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little golden naked men

A quick blurb about the Oscars. I watched them last night. Ellen was all right - the anti-Chris Rock and anti-John Stewart, for sure. She was very nonconfrontational, which seemed to make the audience more comfortable. Jerry Seinfeld was excellent in his little three-minute bit about movie theatres. Nothing against Ellen's hosting, but the Academy would be foolish to not pick Seinfeld for next year's host. After all, it's not like he's doing anything more pressing.

Overall there were a few shockers, but many of them could have been seen a mile away. Dreamgirls losing in Best Song was almost too easy to call - three entries in the category was almost guaranteed to split the vote and let an underdog sneak in - and Cars wasn't going to win that Oscar, Randy Newman or not. Alan Arkin winning over Eddie Murphy wasn't that surprising either - he's been shut out when he deserves it, and the Academy does not give awards to "comedians," as Will Ferrel and Jack Black pointed out. The only surprise I thought was Pan's Labrinyth losing Best Foreign Film after winning three other Oscars. Can't really figure how that one happened.

I'd say the low point was Celine Dion, who as Kristin pointed out looks more like an Afghan Hound by the day, pulling one of her trademark butcher jobs on Ennio Morricone's song. Morricone looked bored for his part before giving a speech in Italian. The surprise here for me was that for as much of his work there is in English-language films that he apparently cannot speak the language. Maybe that's just more Anglo-centrism on my part. Also, the gaffe in saying that The Departed was based on a Japanese film (it's Hong Kong) was bad on a night that Oscar was supposed to spotlight the international nature of film.

As for Marty Scorsese, it's about time. I think the mood in that theatre was somewhere between elation and relief. For all the mistakes the Academy has made they dodged a bullet on this one. The Departed isn't his absolute best film but it is his best since Goodfellas, which makes it a sweeter win than if it had been for the sub-par (by Scorsese standards) The Aviator. His speech was indicative of the man and his style - unpretentious but meaningful. Having him surrounded by some of the younger members of the 70s film school renaissance (Coppola, Spielberg and Lucas) was a nice touch - the master and his apprentices.

open the case

I've found yet another TV love, my first since "Rock Star: INXS" and another one that I would actually plan my free time around. Ladies and gentlemen, my new television obsession...

"Deal or No Deal."

That's right, the game show with Howie Mandel, who looks so much cooler since he went the Mr. Clean route with the shaved head and earring. What I think I like about it the most is that it is a game of probability in the end, and one in which people have to take calculated risks. I like watching the psychology involved as people look at a six-digit number and decide if it's worth blowing tens of thousands of dollars for the chance at doubling the prize. The fact that there's nothing random about the game beyond the arrangement of the cases is also fascinating...every game is a tabla rasa and the only way to gain an "advantage" is to know probability and averages.

Not too much to say beyond that. Suppose I just wanted to see if anyone else here was an avid "Deal or No Deal" watcher.

there and back again

So I claimed in January that I was going to keep up-to-date with the postings. I have failed to do so, in a major way. Life changes will do that to you. I write to you from America's Dairyland, Wisconsin. Within the span of a month my life is entirely different - new job, new home, new faces. As much as I had connections to St. Louis, as much as I love my family, things are better here. Finding my job up here, moving to a new place with the woman I love, it feels like my incubation has ended and I've become and adult, of all things.

Saw a photo of Jen Theby as Eliza Doolittle in a production of My Fair Lady in St. Louis and thought of how much has happened since the time she and I were Eliza and Henry at SLU. The difference from then and now? I feel much more comfortable in my own skin.

full circles

When I was a student down at SLU I heard stories about a strange street performer based down in the Central West End. This performer was a black man who would twirl a baton in time to music only he could hear - he always had on headphones - and marched through the streets of the Central West End in costume or cross-dressing. When I hear about this I thought it seemed too odd for someone to have made up whole cloth. Eventually I saw him for myself and everything they said was true! Even by my liberal standards of strange it was out of the ordinary. The man was focused, though, and he was good. According to a card he had handed out to people that I got to see, he was "Bob Jamerson, Ambassador of Mirth." I appreciate someone shaking things up a little bit, bringing a surreal moment to the otherwise mundane activity of the day.

Other people in St. Louis didn't appreciate it so much. Some people reacted with inflamed homophobia, and some felt that he was just too strange. These people considered him a freak, a nuisance and an eyesore. Someone mooned him, Bob took offense and eventually the man hit him in the cheek and Bob needed stitches. Later he was manhandled by police in a suburban parade as he marched along with NARAL - a pro-choice organization - leading to Bob getting a chip on his shoulder regarding suburbanites in the St. Louis area. Another incident with the police lead Bob to relocate. I wasn't sure where he had gone but I wondered if he would still be doing his twirling routine.

The answer? A resounding "yes". I was on cnn.com the other day and I saw a link about a certain "Baton Bob", a baton twirler in Atlanta (location of CNN HQ) who had become a quirky local celebrity. Immediately I thought of the departed Ambassador of Mirth. There can't be TWO of them, can there? I asked myself. For a moment I wondered if maybe he had franchised the concept out. Then I clicked on the video link. Now there was no doubt. From St. Louis exile to CNN celebrity, it was Baton Bob from the West End. He was interviewed by a TBS television reporter about who he was and what he did and why he did it. Tellingly, not once was St. Louis, where he originated his character, ever mentioned.

The link for the video can be found on the main page of CNN.com. Even if it gets off the main page you should be able to find it through a site search. Also check out Baton Bob's Wiki article - apparently, he was part of the Georgia Shakespeare Festival this year!

I'm glad that Baton Bob Jamerson has found a more accepting community in Atlanta. It saddens me that he didn't feel comfortable in St. Louis and I'm ashamed people harassed him while he was here. I know he made me feel happy when I saw him marching around to the beat of a drum only he could hear.

rock solid?

For all the other rock and roll historians that may be readers of this blog:

2007 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees

Interesting group. The big names are R.E.M. and Van Halen - the latter being a group I question as to whether they belong, the former for their unquestioned authority over alt-rock in the late-80s to mid-90s. The Ronnettes, Phil Spector's pet project, also will be making their way into the Hall. Since Phil Spector also holds membership in the Rock Hall I find this a curious choice - taking nothing away from the Ronnettes' ability as singers, Spector was the acknowledged (it would seem today literally) mad genius behind the wheel of the group.

Also making their way in are Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, making them the first rap act to make their way into the hall of fame. P-Funk and the recently deceased James Brown may have laid the foundations but this is the first true rap outfit to make their way into the Rock Hall. It's interesting to see that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame seems to be tacitly recognizing rap as a distinct subgenre of rock and not a separate genre in and of itself. Though there is a common bond of rock coming from the influences of funk and soul I would say that there comes a certain point where the apple has fallen far enough away from the tree that it starts an entirely new plant. In the next few years I wonder if we'll be seeing Run D.M.C., the Beastie Boys and the gangsta rappers making their way in as well.

The inductee that really makes me happy to see on the list is Patti Smith. Associated with the punk movement but never really part of it (art-punk at best), she strikes me almost as an aural artist more than a traditional rock musician. Fierce, independent and creative, I recommend the album Horses to anyone wanting to hear fascinating, boundary challenging popular music. Her reworking of the Van Morrison-penned classic "Gloria" opens with the lines "Jesus died for somebody's sins/but not mine" and take off from there, bringing out the sexual desperation already inherent in the song and adding her own rebellious take on sexuality. The result is a song that challenges notions of sexuality, religion, gender and gender roles and still manages to do that which all rock songs ought to do, which is rock. And that's just the opening song on the album. Frankly, if all Patti Smith ever put out was Horses I would say she deserved induction for expanding what rock songs could achieve artistically; that said, she remains a vital performing artist today, even if she seems to be focusing more on writing than her music today.

Really, when I consider Patti Smith vs. Van Halen, I can't believe VH made the cut.

enigma machine

Don't want to say too much at this point about what's going on in my life but it's very possible that I'll be moving in a few short weeks. There's so much going on that's contingent on something else either happening or not happening. At least we're getting out of our current apartment. Between the mean neighbors, sketchy neighborhood and the aggressive roaches I'm so glad we've got less than a month there and that we've paid our last rent check. I would not recommend Garcia Properties to anyone looking for an apartment.

Sorry for being so cryptic. I guess I don't want to say what's going on because I don't want to jinx things. Once things go one way or the other I'll talk about it. Until then I will stay tight-lipped.

new year's babies

Happy New Year to all from way down south in Alabama! I'll be wrapping up my holiday trip to visit Kristin's family tomorrow - we're leaving tomorrow morning back to St. Louis. Then the next day (which is technically tomorrow) I am leaving once again, though that will only be a 24 hour excursion. So I'll be getting back to the telling you all about my life and my thoughts...that's my resolution.

That and getting into shape. I want to be able to play all four quarters of basketball again!

Happy birthday to my grandmother, who will never read this post because she has never used a computer outside of the library's card catalogue. She was a New Year's baby of 1932, making this her 75th birthday. Happy birthday and I love you, Joan Marilyn Dochler.

Because I love useless factoids, I posted 122 times during 2006. This is the lowest total of the three years I have kept this journal. Oh well. Quality over quantity, I say. As for 2007, this is one and counting...

here comes the money

In good news today, I received a reply to my e-mail about SLU paying me for that job I did two months ago and still haven't seen a cent. The check should be heading out within the week, which is about time since the contract stated I should have been paid two weeks ago. This helps relieve some holiday finance stress for sure. Huzzah and hurrah!


It is my facility with the English language that fills me with the understanding that words are wholly inadequate in describing anything truly important and meaningful.

the w's have it

Comment and I'll give you a letter. Then you have to list 10 things you love that begin with that letter. After, post this in your journal and give out some letters of your own.

The letter given to me is "W":

1. Washington - the state. Home to Seattle, PAX and just my kind of weather.
2. Wikipedia - Because when you collect pop culture minutia like a dragon hoards treasure, there's no better source.
3. White Wolf - The best tabletop role-playing gaming experiences I've had came from this company.
4. Wang Chung - Yes, it's a funny name. Yes, it's new wave. Yes, it's awesome.
5. Who, The - The most perfect mix of brute force and soul-searching yet created by man, pop art extraordinaire.
6. World Wide Web - I'm an information junkie. This is my fix.
7. Who Framed Roger Rabbit - An stupendous technical achievement that somehow manages to have just as much heart.
8. Wii - I've not played it. I'm in love with the very concept.
9. Whalers, Hartford - Three reasons 1) Best worst uniform ever; 2)Using "The Whale" in NHLPA '93 and winning by more than a goal proves extreme 1337-ness; 3) Whose idea was it to put a professional sports team in Hartford?
10. "Watching the Wheels" - Because sometimes the most revolutionary thing in the world is to stay home and live simply. Thank you, John Lennon.


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February 2007



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