It’s a pretty impressive look. Sometimes it even works!
(A reminder to people about to comment on her chunkiness that she is half mastiff. She looks chunky no matter what.)
It’s a pretty impressive look. Sometimes it even works!
(A reminder to people about to comment on her chunkiness that she is half mastiff. She looks chunky no matter what.)
And if you have a problem with it, it’s your problem, not theirs. Clearly.
She certainly can be photogenic, when she makes an effort.
This particular picture captured by the cell phone, incidentally. The camera on it isn’t bad in a pinch.
And as you can see, it was a lovely day for it. So lovely, in fact, that I spent most of it away from the computer. And I would do it again. Don’t worry; tomorrow’s supposed to be rainy and 20 degrees cooler. I’ll be back inside then.
Because one of the neighbor dogs wandered over to play with her. They ran around the yard for a good half hour, being goofballs. And yes, as you can see, the yard is now visible; it’s 54 degrees outside and the snow is in retreat. Good riddance.
While I was taking photos the dogs were moving fast enough that the “rolling shutter” phenomenon of digital cameras came into play. You can see a little of it in the picture above by looking at the neighbor dog’s front left paw, but here’s a photo in which it’s really pronounced:
I think that’s kind of a cool look, personally.
In any event, Daisy’s bounced back from her morning. It’s a reminder of something we sometimes forget: When you’re having a bad day, friends help.
We’re closing in on the one-month mark of our ownership of Daisy, so I thought I’d catch you all up on her status. Basically, it’s gone very well, and she’s become pretty fully integrated into the Scalzi clan. In particular, the cat/dog issue seems to have been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction: The cats seem to understand Daisy is here for the long haul, and Daisy gets that the cats are family, and everyone gets along. They don’t cuddle up like the cats (well, Zeus and Ghlaghghee) did with Kodi, but it’s still early days.
Daisy definitely has her own personality. For one thing, she’s an attention hog: if one the cats is being petted she will headbutt her way into the pet session, because apparently no reason she shouldn’t get pets if someone else is. For another thing, she knows what’s allowed and what’s not but subscribes to the “if you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen” theory of morality, which allows her to get premium nap time on beds, which she knows she’s not allowed on but will get up on anyway. When I get up from my desk the first sound I usually hear is a soft thump as the dog quietly jumps down from whatever piece of furniture she knows she’s not supposed to be on, followed by the dog head popping out into the hallway to find out where I am. She’s a sneaky one.
Also, she’s a very excitable dog. Having an older dog for the last few years dimmed the memory that a favorite mode for dogs is run! everywhere! really fast! Well, I’ve gotten well-acquainted with that dog mode once again, and I have cause to observe that it’s actually a good thing I have 5 acres of lawn, because Daisy has made herself informed about every single square inch of it. This is not a bad thing for me, since what she enjoys most of the world is running around the yard with someone running after her, arms flailing, howling like the Cookie Monster set on fire, and guess who, as the work-at-home person, gets to do that. As a result, I’m getting a whole lot of exercise and looking entirely foolish as I do so.
And there we are. This is the end of “what’s up with our new dog” posts, I think; from here on out, when I post about Daisy, she’ll just be referred to as “the dog.” She’s one of us now, and she seems to be as happy about it as we are. And that’s a good thing for everyone.
For the folks who are saying to themselves “it’s been two days and no new pictures of Daisy,” you can reset your clocks: Here she is via one of the faux-retro cameras that are all the rage on cell phones these days. Note the photo scratches! That’s your assurance of fake authenticity! The picture is of Daisy in her crate; she came crate-trained, which is actually a very good thing.
I’m also happy to say Daisy does now appear to grasp the concept that the cats are full fledged members of the family and not to be hugged using one’s teeth. The cats are still not thrilled by Daisy’s presence but seem to be accepting it with that sort of huffy exasperation they do so well. This counts as material progress, and makes me happy that we’re getting this all resolved before it actually gets cold and the cats basically stay in the house full time because, hey, it’s warm here. That would not be the time for animal personality conflicts.
Also, Daisy snores. It’s cute.
Sit, Daisy! Sit!
What we did with our Saturday: We went and got ourselves a new dog. Her name is Daisy, she’s a two-year-old laborador-mastiff mix, and we got her through a local rescue service. Her previous owners were no longer able to care for her, which had nothing to do with Daisy and everything to do with their own personal situation. Daisy is housetrained and responds to commands and so far seems pretty happy. The cats are extraordinarily pissed, as they of course would be, although Daisy is not at all aggressive toward them so far. We assume they will get over it soon.
And that’s what I have for you at the moment, inasmuch as we’ve had the dog for all of 90 minutes now. More updates as events warrant. In the meantime, however: Say hello to Daisy.
The kittens are on this side of the stairs because they both climbed over the gate, evidence that the gate is not so much useful as a gate anymore, even if it has some continued utility as exercise equipment. That, combined with the fact that the last flea combing produced no fleas (aided by a spraying with age-appropriate flea treatment, which will be administered again probably tomorrow), means that I’m officially letting the gate come down and the kittens to roam around the house. They’ve already gotten acclimated to Daisy, who loves them to bits, and it’s time they had a little more contact with Zeus, who so far is less than pleased but need to deal with it. So out into the world (defined as “the house”) they go.
I do find the kittens already surprise me. When we got them, lo that whole week ago, I assumed that Thing Two, who is the larger and in many ways more forward of the kittens, would be the troublemaker of the pair, but it turns out that Thing One is the adventurous one — she’s the one who hopped the gate first, who acclimated to Daisy first, and who goes down the stairs at every available opportunity. Thing Two, on the other hand, is a little more cautious (but only a little) and is more openly affectionate, coming over to me meowing to be picked up and petted and so on. It’s nice they are already challenging assumptions and expectations.
This is likely the last regularly-scheduled kitten update here. Before anyone complains, if you think this means there won’t be additional kitten pictures here, quite obviously you’ve never actually visited this site before. There will be tons, I assure you. Just not every single day.
One, he’s perfectly fine, merely not at the center of my public discussion of cats in the last week as he neither a) a kitten, b) a newly-passed on senior cat. You should be aware that Zeus has been perfectly fine not being the center of media attention in the last several days, as he is a cat and has not the slightest idea either that I write about my cats here, or that any of you have any idea who he is. But he is alive and well and doing what he does.
Two, he seems to be aware that that Lopsided Cat is gone. He saw his friend in his last few days and appeared to grok that not was well; he did not see Lopsided Cat after we brought him back from the vet and before we buried him (he was out of the house at the time), but seems to note the absence, in the way pets do (Daisy saw Lopsided Cat as we buried him and at least appeared to have some idea of what was going on). He seems to be carrying on all right. Zeus and Lopsided Cat were close, but Zeus and Daisy are closer, and I suspect Zeus will miss Daisy most when she’s gone.
Three, Zeus is aware of the kittens and as a somewhat territorial male cat (“somewhat” because he’s been snipped) is less than thoroughly pleased at the turn of events, first because the kittens are mostly sequestered to my office right now, i.e., his space — he likes to nap on my chair — and second because pets are rarely thrilled with change anyway. Every time Zeus sees the kittens, his response is basically to give a look that says “the fuck are those,” and then stalk off. Now, as it happens, Lopsided Cat and Ghlaghghee had exactly the same reaction to him when he arrived, nearly eight years ago now. So in the long run I suspect things will be fine.
It’s mildly weird to think of Zeus as the senior cat now, as I remember his arrival and his subsequent rather extended adolescent phase; it’s really only in the last couple of years that it’s sunk in that he’s a fully adult cat. But he’s eight years old now, which are prime adult years for a cat. We weren’t expecting him to be the senior cat at the Scalzi Compound, but now he is — senior pet, in fact, as his tenure with us outdates Daisy’s by a couple of years. I think he’ll do well in the role.
This is the first picture I ever took of Lopsided Cat, back in April of 2003. He came to us in an interesting way: Krissy and Athena were working in the garden (well, Krissy was working, Athena, age four, was “helping”), and Lopsided Cat emerged out of the trees at the property line and made a beeline to Athena. When Athena bent down to pet this friendly, strange cat, he hopped onto her back. And just like that, he was home.
Well, part-time at first. I suspect Lopsided Cat, who appeared well-fed and who was neutered, was someone else’s cat too, possibly one of our neighbors to the east. Alternately, as happened with Zeus, someone abandoned him, and Lopsided Cat, an able hunter, had been taking care of himself until he found himself an easier situation. But at some point he decided he liked us and made us his permanent base of operations. We were fine with that because he was friendly and affectionate, unlike our then-current cat Rex, who liked me but was a jerk with everyone else.
Lopsided Cat’s name came from the fact that he usually had his head at a tilt, which was visually endearing but was rooted in an actual malady — when he came to us he had a rather substantial infestation of ear mites (this alone suggests he might have been abandoned), and this apparently caused him to tilt his head a lot. We got the ear mites cleaned out and otherwise got him shots and so on, but he never stopped tilting his head. When he was a part-time resident, I called him “that lopsided cat.” When he came on-staff full time, the name stuck. It suited him.
Lopsided Cat came to live with us, but he was and remained through his life a mostly outdoor cat. He would come in to eat and sleep and have occasional pettings, but when he was done with all that he let you know that he was ready to outside with a meow loud and insistent enough to cut through concrete. I’ve read that cats meow in a vocal range similar to that of human infants, because that’s what makes adult humans get up and make the problem stop. I’m willing to believe it because I would be dead asleep, and Lopsided Cat would meow on the porch on the other side of the front door, down a flight of stairs, and I would be awake instantly and up out of bed before I had time to think about it. I suspect he was pretty proud at how well he trained his human.
He earned his keep and then some. I’ve noted before that our cats are not just pets but are working animals — we have agricultural fields on three sides of us and the creatures that live in the fields like to migrate into the house, particularly when the weather starts getting cooler. The cats kept that from happening, Lopsided Cat most of all. He was an avid hunter, and at times would do it with… well, style might be the word for it. One morning I went into the garage and found two dead rabbits, symmetrically arranged facing each other, paws up as if praying for their lives, on the mat by the door, and Lopsided Cat sitting there, looking up at me. My immediate thought was holy shit, it’s a gangland killing.
For all that, he was not a standoffish cat. He liked to be petted — although not in front of the other cats, which is a thing I found very amusing — and he was never skittish with the other animals, including the dogs, both of which during his tenure, Kodi and Daisy, outweighed and outsized him by a significant factor. He was cordial if not overly friendly with both. His closest animal relationship was with Zeus, whom he initially disliked but eventually took to engaging in mutual grooming behavior with. This made me joke that he and Zeus were gay, which, I should note, was perfectly fine with me if they were.
Of all the cats we’ve had, Lopsided Cat struck me as the most Platonically ideal. Ghlaghghee was a princess, Zeus was a hyper bundle, Rex was a curmudgeon, but Lopsided Cat was a cat: He ate and slept and hunted and accepted tribute from humans in the form of petting and that’s what he was. Of all the cats I’ve had, I expect he was the least smart; he never did anything that made me think wow, that was actually pretty clever, which every other cat I’ve ever had has done at least once. But then he never had to. This was a creature who was perfectly and utterly at peace with who he was: A cat. You could not ask for a better one.
The other evening — on the same day as we picked out our new kittens, currently named Thing One and Thing Two — Krissy found Lopsided Cat in the garage, looking rather disheveled and dazed. He had slobber on him, which suggested he’d been in a fight with a local dog, but didn’t have any bite or claw marks on him, which suggested that the fight had been lopsided in favor of the cat. Nevertheless we took him to the vet to see if there were any broken bones (there weren’t) or anything dislocated (again, no). The vet kept him overnight, then gave him painkillers and let me take him home, and I thought that would be the end of it.
It wasn’t. Lopsided Cat, always a very active animal, didn’t want to move and didn’t want to eat or drink. We waited to see if he would get better and when he didn’t I took him back to the vet for some more x-rays and other tests. Our vet, this time looking for things other than broken or dislocated bones, discovered that our cat had suffered a hernia, probably from the fight. That explained why he didn’t want to move or eat. She also discovered that Lopsided Cat was suffering from kidney failure — and that was something that was independent of the fight, likely brought about from the fact that Lopsided Cat, who was at least a couple of years old when he joined up with us, was simply just now old.
So here was the thing: Our vet could operate on the hernia, but Lopsided Cat’s recovery was not assured to be smooth because of his age, and the fact of the matter was that no matter what, the state of his kidneys meant that the time he had left with us was short. The cat we knew and loved was active and spent most of his time outdoors. The cat we would have left to us would be invalid and failing. We had to ask ourselves whether Lopsided Cat would be happy not being the cat he had always been.
Each of us, Athena and Krissy and I, knew the answer to that. So yesterday all of us went to the vet’s office to say goodbye to him. Then, when that was done, we brought him home to bury him.
Which, I have to be honest, I never thought we would be able to do. Lopsided Cat came to us out of the trees, unexpected. He was an outdoor cat, and one that was never shy of a hunt or of a fight. For those reasons, I fully expected that one day he would simply go out on his daily rounds… and that would be that. We would wait, and wait, and wonder and be concerned and then after a month or two we would have to accept that the cat who came out of trees had gone back into them, forever, and that we would never get to give him our farewells and let him know he loved him.
But he didn’t do that. In the end, he went out on his daily rounds… and then he came back. Because in the end he knew where his home was. It was with us. He came back to us, and we got to give him our farewells and let him know we loved him. And then we got to bring him home one last time, to be with us forever.
I’m so glad he came home.
Don’t pretend like you don’t want this.
Thing One, enjoying some books.
Thing Two, practicing an “I’m totally innocent!” look.
Daisy and Thing One. Check out the size differential there. Yes, clearly, they have met. In fact:
Yup. They’re going to get along just fine.
Every year the Oscar nominations come out, and every year I offer up my first-blush thoughts and predictions on the nominees. It’s a nod to my days as a film critic, when I would be making the predictions as part of my job. These days I do it for fun! And am about as accurate as I was back then (typically I get five out of six of the main categories right, usually blowing one of the supporting acting categories).
So, what looks good this year?
12 Years a Slave
Dallas Buyers Club
The Wolf of Wall Street
Last year was very unusual in that the film that won best picture didn’t have its director nominated; to give you an idea of how unusual this is, in the last 30 years it’s only happened twice: Last year with Argo and in 1989 for Driving Miss Daisy. Last year there was a strong feeling Ben Affleck got cheated out of a director nomination, which played a part in Argo’s eventual win. I really don’t think that’s going to happen again this year. In which case, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyer’s Club, Her and Philomena get shown the door early.
Next out for me is Nebraska, because it’s the least flashy of the remaining nominees, and I think if it’s going to be rewarded, there’s another category where it’s more likely, and the Academy voters will think that’s sufficient. After that The Wolf of Wall Street is out; Martin Scorsese films are reliable nominees in this category, but I think there’s another film this year focused on the venality of humans that is resonating better. Gravity I suspect peaked too soon in terms of attention, and although I’m hesitant to write it off completely, I’m guessing its moment has passed.
This means that the contest is down to American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave, and at the moment you could flip a coin to decide the winner. I think at the moment Hustle has momentum, but on the other hand Slave is an unflinching look at the US at its worst, and that’s a draw for the Academy voters who like their Oscar winners to be about Important Things.
At the moment I’m going to nod toward Slave, but it’s a pick with no confidence; this is one of those years when the time between the nomination and the vote really is going to matter. I’ll check in again on this just before the ceremony and see what I think then.
Will Win: 12 Years a Slave
Should Win: 12 Years a Slave
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
Scorsese out first, I think; he’s the Meryl Streep of the Directors category, and also he’s won it before. This year there are directors who haven’t won before worth paying attention to. Next out is Alexander Payne, because I don’t think Nebraska is in the running for the big one, and because I think the voters will feel the film will be compensated for in other categories. Cuarón out next, although again it’s possible Gravity will make a comeback and him with it.
Again, the battle will come down between American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave. In this category, however, I think Russell has the edge; he’s been nominated in the category before with his last two films, he’s guided actors to Oscar wins in those films, which doesn’t hurt with that branch of voters, and finally, people love a redemption story (Russell was famously mercurial and appears to have reined in that side of his personality to make excellent films). Academy voters have a rare chance to vote for a black director (although, not trivially, not an African-American director, as Steve McQueen is British and of Grenadian descent), who has also directed memorable recent films. But I think at the end of the day Russell will have the “he’s due” sentiment on his side.
This means that there could be a best director/best film split, which (not withstanding last year’s very unusual situation) is fairly rare. That said, among other things a split might be the way to honor both Russell and McQueen, as McQueen is a producer on his film, which means he’d take home an Oscar if the film won Best Picture. Just like Ben Affleck!
Will Win: Russell
Should Win: Russell
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
I could go on and on, but I think this category’s a lock: Amy Adams. One practical reason: Everyone else in the category has won a Oscar in the reasonably recent past, including Streep two years ago and Bullock two years before that. Meanwhile Adams has been Oscar nominated four times in the last eight years, not including this nomination. Plus her performance in Hustle has gotten uniformly terrific reviews. If ever there was a “now is the time” award, it’s this. There’s a small chance Blanchett or Dench might upgrade their Supporting Actress Oscars, but very small, I think.
Will Win: Adams
Should Win: Adams
Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
This is an interesting category that could go all sorts of ways. McConaughey’s Golden Globe win puts him in better stead than I would have expected otherwise, Christian Bale has become the new Robert DeNiro, and DiCaprio’s gotta win one of these things one of these days, and this wouldn’t be a completely terrible year for him to do it.
For all that I think it’s going to come down to Ejiofor and Dern, and I think in the end this is Dern’s Oscar to lose. He’s got the “I’m an old guy who’s done his time” thing going for him, and also, I strongly suspect that this is the category the Academy voters who want to give Nebraska something will decide to do it in. Which is fine; Dern is a good, solid and safe choice. I’d personally vote for Ejiofor.
Will Win: Dern
Should Win: Ejiofor
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska
I think Squibb and Hawkins are destined for the “happy to be nominated” bin; Hawkins is in the “supporting actress in a Woody Allen film” slot, which is an unusually lucky place, statistically — but she has the misfortune of Blanchett being nominated in Best Actress for the same film, which I think draws attention from her. I really don’t imagine that one year after giving Lawrence Best Actress, that they will give her the undercard Oscar, and I suspect Lawrence knows that too. Julia Roberts? Maaaaaaaybe? But she’s been kind of out in the wilderness for a bit, it seems. I don’t feel a lot of momentum here.
This leaves Nyong’o, who I think has the best chance: acclaimed performance, a film with a lot of nomination momentum behind it, and this is one category where being relatively unknown is not a hindrance. I think it all lines up for a win for her.
Will Win: Nyong’o
Should Win: Nyong’o
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
The most competitive field of the main categories, and with the exception of Leto, who I think would have had a better chance in any field other than this, it’s wide open. Abdi is a literal unknown, which has its appeal, and if voters want to honor Philips, this is the place to do it. Cooper may ride the Hustle train, and he’s still fresh in voters’ minds from Silver Linings Playbook. Fassbender one of the hottest actors working today, and his performance in Slave was despicably delicious. And everyone seems to agree that Jonah Hill was the best thing about Wolf — and he’s was nominated in the category before! He’s not a fluke!
I have no idea who will win this category. My gut tells me: Hill? Maybe? But honestly, I have so little confidence in my gut. This is another category where I’m gonna have to see how the period between nomination and ceremony plays out.
Will Win: Hill? Maybe?
Should Win: Abdi
I wouldn’t vote against 12 Years a Slave in Adapted Screenplay, and in Original Screenplay, I’m gonna go with a dark horse and say Her, on account of the film making the Best Picture category and Spike Jonze I suspect being popular enough to have this as a consolation prize (we should all have such consolation prizes). I’m ready to be wrong about that. Frozen I think is close to a lock for Animated Picture, but The Wind Rises may surprise everyone. I can’t imagine American Hustle not winning Costume Design. I would be very surprised if The Act of Killing doesn’t win Documentary Feature.
Finally, the surprise of the season for me is how little Inside Llewyn Davis is to be found on the awards slate: Only two nods, in Cinematography and Sound Mixing. The Butler, which was clearly built to be a nomination dragnet, got none at all. It suggests this is a really, really, really competitive year.
Update 2/21: I usually wait until later than this to do my follow-up, but I’m off the Internet for a bit and won’t be back onto it until after the ceremony, I think. So, updates:
Best Picture: 12 Years has faded a bit, but I think it’s still the top contender. Gravity looks better than it did to me earlier, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets by.
Best Director: Alfonso Curaon won the DGA and the Golden Globe, which puts him in pretty good stead here (and which ups the value of the film for Best Picture). I’d say he’s the new front runner.
Best Actress: Everyone said I was crazy not to think Cate Blanchett wasn’t going to walk with this one. Maybe she will, but I think the recent mess with Woody Allen might drag her down a bit. I’m gonna stick with Amy Adams, but if Blanchett wins, I’ll accept the “told you so”s.
Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey kind of swept the table in the run-up awards, which I did not expect, so I suspect he’s the front runner now, although Dern should still not be discounted.
Best Supporting Actor: Also, everyone tells me I was wrong about Jared Leto, and I suspect now they’re right. I agree he’s the front runner.
We’ll see what happens from here.
Two neighbor dogs wandered over to play with Daisy, and oh! What fun they had in the snow. I thought it might cheer up your afternoon to see them at full frolic.
It was pretty good, I have to say. I’m going to admit that for various reasons I didn’t walk into Worldcon this year in the best of moods, so LoneStarCon had a high hill to climb in order to get me in a happy space. Obviously being handed a Best Novel Hugo will do wonders to your disposition, but even before then my spiky angles were largely sanded down.
Part of that was strategic planning on my part — we got to the convention on Friday evening so I wouldn’t feel all dragged out by Monday, and I kept my programming to a minimum (I think I told the program folks that I didn’t want to be on panels because the mood I was in, I might stab someone). But the other part of that was simply being around people I like in largely relaxing circumstances. Funny how friends will make you feel good about life. I spent a lot of time in the bar or at a table at the convention itself, surrounded by conversation and the occasional hijinx, like estimating the weight of a polyploidal cinnamon roll and then having members of our group take the roll to the UPS store to get it weighed. You know, as you do. Good times.
One funny thing about Worldcon for me is, if I’m nominated for a Hugo, I usually have a night where I can’t get to sleep, because my brain will keep me up, turning over possible victory scenarios in my head. This often coincides with the night before the Hugo ceremony, which is pretty awful. This time it happened on Friday night, when I was already cranky by having a delayed flight; the Hugo calculus plus other factors meant I ended up getting three hours of sleep. This meant, however, that I was out like a light on Saturday night, so I was fresh as a daisy Hugo night. So, uh, yay, I suppose.
I did do three events, all on Sunday afternoon: A signing, which went over time by a half hour (this is not a bad thing, as long as you’re not taking up someone else’s signing space), a reading, at which I read an excerpt from the upcoming novel, and then a kaffeeklatsch. All of these went pretty well, excepting the part at my reading where I berated someone for not turning off their cell phone and then having my own go off. Yeah, that was embarrassing.
Sunday night I already discussed in the previous entry, and on Monday morning I walked my Hugo over to the convention center and let anyone who wanted to get close to it, pick it up and take pictures of it. Because, hey, they’re the reason I had it at all; figured they might want to see it up close before I took it home.
So in the end LoneStarCon did indeed get me into a happy place — and, importantly, almost certainly would have managed it even if it hadn’t have given me a Hugo. That’s a good con. Thanks, folks.
Daisy is determined to enjoy them. And who can blame her.
The contest is simple: Caption the picture above, in which Zeus the cat and Daisy the dog are clearly up to something.
One submission (one post, one caption) per person, so make it good — there’s no prize for being first, just best. Entries have to be in the thread attached to this post; if you leave them on Twitter, Facebook, etc, they won’t be considered. Winner gets an ARC of The Human Division, which I will sign and (if desired) personalize. Open to anyone anywhere on the planet. Contest runs to 11:59:59pm Eastern tonight, May 1, 2013. I’ll pick my favorite caption and announce it in the next couple of days and ship out the ARC next week.
Update: Contest now closed — I’ll look through the entries and announce a winner soon(ish)!
Which is to say, here are all three Scalzi cats in my office at one time: Zeus on the chair, Ghlaghghee on the chaise, and Lopsided Cat on the low window table. Collect them all! Also, Daisy the dog was in the room just before the picture was taken, but you only have my word on that. You can also see two ukuleles (one right-handed and one left-handed), a mandolin and a tenor guitar, and, of course, the Mallet of Loving Correction. Truly a busy picture. But, mostly: Hey, cats.
When the Academy Awards were announced, I presented my immediate picks for the awards and noted that I would come back to the choices just before the ceremony if I changed my mind on anything. Well, here we are, just before the awards, and I have a couple emendations.
Best Actor: I boldly made my prediction that Hugh Jackman was going to get the Oscar this year and was roundly ridiculed, mostly along the lines of “dude, tell me where you get your drugs.” Fair enough. It does seem that neither Jackman or Les Miserables (outside of Anne Hathaway’s apparently almost inevitable Best Supporting Actress win) has gained any traction in the major categories, so I bow to the obvious and now slide Daniel Day-Lewis into the prediction slot. I hope you’re all happy. I would still love to see Jackman win this, mostly because I think he’d give one of the most charming acceptance speeches in history, because he’s just that guy.
Best Supporting Actor: I still have no idea who will win this category, I don’t think anyone else does either, and to be honest it’s totally without suspense because everyone nominated in the category has at least one Oscar already. So who cares? I don’t. I guessed De Niro before but now I just don’t know. They might as well award it by spinning a bottle.
Best Picture: I was pretty sure this was going to come down to Lincoln, and on paper, this still seems like a safe bet — but things have changed since the Oscars nominations were announced mid-January, and as a result we might be in for a semi-historic upset. What’s changed is the general feeling that Ben Affleck got shortchanged out of a director nomination for Argo, and then Argo and/or Affleck going on to win Golden Globes, the “Best Ensemble” SAG award (its equivalent of “Best Pictures” and the DGA Feature Film award). I noted in January that I thought Argo’s moment had passed, but I was clearly wrong about that, and I think it has a better than decent shot at becoming the first film since Driving Miss Daisy to win Best Picture without an accompanying Best Director nomination.
Here’s Argo’s secret ace in the hole: The actor’s branch of the Academy, which is the largest branch of the Academy. Affleck is still primarily known as an actor, and when well-known actors are nominated for the director they often find themselves winning the Oscar (See: Robert Redford, Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, Clint Eastwood), even when up against superior talents (Redford and Costner were up against Martin Scorsese and Raging Bull and Goodfellas, respectively). This doesn’t always work — Tim Robbins and George Clooney have been nominated in the category but didn’t win, and it took Ron Howard a couple of tries — but it’s a factor to figure in to any calculation.
And you say, okay, but Affleck isn’t nominated for director, so where are you going with this? Well, Affleck isn’t nominated for director, but Argo is nominated for Best Picture — and the awards in that category go to the winning film’s producers, which in this case are Grant Heslov, George Clooney… and Ben Affleck. If enough actors feel Affleck was snubbed by the director’s branch of the Academy (which voted on the director nominations), they might vote for Argo best picture to give Affleck an Oscar anyway. The fact that both Heslov and Clooney got their start and are best known as actors (Heslov did comedy relief in films like True Lies and The Scorpion King) doesn’t hurt matters, either.
Admittedly, it’s a little strange to think of a Best Picture Oscar as a compensatory gift for a snub in the Director category (the screenplay Oscars are usually considered the make-do for directors: See Orson Wells, Quentin Tarantino and Jane Campion), but hey, this year, it could happen. And inasmuch as Lincoln is likely to walk away with director and actor wins, plus a smattering of undercard Oscars, Spielberg and company won’t be able to complain too much.
So, yeah: Argo. Really strong chance of walking away with Best Picture. Yes, I am surprised. But it’s been a strange Oscar year in any event. I’m gonna go ahead and get out there on a limb and say it’s my top pick over Lincoln going into Oscar weekend. It’s a very slim top pick — Lincoln is still the safest pick by all reasonable Oscar math and I would be utterly unsurprised if it eventually prevails. But I think maybe the Academy is ready to make a little history this year. We’ll see.