Tom Shales on the Oscars:
There was a time, perhaps when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, that actors and other winners at big award shows tried to come up with smart and clever remarks when they made their acceptance speeches. It was almost a competition in itself. The practice has dwindled to almost nothing. Mostly people come out and simply recite long, boring lists of names — lists and lists of lists — that ironically or not help make the program listless. There is probably no way the practice can be stopped, and winners will continue to thank their relatives, lawyers, first-grade teachers and anyone else whose name pops into their heads instead of attempting to be witty.
It is about as entertaining as watching Jell-O congeal, and it helps dispel whatever vestige of excitement remains in the doling out of the Oscars. The show was moved up earlier on the calendar this year in part because there are so many other programs handing out showbiz trophies on television. The Oscarcast should probably be put back where it was, because when it’s the last or almost last of the award shows, it at least has a sort of climactic sensibility to it, and that helps one tolerate the torture….
Read the whole thing here. And as you do so, recall the prefaces to the last half-dozen non-fiction books you read, and resolve anew not to do likewise when you write the preface to your next book….