academy award predictions are tough this year - the customary mud-slinging between gargantuan movie houses was shockingly absent, and it's hard to know if the new rules about screening copies for voters will favor films that have already gone to video. also i haven't seen several of the heavy hitters, but when has the absence of key information prevented me from having an opinion? let's trust southern californian native intuition. the x factor is either bill murray's anti-hollywood barbs or sean penn, but in both instances they were just playing themselves.

best actor

johnny depp - pirates of the caribbean...
ben kingsley - house of sand and fog
jude law - cold mountain
*bill murray - lost in translation
sean penn - mystic river

bill murray knocked it out of the park here. sofia coppola had him in mind as she wrote the screenplay, and in directing she showcased the winning comic pathos america has always loved about him. we also mustn't forget the robin williams effect - you could almost taste how badly the academy wanted to recognize him for the relatively decent good will hunting after the radioactive comedies he'd been doing in the early '90s. murray's working with a better role, film, and oeuvre here: he's got it.

best supporting actor

alec baldwin - the cooler
benicio del toro - 21 grams
djimon hounsou - in america
*tim robbins - mystic river
ken watanabe - the last samurai

not a lot of firecrackers here. while the novelty of an alec baldwin triumph would be interesting, i think that if sean penn doesn't take best actor, tim robbins will bring it home as his first mate: clint eastwood pictures are heavy hitters, as is robbins (solid performance in, honestly, a problematic film). benicio del toro has been turning in respectable performances since the usual suspects, but he may shape up to be the academy's version of susan lucci. check on him in ten years.

best actress

keisha castle-hughes - whale rider
*diane keaton - something's gotta give
samantha morton - in america
charlize theron - monster
naomi watts - 21 grams

while charlize theron has a strong nicole kidman-style bid with strong acting, stronger makeup - and the golden globe already - diane keaton got naked and co-starred with jack nicholson in a bittersweet movie (see helen hunt, as good as it gets).

best supporting actress

*shohreh aghdashloo - house of sand and fog
patricia clarkson - pieces of april
marcia gay harden - mystic river
holly hunter - thirteen
renee zellweger - cold mountain

this one goes exotic, i think. cold mountain was so obviously miramax's bid for awards that its cast will utterly fail to win them. holly hunter was very good, but her role was very quiet. ms. aghdashloo will take it here because ben kingsley can't.

best song

"belleville rendez-vous" - the triplets of belleville
*"into the west" - return of the king
"a kiss at the end of the rainbow" - a mighty wind
"scarlet tide" - cold mountain
"you will be my ain true love" - cold mountain

academy voters rarely see foreign cartoons, the cold mountain numbers cancel each other out (sorry, sting), and "a mighty wind" was a christopher guest spoof - a win there would be like a win for "blame canada" from the south park movie. and honestly, if you had the power to give annie lennox something she wanted, would you even hesitate?

best director

fernando meirelles - city of god
*peter jackson - return of the king
sofia coppola - lost in translation
peter weir - master and commander...
clint eastwood - mystic river

i think return of the king will nail this and best picture, but sofia coppola could complicate things. she'll get best screenplay, no question, but her stylized direction is an arty-farty favorite. i'm going with the hobbit-wrangler because j.r.r. tolkien is the #1 least annoying person on amiannoying.com, and peter jackson actually had to rebuild a hill in new zealand after building rohan on top of it.

best picture

*return of the king
lost in translation
master and commander...
mystic river

yeah, lord of the rings takes it. master and commander is also a "big" movie, but voters are going to want to recognize the tolkien trilogy in one fell swoop. as far as fantasy epics go, i can't think of a better adaptation...especially if you throw out science fiction and ignore blade runner. best in genre could mean best picture here, but i'll be satisfied if sofia coppola goes home a big winner instead. which reminds me -

best outfit (actor or actress)

*sofia coppola - marc jacobs
johnny depp - vanessa paradis and some weird period outfit
renee zellweger - carolina herrera (probably)
cate blanchett - maternity couture
scarlett johansson - anything

cate blanchett is usually the juggernaut here, but she's with child. scarlett johansson made a strong showing at the golden globes, so she could be one to watch. nicole kidman, normally a contender, shamed her family with that weird gold flapper thing at the golden globes, and she's too freakin' skinny lately. sofia takes it because she's marc jacobs's muse, and because she's capable of looking sexy in flats.


new york moment no. 218: talking to an earnest young hipster while his wife dances topless in the window.

jack kerouac trivia from the toronto star ('98):

1. What television program was Kerouac watching when he suddenly began vomiting blood on the day of his death?

a.) As The World Turns
b.) The Mod Squad
c.) The Galloping Gourmet
d.) Hee Haw

2. Kerouac's close friend, novelist William Burroughs, became notorious for shooting his wife Joan through the temple. How much jail time did Burroughs serve for committing this lethal act?

a.) Two years plus one day
b.) Three months
c.) 10 days
d.) None whatsoever

3. Kerouac habitually prayed to Therese of Lisieux, a 19th-century French Catholic saint. What miraculous act could a statue of this saint perform, according to a film Kerouac saw in school?

a.) Weep
b.) Turn its head
c.) Make the sign of the cross
d.) Levitate

4. The "Doctor Sax'' in Kerouac's novel of the same name is based on a radio character known as

a.) The Green Hornet
b.) Fu Manchu
c.) Dr. Christian
d.) Lamont Cranston

5. What rank did the beatniks hold among the greatest threats to America, according to a 1961 statement by J. Edgar Hoover?

a.) Second greatest, right after communism
b.) Third greatest
c.) Fifth greatest, after communism, narcotics, family breakdown and rock 'n roll

6. Which of the three following television hosts did not invite Kerouac to be a guest?

a.) Jack Paar
b.) Steve Allen
c.) William F. Buckley

7. Which of the following snacks did Kerouac's mother prepare for the author throughout his life?

a.) Toast with banana slices and grape jelly
b.) Ritz crackers with peanut butter
c.) Melted cheese and tomato sandwiches
d.) Tomato soup and Oreo cookies

8. In 1955, Kerouac listed 27 "essentials'' for modern prose. Which statement was not included in that list?

a.) "Believe in the holy contour of life.''
b.) "The unspeakable visions of the individual.''
c.) "A great tender delicacy of language.''
d.) "You're a Genius all the time.''

9. Which American literary figure unexpectedly gave Kerouac a big hug at a cocktail party?

a.) Carl Sandburg
b.) James Michener
c.) Saul Bellow
d.) Lillian Hellman

10. True or False: Jack Kerouac was interviewed about his sexual history by Dr. Alfred Kinsey for Sexual Behavior In The Human Male.


1 (c.), 2 (c.), 3 (b.), 4 (d.), 5 (b.), 6 (a.), 7 (b.), 8 (c. - the sentence is taken from remarks by Allen Ginsberg about Kerouac's On The Road), 9 (a.), 10 True.


1A. analogies




as it happens, My First Business Trip will not be to san diego with my boss (of whom i am moderately afraid), but to atlanta with my office cigarette buddy. this is good news, i think, but it raises a lot of questions: are we going to frolic in our spare time? in that case, do we have to have a business dinner or can we go roller skating? do we hang out at the hotel? in that case, is it alright to play scrabble? would i have to wear shoes? what about makeup?

the perpetual need to impress male co-workers is inconvenient at times, but it does keep things interesting.

kim fellner's "the starbucks paradox": The favorite target of WTO protesters is actually far more diverse than the American anti-globalization movement. as usual, i'm solidly neutral.


said a bus stop ad on the way home from work today, BACARDI + DIET SODA: WHO KNEW? i did, certainly, but i thought that was one of the drinks we don't talk about in polite company, like schnapple (peach schnapps + snapple peach iced tea) or paris hiltons (gin + fresca). new york, you shock me every day.

vegetarian stinky cheese! vebetable [sic] rennet for the do-it-yourselfers!


i never expected to take a liking to san francisco mayor gavin newsom - as a city representative he was well-known for shockingly unsympathetic views on the local homeless population - but he's impressing me with his permits to perform same-sex marriages. while i suspect he's making a savvy bid for local favor (and national notoriety, natch) rather than acting on sympathy for the gay population, good work is good work. if he kept things rolling and issued permits for peaceful demonstrations in union square, i might actually have to forgive him for having unconscionable hair.

san francisco being san francisco, a few enterprising bigots tried to make citizen's arrests at city hall. their punishment was complete indifference from bay area media outlets, with the exception of the earnest typing monkeys at the examiner.

"that's life in the big city. you scratch its back, it takes your back scratcher and throws it on the roof of a big meat restaurant."


if you're reading this you are marvelous, for i've completely lost the ability to upload the 'champ. my former host claims that they never hosted me, ditto with the one they named in their place. was it all a dream? will i wake up in san francisco, twenty two years old with better hair and a crappy independent bookstore job? you can't really answer, can you.

i channeled all of this confusion into the purchase of a marc jacobs hillary clinton shirt. i'm not in love with hillary, but opportunities to combine label whoring with tax write-offs (shirt-profits go to charity) are few and far between.


knowing leroy, he probably enjoyed being alone at the park for valentine's day / his birthday - but my guess that he would appreciate a tiny internet hello rather than a phone call seems terribly wrong today, given that kidchamp has been offline (curse you, hosting company) for something like a week and, well, he's him, and he does like unsolicited contact sometimes. i hate bad hunches - but i do love you, sir.

we joined a packed (?) theater to see monster yesterday afternoon. i file it with boys don't cry and dancer in the dark as the sort of movie that makes one want to vomit with sadness. joe thinks that charlize theron as (murderous prostitute) aileen wuornos was almost comically physical; that theron looked implausible seemed, to me, intentional. moreover, though i hate christina ricci with the fire of three dozen purgatories, i agree with the folks who think she's a capable actress who played a very bad actress (selby wall, aileen's whiny, please-slap-me lover). to be honest, though, i have a hard time criticizing films that question capital punishment. one could project STATE SPONSORED EXECUTION on a screen for an hour and a half and i'd vomit with sadness.


we must begin with raucous birthday wishes for leroy king, an upstanding and consistently well-dressed man who reaches the ripe old age of eleventy one today. leroy, i envy you almost as much as i envy deborah and her halloween birthday. i got stuck with columbus day, and who wants that?

i purchased bret easton ellis's the rules of attraction yesterday. i know it won't teach me new things about the world - american psycho convinced me years ago that all things bret easton ellis should be eaten, burned, or shot from a cannon into shark-infested waters - but the summary seized me:
Lauren changes boyfriends every time she changes majors and still pines for Victor, who split for Europe months ago, and she might or might not be writing anonymous love letters to ambivalent, hard-drinking Sean, a hopeless romantic who only has eyes for Lauren, even if he ends up in bed with half the campus and with Paul, Lauren's ex, who is forthrightly bisexual and whose passion masks a shrewd pragmatism.
this is the same gimmick that got me into terry brooks's forgettable elfstones of shannara - the first of ten or fifteen thousand pulp fantasy novels i ended up reading in junior high - as lauren the male elf seemed destined, in the intro, for great things. he was devoured without ceremony on page 12.


"an interview with a young manhattanite who has resigned his friendster membership for reasons known only to him"

Q. How many people were in your network?

A. Just north of 200K.

Q. Wow, that's a lot of people. So how is a stranger six times removed from you in your Friendster network different from some skell you'd meet at a bar in Brooklyn?

A. You just pulled the nail from my head. There is no difference and that’s one of these reasons I became disillusioned with the concept. But really, walking up to strangers on the street and awkwardly introducing yourself is the new Friendster. Haven’t you heard?

(from the excellent lasagna farm)


speaking of nipple brooches and metameat, i should probably apologize to paul for sticking a link to pierced third nipples in his comment box. if it's any consolation, dear, i just scarred my co-workers while grabbing the site address.

readers: don't look at third nipples at the office. unless, of course, that's your job.


three cheers to the superbowl halftime show and janet jackson's right breast for inspiring such fantastic phrases! while "wardrobe malfunction" (courtesy of justin timberlake's handlers) seems like the front-runner, top honors must go to the new york times's alessandra stanley for coining the term "nipple brooch".

which is not to say, mind you, that i approve of fourteen million football-watching children seeing a breast; i'm solidly neutral on that. the whole episode strikes me as little more than a particularly expensive janet jackson commercial.

speaking of nipple brooches, metameat is back online.