Oscars pale next to the spectacle of Baltimore

This Just In...

March 25, 2002|By Dan Rodricks

I MISSED MOST of Oscar night. I just couldn't stay up and watch. But tell me: Did Jennifer Lopez wear anything at all this year? Did the "old Sean Penn" show up and bust Will Smith in the face? Did Judi Dench play boy-toy to Hugh Grant? Also, I bet someone cash money that this was going to be the year Tom Cruise arrived in a nude-toned Versace thing with plunging-to-navel neckline. Yes? No?

Meanwhile, I have my hands full thinking of great performances and cinematic opportunities right here under our noses -- in and around Baltimore, Queen City of the Patapsco Drainage Basin. The envelopes, please:

Best Director: John M. Rusnak, for allegedly directing $691 million of Allfirst's money out the window.

Best Makeup: John M. Rusnak, for allegedly making up "fake docs" as he directed $691 million of Allfirst's money out the window.

Best Score: Maryland 87, Duke 73, Feb. 17, 2002, at Cole.

Best Live-Action Short: Mike Bordick.

Best Future Role for Russell Crowe: John M. Rusnak.

Best Title of a Future John Waters Movie: Steamed Females. A family-run Baltimore crab house splinters when dad (Billy Bob Thornton) announces he's divorcing mom (Holly Hunter), moving with his stripper girlfriend (Star Jones) to Ocean City and taking his secret recipe for crab fluff with him.

Best Subject for a Stephen King Screenplay: Baltimore's mass paranoia of snow. Also a fine subject for King treatment: wine aficionado Robert Parker.

Best Future Role For John Larroquette: As Parris Glendening, Maryland governor, in a film called Come To Papa.

Best Opportunity to Destroy a Building in the Next Schwarzenegger Film: That parking garage at the Pratt Street entrance to Little Italy. Runner-up: the "visitor's center" at Constellation Dock.

Best Art Direction: The chefs who handle the sushi at Minato downtown and at Sushi Hana in Towson. Runner-up: City Paper's "living Halloween masks."

Scenes We Wish They'd Edited Out: Mike Mussina in a Yankees uniform. Runner-up: Cal selling those bobblehead dolls on QVC.

Best Sound: This goes to the new management at the Daily Grind on Cold Spring Lane, for finally turning down the music so you can hear the voice of the person sitting two feet away from you.

Best Opportunity for a Coen Brothers Adaptation of Poe's "Fall of the House of Usher": Baltimore Orioles (1998-2001). Second place (if they're not careful): Baltimore Ravens.

Best Future Role for Baltimore in a Major Motion Picture or Television Series: As a setting for a Civil War drama. The first bloodshed of the war, divided loyalties, public officials in jail, federal guns aimed at downtown, the Underground Railroad, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln sneaking through on a train. It's got all the elements.

Worst Future Role for Baltimore in a Major Motion Picture or Television Series: As the setting for another crime drama.

Best Actor: The guy who stopped me at Mount Pleasant Ice Arena one winter evening to ask for cab fare because he needed to return to Washington to visit his mother. He said his mother's name was Ethel Merman.

Best Supporting Actor: Don Scott, skilled straight-man sidekick on WJZ's morning show.

Best Actress: Kathleen K. Townsend, in the role of governor-in-waiting.

Best Supporting Actress: Frances Glendening. She supported her husband all the way to the governor's mansion, then got thrown over for a younger woman from the chorus.

Peter Finch Memorial Trophy ("I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."): Nine bucks to park for less than three hours at Towson Commons.

Oliver Hardy Award ("That's another fine mess you've gotten us into."): Two winners -- Rusnak at Allfirst, and Peter Angelos, for losing Rafael Palmeiro and Mike Mussina.

Best Special Effects: Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, for the seasonal, special-occasion light displays at the former Stieff Silver Co; of late, they appear to be flashing Terps red-and-white. Runner-up: TV meteorologist Norm Lewis' neckties.

Emily Litella Award ("Oh. Well. Never mind."): Martin O'Malley gets this for passionately promoting, in his first few months as mayor, the so-called Early Disposition Court, which was in short time declared a failure and merged with a fast-track court that was in place when O'Malley took office.

Best Costume Design: To Towson University, for new prez Mark Perkins' elaborate robe with $25,000 gold medallion.

Most Fishy-Smelling Location: The seafood section of Han Ah Reum, Asian supermarket in Catonsville.

Most Fishy-Smelling Idea: The CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield proposal to convert to a for-profit company, for the benefit of thousands of Marylanders.

Best Visual Effects Indicating Spring: Shad roe in Lexington Market, asparagus in Cross Street Market, Baltimore kids with new shoes for Easter, and a 60-something guy wearing white shoes, white belt and white tie with a blue or green polyester suit in Towson or Dundalk. (If you see this guy, please report him to the Maryland Historical Society. They might want to put him on display.)

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