Classy title, eh? Well, no more classy than the announced Academy Nominations today, which snubbed the Dark Knight for both Best Picture and Best Director. Had Heath Ledger not died tragically, they might not have been afforded an easy out by nominating his stunning performance as a conciliatory gesture to the best movie of the year, hands-down.Now, I haven't seen every since film that has come out, but I've certainly seen my share of the 2008 crowd. But who has? Film critics, generally speaking. So, let's just take a peek at the five nominations put against our boy Batman with the ratings from Rotten Tomatoes:

The Reader: 60%
Frost/Nixon: 91%
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: 72%
Slumdog Millionaire: 95%
Milk: 91%


The Dark Knight: 94% of 263 reviewsNow I know that "Best Picture" is not technically a popularity contest (don't tell that to Titanic), but doesn't it at least merit some consideration. I mean, if 4 out of every 10 critics didn't even like the film (yes, I'm looking at you, The Reader), how can it be considered in this category?I shouldn't be unfair, because The Reader is the only film I haven't seen yet on this list. (I promise that once I see it, I'll do an update.) However, I can be ruthlessly unfair to the others that I have seen. Both Frost/Nixon and Milk were good, serviceable, above par films. I don't think they don't deserve a nomination, but not at the expense of a superior film.The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is another case entirely. Clearly not a critical darling, I felt the film was very good, but I thought its nominations would be only in visual effects/makeup and maybe Brad would get a nod for Best Actor (he did). This isn't even close to Fincher's best film (Fight Club, duh), but I don't have any problem with the nomination. Unless of course you are comparing it to...Lastly, super-darling Slumdog Millionaire, which I really liked, and its spot is well-deserved. Probably the strongest of all the films on the list. Well acted, well directed, good story, emotionally moving. I highly recommend it.But keeping with the theme of being classy, Slumdog doesn't even deserve to shovel The Dark Knight's shit. For me, it was a stunningly directed film, a masterpiece screenplay, perfect-pitch performances, amazing action theatre, shocking and moving drama, and emotionally draining. In short, I was blown away. Blown away.

And it doesn't even rate as a nominee.

{Repeat blog entry title.}


Inauguration Day

So, the story of my trip across the river to DC on Inauguration Day is as follows:


OUR HERO (henceforth "he", "him", "the devastatingly handsome"), inexplicably awake, hears his cell phone alert (an R2 D2 whistle, naturally) in the other room. Instinctively, he knows it is his contact with the DNC who has said she would call if she had extra tickets on the Capitol Grounds. Not feeling particularly good himself -- the first signs of a chest cold coming on -- but knowing his significant other would LOVE to go, he checks the phone. To his expectant dread, he confirms the worst -- he has two tickets if he wants them.


Having donned appropriate sweatgear, his rendezvous with Deep Throat goes as expected. Although she has SEATED tickets actually at the Capital, she doesn't want to go, saying that she was there Sunday for the concert and it was "chaos".


Let's just say our hero was not feeling well this day. But he rallies.


The two don't encounter any problems with the trip, although the train was packed. Luckily, they got off the Metro just before some lady fell in between another train and the wall, further clustering the massive chaos (she was fine -- minor injuries, as it turned out). The effect was to close the key Metro station for about 20 minutes. Not fun.


Not that our heroes know it, but they are about 100 yards from the Purple Gate, the section our tickets indicate will grant us access. Secret service agents have shut down the entrance, but no one is told. There are thousands and thousands of people packing the streets, and no one is moving anywhere. Most stand here for about an hour, before finally getting through a choke point (about 20 feet away) toward the the "Purple Gate". The crowd is anxious but quite calm and good natured at this point.


The crowd, thousands strong, stand outside the gate, which is closed and never opens. Inexplicably, they are letting people in the exit to the Purple section, and they can be seen trickling in. Of course, over the course of the next hour, no one makes any progress.

MAN: (in front of our hero) I got here at 5:30 this morning.

It becomes clear that arrival time had nothing to do with not getting in. Clearly, someone organizing screwing things up badly. A small child sitting on his father's shoulders starts the chant "We have tickets, let us in!" and the throng goes with it. The crowd, although clearly agitated and frustrated, it still in good spirits, so eventually everyone gives up. And although they all had tickets to actually be within a stone's throw of the swearing in, most spend it behind an oak, with no audio or visual clues that the ceremony happened.




EPILOGUE: Here's my campaign promise for the next time someone has inauguration tickets: "I won't go". Here is the story from the Post on the gate problem, which really doesn't reveal much, except there were a lot of irritated people.

PS: Although the vast majority of people were in great spirits, you had your occasionial hater who couldn't resist bashing Bush one last time. I am most relieved for the new administration so we don't have to hear so many laughably-deluded-Bush-is-the-worst-ever-and-the-cause-of-all-our-problems fools. Eye-rolling gets tiring, I tell you. My liberal significant other is much saner than that!

Breaking Dawn

The fourth and final installment of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, Breaking Dawn is a worthy end to the sometimes long-winded previous three books' buildup. In fact it not only delivers, it surpasses in almost every way; it is by far my favorite of the series, and the one I would be most inclined to read again. As I put it to a friend, it is worth reading books two and three just to get this this one.This is not to say that the novel does not have its flaws. Chief among the detractorin comments that you may find on reviews is that the ending can leave one rather flat. Certainly, I can say it was rather disappointing, but in retrospect, I think that I am more comfortable with it each passing day.

For one, my major problem has been Stephenie Meyer's descriptive prose, which for some is not an obstacle, but for me makes scenes feel like they stretch on way too long. For the final confrontation, I felt this to be the case, to the point where I was left ready to scream, "come on -- get the fight on!!!" after so long of a build. It was not so much the happy ending, but how long it took to get there. Of course, I should no more be surprised at the happy ending than the manner in which it was presented. And that's the only quibble I have.

Now for the good stuff. First and foremost, the middle part of the book is written from Bella's werewolf friend Jacob, and it is nothing short of wonderful. Funny, angry, and full of dramatic "no way" twists and turns, the section is perfectly inserted and crucial for understanding both sides of the story. It separates Bella's wedding and honeymooon and her transformation into a vampire. Right there you have about five-hundred pages of romance, intrigue, new developments, insight, and page-turning power.

Not a perfect book, but if you enjoyed the first one, it is well worth your time to find out how things end.


Stephenie Meyer's third installment in the Twilight series, Eclipse is neither more nor less than the previous installments. It is a continuing dramatic (melodramatic, as seen through a girl's teenage eyes) and long-winded tale of the heroine Bella's struggle to be with her serious-boyfriend-vampire Edward. Standing in their way is the fragility of human's versus vampires (sex between humans and vampires is considered perilous to the point of stupidity), Bella's friendship-love with her best friend, a werewolf, who has now overt designs on who she belongs with, a grudge revenge mark against her by another vampire, and the icky idea of getting married -- the latter is so much less appealing to her than giving up her life to be a vampire.If any of this sounds eye-rollingly unappealing, it probably is to you. Meyer's books fake no pretense that they are overtly romantic in nature and presentation; perhaps that is what is so strangely appealing despite the often overlong prose. (At least you can skip through them lightly and know you haven't missed much when things get a little tedious.) Still, I admit that I enjoyed it, and was especially impressed and maybe even a little moved in the inspired sex-turned-to-proposal scene midway through the book.

Overall, it's solid stepping stone for getting to the series' conclusion.