Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Thursday Thirteen #157


The movie, not the ship. As we wait to see which film will be named Best Picture of 2011, let's look back on the new classic that was named Best Picture of 1997. (14 years ago! Suddenly I feel quite old.)

1) The movie had been scheduled for release in Summer of 1997, but it was nowhere near ready. Industry buzz was that it would be an expensive flop when it was released that Christmas.

2) Titanic is the most successful movie to ever win The Best Picture Oscar. Movie goers bought approximately 390 million tickets to see it at the theater. That doesn't count sales/rentals of the DVD or subsequent viewings on TV. It's impossible to guess how many people have seen it worldwide. (When you adjust for inflation, Gone with the Wind and The Sound of Music both made more money in the US, but those movies weren't as popular overseas as Titanic.)
3) The movie's massive popularity translated into TV ratings. The Oscar telecast in 1998 had a viewership of 87 million in the US alone, the largest ever.

4) It was nominated for 14 Oscars … Tying with All About Eve as the most nominated of all time.

5) … and won 11. Tying with Ben Hur as the most Oscared of all time. (I've seen Titanic more than once, but am somehow not remotely interested in Ben Hur.)

6) Kate Winslet and Gloria Stuart have the distinction of being nominated the same year for playing the same character in the same movie. They both lost. Kate to Helen Hunt in As Good as It Gets, Gloria to Kim Bassinger for LA Confidential.

7) The movie studio pressured director James Cameron to hire Matthew McConaughey for the role of Jack, but he insisted on Leonardo DiCaprio.

8) Cameron trusted Winslet to ad lib. Memorable moments he credits to her were Rose spitting in Cal's face and saying to Jack, as the ship sinks, "This is where we met."

9) Obsessed with the real ship, Cameron has taken several dives down to the Titanic. Since the ship was only afloat for four days, Cameron believes it's possible that, over the years, he has spent more time with the ship than her original passengers did.

10) Much of the stateroom is historically accurate, but not the famous staircase. Men were taller in the 1990s than they were in 1912 and if the staircase had been built to scale, the actors would have looked disproportionately big.

11) That beautiful staircase actually was destroyed when literally ten thousand gallons  of water crashed down it. Obviously that scene was shot in one take.

12) The "ocean" that the extras "drown" in was really only 3 feet deep.
They were, however, stuck in it all day long for several days.

13) Originally "My Heart Will Go On" was an instrumental. At first Cameron was adamant about not wanting a theme song. Composer James Horner went to lyricist Will Jennings himself and commissioned lyrics, and the two men had Celine Dion record a demo before presenting it to James Cameron. (And now I will have that damn song in my head all day.)

For more information about the Thursday Thirteen,

or to play yourself, click here.

Soul Questions

Liberated from Snarky Pants. If you answer as well, let me know. I'd love to check out your responses, too.

1. What is your dream job?

This job is close. I enjoy being a writer and I still get a lot of pleasure out of a job well done. My client is ethical, and not all financial services providers are. I have fantabulous benefits, and after the surgery last year, I appreciate that so much. BUT the politics get me down. If I could work from home two days a week, only showing up at the office three, I think that would be ideal. I'd have less face-to-face with people who get on my last nerve, and I'd have energy to do other things.

2. What fulfills you?

Helping, sharing, affection. Genuine exchanges. Ali Wentworth wrote in Glamour about knowing her husband (George Stephanopolous) was "the one." She said being around him is as comfortable as a quilt, that he "gets" her as though they had always been members of the same tribe, that she can confess the most intimate things to him and still feel safe. Spending time with a friend like that is the most fulfilling thing I can imagine. When I think back on the bestest moments in my life, it's these.

3. What’s your greatest fear?

Being helpless. Dependent. Completely vulnerable. Utterly unacceptable to me!

4. What do you want more of in life?

Resources. Time and money and energy.

5. What is your greatest accomplishment?

I am exceptionally good with animals. Part of it is natural, some of it has been learned over time. One of my greatest feline teachers was Tara. She bore the scars, both physical and emotional, of abuse when I first brought her home. Considering how she'd been treated, the dignity with which she carried herself was enormously touching. Helping her learn to trust humans again, giving her a second chance and a peaceful life through the end of her days, is one of my greatest accomplishments. As are the happy lives I've given every other animal entrusted in my care ever since.

6. What are you ashamed of?

My sloppiness/laziness. I don't just mean the paper that has a tendency to take over my dining room paper. My emotions can overflow sloppily all over the place. And I can be very lazy. I hate that.

7. What makes you sad?

That, while I love my family very much, I don't feel like I'm one of them. Family gatherings can be my loneliest, saddest times.

8. What’s the hardest thing you’ve experienced?

I feel like the woman in this scene. As a child and teen I was beaten by my older sister, once thrown so hard into the stove that the force of my body caused a gas leak. I was sexually molested and taunted by a relative. Then I wasted a decade with a very cruel man.


I used to think it was all my fault, that there was something wrong with me that attracted fists. But I learned that it wasn't my fault. I was just born into a really messed up family and there was no one emotionally available or equipped to protect me when I was young. I was unwittingly being groomed for that abusive "romance." Now that I understand all this, it's my life now. My past is not my destiny. I can make my own happy ending!

9. What’s great about you?

I'm smart. I think on my feet. I'm passionate. I'm loyal. And I can find the humor in just about everything.

10. Who are you?

As Wilbur the Pig eulogized Charlotte, I am a true friend and a good writer.

11. What/Who inspires you?

Strength and discipline. I've told this story before, and I'll tell it again here:

These two photos take turns on my desktop, revolving from one into the other, telling the story of the day in the life of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis that provides just one example why I admire her so.

These photos were taken the same afternoon, moments apart, in autumn, 1971. The photographer who took the first shot and appears in the second shot is Ron Gallela. He hounded Jackie on a daily basis, dressing up as Santa Claus to shoot her while shopping at Christmastime, hiding in coat racks for photos of her dining and sometimes even smoking (gasp!) with friends, chasing her in a speed boat while she water skied, following her into movie theaters, etc. When her children were young they still had Secret Service protection and she would ask the agents to, "Please smash his camera," and usually they would. It got so bad that in 1972, just months after this incident, she actually took him to court and got a restraining order. I often wonder what would have happened if Princess Diana had been as ballsy as JBKO; perhaps she'd still be with us.

Anyway, Jackie was running a quick errand, crossing Fifth Avenue in front of her apartment building, when Galella sidled up near her and called her name. She reflexively turned and smiled. When she saw who it was, and that this time he had an accomplice with a camera, she simply slipped the dark glasses on (thereby making the subsequent photos he shot worth a little less), kept her face impassive and kept going.

She hated Galella. He was a stalker and he frightened and enraged her. Yet look at her control. Sure, she could have lost her temper with him (Marlon Brando literally punched his teeth out), but that would have given Galella a front-page shot he could have retired on. So she just withdrew into herself and kept going.

I wear my heart on my sleeve. I have a difficult time with my temper, which often hurts no one else as much as it does me.

I hope if I gaze at her long enough and remember the story, some of it will rub off on me. "Remember, Gal, just put on your sunglasses and keep going."

And, of course, faith in God. I always have God.


To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think you’ll read next?

This week, my answers have a veddy British flavor.

1. The Beatles: The Biography by Bob Spitz. I got this book in 2005 when it first came out but I didn't really read it. I just flipped back and forth from the index to "the good parts." Now I'm reading it in a more conventional way and am struck by how quickly the Lads' saga blew by. I lived it in real time, and didn't realize the whirlwind I was witnessing. But they were really only the band we all know from 1962 to 1970. Not very long at all, when you consider the impact they had ... and continue to have. 

2. A Royal Duty by Paul Burrell. The memoirs of Princess Diana's butler, the man she called, "my rock." It was nice to revisit the Princess of Wales as she's been on my mind because of all the attention William and Kate are getting. It's hard to believe that "Wills" is now almost 30, and his mum was only 36 when she died. It was also a fun read because I'm watching Downton Abbey and it's always entertaining to peak "downstairs."

3. Oh, hell, I don't know. Last week I didn't expect to pick up the big (900+ page) Beatles bio and go through it. Whatever I choose, I think it's time to return home from Jolly Old and read something that takes place in the US of A.

Go here to play along and check out other answers.  

I Want Wednesday

I want to fake until I make it. I think I done good today. For when I read an email this morning from my oldest friend, detailing how unsatisfactory Monday's job interview went, I resisted my first impulse, which was to scold. I didn't say: "Why are you applying for jobs that would require you to pull your troubled daughter out of her high school at the very moment she's making headway, to move your son out of district so he doesn't even qualify for the most basic college tuition break, and break your lease and further damage your already seriously-compromised FICO score?"

Because even though I know that, when I say such things, I am trying to knock some sense into her so she will have a less chaotic, happier life, she may just hear, "Why didn't I think of that? I suck." So instead, I just responded with a nice, non-judgmental inquiry about her search for jobs closer to home. 

This was my last big revelation of 2011, and I'm hoping to be a better friend by taking it heart, today and every day.

Two Girls for Every Boy

Ah, Archie, why are you such an asshole?

Archie Bunker is a "gentleman" my oldest friend met through an online dating service. They had several phone calls before finally meeting for lunch before Christmas. She came back a smitten kitten. Like her, he likes to write (he has a blog). He's a minor celebrity (a local sportscaster but he hasn't been on air much). Like her, he has health problems (primarily diabetes, and he's been on disability for months, hence his low profile). He complimented her face, her smile, her smooth shiny hair.

He has texted her repeatedly that he wants to see her again but can't because he's too sick. And, according to his blog, he has been in and out of the hospital for his blood pressure and diabetes. BUT through Facebook he keeps everyone up to date on his activities. First he worked on a float for the Rose Bowl Parade, and last week he posted a photo of himself, with a shit-eating smile, flanked by two blondes. Svelte, 35-to-40-year-old blondes. The one on the left is wearing a zebra print skirt and black hose. They are former coworkers of his from Pittsburgh, and he's showing them around LA.

My friend is a big girl. Like Lane Bryant/The Avenue big. It was mean of him to post photos of the float and especially those blondes, knowing he is leading her on, knowing he "friended" her and she can see the evidence of his feeble excuses.

I always thought he was an asshole. From his blog and FB page, I know he's forever angry -- at Obama, and OWS, and "coddled" young people, and (my favorite) angry people. My friend is a conflict-averse woman with a chaotic personal life, so I didn't want them to get together because I could only envision unhappiness.  

But I didn't want this, either. How could he be so thoughtless?  

I don't know know how she feels about this. I don't know for a fact that she's seen the photo, and I won't ask her because I don't want to embarrass her. But I do hope that I'll never have occasion to mention Archie again.