February 25, 2009


Best Pics, part one

I'm a little late on both Oscar fever and Eden's wiping away of the cobwebs over at Film Freaks. Also this is taking longer than I thought, so I'm dividing it into two parts.

With "I've seens" in bold, here is back to 1960:

2008 - "Slumdog Millionaire" Despite the darling status, seems like it's worth a watch.

2007 - “No Country for Old Men” Moving up the Netflix queue, prolly do a weekend (when Jen is gone, I'm thinking...) with this and "There Will Be Blood."

2006 - “The Departed” Definitely a great Scorcese film, but I'm still astounded that he didn't win for "Raging Bull" or "Goodfellas" (hell, "After Hours" coulda' been a contendah).

2005 - “Crash” Very well-written and directed. One of the early 21st century's great social polemics on film.

2004 - “Million Dollar Baby” What does having seen and greatly liked the four competing films (The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Ray, Sideways) say about this film? It must be pretty damn good. Plus Eastwood, Swank and Freeman - what's not to like even if the ending has been long spoiled?

2003 - “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” It's almost as if Tolkien split up the story into three perfect epic movie parts. They're all "best" for me, despite the unavoidable condensing of the story.

2002 - “Chicago” A great story-driven musical with some classic performances, esp. Gere and J.C. Riley

2001 - “A Beautiful Mind” Ron Howard is the king of "based on" adaptations, and Crowe outperforms his best actor "Gladiator" role by a mile.

2000 - “Gladiator” Still, he was pretty good in this, though Phoenix and Reed (what a great role to go out on for an under-appreciated/utilized actor) were better.

1999 - “American Beauty” A modern classic, worthy of its win along with Spacey's best actor

1998 - “Shakespeare in Love” One of my all-time favorites, if more for its comedy than its romance (both of which did Will proud). One bone - I would have traded Judi Dench's BSActress to have Geoffrey Rush get BSActor

1997 - “Titanic” This modern epic was bloated but entertaining, and paled in comparison to its competition for this year (L.A. Confidential, The Full Monty, Good Will Hunting, As Good As It Gets).

1996 - “The English Patient” This good but unmemorable film beat out "Fargo"? Pffft!

1995 - “Braveheart” An excellent film which garnered no acting nominations, and thanks its lucky stars that the Academy snubbed "Leaving Las Vegas" in this BPic category.

1994 - “Forrest Gump” People rag on this flick but it's one of my favorites, no doubt due to Hanks' Oscar-worthy performance. In other Oscar news, it's a tough toss-up for me that this was up against "Shawshank Redemption," and that Sinise was up against Martin Landau's Bela Lugosi in "Ed Wood" for BSActor was just tough luck.

1993 - “Shindler's List” What more needs to be said about this film?

1992 - “Unforgiven” I didn't like this film upon first viewing, but I must have had an off night because it is one of my favorite westerns - a great turn for Clint for his character and as director, and one of my favorite Gene Hackman performances.

1991 - “The Silence of the Lambs” I've only seen this once, but I feel like its overrated. Probably worth another look.

1990 - “Dances with Wolves” Damn this is long. Damn this is good. Damn "Goodfellas" should have beat this to a pulp.

1989 - “Driving Miss Daisy” Loverly film, top-notch Oscar competition (Born on The Fourth Of July, My Left Foot, Field Of Dreams, Dead Poet's Society).

1988 - “Rain Man” A classic

1987 - “The Last Emperor” Paging Netflix queue...

1986 - “Platoon” A pretty good Vietnam war flick, a pretty good war flick, a pretty good flick (in that particular order).

1985 - “Out of Africa I'm not sure why, but I have never had much of a desire to see this film.

1984 - “Amadeus” Wonderful. Did Mozart really laugh like that?

1983 - “Terms of Endearment” A guy can really get in touch with his feminine side with this tearjerker. The acting trifecta of MacLaine, Nicholson and Winger help keep this film from becoming too dated.

1982 - “Gandhi” One of the best biopics ever, and Ben Kingsley makes it so.

1981 - “Chariots of Fire” Great period piece and not a bad morality play either.

1980 - “Ordinary People” This film does its job well, leaving you frazzled at the end like its characters

1979 - “Kramer vs. Kramer” No really, it's not a Meryl Streep thing. But it’s tough to see this beating out "Breaking Away."

1978 - “The Deer Hunter” I've only seen this once, and I had a difficult time relating to it.

1977 - “Annie Hall” In the O' Tim Top Ten, and higher up than it’s competition, Star Wars.

1976 - “Rocky” The underdog for sure (All The President's Men, Bound for Glory, Network and Taxi Driver). A good flick that had no business squirting out all those sequels.

1975 - “One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest” Nicholson's (and Kesey's) best work.

1974 - “The Godfather Part II” Man, I was bummed when they killed Fredo.

1973 - “The Sting” Absolutely beautiful movie, flawless.

1972 - “The Godfather” The creme de la creme

1971 - “The French Connection” I liked this okay, but Gene Hackman was better in "The Conversation"

1970 - “Patton” Another of the all-time great biopics, and a solid period piece, too.

1969 - “Midnight Cowboy” One of my favorite dark comedies, but still hard to see how it beat "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"

1968 - “Oliver!” Will you kill me if I say it's "delightful?" Interesting how another musical wouldn't win Best Pic for more than 30 years.

1967 - “In the Heat of the Night” You just love to hate Rod Steiger in this film.

1966 - “A Man for All Seasons” I have completely missed this one.

1965 - “The Sound of Music” Is it wrong to think Julie Andrews is hot in this film?

1964 - “My Fair Lady” Palatable, as musicals go (for me anyway), perhaps because of its roots in literature. Is it wrong to think Audrey Hepburn is hot in this film?

1963 - “Tom Jones” Nope

1962 - “Lawrence of Arabia” I've never seen this all the way through

1961 - “West Side Story” I’ve seen this one and a half times, and Shakespearean roots notwithstanding, I found it kinda boring. Worth another look?

1960 - “The Apartment” One of my favorite Billy Wilders, and it is definitely okay to think that Shirley MacLaine is hot in this film.

Next, 1959 back to the first Oscar in 1928

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The Monthly Max - Second Anniversary edition

Any parent knows that you truly don't realize the full impact of the idiomatic phrase "time flies" until you have your kid(s). But alongside the exasperation that accompanies the flying calendar sheets comes the sheer joy, wonder and humor of taking this new journey with your little being.

Simply stated - I love being your dad, Max.

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February 10, 2009


Elephant talk (donkeys, too)

I presume most professional writers run a spell check on their work upon completion. At the end of its spell check routine Microsoft Word offers the option of presenting certain figures regarding readability, and to a journalist a few of these are important while the others are possibly interesting.

My experience with the MS Word Readability Statistics caused me to find interest in a recent item on HuffPo that compares Barack Obama’s first press conference on Monday night with that of George W. Bush on Feb. 22, 2001. The Obama effort was deemed superior in terms of intellect - no surprise there.

Obviously there are several factors outside of the readability paradigm that account for the difference in the two PCs, primarily the subject(s) at hand. For Bush it was the schwinging out of his saber on Iraq (ineffective sanctions, Sadaam bad, WMD, Chinese presence in Iraq).

Obama’s was well over twice as long, with long-winded answers primarily about the economy but with a few switches to foreign policy and bipartisanship.

Just for shits and giggles let’s look at it from a journalist’s point of view, as I have been told by editors numerous times to KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid), a concept that, for newspaper articles, is anchored in readability.

First, the Obama presser:

Here is Bush’s:

You can see that both run very close in sentences per paragraph (rather subjective, especially in a spoken press conference) and in characters per word, the latter being somewhat surprising with regard to my assessment of Bush’s vocabularial contentificationism. Of course the big news is the grade level and the related “reading ease,” both determined by brainy linguists under the auspice of the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test.

Considering that the room is full of journalists, certainly all college graduates, one might presume that it’s a good thing to have your press conference rated at a 10th grade level. But oh no says Mr. Editor – KISS for our reading public, who average about an 8th grade reading level. The reading ease figures translate thusly:

90–100: easily understandable by an average 11-year old student

60–70: easily understandable by 13- to 15-year old students

0–30: best understood by college graduates

I continue this incredibly fun comparison by offering up the stats on a long-winded article of my own:

I have acknowledged that I am a not-so-successfully recovering wordaholic, addicted to sesquipedalian pursuits of the most grandiloquent order. Few of my articles have reached that holy grail of an 8th grade reading level.

The final criteria to cover here is the use of passive voice, to be avoided as much as possible in news writing for the purposes of, say it with me, "Readability" (I consider myself doing well to keep my articles under 12 percent). Obama’s press conference likely had more passive sentences than Bush’s because it was much longer, but credit must be given to Shrubster for his simplisticosity on this one. Those 7th grade Republicans would be proud.

I, on the other hand, appear to be a lost cause:


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February 06, 2009


A blow to the munchies fer sher, dude

Hi, I'm O'Tim and I am a cereal addict (Hi O'Tim!). I am also a supporter of marijuana decriminalization, and so it is with great disappointment yet firm resolve that I stand up for what's right and bid good bye to my pals Tony, Dig 'Em, Snap, Crackle, Pop, and Sam.

It's nothing personal guys, but your company has crossed the line by dropping 14x gold medal champion Michael Phelps from its sponsorship roster because it was discovered that he smoked pot. This is a farce and rank hypocrisy at its worst.

I have no doubt the Kellogg's powers that be have a considerable number of alcohol drinkers and tobacco users among them, and condemning someone who used a far less dangerous substance is therefore bogus. I am curious as to how many citizens of Battle Creek supported the recent overwhelming approval for medicinal cannibis in Michigan. Surely some of these cereal peddlers have smoked marijuana themselves, and chastising and sanctioning an exceptional athlete based on "the image that the company wants to project" is laughable. It's downright side-splitting in light of the image purveyed by these officially licensed Kellogg's products:

Tell me more than one good reason why Homes needs that Jethro bowl. I wouldn't be surprised if they threw in a free bottle of Visine with every order. Word.

For Kellogg's to punish Phelps for getting caught doing what 70 percent of Americans don't care if they did as well puts them among the worst of, as Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance calls, "the sanctimonious handwringers seizing on a public figure's embarrassment to drive home an anachronistic abstinence-only message when it comes to America's favorite illicit psychoactive substance." Preach it, brother.

I for one hope that the effect of millions of pot smokers and others who will stand up to this hypocrisy finally overwhelms the fearful, closeted image of shame perpetrated by "Reefer Madness" ignorance and the ill-conceived War on Drugs. The sooner we lift the prohibition the quicker we control the exhibition, and usage levels off as it becomes no big deal for consenting adults to imbibe on their own time.

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February 03, 2009


Things are tough all over and above ye

From The Onion, always spot-on:

God Quietly Phasing Holy Ghost Out Of Trinity

HEAVEN—Calling the Holy Trinity "overstaffed and over budget," God announced plans Monday to downsize the group by slowly phasing out the Holy Ghost. "Given the poor economic climate and the unclear nature of the Holy Ghost's duties, I felt this was a sensible and necessary decision," God said. "The Holy Ghost will be given fewer and fewer responsibilities until His formal resignation from Trinity duty following Easter services on April 20. Thereafter, the Father and the Son shall be referred to as the Holy Duo."


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February 02, 2009


Don't let the dipshits bring you down

I am inspired by this recent post (and excellent comment thread) from the prolifically and charmingly anecdotal David Rochester. For you non link followers, The Synopsis: DR laments a recent experience at a movie theater, with much focus on some clueless patrons in his proximity and his hesitance to intervene on behalf of his sanity.

Over the years my qualms about public social policing have decreased. I used to be much more reserved when privy to public acts of exceptional ignorance, but I've noticed that since becoming a father I have taken on a much more "you kids get off my lawn" attitude toward dipshittery, especially if it could impact my child. Not long ago I gave an amplified "WTF?!" to a moron lighting up a cigarette as he stood gassing up his car. I had to continue with verbal instruction about what to do with the butt when he gave me look of non-absorption of the very potential hazard.

But I have witnessed with disappointment my wife's decline in rapier caustic chastisement of ignorant/disrespectful fools. She also used to be quite the thorn in the side of unsuspecting managers of restaurants with poor service. She reported that the other day while at the playground with our son, she held her tongue after a young father nearby blew a horrifyingly viscous snot rocket from his nose to the ground.

I told her that depending on said lubricious missile's proximity to my son, or had the offensive projectile landed on equipment surface, I would have been compelled to at most help the fellow recover it with a surface of his clothing opposite to the one I was holding (or possibly his tongue, which he could then hold) or at least said, "Christ on a pogo stick, have a clue, you disgrace to bumpkins everywhere."

And that's the truth. Pthhhhht!

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