My brain is still using wiring diagrams from the 1960s, and this level of stimulation leads quickly to an overload.
Modern media bewilders nemo, who awoke this morning from a disturbed sleep with a thoroughly choatic recollection of the previous night’s Oscar telecast, in which Twitter, his remote control and cross-dressing all played a part.
Frankly, I haven’t watched the Oscars for some time, chiefly because of my reluctance to actually go see films in theaters. A long time ago, I went to see “Ghost,” and when the nonstop narrator sitting behind suddenly said “Oh — cool! This is the part where he gets shot and turns into a ghost,” all reason left me, and a discussion ensued that could have cost me my life. Things have only gotten worse since then, I gather, judging from others’ accounts of cell phone conversations, family disputes and full-scale weddings intruding on their viewing experiences, and with a very few exceptions, I give public entertainment venues a wide birth, since they bring me into contact with — well — the public, which seems to have the manners of a sixteen year old huffing glue.
Last night, however, I felt sufficiently connected to the films under consideration to tune in. My wife had seen some of them; between her comments and the inescapable torrent of data now unleashed through the flood of media coverage, I had some vague notion what most of them were about, and why some people might find them of merit. And it was much more fun than I had expected.
Part of this stemmed from the release from tedium that a remote control loaded with pre-selected “favorite” channels offers. This wonderful improvement, now taken for granted by most, still seems miraculous to me; I can leap from anything I am watching to anywhere from two to twenty alternatives with just a flick of my thumb. God, if only we could do that with our lives! (In Philadelphia at your cousin’s wedding? — flick — Nope. Now you’re marlin fishing off Acapulco with Ernest Hemingway and Anne Hathaway.)
And since I had missed most of the early obligatory salutes to “Best Documentary Not Involving A Hideous Deformity” and “Best Lip-Synching By A Tone-Deaf Actress,” I only had to navigate an hour and a half of forced humor and laundry lists of essential contributors to an honoree’s success.
Still, the telecast was less than riveting most of the time. But we also had on tap a basketball game featuring for the first time the newly-amped Knicks lineup of All-Stars Suddenly Imported from The Provinces against the hitherto-invincible LeBron James et. al. Heat. I haven’t watched an NBA game since Walt Frazier won the NBA championship on a gimpy leg, but this game sounded like it would be fun, and besides, I wanted to see just how big these guys had gotten in the interim.
Additionally, there was the usual House marathon on Sleuth, which is always good for a few minutes of first-rate misanthropy mixed with really, really hot brilliant young doctorettes in severe hairstyles.
Finally, being now catheterized to Twitter (one can’t pretend to serious blogging without a Twitter account, which enables me to listen to everyone I hate making complete fools of themselves with unedited public blurts), I was glancing at tweets commenting on the awards from a wide range of very self-important blowhards making unedited fools of themselves on the social media.
What ensued was confusion of a significant magnitude. My brain is still using wiring diagrams from the 1960s, and this level of stimulation leads quickly to an overload. My neural quanta quickly piled into a third-world kind of traffic jam, with information backed up and scrambled across various highways and ramps, horns and sirens combining into a hellish cacophony and body parts strewn liberally across multiple crash sites. The numbing fatigue that usually sets in at about 10PM did nothing to help, except possibly to exert a useful calming counterfoil that reduced the chances of a stroke or seizure.
So my recollection of the evening is somewhat hazy. As near as I can tell, Nassim Taleb’s book Black Swan, a thoughtful but highly detailed academic and mathematical exploration of the likelihood of highly unlikely events, won best screenplay; how, I cannot imagine. I hadn’t didn’t even heard they made it into a movie, and what Natalie Portman may have added to the discussion is a cipher to nemo. Sometime between that and Colin Firth copping Best Actor for playing a one-eyed John Wayne, Keith Olbermann and Arina Huffington launched a torrrent of feuding tweets over the singing skills of Gwyneth Paltrow, a guy I thought had been dictator of Spain appeared disguised as Marilyn Monroe, and someone named Chauncey Billups (great name!) nailed a three pointer, stole the ball with only 30 seconds to go, and pretty much chilled the Heat. A madman took House and twelve patients hostage demanding an on-the-spot diagnosis of the cause behind His Majesty King George VI’s speech impediment. Best picture was a montage of ten films with a voiceover of a halting Winston Churchill advising the Brits that this Hitler fellow was getting to be a royal pain in the ass, and then thousands of real munchkins in multihued tee shirts sang “Over The Rainbow.” That seemed to pretty much it for the Oscars, and I think I enjoyed every minute of it.
One last thing. They have to change that damn statue. A bronze figurine of a naked castrato insults both male and female honorees, and says more about the Academy than perhaps they wish to reveal. Pandering to the taste of the global mid-cult may be demeaning, but it’s hardly emasculating; either give the poor guy back his balls or put a thong on him. He’s suffered long enough.