Only Planet

One Child, One Year, One Planet. A family of three traveling around the world...

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Monday, February 27, 2012

An Oscar Intervention

I don’t know about you, but after watching the Oscars last night, all I could come up with was a big fat “meh.”

For years it’s seemed that the Oscar show, once the Golden Boy of the Hollywood calendar, has lost his shine. Like a washed up star, no longer exciting or relevant, there has been little reason to buy a ticket to this performance. Which is sad. I love the Oscars; the montages, the musical numbers—when they work—and the gowns. Yes, the gowns can almost be reason enough to watch.

The producers of the Oscars know they are in trouble. In a season that’s become bloated with a number of other award shows (Golden Globe, Grammys, Golden Collar, Peoples Choice & Spirit), they are no longer the only gig in town. And last night’s pandering to the experience of going to the movies didn’t call back the joys of the theatre so much as left a whole bunch of those under 30 wondering, huh? What’s a theatre? It’s sad. A show devoted to excellent stories that show, not tell, and they spent the entire night telling.

Here’s my quick and dirty list of 10 ideas for making the Oscars more entertaining, educational and more of an experience.
1-No Hosts: Unlike the Grammys, the demographic spreads far and wide for the Oscars. No host can do justice to every type of entertainment that must be done. And pandering to one extreme or the other (Anne Hathaway for the young, Billy Crystal for the old?) is lame! Why not kill the idea of a host and just have people come up doing what they do best. Want a splashy musical number at the front? Hire Hugh Jackman or Daniel Radcliff to tap their way across the stage. Want gravitas, add Morgan Freeman. Want to go balls out wild? Get Sacha Baron Cohen up there and find out who he channels: Borat, Bruno or the Dictator when it’s time to get the energy up.

2-Let the fans take part: Take a note from a great You Tubea great You Tube project where fans signed up to remake 15 seconds of Star Wars in any way they saw fit, whether animated, with sock puppets or with dogs wearing earmuffs and stitched it together to see the powers of the internet and technology blend together into a certain form of genius. Why not let people send in acceptance speeches for movies that didn’t get nominated or remake a Hollywood classic and see where it goes?

3-Go Global: I could see this great video montage where you see a dozen villagers in a small dusty town in India gathered around a worn out TV watching Titanic, then a young Japanese student on the bullet train watching Fargo on his phone and then a retired couple watching The Artist on a laptop on a boat, and finally a young teenage girl who lives in a trailer park in Oklahoma. She’s in front of a mirror in the bathroom, the Oscars are playing in the background and she’s practicing her Oscar speech and the she morphs into Hillary Swank, who presents an award. Not only do we see how movies are viewed today, but we get to see the dreams they inspire.

4-Educate: If you’re going to give awards for things that nobody understands (like sound mixing), then show us what a movie looks like without it. Oops, they’ve done that, and it only makes the show longer. Scratch that.

5-Create Two Best Categories: Since it looks like it is impossible that a comedy will ever win Best Picture, create a comedy category. Then pictures that people really liked and actually went to the theatres to see, like Bridesmaids, will get the recognition they deserve.

6-More dogs and puppets. The best moments of last night’s show were seeing Kermit and Miss Piggy and Uggie the dog from The Artist. Enough said.

7-Dead Man Watching: Seein the stars who've recently passed is always a bit poignant, a bit surprising (“really, he’s gone?”) and a weird popularity contest where the audience often starts off hard clapping or getting emotional about someone huge and then it tapers off after the first twenty or so. I’m just wondering how it is that Steve Jobs garnered a mention last night. Is he a member of the academy? Not  sure if this needs changed or just sped up.

8-Take a Commercial Break: Steal a trick from the Super Bowl and give us some commercials worth watching. For those who never get out to movies, give them a tasty 30 second moment to savor. Isn’t it ironic that a movie awards show has no great mini-movies to watch during the commercials? I thought of this last night when watching the commercial for the Nissan Leaf which was more compelling than most of the show.

9-Shorter, please. For God’s sake, can’t they make the show shorter? Just charge a lot more for the commercials, like they do for the Super Bowl and have fewer commercials.  Fewer commercials=shorter air time. 

10--Bring back Cher.

There were going to be all sorts of pictures and hyperlinks but blogger and my internet connection here in the Netherlands are in a pissing match for worst behaved, which is leaving my post to suffer. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Global Voice

And I-I-I-I-I will alwaaays love you!!

From the bowels of a shopping center in Bali to the soaring heights of...another shopping center in Chengdu China, we felt Whitney Houston's haunting presence as her iconic song from The Bodyguard played around the world in 2005, 2006 and 2008.  

Never mind that the song came out years earlier, it remained a hit in locales far and farther away.  I didn't realize that Whitney Houston was just three years older than us, which kind of makes her passing feel more tragic, she was just a kid.

Rest in Peace Whitney and know that no matter how huge the world is, it felt smaller when we heard a song from home.  That, I guess, is the endearing power of music.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Scent of a Story

“I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” Lt. Col. Kilgore, Apocalypse Now.

I don’t know what napalm smells like and I’m pretty sure if I smelled it, I would run in the other direction, but there’s a reason this is a famous movie quote.  The sense of smell is not only one of the largest memory triggers, but a smell can transport you in a place faster than any airline flight. 

I’ve been writing a lot about travel lately, putting my characters in exotic locales: a thatched hut in Bali, a muddy river in Thailand, a sun-soaked piazza in Italy, and a dusty carnival midway in the American Southwest.  Images, dialogue, and description are all important, but I have a hard time remembering to insert smells into my scenes. Which is kind of weird, since there’s nothing I notice more than how something smells. 

In Asia it was the fumes from motor scooters, cigarette smoke, and the sweet aroma of plumeria that tells me I’m no longer home. In Los Angeles it’s the smell of the ocean mixed with smog and bougainvillea.  

Today is a tough day to write about scents because I have this nasty head cold, part 2 (it feels like a repeat of something that kicked my ass back in early January) and so as hard as I try to smell, nothing is coming through.  It makes me wonder if Wasabi, the best sniffer in the house, ever has this problem.