Wednesday, February 28, 2007
the oscars - part 2

The "Dreamgirls" sang! And it was fabulous....it was the movie come to life in a way that was even more exciting. Live theatre. Nothing like it! And of course, it was no real surprise when Jennifer Hudson won her well deserved Best Supporting Oscar..... It is interesting to contemplate this: The part of "Effie" is not really a supporting role. It is one of the 'leads', as was Eddie Murphy's part, too....but the Producers of a film decide what actors they want to submit for nomination and in what category to submit each actor or actress...and this was the choice, and the perfect choice in a year when you have Dame Helen Mirren playing "The Queen". Talk about a strong and brilliant performance. Well in truth, both these women were perfect in their parts, and if they had been pitted against each other, that would have been very difficult and a different situation, entirely. I don't know what the rules actually are on what makes a "supporting" performance over a "lead" performance, but the producers of "Dreamgirls" were very smart to do what they did! How wonderful that this fantastically talented young woman won this coveted award considering she lost on American Idol.....Good for her!

And the above gentleman's performance was superb! "The Last King Of Scotland" is a scary movie in a lot of ways and rightfully so, given that we are talking about Idi Amin....Forrest Whitaker embodied the character of Idi Amin, completely and scarily. He was that man in all his many faces and moods and craziness.....a brilliant brilliant performance....
His speech was inspired and I loved that I caught this moment of the audience, and in particular, Clint Eastwood, Cate Blanchette, Peter O'Toole..(eight nominations...no wins....oy...) And the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award winner Sherry Lansing listening to Forrest Whitaker as he spoke of this historic moment in his life and career, and in an oblique way, how far we have come.


Here is one of my favorite moments in this years show...I loved the film tributes directed by some of our most esteemed directors, particularly the 50 Year Tribute to Foreign Films, which was introduced by two of the great treasures of foreign films. The very talented and attractive superb actor from Japan, Ken Watanabe, who's most recent perfomance in a 2006 nominated picture "Letters From Iwo Jima" was simply perfect and extremely moving.And joining him in introducing this wonderful tribute to Fifty Years Of Academy Award Winning Foreign Films was probably the most beautiful woman to ever grace the stage of the Oscars or anyplace else on earth for that matter, as well as being an International Star for over 40 years. From France, the great and still incredibly stunning beauty, Catherine Deneuve, who was nominated in the Best Actress category for her performance in "Indochine". This very beautiful film won the Best Foreign Language Film for 1992-1993. This a a gorgeous gorgeous movie. If you have never seen it, it is an absolute must! It is rentable...It is one of the great great films of our time. So you see history stood on the stage at The Kodak Theatre. Everywhere you looked, there was History.....

For me, this kind of tribute, the Foreign Film Tribute I mean, along with the previously mentioned writer's tribute in my first Oscar post, is what the Oscars are all about. It's not about 'the red carpet', for me. You have to remember that I have been listening to, YES, 'listening' to the Oscars since 1943 when they were first broadcast on network radio....and then later 'watching', when they came to network television in 1953....and the red carpet as we know it did not even exist back then. That is a more recent phenomenom.So, I have been hooked on 'the show' since 1943, when I sat glued to the radio, thrilled to be hearing all of these magical memorable people who were responsible for the movie experiences I was having in those darkened theatres. You have no idea how incredible it was to me to be hearing their voices right there in our living room.

Sitting in the dark, in a big yet cozy movie theatre, losing myself in the wonder of these very thrilling images that appeared just for me---that is how it felt---that it was just for me, was more meaningful to me than you will ever know. And as I have said before, the movies saved my life. As a young person growing up and being able to escape into the world of make-believe with these huge images projected on the screen....this is what drew me to the Awards show, and that is what still draws me to this GrandDaddy of all Awards shows. And then as a grown person and being part of 'the business' and learning first hand how hard it is to make a movie.....and to make a great and memorable film....Well, to make a really really fine movie----that is almost a miracle. So, my respect for all these artists---and they are artists believe me, who make this magic happen---the sound, the make-up, the editing, the cinematography, the music etc., etc., etc.----my respect for these people knows no bounds. I applaud all these artists and revere them, too. Without all of them and their skills and their artistry there would be no movie! Honoring them once a year in this incredible happening called The Oscars is a thrilling thing to watch. So, in the end for me, it is all about 'the movies'. It is the final result of all the hard hard work and talent that puts these images up there on the screen that is truly meaningful to me. That's what I get off on, and I always have, and without a doubt, I always will till the day I die.....!And here above is the payoff for years and years of fine talented work. The payoff for creating memorable lasting artistry. The payoff for touching millions of people by devoting yourself to a passion more palpable than any other in your life. And the payoff, finally, of having your peers say, "Well done Marty, well done."

And below, the three giants of this industry who stood on the stage with Scorsese, to share in the joy of this moment.... These four men are 'the elders' now. Scorsese, Coppola, Lucas and Spielberg. What a historic moment to have these four gentlemen standing together on The Oscar 2006-07 stage. These men, who have been responsible for more important and memorable films of the 20th and 21st Century than any other four people working in films today. Between them, they have racked up 37 Oscar nominations and 10 wins. Coppola has won five of these statues, Spielberg two, Scorsese now as of Sunday, one, and Spielberg and Lucas each have recieved The Irving Thalberg Memorial Award from The Academy....Yes, history was made on Sunday night at the Kodak Theatre and believe you me, it wasn't on the red carpet....

There is more....yes, there is....and I will post part three next time....




Definitely More To Come.....





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Monday, February 26, 2007
oscar pre show & show

One of the helicopters circling the wagons today had this flowing behind it for all to see.....A message that I happen to agree with....Not a political statement, but a human statement.

Here is the Blimp for this year.....last year it was very colorful and kind of decorated in abstract images.....This year, as you can see below, it's "business" as usual, lest we forget who sponsers these beautiful blimps....And by the way, it's not just for show....There are camera's on the blimp for those overhead pictures of the festivities at The Kodak Theatre and the surrounding area....Can you see those cables hanging down....? Must be for the needed broadcast signal.... You do see them, don't you? They are hanging down from the front...and it looks like they are attached right there at that little nipple. I'm pretty sure they have something to do with those signals......but I would love to know, for sure..... I mean, it is 'up there' high in the sky, as you can see....And you can also see how bizarro the weather was here today....I really thought it might rain, but it didn't, well, not here in Hollywood anyway, but it certainly looked quite threatening though the sun kept trying to come on out....And, it was 'cold' again....And I use the term in a relative way. Cold for here. (lol)

As we got closer to the gathering of 'the Stars', this is what La Brea Avenue looked like with all the arriving limo's This is actually a close-up of some of the traffic....I thought it was interesting that you can see the sun trying to come out, here and there....You see that one little patch towards the top of the picture right in the center?

Okay. Enough of this pre-pre pre show....

On to the meat of the afternoon, almost evening....!The meat being "The Oscar Show" itself. I loved it. I felt it had a warm and loving 'family' feeling about it and that it was very classy, too.
I thought that Ellen DeGeneres was terrific! She set the tone for that warm 'family' feeling that continued throughtout the show for me, and I laughed out loud a lot, which is unusual for me with a show like this....Also, I am easily moved by the Oscars....I get very emotional, you know? And there were any number of times I was moved to tears....

In fact it began for me right at the top of the show....I loved that little film of all the nominees---it was funny and endearing and was a great way to begin the show and then having all the nominees stand up there in the theatre as the audience applauded....Oh, I found that very moving....

There were many moments for me, not the least of which was Alan Arkin winning the Best Supporting Actor Award....
Well deserved on every level. Yes, that performance in "Little Miss Sunshine" was fabulous, but here is an actor that has never given a bad performance and the last time he was nominated was over 40 years ago....He did not win then. But he won tonight and his speech was truly moving to me, too. Times like that, that moment of his speech, it makes me feel so proud to be a small part of a profession where people care so very much about what they do and how they do it, and who bring so much intelligence and heart to their work....Mr. Arkin is a perfect example of the marriage of talent and a caring heart mixed with a fierce intelligence. I was thrilled that he won tonight.

Moving on....I very much enjoyed the number with Jack Black, Will Farrell and John C. Reilly....It made a point that is true---Comedy performances rarely if ever win Oscars----and the point was made with humor...(laugh out loud humor....!) Plus, I loved the idea of including the different nominees for us visually, as well as lyrically, like Peter O'Toole and Mark Walhberg, and of course particularly Helen Mirren, who the three guys were pointing at here..... And she loved it, too, as did her very talented husband Taylor Hackford...two such incredibly talented people....Isn't this just Helen Mirren's year....three wins.....I think it is fabulous....(More about that later....)

And were these two little people cute or what? (I loved that the orchestra played "Short People" to play them on....)For those of you who do not watch any television or/or do not go see movies, these darlings are, Abigale Breslin from "Little Miss Sunshine"...(She is Little Miss Sunshine in the film of the same name and was nominated for Best Supporting Actress....), and he is the son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith---Jaden Christopher Smith, who is in "The Pursuit Of Happyness" with his father....They were, in a word, adorable tonight! Well okay, two words...Absolutely Adorable!

Another favorite section for me was the short film put together by Nancy Meyers, ("Something's Gotta Give"...Writer/Director) showing the process through film, that writer's go through more often than not....It was very clever and funny.....I loved all the clips.... Starting with the typewriter itself----which is what people use to write on before the computer, for those of you too young to remember---well, if they didn't write by hand, of course.... And Nicholas Cage as the alcoholic writer in "Leaving Las Vegas"..(Among many semi-and not so semi-alcoholic writers as played by a host of wonderful actors in the clips she used...).And I loved that one of the very last images was the last page of her screenplay for "Something's Gotta Give", (a movie I absolutely loved....) and I also loved that Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton who starred in this delightful film were the two presenters tonight for The Best Picture Award....and again for those that live a sheltered life, "The Departed" won this last award of the night...and it was a great great moment. I was thrilled to catch this special gesture from Speilberg to Scorsese when they announced that "The Departed" had won...This fabulous news followed probably the most exciting moments of the night when Scorsese finally won his Best Director Oscar! Hooray, Hooray.....




(I am very very tired and though there is much more to my Oscar Post....I will have to continue part two, next time....forgive me, but it is going on 3:40am, here....also if there are spelling errors, etc...do forgive me that, too....Thanks In Advance.....)


More To Come......








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Saturday, February 24, 2007
on a clear day

It was a beautiful clear cold day today, with beautiful cloud formations....cold, except when in the sun....then it felt lovely and warm....In this picture above I'm looking South and that straightaway roadway in the distance is La Brea Avenue....more on that a little later.....On a day like today, when I look out my windows I see things I don't normally see, and I find that very exciting....like the mountains in the background in the picture below, right in the center of the picture...this is looking East, and a little bit South.... Usually, because of the 'smog', those mountains are not visible, at all....Even in this picture they are not exactly clearly visible....yes, they used to be more so...but I was happy to look out and see that they were there, at all....seeing them is getting rarer and rarer I'm sorry to say! Here's a bit of a closer look...what I love about where I live is, when it is really clear, you get to see the layers of mountains...there's that first one that's pretty far away, but in comparison to the one behind it, it looks close...and the mountain behind it really is far away.....

Sunday being the Academy Awards, and because The Kodak so close to me, I was aware today that the Helicopters have begun circling more than usual.... And I realized I could see really far looking south....so below is a closer look at the helicopter, but more important, a closer look at the view....you can actually see Long Beach in the distance over on the lower left side of the picture.....
And I thought it would be fun to go in closer if possible, so here below you can actually see the bridge in Long Beach....and this is really far away, believe me.... Long Beach is where the Queen Mary is permanently docked....It is a big tourist attraction and it is also a place where local people can go have dinner, stay overnight, get married, etc., and a special place to go when celebrating an Anniversary or Birthday....

And while we are on close-ups, here is downtown Los Angeles from my deck on this very very pretty and rather clear day..... And just to give you some perspective...below is another picture of downtown, not in close-up.....

Beautiful clouds today....and they never looked really threatening, just pretty.

And here below is a closer look at La Brea Avenue about 2:45 in the afternoon. Traffic here is amazing, isn't it? And below, just a bit of a closer look at all that traffic....La Brea is a very very busy street because coming up La Brea, towards me, is one of the main ways of getting to the 101 Freeway, sometimes called The Hollywood Freeway....and today it was probably a bit worse because so many streets are already closed off because of the Academy Award preperations..... This section of La Brea that is closest to me will be very interesting on Sunday afternon with all the people trying to get to The Kodak Theatre for the Awards....Lots of Limo's.....I will take some more pictures....





More To Come.....



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Thursday, February 22, 2007
beautiful flowers

Here are some pictures of beautiful flowers. In the Cactus world, many of the flowers are considered unusual because people don't even expect them to flower at all, let alone be beautiful....But beautiful and different, they are. Above, and below, examples of the very very unusual..... This past blooming season, there were probably about 800 or more flowers on this plant....In this picture above you can see a cluster of these flowers in different stages of their life, from just beginning to full growth to drying up and dying....

Here below we see one single flower wide open...yes, that's as open as it gets...And of course the second flower is still making it's way to full growth. The color is this rich vivid crimson to deep shocking pimk. These are the flowers that I call, 'the penis flowers'...I probably shouldn't ever have nicknamed them this because then that's all anyone can think about when they see them...The plant itself, is a species of the Cleistocactus, but I am not completely sure which one. I think it is Cleistocactus strausii, but I am not absolutely sure. But whatever it's exact name is, I think this is a gorgeous example of Cacti self protection. And, it is to me, a very beautiful beautiful plant.... Yes, this is that fantastic plant that is near the Yucca Rostrata's. Look at the design of this plant....it is so perfect, includimg the fuzz that protects it from extreme heat. And if you look closely at the picture just before this one, you can see the long 'stickers', with the slightly tan and very sharp ends that come out from the shaft...more protection from preditors and such.... When I think of what this looked like when I first got it, it is almost unbelievable. It was in a little teeny tiny rectangular pot. There were two stalks which were each about three inches high. That was all. And al the branches that you see above, came from those two little stalks.


And that was almost 20 years ago. Now the picture over on the left was taken about 4 or 5 years later....and by then there were...what.....6 stalks or branches? So it was multiplying and growing up, all at the same time. As you can see, in that picture, even though it had grown quite a bit, it was still very small. By the time of this picture, the tallest arm was about a foot high....And when you look at the picture above you can see how much this plant has grown over the years....When I stand next to it, many of the arms are a lot taller than me, and I am 5'4" and shrinking!

Here is a close-up of some of those branches, again, filled with flowers in different stages of their life-cycle.... And in the background, of course, those wonderful Yucca Rostrata's....Incidentally, there are many many Yucca species....Rostrata is just one of maybe 100 or more....There are wild Yucca's growing all over these hills here in Los Angeles by the way, and they flower with big clusters of beautiful off-white blossoms....My Yucca's have not ever bloomed, as yet. But you can be sure you will read about it here, when they do bloom! (lol)

Below, is another picture of these amazing red flowers on this lovely fuzzy Cleistocactus plant.... And you can see that the whole top section is a slightly different color than just underneath it....that whole top part is all the new growth for the year....And in fact, that is often how one can tell the age of certain plants----by counting the sections of growth starting at the bottom.....Gee, I so love the look of this plant.....it is so sculptural, as are most cactus and succulant plants. I think that is what always attracted me to them....they are natures 'works of art'. And above, another shot of these luminescent flowers....the detail of the design is fascinating to me....and then that one little stamin coming out as if reaching for the light and the sun. The Hummingbirds love these flowers and it is glorious to watch them stick their beaks right into the flower and drink the sweet sweet necter....The magic of nature, once again.....





More To Come.....




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Monday, February 19, 2007
yucca rostrata's

Yucca Rostrata's are to me a very elegant and unusual plant. They are especially beautiful when they have had a 'haircut'. A haircut consists of cutting back the bottom leaves so that the heads have an upward look...these above are really almost ready for a small haircut....I love these plants and have about ten of these throughtout my garden....

Here below, is how these three looked back in 1986 when they were planted....It's not a very good picture, but I'm thrilled to have any kind if a record of their growth.... This was very early on in the planting of my garden...and you can see what I mean about the 'haircut'. And look how small these three are....!
And below, another view, a little later on----maybe about a year later---and as you can see, much more is planted and these Rostrata's are really getting established. And as the years have gone on, many changes have taken place in this front bed....Things were moved. Some things were stolen right out of the ground....Yes! One day I came out and nine plants had been ripped out of the ground in the front....It was pretty devistating. But the Rostrata's have thrived and stayed very healthy and beautiful. This picture above, is a few years later...Again, not a great picture, but it is a record of what the garden looked like at that time. The Rostrata's are growing...and as they grow the reach for the sun and so though they were planted on an angle, by this time they are beginning to show themselves straighening up to the sun....Amazing! Here they are above, a few years later, having almost completely straighened themselves as they grow towards the sun....And they get full sun all day here in this bed....And talk about growth....You see those two pale gray fuzzy guys on either side of the Yucca's....well, they are huge now...as you will see....

After about five years I noticed a strange little spindly thingy growing out of the ground to one side of one of the Rostrata's....I wasn't sure, but it looked like it might be a 'baby' off of one of the bigger plants....Here it is below, in close-up, as it looked back in 1990-91.... And here below, a little farther away, so you can see it in context.... Isn't it cute? And if you go back to two pictures before this, you can see how much it had grown by the time of that picture....and by the time I took that particular picture it was big enough already to have it's first haircut!

And below, a closer look at this burgeoning baby....haircut, and all.... This is a fairly slow growing plant....And I do think these dears are very happy here. And because it is kind of a perfect environment for them, they have thrived and certainly grown faster than they would in a pot! And here, above, are those three and the 'baby'...somewhat bigger.... and you can just see the 'baby' behind the tall yucca on the left, no doubt, it's Mama----the biggest and tallest plant of the three Rostrata's.....

Then we skip quite a few years, and here below, is that 'baby', today.... I actually went and measured it today just to see how tall it really is and going from the deepest part at the bottom to the top, it isn't even three feet tall, and, it is over fifteen years old....!One doesn't see these plants in too many places. They are not easy to come by---they are propagated in Mexico and Texas---and if you want any kind of a semi-mature plant they are very expensive because they are so slow growing...The care and feeding of these lovely plants is time consuming for growers and especially because of the time they take to grow.

If any of you watch Ellen DeGeneres you may have seen the show where a woman wrote to tell her that a plant that was sitting behind her looked like it was growing out of her head...this was a Yucca Rostrata in a pot that she had on the set. I had noticed there was something behind her, but I couldn't tell what it was till Ellen got up out of her chair, went right to the plant, and moved it over to the side....getting it out from behind her head.....It was, of course, obvious to me just what that plant was.....one of my beloved Yucca Rostrata's, in a pot....and it was just about as big as my 'baby'.

This picture over on the left is something I found on the net...I was looking for a picture of one showing this wonderful plant in a pot, to illustrate the point about Ellen DeGeneres and how it could look like it was growing out of her head....lol!

Some would say I am rather obsessed with my garden and the plants that grow here....maybe I am. But it is an obsession that has given me so much pleasure----and many other people pleasure, too----and it is something that seems so very positive to me-----to help living things grow....to nurture them and even at times seemingly ignore them in a benign way, of course, and in spite of this benign neglect they grow and thrive, anyway....There is a lesson here of some sort....I'm not sure what it is, but I know what I have just said is true. Remember one of those small gray fuzzy things in that earlier picture? You can just see the tops of two of the many arms on this fantastic plant and it is very very tall now....(It's the one that has what I call 'the penis flowers', which you can sort of see in silouette...more of them at another time).

One last picture of this little patch of land filled with such great beauty....taken on a different day than the one above, and lightened so you can see more.....

I am going to leave this post up a little longer than usual...it took me all day and half the night to do this one....I need a rest....lol!

More To Come......


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