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Oscars 2017: Holy Shit - The Literary Exhibitionist
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Oscars 2017: Holy Shit
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Last night featured arguably the most shocking moment in Academy Awards history, and it happened at the very end.

For several years Shobhit and I hosted Oscar Parties, and between 2005 and 2010 the smallest number in attendance was 4 (2010) and the largest in attendance was 11 (2007). I wish I could still do that, but it just stopped happening. Of course, it was in 2010 that both Shobhit and Barbara moved away, and no matter how hard I tried, after that I could rarely get more than even just one other person to come over to watch -- in 2015 we had three, counting myself, just because both Gabriel and Kornelija came over to watch. I had no roommate at the time, as I was between Ivan and Tommy then; last year Tommy and I watched alone together at home and I didn't take any pictures at all.

This year Ivan was back, but Ivan had zero interest: when he asked if anything exciting was happening and I mentioned the Oscars, he said, "So, nothing exciting." Excuse me? Also: of all the years for someone to make such an assertion!

Anyway, I knew Ivan would not be interested in anything Oscars. The last time we hung out with Evan and Elden, we did talk about them joining us at Central Cinema for the live viewing yesterday, but they said they had other plans for the day and may not be able to make it. And, clearly, they did not. There was a brief window of hope that Gabriel might come, but that didn't happen either. So, it was just Shobhit and me.

I have no idea how long Central Cinema -- which Barbara used to work at and is all of one block from her old apartment building, in the Central District but a mere six blocks or so from our home -- has been hosting an Academy Awards viewing, but I'm sure glad we went. Even if it was just Shobhit and me in our group, I much prefer being in a crowd of people who are also movie and Oscar enthusiasts. Indeed, it made that shocker at the end all the more palpable. Every one of us was like, What is happening? Is this really happening?

Shobhit and I have watched the Oscars in a public venue once before, five years ago -- at Revolver in West Hollywood. The thing that sucked there was that the crowd was super loud and the venue did not increase the volume on their TV monitors, so I could hear almost nothing being said.

Central Cinema handled it way better, with increased volume during the telecast so it was always easy to hear, and always lowering the volume during commercials, with just a minimum of banter by the host holding a microphone. They handed out a few cornball prizes at the end. I had a great time, and fully intend to go back there again for next year's telecast. Free entry! That's way different from, say, the party at The Egyptian, with $25 general admission. (On the other hand, it sounds like their food was included in the admission price, plus a cash bar; given that I spent $59 on food and drinks at Central Cinema, I suppose the comparison is kind of a wash. Provided they offer enough vegetarian food, maybe I should look into The Egyptian next year after all?)

In any case, just a few thoughts about the telecast this year:

*Mahershala Ali's well-deserved win for Best Supporting Actor as the first award given out appropriately set the tone, before Moonlight went on to win both Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. La La Land, long the front-runner for Best Picture, actually won twice as many Oscars, with a total of six, including Best Director -- a disparity that was a repeat of last year, when Alejandro González Iñárritu won Best Director for The Revenant yet Spotlight (itself winning only two Oscars) won Best Picture. I guess the Best Picture / Best Director break may be more of an increasing trend than I realized; aside from the 2006 Crash over Brokeback Mountain upset, in the past a Best Director win was a pretty reliable predictor of the Best Picture win. In any event, given La La Land tying for the record number of 14 nominations, it was nice to see the love get spread around, after all the talk about Academy members voting "down the ballot" for it -- which, in retrospect, did not give Academy members enough credit.

*The two least predictable wins of the night were Emma Stone for Best Actress in La La Land and Viola Davis for Best Supporting Actress in Fences. Everyone knew both of these things would happen. Then again, everyone "knew" La La Land would win Best Picture too, and we all know how that turned out. Moonlight's win would have been the biggest shock of the night even without the envelope mix-up. Every once in a while the Academy gets the biggest award right (The Departed, 12 Years a Slave), but I can't remember any example of it happening with an independent film that made only a few million dollars at the box office.

*Viola Davis's acceptance speech, predictable win or not, was perhaps the night's best.

*Shobhit was certain Denzel Washington would win Best Actor for Fences, mostly because of his surprise win at the SAG Awards, as actors have by far the most crossover voting body between SAG-AFTRA and the Academy. (Shobhit voted for Denzel himself.) But! Casey Affleck's win was hardly a surprise, given the SAG Awards were the one anomaly in an awards season where Casey Affleck won every other award. I was still disappointed. It turns out Casey Affleck is a sexually predatory douche and it was a kind of tough pill to swallow to see him getting rewarded. Not that it's anything new: look at the likes of Roman Polanski and Woody Allen.

*That was the only real disappointment of the evening, though, especially with Jimmy Kimmel hosting. He turned out to be an inspired choice, making it one of the most entertaining Oscars telecasts in recent memory. I loved his bits, even the snacks parachuting down from the rafters onto the audience three different times. Shobhit was sure the tour bus tourists bit was fake and with hired extras. He was wrong. I told him so last night; they would not do something that sneaky -- or if they did, they would have made it clear the tourists were actors. I could tell just watching them they were not. (The divided reaction to the bit, in which some people found it to be "classist and exploitative," was interesting. I found it delightful.)

*What more can be said of that stunning shocker of an ending? La La Land never deserved Best Picture (people insisting both it and Moonlight were equally deserving notwithstanding: that is objectively wrong), but I feel genuinely bad for its producers and cast and crew. They really thought they had won Best Picture, and even got up on the stage and had time to get in a couple of acceptance speeches before the truth came out. They were exceedingly gracious about it all. Also, it's too bad Moonlight's group got a bit of short shrift in the end, cutting into their time to give their sincere thanks onstage. Regardless, though -- and even though it was the result of an unprecedented, easily preventable snafu -- that was a moment for the ages.

real winner


I just had lunch with Jennifer and Eric! I found out yesterday, when Jennifer messaged me, that apparently her middle child, 12-year-old Chase, has Crohn's Disease. I guess her dad (Uncle Paul) has the same thing. And anyway, it meant they had to bring Chase up to Seattle Children's Hospital for some appointments today. They had two appointments with a huge gap in between, giving them plenty of time to come and meet for lunch.

Turns out the walk straight up to Mercer Street is only a couple of minutes more than the walk to the Edgewater Hotel, in the opposite direction. I didn't realize how easy it is for me to get to lunch places up there. I'll have to keep that in mind.

Eric likely would have said it didn't matter at all, but I chose a place up there so they wouldn't have to drive to far down into downtown. This cut their drive time to lunch from Seattle Children's. Also, I suggested they take an alternate route because there was this big tanker accident that literally closed a section of I-5 both directions downtown, causing huge traffic backups. I sent them the address of the restaurant I chose -- a Thai place I'd never been to called Tim Tum Thai -- but their GPS interpreted 1st Ave W as 1st Ave N, and, even though the street address was Mercer, it had them stopping two blocks away on the east side of Queen Anne Avenue instead of on the west side. (They don't often drive in Seattle and are from Shelton. Having 1st Avenue be one block on both sides of Queen Anne -- one "North" and one "West" -- would be understandably confusing.)

We got on the phone and finally figured out how close they actually were, and they finally made it over to where I was. And then we had a very nice lunch. I actually asked for a separate check, but when I tried to pay with my American Express and they said they don't accept that -- of course -- I was making to exchange it with my debit card when Eric said, "Oh let me get that." So, Jennifer and Eric bought me lunch. Both today and tomorrow, actually! Because even though I could easily have eaten that entire plate, I saved half of it. I ate way too much yesterday and was back above 146 lbs this morning. Damn it! Now I'm about to have a couple of bites of chocolate. That'll help!

They also offered me a ride back. I offered to show them the office but they declined. Jennifer said she does want to see it another time, though. "I see the pictures you post all the time." I love showing this place off. Now it's time to get back to work though.

LA Times photo

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