Wherever the Road Leads

Academy Awards

Self-aggrandizing extrordinaire

I watched one of the movies nominated for Best Picture: Nebraska. I enjoyed it. Filmed in black and white, it is the story of an older man, Woody Grant (played by Bruce Dern), as a husband and a father who has received a notice from a ‘Publisher’s Clearing House’ type organization proclaiming that he has won one million dollars. Woody wants to travel from his home in Billings Montana to collect his winnings in Lincoln Nebraska.

Woody no longer has a driver’s license, so decides to walk. It is set during the approach of spring in Montana, probably mid-July. The movie becomes a road trip story with Woody, his son and eventually his cantankerous wife of many decades as they encounter parts of Woody’s past and his ultimate arrival at the ‘Publisher’s Clearing House’ office, two states away.

For the first fifteen minutes, I didn’t think I could watch it, rather, listen to it. I had flashbacks to the movie “Fargo”, another movie with Upper-Midwest characters and accents. I find accents fascinating. Southern US, goes without saying. I like Scottish, Irish, South African, Australian… even French-Canadian because it is so bad, but the Upper-Midwest accent is like nails on a chalk board.

Have no idea what I mean? Think Sarah Palin, born in Sandpoint, Idaho.

I like Sarah Palin. I thought she would have made a good Vice-President and an even better President than her running mate, John McCain. And she’s cute… but hers would have been a tough accent to take for four years. (However, it would have much easier to watch her after hitting the remote’s ‘Mute’ button than it is with our current man in the White House.)

I believe the pronunciation and particularly the cadence of the Upper-Midwestern (and also Canadian) accent is due to the Finnish and Germanic settlers. A sentence rises and falls as it is being spoken, particularly rising towards the end, with the final word being the ubiquitous “eh?”. From the Germanic comes the constant… and I mean constant… use of what may have started out as the European word “ja” or “jah”, which has been adapted as “Yah”.

It is always possible to tell when an Upper Mid-western family or a Canadian couple is on HGTV, perhaps buying a house or renting an apartment, if you listen to the number of times “yah” is used, or my personal favorite, “Yah, eh?”. Don’t believe me? Here is an excerpt from the movie, “Fargo”.



So yah, eh, I thought “Nebraska” was pretty good, although it is quite a slow-paced movie.


hustle-120Another “Best Picture” nominee that I watched was “American Hustle”. This movie was so engaging it took me three different times to finally get all the way through it. In fairness, I watched most of it on my phone in the customer waiting area at Canadian Tire as they ‘Canadianized’ my truck. But even there, I gave up on it before the end, deciding that pricing window-wash anti-freeze would be time better spent.

Amy Adams is very good, as usual. Jennifer Lawrence plays an over-the-top New Jersey housewife, identical in obnoxious attitude and behavior to “The Real Housewives of..”, Christian Bale is pretty good dressed in 70’s disco clothes and Bradley Cooper plays an ambitious IRS man. I paid nothing to watch the movie and I got very little Return on Investment which, if you do decide to rent this once it comes to RedBox, you will see is a play on words.


And the winners were…

… Hollywood’s favorite causes: hard-done-by blacks, and poofters.

Best Picture was “12 Years a Slave”. Best Actor was Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club”, a story about Aids.

I vote we bring back “Leave it to Beaver”.

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