Saturday, January 22, 2011

Watched Network with Jay and Emily last night. Weird, and a bit incoherent. Top notch acting though.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Oscar Best Picture Nominees

Bold movies are ones I haven't seen yet. The first in each year's list of nominees is the winner.

1928 (1927-28) (1st)

The Racket
Seventh Heaven

1929 (1928-29) (2nd)

The Broadway Melody
The Hollywood Revue of 1929

In Old Arizona
The Patriot

1930(1929-30) (3rd)

All Quiet on the Western Front
The Big House
The Divorcee
The Love Parade

1931 (1930-31) (4th)

East Lynne
The Front Page
Trader Horn

1932 (1931-32) (5th)

Grand Hotel
Bad Girl
The Champ
Five Star Final
One Hour with You
Shanghai Express
The Smiling Lieutenant

1933 (1932-33) (6th)

42nd Street
A Farewell to Arms

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
Lady for a Day
Little Women
The Private Life of Henry VIII
She Done Him Wrong
Smilin' Through
State Fair

1934 (7th)

It Happened One Night
The Barretts of Wimpole Street
Flirtation Walk
The Gay Divorcee
Here Comes the Navy
The House of Rothschild
Imitation of Life
One Night of Love
The Thin Man
Viva Villa!
The White Parade

1935 (8th)

Mutiny on the Bounty
Alice Adams
Broadway Melody of 1936
Captain Blood
David Copperfield
The Informer
The Lives of a Bengal Lancer
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Les Misérables
Naughty Marietta
Ruggles of Red Gap
Top Hat

1936 (9th)

The Great Ziegfeld
Anthony Adverse
Libeled Lady
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
Romeo and Juliet
San Francisco
The Story of Louis Pasteur
A Tale of Two Cities
Three Smart Girls

1937 (10th)

The Life of Emile Zola
The Awful Truth
Captains Courageous
Dead End
The Good Earth
In Old Chicago
Lost Horizon
One Hundred Men and a Girl
Stage Door
A Star Is Born

1938 (11th)

You Can't Take It With You
The Adventures of Robin Hood
Alexander's Ragtime Band
Boys Town
The Citadel
Four Daughters
Grand Illusion
Test Pilot

1939 (12th)

Gone with the Wind
Dark Victory
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Love Affair

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Of Mice and Men

The Wizard of Oz
Wuthering Heights

1940 (13th)

All This, and Heaven Too
Foreign Correspondent

The Grapes of Wrath
The Great Dictator
Kitty Foyle
The Letter
The Long Voyage Home
Our Town
The Philadelphia Story

1941 (14th)

How Green Was My Valley
Blossoms in the Dust

Citizen Kane
Here Comes Mr. Jordan
Hold Back the Dawn
The Little Foxes
The Maltese Falcon
One Foot in Heaven
Sergeant York

1942 (15th)

Mrs. Miniver
49th Parallel
Kings Row
The Magnificent Ambersons
The Pied Piper
The Pride of the Yankees
Random Harvest
The Talk of the Town
Wake Island
Yankee Doodle Dandy

1943 (16th)

For Whom the Bell Tolls
Heaven Can Wait
The Human Comedy
In Which We Serve
Madame Curie
The More the Merrier
The Ox-Bow Incident
The Song of Bernadette
Watch on the Rhine

1944 (17th)

Going My Way
Double Indemnity
Since You Went Away

1945 (18th)

The Lost Weekend
Anchors Aweigh
The Bells of St. Mary's
Mildred Pierce

1946 (19th)

The Best Years of Our Lives
Henry V

It's a Wonderful Life
The Razor's Edge
The Yearling

1947 (20th)

Gentleman's Agreement
The Bishop's Wife
Great Expectations

Miracle on 34th Street

1948 (21st)

Johnny Belinda
The Red Shoes
The Snake Pit
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

1949 (22nd)

All the King's Men
The Heiress
A Letter to Three Wives
Twelve O'Clock High

1950 (23rd)

All About Eve
Born Yesterday
Father of the Bride
King Solomon's Mines
Sunset Boulevard

1951 (24th)

An American in Paris
Decision Before Dawn
A Place in the Sun

Quo Vadis
A Streetcar Named Desire

1952 (25th)

The Greatest Show on Earth
High Noon
Moulin Rouge
The Quiet Man

1953 (26th)

From Here to Eternity
Julius Caesar
The Robe
Roman Holiday

1954 (27th)

On the Waterfront
The Caine Mutiny
The Country Girl
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Three Coins in the Fountain

1955 (28th)

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing
Mister Roberts
The Rose Tattoo

1956 (29th)

Around the World in 80 Days
Friendly Persuasion
The King and I

The Ten Commandments

1957 (30th)

The Bridge on the River Kwai
Peyton Place

12 Angry Men
Witness for the Prosecution

1958 (31st)

Auntie Mame
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
The Defiant Ones
Separate Tables

1959 (32nd)

Anatomy of a Murder
The Diary of Anne Frank
The Nun's Story
Room at the Top

1960 (33rd)

The Apartment
The Alamo
Elmer Gantry
Sons and Lovers
The Sundowners

1961 (34th)

West Side Story
The Guns of Navarone
The Hustler
Judgment at Nuremberg

1962 (35th)

Lawrence of Arabia
The Longest Day

The Music Man
Mutiny on the Bounty
To Kill a Mockingbird

1963 (36th)

Tom Jones
America, America
How the West Was Won
Lilies of the Field

1964 (37th)

My Fair Lady
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Mary Poppins
Zorba the Greek

1965 (38th)

The Sound of Music
Doctor Zhivago
Ship of Fools
A Thousand Clowns

1966 (39th)

A Man for All Seasons
The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming
The Sand Pebbles
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

1967 (40th)

In the Heat of the Night
Bonnie and Clyde
Doctor Dolittle

The Graduate
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

1968 (41st)

Funny Girl
The Lion in Winter
Rachel, Rachel

Romeo and Juliet

1969 (42nd)

Midnight Cowboy

Anne of the Thousand Days

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Hello, Dolly!

1970 (43rd)

Five Easy Pieces
Love Story


1971 (44th)

The French Connection
A Clockwork Orange
Fiddler on the Roof
The Last Picture Show

Nicholas and Alexandra

1972 (45th)

The Godfather
The Emigrants

1973 (46th)

The Sting

American Graffiti
Cries and Whispers
The Exorcist
A Touch of Class

1974 (47th)

The Godfather Part II
The Conversation

The Towering Inferno

1975 (48th)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Barry Lyndon
Dog Day Afternoon

1976 (49th)

All the President's Men
Bound for Glory

Taxi Driver

1977 (50th)

Annie Hall
The Goodbye Girl

Star Wars
The Turning Point

1978 (51st)

The Deer Hunter
Coming Home
Heaven Can Wait
Midnight Express
An Unmarried Woman

1979 (52nd)

Kramer vs. Kramer
All That Jazz

Apocalypse Now
Breaking Away
Norma Rae

1980 (53rd)

Ordinary People
Coal Miner's Daughter
The Elephant Man

Raging Bull

1981 (54th)

Chariots of Fire
Atlantic City

On Golden Pond
Raiders of the Lost Ark

1982 (55th)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

The Verdict

1983 (56th)

Terms of Endearment
The Big Chill
The Dresser
The Right Stuff
Tender Mercies

1984 (57th)

The Killing Fields
A Passage to India
Places in the Heart
A Soldier's Story

1985 (58th)

Out of Africa
The Color Purple
Kiss of the Spider Woman
Prizzi's Honor

1986 (59th)

Children of a Lesser God

Hannah and Her Sisters
The Mission
A Room with a View

1987 (60th)

The Last Emperor
Broadcast News

Fatal Attraction
Hope and Glory

1988 (61st)

Rain Man
The Accidental Tourist
Dangerous Liaisons
Mississippi Burning

Working Girl

1989 (62nd)

Driving Miss Daisy
Born on the Fourth of July
Dead Poets Society
Field of Dreams
My Left Foot

1990 (63rd)

Dances with Wolves
The Godfather Part III

1991 (64th)

The Silence of the Lambs
Beauty and the Beast
The Prince of Tides

1992 (65th)

The Crying Game

A Few Good Men
Howards End

Scent of a Woman

1993 (66th)

Schindler's List
The Fugitive
In the Name of the Father
The Piano
The Remains of the Day

1994 (67th)

Forrest Gump
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Pulp Fiction
Quiz Show
The Shawshank Redemption

1995 (68th)

Apollo 13
Il Postino
Sense and Sensibility

1996 (69th)

The English Patient
Jerry Maguire
Secrets & Lies

1997 (70th)

As Good as It Gets
The Full Monty
Good Will Hunting
L.A. Confidential

1998 (71st)

Shakespeare in Love
Life Is Beautiful
Saving Private Ryan
The Thin Red Line

1999 (72nd)

American Beauty
The Cider House Rules
The Green Mile
The Insider
The Sixth Sense

2000 (73rd)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Erin Brockovich

2001 (74th)

A Beautiful Mind
Gosford Park
In the Bedroom
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Moulin Rouge!

2002 (75th)

Gangs of New York
The Hours
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Pianist

2003 (76th)

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Lost in Translation
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Mystic River

2004 (77th)

Million Dollar Baby
The Aviator
Finding Neverland


2005 (78th)

Brokeback Mountain
Good Night, and Good Luck

2006 (79th)

The Departed
Letters from Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

2007 (80th)

No Country for Old Men
Michael Clayton
There Will Be Blood

2008 (81st)

Slumdog Millionaire
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader

2009 (82nd)

The Hurt Locker
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
Inglourious Basterds
Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire
A Serious Man
Up in the Air



127 Hours
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids are All Right
The King's Speech
The Social Network

Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Musicals I Like a Lot

Annie Get Your Gun
Anything Goes
Bye Bye Birdie
A Chorus Line
The Fantasticks
Fiddler on the Roof
Into the Woods
A Little Night Music
Little Shop of Horrors
Man of La Mancha
The Music Man
My Fair Lady
Phantom of the Opera
The Sound of Music
South Pacific
Sweeney Todd
West Side Story

NB: Alas, Rent had to be removed. It turns out inspired music cannot outweigh dreadful lyrics and a pasteboard plot.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Schoenberg's Piano Concerto

People have been telling me about this for years, particularly my friend, David, who was abducted by aliens. I just listened to it for the first time, and it really is great. I seldom like a classical work on a first listen, and even after a score of times I never warmed to Pierrot.

My recording is Uchida and Boulez. Here she is, eagerly speaking about the work.

If you listen to some of Schoenberg's early twelve-tone piano pieces and nothing else (this is all one is usually exposed to in an introductory music class), you're tempted to dismiss the composer altogether. In fact, I still don't like these. But listen to the Pelleas or Verklärte Nacht, early, "tonal" (frightening) works, and the talent is clear. Even before I did that, I read some of his writings about his own music: the man was a craftsman, and an intelligent one at that, like the result or no. It's nice to learn even his dodecaphonic stuff can be attractive.

Belmont Music distributes Schoenberg's music. Figure that one out.

*The only exceptions that come to mind are the Claire de Lune and Górecki's Third (I just discovered the latter's passed. Sad). I can actually remember the first time I heard both of these, one while combing through sample mp3's that came with one of our computers when I was 17, the other on a car ride to the Red Cross the summer I volunteered. I got to the office, then spent a half hour waiting for the piece to finish to find out what it was called.

Teutonic Tendencies

J---: although google fight is most amusing

J---: it does not provide a refresher on 8th grade grammar and indefinite and definite articles

J---: china responded

Scott: I saw. And the Netherlands Antilles split into two countries!

J---: didnt see that yet

Scott: Have to update my chart.

J---: we better hurry.... belgium might as well...

Scott: Yeah, after we already screwed the pooch on South Ossetia last year.

J---: i obviously no longer am familiar with the english lang. screw the pooch?

Scott: You are not familiar with the extremely archaic version of the English language that I aspire to:

J---: i see

J---: did we mess up with s ossetia? as in the us?

Scott: South Ossetia's one of the breakaway republics of Georgia.

Scott: You know, south of Atlanta.

Scott: J---, you have to realize, you may be a native speaker, but your head is all filled up with other languages too. It's screwing up your command of the language. So, I'm the authority here--the only foreign language I can kind of speak is Spanish, and as Carlos will attest, when it comes to that I merely produce gibberish.

J---: yes but i think russia did well.

J---: on that one.

J---: us was looking to pick a fight and georgia was silly enuf to play ball

J---: silly georgians

Scott: I read in one of the Wikileaks that Putin's got his eyes on a chunk of the Ukraine. Cartographers are going to have a busy decade.

J---: as he should

J---: cartographers should not have been as busy as they were post berlin wall collapse

J---: did you see lux's answer?

J---: very amusing

Scott: Yes. I sent a pedantic email back explaining the difference between the two abbreviations [i.d. and e.g.], while conceding that most English speakers goof it up too.

Scott: But we have more atomic weapons than Luxembourg, so we're allowed.

J---: oh no, you didnt?

Scott: I pick on landlocked countries. That's how I roll.

J---: How German of you...

Czechs Mix

I've changed my mind about the Dvořák symphonies. After a half dozen listenings, the early ones have grown more and more charming.

Nonetheless, typing the haček over the r in his name is a pain in the ass (as is typing the haček over the c in haček), so I won't be writing much about the guy. (If you want to hear how it's pronounced, here you go).

Czech also (I'm aware I'm rambling) uses a vocalic "r", which means what we call a consonant can serve as a vowel all by itself. This was a feature of Proto-Indo-European, where you could use "m" "n" "l" "r" et al as vowels (this occurs in English in limited contexts: the vowel in the second syllable of "button," for example, is essentially just an "n"). In PIE, it gives a nice primitive sound to the language, but the effect was unstable: the daughter languages tended to develop actual vowels around these half-vowels. For example, *wĺ̥kʷos in PIE (the "l" is a vowel) developed into *wulfaz in Germanic, "gorg" in Persian, волк (volk) in Russian, lupus in Latin, etc.

But Slavic languages are notoriously conservative. Indeed, "wolf" in Czech is "vlk", which is amazingly close to its PIE ancestor.* Czech's preservation of the vocalic "r" gives us the fun vowel-free tongue twister "Strč prst skrz krk", meaning "stick your finger through your throat," which is, incidentally, exactly what you have to do to pronounce it correctly.

Anyway, my point is, the Sibelius Violin Concerto is awesome.

*This is interesting, but misleading. "Vlk" comes from the Proto-Slavic *vьlkъ (asterisks in front of words, by the by, mean the language wasn't written down, so these are reconstructions based on other sources). That "ь" between the "v" and "l" indicates a vowel of some sort, probably something close to [i] or [ɨ], which means after PIE a vowel snuck into the word and then snuck right on out again. Query whether something similar happened to all the vocalic consonants in modern Slavic languages.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Language Death

I found a fabulous article by John McWhorter about language death.

Yet the going idea among linguists and anthropologists is that we must keep as many languages alive as possible, and that the death of each one is another step on a treadmill toward humankind’s cultural oblivion. This accounted for the melancholy tone, for example, of the obituaries for the Eyak language of southern Alaska last year when its last speaker died.

That death did mean, to be sure, that no one will again use the word demexch, which refers to a soft spot in the ice where it is good to fish. Never again will we hear the word 'ał for an evergreen branch, a word whose final sound is a whistling past the sides of the tongue that sounds like wind passing through just such a branch. And behind this small death is a larger context. Linguistic death is proceeding more rapidly even than species attrition. According to one estimate, a hundred years from now the 6,000 languages in use today will likely dwindle to 600. The question, though, is whether this is a problem.

The thrust is languages die, but there's little reason to care besides the aesthetic. That isn't to say language death isn't often accompanied by moral nastiness, things that are rightly condemned, but the language death in itself isn't morally important.

Now compare UNESCO's endangered language page:

Half of the 6,700 languages spoken today are in danger of disappearing before the century ends, a process that can be slowed only if urgent action is taken by governments and speaker communities. UNESCO’s Endangered Languages Programme mobilizes international cooperation to focus attention on this grave situation and to promote innovative solutions from communities, experts and authorities.

I love languages, particularly the exotic, particularly the ancient. I wish the Proto-Indo-European revivalists the best of luck. There are apparently a handful of native Sanskrit speakers out there, and I'll be sad when they're gone. But if you're going to spend money on social problems, spend it on food.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


My first blueberry pie. Envy that crimping.

And I made some chocolate chip cookies.