So. Here's where the gravy whose making I chronicled on Friday ended up, mostly. Turned out pretty well all told. (I did not take the picture; an appreciative guest did.)
What happened was, a couple of friends of My Lovely Wife and mine are talking about a move to the West Coast and Claire thought it would be nice to have them and another couple over for dinner before they flew the coop. So Claire offered a few potential dates and the consensus acceptances were for March 2. Once that was established we realized that March 2 was the night of the Oscars. Ooops! Our friends like movies but they're not big awards mavens so we weren't gonna suddenly morph the event into an Oscar party.
Anyway, missing the Oscars was not without precedent: last year we didn't see the Oscars either, because we were vacationing in Iceland. The ceremonies were taking place the night before we were to fly home, I think. Because I write, professionally even, about movies and, to a lesser extent, the industry that produces them, watching the Oscars isn't something I frown upon, and in past years I've had fun (I think) watching and live-tweeting and all that. But, you know, I'm not DRIVEN to watch the Oscars. On our last night in Rekjavik I wondered idly if there wasn't some all-night bar or something where Icelanders were watching the Oscars—maybe that Big Lebowski-themed bar on the main drag?—with the five-hour time difference and all...and after a desultory exploration of my options, I just decided to sleep.
Last night's dinner was awfully pleasant. I was particularly happy with the way I'd smoothed out the gravy, and the lasagna itself was as close to perfect as I've gotten it—moist but not wet, held together really well, and was super-tasty. I reiterated to my guests how my lasagna-baking is related to the bell-casting episode that ends Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev, and that went over well. Eventually the conversation got around to music, and one of our guests asked another what he made of Bob Dylan's Chrysler commercial. After the does-he-really-need-the-money question was batted around a bit, I attempted to wax philosophical. I shrugged and said, "Dylan's in show business. Always has been. Show business people do commercials." To say that show business and art-making aren't mutually exclusive activities/endeavors is a huge understatement, and although it's an occupational hazard that one's show-business activities could have a deleterious effect on one's art, I'm not one to think that Dylan's Chrysler commercial destroys or even substantially recontextualizes "My Back Pages" or "Masters of War."
So anyway, we missed the first couple of hours of the ceremony and once we tuned in I thought, I'm not gonna join the Twitter commentators, because why start in the middle. I know that I've gone through patches during which I've come off like The Angriest Man and/or The Biggest Asshole on Twitter, but I think I've straightened out my act over the past year and a half or so, which still might be too soon for me to say this, but still: Man, people sure are cranky about this stuff. I mean, I understand why, I suppose, but I can't quite grasp how some people can build up a head of righteous indignation and/or feigned boredom with genuinely pissed-off undertone year after year over an event that is pure show business, and represents the most bullshit-suffused aspects of show business. Oh no, not "grotesque, runaway narcissism," right, because there's nothing at all "look at me" about live-tweeting the Oscars in and of itself. Jesus. Try coming up with some material, maybe. Or, like the guy in the movie version of Glengarry Glen Ross says, "You don't like it? LEAVE."
See what I did there? No, I don't either, actually. But, as I've learned, the thing is, one needn't watch, and if one watches, one needn't say anything. As for myself, I won fifty bucks on a bet I was pretty stupid to make in the first place, so I can count myself as lucky. And I thought it was pretty goddamn delightful when 12 Years A Slave won Best Picture, because if there was any real justice that action alone would put the "Oscar blogging" cottage industry out of business. (If you weren't following, the conventional wisdom was that Slave was award-doomed because old, out-of-touch, Going My Way-preferring Academy members were too a-scared to even watch it, let alone vote it an award or three. Ooops. Also: Eat It, Toby Young!) And there are two sides to every story, as an exchange between two critics I greatly admire and also personally like a great deal, Richard Brody and Dave Kehr, demonstrated this morning. Linking to his own Oscar post-mortem (which is well worth reading despite its unfortunate reiteration of a Wolf of Wall Street four-hour-director's-cut myth) , Richard tweeted, "I hate to be a recapper of bad news, but the Oscars had a chillingly tamped-down and neutralized uniformity." To which Dave replied "Oscars may be bland but they do support an important archive and library." So there's that. Which isn't nothing.