And the winner is . . . hmmm.
Maybe there isn't a winner this time.
If you went by the calendar, this should be a weekend of great excitement. Speed-demon stock cars are zooming dangerously around the high banks at Daytona. Designer-outfitted stars are stomping up the red carpet for Oscar night. But there is so much blah in the air -- not just this stubbornly persistent winter -- it's a little hard to relax and enjoy it all.
The absurd expansion of the Academy Awards is part of the problem. The list of best picture nominees goes on so long now, it basically includes every movie anyone ever saw. But the odd stuff is popping up everywhere.
New York City fourth-graders are puzzling over slavery math questions. ("One slave got whipped five times a day. How many times did he get whipped in a month?") South African "Blade Runner" (and alleged girlfriend killer) Oscar Pistorius is out on bail, free to date again. Now we learn that perfect couple Diane Lane and Josh Brolin's divorce papers were signed on Valentine's Day.
But this weekend, it's Washington that's the real buzzkill.
A major budget whack, designed to be so awful no one would let it happen, is suddenly on the verge of taking effect. It's a symbol of D.C. dysfunction. It's embarrassing to all concerned. It has real consequences on real people's lives. And it's coming this way.
"Sequester." No Oscar for that show.
1. Best Impossible Compromise
2. Best Really Bad Idea
3. Best Unintended Consequence
4. Best Ideological Rigidity
5. Best Reason to Shut Down the Place and Start Over Again
ASKED AND UNANSWERED: They're too cool to share a name with us? Are Long Island City activists really agitating to shorten the 'hood's official name to LIC? Who'd like to deliver a geography lesson to these Queens ingrates? "Lick"? "Lice"? How's that pronounced, anyway? . . . Who has a snappy slogan for tomorrow's school-funding rally at Walt Whitman High in Huntington? "Hey, Albany, give us more"? It's a maddening complex issue to slap on a picket sign . . . This won't help resale, will it? Chris Panza says that, since Sandy, hungry rats have chomped the furniture, torn holes in the walls and forced his wife and kids from their Bellmore home . . . Will this summer's Alive After Five be more family-friendly or just more boring for Patchogue's sundown partyers? . . . Does Brookhaven Councilman Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld ever go on vacation? After slamming Supervisor Ed Romaine for sitting out the blizzard in Jamaica, he'd better study the forecast before he books any trips . . . Have you put the state's gas-gougers hotline in your smartphone? With pump prices soaring again, 800-214-4372 could come in handy . . . Cops, prosecutors, jailers, politicians, academics, criminals: Who will try to grab credit for Suffolk's 10-year homicide low? For a much shorter list, ask: Who won't?
THE NEWS IN SONG: "Anything you want, you can achieve": "Get the Prize" by Lyricson, tinyurl.com/dawinna
LONG ISLANDER OF THE WEEK: GARY BRUSTEIN
They are rocks, but not just any rocks. The six ancient LifeRocks, up to 10,000 pounds each, come from ancient China, where they are revered for their healing powers. Now, they form a new rock garden outside Katz Women's Hospital at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, soothing new moms in the second-floor maternity ward and anyone else who stares down or wanders by. “Everyone sees something different in these rocks,” says Gary Brustein, the luxury-car dealer who donated them after many trips to Shanghai. “One rock looks like an elephant. One looks like a mother and child. All I know is they bring peace to people at a difficult and stressful time.”
Follow on Twitter @henican