And the Candy Bar Goes to...

I can never go to more than one party when the Oscars are on. It would be my luck that while driving to the second one, I'd miss a famous moment like the streaker who ran across the stage, or when Brando had that little Indian girl pick up his award. During the Super Bowl, it's easy, because the halftime show always sucks. I never mind driving to a second party at halftime. The day before the Oscars, there was a party at Caffe Calabria in North Park, put on by Ken and Chris Calloway for the fourth straight year and attended by many of the folks who run the San Diego Film Festival. They had a red carpet out front, velvet ropes, and a large statue by the door. It wasn't an Oscar. It was a woman. Chris explained, "It's Oscar's girlfriend, Eve. This party is the night before the Oscars, but we call her Oscar's Eve."

Inside near the entrance stood this great backdrop of a car with a moving background in the windows. A cameraman was filming and a sound person held a boom mike, and they let people do a scene from Breakfast at Tiffany's. It was fun to watch couples doing this.

The first person I talked to was Wally Schlotter. He's the chairman of the film festival and told me about events they have, the biggest being the San Diego Film Festival in late September. He was wearing his sunglasses, which made him look very Hollywood. We agreed on all the movies that came out this year, on which ones were great and which ones sucked. The only debate was about Million Dollar Baby. He loved it, and I thought it was the most overrated film of the year. And Clint Eastwood getting nominated for an acting Oscar, when this is the same character I've seen him play for 30 years, is ridiculous. Chris walked by and said, "That's what is great about this party. We can talk about all those movies that were nominated. During the Oscars nobody talks, because they are watching the show and listening to the winners."

Wally told me a story about how Jeff Bridges was going to come to an event they put on. The festival was going to give Bridges an actor as humanitarian award. When the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park displayed all his photos, he went to that event instead. Wally told me how the event Bridges had done for almost 20 years is called the "No Show Ball." The invitations Bridges sends out say that you can help end world hunger, with 100 percent of the proceeds being donated. The invite states, "Because you won't have to eat rubber chicken and listen to boring speeches or put up with silly skits, send $100. Because you don't have to rent a tux or a limo, send $250. You won't have to buy your wife a new evening gown, send $300." Bridges lists all different reasons why you should send more money, including $50,000, since you can sit at home in a T-shirt watching television and leave your Learjet in the hangar.

Wally introduced me to Karl Kozak, who had some interesting stories to tell me about the film festival. Reader critic Duncan Shepherd mentioned recently that San Diego didn't need another film festival, but Karl explained that their festival takes all films. It's not for just Latino films or Jewish films or gay films.

His wife Robin was pregnant, and I asked if she had any names picked out. She said "Brooklyn" since it has letters from her and her husband's names. I said, "What about Brooke? That has the same letters." I think Wally and I then started talking about actresses who have given their babies funky names. (Gwyneth Paltrow and her daughter Apple are the only example I can think of at the moment.) I think that was our subtle way of saying we didn't care much for the name Brooklyn.

An Italian woman came up to me and with her thick accent commented on my Jack Nicholson shirt, which showed his face coming through the door from The Shining. She told me she loved Nicholson, especially in As Good as It Gets. I told her that movie was good, but I never bought the relationship with him and Helen Hunt. She said, "But I loved all his disorders and the way he walked down the street trying not to step on certain things. I actually know people like that."

When a few limos pulled up for this party, it started to look like the real Oscars. I went to the door to take a photo of a couple dressed up. The man was wearing a tux, and his blonde date had a sexy gold dress. I said something to them as I took their photo. She responded, "My stomach is so sore from modeling all day." I responded, "My stomach is sore from eating all day."

After the third person I saw in a tuxedo, I thought that if you owned one, this was the perfect event to wear it to. How often do you get the opportunity to wear a tux? Aside from senior prom and some friends' weddings 15 years ago, I haven't had the need for one.

There were a few guys with fedoras, with the word PRESS on the side, taking photos as people came in. It was a great re-creation of old Hollywood.

One woman walked by, and I told someone that she looked exactly like Joan Rivers. He responded, "Yeah, and she probably thinks she looks like Joan Collins."

There were ballots on which you could pick the Oscar winners. And there were lots of prizes, including movie tickets and a giant framed picture of an Oscar.

I saw a guy who I thought was an old friend of mine. When I said my friend's name, the guy looked at me and walked away. I realized it wasn't him. This guy was Devin Scott, and he had a film that has won awards at various film festivals. It was called The $5 Movie, and it was hysterical. A room had been set up with 25 seats to show some films. The $5 Movie starts with a six-year-old kid doing a home movie with his parents. The father was newscaster Loren Nancarrow. It was a blast watching this little kid direct, then watching as he got older. He went from film school doing the same film (in an arty way), to big-time Hollywood (where he yelled at assistants and demanded coffee), to doing the same film porn-style in the back of a limo. I told him later, "I've never seen anyone get more out of Loren Nancarrow in my life."

I said something to Wally about Devin's shiny silver jacket. Wally laughed and said, "He was actually named the San Diego Filmmaker of the Year last year."

Another cute film was called Superman Safety Crossing. A guy in a Superman outfit helped people walk across the street in Hillcrest as the theme music from Superman played. The people looked at him as if he were crazy, as he directed traffic (which wasn't necessary, with the street lights). It reminded me of a Letterman bit.

I was invited to the group's Oscar party the next day, which was at the UltraStar Theaters in Del Mar. The thought of watching the Oscars in an actual movie theater, with popcorn, sounded cool. Ken told me, "UltraStar does that at four different theaters here. They give away tons of swag during the commercials. It's the only fully digital chain, so they can run live television on the screens."

There was a short Asian woman taking photos, and she had the cutest laugh. I had seen her setting up food earlier. She told me she had volunteered for the event. When she asked why I was writing, I told her I was doing a story for the Reader. She told me her friend knew Barbarella. I said, "Sometimes she writes about parties she goes to. I was thinking about telling her we should both go to the same party and see how different the articles on the same party turn out. Her talking about cats and what boa she was wearing and my talking about the food and cute chicks." And, in one of the weirdest coincidences imaginable, I looked up and saw a black-and-red boa. I said, "Barbarella, this party is already spoken for. I'm writing about it, so you can't." She laughed and we had a good conversation. I'm not sure if she'll write about the event, though.

As I was leaving, I asked Wally if he had anything he wanted to add. He said jokingly, "Make sure you mention the film festival. And you can say I was intelligent, extremely handsome, single, and fun to talk to."

He was all those things. He was also, as Jerry Seinfeld would say, "a close talker." There were times we'd be talking about some old movie, and he was only inches from my face! I guess I'd rather have that than someone who gave me my space but didn't have anything to say.

The next day I went to an Oscar party at Leslie's house in Point Loma, near Sunset Cliffs. The view of the ocean from her living room was spectacular. But I noticed a huge house being built right in front of hers. She said, "I know. I hate that. I should've taken a picture before it was built and put that over the window."

Every time another person entered the house they would say, "I can't believe you are losing this view. Aren't you mad?" I counted five people commenting on this. But one of her childhood friends told me, "She didn't tell you that when she lived in O.B. she built a place that blocked a bunch of people's views." Leslie laughed.

Since my friend Patrick and I were the first ones at the party, Leslie was changing her clothes and told us to let anyone in. As I did let a few people in, I would ask, "And what are you wearing?" To me, it's the stupidest part of the Oscars, to have everyone at the red carpet asking the stars this. One, I don't care what they are wearing. Two, isn't this just a commercial plug for these designers?

One lady entering, when I asked about her outfit, said, "Levi jeans and a shirt from the Gap." Another woman spun all the way around to show her outfit and said, "It's Robinsons-May." One woman told me, "I'm wearing my work clothes here." Her husband said, "I got my clothes at Amvets."

I didn't think Chris Rock was that funny as the host. A few jokes worked, but others were old. Patrick said to me, "They wanted hip and edgy, and they got a rerun."

I didn't see how talking about President Bush was relevant to anything. If Rock wanted to make fun of the other actors (as he did) that was great. But why Bush? Don't get me wrong, I love when Letterman does it. Or anyone. But at the Oscars? Do we really need actors and comedians telling us how they think politically? I think Sean Penn is the most amazing actor, but he doesn't have a clue about politics -- and when he got mad at Chris Rock for making a joke about Jude Law, he showed he had no sense of humor, either.

A French woman at the party commented, when Beyoncé sang one of the nominated songs in French, that "...her accent is so thick, I can't even understand what she's singing." None of us could figure out why she sang three different songs and why Antonio Banderas sang one (and when Jorge Drexler won for his song from The Motorcycle Diaries, "Al Otro Lado Del Río," he got up there and sang, which really confused me; he sounded a lot better than Banderas did).

When Prince was on screen, I commented on him having more makeup than Beyoncé. One woman said, "He looks a lot like Robby Benson."

During commercials, we'd go grab food off the counter. Lots of people brought different things, but the hit was a ten-pound Ghirardelli chocolate bar. We spent half an hour trying to figure out how to break pieces off of it.

When the movie Ray won for sound editing, someone yelled, "He should thank Ray Charles for being blind and not deaf."

The French woman and her boyfriend wanted Ray to win everything. They loved the movie, but it turned out, they hadn't seen any of the other nominees. I thought Ray was great but had problems with them not dealing with all aspects of his life (his first wife and his nine illegitimate kids, among other things).

Leslie complained about a lot of the movies this year. She said they were all depressing. I didn't have a problem with Million Dollar Baby being depressing. I just thought it was poorly written (yet the screenplay got a nomination) and couldn't believe Eastwood won an Oscar for best director (and he cost me my pool, since I picked Martin Scorsese). Using Morgan Freeman to narrate has been done, the music Eastwood used didn't work (using evil music when the dirty boxer got into the ring was so corny), and a few of the characters were silly. But I was happy for Hilary Swank, who was amazing in that role (and beat out former San Diegan Annette Bening for the second time).

After Leslie commented on Closer being about a bunch of losers, I said, "You have to like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. That wasn't depressing." She said, "Yes, it was, and all those people in it were so flaky."

One couple at the party talked the entire time. We kept turning the volume up on the TV. Another lady was knitting.

I heard one couple complain that Million Dollar Baby and The Aviator won so many awards. They talked about all the films released and how just two movies winning so many awards wasn't fair.

I wouldn't have a problem with that. The problem I had was that my favorite movie of the year, Sideways, only won one award (best adapted screenplay, which was from the book former UCSD student Rex Pickett wrote). And I hate the fact that I picked 13 winners correctly and lost my pool by one pick.

I guess there was one person more upset than me after the Oscars. Martin Scorsese.

Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Josh Board.

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