Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Scenes from an Oscar Party, 2007

The Official Oscar Statuesque 2007, semi-commissioned by The Compleat Sculptor

Awake for his first party, Xan helps with the decorations by carrying balloons in his mouth. (Pajamas by Carters.)

Given the current climate, workers toil to ensure that the entranceway sculpture (the SnOscar) will be completed in time. Happily, all the people waiting at the red carpet have been wiped out by the snow.

Xan supervises activities, fearing that things will not be done in time for the telecast (despite ample preparation and cuteness) and wondering what a Pilobolus is, and whether it's yummy

Jeff poses with the SnOscar, constructed to commemorate the occassion which caused attendance at the year's festivities to plummet, which brought up the odds on both the Oscar contest and drinking game

The evening's hosts, before any imbibing. By wearing the perfume Cinéma by Givenchy, Angela is channeling Penélope Cruz from Volver. Jeff simply pretends that he is The Departed.

Xan samples the foot-shaped hors d'ouevres. He will not last through the evening; however, he channels Jennifer Hudson nonetheless by going through three costume changes throughout the evening, including a set of pajamas, perhaps inspired by Barbara Striesand's get-up from the 1968 awards. Like Hudson (and every other Oscar winner ever), he will not thank his father. Sigh.

Collapsing under the sheer weight of responsibility (or gravity), the SnOscar falls; Jeff mourns its passing, or perhaps weeps for the only candidate he really wanted to win, Emmanuel Lubezki

Jeff poses with Chuck and Konrad, the power couple who will take both first- and second-place in this year's Oscar contest, winning a year's subscription to Premiere (whose predictions are always way off) and DVD copies of Casablanca and Batman!: The Movie (starring Burt Ward). In a surprise move, third prize goes to co-host Angela; at his own party, the degreed film scholar comes in 9th out of 12, perhaps because he voted against Helen Mirren.

The hosts, post-party and ready to pass out (and in Jeff's case, pre-hangover)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

10 years ago...

I think she was reading a magazine, sitting on my bed in the house on Huron Avenue, when Brandon called. "Oh my gosh," he said, "she's there right now? So how does she kiss?"

He probably meant it as a joke, but I looked at her with the phone in my hand and grinned. Only two days earlier, during Party of Five, I had tried to kiss her during a commercial break; she would have none of it, saying that a first kiss shouldn't be held to the arbitrary distractions of a commercial break. This, however, would be different. She looked at me quizzically from behind the magazine. "I don't know," I told Brandon, "but hang on." And I put the phone down for a moment and lunged for her.

"Pretty darn good," I said when I got back on the phone.

"Oh my gosh, you just did it now?! You are so going to get married and have lots of baaaabies."

Later, we decided to arbitrarily pick the day of that kiss as our anniversary, since we quickly fell into a relationship after it. On that day two years later, I proposed. And a year after that (upon finding out that the legal part of getting married in Massachusetts was a bit more complicated than we originally thought), we quasi-eloped and got married by the Mayor of Ann Arbor. Two two-two, made it easy to remember.

Ten years ago today, starting with that kiss.

Happy 8th, beloved.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Since New Jersey now allows same-sex couples to marry...

...we think it's time Xan come out. At least out of this cabinet. (And bring that frying pan with you when you do, kid.)

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Our backyard -- or at least the lawn area -- has been an utter disaster since we moved in late 2003. The grass is not just grass but the weedy mixture that is typical for this town. There is a big hole in the middle of the yard where a tree stump used to be. The entire back part used to be covered by ivy vines until we tore them out earlier this year. The worst part, however, is the grade: a slightly hilly slope that makes all the rainwater go to the back of the yard, only to have it stay there, where it sits as murky mud for days after it rains. We've complained about this for a long while and were planning to regrade it with last year's tax refund (that is, until the person who was going to do it had a massive heart attack and then couldn't, for obvious reasons). Plans are still underway to regrade it so that it become flatter and less muddy.

But right now, we've discovered there actually is something useful about the backyard in its current state.

The recent winter storm brought about a few inches of snow, followed by ice. This has caused a nasty, very treacherous mix to walk on... but it's actually lovely sledding material. The grade of our backyard is such that it's a rather pleasant, fun, not-too-fast sled ride down to the back of the yard (as long as someone sticks a foot out so that we don't crash into either the woodpile or the back fence). Our neighbors had the sled (we were just going to toss Xan down the hill in a cardboard box) and the best part about the ice is that it's so hard, none of us have gone through it yet. (Not even fat ol' me!) Granted, the lack of traction that makes it a great sledding hill also makes it next to impossible to get back up to do it again, particularly if one has to carry a somewhat unnerved 23-month-old who can't figure out why he can't walk very well on the ice. (Yesterday, I had the boy in one hand and the sled in the other hand and got halfway up the backyard before I slowly slid all the way to the back again. Yay.) For once, however, our backyard is the perfect place to do this stuff -- and, given that Xan is the son of his mother and therefore gets cold very quickly, it's just a scoot back up the porch steps to warmth again. Provided we don't slip down the steps as well.)

By the way, I do realize that I haven't been posting a lot lately. Chalk it up to a writing frenzy to get this last chapter done, what with parenting, grading papers and three presentations to still write present over the next three weeks. (And, of course, 24.) I'll get back on track at some point. Really, I will. Someday.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Why romantic comedies always end at the wedding, not at married life

"I'm going to bed. I'm tired."


"I would love for you to come to bed with me."

"Me too, but I have to get some more papers graded before I have to hand them back tomorrow. Besides, I still have to do the dishes."

"You know, in the real world, doing the dishes is far sexier anyway."



"His hands dive deep into the soapy water, roughly handling the firm yet supple spatula before caressing it with a sponge, allowing bubbles to drip sumptuously onto the crock pot."

"OK, maybe not that sexy. And 'crock pot'? We don't even have a crock pot."

"Yeah, well, 'doing the dishes is sexy'? Also a crock."

(And with that, I wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day! And may we all have a snow day -- or at least a snow delay -- tomorrow morning...)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

How would you characterize us here?

a) We're engrossed, because it's the Super Bowl, duh. (Yes, we watch.)
b) We're flabbergasted at the 93-yard return only 14 seconds in the game.
c) We're mystified, because Billy Joel appears to have surfaced from the black lagoon Dick Cheney's bunker wherever he's been hiding all this time. (Prince, too.)
d) We're non-plussed, just prepping for the Oscars. (Go Dreamgir...uh, Colts!)

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Unsung accolades

We watched Little Miss Sunshine tonight (which, for the record, surely ain't the Best Picture of the year although it was plenty fun) and, right before I switched off the DVD, I noticed that, to my surprise, the movie had been scored by one of my favorite composers. I have a thing for film scores -- indeed, at one point I wanted to take a class in the School of Music at Michigan on film scoring -- and they used to make up a sizeable portion of my CD collection. The only thing that I miss about the recent conversion of WETA to an entirely classical music format is Weekend Edition Sunday -- relevant to this posting because right around now they review portions of all the soundtracks nominated for the Oscar.

I was also thinking about the scoring nominations for the Oscar because Ennio Morricone is getting the honorary award this year. Before JJ says something: no, I'm not enough of a score freak to actually own a Morricone soundtrack, which really should be rectified. I have stated elsewhere that I still long for some of the old guard, like Elmer Bernstein. But I do have several favorites that are still around and, hey, might actually get nominated (even win) one day themselves.
  • Mychael Danna -- The inspiration of this post, as his most recent work was featured in Little Miss Sunshine, The Nativity Story and the upcoming Breach. For me, however, it's all the work with Atom Egoyan that speaks most to me. Danna has a penchant for Eastern instruments, often time working with gamelan instruments or a ney, mixing them with some haunting melodies.
  • Carter Burwell -- As with Danna/Egoyan, I tend to associate Burwell with the quirky work of the Coen Brothers. Given the relatively high profile work he's done (Rob Roy, Before Night Falls, the exquisite Gods and Monsters), it's surprising that he hasn't been nominated yet. The rhythms he uses throughout his music tend to function as counterpoint in many ways: again, hear Gods and Monsters, where he uses a waltz almost ironically.
  • Clint Mansell -- If you knew me way back when, you'd realize that I'd have to love this guy because he was a main part of the band Pop Will Eat Itself, which I loved for its beats as much as its electrics; Mansell's scores add string quartets to this for a very trippy composition. Again, this is a composer who can be associated with one primary director: Darren Aronofsky. Indeed, the music for The Fountain is incredible and really contributes to the film's overall power (much like what he did for Requiem for a Dream).
  • Thomas Newman -- OK, so of these five here, Newman actually has been nominated before. (In fact, he's up this year again for The Good German.) That I can tell, however, he's still unlikely to win. I find this fascinating given that his precussive, minimalist scores throughout the 1990s have been some of the most memorable. American Beauty is the most familiar, although my favorite goes back a little further to the more jazzed up atmosphere surrounding Robert Altman's The Player.
  • Craig Armstrong -- This former member of the Brit trip-hop outfit Massive Attack most recent composed for World Trade Center, but I know him best for his work for Moulin Rouge!, which I listen to on road trips (and for which he won the Golden Globe). The funny thing about Armstrong is that his solo albums are fantastic electronica cinemascapes themselves, so that it's not surprising to see some of the tracks off of those albums make it into films as well.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

This one's for Patty K

I know I haven't blogged in a little while, and I have a great posting about little boys in water that I have to write about. But...

...for her birthday, Angela got a book called Cat Crimes from her Aunt Pat. (Hi, Pat! Angela says she's writing thank you notes this weekend. This posting, however, may be even better, since it proves she's actually reading it!) The book is a short story collection of mystery stories featuring cats, sometimes even with cats as the narrators.

For example, the first two paragraphs of "Horatio Ruminates" by Dorothy P. Hughes, goes as follows. A note: despite the names here (um, unchanged to protect the guilty?), this is not a reality in our house. (I think...)

"Some people don't like cats. Some cats don't like people. We try to like all people. We do try. At least, some of us do. But, after all, how can we like people who don't like us? There's something in the atmosphere that measures like to like. And off-putting to off-putting.
"Some people hate cats. I mean, they it out loud. With special emphasis.
'I hate cats!' Alexander called Xan is one of those. He comes to visit his Aunt -- she is Milady -- and says right out, 'I hate cats.' It is little wonder that I don't like him. Yet I try. Every time he comes, I try. To no avail. I no sooner rub against his ankles than he explodes, 'I hate cats!' And follows this by his usual threatening, 'Scat, Cat!'"