Monday, February 29, 2016

Oscar Localities

Of the 89 films to have won Best Picture, Spotlight is only the second that takes place in Massachusetts (the first was Departed). Here are some other useless facts on the same subject:

In the United States, the Academy loves New York the most. 18 of the winners come from that state, essentially exclusively New York City.

California, by contrast, has 4 winners, all of whom are based in Los Angeles.

Other states that do okay: Illinois has 3, Louisiana 2, Texas 2, Wyoming 2, Georgia 2, New Jersey 2. The U.S. category is then rounded out with 1 each for Ohio, Hawaii, Pennsylvania (arguably 2), Virginia, Mississippi, and Oklahoma.

Internationally you have the UK dominating. with 13 wins - the next most after New York. France does well too, with 6. Europe rounds out with 2 for Austria, 1 for Germany, 1 for Denmark, and 1 for Poland.

Asia comes in next with 2 for India, 2 for Vietnam, and 1 for China. The Middle East gets 1 for Iran, 1 for Iraq, 1 for Jordan/Syria, and 1 for Israel. North Africa gets 1 for Morocco, 1 for Libya, and one for Tunisia. Sub-Saharan Africa gets 1 for Kenya.

No Best Picture Winners have taken place in South America. Or Australia.

Eight films are essentially impossible to ascribe a single locale to: The Greatest Show on Earth (vaguely midwest?), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (no context), American Beauty (midwest again?), Titanic (OCEAN), Forest Gump (too many places), and Around the World in 80 Days (too many places). Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans takes place in some vaguely allegorical land.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King takes place in Middle Earth, which is not real.

Many of these could be disputed and argued. (For example, I count Patton as France, but there's a lot that takes place in Italy. Etc.) But as a rough shakedown, it's okay, I think. The real question is: how many can you match to their films?

Monday, February 22, 2016

My Deal-breakers and Goddamn Millennials

This is not a post about what I find to be turn-offs. Rather, this is a post on what turns women off about me.

Right off the bat, cheery topic.

I’m single, and staring down the barrel of turning 30 in 2016. So, facing this sort of a conundrum, it’s natural to ask yourself what you can do make yourself more marketable. What are the big issues you’ve not tackled that you need to finally conquer?

Fortunately, I don’t really have any obvious ones.

Obvious deal-breakers don’t apply. I don’t weigh 386 pounds. I don’t steal money to buy drugs. I’m not disrespectful towards my partners or women generally. I’m not emotionally, physically, or verbally abusive. I don’t cheat. I’ve no crippling addictions. The category of ‘clear red flags’ is pleasantly absent. I’m pretty swell, after all.

But deal-breakers have I. I have been told this by nice ladies on the internet. Here are the big four:

1)  I want to have kids. This is the most commonly cited explicit deal-breaker. A high number of women say you sound nice, but kids? No way.

2) I don’t drink. This one is inevitable. Even when I talk and meet up with women who also are sober, it always must be explained. Usually it’s a curious inquiry, but not always.

3) I am an atheist. The people this is a deal-breaker for probably wouldn’t be great matches with me anyway, but statistically I think they’re the next largest group.

and finally

4) I am way too snobbish in my tastes. If they’re willing to look past the teetotaling, and my desire to settle down and have a family, and don’t care much about God, War and Peace may prove too much. Or watching black and white Soviet films. Or spending Saturdays in art museums instead of lounging on the beach.

These are the things that have been a problem whether during the initial online forays or in actual relationships. The key – the most worrisome part – is that I don’t want to change any of them.

At some level it comes down to principle. Looking back on a life of drinking beer and watching football on the couch has no appeal to me. Going to church each Sunday to mumble about something I don’t believe strikes me as cowardly. Trading a rich family life for ‘adventures’ into my 40s sounds very particularly millennial and, honestly, increasingly pathetic. (If I go camping with my spouse in King’s Canyon it won’t be any more memorable than doing so with my spouse and our kids.) Having kids is second childhood – you get to experience their inquisitive wonder of the world all over again as they experience and see things for the first time and piece the world together.

So what to do? I can’t just go to the gym, join a support group, see a therapist, or start meditating. My ‘problems’ to me are some of my best attributes – a character defined by my principles and a life, to my mind, well-lived.

Grumpy, old-man Ross can’t help but think that were this a different decade I’d not have the same complications. On OKCupid I put that I was only interested in women who ‘might be interested’ or were ‘interested’ in having kids. I had about 20 matches above a 75%. Then I took the kids filter off, and kept all the rest the same – the atheism, the lack of drinking, etc. I now had 20 matches over 90% alone.

Millennials aren’t marrying. They aren’t settling in. I totally get why we didn’t after the recession – we were royally screwed by a shitshow of an economy. But, for those of us who have been working on paying off those student loans and credit cards all these years, the next few years are going to be big. All of a sudden our disposable income is going to shift. We’ll hopefully have been professionals long enough to be somewhat comfortable. Sure – retiring is still too scary to even contemplate. Finally, though, now that we’re hitting the end of this bad spell called our twenties, home-ownership, marriage, and families are possible, economically, so we don’t have to live like scared rats wondering where our next meal will come from.

An argument that we can’t afford it is going to slip away, starting, you know, right around now. Our generation hasn’t yet married – only 26% of us have tied the knot. Gen Xers, by this age, were at 36%. 48% of Boomers. 65% of the Silent Generation.

Consequentially children will be an issue. Just thinking biologically the healthiest babies are born when the mother is between 26 and 32, more or less. According to women polled, 29-34 were the best years to have a child, based on their own experiences. 35, though, is basically the cutoff. After that it’s medically worse for all involved – mother and child.

That means if Millennials are going to, you know, pass on their genes, they better get cracking. It’s kind of sad, really – if you want a family you’ll actually only have a few years of partnership before embarking on a lifelong redefinition as parents. Oh well – no use crying over spilled milk. Our twenties are over, or ending, and we can’t go back and meet a nice boy or girl at 22 anymore. The only option now is making the best of what we’ve got left.

As a young, smart, trim, and devilishly handsome man, I find it odd that I’m the only one thinking about this. I grow scruff as well as the best of ‘em. I can rock skinny jeans (if I owned any). I can wear flannel or suits, or my corduroy jacket with the distinguished leather elbow patches. And I’m tired of enviously looking at the guys my age who look like me pushing strollers.

Best end this post before I start sounding like Wesley Snipes. But in conclusion: harrumph.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Grammy Awards?

So far as I can remember I've never done a post on the Grammys. I don't think about them a lot. But here goes.

The Grammy Award for Best Album is always off by a year. So, for example, the 1967 release of Sgt. Peppers was awarded the 1968 Grammy. A bit confusing. But keeping that in mind here’s who ought to have won, and who actually did win – including albums that weren’t nominated.

59 Winner: The Music from Peter Gunn by Henry Mancini. Not-nominated-should-have-won: Somethin’ Else by Cannonball Adderley.

60 Winner: Come Dance With Me by Frank Sinatra. Not-nominated-should-have-won: Kind of Blue by Miles Davis.

61 Winner: The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart by Bob Newhart.

62 Winner: Judy at Carnegie Hall. Nominated-should-have-won: West Side Story Soundtrack by Various Artists.

63 Winner: The First Family by Vaughn Meader. Nominated-should-have-won: Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music by Ray Charles.

64 The Barbara Streisand Album by Barbara Streisand. Not-nominated-should-have-won: Live at the Apollo by James Brown

65 Winner: Getz/Gilberto by Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto. Not-nominated-should-have-won: A Love Supreme by John Coltrane

66 Winner: September of My Years by Frank Sinatra. Nominated-should-have-won: Help! By The Beatles. Not-nominated-should-have-won: Bringing It All Back Home by Bob Dylan

67 Winner: A Man and His Music by Frank Sinatra. Nominated-should-have-won: Revolver by The Beatles. Not-nominated-should-have-won: Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys.

68 Winner: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles

69 Winner: By the Time I Get to Phoenix by Glenn Campbell. Nominated-should-have-won: Bookends by Simon and Garfunkel. Not-nominated-should-have-won: Astral Weeks by Van Morrison.

70 Winner: Blood, Sweat & Tears by Blood, Sweat & Tears. Nominated-should-have-won: Abbey Road by The Beatles. Not-nominated-should-have-won: Five Leaves Left by Nick Drake.

71 Winner: Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel

72 Winner: Tapestry by Carole King. Not-nominated-should-have-won: What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye

73 Winner: The Concert for Bangladesh by George Harrison et al. Not-nominated-should-have-won: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by David Bowie.

74 Winner: Innervisions by Stevie Wonder.

75 Winner: Fullfillingness’ First Finale by Stevie Wonder. Nominated-should-have-won: Court and Spark by Joni Mitchell.

76 Winner: Still Crazy After All These Years by Paul Simon. Nominated-should-have-won: Heart Like a Wheel by Linda Ronstadt. Not-nominated-should-have-won: Physical Graffiti by Led Zeppelin.

77 Winner: Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder.

78 Winner: Rumours by Fleetwood Mac. Not-nominated-should-have-won: Exile on Main Street by The Rolling Stones.

79 Winner: Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Soundtrack by The Bee Gees et al. Not-nominated-should-have-won: The Cars by The Cars.

80 Winner: 52nd Street by Billy Joel. Nominated-should-have-won: Breakfast in America by Supertramp. Not-nominated-should-have-won: London Calling by The Clash.

81 Winner: Christopher Cross by Christopher Cross. Nominated-should-have-won: The Wall by Pink Floyd.

82 Winner: Double Fantasy by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Not-nominated-should-have-won: Ghost in the Machine by The Police.

83 Winner: Toto IV by Toto. Not-nominated-should-have-won: Avalon by Roxy Music.

84 Winner: Thriller by Michael Jackson.

85 Winner: Can’t Slow Down by Lionel Richie. Nominated-should-have-won: Purple Rain by Prince and Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen (tie).

86 Winner: No Jacket Required by Phil Collins…I got nothing. 1985 was a terrible year for music.

87 Winner: Graceland by Paul Simon.

88 Winner: The Joshua Tree by U2.

89 Winner: Faith by George Michael. Nominated-should-have-won: Tracy Chapman by Tracy Chapman. Not-nominated-should-have-won: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back by Public Enemy.

90 Winner: Nick of Time by Bonnie Raitt. Nominated-should-have-won: Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 by The Traveling Wilburys. Not-nominated-should-have-won: The Stone Roses by The Stone Roses and Paul’s Boutique by The Beastie Boys (tie).

91 Winner: Back on the Block by Quincy Jones. Not-nominated-should-have-won: I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got by Sinead O’Connor.

92 Winner: Unforgettable…With Love by Natalie Cole. Nominated-should-have-won: Out of Time by R.E.M. Not-nominated-should-have-won: Nevermind by Nirvana.

93 Winner: Unplugged by Eric Clapton. Nominated-should-have-won: Achtung Baby by U2.

94 Winner: The Bodygaurd: Original Soundtrack Album by Whitney Houston. Nominated-should-have-won: Automatic for the People by R.E.M.

95 Winner: MTV Unplugged by Tony Bennett. Not-nominated-should-have-won: Illmatic by Nas.

96 Winner: Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette.

97 Winner: Falling Into You by Celine Dion. Nominated-should-have-won: The Score by The Fugees.

98 Winner: Time Out of Mind by Bob Dylan. Nominated-should-have-won: OK Computer by Radiohead.

99 Winner: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill. Nominated-should-have-won: Ray of Light by Madonna.

00 Winner: Supernatural by Santana. Not-nominated-should-have-won: Play by Moby.

01 Winner: Two Against Nature by Steely Dan. Nominated-should-have-won: Kid A by Radiohead. Not-nominated-should-have-won: Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea by PJ Harvey.

02 Winner: O Brother Where Art Thou? Soundtrack by Various Artists. Not-nominated-should-have-won: Is This It? by The Strokes and Discovery by Daft Punk (tie).

03 Winner: Come Away with Me by Norah Jones. Not-nominated-should-have-won: Sea Change by Beck (tie).

04 Winner: Speakerboxxx/The Love Below by Outkast. Nominated-should-have-won: Elephant by The White Stripes.

05 Winner: Genius Loves Company by Ray Charles. Nominated-should-have-won: The College Dropout by Kanye West.

06 Winner: How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb by U2. Not-nominated-should-have-won: Illinois by Sufjan Stevens.

07 Winner: Taking the Long Way by The Dixie Chicks. Nominated-should-have-won: Stadium Arcadium by Red Hot Chili Peppers. Not-nominated-should-have-won: Fox Confessor Brings the Flood by Neko Case.

After this I can't speak with anything even slightly looking like authority on the nominees and winners.