View 764 Monday, February 25, 2013
Still catching up. We went out for brunch after mass yesterday, and then I watched the Oscars from Red Carpet arrivals to the end. I like to see the red carpet arrivals, so I was watching when the Oscars opened with host Seth MacFarlane showing me why I have not and won’t see his movie “Ted”, then a skit with William Shatner as an aging Kirk in Star Fleet uniform, followed by the Los Angeles Gay Men’s Chorus singing an interminable skit song called “We Saw Your Boobs,” illustrated by the camera seeking out the women in the audience who have managed so show a bare breast or two at some time in the past. Some giggled. Some were clearly annoyed.
Eventually they got to the awards themselves, along with some activities that actually seemed to have been chosen to be compatible with the “theme” of “as celebration of music”, although it did that by among other things not performing many of the songs nominated for Oscars. Odd show planning. All done professionally. The Kodak Theater – oops, Hollywood and Highland Center – oops, Dolby Theater – is a great plant with the latest in lighting and stage mechanics, and that always helps. But why Hollywood can’t manage to do a better show than the Hollywood Foreign Press Association isn’t obvious. Probably more internal politics in the Academy.
They did manage to have Adele sing “Skyfall” and the whole darned cast of Les Miserables. And I had not known that Charlize Theron could dance so well; I much liked her dance number with Channing Tatum. Fred Astaire he may not quite be, but they sure are good together, and her high heels were higher than Jeanette MacDonald ever tried. There was a minor wardrobe failure during the act – something tore – but I didn’t notice anything. She did all her later appearances perfectly. Class act all around.
And indeed, the awards ceremonies themselves were well done. It was the host and the ‘enhancements’ then went on too long and were often irrelevant. They’d have done better to have more cut scenes from nominated pictures and performances, and perhaps give the presenters a little more ad lib time.
But it all went pretty well until it was time to present the Best Picture award, when they suddenly cut to the White House; and there, on a gigantic screen, was Madame First Lady Michelle Obama, with an entourage of military in full dress uniforms. Mostly officers, but for the first time in my life I saw a buck private (happened to be female) in full dress. I never knew any buck privates who bought full dress. Most officers can’t really afford them. I bought dress blues for my daughter when she was commissioned, and career officers generally manage to acquire them when they reach field grade, but unless things have changed a lot in the military since I last paid attention, most career officers and enlisted troops don’t buy the full dress regalia until later in their careers than the ones I saw in the ceremony.
It looked for a moment like a patriotic moment, but in my judgment it didn’t turn out that way. She gave a talk that was more political than Hollywood. Then back to the Dolby Theater where the nominees were read off, then – then back to Big Sister smiling down on us as she opened the envelope and gave the award to Argo.
Now I find it hard to believe that she didn’t know who the winner was before she opened the envelope, but perhaps it was so. Anyway it was then back to the Dolby, and Ben Affleck getting the Oscar along with two other producers, although everyone knew it was really the general Academy membership giving the shaft to the Directors’ Guild members who had not nominated Affleck for Best Director. One suspects that if Zero Dark Thirty had won, the President himself would have crashed the party. As it was, the movie celebrates how Hollywood saved the Americans who had escaped from the Iranian sack of the US Embassy. In the real world most of us – including me – celebrated the Canadians who risked having their Iranian facilities sacked and their people captured back when the story was revealed. But Hollywood can take some of the credit for the script. The climactic scene was really when the actress with the thick horn rimmed glasses did the pitch for the movie the Iranian security guy. She managed her makeup for the part so well I can’t pick which actress played that part, but it staged well. The rest of the ending with the car chase on the tarmac never happened, and was added for dramatic effect as Affleck has said several times. I enjoyed Argo. It was a good story to watch, unlike Lincoln which seems more like a duty than entertainment. For some reason I am not tempted by Pi. The one movie I hoped would not get awards was Silver Linings Playbook. I tried to watch that, but gave up before I saw Jennifer Lawrence’s first scene. All the people seemed to be losers trying to double down, and I saw no one I cared much about; but as I say, I gave up early while the lead actor was wearing a garbage bag while resisting his meds. It must have got better somewhere along the line, and I am sure that Miss Lawrence added a lot to the picture. Someone must have.
I suppose that is enough chatter about the Oscars. And of course impending doom comes this Friday when the sequestration takes place. We’ll still spend more money this year than we did last year. Nothing will be cut. We’re merely not spending as much more than we had sort of planned to. Why that requires layoffs of park rangers isn’t clear. Perhaps a better way would be to abolish some offices. Start with Bunny Inspectors. Then go on to whoever was in charge and everyone who participated in the Waco massacre. We can’t jail them – statute of limitations and all that – but do we really want people who fired automatic weapons blindly, spray and pray in the general direction of the house, to stay on the Federal payroll? Surely they can get jobs in concrete breaking.
I can think of ways to save money – oops. Since we are spending more this year than we did last year, why is anyone being laid off? But of course it’s government.
And next month comes the next act in the Debt Limit Drama. Ground Hog Day.
Port Ludlow, WA
NASA and private enterprise cooperate. That worked back when we were developing the aviation industry. It seems to be working again.
You wrote: "when they suddenly cut to the White House; and there, on a gigantic screen, was Madame First Lady Michelle Obama, with an entourage of military in full dress uniforms."
Those are actually mess or evening mess uniforms; not the dress blue, class A uniform, which looks similar but is much less elegant. Dress mess is normally worn for a dining in or a dining out and has a modified version of the civilian tail coat — making it, arguably, the most elegant dress uniform a soldier can wear for a formal occasion. On a non-formal occasion, a dress blue is the best and, normally, dress greens are worn. As an aside, the fabric of the dress greens is also important. I paid for the nicer wool rather than the standard issue polyester bs, but I took more pride in my appearance than your average soldier.
The easiest way to tell the difference between your class A dress blues and your dress mess — for men who lack a sense of formal attire — is to look at the medals. The dress mess uniforms will sport miniature medals vs. the full sized medals worn on class A dress blues or class A dress greens.
I find the U.S. Army dress mess uniform to be the most elegant of any I’ve ever come across. Even Hermann Goering — admittedly a monster but with good taste in uniforms and soirees — never wore anything as elegant and majestic as the U.S. Army dress mess uniform.
I also found found myself amused at the picture you posted. The soldier on Obama’s right has this smile of "wow, I’m on TV", the one on her left has this look of "really?" and everyone else has this look of "WTF, over?" As you may remember, you say "over" on the radio when you are done speaking and await a reply to what you’ve said or asked.
Joshua Jordan, KSC
Thank you. I never had any form of dress uniform in my days in the Army, and I’m sure what I bought my daughter was the dress blues. I know in civilian life there is a difference between black tie and white tie with tails and I presume that’s the case here. Why a buck private is wearing full dress formal is still unclear to me; I am pretty sure that’s the first time I have ever seen anyone wearing one, and for that matter, for all that I’ve been involved in reasonably formal events with the military for fifty years, I have rarely seen the outfits worn in the Oscar ceremonies; surely they were more formal than the people in the Dolby Theater.
One reader has decided that my observations about FLOTUS (his term) demonstrate that I have “completely lost it” and in fact he suspects I have lost my mind and competence. Perhaps so but if so I am not alone: I am reliably told that the Hollywood Press in the Press Room at the Dolby were taken in surprise by the sudden appearance of Madame First Lady with a military entourage, and then made rude remarks and expressed displeasure; and I see by the Internet that I was not the only one to think her speech was political. Since President Obama has made it clear that he is in continuous campaign mode I suppose no one should be surprised to find that they have plans for Hollywood as well. Had it not been for the speech this might have passed for a national unity event, one of the ceremonial functions of the office of the President, but the speech was not a national unity speech, and was less appropriate than some of the winner speeches which have been condemned.
Then there is the use of the military. They were hardly guards, as if the President’s family needs military guards during a White House broadcast event. What were then doing then? And who paid for the uniforms, because I just don’t believe that many buck privates need or have full formals or many opportunities to wear them.
If this were intended as an event of national unity, then I have misjudged it.