Sun., April 1, 42 A.B.

I've spent much of my first faucet-free weekend in five months pondering the Academy Awards.  Maybe this is because the recent death of actress Toby Wing reminded me that the cinema is more than merely an annoying mispronunciation of "cinnamon" and maybe it's merely because I prefer to think of anything at all, no matter how meaningless, rather than face a house buried in five months of cat fur.

In any case, I was very disappointed to learn that Tarantula! failed to win the Best Picture award.  This is about the 45th year in a row it's failed to win, yet each time the presenter fails to call out its name at the climatic moment of the evening I am just as surprised and bitterly disappointed as the year before - maybe more so.  It is, after all, one of the best giant bug movies ever made, and someday I'm sure Hollywood will recognize this by naming it Picture of the Year, if only inadvertently.

Although I missed this year's ceremony, I had high hopes as I finally got around to scanning the list of winners Friday night.  It being a new millennium and all, I thought for sure that someone in Hollywood would finally have realized that the best way of injecting some genuine excitement into the proceedings would be to bestow the big prize on a 45-year-old giant bug picture that had never even been nominated, but no - leave it to the Powers That Be to mindlessly follow along in the rut which doesn't allow for such innovative behavior.

What won instead?  Gladiator.  HA!  As if anyone wants to watch normal size men fight in a normal size Coliseum set in a normal size Rome in a normal size Roman Empire!  You and I both know damn well that the only reason people go to see movies like this is because they hope to catch a glimpse of a giant mantis rearing up over the top tier of Coliseum seats or watch wide eyed as a humungous ant bursts out of a box they'd been led to believe contains nothing but a lion.  Well, what a total disappointment this flick was in that regard.  I don't believe it even briefly showed so much as a slightly overweight honeybee meekly hovering in the distance, let one the U.S. military showing up to swat it away just before it sucked up the nectar from yet another innocent gladiola.... 

What makes it all so much worse, of course, is the fact that in all respects besides intrinsic bugginess, the two movies are virtually indistinguishable.  I mean, compare Tarantula! and Gladiator for yourself:  Both have 9 letters, both have 4 syllables, both have a single capital letter - really, it's a wonder the voting members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences were able to keep the two straight in their own minds long enough to mark their ballots.  Indeed, it is my strong suspicion that the final vote tally which resulted is either merely the result of utterly random markings or reflects the influence of nefarious outside forces - forces not above resorting to bribery, blackmail, or Chinese voodoo to achieve their evil objectives.  How else to explain the Hollywood establishment's inability to recognize that the relative quality of a movie is easily determinable by counting the number of exclamation points immediately following the title??

Ahh, well, there's always next year.  In the meantime, we're free to enjoy Tarantula! as many times as we want in the sanctity of our own little movie palaces.  Among the highlights I can't wait to see again:

-----  Expert biologist Stephanie 'Steve' Clayton leaving her boss, Professor Gerald Deemer, to toil away in the lab all alone in the middle of the day after succinctly explaining, "Science is science, but a girl still has to get her hair done!"

-----  Town doctor Matt Hastings taking a tour of Professor Deemer's lab, suddenly seeing a small, unmarked bottle of nondescript liquid in an adjacent room full of chemicals, and exclaiming, "Hey - isn't that an isotope?!"  And of course it is indeed!

-----  Town doctor Matt Hastings (see above) going with the sheriff to investigate the oddly eviscerated carcasses of several cows in the countryside, discovering huge pools of a mysterious white substance nearby, and then kneeling down to taste a sample.  With his very own tongue!

-----  Betty Grable running off and hanging herself after the title character suddenly pops up and shows her what a great set of legs REALLY looks like.

That's it - I gotta go experience it all again for myself right now!

And who knows?  Maybe this time I'll even watch it with only eight fingers covering my eyes!

Starring Toto in his second most famous role!




(© Now from a distance of 50 paces by DJ Birtcher
using only a rocket-propelled fountain pen and a pinch of luck)