Wednesday, January 24, 2007

70000 Visitors + Audiologo Event + The Oscars + Whose SOTU?

I usually don't check the stat counter at the bottom of the Jstheater page, but the blog has now had 70,000 visitors, and so far this month, there have been nearly 3,000 page loads, comprising 2,244 unique visitors, 1,799 first-time visitors, and 445 returning visitors, a small number, but exciting nevertheless.

In addition to the current daily pages, in the past most of the first timers have pulled up a page from 2005 or so featuring a photo of Destiny's Child (Beyoncémania is far from dead, I realize), but in recent months the main draws have been the January 2006 archives, the November 2005 archives, the Alice Coltrane mini-tribute, the link to excerpt from the Idris Elba interview, my commentary on MTV's True Life: I'm Dead Broke, and the short Autumn in January-Charles Rangel post from a few weeks ago. An eclectic list, to say the least.

Jstheater visitors are primarily accessing the site from the US, but there have first-time views and returning visitors from all over the globe. Just today, as of 3 pm, people (or autobots?) from, in descending order, the US, Bahamas, the Netherlands, Germany, Mexico, France, Portugal, UK, Poland, Italy, India, Dominican Republic, Slovakia (Hi Francisco!), and Spain have popped by--to an old post so far. I wish I could keep up the daily posting schedule I achieved two years ago, but with my current workload, it's just not possible. I am trying to maintain a semi-regular stream even of tiny posts, including quotations, photos, drawings, and the like, though, so we'll see how it goes. I also am trying to cut down on all the errors, but I'll willingly admit that these days, it's a miracle if I can look at a computer screen, let alone a book, for longer than 10 minutes without my eyes tiring (and yet the stack of required reading material steadily grows).

To all the Jstheater readers out there, I offer a deep thanks!


For those in and near Princeton, Audiologo will be screening one of her works tomorrow night. She writes:

The re-screening of my sound/video work "Tarry On/Because I Must" is set for the following time
and location:

Thursday, January 25th, 7pm - 8pm
Woolworth Center (Music Building),
Room 106 (first floor).

There will be light refreshments.

I wouldn't miss it if I were nearby.


Jennifer Hudson I was happy to see that President Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth had been nominated for two Academy Awards, one for Best Documentary, and one for Best Song, "I Need to Wake Up," sung by Melissa Etheridge. I still haven't seen the film, but it's next in my Netflix queue, so I think I'll be able to catch it before the awards presentation show.

As has been the case for the last decade or so, I haven't seen most of the contenders for the top prizes. Once upon a time I tried to see every one of the major award contenders despite having not a dime to my name, but then life impinged, and now I'm lucky if I catch even a handful. (I did see the best nominated film last year, Brokeback Mountain, which didn't win.) I did see Dreamgirls, and while I enjoyed it (and reviewed it here), I didn't think it was as great as many critics I've read. Nevertheless I'm glad that it did receive a number of nominations, particularly for its music, art direction, costumes, and for its chanteuse extraordinaire, Jennifer Hudson (at left, with her Golden Globe Award), I have a feeling that she'll win the Best Supporting Actress award, and Beyoncé Knowles will win Best Song, for the beautifully sung but not so great "Listen," and the Motion Picture Academy will pat itself on the back for not fostering the very discord the film portrayed.

I also saw Volver, which I hope to review eventually, but Penélope Cruz sizzled in her Anna Magnani-esque star turn. The film itself was a mess in terms of plot and characterization, with enough melodrama for a dozen telenovelas, but Cruz blazed through the folderol, and made it clear to me that with the right script, she has real acting talent. She's up against Meryl Streep (who's won it several times already), Helen Mirren yet again channeling a Queen Elizabeth (and the Motion Picture Academy loves things British and royal, and Mirren's a great actress anyways), the always outstanding Judi Dench (who may cancel Mirren out), and Kate Winslet, who's blond, talented and foreign (canceling out both Dench and Mirren), so perhaps Cruz has a chance, though I doubt it.

Among the Best Actor nominees, I am torn between the award going to two performances I haven't seen; I almost would like to see Peter O'Toole win because he's been nominated so many times and is still around, but then everyone says that Forrest Whitaker terrifyingly inhabits his Idi Amin role in The Last King of Scotland, so perhaps he should win. I want to catch Whitaker's performance, though, before Oscar night. As for the other actors, I'm delighted that Will Smith was nominated, but was his performance that great? Everything about The Pursuit of Happyness reeks of Hollywood, which is one reason I haven't gone near it yet, though I usually will watch anything that Smith is in. Also, can we have a yearlong moratorium on nominations going to people impersonating or engaging in mimicry of other real people, living or dead, for a change? Do Hollywood screenwriters even remember how to write excellent non-biopic roles any more? (Yes, yes, I know, cf. Winslet, Wahlberg, etc.)

Djimon HounsouAmong the Best Foreign films, I did see Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth, and thought it one of the best movies I've seen in the last year. I hope to review it soon, so I'll only say that it was so imaginative, well acted, superbly structured, and thematically grounded that it had me thinking about the possibilities of cinema (and literature, for that matter) as an art and as a means for addressing history and politics for several days after I'd watched it.

With the other awards, I have to say I really don't care, though I think that Eddie Murphy is probably going to get the Best Supporting Actor award, but Djimon Hounsou (at right) should win on general principle, or if the voters see them as canceling each other out, it'll go to Mark Wahlberg in the Martin Scorsese vehicle, The Departed, another film I haven't seen, though I used to be a Scorsese enthusiast. His last few movies have broken me of that, though. I imagine he'll receive the Best Director award for his body of work. And I hope Gore wins for his documentary, just on general principle; maybe it'll be the catalyst for his entering the race and winning the office that was stolen from him 7 years ago, saddling us with the mad bull who, horrible to say, still has nearly two years left to smash up everything in sight, which is to say, to continue to completely misgovern.


I missed the emperor decider's speech last night, as I was in class until 9:30 pm Chicago time, but today I got C's appraisal and read a little about it online. I had to conclude that as I already knew, I hadn't missed a thing. In addition the usual vomitus of mendaciousness about the Iraqmire and the GWOT™ (which I think was renamed), there was the horrendous proposal to further screw up the health care system by further subjecting it to bad conservative/neoliberal ideological tinkering, as a way of providing more money and power to the insurance industry and yet another tax break to rich people, and there was the national ID system to increase the tracking of citizens and facilitate immigrant slave force. (Ahem--why won't the mainstream media discuss the fate of those immigrants arrested in the Swift Co. raids, or where they're being housed? Does anyone know where the "detention facilities" that Halliburton received the contracts for were built?) Given the sheer awfulness of these ideas, along with the rest of the exceedingly banausic tripe issuing from the ed's tongue-poked lips, I had to wonder why the networks even kept the cameras on, though I realized after reading about Dana Milbank's and others' most recent rounds of silliness today that it was to catch Hillary Clinton "daydreaming," Barack Obama "barely lifted his head" from his copy of the remarks, and Mrs. Speaker Nancy Pelosi blinking furiously. Saint John "Surge" McCain slumbering at his dear decider-pal's twaddle, however, was not worthy of the MSM's concern.

I did, however, catch James Adomian's hilarious version of the speech ("I believe this nation continues to be strong in its own steadfast"), which includes a very brief Democratic response, culminating in slapstick, by an actor who has Obama's voice down, going up against a pseudo-Clinton.

Then I both watched and read Virginia's junior, Democratic Senator James Webb's excellent response. Perhaps the networks should have just gone with Webb and done the country and the world a huge favor.

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