Oscars Sunday

(The following was written as I was more or less watching the Oscars; what a nutty, agonizingly long night).

Oh, Hollywood!

JK Simmons, for Best Supporting Actor! Nice, brief, touching speech, to remember your parents.

“Everything is Awesome” – the song from “The Lego Movie” – had a powerfully weird presentation.

I suppose this is the Year of the Weird Oscars. Hmm!

People are going to ignore the music and do their speeches. It’s their moment, gosh darn it. (this is still tv; timing, people).

Liam Neeson presenting the clips from “Grand Budapest Hotel” and “American Sniper” for Best Picture.

Shirley MacLaine had a nice grace in presenting “Boyhood,” “Birdman,” and “The Theory of Everything.”

Is it me or is it agonizingly longer than ever? (well, I stepped away; I know – very bad). Perhaps lengthiness is the Oscars thing; it’ll never go away.

Terrence Howard was strangely quite dramatic in presenting “Whiplash,” “The Imitation Game,” and “Selma.” It was as if he had watched the movies, got so teary, and was so pushing for all of them. Uh…

“Glory,” the song by John Legend and Common for the movie, “Selma” – quite a presentation for that stage. So powerful.

And, “Glory” won! Powerful speech by John Legend and Common. The fight for social justice is a never-ending one, indeed.

Why is Lady Gaga singing “Sound of Music”? Am I missing something? It’s beautiful, but… wait, is it the 50th anniversary of “Sound of Music”? Is this just to make the Oscars long as usual? It just doesn’t feel very necessary, and very anti-climactic after John Legend and Common’s making a big Oscar moment.

Sometimes someone gets to make a good speech – short, sweet, inspirational. Graham Moore, for “The Imitation Game” in Best Adapted Screenplay, said that it’s okay to be weird and to “stay weird”; one, day, that person will be on the Oscars stage one day too. That was a lovely Oscar moment too.

“Birdman” won for Best Director and…?

Patricia Arquette, Eddie Redmayne, Julianne Moore – lovely speeches.

“Birdman” for Best Picture! (“oh” to Sean Penn for dragging the moment out!).

Lots of moving speeches, with the attention to the families, the producers (yep, them), and social issues.

I just wished they’d cut out the unnecessary stuff. It didn’t feel like they did as much of the usual “Let’s learn about the history of films and have film appreciation” as much (which they usually do for the viewers who are unfamiliar to the Oscars and/or films). Neil Patrick Harris’ opening was nice and encapsulated the appreciation for movies in one full swoop.

But, as I said, Lady Gaga’s moment was just oddly needless, even though she sang well. And, the clips of the acting moments of the nominated actors and actresses – well, they were spoilery of the films they were in. The Oscars just went on and on. Well, it was still something to watch and we’ll see what this year’s movies will make us say!

Lunar New Year Edition

Happy Lunar New Year! It’s the year of the sheep/ram/goat. (take your pick, since the Chinese character is apparently hard to translate. Apparently, there are people sheepish about saying “sheep” because of the Western connotations about sheep.  I don’t think goats are particularly nice animals or look particularly lucky and prosperous, so I could go with “ram,” since they’re practically bigger, bigger-horned, and more aggressive sheep anyway).

Gothamist’s Jen Chung covered the “8 Auspicious Foods To Eat In the Year of the Sheep.” Her commentary gave nice context. I liked the photos of the food, even if they were stock photos.

Time Out New York has a feature (updated for this year) on the activities and events of Lunar New Year in New York City. Make it what you will. AM New York also has a feature for the Year of the Sheep. The big Lunar New Year parade in Chinatown (Manhattan) is Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015.

Museum of the Chinese in America has a Lunar New Year family event on Feb. 28, 2015, complete with lion dance performance by my alma mater’s lion dance troupe, along with arts and crafts.

I believe I saw this on triscriber YC’s Facebook page: the NBA wishes us all a happy Lunar New Year, complete with Jeremy Lin (always remembered for Lin-sanity for New Yorkers) and NBA All-Stars James Harden, Dwayne Wade, and Stephen Curry, as well as that Chicago Bull mascot (Benny the Bull – I forgot that he had a name). Funny and cute video. The video almost made me like the NBA again.

(not that I’m a real fan; just a casual sports viewer; the All-Star Game turned out to be a no-defense points-a-pollooza at Madison Square Garden that I didn’t watch on tv.  I did watch on tv the pre-All-Star game festivities at Barclay Center in Brooklyn. Well, I liked it at least to the extent that I watched the the Three Point Shot stuff; Stephen Curry was fun to watch).

Sports Illustrated had a post on the NBA Lunar New Year video, and a video of blooper reel for the making of the video (including Houston Rocket cheerleaders trying to speak a few lines of Chinese (well, “Happy New Year,” I think – but I don’t speak Mandarin Chinese, so… I’d probably have as much trouble too).

Just to mention, since I didn’t get to do so earlier: on Jan. 20, 2015 – I had finally checked out the “Chinese America: Exclusion/Inclusion” exhibit at NY Historical Society. I had not previously been to the NY Historical Society (different than the Museum of the City of NY), so that was interesting. I should go again to look at more of the collection, and I’d like to see the exhibit of the Stephen Somerstein photographs of the Selma March of 1965.

I’m glad that the Chinese American exhibit took advantage of the contributions of others (like Museum of Chinese in America and people in the NY community, including federal Judge Denny Chin). Much more legal take than I expected, but hey, Chinese people were the first people excluded by law from emigrating to the US, so American law and the Chinese are tightly bound. I do recommend the exhibit as something worth checking out!

Meanwhile, the northeast USA (and a good part of the rest of the country) was in deep freeze. I propose that since last year was “polar vortex,” this year is “frozen hell.” Kind of catchy, don’t you think?  But, according to the NY Times, it turned out to be the “Siberian Express,” so… go figure.  Maybe that’s a step up from “polar vortex.”

Gothamist has some photos of New York City in ice of the last day or two. Time Out New York had a “It’s too damn cold” photo thing, along with a funny post about the cold.

While the cold in NYC has been ridiculous, at least we don’t have as much snow as last year (although the remnants of the snow from the not-Blizzard of 2015 at the end of January had still not been chiseled off in some places). And, hey, we’re not Boston, where they have a whole winter of snow (or Chicago’s amount of snow) in only a couple of weeks. I think we should be glad of the reminder of (sort of) four seasons while we have the four seasons. But, don’t say that I didn’t warn you of climate instability if we get a ninety degree Fahrenheit temperature in May.

Hopefully spring will be nice…

Super Bowl Sunday!

(The following was written as I was more or less watching the game, posted belated due to some server connection problems…).

Get ready for some football!

The commercials so far haven’t been too awful. (and they can be).  Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy was inspirational as ever in a commercial (I believe it was for a car; I’ll check again later), with the commercial depicting her snowboarding, dancing, and modeling.

The Minions (from the “Despicable Me” movies) are getting their own movie this summer (called – what else? – “Minions”). The cute commercial was making fun of both the Minions and the ridiculous antics of fans in the stadiums.

1st quarter ends with no points.  Someone ought to remind Seattle that you need some points on the board. But, at least their defense is holding up.  (umm, speaking as a casual fan, that is).

Such a cute Budweiser commercial, with the Clydesdales’ missing their lost puppy and then saving the puppy from a lone wolf. Aww!

It doesn’t make me want to drink beer, but – puppy!  Clydesdales!  Aww!

The commercial for the upcoming Terminator movie did not motivate me to want to watch the upcoming Terminator movie.  Maybe it had to do with the “Let’s see if we can bring Arnold Schwarzenegger back again!” part.  It didn’t interest me at all.

Coca Cola tried to make us stop bullying and being insanely partisan, as well as tried to encourage us to drink Coke. I liked that commercial, even if it was a little odd.

The “1st Draft Ever” commercial, where God was announcing what country got what species was hilarious for reminding me why we all like avocados. Also: too bad Mexico did not draft the polar bear (who even wore a sombrero to get drafted for a warm country).

Wow. Half-time ended on a tie (awesomely competitive); half-time show was pretty darn good (Katy Perry! Lenny Kravitz! Missy Elliott!); and Seahawks are doing well as the 3rd quarter began. Commercials – not awful.

Odd, snotty Budweiser commercial about how they’re a popular brand of beer because they’re made for drinking, not for tasting like some namby-pamby pumpkin microbrew ale. I thought people accepted Budweiser because it’s bland enough to be handled by everyone. That it’s not a microbrew doesn’t make it better or worse, or make the microbrews terrible. Can’t we all just get along? (Notably, I don’t drink beers anyway, and if I do drink, I end up drinking cider because I’m boring. And, I think that I’ve tried a lager. Evidently, I’m not a Bud drinker). That also made me miss the old Bud Bowl ads. They were fun, not snotty.

New England Patriots are not giving up in the 4th quarter.

OMG. New England takes the lead, with two minutes left.

Come to think of it, why hasn’t Lenny Kravitz been given a half-time show? Hmm!

Can’t believe this. Seattle makes some dumb mistakes; interception?! The frustration is believable and palpable. Don’t fight now! Ugh.

Then, Seattle loses. So close. I guess I’d say congrats to New England, but man…

Ugh. Quite a game, even if it was not the way (or the team) that I wanted. So weird and crazy. Maybe it’s me – why is it that the teams I root for lose? Eh. At least the commercials were a nice distraction, except when they were morbid. But, even the morbid ones were not badly done.  They just did not fit in a Super Bowl context.  Feel free to check out the pretty comprehensive commercial overview on Slate.

The pre-pre game coverage was something I generally ignored (seven hours of what…?). But, I did catch some Bob Costas bantering with Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinsky, bringing back some flashbacks of Costas’ Sochi Olympics 2014 and how Weir and Lipinsky were so popular with their mix of professional and campy analysis of figure skaing. Oh, wait, this was football.   Never mind.

On to the next sports/pop culture event!