Letter From New York March 14, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

It’s been more than my usual week between letters – I am going through one of those preposterously busy periods one goes through once in a while. Working with Odyssey Networks, I am helping them launch a mobile channel and that is consuming a good piece of my life – and will for the next couple of months. Friday afternoon, I said to someone that yesterday was Monday and now today is Friday and I need for it to be only Tuesday. It’s going that quickly.

But even if life is going that quickly, things do keep happening that aren’t directly related to launching a mobile channel. A week ago, we all gathered around the electronic fireplace and watched the Oscars, which, it turned out, were the most watched Academy Awards in five years. Maybe it worked to nominate ten films for Best Picture, the first time that’s been done since 1943.

I have a rule now when watching Awards programs. I suspend my critic persona and just surrender to the experience. These Oscars, like many, if not most, were excoriated by those who did not suspend their critical selves. From the choice of hosts, to sets, to musical numbers, the critics were savage. I didn’t care – I was just along for the ride; it made the experience much easier. I didn’t have to work. It was what it was.

The surprise was that HURT LOCKER won Best Picture over AVATAR, which was what the smart money was betting on – well, may be not so smart after all but it was AVATAR that I thought would be walking out with the gold statue.

While the world was Oscar titillated, other things were going on. The rancor went on in Congress about Health Care and Obama is pushing for an up or down vote, which means following procedures that are supposed to prevent the opportunity for filibuster. Reconciliation is part of the process though there doesn’t seem to be much reconciling going on with Republicans. Whether it actually happens remains to be seen. Seems a number of Democrats aren’t all that sold on reform and may not follow the party line. Regardless of what is going on with Health Care Reform, one gets the impression that Congress is so dysfunctional it needs group therapy. Polls are indicating indignation with Congress.
In an effort to turn indignation away from him, Tiger Woods did a carefully orchestrated apology. The jury is out on whether it was sincere or not. Some thought so, many didn’t. As I said, the jury is out…

And the jury is still out on Toyota, which has gone from corporate paragon to corporate pariah – well, that’s too strong a word but the glitter is tarnished. While its leaders apologized to Congress, issues continued to plague its vehicles and doubts abounded as to whether the recalls were fixing the issues. One poor man had a scary ride down a freeway with his Prius just last week – he slowed down by nosing up to the rear end of a police cruiser. Three Toyotas were involved in curious accidents in Connecticut. Not good for confidence building.

Speaking of confidence, and going full circle, theatre owners are feeling good – theatre attendance has been up during the recession and it’s been a boffo year at the box office for films. Theatre owners are expanding and working to make going to the movies a true escapist experience with restaurants and bars on premises, ever bigger seats while we are being wowed by 3D. ALICE IN WONDERLAND rules the box office again this weekend.

Preposterously busy or not, I still have a few minutes to notice the world…

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