Tuesday, 2 October 2012

BITS + PIECES: Junot Diaz awarded MacArthur genius grant + Seth McFarlane to host the Oscars

“It left me thinking about my childhood,” says Dominican-American author Junot Diaz (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, This Is How You Lose Her), on being one of this year’s 23 recipients of a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant”. “It would never have dawned on me to think such a thing was possible for me,” Diaz added, reflecting on his early years in New Jersey “struggling with poverty, struggling with English. “I came from a community that was about as hard-working as you can get, and yet no one saw or recognized in any way our contributions or our genius. … I have to wonder, but for circumstances, how many other kids that I came up with are more worthy of this fellowship than me?” 

Among this year’s other recipients are mandolin player and composer Chris Thile, Northwestern University historian Dylan C. Penningroth, and David Finkel, author and national enterprise editor for the Washington Post. The grants are annually handed out in a secrecy-shrouded process. Winners have no idea they’ve been nominated for the $500,000 awards until they get “the call,” and nominators must remain anonymous. 
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Joining a rarefied pantheon that includes such stalwarts as Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and Steve Martin, Seth McFarlane – creator of the hit animated series Family Guy and American Dad – has been tapped to host the 85th Academy Awards (aka The Oscars), slated for February 24 in Los Angeles. “It’s truly an overwhelming privilege to be asked to host the Oscars,” MacFarlane said in a statement. “My thoughts upon hearing the news were, one, I will do my utmost to live up to the high standards set forth by my predecessors; and two, I hope they don’t find out I hosted the Charlie Sheen Roast.” 
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Food, glorious food! Restaurant Week, that fine annual celebration of dining-out in style at cut-rate prices, returns for its 2012 incarnation from November 9-16, and will be observed in major towns across the island. Being observed under the theme “Eat Up, Live Up, and Win!” this year’s staging will allow Jamaicans to participate in fun contests, win exclusive passes, and cop great prizes.




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