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Saturday, March 6, 2010

SOUTH PACIFIC, WEST SIDE STORY AND THE ACADEMY AWARDS



Sorry Kenji, this is a super long posting today. It started with a Russian lunch at Firebird with Irvin Barash. They have over 200 vodkas, so I had a blue cheese stuffed in olive martini with a salmon caviar blini and borscht. The welcome was great and food terrific, but service a bit uninspired. We talked about a wide range of matters, and further developed our biomethanol and direct methanol fuel cell strategy.


Irvin then rushed me to Lincoln Center for South Pacific. Just as I sat, the lights went out, music began and show started. The movie with Rossano Brazzi, Mitzi Gaynor and France Nuyen (who looks like Pearl) could well still be my favorite film of all time. The backyard of our Kilauea Sugar Company cottage was where the slippery slide scenes were filmed. The stage show was outstanding.


I then went on to dinner at Ruby Foo's and had half a Peking Duck with beer and sake. This was one of the very best such preparations I've ever had. The place was packed with around 300 diners. The noise level was almost unbearable and place frenetic, just the opposite of Firebird, which had all of a dozen customers, all past retirement age. At Ruby's, the average age must have been in the 30's.


Then off to the Palace to see West Side Story, another show which brings back some fond memories from the 1961 movie. There was something less than spectacular about this staging, but no question that the singing was superior to that of the film, which was also true for South Pacific.


As I'm into entertainment today, let me provide my predictions for the Academy Awards tomorrow:


1. I’ve actually seen seven of the ten best film nominations, the first time in something like 70+ years that there have been so many. Usually, as in the other categories, there are five. A toss-up, but, as much as I wasn’t all that excited about Avatar, directed by James Cameron, I suspect it will be the best picture.


2. However, his former wife, Kathryn Bigelow, should get the best director award for The Hurt Locker, a movie that was the most meaningful for me this year because I saw it as Pearl was in intensive care, and the uncertainty about what was happening to her was such that I would have preferred to be on that bomb defusing squad.


3. Best Actor to Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart, although I loved him in Men Who Stare at Goats, and Best Actress to Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side.


4. The best acting of the past decade was performed by Cristoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds, but he'll only get the Best Supporting Actor award. Best Supporting Actress to Mo'Nique from Precious.


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Two new countries have entered this site. Welcome #141:

HAITI POPULATION: 9,035,536

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Background
The native Taino Amerindians - who inhabited the island of Hispaniola when it was discovered by COLUMBUS in 1492 - were virtually annihilated by Spanish settlers within 25 years. In the early 17th century, the French established a presence on Hispaniola. In 1697, Spain ceded to the French the western third of the island, which later became Haiti. The French colony, based on forestry and sugar-related industries, became one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean but only through the heavy importation of African slaves and considerable environmental degradation. In the late 18th century, Haiti's nearly half million slaves revolted under Toussaint L'OUVERTURE. After a prolonged struggle, Haiti became the first black republic to declare independence in 1804. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has been plagued by political violence for most of its history. After an armed rebellion led to the forced resignation and exile of President Jean-Bertrand ARISTIDE in February 2004, an interim government took office to organize new elections under the auspices of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Continued violence and technical delays prompted repeated postponements, but Haiti finally did inaugurate a democratically elected president and parliament in May of 2006. A massive magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010 with an epicenter about 15 km southwest of the capital, Port-au-Prince. An estimated 2 million people live within the zone of heavy to moderate structural damage. The earthquake is assessed as the worst in this region over the last 200 years.

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Geography

Trust recovery is proceeding. What a tragedy. Any latest info to share?

Country #142 is:

ARUBA POPULATION: 103,065

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Background
Discovered and claimed for Spain in 1499, Aruba was acquired by the Dutch in 1636. The island's economy has been dominated by three main industries. A 19th century gold rush was followed by prosperity brought on by the opening in 1924 of an oil refinery. The last decades of the 20th century saw a boom in the tourism industry. Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles in 1986 and became a separate, autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Movement toward full independence was halted at Aruba's request in 1990.

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Clip from South Pacific, followed by one from West Side Story:

3 comments:

Kenji said...

Pat:

Life is going to be so boring when you come home after all that adventure in exotic places. By comparison our golf safari should be restful if not boring. Ken

Patrick Kenji Takahashi said...

I was going to send you a note saying that you should take a look at my blog today. I'm shocked you actually commented. I'm looking forward to boring. Aloha.

Anonymous said...

Of historical interest -- You can see a clip of Toussaint's last moments in prison from the award-winning new short film "The Last Days of Toussaint L'Ouverture" at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2468184/