Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Betty Boop is Dead

Yes, Betty, you should look worried.
Archie (a cat), hates our Christmas tree. Or, just maybe, he loves it so much that he wants to become one with it and I (not a cat) might be interpreting this love as destructive behavior.  Either way, thanks to Archie, our tree looks like hell.

We stopped getting real trees after a mysterious blight caused the prices in Brooklyn tree lots everywhere to skyrocket. 

Combine this with Seth’s discomfort with the equation of drying greenery plus electricity and, suddenly, a fake tree seemed appropriate. Realistic fakes were a new concept back then but we found one that looked legit. Or, that’s what we chose to believe. We also vowed that this was only until the prices of real trees returned to acceptable levels. Thirty years and a few incarnations of artificial tree later, we’re still faking it.

Enter Archie the Cat. We adopted him last November and despite our doting, he feared if he wasn’t polite, he’d be out on his little cat ass, spending new Year’s Eve back at the shelter. He might have thought the tree, with its’ multitude of temptations, was some sort of test. So, Archie circled and sniffed but didn’t do any of the things those naughty internet cats do like roosting in the branches, swinging at the decorations or even tipping the whole thing to the floor. 

Don't get too comfy in that
champagne glass, Betty.

We were thrilled, assuming we’d been blessed with a miracle kitten who was charming in every way yet had no interest in Christmas trees (this, obviously, being a huge asset on cat resumes). The closest the tree got to getting wrecked was after Seth had a third martini at a party and tried to slow dance with it once we got home.

So, we bragged to our friends --many of whom had awful cat-related tree stories -- that Archie understood to stay away from it because he was that smart. As readers of this blog, you know that if Szolds brag, they will be punished…

Acting coy will not save you.
So, this year, not only did Archie appear to be on some wild hallucinogen while the tree was being assembled but he broke the sound barrier racing around the room, attempted to string the lights all by himself, picked up ornaments in his mouth and ran away with them and dipped a paw in everyone’s eggnog. What is happening, we wondered! Why had dignity and restraint turned to mayhem? Why was our little genius behaving like a total maniac (or, an actual cat)?

It got worse. Archie enjoys snoozing midway up the tree or drowsily cleaning himself on a 'shelf" of branches, flailing wildly at the fragile baubles and clambering straight up the side of the tree in one swift ascent. He’s also removed every ornament from the bottom branches, happily rolling them into the far corners of the house.

And pouting will get you nowhere.

Soon, there were sharp slivers of paper-thin glass all over the floor. My dust buster lost its charge from working overtime and we had to put away special ornaments, including precious specimens made by the kids and already held together by yellowing tape. Cowering downstairs, we hear crashing and tinkling every night, followed by the clatter of whatever he’s destroyed bouncing down each step as it becomes a plaything for this madman.

Yes, I'd be pissed, too.
The tree is a disheveled mess. Every morning, I pick up more ornaments he’s kicked around, readjust the lights and bend the branches back into position. Every night Archie does all he can to undo my work. Today, we found Betty Boop in pieces on the stairs. We thought we’d removed all surviving fragile ornaments but Archie found Betty and murdered her, leaving her carcass in silvery shards under the coffee table.

If Archie weren’t so cute, this would be more of a problem. Clearly, he feels secure in our love and doesn’t fear eviction. In fact, I am guilty of chuckling indulgently at many of his hijinks. When poor Seth recently dropped a delicate ornament, I screamed bloody murder at him so his nose is a bit out of joint about this whole double standard type situation but he, too, is enchanted by all things pussycat though he will vehemently deny that.

Archie says hi.

Uh-oh, I just heard a crash from upstairs….enjoy your pre-Christmas prep, friends! And thank God it comes but once a year!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Fightin' Around the Christmas Tree

Rockin’ around the Christmas tree….When Charlie was at college, we started the practice of putting up our Christmas tree on the Friday after Thanksgiving. School schedules often interfere with family traditions and, since we enjoy decorating the tree together, it was either do it right after the leftovers were put away or wait until so close to Christmas that there wasn’t enough time with the tree to make all that work worthwhile. 

At the Christmas party hop…College days are behind us and Charlie is a new husband yet, this year, based on everyone’s busy schedules, tree day arrived right on time. So, just as the Thanksgiving dishes were finally washed and digesting was officially over, the moment felt right.

Mistletoe hung where you can see…Let’s move the end table and chairs out of the room, boys…let’s send poor Dad into the attic for the cartons and boxes while Mom grits her teeth and bakes cookies so if Martha Stewart barges in to measure festivity levels in our home, we get a good grade. And, hey--Tom and Charlie, don’t forget---it’s time to painfully rehash sibling rivalries and childhood vendettas as favorite ornaments are unwrapped and hung with care on pine boughs that, yet again this year, have nearly scratched off both of Dad’s corneas.

Every couple tries to stop…The difference this year is that Charlie’s wife, Anastasia, is with us on tree day for the first time. She may not yet be aware that Szolds often say “I love you” by screaming themselves hoarse over hot cocoa. Anastasia is also about to learn that Mom expresses her deep affection for her family with a crying fit or two. Often brought about by an artifact of her children’s youth making an appearance, Mom is easily unhinged since she’s already deeply overwrought by repeated failures to recreate scenes from mainstream America as dreamt up by the minds of the sadists who write for the Hallmark Channel.

You will get a sentimental feeling when you hear...This year we took it a step further and wove politics into the mix thereby upping the time frame for shouting, hand waving, eye rolling and, of course, Mom’s crying. Anastasia, having prepared for this by studying books about conflict resolution in wartime, stood up, chose an ornament and began decorating. The shiny object in her hand distracted us and we followed suit, slowly becoming absorbed in our project. Tom and Charlie sought out their first baby ornaments which prompted more tears from Mom but the brave daughter-in-law knew what to do...bustling into the kitchen, she freshened the marshmallows in everyone’s mug and patted us all on the heads. “That’s a good girl,” she said to Mom, pressing a tissue into her hand so she’d stop using her sleeve and ruffling what’s left of Dad’s hair to encourage him to add a string of lights to a bare spot in the back.

Voices singing…Bravely stepping between the boys who suddenly remembered they were supposed to be fighting, she tossed a handful of silver-wrapped Hershey kisses into the air and, with the laser pointer, diverted not only Tito the Cat from dismantling the tree’s bottom branches but also distracted Tom and Charlie as -- with chocolate on their lips -- they scurried off to chase the beam of light with the cat.

Let’s be jolly…Before we realized it, the tree was complete and the negativity dispelled. Feeling a sense of accomplishment, we sat back and admired our work. While the men nibbled on treats and happily batted at the shiny bells and balls, I thanked my lucky stars that we have Anastasia in the mix. Not only did she help us refocus upon the task at hand but also restored the theme of peace on earth that’s generally encouraged at this time of year.

Deck the halls with boughs of holly…I hope those of you who get, shall we say, a bit emotional around this time of year and before the conversation inevitably turns to whether there’s truth to the allegations that Santa’s been sexually harassing the elves for years -- you get yourselves a great daughter-in-law like I have. 


Friday, November 3, 2017

Touching Base

Weeeehooo! Sometimes, as a Mets fan (yes, I said it), I forget that baseball doesn’t have to be an angst-ridden nightmare but can actually be fun. Game five of the World Series last night, extending well into the wee hours of the morning, was proof of that!

Yuli Gurriel of the hair ever.
Is a baseball game -- with countless pitching changes, juiced-up baseballs creating endless home runs and jarring close-ups of the player’s grooming trends (flapping rooster combs of tonsorial insanity, flowing ginger locks and scalp carvings in shades of the rainbow) – a bit too long? Perhaps. 

Is the use of instant-replay a buzz kill…yep. Are steroids still a problem…maybe. Are umps still blind…often. But it’s baseball! And baseball is fun! For me, the best parts are when these overgrown babies in cleats smile.

Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers and his 'do.
Having raised sons, I am innately programmed to enjoy smiling males. It’s a give-away that they’re not trying to murder one another in the pool, on the trampoline or at breakfast and it, automatically, makes a mother happy. Watching on hi-def TV from the comfort of my recliner, puts me right at home plate where I can enjoy the action…and the smiling.

Justin Turner needs a trim.

The best moments also include jumping, bounding, leaping, high-fiving, pitchers hugging catchers, catchers hugging pitchers and similar acts of jubilation. As for the smiles, my favorites are the ones that cannot be suppressed. 

These are the smiles that occur after a great hit or play when the player wants to appear cool and detached despite his good fortune. But the smile of a happy boy cannot be contained. It sneaks up on the smiler, often appearing on base, on the bench or even on the lips of those grim managers as they pace behind rail or net. Last night, as the Astros took us on the extended odyssey of game five against the Los Angeles Dodgers, there was lots of smiling in Texas.
A dark time for Brooklyn.

I’m rooting for Houston for many reasons. First and foremost, the Dodgers are stinking traitors who left Brooklyn in 1957 and Walter O’Malley can kiss my….oops, sorry. But, after the misery Houston continues to endure thanks to the waters of Hurricane Harvey, I think a world series victory would be very nice.

Baseball has a long history of being an excellent distraction during troubled times. During the great Depression of the 1930’s, attendance sagged yet fans still managed to come to the ballpark to forget their troubles. They couldn’t afford a hot dog but they were able to sit back and, for nine innings, concentrate on something other than their woes. In fact, some say that time period fostered the greatest era baseball has known to date.

This need for baseball increased its popularity so, that by the time World War Two enveloped the United States, even President Roosevelt endorsed America’s national pastime. His famous “Green Light” Letter emphasized the importance of keeping baseball vibrant during such darkness. "I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going," the president responded when asked by baseball’s commissioner if it should be suspended during the height of the war. If that’s not proof it’s a grand distraction, what is?

It’s always been an escape and source of joy for my own family. Early on, baseball became a happy distraction for my immigrant clan as they adjusted to life in America. Inevitably, they embraced the rag tag heroism of the Brooklyn Dodgers, later signing on as Mets fans since rooting for underdogs had become a family tradition.

My sons were schooled by my baseball loving mother to embrace the concept that baseball is, indeed, life. Both Tom and Charlie love playing and watching. Often, as a family, we’d gather to become absorbed in what was happening on that green jewel of a field. Arguments -- some friendly, some distinctly not – kept our adrenalin pumping. You need to know the rules and appreciate its nuances. You must understand that its pace is not boring but, rather, a garden of potential for the exhilarating split second that will make you either holler or smile…even the oldest on the team, or the couch, becoming boyish after a great grab or hit.

I look forward to the remainder of this World Series and, hopefully, plan on doing some smiling myself! *

*Obviously the World Series is over and I was very happy with the outcome. Congrats to the Houston Astros---what a great series!

Friday, October 6, 2017

The News Today

This was written as a column for my local paper just a few hours after the shootings in Las Vegas.
I offer it as a post for this blog with a heavy heart but not one without hope for the future....XO

Ironically, my topic for this week’s column was going to be about my recent hijinks at a casino. 

A venue I so rarely visit, I found myself developing a sore elbow in front of a slot machine during a family get-together in Saratoga Springs, New York. It was a wonderful weekend.

But, this very morning, we all awoke to more terrible news. And, as residents so very close to the site of another horrific massacre, we had no choice but to revisit the all-too familiar feelings of anxiety, fear and sorrow. My original topic was no longer appropriate…and my weekend was, virtually, forgotten.

This column is not going to be about gun control vs. the Second Amendment and the many variations upon those themes (not that I don’t have my opinions). I can only wax on about the issues we face today as sentient beings in an increasingly unmoored society--the growing number of worries that jockey for position in our overwhelmed brains…the apprehension that accompanies our every waking step, often trailing into our subconscious at night.

I wish I had some lovely optimism to fluff on about here. That’s hard to muster not 24 hours after this tragedy. Originally unaware of where this nightmare unfolded and making sure none of my kids were in the vicinity, I was able to calm my pounding heart only to remind myself of the parents whose children just wanted to enjoy a concert and are never coming home.

Right after the Newtown shooting, while bathed in anxious grief and rage, I spotted a small hand-lettered sign stuck into the ground outside of Target, visible to those waiting in line at the light. It simply read “Good things happen, too.” It made me burst into tears yet it also made me feel better.

I recently read about one of my favorite celebrities, Mr. Rogers. A man as kind and sweet in private as the persona he embodied on his television show, he shared something his mother said when he was little. She’d told him that, in times of crisis, to always “look for the helpers.” There will “always be helpers,” she advised. That made him feel safer and when I read it, it made me feel safer, too.

We all value our “first responders” as we now call them. There was a bunch of fireman shopping in a local supermarket last week and I watched them appreciatively, happy even to be near them. Fred Rogers’ mother understood long ago how these “helpers” make such a difference to us all. To say we “thank” them is an understatement. We deeply love them. The “helpers” were there last night.

Just today, I had a conversation with a customer service rep named Evelyn after placing an order. While she clicked about on her computer, we discussed what had happened in Las Vegas. Both parents, at first we fretted together about the usual things parents fear most. Afterward, Evelyn wistfully recalled a time where people were comfortable about disagreeing with one another, family was strong, we weren’t muzzled by the very extreme end of the political correctness spectrum and the internet didn’t pollute minds and indoctrinate people into evil. We were both very sad, concluding our exchange with a sincere wish for each other’s peace and safety (plus, she adjusted my shipping charges). Evelyn was a philosopher with a headset, solving the trivial dilemmas of shoppers and pondering life. Like all of us.

So, while I have no words and my balm will be cat videos and phone catch-ups later with my kids, I send love to you all as well as prayers for the apparent impossibility that people practice love instead of hate. But nothing is impossible--isn’t that what they say?

Maybe if we can achieve this, one household at a time, things will look up a bit. Maybe it will even catch on. And if you’d like to discuss all this with Evelyn, I can get you her number. I think she’d be happy to hear from you.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The 2017 Emmys Review: Brief and Mean

Hollywood and I are breaking up.

I’m waiting for the right moment to tell it since, after last night’s Emmys, I realize we have nothing in common. Other than Carol Burnett, that is…we're both still pretty gaga over her. 

But that’s no longer enough, Hollywood…we are through.

When, during a three hour award show, the classiest woman to be found is RuPaul, in full regalia, pretending to be an Emmy Statuette, you know you’re in trouble. No, you cannot count Emmy Rossum no matter how good she looked because, thanks to "Shameless," we've all seen her boobies more times than I can count and even Alexis Bleidel, looking more like a baby deer caught in the headlights than ever, is disqualified after her recent participation in the unnecessarily atrocious (as in it could have been wonderful) revival of “The Gilmore Girls.”

Last night’s women, who illustrated -- en masse -- that the fashion statement of the evening was matching the colorful gems in their borrowed Chopard earrings with the gem in their borrowed rings, were the tackiest bunch of potty mouths I have experienced since I was caught in traffic on the George Washington Bridge. But I was alone and not on live TV.

And, if they weren’t discussing peeing, or expressing their interest in owning a vibrator or naming their boobs (Dolly Parton is guilty of both of these crimes), they were actually getting bleeped by the network censors. And censors are relatively chill these days.

...there are no good roles for women
out there.

Several also spent their camera time bleating about how grateful they are that Hollywood is finally beginning to provide good roles for women. What in the name of Scarlett O’Hara are they talking about?

Have they forgotten about Vivien Leigh, standing in the ravaged fields of Tara, shaking a gnarled carrot at the sky? Or, Vivien, again, depending on the kindness of strangers or Merle Oberon on the English moors with Heathcliff, Bette Davis experiencing a “bumpy night,” Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce or, more recently, Cate Blachette, Kate Winslett of Whoopie Goldberg showing us all how it’s done?

Oh, Archie.

But, since this was a night about the “small screen,” how about Diahann Carroll as the independent Julia, Maureen Stapleton’s “Edith” who showed up the small–minded Archie almost every week with her innate wisdom and dignity or Mary Tyler Moore who proved to women everywhere that you don’t need a husband to be successful or content. Roles for women? Where have Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and others, been hiding? If Cecily Tyson had been alive last night, she might have had a sharp word or two for them.

Not in favor of inclusion.

Inclusion was also a big theme. I’m all for it. But if I’d been a member of any of the groups specifically mentioned again and again, I would have been cringing by the night’s end. If any group needed defending last night, it was whatever birds gave their life for the second fashion statement of the night-- feathered dresses. Those birds had zero representation based on the look of things.

It only got uglier. Literally. 

Enter the misguided trio of unfortunate surgery--Lily Tomlin appeared with very oddly shaped cheek implants that were so low I nearly mistook them for breast implants. Her companion, Dolly Parton, looked as pumped up as the mutant chicken breasts I avoided in Stop ‘n’ Shop last week but the worst offender was Jane Fonda, fresh from her lastest alteration. Her gleaming face was so tight that her odd braying laughter and wink to the audience were barely achievable. These two brilliant women, plus Jane (have you actually seen her act?) should have the gravitas of years of combined experience. Instead Dolly made bra jokes.


For me, there were a few highlights: Donald Glover made me want to binge watch “Atlanta: asap, I love Dave Chappelle almost unconditionally and Alexander Skarsgard needs only to Alexander Skarsgard to make me smile. Speaking of smiling, I’m happy when Kate McKinnon is happy and I love (and am a little afraid of) Ann Dowd although she was far better in “The Leftovers” than in “The Handmaid’s Tale” for which she won her Emmy. I also want to thank Debra Messing for forgetting to pack her dress but improvising with not one but several shower curtains ripped from the rods of a local Ramada Inn.

I was also very happy for newcomer Riz Ahmed who won for his break-out role in “The Night Of.”  And, for the record, I also wish that someone would help Viola Davis find a pair of shoes she can actually walk in. 

Welcome to the dark side, baby....
Rumor has it that Alec Baldwin’s current wife was surreptitiously passing out notes requesting that people “Please help!” her and that the man pretending to be Dennis Quaid last night has been taken into custody for kidnapping the real Dennis Quaid. Dennis, why? At least he and his ex, Meg Ryan now look equally terrifying thanks to unfortunate choices in cosmetic surgeons.

Over all, the night was dismal but I have yet to acknowledge the absolute worst of it….his name is Steven Colbert. Self-satisfied and predictable showcaser of his self-perceived gift for comedy, he ran the show the same way he hosts the formerly excellent “Late Show.” It’s all about him…no, really. 

I just love......ME!!!
He and Jimmy Fallon are tied for who can focus less on their guests and more on themselves. The generations who loved Johnny Carson (and even Leno and Letterman), understand that it’s the guests who are there to shine and the hosts responsibility to make sure that happens. Or at least it used to be. Colbert is unequaled for smugness and self appreciation. Feh.

I may finally be done with award shows.

Hey, wait a minute...I WAS there last night!!!!!

Monday, May 29, 2017


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, 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.