Ten reasons last night's Golden Globes was the best kind of awards show

As awards shows go, it was a night of surprising self-awareness, when almost everyone seemed in on the joke of their own ridiculousness.

This article first appeared on newrepublic.com

The 2014 Golden Globes made for thoroughly entertaining TV. Hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, unsurprisingly, struck the perfect tone, at once sharp-edged and good-natured. But on the whole – as awards shows go – it was a night of surprising self-awareness, when almost everyone seemed in on the joke of their own ridiculousness. So here are the ten highlights of a very meta, very enjoyable show:

1. Fey and Poehler's sneaky you-go-girl humor, i.e:

  • Fey: "Gravity is the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age."
  • Poehler, after labeling Jennifer Lawrence's face with her own name: "It's hard to believe she's a 42 year-old mother of two." 
  • Fey: "August Osage County [proves] that there are still great parts in Hollywood for Meryl Streeps over 60."

2. Fey and Poehler parodying the idea of intra-Hollywood female cattiness: the recurring joke of their fake feud with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, their introduction of Emma Stone ("Our next presenter told us earlier that she isn't looking for new friends.")

3. Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie from The Wolf of Wall Street ad-libbing their way through a teleprompter mistake in which they were showed the wrong script. Said Hill: "Let's be real about it, that was not for us."

4. This wink from Robert Downey Jr.:

5. The charming jitteriness of Spike Jonze's acceptance speech for best screenplay ("...my agent, who gives me advice when I'm being anxious, like right now.") 

6. Jim Carrey: "Dying is easy, comedy is hard. I believe it was Shia LaBeouf who said that."

7. The dumbfounded spoof of an acceptance speech that resulted from Andy Sandberg's genuine shock at his win for Brooklyn Nine Nine: "The crew's really good. The writers kick A. Everyone on my 'team'."  

8. The bit in which Fey introduced her "adult son from a previous relationship" – Poehler in drag, who wandered through the crowd in search of a father, alighting on Idris Elba and Harvey Weinstein.

9. Cate Blanchett's grateful, unaffected speech after winning best actress in a drama: "Can people at home hear this music, or do they just think you are suddenly having a panic attack?"

10. The cowboy swagger of Matthew McConaughey after his Dallas Buyers Club win: "This film was never about dyin' it was always about livin' and with that I say just keep." 

This article first appeared on newrepublic.com

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, hosts of the 2014 Golden Globes. Photo: Getty
Iain Cameron
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Meet Scotland's 300-year-old snow patch, the Sphinx

Snow patch watchers expect it to melt away by the weekend. 

This weekend, Scotland's most resilient snow patch, dubbed Sphinx, is expected to melt away. The news has been met with a surprising outpouring of emotion and nationwide coverage. Even The Financial Times covered the story with the headline "The end is nigh for Britain's last snow". The story has also gone international, featuring in radio reports as far away as New Zealand.

So what is it about Sphinx that has captured the public’s imagination?  Some have suggested it could be symbolic. The Sphinx represents how we all feel, helpless and doomed to a fate determined by leaders like Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. 

Regular contributors to the Facebook page “Snow Patches in Scotland”  have their own, more prosaic theories. One tells me that the British are “generally a bit obsessed with weather and climate”, while another says snow-patches are "more interesting than anything Trump/May/Boris or Vladimir have to say”.

Those more interested in patches of snow than the existential consequences of international relations could be dismissed as having seriously skewed priorities, but there's more to the story of Sphinx than lies on the surface. 

For a start it's thought to be 300 years old, covering a small square of the Cairngorms for centuries with just six brief interruptions. Last time the Sphinx disappeared was 11 years ago. Though it may melt away this weekend, it is expected to be back by winter. 

Iain Cameron, the man who set up the Facebook page "Snow Patches in Scotland" and someone who has recorded and measured snow patches since he was a young boy, says that Sphinx has shrunk to the size of a large dinner table and he expects it will have melted entirely by this Saturday.

It came close to disappearing in 2011 as well, he adds. In October of that year, Sphinx at around its current size and only a heavy snowstorm revived it.

"They tend to keep the same shape and form every year," Cameron tells me. "It might sound weird to say, but it’s like seeing an elderly relative or an old friend. You’re slightly disappointed if it’s not in as good a condition."

But why has Sphinx survived for so long? The patch of land that Sphinx lies above faces towards the North East, meaning it is sheltered from the elements by large natural formations called Corries and avoids the bulk of what sunlight northern Scotland has to offer. 

It also sits on a bid of soil rather than boulder-fields, unlike the snow patches on Britain's highest mountain Ben Nevis. Boulder-fields allow air through them, but the soil does not, meaning the Sphinx melts only from the top.

Cameron is hesistant to attribute the increased rate of Sphinx's melting to climate change. He says meterologists can decide the causes based on the data which he and his fellow anoraks (as he calls them) collect. 

That data shows that over the past 11 years since Sphinx last melted it has changed size each year, not following any discernable pattern. “There is no rhyme or reason because of the vagaries of the Scottish climate," says Cameron.

One thing that has changed is Sphinx's title is no longer quite so secure. There is another snow patch in near Ben Nevis vying for the position of the last in Scotland. Cameron says that it is 50:50 as to which one will go first.