Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

03 January 2017

91 Songs

Happy New Year! The Oscar nominations will be announced early in the morning on January 24th, but several categories (Makeup, Visual Effects, Foreign Language Picture, Score, and Song) have already had short lists released by the Academy. In this post, I invited some of my funniest friends to listen to some of the enormous short-list of 91 songs and pick their favorites. There are ninety-one of these tunes, though, so this was a project, but my friends are troupers and they brought the hilarity below. (You will notice, by the way, that "No Dames" from Hail, Caesar! and "Sledgehammer" from Star Trek Beyond are not eligible. I have no idea why this is.)

I'll share our twelve favorite songs first (each of us picked our 5 favorites, but there was lots of overlap), and then the rest alphabetically. These were the best of the bunch:

“Gone 2015” from Miles Ahead
Justin: Really liked it. Reminded me of Digable Planets and other ’90s jazz-influenced hip-hop. Also nice to see young jazz guys like Robert Glasper pushing the genre forward.
Aaron: This is a great song. It would be awesome if it got nominated.
Alex: I love Robert Glasper. A+++++.

"Take Me Down" from Deepwater Horizon
Ryan: As someone from the Gulf Coast, who obsessively watched all the coverage of Deepwater Horizon and the subsequent ecological and cultural catastrophe, I don’t know what on earth this song is meant to evoke from that except the most generalized “down home” vibe.
Aaron: This song is by Gary Clark Jr. and starts off with a harmonica and a guitar. I loved it from start to finish. This is one of my favorites of the eligible songs.
Justin: Gary Clark Jr. is the truth. Loved the song. Hopefully he’ll get to perform it at the Oscars.
Alex: It’s fine.

“I See a Victory” from Hidden Figures
Aaron: Ok I love this. It has a gospel, soul feel to it and I am all about it.
Justin: Watched this last night. A perfect movie for a substitute teacher to play during fourth period. Song is fine, but generic.
Ryan: Did they not think to use Janelle?!? 
Alex: I’m into it. But yeah, Janelle woulda been the right call.
Ryan: UGH, this was a fave, until Kim Burrell got all homophobic! Seriously, come through, Janelle!

"Runnin'" from Hidden Figures
Aaron: Pharrell Williams! He is awesome. He needs another nomination, but I don’t think this song is very good. But who knows what the Academy will do. Also, I don’t think I realized before that Pharrell can’t really sing.
Justin: Pharrell can make a hit in his sleep, which exactly sounds like what happened here.
Ryan: See above.
Alex: YASSSSS. Hidden Figures soundtrack, werk.

“City of Stars” from La La Land
Aaron: Catchy. Plus this is the movie’s central song. It is getting nominated. It’s the movie’s most hummable, singable song.
Ryan: There was more poetry in every line of Moonlight. Sadly, I fear this movie is going to stomp all over Moonlight. #OscarsSoWhite
Alex: Is Ryan Gosling singing?? No me gusta. Song is Ok-ish.

"Still Falling for You" from Bridget Jones's Baby
Aaron: The song is sung by Ellie Goulding, and actually I think this might be one of the best of the bunch. I do not care about Bridget Jones or her baby, but the song is a winner.
Justin: “Ellie Goulding” is such a Muggle name.
Alex: I wanted to like this so badly – I have a weakness for the B. Jones stories and, like most women, love P. Dempsey and C. Firth. (I’m enjoying these initials.) But I can’t support a song whose single line refrain IS THE SAME NOTE 5 TIMES. Also for the remainder of the list, I’m only listening to songs that either pique my interest or whose comments by A./J./R. Intrigue me.

 "I'm Still Here" from Miss Sharon Jones!
Aaron: It would have been totally cool for them to nominate Sharon Jones for this. But Miss Jones died in November 2016. It’s a real missed opportunity, and who would sing this song now?
Justin: Best song on the list hands down. Janelle Monáe could sing it?
Alex: Janelle for Pres 2020!

“How Far I'll Go” from Moana
Ryan: This may just be that sweet, naive anthem we need to delude ourselves that somehow we'll manage 2017 better than we did 2016.
Aaron: Pretty hard not to love this song. And it is the centerpiece of this musical film, which everyone loves. The song comes back again and again throughout Moana.

“Blind Pig” from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Aaron: This is a jazzy number that I loved.
Justin: Cool little song. I wouldn’t nominate it, but a cool song, still.
Ryan: I really enjoyed imagining this tune with a light, gay BDSM-themed music video, per the title.

“Never Give Up” from Lion
Aaron: This is one of two Sia songs this year. This one is better than the one from The Eagle Huntress. If you’re into Sia you will probably like this. The lyrics are actually related to this movie in some way, unlike some of these songs.
Justin: It’s like the underdog team just won the championship! Tell me I’m wrong.
Alex: Justin is right. And I feel like I could totally go to the Olympics when I listen to this. I love Sia and I really like this. Indian music in beginning is slightly corny though.

“Drive It Like You Stole It” from Sing Street
Justin: This movie was great and so is the song.
Aaron: I love this. It sounds like an upbeat Spandau Ballet song. I need them to nominate this. And all of the images from this video make me want to see this movie.

“Moonshine” from Live by Night
Aaron: Foy Vance singing about moonshine and bootlegging? I like this kind of country music. In fact, I pretty much love this song. But while we’re talking about Live by Night… this got released on Christmas Day, clearly aiming for end-of-year awards, but it has appeared on no one’s lists. In fact, no one is even talking about this movie.
Justin: I like it, but it’s no Gary Clark Jr.

And now for the rest (i.e. the other 79 songs...): 

Alex: I’m somewhat a fan of Pink, even when her songs are, like this one, somewhat meh. I think it’s some weird form of nostalgia for my youth. Anyway, the framing of the video, though, is so unnecessary: dude has wife who hangs from trapeze all the time, and then cut to him throwing her in the loony bin. What is Pink trying to tell us?! (For the record, probably none of my comments will have anything to do with movies. And I usually listen to 30 sec of each song. Gotta be efficient, people.)
Aaron: Girl power! Pink’s song for Alice through the Looking Glass is about going through glass ceilings. “We came here to run it!” the chorus says, and she has a group of singers behind her. I am not into this kind of music, but it has a great pop beat and will connect with lots of folks.
Justin: OMG the video starts off with a Corey Hart cameo. Anyway, the song is fine in that generic, written-by-a-Scandanavian-pop-savant way. I didn’t watch the movie, but I doubt it has as many practical effects as the music video. Also, has P!nk always had that exclamation in her name?

“Rise” from American Wrestler: the Wizard
Aaron: I cannot seem to find this song anywhere, but it is fittingly performed by Andy Madadian, the Armenian-Iranian singer who now lives in Los Angeles.
Justin: This movie isn’t about The Grand Wizard from the WWE, so it is invalid.

Aaron: This is a Blake Shelton – i.e. country – song. I don’t get it.
Justin: Just like the movie, I quit after a few minutes.
Alex: I watched a little just to see who this guy was because he is Gwyneth Paltrow’s new husband. I tried to think about some funny comparison to her former husband, who heads Coldplay but mostly I just think they are both mediocre musicians. Also, the song – at least the first 30 seconds – was terribly annoying.

Justin: The movie is about bullying and teen suicide, so of course Tori Amos is the perfect choice. I also have never understood the appeal of Ms. Amos, since the only Amos I like makes cookies and is famous for it.
Aaron: “Flicker” is by Tori Amos, the singer I was most obsessed with in high school and college. This is a weird song. Maybe I needed to have seen Audrie & Daisy to get it, but I have never heard of this documentary. The song is pretty enough, and I guess the Academy has been interested in songs from documentaries lately.
Alex: Something about attaching Tori Amos to a Netflix documentary about cyberbullying and high school rape makes her seems cliché in a way I don’t think she deserves. (Even if the doc is important and good, which it may well be.) I do like the song but I have to actively detach it from thinking about it as backdrop to dramatic moments.

Justin: Umlaut party! The song is boring, or should I say, böring.
Aaron: This movie looks like it might be good. This song is not.
Alex: I’m so excited that this strange letter ð is in the singer’s first name. That’s all I’m really excited about here. Besides the fact that the Wikipedia entry defines the movie in a highly hyphenated way: “an American-Icelandic-French mystery-drama film”.

Aaron: From Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross. This is their only musical outing this year at the movies. I like these guys, but this song is a downer; in fact, it is an apocalyptic climate-change song, with a tone like a judge issuing a life sentence to a criminal.
Alex: This is fine. I mean, it sounds like the right song to musically illustrate the slow demise of humankind.
Justin: This would’ve been better as a Johnny Cash cover.

Aaron: God alert. This tune involves the word “Emmanuel”, which in Hebrew means “God with us”.
Alex: The invocation of God combined with the catchiness of the song just makes me uncomfortable.
Justin: “Hey, it’s me, Pastor Nick. I know some people think Christians can be square, but what they don’t know is that we rock! Now join me in singing this tastefully rocking but still praise-worthy song! Also, gays are still bad and life starts at conception. 1-2-3-4!!!”

Alex: I feel like I’ve heard similar versions of the instrumental part in like 5 different movies?
Aaron: More about the god. “I call you mine but you’re truly his”, the first line of the song says, “He’s the reason we exist…”
Justin: “Pastor Nick here. Remember, the bus is leaving at 10 am sharp for the retreat. We will leave your booties behind. I’m not joking. BTW, has anybody seen my car keys? They were on the piano.”

Aaron: This has a breezy, country, guitar-strum vibe. But then Rachel Taylor starts singing about prayer. I couldn’t finish it.
Alex: I ignored the lyrics so I didn’t fall into the trap Aaron did. And lo and behold, it was quite pleasurable.
Justin: “Haha, very funny. Found my keys in the men’s toilet. I know it was you,Toby. Have fun walking to the retreat, buddy.”

Aaron: I still can’t believe they remade Ben-Hur. Like, it won 11 Oscars in 1960. We needed a new CGI-fest version of this novel? I kind of enjoyed this tune by Andra Day, although its lyrics baffle me: “Revenge is so loud / and the drums are so proud”? What does that mean?
Justin: Haven’t we Ben-Hur before? LOLOLOL But seriously... why?
Ryan: Rihanna for the History Channel.

Aaron: This is real? This song involves the lyric “I’m like fuck you, fuck her, and fuck them” and also the lyrics “White Russian? Really?” and “dad get out of my room, I’m rapping.” Not for me.
Justin: If the song is as funny as the movie, then I’ll pass.

Aaron: This is by a band called Short Sleeve Heart. The song is sentimental nonsense. Awful.
Justin: Agreed.

Aaron: This has a kind of Sigur Ros sound to it. I loved it.
Justin: Forgot this movie even came out. The song is whatever.

Aaron: This is mournful and meditative and I was bored.
Justin: I liked it in that True Detective-theme song way. Strange this is from that border-crossing horror movie.

Aaron: I was into this until the singers started singing. No thanks.
Justin: The trailer for this movie is cut like it’s Drive, or something, which I feel it is nothing like. The song also seems like it’s for another movie, a movie I still wouldn’t watch, but another movie, nonetheless.

Aaron: This is Sia’s second song from this year. It feels different from her other stuff. Slower. I was bored.
Justin: I like that most of Sia’s songs sound like the final song in an ’80s sports movie.
Alex: I love Sia’s voice but am not inspired by this song.

Aaron: Why is this guy yelling through this ostensibly sensitive little tune?
Justin: I started watching this doc the other day. Interesting subject, uninteresting song.

Aaron: This is a country tune from Lucinda Williams that is basically terrible.
Justin: I’m guessing they couldn’t get Tom Waits?

Aaron: This song was nominated for a Golden Globe. It legitimately sucks, so I don’t know how that is possible. Also, this movie looks terrible.
Justin: Didn’t Matty McConaughey already do a movie called Fool’s Gold? Also, the song is basically what they filter in when you’re trying on skinny jeans at Urban Outfitters.

Aaron: Oh Usher! He’s so cute.
Justin: Ugh. I hate it. Is this for a Disney channel movie?

Aaron: This song is delightful. In the movie, Doris attends a Baby Goya concert as a part of her plot to seduce the man she’s crushing on.
Justin: It’s cute, but if Jack Antonoff gets nominated for this I’m going back in time and voting for Trump.

Aaron: Oh my god. Awful.
Justin: Are we on a subway? Do you have a dollar I could give this guy so he’ll get off at the next stop?
Ryan: The title alone should have warned us from listening. Also, can things never again feat. Josh Fox, whoever the fuck that is.
Alex: I want to know what charisma smells like. But I’m not going to listen to this song.

Aaron: This is the fifth Ice Age movie. These must make money, but there must also be a lot of dead souls at 20th Century Fox. Jesus Christ. Five of these?
Justin: This song is a Collision Course of awfulness, amirite?
Ryan: Never have I ever seen an Ice Age movie. (Smugly doesn’t take a drink.)
Alex: Me neither.

Aaron: The Academy has the opportunity to nominate Leon Redbone for an Oscar here, but I can’t see them taking it. This song sounds like something my uncle made up to sing after too many whiskeys.
Justin: It’s the Mr. Belvedere guy!

Justin: I sort of hate Sting.
Aaron: Oh, I was into this. I like it.
Ryan: Is it terrible that before researching this I thought it was about Mark Foley, the Republican congressman who sexted underage boys?

Aaron: This is from an emotional part of the film, and it is a beautiful little ditty.

Aaron: This was really fun. If I remember correctly, though, the Academy rules allow only two songs from any one film to be nominated, so I expect John Legend’s tune gets left off the list.

Aaron: Zzzzzzzzz.
Justin: I’ll watch this doc and cry because that is what I do these days.

Aaron: I am into this Hozier’s voice. I can’t really understand what he’s saying, but I kind of don’t mind. Did anyone see this Tarzan movie? I don’t feel like anyone did.
Justin: Errbody ripping off Antony and the Johnsons nowadays.

Aaron: I actually think this tune could surprise on the morning of the nominations. I think it is boring, but it is from The Little Prince, and people may have a feeling when they listen to it.
Justin: I liked the movie, but do not like this song.

Aaron: I have no idea what is happening in this song or what this woman is saying, but it is all cute. I would really enjoy this song if I were super drunk.
Justin: Great montage song.

Aaron: I liked this movie, but this song is annoying.
Justin: I’m not Loving this.

Aaron: This song is by Michel Legrand and Alan & Marilyn Bergman, who were the expert songwriters for Oscar nominations for years. Does that mean that this showtune-like song featuring musical-theatre performer Melissa Errico could get a nomination? Somehow I don’t think so, but it could happen.
Justin: Blergh.

Aaron: I forget how many celebrity singers do these songs. This one is by Florence + the Machine. If the Oscar-voters really wanted to nominated popular singers so that they could have a great show in February, they actually could. This should probably be a little reassuring. When voters nominated David Lang’s “Simple Song #3” and Antony’s “Manta Ray” last year it was bad for the Oscar telecast because those folks are not bug stars, but it was nice for them to have Oscar nominations. Voters are not simply choosing the most popular singers.
Justin: This sounds like the main song for the next James Bond.

Aaron: Everyone’s favorite Pulitzer-prize-winning songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda actually appears in Moana as little Moana’s ancestor in one of the movie’s coolest sequences. There isn’t much to the song, though, and Lin-Manuel is not a singer. Before we are done talking about Moana, I have to ask why The Rock’s song from the movie, “You’re Welcome”, is not on this list. Perhaps they didn’t submit it? That seems silly on the surface, but Disney, knowing that each movie can only get two nominations maximum, has probably decided only to submit two songs from each of its films in order not to split any votes. It has only submitted two songs from each of its other musicals as well (Pete’s Dragon, The Little Prince). Still, “We Know the Way” was definitely the wrong choice here. “You’re Welcome” is such a better song.
Alex: Aaron has very complex and informed feelings on this song and others in this movie. All I can say is I AM INTO THIS ONE. I WANT TO EXPLORE THE WORLD ON A RAFT.

Aaron: Um, Rita Wilson sings this song. I have nothing else to say.
Ryan: Is Rita Wilson in MBFGW2?
Alex: According to Spotify, Rita Wilson has 4 ALBUMS OUT. OK, 2 are Xmas albums but still. Who knew that Rita was such a little songbird? I really hope she and Tom Hanks do a Hanukkah duet album next year. But because she is a Renaissance lady, yes, she IS ALSO in MBFGW2.
Justin: I think she performed this on The Today Show, right before they showed the three best ways to beat holiday weight.

Aaron: I lied, Sia apparently has a third song eligible for an Oscar nomination this year. This played over the end credits of this mess of a movie and isn’t a terrible song, even though I have no idea what she’s saying. Seriously, though, I don’t care because fuck The Neon Demon.
Alex: I have a hard time being critical of anything Sia does. Even things by her I don’t like initially I end up playing on repeat. This is not the best but I’ll probably get hooked on it. Unsurprisingly, I know nothing about the movie.
Justin: “...and new champion, Daniel LaRusso Jr!” - From The New New Karate Kid: Just Kiddin’

Aaron: More country music. Some of these are better than others. For this one, Edwin McCain has composed the song just a bit higher than his own range. That leads to some seriously strained notes.
Justin: If by “his own range” you mean “good,” then yes.

“Find My Victory” from Olympic Pride, American Prejudice
Aaron: Here’s another one I can’t find. This is performed by Tony Hightower, but that’s all I can seem to figure out about this song.
Alex: I smell a conspiracy. WHERE ARE ALL THESE SONGS?

Aaron: I don’t get it.
Justin: Is this from Moana?

Aaron: Green Day? Please retire.
Alex: I’m not even listening because I agree with Aaron.
Justin: “There’s something so predictable, and in the end it’s rife, this song is just a ripoff of Time of Your Life.”

Aaron: I am getting bored with this project. This song is boring.
Justin: Half the songs on this list are this Portlandia sketch.

Aaron: This song is from the band Imagine Dragons and it basically consists of them saying “levitate” numerous times.
Justin: Imagine if this was a good song.

Aaron: A.R. Rahman composed this. This is one of those rousing things that feels like something that plays over a victory sequence or over the end credits of an uplifting sports movie.
Justin: This would sound better with Sia singing it.

Aaron: This is pretty but sort of forgettable.

Aaron: The best thing about this song is the weird girl in the video who is trying to dance sexily while fiddling at the same time. It makes no sense at all. Especially since this is a kids’ movie.

Aaron: This is a Burt Bacharach tune sung by Sheryl Crow. But I am sorry to report that it is boring.

Aaron: “My apple crumble is by far the most crumblest / But I act like it tastes bad out of humbleness.” Hahaha. Also Andy Samberg is really sexy.

Aaron: This is from a music documentary about a YouTube singer, and it would be totally awesome if it got nominated.

Aaron: I guess I didn’t realize how many of these original songs come from documentaries every year. There are so many. I am bored by this slow, meditative song, but I am sure it has a very nice emotional effect in this film I would never watch normally.

Aaron: Uh oh. Alicia Keys. I wouldn’t really like this song even if someone else sang it, but since Alicia Keys is not a very good singer, I was definitely not interested in this.

Aaron: This begins with trumpets and is one of those “inspiring”, “heartfelt” songs about “stakes”, “true victory”, and “nothing to lose”. It is legitimately awful.

Aaron: Awful.
Aaron: Songs with "a message" like this one, Alex, make me want to die. How's that for honesty?

Aaron: In Rules Don’t Apply, this is such a beautiful theme song. The clip is from the movie itself. The song comes back later in the picture, so this isn’t all there is to the tune, but the clip demonstrates how embedded into the plot the film itself is. I will be happy if this gets nominated.

Aaron: Charmingly ironic and delightfully filthy. As a melody, it isn’t much, but this is really about lyric showmanship. This is very very clever and perfect for the movie, but I wouldn’t listen to it on its own ever.
Ryan: Alan Menken? I’m in.

Aaron: This is sung by Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande. But that can’t make this a good song. And I am praying that I don’t have to see this movie, because it looks asinine and boy do I hate these Illumination Entertainment studio offerings.

Aaron: This is not bad, and I like the two singers (Sam Tsui and Madilyn Bailey). Also, this video is fun - filmed using a selfie stick at Universal Citywalk (even if their lipsynching doesn’t always quite match the track).

Aaron: This song is very different from the other Sing Street tune. But this one features Adam Levine having a feeling, so I assume this one will be nominated and the '80s-inspired one that I love will not be nominated. I should, perhaps, have more faith in the Academy’s music branch, but I do not. (Actually, this song gets better as it goes on longer. I shouldn’t be so mean.)

Aaron: This is a Peter Gabriel song, but… well... he’s sort of talk-singing in this? Maybe into an autotune machine? This is so weird and bad.

Aaron: Yes, Céline Dion! Come through, girl. I actually don’t know what Snowtime! is, and I thought the song was sort of just generically sweet. But it’s Céline!
Alex: That’s right, boy, observe that accent! I was also weirdly excited to listen to Céline. I really do find it funny when a singer is singing about really emotional topics and the music video cuts to really emotional Pixar characters. “Don’t give up, little computer generated boy!!!”

“Kiss Me Goodnight” from Southwest of Salem: the Story of the San Antonio Four
Aaron: Another one I can’t find. But this movie is about a witch trial! In Texas!

Aaron: I was into this. I like its beat. And the way the singer sounds like he’s in a beachfront bar on a Florida key. It makes me feel like drinking an icy drink filled with rum. And that’s never a bad thing.
Alex: I feel like he is in a cabin in the Adirondacks. But anyway, it’s an OK song.

Aaron: I keep forgetting Will Smith was in this movie. In an case, the song isn’t very good, but I have to admit to being into it. It is catchy even if it is badly written.
Justin: It’s like KROQ made an algorithm of successful current songs, fed it into a computer, and this is what was spit out.

Aaron: This made me want to jump out of a window and break my neck.
Alex: Yup. Bad.

Aaron: “Montage” is one of the best sequences in Swiss Army Man, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it a song.

Aaron: I have no idea what is happening here, and no one in the Academy will either. Is this song in Bambara and French? Anyway, it is not that great of a song in any language.

Aaron: Common won an Oscar for his last song for an Ava DuVernay movie, but this song doesn’t have as good of a hook, and Common lazily quotes Maya Angelou and Billie Holliday. The whole thing feels sort of phoned in.

Aaron: Is John Hawkes a singer? Too Late is not the John Hawkes film where he is a singer, right? I think maybe that was from last year and it was called Low Down. This is a reasonable mistake. He sure does do a lot of singing in movies for a man who isn’t actually a singer. Oh! Wikipedia informs me that John Hawkes was part of the Austin band Meat Joy (apparently unrelated to the Carolee Schneemann performance) and also the group King Straggler. As it turns out I have nothing to say about this boring song, but lots to say about John Hawkes’ singing career.

Aaron: I have to tell you that I hope this gets nominated because I saw Trolls expressly because I expected it to get a nomination. This was the song of Summer 2016, so I don’t see how it can miss a nomination, but I certainly suppose it could.
Justin: This movie, like Angry Birds, is about one species wanting to eat another one. So I guess the feeling that can’t be stopped is genocide?

Aaron: This song is super annoying in the film, and it is intended to be. It has a standard bubble-gum pop sound that is pretty impossible not to detest.

Aaron: Some of these documentary songs are ridiculous! This is the weirdest song. I listen to things like this and I think, well, it must work with the film. But I am not really interested in documentary filmmaking, so, I probably won’t see this movie.

Aaron: As far as I can tell this has not yet been released in the U.S. In any event, I can find no recording of this song anywhere.

Aaron: Again, it would be totally cool if this song, which was written for this music documentary, got a nomination and could be performed at the Oscars. But, I don’t know, I think We Are X and X Japan itself might be a little out there for Academy voters.

Aaron: “Wakin’ up to the pound of a hammer / Pictures on my phone, tryna piece it all together.” Hangover song. This is a mess.
Alex: All of the troops seem to have abandoned Aaron in his critical crusade. Justin? Ryan? Hello?

Aaron: Ugh. I hated this.

Aaron: I didn’t hate this one until it became a duet. This song, like “New Dogs, Old Tricks” also referred to pounding heads and hangovers. I guess that is what the movie is about?

Aaron: This song has a melody, but the singer does not sing. He instead speaks the lyrics. I don’t understand anything about this What Happened Last Night movie.

Aaron: This is a funny, tongue-in-cheek song by Eric William Morris and frequent nominee Marc Shaiman that must make sense with the movie. On its own it makes no sense.

Aaron: Shakira appears in Zootopia as a booty-shaking ibex (?) complete with homosexual background dancing tigers. The song is catchy but pretty typical fare. Not very interesting. I kind of wish “try everything” as a mantra were related to getting kids to try different foods and, like, different hairstyles. As it is, I am not sure what Shakira wants us to try.
Alex: Is she an ibex? An antelope? Plus Shakira hips + butt added, obv. I don’t know what the creature is but I am into it. And the tigers are totally A+. I’m generally fairly motivated by this song but not sure toward what. I guess everything?
Justin: Antenope!

The Contributors:
Justin thinks truffles are overrated, but Ruffles are underrated. You can find him on Instagram (justinabarca) and Twitter (@thewarclub).
Alex loves to do yoga and spill food on herself. You can find her on Instagram (ripple617) and Twitter (@ripple617).
Ryan is against nostalgia in principle yet is somehow a romantic. He can be found on Twitter (@avidyarns) and Instagram (avidyarns).

29 December 2016

Two Cartoons

Moana was totally delightful. I can't get behind Lin-Manuel Miranda's singing voice, but when he has time to polish his rhymes, he cranks out some great stuff – a highlight for me was The Rock's song "You're Welcome". I loved all the Polynesian mythology, the animation is fun, and the characters are great. I cried like five times.

Trolls is asinine. This is a movie based on a doll that used to be popular when I was a kid. What in the actual fuck. Honestly, I didn't mind one bit and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It doesn't take its own rainbows and glitter too seriously, and there is much to recommend by way of fun.

28 December 2016

Fences and Putting Theatre Onscreen

For me, Fences had two strikes against it before I got there. While I love many of Wilson's other plays (Two Trains, Seven Guitars, Piano Lesson) and obviously love the project of the Century Cycle itself, I've always found Fences a fairly clunky play (I don't care if it did win a Pulitzer). Fences, too, is one of Wilson's more realist dramas: his early plays like Fences, Ma Rainey and Jitney just don't have the bold theatricality of some of the later plays (Gem, Joe Turner, Hedley).

I was skeptical, too, of what I saw as Denzel Washington's leisurely, self-indulgent way of playing Fences' protagonist Troy Maxson. I've seen video of Washington onstage, and he took his time with that role. There was a YouTube video going around for awhile that compared the original Troy, James Earl Jones, with Washington scene for scene, and Jones's work is tighter, stronger, and more about the character than the actor; Washington played the part onstage like everyone was there to see him.

[Side note: I almost went to an early screening of this in Florida in early December, but I had stood in line for 90 minutes and then knew I was going to get stuck in the front row of the theatre, so I left without watching the movie. I figured my annoyance with the situation would disallow my enjoyment of the movie, and with the two strikes already against Fences in my head, I figured I shouldn't prejudice myself against this movie.]

But strikes or no strikes, Fences is superb. In fact, I surprised myself by loving it as much as I did. The film's central character, Troy Maxson, is not a likable man. He's difficult and frustrated and frequently ungenerous, and when he started in on his Wilsonian monologues, I felt my impatience rise in my chest, but almost immediately, Denzel Washington's brilliant performance won me over. His work is, honestly, masterful. He is impossible not to love. He is berating his son and causing his wife pain, but he's an extraordinary character. Lovable isn't the right word, but he is compelling, powerful, insistent on his own position in the world, and filled with grief – endless mourning, even – of having been forced to live during Jim Crow. The film takes place in Pittsburgh's Hill District, of course, where all but one of the plays in the Century Cycle are set, but Jim Crow was alive and well in the North, as well, and racist union practices, racist major league baseball restrictions, and racist policing practices have all restricted Troy's life in inexorable ways.

What is so genius about Wilson's work here – and this is on display perfectly in Washington's film – is that even though the play itself (and this is why he chooses realism as his form) is really about how racist circumstances and situations have shaped these men and women, his characters are beautiful, fully draw human beings who attempt to live out their dreams. What I mean to say is that Wilson is primarily interested in a kind of materialist analysis of the effects of racism on the lives of black people in the North, but his characterization is so superb that he also manages beautiful historical portraits of black folkways in the great tradition of Georgia Douglas Johnson and Sterling Brown.

Mr. Hornsby
Just a bit more to say. First off, this is the play made into a film. Washington keeps nearly everything from the stage version. It occasionally feels like a play, but mostly it doesn't. For the most part it feels dynamic and moves nicely. Fences looks less like a play than the most recent Woody Allen movie, for example. This is all due to Washington's directorial point of view, which is studied and smart and much much better than directorial efforts by actors that we have seen in the past (remember The Good Soldier?). Washington is a very good film director. He does not have a relaxed or direct gaze. The work is interesting and moves much more fluidly than films like Doubt and Proof and Into the Woods and that one where Michael Fassbender played Jung to Viggo Mortensen's Freud.

The acting is top notch all around. Washington is superb. Davis is excellent. Russell Hornsby is fantastic. Stephen McKinley Henderson is great. It's a very, very good cast. Expect Oscar nominations for Washington and Davis for sure. (Davis is committing category fraud by running as supporting in what is unquestionably a lead performance.) But this will also be nominated for Best Picture, and, if they're not out of their minds, Best Director, as well.

22 December 2016

Nostalgia for Old Glamor

Hollywood loves itself, and movies about old Hollywood seem to arrive on the scene every year. Last year we had the abysmal Trumbo, but not so long ago, we had The Artist, which was delightful and went on to win Best Picture. And, incidentally, I really liked Hail, Caesar!, this year's Coen Brothers spectacle. This year's winner will be about Hollywood, too, (I'm talking about La La Land, obviously), but it will be a different kind of nostalgia trip that three movies I'm reporting on today were.

First, a movie that is already on DVD, Woody Allen's Café Society. Is this movie about café society in New York? I guess it is. But more importantly this movie is just bad. Jesse Eisenberg plays a young Jewish kid and neurotic Woody Allen surrogate, who falls in love with a woman he can't have. Fine. That part of the film is actually sort of interesting.

The really bad part is Steve Carrell as his movie-mogul uncle. The film is filled with name-dropping absurdities. Carrell informs us that "I'm expecting a call from Ginger Rogers" or some other nondescript idiocy. There are no actors in Kate Hepburn or Hedda Hopper drag, and actually I can't believe that I am about to say this, but I think the film could've been improved by that camp gesture that usually so annoys me. I say this because without actors in drag as famous people, Café Society feels like a hermetically sealed Woody Allen universe that has no attachment to reality in any way. I never for one moment believed Steve Carrell was a movie executive, I never believed he had lunch with Errol Flynn, and I never, for that matter, even believed he lived in Los Angeles.

As I've said before about this period of Woody Allen's career, I feel like Allen can still write a movie – the premise and ending of Café Society are intriguing – but he no longer knows how to direct one (cf. Magic in the Moonlight, Blue Jasmine, To Rome with Love). Café Society feels phony in the extreme, filled with caricatures on movie sets doing things that real people never do and saying words that sound like bad readings of a Woody Allen screenplay. I still feel an attachment to Allen's universes, and that's why I saw this, but if you care about yourself, you will skip this film.

* * *
And then there is Rules Don't Apply, the first film by the great Warren Beatty since 1998's Bulworth. (Honestly, how is that possible???). This is actually a fairly charming little movie, although it does wear out its welcome after awhile.

Ms. Collins and Mr. Ehrenreich
Beatty has said that Rules Don't Apply is not a film about Howard Hughes, but is instead a movie about two young people who get caught up in Hughes's world. The two have been damaged by Christianity so much that they feel like they can't love one another even though they do. All of this is true. the film is about that, but Rules Don't Apply has Howard Hughes in it, and Hughes is too large a character for the film to be about anything else. Rules becomes about Howard's strange peccadilloes, even if it wants to be an old-fashioned love story about two kids overcoming silly Christian mores. 

The storytelling here is charming, though. Lily Collins, Alden Ehrenreich, Beatty himself, Annette Bening, Matthew Broderick, Candice Bergen, and the other (numerous) actors who appear in the film are all absolutely delightful. And the whole thing has a delightful whimsy that didn't wear thin for me, even though the Rules as a whole feels fairly shallow. 

Perhaps most disappointing about Rules is that it isn't going to get any Oscar nominations. Or... well, actually, I actually think the song "The Rules Don't Apply" actually deserves a nomination, and may garner the film its only one. It's just not a deep enough movie, glamorous and cute as it was.

* * *
Last but certainly not least is Jackie from Chilean director Pablo Larraín, who has had three movies released in the U.S. in 2016 (The Club was earlier in the year and Neruda is in theatres now). 

Jackie is an intense character study of Jacqueline Kennedy from just before the president is shot and killed to the end of his funeral procession. The form of the film is odd, though, and this is most clearly marked by Mica Levi's dissonant horror-film score, which either makes or breaks the film, depending on your perspective. But Jackie is not Jackie without this score. Levi's music is overwhelming, insistent, and always troubling. As Jackie interacts with Robert Kennedy, with Rose Kennedy, with Jack Valenti, with Lyndon Johnson, one has a constant sense of disturbance, disruption, even terror. It's a very jarring effect.

I thought Jackie was a weird movie. I rather appreciated what it was trying to do, but I can't say that I enjoyed it. I liked its version of character study – one that takes stock of a person in crisis and then makes judgments about her based on the decisions she made during this very difficult time. Jackie has a great deal of affection for its central figure, but is also deeply suspicious of her, sees her as fundamentally flawed, ambitious, vindictive, perhaps even shallow. This makes the whole thing complicated and interesting, certainly, but... well it just isn't all that pleasurable. I found myself growing impatient with Mrs. Kennedy, with her tics and her wealth and her pretensions ("I don't smoke", she tells a reporter, though she has been chainsmoking throughout the entire film).

Jackie is going to get a single Oscar nomination for Natalie Portman (and maybe could net one more for Costume Design), but I can't see this picture connecting with audiences in a big way.

In fairness to Larraín's movie, I will say that my central thought while watching the pageantry of Jack Kennedy's funeral was about how classy it all was. Say what you want about Jackie Kennedy, she had class. How far we have fallen! We are about to install the most vulgar, classless president in American history into the White House, and the new First Lady won't even be moving into the house where Jackie, Caroline, and John Jr. lived. It is very hard not to think about President-Elect Trump while watching Jackie, and it may be that, finally, that makes the movie difficult to watch.

More movies to come! I'm seeing lots of them.

17 December 2016

Morris from America

This comedy from Chad Hartigan was disappointing. All of the best bits were in the trailer.

14 December 2016

X-men: Apocalypse

I'm officially done watching these X-men: Origins movies. I totally want to see the new Logan movie that comes out in March, so I am not swearing off of the franchise altogether, but I'll be damned if I'm gonna sit through another narrative where a group of young mutants whom I barely know decide between the good mutant (James McAvoy) who wants to protect all of the humans from the random evil besetting the world and the the bad mutant (Michael Fassbender) who also wants to protect all of the humans from the random evil besetting the world.

The thing that really sucks about these stupid Origins movies, though, are the performances. They're just embarrassing. Jennifer Lawrence and James McAvoy have spent the majority of each one of these movies just weeping. Now, I know J-Law only knows how to look sullen in movies, but I am used to McAvoy being a bit more engaging. I don't know what happened to him with this franchise, but he seems only able to cry and tell Michael Fassbender that he loves him. (Not that I blame him for the latter.)

As for what this movie was about. I don't think I can even remember. Ancient Egypt. Apocalypse. End of the world. Tye Sheridan (love him even though this movie is dumb). Something something the secret to it all is actually Jean Grey something something. Wolverine cameo. Lachrymose actors. Crisis averted. World returns to normal. McAvoy and Fassbender say goodbye with some difficulty, while McAvoy looks smugly condescending and Fassbender looks bored.

Days of X-men past:
The Last Stand
Days of Future Past
The Wolverine

I'm not doing it again, I tell you.

13 December 2016

Summing Up 2016

1. What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before?
Visited the Mayan temples at Cobá and Tulúm.
Went to Savannah to try to see some haunts.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I had three resolutions last year: to finish writing my book, to cook through Ottolenghi's  Jerusalem, and to have noticeably bigger arms. I kept the first one. I mostly finished the second one. The third... well, although I did Insanity every day during the Summer, as soon as Fall rolled around I started slacking again. The job I have takes up an enormous amount of my time, and working out every day means not doing any of my own research. The arms, in other words, are not noticeably bigger. Maybe in the Spring I will figure out a better plan?
I'll probably make some resolutions for next year, but I need to think about it more.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! Carlos and Danis had their son Owen. And Aaron and Kristen welcomed little Caleb.
And Mike and Brandee brought home baby Poet.
(After this was posted, my friends Rick and Jill welcomed their daughter Maura Alessandra.)

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No. But I am keenly feeling the loss of bisexual adult film star Alexander Gustavo, who took his own life on December 17th. [NSFW link to this story here.] And George Michael died on Christmas Day. I will, perhaps, write something more about these two deaths, which have really saddened me.

5. What countries did you visit?
México. Three friends and I went to Tulúm in the state of Quintana Roo for Spring Break. I saw many Mayan ruins. I laid on the beach. I did a Temazcal ceremony. I ate lots of ceviche. It was lovely.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
A contract for book #1.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
As much as I'd like to, it's going to be pretty difficult to forget election day of 2016, November 8th – the day we found out that a lot of people have decided to give up on liberalism in the U.S.
June 12th, too, is going to stick in my memory for a long time. The Pulse shooting, where 49 people (mostly queer people) lost their lives to a homophobic American terrorist, happened only 9 miles from my apartment. I had had a really fun weekend with my friend Adam, but woke up to horror on the news.
Also March 11th, the night before my birthday this year, was amazing. More on that below.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Finishing the first draft of The Violate Man this summer.
Doing the Insanity program again at age 35.
But let's be real with one another: 2016 has been a garbage fire of a year. Everyone agrees. Simply surviving it without going totally nuts is an achievement worth acknowledging.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I fail, frequently, to be patient with others. I have also failed, in many cases, to communicate to my friends how much I love them. It is easy for me to disappear into solitude. I need to be better about this.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I didn't. I had a little tiny flare-up of the diverticulitis, but I went directly to my doctor, got on antibiotics, and we think it went away.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I bought a beautiful new table.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
The heroic men and women who stood up against our government's plan for the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Senator Bernie Sanders.
Seth Meyers.
President Obama.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
American Democrats, who decided, as a group, to run a candidate far to the right of their supposed values. I am not trying to be a Monday morning quarterback, just noting that I was disappointed in the values of these Democrats.
American Republicans, who decided, more as a group than anyone thought, to elect a man whom everyone agrees is totally unqualified to run our government. It seems that many of these voters hate Hillary Clinton beyond all reason, or they are simply so tired of the American experiment that they wish to burn it all down. Fair enough, but to have chosen to elect this man is irresponsible in the extreme.
President-elect Donald Trump, who proved himself a racist, fascist demagogue incapable of leadership, sense, and even basic politeness.
The Christian Right, who apparently care only about fetuses, and care nothing for the lives of men, women, and children who are already alive. Honestly, the fact that American Christians have not moved boldly behind movements like Black Lives Matter as a group is astounding to me. I find it indefensible, in fact, and void of any logic whatsoever. How can potential lives matter more than actual ones? And I'm certainly not suggesting that this political group needs to choose between the two. What should shock us all is that they have.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Travel, actually, which, when I think about it, is a pretty good decision.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
ASTR 2016
Summer! Actually, I think the answer to this question is: the end of the school term.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
Frank Ocean's "Solo" was definitely the song I listened to most this year.
And although this song came out in 2009, the song that will probably remind me most of 2016 is RuPaul's "Cover Girl".

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Happier
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter
c) richer or poorer? Richer. But that's saying nothing.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Hiking. Hanging out with friends. Reading.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Teaching. I like it and all, but boy do I sure spend a lot of time doing it.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I'll be in Los Angeles. I can't wait.

21. Did you fall in love in 2016?
Uh... no.

22. How many one-night stands?
Every year I forget to keep track of this. I think that's probably because I think keeping track is sort of sex-negative. At least 3 – an improvement on last year!

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I watched way more television this year than I have in the last decade. I watched season two of American Crime for work (it was good!), but more importantly, 2016 was the year that I got hooked on RuPaul's Drag Race. A student sent me a video of an episode of the All Stars 2 season, and it was totally compelling. Now I'm watching my way backwards. I've seen seasons 8, 7, and most of 6. I am honestly not that interested in the cattiness of the queens, and I think the worst part of the show is the judges' completely inane puns during the runway sequences. But I love watching these gay men interact with one another and tell their stories. It's really beautiful.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Last year I was like "Who has time to hate people?" but this year has brought out a lot of bullshit. I still don't think I hate anyone. But I have definitely run across one or two folks in the course of my job whom I find completely unbearable.

25. What was the best book you read?
Nick Salvato's Obstruction is a beautifully written book about writing and the work and blockages involved in creativity.
I fell in love with a couple of great plays, too: Jackie Sibblies Drury's We Are Proud to Present a Presentation about the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, from the German Südwestafrika, between the Years 1884–1915 and Chantal Bilodeau's Sila.
I have been disappointed in many of the contemporary novels I've read recently, but not disappointed at all with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah.
And as for classics, I loved Invisible Cities and 2001: a Space Odyssey.
Oh! One more. Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts. It's surprising and beautiful.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
James Vincent McMorrow. (Thanks, Kody!)

27. What was the best piece of theatre you saw?
I saw very little good theatre this year, but at Orlando Fringe I saw a little piece called Darlings by a group called Animal Engine that I really loved.

28. What did you want and get?
Attention from a publisher.
A new album from Frank Ocean.
A new movie from Pedro Almodóvar.
Oscar nominations for Charlotte Rampling and David Lang.
An Oscar for Son of Saul.
Legalization of marijuana in several states.

29. What did you want and not get?
The dismantling of American prisons.
I mean, look, I'd like a lot of things – increased police accountability, an end to violent American colonialism, an attempted mitigation of the destruction we are causing to the planet, more liberty for individuals in this country. I understand that these things are not priorities for many USAmericans. So I try to keep my desires in check.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
It's still early December, but so far it is Embrace of the Serpent.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 35 and spent the day in Tulúm, México. Three friends and I joined four strangers for a Temazcal sweat-lodge ceremony the night before my birthday, and we sweated and sweated in a room filled with red-hot stones. The Temazcal is supposed to be a way of connecting with the earth and connecting with the elements. It is designed, as well, for the participants to get rid of things they no longer wish to carry and then restrengthen themselves before joining the outside world again. The ceremony took almost everything out of me, and I needed help standing as I got out of the lodge. My friends and I all had similarly powerful experiences, and we realized we were all too frail to go back to town immediately, so we walked out onto the beach at night and sat on the sand quietly feeling the wind and the surf. It was a powerful way to ring in thirty-five.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Someone with whom to share it.
But then again, maybe not. I am very used to living alone, at this point. I'm not sure I could manage another person taking up space here.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Terrible. I don't think I went shopping once.

34. What kept you sane?
Travel. This year I traveled much more than I usually do. It always makes me anxious, still, but my trips to México, to Chicago, to Minneapolis, to Ft. Lauderdale, and to Savannah this year were all so necessary to my well being. Living far away from friends means that one needs to pack a bag and go see them every once in a while. I did not go to Virginia this year, even though I usually spend much of my summer there, and instead I went to lots of other places. I am sure it was the right decision.
And group chats. I have one on facebook with my friends Alex, Ryan, and Patrick. It definitely keeps me sane. Those three help me navigate the absurdity of academic listservs, job market woes, and publishing anxiety with generosity and grace. I love them. But I have 2 group chats via SMS as well: a group of high school friends who share jokes and ridiculous products for sale, and one called "Firing on All Six Cylinders" with a group of roommates from grad school. I need all of them in order to keep an even keel.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
 Colin Kaepernick

Alden Ehrenreich

 Danell Leyva

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Black lives matter. Say it. And keep saying it. And if you can't say it, or don't want to say it, let's talk about why that is.

37. Whom did you miss?
More than anyone else, my colleagues in the Northeast.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Deborah Hartranft

39. Tell us a valuable life-lesson you learned in 2016:
Stop volunteering for things! You have enough to do on your own; you don't need to go making more work for yourself by trying to help people out. It is nice to be a nice person, but really you need to protect yourself.

40. Share an important quote from 2016:
"Regard everything that lies around you like the luggage in a hotel room. You must move on. You came in at nature's behest, and you are going back the same way. You are not allowed to take out more than you brought in, or rather, the main part of what you brought in with you into life must be laid aside."
Seneca the Younger, Letters on Ethics 102.24-25.

11 December 2016


Antonio Campos's Christine is not an easy film. It follows a very depressed young professional who is working as a television news reporter in Sarasota, Florida, a very small television market where she reports on things like strawberry festivals and local chickens and crises related to county-line disputes. The depressed Christine can't seem to gain any kind of traction with her difficult boss, and she is also consistently saying the wrong thing in confrontations with him, making things even more difficult for her then they already are.

I watched Christine last Thursday night in a theatre completely empty of other patrons, and I couldn't quite blame audiences for not showing up for this movie. As I say, it is not easy to watch. In fact, much of it is downright uncomfortable. Rebecca Hall's fierce performance as the eponymous Christine never gets bogged down with trying to make the audience love her. Instead she pushes the awkwardness to the extreme. Christine is difficult to watch because Christine herself is so unbearable. She's rude and unlovable, nasty to her competitors and over-compensatingly abrupt with the people she likes. This is a portrait of a woman going through a breakdown, something she finds insanely difficult to master.

As the film's third act began, though, I started to wonder but where is this all headed? How does one end a film like this? I am an idiot and did not realize that the story of Christine is the true story of reporter Christine Chubbuck, whose story became household knowledge in 1974. In any case, the film follows the story of the real Christine, and the film ended in a way that I found completely surprising and totally justified. (Incidentally the film's denouement is pretty near perfect.)

But the standout here is not the difficult subject matter of Christine, but the skill with which Rebecca Hall plays this fascinating character. Hall's performance is extraordinary; she tears into the part remorselessly, and refuses to pity Christine, even as she sympathizes with her and loves her. It is one of the best performances of the year, and the picture is worth seeing just for her. If, however, my lack of companions at the theatre last Thursday night is any indication, don't look for Hall to garner her first Oscar nomination come January. Christine's complex and difficult subject matter is not going to find audiences queuing up to see it.

06 December 2016

The Handmaiden

Park Chan-wook's The Handmaiden (아가씨) is sexy and surprising and mysterious. It is also beautifully composed and gorgeously directed, while also managing to be quite funny on occasion. This is an erotic lesbian thriller with many nods to the Marquis de Sade that also stars the gorgeous (and brilliant) Ha Jung-woo. It is a mystery film that changes genre at least once and still revealed secrets all the way up to its great ending. Absolutely not to be missed!
Ha Jung-woo

03 December 2016

The Riot Club

Distasteful. This is supposed to be a portrait of masculinity run amok, corruption, and the absolute contempt of the wealthy for those classed lower than themselves. It is certainly that. What the film doesn't do is actually tell us anything we do not already know. Worse yet, either director Lone Scherfig expects us to enjoy all of this pathetic masculinity or it wishes us to love hating it. This is entertainment? I just hated it.

23 November 2016

Gett: the Trial of Viviane Amsalem

Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz's movie Gett: the Trial of Viviane Amsalem (גט - המשפט של ויויאן אמסלם) is mesmerizing, challenging, difficult, and finally pretty damning. I liked it very, very much, and Ronit Elkabetz is fantastic in the lead role.

20 November 2016

The Witch: a New-England Folk Tale

Well that was super fucked up and interesting. I was really into this. The Witch is not a horror movie, though, it should be noted. Robert Eggers' film is a character study about desire and religion. There are definitely horrifying things in this, and The Witch is certainly suspenseful and occasionally scary. But its subject matter is all too real. I had a great time watching this.