ME:  Has a mani-cam which allows celebrities to show their fingernails.  Why discriminate against foot folks?  Where is the pedi-cam?

Tristan ?@TristanAriel:  Bradley Cooper mom is a real philly chick talking bout “hi philadelphia” on the red carpet lol.

Vulture ?@vultureThe @fuggirls: “The nipple darts on Hathaway’s dress are INTENSE.”Henry Schulman ?@hankschulman:  If I were on the red carpet and was asked “whom I was wearing” I could honestly say, “Why, this is from the house of Kirkland.”

Adam Goldenberg@adamgoldenberg: The #Oscars are about to be overrun by millions of dogs, all drawn to the sound of Kristin Chenoweth’s voice.



ME:  This ain’t your father’s Oscars. Which actresses showed their boobs in movies? A flying nun tonguing Sally Fields??

@HuffingtonPost: “I got a bottle of wine and some Boniva..” Seth MacFarlane as Flying Nun hits on Sally Field #Oscars” Funniest line so far.

Beth ?@thecoolbeth:  My mom just called me and asked “who is Seth MacFarlane.”

Thomas ?@thoscarpenter:  Tommy Lee Jones’s face looks like a relief map of the ocean floor.

Diane Sharp ?@DSharpie:  Bob DeNiro for pretending to be an Eagles fan. Even Philadelphians can’t do that anymore.

Michael J. Listner ?@ponder68@MarsTweep:   Better to watch #thewalkingdead. At least the zombies are fiction unlike those at #oscars.

Roger Ebert@ebertchicago:  My four stars for the breath-taking vision of “Life of Pi.”

erica@futt:  who decided it would be a good idea to play off the “life of pi” team with the “jaws” music?

Tom Storch@TomRStorch:  Best Bond: George Lazenby. So good he only needed to do one.

Anuya J@boozeandshooze:  Wow that Bond montage was as long as Les Mis.

Sabrina Kalliope@SawBreeNah:  I want to be a Bond Girl. I’m doing lunges right now.

jess.@JessWolfy:  is it sad that i only like watching the #oscars for all the #prettydresses?

michael epps@michael_epps:  Dame Shirley in the house!

Mark Estano@mje1986: The Bond retrospective just proved that Daniel Craig is the sexiest Bond girl ever.

Ben Bavalia@ben_bav:  Enjoying the use of #Jaws soundtrack to force the winners off!

mazie jacoby@mazmaxjac:  I’m only alive to watch the #oscars and Olympic gymnastics. And listen to Bob Dylan.

El Jefe@jefesural  Best Doc or ‘life is far more horrid than you know so we’re making a movie about it’.

Brit Tait Kellogg@BTaitKellogg RT @WINonline: RT @WSJ:  The median age of an Academy voter is 62. They are 94% Caucasian and 77% male. 

Gregg Pavone@LimelightSignCo:  If he doesn’t win best director, Ben Affleck should get an honorary Oscar for overcoming the J-Lo years.

Alex Fitzpatrick@alexleefitz:  I’m an asshole and even I think the Jaws playoff music is a little much.

Steve Hofstetter@SteveHofstetter:  Sacha Baron Cohen went from Borat and Bruno to kicking ass in Les Mis. I’d like to see Larry the Cable Guy try that.

George-Anne A&E@GeorgeAnneAandE:  Poor Marky Mark was in “The Departed” a few years ago and is now having to pretend to be standing next to a teddy bear.

Shelby Taylor@ShelbyxPwns:  Not gonna lie, Ted is fucking my mind right now.

Love My Ice@harglo123:  Jesus, couldn’t get a tux to fit, Wahlberg??

Tyler Vivian@tylervivian:  even Bud Selig is appalled that the #Oscars can have a tie.

Brendan Andrew@BrendanDarr:  Dudes with long hair haven’t gotten this much run since Almost Famous.

Joy Noelle@JoNoSo:  Soooo if you have a long speech you get eaten by a shark?

Konrad Johnson@KonradJohnson:  The last #oscars tie was in 1969, when Barbra Streisand and Katharine Hepburn tied for Best Actress.

Mitch Kinard@mitchkinard:  One day, Tarantino will be 80 years old, and there will never be a more terrifying underbite to receive such acclaim.

Charles Mayaka@TheMayaka:  Are we that sensitive to our history that we can’t even have a clip of Django?

Jordana Stein@jordanastein:   All the old people at our oscar party just died over Babs performance.

On The Red Carpet@OnTheRedCarpet:  That was the first time Barbra Streisand performed at the Oscars in 36 years.

MT @waitwait:  I know there’s probably a rule or something, but don’t you wish the tiger from Life of Pi was there in a tuxedo?

Zandile Blay Amihere@zandile:  i will always be profoundly confused by renee zelleweger’s face. always.

Dennis Lawson@gr33nazn:  Just 2 more Botox injections and Renee Zellweger’s eyes will disappear forever.

Tom + Lorenzo®@tomandlorenzo:  Chicago is now the frontrunner to win Best Picture.

Tom Bodett@TomBodett:  I’d like to go up to bed, but my legs are asleep all the way to my ears.

nick kroll@nickkroll:  Ladies and gentlemen, the academy would like to recognize one of everything!

Well folks, my legs are working but, in my attempt to bring you an overview of pop culture, I was able to watch this mind-numbing exercise until 11 P.M.–one hour longer than last year.

Must have been the naked breast song at the beginning of the show.



The lights began to slowly brighten as the movie credits rolled onto the giant screen; Jack Reacher had reached its end. We stood and I could feel Sue’s eyes rake my face.

“Okay,” I said, “it was a bad movie and Cruise was wooden.”

There, I’d done it. Bared my neck and waited for her teeth. But she was kind. Must have been because it was our mini-honeymoon (mini-moon) in Providence. Still, I couldn’t help myself.

“I’m not crazy about him as an action hero either, you know.”

“I know,” Sue replied, her voice trailing off as if she wanted to say more but didn’t.

And there it was. An agreement to disagree, debate avoided. We’ve been having this “discussion” for decades and neither of us have given an inch, so this truce was really the best I could hope for.

Ever since Dustin Hoffman won an Academy Award for Rain Man in 1988, I’d become a Tom Cruise champion. I couldn’t believe they gave the Oscar to Hoffman while Cruise’s performance was rich, nuanced, with a real and believable arc.

I hadn’t been surprised by his ability. Nor was I surprised by his willingness to play against a super strong older actor. He’d done it before in The Color Of Money with Paul Newman and more than held his own. He would also do it again. A number of times.

Still Sue couldn’t understand why I believed he should have won Best Actor.

“Hoffman’s performance was terrific and Cruise is a lightweight.”

“What are you saying? You’ve seen Hoffman on talk shows. He damn near played himself in the movie.”

“It was different enough. And you still haven’t said anything about Cruse’s shallowness.”

“Because he isn’t!”

“I suppose not–if you reduce the idea of what being a man is to brash assertiveness.”

And so it has gone. When Cruise’s name comes up and I say tomato, Sue potato. Even when she actually likes one of his films.

But I haven’t come here today to bury Susan; I’ve come to praise Tom.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t much enjoy him in action pictures—though, I thought he was pretty good in Brian De Palma’s Mission Impossible. And the only thing I enjoyed about Eyes Wide Shut was Nichole Kidman. While I’m at it, I thought Days of Thunder was a clichéd story despite good performances by Cruise, Kidman, and especially Robert Duval—it was also another film where Cruise held his own working alongside a brilliant older male actor.

Sure, there are plenty of dogs in his portfolio. But when you look at the totality of his work I think it’s mission impossible to denigrate his acting prowess:

Top Gun where he fit the role perfectly.

All The Right Moves where said: “Tom Cruise shines as a high school football player desperately trying to land a college scholarship so he can leave his small town…” And rated the movie #18 in all time best football flicks. (Personally, I’d have rated it higher but that’s me. Yes, few can beat Dallas North Forty, but I never was a Knute Rockne or William Bendix fan—except for The Life Of Riley.)

A Few Good Men. The money line was shouted by Jack Nicholson, but once again Cruise was spot on with his portrayal of Lt. Daniel Kaffee and stood strong in the face of Nicholson’s performance and fury.

Jerry Maguire. “Show me the money!!” Nuff said.

And finally, what I consider his greatest role as Ron Kovic in the amazing film Born On The Fourth Of July. Cruise handled his part with Academy Award winning brilliance, hitting just the right notes throughout the entire movie.

There are many more, but I’d like to add just one cameo appearance in Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder. Whatever one thinks of the movie (frankly, I loved it, as dumb and crazy as it was) Cruise’s moments on camera as a Hollywood producer simply stole the show. The memory of his bald head bobbing as he danced around his Los Angeles office is forever burned into my brain.

I’m not Pauline Kael, James Agee, or Roger Ebert, so to cement my case, let me list the directors who have chosen to cast him in their films.

Franco Zeffirelli (Endless Love, 1981)

Francis Ford Coppola (The Outsiders, 1983)

Ridley Scott (Legend, 1985)

Tony Scott (Top Gun, 1986)

Martin Scorsese (The Color Of Money, 1986)

Barry Levinson (Rain Man, 1988)

Oliver Stone (Born On The Fourth Of July, 1989)

Ron Howard (Far And Away, 1992)

Rob Reiner (A Few Good Men, 1992)

Sydney Pollack (The Firm, 1993)

Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire, 1996)

Steven Spielberg (Minority Report, 2002)

Michael Mann (Collateral, 2004)

Robert Redford (Lions For Lambs, 2007)

I’m in some seriously good company.

When I showed this post to Sue, she quickly eyeballed my lists. “So?”

“‘So?’ What do you mean ‘so?’ Look at that list of directors. Look at the movies he’s been in!”

“He’s still shallow.”

I shook my head, searching for a comeback. All I could finally manage was, “but you’ll never forget him skidding across the floor only wearing BVDs in Risky Business, will you?”

Don’t forget Zach’s frequent consumer protection statement: I make stuff up. –Susan Goodman


If I had imagined that “A Tough Write,” the last four posts chronicling my relationship with my dad, was going to be cathartic, I was wrong.  I do feel good about my honesty and my ability to get it down on ‘paper’, but I don’t feel much different than I did before I wrote the series.  Presumably I’m learning a lesson that many people already know—time helps more than venting, however well written and honest that venting is.

Maybe it’s that I don’t feel as “light and airy” as I had hoped.  Maybe it’s that I feel drained.  Maybe it’s the countdown to Jewish Christmas (Chinese and a movie).  But it’s one of those weeks where, as my friend Bruce Turkel put it, “I got nothin’.” (see:

Rather than make something out of that nothin’, which Bruce already did so well, I’ve decided to let the week’s thoughts, ideas, insights, lack of insights, wishes, and experiences lope onto the page.  Or at least some of them.  I may be honest, but I do have some limits. (Where are they?  Where are they?)

In no particular order:


NCIS, which has one of the highest television viewerships is my “comfort food.”  And like mac and cheese or take-out pizza, familiarity is probably more important than quality, especially when you’ve had a bad day. Nothing on NCIS makes you jump out of your skin and the relationships between the characters never surprise—that’s sort of the point.  Despite the above, Mark Harmon, in his role as Gibbs, has serious ‘duende.` ((P)RAISING THE DEAD):

If you do want to jump out of your skin, Homeland, Showtimes’ series based on Gideon Raff’s Israeli Hatufim or Prisoners of War, makes that happen.  Claire Danes, as Carrie Mathison, is terrific as a manic on a mission to prevent a major terrorist attack.  Her intense mishagas is wonderfully offset by Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin), Carrie’s calm, soulful, mentor who mostly believes her hunches, but spends as much time trying to keep Carrie’s head together as hunting down any potential attack.  Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody (whose acting is also marvelous) is an American Marine held captive by Al-Qaeda for eight years, originally the object of Carrie’s suspicion but becomes…well, I’ll let you discover what happens.

If you have Showtime and On Demand, I suggest you start from the beginning.  The show is that good.

Another pleasure on the television front is Starz’s Boss, which chronicles Mayor Tom Kane of Chicago (Kelsey Grammer, cast against the grain).  Although the series takes place in the present, it’s really about how the first Mayor Daley ran his town.  I think the series is worth watching, but I’m biased since I Iived in Chicago during three or four years of Daley’s term.  Again, if you do have On Demand and Starz, I’d suggest watching the show from the beginning.

(If folk have different recommendations, please let me know in the ‘comment’ section.  I’m always ready to hear about something decent on the tube.  Grateful too.)

Books I’d like to read:

Coming through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje

House of War by James Carroll

Time Bites by Doris Lessing

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

On the recommendation front:  But Beautiful (A Book About Jazz) by Geoff Dyer.  Truly fabulous as he riffs about jazz greats, writing those riffs in the style of each particular musician he profiles.  A stunning book for anyone who loves jazz.

Movies I want to see:

Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Mission Impossible-Ghost Protocal.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.  (LeCarre’s second best book next to The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.)

Dangerous Method (Viggo as Freud?  He’s been great as everyone else).

My Week with Marilyn.

Documentaries I want to see:

Page One: Inside The New York Times.


Eames: The Architect & The Painter.

The Black Power Mix Tape 1967-1975.

 Art I want to see:

Degas Nudes at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

Play I’d like to see:


But mostly I want to finish the work of getting my Matt Jacob Mystery Series prepared for download.  It’s been a hell of a lot more effort than I imagined and I’ve yet to even figure out how to cut through the noise of the Internet where the books will live.  How to get the Matt Jacob series a following despite the overwhelming infoload of virtual reality? Of course, if anyone not on my mailing list wants to be, please let me know at

I want finish because I’m chomping at the bit to write new ones.

So I plan to take the next two weeks off of my Monday posts.  I won’t finish my project, but it will give me an opportunity to do some catching up.  It will also allow me to recharge my Monday post batteries.  A Tough Write was tougher than I realized

I hope you all will return when I do.  Have a great, safe holiday; then let’s meet up again online Monday, January 9, 2012.

Feliz Navidad

Whoever undertakes to set himself up as judge in the field of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods. – Einstein