like trains or buses, we were mistaken about when to return to our group and were two hours late. While we regretted inconveniencing our fellow travelers (who, wisely, gave up on us and left us behind), we realized that our error had given us an unusually long time on the Missouri, allowing many extra reveries as we visited the quarters of the men, sat where the great Admiral Nimitz (and Seth’s hero) had, himself, sat to contemplate and discuss the enormity of enormities that was his command during that historic time as well as linger on the spot where heads of state gathered as the papers were signed.

Visiting the Memorial to the Arizona, we marveled at the small bubbles of oil that, to this day, rise to the surface of the water as they escape the ruptured tanks. We learned that many of the few who survived the attack on that vessel, request that navy divers place their cremated remains back in the ship so they can rest with their comrades.

Seth and I will never forget our day at Pearl.

If we had been true to the emotions we controlled throughout our visit, we would have been crying our eyes out on those sun-soaked decks. The waiter we’d meet later understood…the “spirit” is there. If you want to, you can feel it…the heft of the events that transpired remains palpable. And, as the many American flags began to flutter in the breeze that eventually sprang up, you feel other things, too: pride in America, gratitude for the men who gave everything for their country and hope that America, once again, can galvanize against the enemies who seek to undermine her daily.

If a visit to Honolulu isn’t in your future, do some googling and encourage your kids to do the same. Rent “From Here to Eternity” and “Tora, Tora, Tora!” from Netflix and see, if only in a movie director’s vision, what went on there. I hope you all had both a contemplative and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. God bless America.

The Memorial rests atop the fallen ship.




Monday, February 27, 2017

The 2017 Oscars and the Big "Oopsie" Moment...A Review

This year I’d decided to take a break from my annual Academy Awards review. 

Fearful of a climate heavily clouded by Trump-hating Hollywood, my plan was to watch until the first self-righteous tantrum was delivered from beneath a glittering bib of borrowed Chopard diamonds and then snap off the TV. So, I sat down without my yellow pad and Sharpie...or a care in the world.

The terrible kiss of a few years back.
Halle is still in therapy as a result.
Unburdened of note-taking yet needing a little busywork, I was free to back comb the cats and begin fashioning a replica of the Golem of Prague from their fur for future use which, apparently, might be pretty soon. So, while I do have an unactivated golem in the laundry room, I have not a single note from the evening.

It was, however, a very vivid night and, ironically, one of the better and more entertaining “Oscars” I’ve seen in years. 
Oh, yes, she did.

Thanks, in part, to the heightened suspense about who Meryl Streep might compare to a “brown shirt” this time, I was mentally piqued and used some of my nervous energy Snap-Chatting my poor daughter-in-law (about 400 times) the minute I spotted Halle Berry’s “hair” early in the evening. 

What Halle was thinking, I do not know. I can only guess she was worried that Adrian Brody might be there and hoped the hair might deflect another molestation. Sources tell me Adrian was busy handing out towels in the men’s room and was too busy to even dream of his former lip lock with the then closely-shorn Ms. Berry.

Parachute Drop: candy and doughnuts
Even without notes, I remember that Jimmy Kimmel was pretty darn good as host. More self-deprecating than on his own show, he wrangled the crowd efficiently, maintained a gag about a supposed feud with Matt Damon and enjoyed orchestrating candy and doughnut drops to the audience via little gossamer baggies from the sky. 

He was fun…and kept his politicizing to the level he might have used for any new POTUS--meaning he didn’t call for impeachment or mass rebellion. This was a good idea since Jimmy’s audience is comprised not solely of Trump loathers and he needs to hold on to his day – or, in his case, night job.
A popular post-Oscars spot for hangry stars

Public opinion, in fact, may have been the underlying reason last night’s celebs were tempered.  I doubt they’d listen to a memo from the Academy requesting politics be kept to a minimum since their levels of sanctimony are astronomically high but so is their desire to maintain their box-office numbers. 

Salma Hayek, who looked lovely in simple black lace, was one of the few who mumbled somethin’ about somethin’ but kept it to eyebrow wiggling and a veiled suggestion to "question authority". For all we know, however, she may have been referring to the night crew at In-N-Out Burger if they try to limit the number of toppings one can request upon one’s post -award show burger.

The moon (s) were out that night.

Cher's feathers
The dresses seemed nice (how I miss pre-stylist days when Cher wore feathers and Barbra’s bare tushie shone through her pantaloons) but Alicia Vikander took a wrong turn somewhere off Hollywood Boulevard and ended up at Happy Endings Tanning and Massage instead of where the special, fancy people go for their spray-ons. As a result, she was Oompa Loompa orange. And, the young  Hailee Steinfeld, when looking back at footage of herself, might regret wearing two giant silver decals on her boobs but, hey, attention is attention. Just ask Adrian Brody after he tried to kiss Ben Affleck in the men’s room.
I didn't think this worked but Hailee looks pretty confident about it all.
Janelle Monae 

Janelle Monae, who was everywhere last night, channeled Queen Elizabeth I in that crazy dress and Mel Gibson, who cannot be redeemed in my eyes no matter how good Hacksaw Ridge looks in previews, appeared either high as a kite or genuinely nutso as he sat in the audience baring a new set of veneers for the camera. A man of great former beauty and apparent sanity, he has been welcomed back to Hollywood after unthinkable racist rants and documented misogyny but, hey, he was Brave Heart and painted his ass blue so it's all okay.
Craziest Mofo in Hollywood

There was much to enjoy in this year’s awards…I found Seth Rogen and Michael J. Fox charming, was thrilled to see Shirley MacLaine who milked her oft-mocked reincarnation beliefs for fewer laughs than she expected, always enjoy Leslie Mann and even approved of the sparkling backdrop in the shape of “Oscar” himself. Damon and Affleck are great fun together, I loved the flashback clips, enjoyed Sara Bareilles performance and, despite disliking child actors in general, I love that darn kid from “Lion.”
Sorry, Dakota...no chemistry between
you guys last night.

On the more unfortunate side, I didn’t understand a word Viola Davis said as she accepted her statuette, was frightened by the grizzled dishevelment of Jeff Bridges and was as embarrassed as Jamie Dornan appeared as he stood next to Dakota Johnson who looked absolutely horrible. As for Amy Adams alabaster boobies, it is said that this is the real way to communicate with aliens.

The tour bus routine, where a group of unsuspecting out-of-towners were surprised to find themselves front and center on national TV, didn’t quite work as a few seemed straight out of central casting and, for me, cast aspersions on the authenticity of the entire escapade. Halle Berry didn’t seem thrilled either. Notoriously driven to mayhem by paparazzi, perhaps she feared this was simply a ruse for a close-up of the haystack on her head and poor Jennifer Aniston was guilted into giving one of the “tourists” a pair of sunglasses that, no doubt, cost a fortune. Good work, Jimmy Kimmel!

Congrats, Mahershala!
As for the winners, I have loved Mahershala Ali since season one of “House of Cards” and admit I haven’t yet seen “Moonlight” but cannot imagine a better supporting performance than Lucas Hedges gave in “Manchester by the Sea.”  I was also pleased to see Casey Affleck win the gold for best actor although Denzel, the heavy favorite, did not share my happiness.
"I was supposed to win, dammit!!"


But let’s get to the best part. Or the worst part. It all depends on which movie you’d worked on but it sure snapped me to attention as nothing has in 50 years of awards show viewing.

Warren Beatty back in "the day."
Let’s set the table, friends: Warren Beatty, no longer remotely resembling the sex machine of his youth and Faye Dunaway, one of Hollywood’s greatest beauties but currently resembling her own death mask, wobbled out together and proceeded to screw up everyone’s entire lives forever.

The mistake, apparently, was not theirs as it seems they’d been given a duplicate card from a previous award. I give Warren credit for forcing poor Faye to do the dirty work as he clearly suspected a problem but, as every man, woman and rescue puppy knows by now, they presented the most important and anticipated award of the evening to the wrong movie.

I bet Shirley MacLaine, even shorter than she’d been a mere half hour earlier, probably wishes she hadn’t waved so cheerfully to her brother,Warren from the audience.

As the La La Land-ers hugged and gushed at the microphone, confusion soon swept through the throng of back-slapping high-fivers as important looking men in headsets scurried out to check envelopes, paperwork and green cards...but panic and horror took over. This gave Jimmy Kimmel the best unscripted moment of the night as he blamed Steve Harvey --  himself a hapless survivor of a similar oopsie when he awarded the tiara to the wrong Miss Universe last year – for the entire debacle.

La La Land was very gracious to Moonlight as they ceded the spoils to the true victors and apparently everyone (except Adrien Brody who, by now, was chained down in the men’s room) took a turn to try and explain just what in the name of Mel Gibson’s glittering eyeballs had happened. 

It was awful….but it made for great TV.  Public graciousness aside, if I were Warren or Faye, I’d employ food tasters from now on.


All in all, it was the best Academy Awards in forever. No one knew what to expect and while that kept people edgy, it also worked. The whole night seemed, oddly, more relaxed. And, other than the terrible mistake at the end, the show was loose and well-paced.

Congratulations to all the winners, my condolences to whoever gave Warren and Faye the naughty card and happy catch-up to those of us who have yet to see most of the nominated movies. I, for one, await their arrival on Amazon Prime since I spent all my money on golem supplies.







Monday, February 13, 2017

Snarkiest Review Ever: The Grammys 2017



Well, friends, I almost stopped watching the Grammys last night. 

In fact, I actually turned off the TV right after Beyonce’s inexplicable, asinine, pretentious jumble of nonsense but I kept the DVR running and, after spending a few hours rolled into a little ball on the floor, turned it back on only to be so traumatized by a terrifying commercial for Adidas with images of people wearing the heads of dogs, that I shut it off again. After chasing down Tito the Cat for a soul-saving cuddle, I tried again...

After.

Before....
Mercifully, I don't remember much before Lady Bey took the stage but I know that if my mother had access to the Weekend (who won the night for most improved hair-do), she would have slapped his face for his lyrics. She would also have told Bruno Mars that if he really planned to have sex anywhere near a fire to be sure and take off that synthetic Garanimals outfit he was wearing because it appeared to be extremely flammable. 


I'm pretty sure this very outfit was on sale in the children's department of Sear's last week.

Every year I announce the Grammys were the worst  ever. While I’m not sure if yesterday’s were the worst, they were very, very weird---starting with the noted absence of Taylor Swift gyrating with closed eyes from the first row. Instead, they filled the audience with Jonases. 


"We're everywhere...."
In what seemed like every camera shot aimed at the crowd, there appeared to be a member of the Jonas family staring back, each in various stages of five o'clock shadow. Are there really that many Jonases or were mirrors involved? How fast can they grow facial hair and, most importantly, weren’t the original three more than enough?


Thanks to the magic of my DVR, I was able to fast forward through Katy Perry’s partially pre-recorded production number which concluded against a backdrop of the preamble to the Constitution. Now that would have made James Madison and the co-authors of the greatest document ever written very proud, I'm sure. What was Katy's specific intent with that message, you may ask. Who knows...but I wonder if Katy voted in the last election or if, as usual, she spent her day making prank calls to John Mayer or trying to get Russell Brand's visa permanently revoked.

"I'm so sorry I swore....again.

My memory is definitely not what it once was but don’t I remember Adele stopping mid-song once before to swear in that adorable British way of hers and start again because she sounded terrible? Well, everyone’s favorite singing billboard for Spanx did it again last night after starting her tribute to George Michael in the worst possible way. Once she began again, the dirge-like rearrangement of one of his least memorable songs proved totally uninteresting. She did, however, wear her best dress of the night, which isn’t saying much. For the youngest among you, head on over to youtube and listen to "Careless Whisper." You're welcome.


Usually when I write an awards show review, if I’m unfamiliar with an artist I’ll do a little research but, this year, while I enjoyed the duet between Alicia Keys' hair and the woman who forgot to put on her pants, I am unmotivated to do any googling. Instead, I’ll dig out my old Duffy CD and listen to it again. While the primary difference between Alicia’s mystery partner and Duffy is that Duffy wore pants while performing, the two sound so similar that I fear they will suffer identical fates: the bargain bin at Walmart in about a week.

Off her game last night....

Laverne Cox was more drag queen-y than the gorgeous and dignified trans-gender actress I’ve enjoyed in the past and while the always magnificent James Hetfield’s mike didn’t work for half the song, Metallica’s performance with Lady Gaga perked up my night. In other highlights, Bruno Mars and that sweet little hairless face of his can do almost no wrong and, while I am sick of Prince worship, I enjoyed Bruno's rendition of my personal favorite from the pen of His Purpleness, “Let’s Go Crazy.” Another enjoyable performance was by the eternally funky Morris Day and “The Time” of Minneapoliswho did a nice job honoring their mentor.

Neil Diamond, enjoying a day pass from assisted living, participated in a faux car pool karaoke with the irrepressible (because he says so) James Corden who is reportedly locked in combat for the most self-aggrandizing behavior from a late night talk host with the coked-up (mark my words, America---you heard it here first) Jimmy Fallon. A group of A-listers was quickly assembled to sing Diamond's “Sweet Caroline" yet, despite its status as an established classic, everyone seemed to be looking at a monitor for the lyrics...except Blue Ivy who, in an attempt to escape the gravitational pull of her mother’s gleaming busoms, wandered into the shot.

Poor Celine Dion has had some very tough times lately. It appears grief has intensified her French Canadian accent as she presented an award to Adele decked out in yet another outfit whipped up from discontinued upholstery fabric. Soon after Celine left for diction class, Solange Knowles popped up. Heavily sedated at the direct request of her brother-in-law Jay-Z so she wouldn’t attack him a second time, I happily sniffed my Sharpie in solidarity and again, tried to avoid looking directly into the vortex of her sister Beyonce’s glowing cleavage. 


Much of the remainder of the show is a blur, including the tribute to the Bee Gees. I seem to recall Barry Gibb looking confused amidst the sea of unshaven Jonases but, by now, I was also having trouble staying awake, so most of Chance the Rapper’s performance was lost although I think I saw Chef Anne Burrell from “Worst Cooks in America” in a glittering gown, belting out a gospel number. 

The DVR stopped recording a few minutes before the end so I will never know what adorable shtick James Corden employed to further endear himself to the universe or if Jimmy Fallon rushed the stage and they tumbled away like Cato and the Pink Panther.

All I know for sure is I’m buying a Gary Clark Junior CD later today.