Personal Best 2008 | Oscar | People & Places | South Florida

Nobody expected Oscar the Featherless Bird to become a pheenom. When she arrived at the Broward County Humane Society 12 years ago, she was in bad shape (that's right, Oscar's a girl). She was sorely afflicted with what's known as "beak and feather disease," a grinding, degenerative condition that shortens the lifespan and strips an afflicted bird of its plumage. Veterinarians gave the struggling cockatoo an outside chance at living another six months.

The warm-hearted staffers at the Humane Society, impressed by Oscar's indomitable spirit, took her under their wings and made her the shelter's resident mascot.

TLC has done well by Oscar. By now, she has long since outlived all lifespan predictions, and she's become a celebrity. As far as Oscar is concerned, the Humane Society is a booking agency, and it's easy to see why the media flocks to her. Call her an embodiment of the Subtropical Life: she's quirky, often erratic, and she shows a lot of skin.

New Times stopped by for an interview recently and found Oscar exhausted. She had already chatted with another reporter that day, done some video of her latest dance steps for the Ellen DeGeneres Show, and turned down a television request for Jimmy Kimmel Live! But like the true classy celeb she is, Oscar (via her human interpreters) spent a few minutes answering our questions.

NT: In any great horror or sci-fi film there's always a hero and a villain; which character do you associate with most?

Oscar has always been an underdog of sorts, a true champion when facing adversity, so she feels a deep connection with the virtuous heroes of the silver screen.

Which movies do you most identify with?

Her video library is extensive. Oscar has always had a fondness for Hitchcock's The Birds, although she feels conflicted while watching it. And on rainy afternoons, she likes to pull out her old VHS copy of Treasure Island — she's always felt a kinship with Long John Silver's parrot. Had she been born in a different time and place, Oscar's certain that she, too, could have navigated the seas in search of fortune.

Christine Dolen is a busy writer with a busier mind. Her range is large: she can find a funky angle or a weird hook for just about any story, and she is always more interested in celebration than analysis. Maybe half of her writing constitutes real criticism; the rest is an attempt to get the Herald's readership in touch with what's vibrant, exciting, and alive about SoFla theater. To that end, she'll occasionally whip up a sentence that would look more at home in The New Yorker than in a SoFla daily, like this one about the big cheese at The Women's Theatre Project: "This is Meredith Lasher's life: planted atop a 14-foot ladder, she hangs theater lights as she talks about a grant application." No one else in the theater community would have bothered to check the ladder height, but that's Dolen. She doesn't miss a trick. In the name of comprehensive coverage, she began a blog last year (called "Drama Queen," which you can access from where she posts everything that's important. From dish about new plays or the goings-on at college theaters to a blow-by-blow on The 24 Hour Theatre Project and some righteous bitching about the Carbonells, Christine wants to tell you about it.

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