Various and Sundry, 2/23/09

Bits and pieces and things and stuff:

* First, a picture of me and the bride whom I married this weekend (to someone else, to be clear), Emily Weise-King:

Emily and I have known each other for the better part of a decade; she and I were part of that first generation of bloggers (“online diarists” or “online journalers,” since we hadn’t thought of the word “blog” yet), and then became real-world friends not too long thereafter. She’s basically very cool, so when she and Michael (her now husband) asked me if I would officiate, I was there with bells on (Note: I did not wear actual bells. It would have interfered with the ceremony). I will note that the Weise-Kings did briefly consider changing their name to something else; had not sense prevailed, I might have introduced the married couple to congregation as “Michael and Emily Lazer-Awesome.” But sense prevailed. Alas. Regardless, the happy couple, is, indeed, laser awesome. And don’t you ever forget it.

* For those of you in the crowd who apparently didn’t know, yes, in fact, I am able to marry people; I’m ordained in the Universal Life Church and it’s all legal as beer sales on Sunday. I’ve been marrying people for ten years or so. It’s more of a hobby than anything else; I do it for friends when they get married and they don’t have a regular minister or someone else they’d like to stand up there and direct traffic. If I may say so, by this point I’m pretty good at, because I do my officiant duties with the philosophy that the congregation wants two things: To see the happy couple kiss, and to get to the partying. When you keep those two things in mind, it’s all very easy.

* But before you ask, no, I probably won’t perform your wedding for you. As noted, I tend to do them for long-time friends, at weddings I was likely to attend anyway. And at this point, most of my long-time friends are well and truly hitched (Emily, who’s more than a decade younger than me, is an outlier, wedding-wise). I suppose that when the children of my very good friends start needing an officiant, I might see an uptick in the business again, but that’s one of those things I don’t really want to think about at the moment.

* Moving away from wedding and to the Oscars, I was delighted that I went 6-for-6 in last night major categories, not that any of you would have known that, since the Oscar prediction piece I wrote got eaten by WordPress the day the nominations came out. You’ll have to trust me on this one. That said, I’ll note a lot of people who were not me flubbed the Best Supporting Actress and Best Actor categories; in the latter, a lot of people expected Mickey Rourke to get the award, while the Best Supporting Actress award predictions were all over the board, but mostly not to Penelope Cruz. Nate Silver, for example, who famously pegged the election at FiveThirtyEight, applied his stats models to the Oscars and blew both of these categories, picking Rourke and Taraji P. Henson, the latter of whom had almost no chance of winning, frankly.

Silver is excellent at politics in general but doesn’t understand Academy politics much. In my mind Penelope Cruz was the easy pick because a) statistically speaking, the Best Supporting Actress nominee who is in a Woody Allen film is always a safe bet (see: Dianne Weist, Mira Sorvino); b) she’s been Oscar-nominated before, and recently, which also inclines votes to her; c) she’s gorgeous and well-liked and that matters. As for Rourke, to put it simply, being nominated was his reward for getting his act together, and it’s still not completely together because the dude’s still walking around in day-glo jump suits and clutching a chihuahua. There was no way it was going to happen this year. He needs to keep his act together, ditch the public exhibitions of a toy dog, and make a few more good films before he can clutch an Oscar (hint to Rourke: Get nominated in the Supporting category next time, and Oscar gold is yours).

* I will say early on I thought Benjamin Button was going to be a lock, because it was both a safe and relatively commercially successful choice, but I was amazed at how quickly the backlash smacked that film around, and how quickly Slumdog slipped out from behind. I thought there might be an outside chance for Milk, but that film got Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay, so it can’t complain. And I’m delighted Kate Winslet finally got a Best Actress Oscar, because she deserves it for being so good for so long but also because now that means, pace Halle Berry and Charlize Theron, that she will now immediately make a God-awful action film in which she wears very tight black latex, and I’m all for that.

* Finally, on a more personal note: I’m waaaaaaay behind on personal e-mail, so if you sent me a personal e-mail in the last couple of weeks, I probably haven’t responded yet. I will try to do so today and/or tomorrow. Sorry for being a bad friend. You can kick me the next time you see me.

39 thoughts on “Various and Sundry, 2/23/09

  1. You can marry people? That is so cool. I would much rather have a SF writer than a preacher/priest/judge any day. I’m guessing your friends aren’t especially religious.

  2. Hello my “brother in the cloth!” I performed a commitment ceremony or two for friends who could not legally marry before a couple that could asked me to perform their marriage. Since then, I’ve done a few of those as well. You’re right — it is fun!

    My specialty is ‘subtle’ Pagan ceremonies — something they can have right out in front of the more Christian members of their family without offending anyone yet still retaining the vows and ceremonial elements the couple wants.

  3. I didn’t think Mickey Rourke had a snowball’s chance to win last night. As you said, John, his reward was getting nominated. He was basically playing himself. (anybody who watched the Barbara Walters Special last night before the Oscars would have picked up on that, even if they hadn’t realized it before) The Best Actor Oscar needed to go to someone who was, you know, actually *ACTING*.

    Speaking of Barbara’s special, we got a clue as to how cool the actual broadcast was going to be when Hugh Jackman said he felt the Oscars should be more *Show*, and less *Business*. (Hugh giving Babs a lap-dance at the end of the interview added to my personal sense of excitement about the evening’s broadcast, as well)

    Finally, my personal enjoyment while viewing the Oscars was greatly enhanced by going to The Neon Movies (in Dayton, OH) annual Oscar viewing party. It was free, with movie prizes at every break (if you had marked the just announced award correctly on your ballot sheet). I didn’t win anything, but I had a great time and will do this again next year. (and bring friends next year, too!)

  4. I loved that Winslet won, but thought that on the whole, the Oscars were boring beyond belief. Jackman kept talking about all the surprises in store, but it seemed just as boring and predictable as ever (the musical numbers and montages, that is, not the actual awards).

  5. In Hollywood anything is possible, but I suspect that Winslet knows that black latex/action flick would not be up her alley….

  6. You should know that Loki Rourke’s constant and I guess often only companion of the last 17 years died recently.
    So that problem solved.
    From what Mickey said Loki was the only thing that kept him going over the years, hence constantly having the dog around.
    I think the swearing and the lewd behaviour hurt him more than the dog.

  7. Worst Oscars in memory (I don’t know why I watch, I just do). And I love montages, but last night’s were abysmal. I’m pretty sure they got their reels mixed up with those of the MTV Movie Awards.

    I can’t decide what I think about the way they gave out the acting awards. In concept it probably sounded awesome, but in practice it came off like the beginning of Superman II. I kept expecting one of the Councils of Titans to sentence someone to imprisonment with General Zod.

    And does it count as irony that Peter Gabriel’s song lost to an Indian one?

  8. See I need your predictions, I totally bombed at the predictions game with my friends. (Didn’t help that I hadn’t seen either Benjamin Button or Slumdog so I didn’t vote for either of those in any categoriy) I totally had Amy Adams pegged to win Supporting Actress. I hope she will win one of those soon.

  9. Heh. I too have married people: only once so far, and only because they wanted a big dress-up do in a castle, and when it came to someone dressing up in full priest’s rig they apparently had a shortlist of one. Oh: okay, then…

    Meantime, pace: I told Jay Lake and I’m tellin’ you, this word does not mean what you think it means. It’s used in English to express courteous disagreement; in this context it would mean “despite Halle Berry and Charlize Theron”, which is not what you mean at all. Perhaps vide…?

  10. 12. Jeff Beeler – I watched the Spirit Awards Saturday. The camera cut to his face as the presenter was talking about his role. Mickey’s director leaned over and whispered something into his ear, to which Mickey responded “I don’t give a f***”. off-mike, but on camera for anyone who can read lips. The man needs to finish getting his stuff together before he plays regularly in public.

    I’m not bashing Mickey, I just never thought he was all that (with or without a bag of chips) before, so I’m not that excited by him now.

  11. I was disappointed by the “In Memoriam” section of the Oscars (always my favorite part), and I genuinely cringed when Queen Latifah started singing. After a minute or so I decided to forgive that, as she really nailed the song well. I was still appalled at some of the people they listed during the montage, like make up artists, sound editors, etc. which pretty much left the sound of crickets chirping in the audience.

    Oh well.

  12. Benjamin Button was a horrible horrible horrible horrible horrible horrible horrible film.

    It was like a special effects popcorn movie but without a plot, action, humor, likable characters, or any redeeming qualities of any kind.

    I would like to think that the Oscars take watchability into account and that the Best Picture should be both technically sound (acting, cinematography, etc.) and actually enjoyable to watch.

    I was very glad to see Slumdog win!

  13. I missed the Oscars this year- instead I went to see Man of La Mancha (with Brett Spiner, for proper geekitude). I don’t think any of the winners surprised me, although I had a sneaking hope for Langella as Best Actor.

  14. I hated the way the death montage was broadcast–we have a small-ish crappy television and the cable signal for ABC is only marginally watchable at the best of times and their refusal to just switch to the death montage video and instead doing that weird swoopy thing meant that we couldn’t see a lot of the names (the death montage is my husband’s favorite bit).

  15. John, I got ordained through ULC a few years back, and was informed by some friends that they’ve got me on their short list of people they’d like to marry them. Any words of advice on how to do a good job for officiating a wedding?

  16. I just wish they hadn’t gone in for the Semi-Circle of Death method of awarding the acting awards–boring, superficial and pontifical at best, though I generally agreed with the results. Someone else on the Web said it was like the Kryptonian elders exiling General Zod.

  17. What I can’t figure is- when talking about Milk- how come nobody mentions that a Science Fiction author has nearly 15 minutes of screen time?

    Frank Robinson- author of The Power and The Glass Inferno and a bunch of other stuff is listed fourth in the credits and played himself.

    Yes- himself. He was there as a politically active gay man when all that stuff happened and they cast him (with no lines) as the older man in the cap who is in nearly every scene in the camera shop.

  18. In the British TV show “Extras,” Kate Winslet makes a cameo appearance as herself starring as a nun in a Holocaust movie. She tells Ricky Gervais that she’s doing a Holocaust movie because “…they’ve all got Oscars coming out of their ass.” You’ve got to love it when life so closely immitates art.

  19. So, are you officiating your daughter’s wedding when the time comes and/or giving her away? (Then again, you may be like me and have trouble contemplating said future event without some small sense of horror.)

    As for the Oscars or any kind of awards show, I’d rather for the highlight reel.

  20. Huh. A lot of folks I talked to liked the format for the Best Actors/Actresses. More personable and a greater feeling of community.

    But…that’s why they’re opinions….

  21. You should follow the advice the ULC website gives and take care about what the state laws are on performing weddings. Michigan is pretty easy going, so long as you do the secular licensing business that is always required, they don’t care who performed the service.

    I thought Ohio was a bit more strict such that you at least had to make sure your credentials were valid for the time period, meaning you had to re-up on the ULC site at minimum.

    Some other states seem to be in the business of rigidly supporting the supremacy of traditional brick and mortar religions. If you can’t point to a flock at the First Baptist, it’s the hoosegow for you.

  22. Tudza:

    Quite obviously I don’t perform a ceremony contrary to the laws of the state, and do indeed research what I need to do to get such clearance in each case.

  23. I’ve been ordained through the ULC since the mid 1990’s.
    ulc.org, you too can be ordained over the interweb.

    For Kit@ 21, my best tips are keep it short say 20-25 minutes.

    1) Welcome everyone, give a short talk about the couple, mariage etc.
    2) someone reads a poem
    3) someone sings a song
    4) Vows
    5) Husband/Wife Kiss etc.

    The certificate can be signed ahead of time or afterwards. Technically speaking, I was married in an Indian Resturant, because we filled out the certificate at lunch time, the ceremony for the family was the next day.

  24. @ Froonium & John at 25 & 26, just thought I’d share that my dad did indeed officiate at my wedding in 2006. (With my sister as maid of honor and my husband’s brothers as best men, even.) My fiance and I had had a hard time figuring out what to do about this and kind of didn’t like the idea of someone we didn’t know well playing such an important role in our wedding, so we decided, a couple weeks or so before the wedding, to ask my dad to do it. And yes, he walked me in and then just stood there between the groom and me waiting for the audience to figure it out. We hadn’t told anyone else except our parents, so my dad ended up pausing partway through to tell his older sister to close her mouth (as it dawned on her that her nutty brother was actually performing the ceremony).

    It was terrific, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way. He recited a poem, written by himself and relating entirely and humorously to us (with references to our differing nationalities,ethnicities, and interest in videogames), and then a fairly brief talk about the meaning of rings, such as that the circus is in town. Our vows included my husband’s keeping my hardware and software up to date and my keeping his dictionary and thesaurus up to date.

    (Oh, and there was a triforce on our cake. We kept the game-related references in our wedding to a minimum, but I couldn’t resist that.)

    Anyway, I don’t blame your wishing to defer the consideration of your daughter’s marriage for a while — I was 32 when I got married — but just thought I’d mention that if my experience is anything to go on I highly recommend it. :)

  25. I liked having a different presenter for each acting nominee. I hope they continue that. I also liked the memorial section, but I always do. I’m glad they include lots of people from different facets of the industry, rather than passing judgment on who was famous enough to be worthy of mention.

  26. I really missed your Oscar prediction post this year. Meaning, because you didn’t have it, I did not even realize the Oscars were coming until about 9:30 last night. When someone called me and said something about them.

  27. I’m not sure I like this format with past winners coming up and burying every nominee with praise that consisted of big words. Sometimes they sounded like they’re giving out a lifetime achievement award instead of getting recognition for a particular role (Sophia Loren to Meryl Streep). I miss the film clips showing each nominee’s Big Scene. Without those, if I hadn’t watched the movie, I wouldn’t be tempted to check it out. One last gripe–those multiple flashing and traveling little screens during the montages? EPIC FAIL.

  28. To be fair to Nate, he even said in the post where he gave the predictions that he thought Cruz would win, not Henson, but that his algorithm couldn’t deal with Winslet being switched from Best Supporting Actress at the BAFTAs and SAGs to Best Actress at the Oscars.

  29. John

    The advice was not for you, you’ve done it a number of times as you said, so I imagine you have it down.

    In Ohio it seems you have to apply for a license to perform the ceremony, while in Michigan as I remember this is not required.

  30. In California, any county clerk can issue a one-day, one-wedding civil commission, so you don’t even need to get a ULC ministership. I think it cost like $15. Might have other regimes out there in the rest of our several states.

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