Sunday, February 27 2005
Our friend Peter, the lawyer who lives in an auspicious stone house on the bank of the Rondout in south end of Kingston, had invited Gretchen and me to come to his place tonight to watch the Academy Awards. It bears mentioning at this point that neither Gretchen nor I have ever watched the Academy Awards and have no special interest in their outcome. But Peter used to own a glitzy club in Chelsea and is tuned into America's entertainment culture, so for him the ceremony is an event worthy of a social gathering. In addition to us, Peter, and Peter's girlfriend Trini there was this other couple, the male half of which I recognized as a frequent jazz pianist at Uptown's BSP open mike Thursday (which only happens in the warm season). Peter started off by making us all martinis and then adding vermouth to them. Then we moved to the living room, where a spread of finger foods had been prepared. Unlike last time, Peter had specifically told us not to bring our dogs, so this time the fancy spinach cheese wasn't in jeopardy.
Since I have nothing to compare it to, I can't add much to what has already been said about the Awards this year. Gretchen and I both love Chris Rock and hooted with laughter as busted on the Bush administration (the part where he compared Bush to somebody working at the Gap). But nearly everything else was a drag, from the stuffy conformity of the actress' dresses to the one that stood out (the backless one with the choking front worn by Hilary Swank). The music was all pretty appalling, particularly that fingernails-on-the-chalkboard performance by Antonio Banderas and the ubiquitous Carlos Santana. Oh, and the red carpet wasn't even red, at least on Peter's screen. It was more of a purple-pink.
Adding to the drama of the event, Peter made us all fill out cards with our guesses for who would win what awards. Each of us contributed $5 to a pot that would go to whomever had the largest number of correct guesses. Neither Gretchen nor I had seen many of the movies that had been nominated, so all we could do was go by the buzz that the various movies have. Failing that, Gretchen tended to vote her conscience, which is a certain way to lose a game like this.
In the end Trini won, mostly by chance.
The other woman, the wife of the jazz pianist, grated terribly on Gretchen throughout the evening. It wasn't just that she loved every movie and actor Gretchen hated (including Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump). There also came a moment in the ceremony where Beyonce was singing in French and the annoying woman started criticizing her command of that language. "It sounds okay to me," diagreed Gretchen. "Listen, I speak French!" retorted the annoying woman. "Well, I have a working knowledge of French too," Gretchen countered. Later when the inevitable Yo Yo Ma played cello to mourn all the actors (including the obscure Ronald Reagan) who died over the past year, the annoying woman got all worked up because she "hates classical music." Evidently she had an evil stepmother or some such who sang in the opera and tortured her.
Speaking of opera, has anyone noticed that Oprah Winfrey has somehow figured out how to avoid the aging process? I haven't seen her since the early '90s, and there she was, still looking like she might be in her thirties.
As we were getting ready to leave Peter's place, the jazz pianist dude noticed that one of our rear tires was flat, so I had to replace the damn thing there in the cold, drunk as I was. The old wheel seemed as if it was welded to its hub and it took a mighty effort with the lug wrench to pry if free. The replacement was one of those scrawny little "doughnuts" (why bother?). But we didn't notice the car handling too badly on the drive home.
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