Monday, February 23, 2009

A Little More Song and Dance Please ...

If you follow the Oscars (and there aren't as many as there used to be ... though things are looking up) then you know that this year was dominated by two things:

(1) Slumdog Millionaire; and
(2) Hugh Jackman.

Slumdog took home a bevy of statues including (1) Best Picture, (2) Best Director, (3) Best Original Song, (4) Best Original Score, (5) Best Film Editing, (6) Best Sound Mixing (7) Best Cinematography, and (8) Best Adapted Screenplay. And not a single acting prize among the lot! (though things are looking good for Dev Patel and Freida Pinto). You want remarkable? That is remarkable. And it just goes to show how far a movie of unknowns can go when you've got a good story (Salmon Rushdie can go eat his own head) and a lot of heart (I mean, did you see Danny Boyle's Tigger Dance as he accepted the Best Director award? Or his constantly grinning face? If he's as infectiously fun in real life as he was on the Oscars last night, I would work for that man in a heartbeat ... as the coffee guy ... or the trash guy ... or the guy who gets the coffee for the trash guy ;)

All I can say is Bravo, Slumdog. Bravo.

But the real news of the night was the return of Entertainment to entertainment's (traditionally) least entertaining awards ceremony (though the Grammy's are right up there). And that is all thanks to one man:

No longer just Wolverine ... no longer just the Boy from Oz ... no longer just the Sexiest Man Alive ... Jackman has rightfully jumped his way to best Oscar host of the decade (Sorry Billy ... I love you too). As one commentator summed up the night's festivities:
Rather than the typical routine of stand-up comedian type monologues, Jackman did a sort-of song and dance that not only drew in the audience, but really entertained like no host has done before.

Get that ... he entertained. Makes sense, right? I mean, why wouldn't a show honoring entertainment's most palpable medium (the silver screen's been the entertainment vehicle of choice since the mid-1920s) actually try to be entertaining?

Time and again (and as long as I've cared about the academy which, admittedly, isn't that long), the Oscars have turned helplessly to would be comedians and ended up with flop after flop. I mean, I love to laugh (and comedy is good for the soul), but do we really need to see Jon Stewart mocking Hollywood off of the Daily Show? No, my friends. No.

Jackman was just what this recession-weary nation needed. A good, old-fashioned, entertainment extravaganza so darn happy that, at one point, it made my roommate John jump up and start dancing.

And Jackman's good-time show stoppers were capped off with wonderful segments by Ben Stiller (doing a lovely send up of our friend Joaquin), Seth Rogen and James Franco, and Steve Martin and Tina Fey.

Now it wasn't all smiles and laughs. Parts were downright boring or nauseatingly self-righteous (Sean Penn ... Bill Maher ... Dustin Lance Black). But though not perfect, the Oscars were quite an entertaining telecast. So, if you missed the live version (shame on you ...) or you just want to see the good parts again (and again and again and again ...), check out Jackman's fantastic numbers here and here.

Hopefully, with a little luck, this is the sign of things to come.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Aiming High

"The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I want to be that man. I've been working toward a few new goals this year (and some modified old ones) and the past month has been excellent ... but to date I have not written anything down. And we all know that a goal not written down is just a wish (the non-destiny driven equivalent of fortune cookies and palm readers). So, here goes - some of my goals for the next year (more may appear as I discover them):

(1) Run Four Half-Marathons: Last year I ran my first (the SLC Half-Marathon) and absolutely loved it (for four weeks leading to the race I ran over 13 miles each Saturday ... a glorious time to be alive). This year, the first two are already on deck (Provo and SLC in April). And while the others remain to be chosen, they will be run.

(2) Stay awake in All Church Meetings: I have been, up to this point, one of the most horrendous church sleepers imaginable. It's certainly offensive to those around me and to the speaker (or teacher) ... but more importantly it's offensive to God. And so, it will stop.

(3) Go to Institute Every Week: I've had trouble making institute attendance a regular occurrence during law school. This semester I'm at 100% ... and I plan to keep it that way.

(4) Find Love: Note, this is not a goal to be married (how ridiculous would that be). It's a goal to look outside myself and find someone that I can really, truly love (romantic or otherwise). For too long I've lived the good life ... the life of the people of the Brother of Jared who tarried for four years at an oceanside paradise because why would anyone want to built barges or cross an ocean when things are going so good? But I know I need to look beyond that. I need to look beyond the "Me, myself, and I" world that so many young singles inhabit. And a large part of getting beyond that world is opening my heart to love ... and to serve that person/people. It means refusing to play the game (you know, the one for control of a relationship) and giving myself without requirement. It may hurt ... it may make me feel downright depressed ... but I do believe it's never a mistake to love. Never.

Well, that's it for the moment. Updates will be posted as they come to me (after all, why wait for New Year's to make a resolution). Good luck to you all in 2009 - may this be the best year for all of us.

: (5) Share My Testimony More Often: Not just in church. Not just while home teaching. My dad can share the reason for the hope that is in him at the drop of a hat (and frequently does ... sometimes at odd times ;) I want to be like that.
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UPDATE: (6) Create (and stick to) a Budget: Sooner or later, I have to come to grips with the fact that, while I'm not exactly a spendthrift, money does seem to fly out of my account in swift (and unusual) ways. I need to create a monthly budget that will give me the financial firmness to resist the temptation to blow $30 on Neil Gaiman books because, well, why not. February will be my test month ... I go all out in March.