Monday, March 06, 2006

My Oscar post

I noticed that everyone was posting about the Oscars, so I thought I'd post about MY Oscar experience. But first, why do we call them the Oscars? I mean, I've been doing it too, although it's actually The Academy Awards where they give awards called Oscars. But it just slips out, y'know. To say "Oh, the Oscars..." That is, when I'm not completely screwing up and calling them The Grammies. Which I've noticed other people doing as well, including television and radio personalities. But enough of this, onward....

I've been looking forward to the Osc......The Academy Awards this year in particular because one of my very best friends was hosting them this year. Okay, so maybe Jon doesn't actually know he's one of my good buddies, but trust me when I say he is. I depend on sitting down with a nice long conversation with him (albeit a one-sided one) each and every night at 11 pm sharp. He keeps me sane and able to cope while living in my lovely but conservative little backwater town.

Keep in mind this last comment, about living in the backwaters. The boonies. Podunksville. Remember it when I move on with my story and get to the part where I have to take the straw out of my teeth because I'm such a hick I didn't KNOW.

So, I was looking forward to Sunday night, a big bowl of popcorn, and an evening with the stars from the comfort of my own pet-hair covered couch. That is, until my son decided to get all injured and hospitalized and in need of his mother (or maybe, his mother was in need of him) and that trumped the whole couch scene in a big way. Instead I packed up the car with William, Rosie, snacks, enough music CD's for about 12 hours on the road, enough clothing for a week, a bunch of other stuff, and off we went from the top of California to the bottom.

I'll save you the confusion of explaining all the details, suffice it to say it saved us eight hours plus of driving, which is why we left several days early and why we were on the road on Sunday instead of home making popcorn, and why although I was on my way to see Joe, we had extra time to waste on the way down. Joe and Lisa arrive home from the hospital and Georgia tomorrow while we beat them here last night. My reason for explaining all this, badly I think, it's late and I'm using an unfamiliar computer and the keyboard is slow, is to explain why I offered to do something fun for William on the drive down.

It had to be something that we could do with a small dog in tow so I nixed several suggestions, including Mammoth Ski Resort and Disneyland. I suggested we could go to Hollywood and do the Walk of Stars, see Grauman's Chinese Theatre. William thought that sounded "tight", so the plan was made. I printed out the instructions to get there from Mapquest and made sure we made it to the LA area early enough to have a few hours to walk around before it got dark.

Now, I've been to, rather through Los Angeles dozens of times. Except for a wedding in the Malibu area once decades ago, my idea of a good LA experience is missing rush hour and making it from the Grapevine to Pendleton AFB at top speed (which only happens, honestly, if you go through sometime between 11 pm and 4 am). It would be extremely safe to say that my knowledge of the geography of the greater LA area consists of knowing which freeways I want to be on, which ones I don't want to be on, and the ocean is to the west.

As we approached the last few miles I whipped out my handy Mapquest instructions and was busy concentrating on following them while simultaneously not rear ending another car or driving in more then one lane at a time. So you'll understand when I say that my first inkling of things being not the norm was when our Hollywood exit was just seconds away and I saw the freeway sign that warned of serious traffic back up on that route and suggestions to use the next exit. In a split second I had to juggle the knowledge that if I used the next exit I would be hopelessly lost with the observation that there were other cars getting off at the exit despite the flashing sign. I took the exit and hoped that whatever was causing the traffic delays was a thing of the past. This was about, oh, 3:30 in the afternoon, Pacific Standard Time.

A few blocks off the freeway I spied the second sign, one of those movable highway signs with the flashing arrows. This one said "Left Lane Limos Only". So I stayed to the right and within moments we were creeping through a scene from, well, from, DUH, The Academy Awards!!!
Black limos, short ones, stretch ones, smaller expensive cars that were NOT limos but were still black and had tinted glass and were trying to be discreetly not ostentatious. People in tuxes and long black evening or service coats EVERYWHERE, like a sudden afternoon infestation of penguins. We crept through block after block of road blocks and law enforcement, holy COW, law enforcement. Police on all four corners of every intersection for six blocks in every direction.
By this time we had completely gone off our printed directions, so I rolled down the window at a stop and asked one of the police officers how to get around this mess and where was Grauman's Theatre please? One block that way, he pointed, but told us we couldn't get close because of the road blocks. I assumed he meant we couldn't get close by car, and we found a place to park in front of some apartment buildings on the side of a hill about six blocks away. There were lots of other people parking, or locals walking dogs, most of them with cameras in hand, all walking the same direction. We didn't know what we were all going to see, but figured since we were there already, by accident, we might as well find out.

We managed to find the start of the Hollywood Walk of Stars. We got as close as across the intersection from Grauman's, where the entire area was blocked off and was obviously being used as the back exit into the Oscars. The noise was deafening - not from the crowd but from the helicopters, planes, and a really cool blimp completely painted in brightly colored abstract shapes. Lots of press were going through, their supplies being searched by police. Plenty of tuxes here as well, and quite a few woman in evening gowns and shoes NOT meant for walking down sidewalks. Probably not anyone terribly famous or they would have been dropped off over by the front where the aforementioned "limo lane" fed them, presumably, into the Red Carpet, but then again, I probably wouldn't know if they were famous or not, unless they were really big name faces.

Other people were taking photos, some with big fancy work cameras, others like me with compact digitals. I took a few photos, but only of the general hubbub and odd things that caught my eye. Big cities are fascinating photo opportunities. So while most people were taking pictures of whoever they thought were important photo material, I was taking shots of plants and odd mosaic tile doorways and tropical palms and cracks in the sidewalk and reflections of buildings in building windows and police standing by statues of goddesses and all sorts of odd things. And yes, I took a picture of Johnny Depp's Star. I did! So get over it. I didn't get down and kiss it or anything. I just put my foot in the picture. Sheesh. It's not like it was embarrassing or anything. Unfotunately, William disagreed with me. He thought his goofy mother pointing her camera up, down, and sideways, and talking in a loud, friendly, oh-so-not-cool voice was terribly embarrassing and so we headed back to the car. He swore it was just because he was bored, but I think the trying not to be seen walking with me until we were past the crowds was sort of a giveaway to how he really felt. Ah well, embarrassing my teenagers. That's my job. And apparently I'm damn good at it.

Back at the car, we couldn't decide if we were disappointed we weren't able to wander farther or excited that we'd stumbled into a "phenomenon". We discussed all the famous people we didn't actually see but were obviously just a few yards away from us behind those dark tinted windows. We decided who we'd most have liked to see in person if we had had the chance.

We made it to San Diego that evening after a couple hours more driving and a stop for dinner. The Academy Awards were just getting over but the After-Awards shows and interviews were just beginning. We unloaded the car and plopped down on Joe and Lisa's couch with our leftovers and caught up on who won what and who wore who. And every once in while they'd cut to an outdoor shot of this place or that and we pointed at the television excitedly and shouted

"Hey, we were there!"


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