Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What Do I Get?

We are a nation of incentives. No one does anything anymore without asking, "What are you going to do for me?" We wonder why the next generation displays selfish and entitled attitudes to work, people, and world; yet never stop to think it's because we made them that way!

Sometimes, these incentives correct past wrongs or seem positive on the first glace. The new health care reform bill will provide insurance companies and businesses with incentives to promote good health and "wellness". I am clearly ignorant, because I thought that was already the plan. Shouldn't insurance companies want us to be healthy and not in need of their services? Wouldn't they prefer to rake in the money while rarely having to shell any out? Oh wait, they already do that. I know the adage that insurance companies have no soul, but now they could buy one or simply allow the government to loan them one. On a positive note, I like the idea of businesses give employees breaks in insurance payments for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. On NPR today, it was implied that some will give you up to 50% off for attending wellness retreats/lectures. Sign me up! My insurance doubled this year and my wallet feels the pain.

Other incentives aim to help the less fortunate become more fortunate, though not successfully. In New York, the government handed out incentives ($25-150) to low income individuals for not quitting their job, going to the dentist, etc. Surprisingly this was unsuccessful. Can I get $100 for staying at my job? It might improve my moral.

An incentive caught me in its cross hairs yesterday. Like many people, I've been dodging my creditors for a few weeks now. The logic that I can pay above the minimum on my account and still not make a dent (this is not figurative) is infuriating. I can't believe it's legal! Finally, they got me- I received a free $50 gift card from them, all I had to do was call. Damn. It is a sad state of affairs I find myself in when I can easily be bought for $50. So, thanks major credit company, after mulling over the amount of money I owe you that I simply don't have and have no idea how I will come up with it in 2 weeks, at least I can drink myself into oblivion.

We live in a nation and a time of "me", which isn't inherently bad in and of itself; however we must ask what the outcome will be. I am the most selfish person I know, yet I understand that some things are free and must remain so. We bribe and cajole others to do what we want them to do, when they should want to do it, to do the right thing, all on their own. I'm at a loss as to what it will take to re-plant the seed of volunteerism, of friendship, of pride even; that will get more people to step up to the plate. This is not to say that giving your kid extra TV time, a dollar, whatever; for finishing their vegetables is a bad thing. But, when did everything become an option? I didn't grow up that way. Sure, my Granddad spoilt my sister and me with a dollar per "A" on our report card; but I still had to sit at the table and eat my peas like everyone else; no matter how long it took. Maybe that is why the idea of rewarding corporate good behavior rubs me the wrong way.

Is there any way to get back on track without it?

Monday, March 29, 2010

It's Bambi- Run!!

I was so excited to be invited to my friends BBQ last night. We all look forward to the time of year when the venison hits the grill. I should mention, he is an avid hunter and his venison is like no other- moist, tender, flavorful. What better way to live my new principles than with grass fed, locally raised and butchered deer meat. What I didn't consider, was that my body would not react in the same way it has previously.

Long story short, I can no longer put away a pound of meat. I should have stopped at the hamburger. Instead, I went back for sausage and steak. It was so good, but so bad and I paid for it dearly this morning. If you're going to reduce or cut out anything from your routine, it's important to remember that you can't eat it like you used to. I just wish I had remembered that last night.

Which seems like the perfect segue into Meatless Monday and my new foodie blog. Recently, I feel as if I've spent too much time talking about food and food issues which was not the original intention of The Art of Throwing Stones. So, I decided to move my usual rants to a more appropriate place, Veggie Sometimes. It will be full of recipes, news, rants, politics, etc. I hope that those of you who enjoyed my food blogs will follow me there. This is not to say that I will never talk about food on these pages; Chez Gris your amateur cooking knowledge will still be here, as well as any recipes that are not appropriate for the other site. I look forward to seeing you all there!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What's Up Netflix!

Food, Inc.- 5 stars- I cried twice while watching this film; partly because I cry all the time now at the movies, and partially because it was so sad. I am already aware of what factory farming is and what it entails. If you are not, this will be a bit of an eye awakening. What I didn't expect was how the impact of those practices would affect others. I cried the first time during a segment on Kevin's Law, which would give the USDA the authority to enforce its own standards, help identify pathogens (Salmonella, E. coli, etc), and set performance standards in the processing of meat. Did you know it didn't have that authority? It's shocking! The law is named after a 2-year old boy who died while on vacation with his family after eating a tainted hamburger. The second time I cried was during a segment about soy. Who knew soy was such a touchy subject? Apparently, one company owns the rights to soy (they engineer the seeds and force farmers to use those only). Those who want to use their own seed are forced to hire "cleaners" to weed out the copy written product. The company then sues these cleaners for copy write infringement, effectively taking away their lively hood and putting them into further debt. It's sick. Watching this film confirmed for me something I have been feeling for a while- that to feel better about myself (both internally and externally) I need to be more aware of what I put into my body (market!). I am now cutting out most meat from my diet, eating only ethically raised meat when I do, and more fresh and leafy produce. I hope everyone watches this film and thinks about what they are doing, not just to themselves but to others.

Four Christmases- 2 stars- Maybe it's because I didn't see this movie until March when it finally came off long wait (what are people doing with this movie for 4 months?), but it is not good. I'd say it's really a 1 star movie, but I didn't turn it off, and that seems to be worth a star. The acting is fine, but the writing and premise are horrid. Selfish Vaughn and Witherspoon would rather do anything than see their family for the holidays. You start to feel bad for their families until you meet them. They are horrid. Did the writer visit the island of misfit toys to get the ridiculous archetypes for each branch of the family? There are the hillbillies, the evangelical Christians, the hippies, and the rich but absent father. I don't mind a bit of "whimsy" and comical artifice in my holiday movies, but this was ridiculous. I'd skip it all together and rent "Home for the Holidays" with Holly Hunter instead.

The Time Traveler's Wife- 3 stars- Let me be clear upfront: I haven't read the book. It seemed ridiculous and I think Oprah liked it and I can't support any novel Oprah deems relevant. I have added it to my "to reads" section of Goodreads, and hopefully it will expand on the themes and relationships in the movie. This is not to say they are not explained, simply that I'm not sure it could have been done to an outsider's satisfaction in 107 min. The film is well acted, especially by McAdams; as the long time but forgotten love of time travelling Bana. This movie was close to getting 4 stars, but the unanswered questions nagged me to the end. Why does he time travel? How long does he have between shifts? How can the past and future exist in the same time, let alone interact with each other? This movie needed a big dose of Sci-fi honesty to get another star. Still, it filled the void of girly-romance I was desperately in need of.

Witches of Eastwick- 4 stars- I didn't rent this; it was on TV a while ago and I finally got around to watching it again. I forgot how poorly it has aged. Everything from the opening credits to the camera angles remind me of a made for TV movie. Last year I tried to read the Updike book of which it is based but to no avail. To say it was a difficult read is an understatement- torturous may be a better word. I was so frustrated! I am an excellent reader, always have been. I loved Thackery for goodness sacks, but Updike was my undoing. Any notion I had of tackling Joyce soon was quickly put on the back burner. The performances are great, of course. Cher (where has she been?) is amazing as is Susan Sarandon. I'm still not sure how I feel about the casting of Jack Nicholson as the suave, handsome object of their desire; but you cannot help but find him mesmerizing. This may be why it works so well for women. What we find attractive is often so much more than physical beauty. You go… boy.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I'm Almost Too Bored for Saturday

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* So, my healthy eating plan is in full swing! I'm trying to cut back the number of meat servings I eat in a week and have been doing pretty well so far. This week, I made some delicious balsamic glazed chicken, had one beef fajita, and blackened chicken salad from Whole Foods. Everything else was veggie. The last one I just couldn't help myself- I love that stuff! Speaking of Whole Foods, they just opened a new flagship store off Park Lane (for all you Dallas readers) and it is inspiring. Everything is easy to find, the produce is clearly marked "organic" or "conventional" along with it's state/country of origin. They've got a bunch of great deals too since they're new. For even better deals, check out the Central Market a couple blocks away- they're topping WF by at least $1. Anywho, I spent a lot less than I thought I would but it will be worth it if I calculated correctly and don't have to go back to the store for 2 weeks.

* I am your new giant Jenga master- bow to me!

* Dear Murderville: I understand that you cannot be anything other than what you are, but can you explain to me why I was awoken by a baby screaming bloody murder outside at 4 in the morning? Shouldn't said baby be asleep, or at the very least in doors? To make things worse, it woke up my upstairs neighbors who took the opportunity to parade around their apartment and keep me up. PS- The crack heads who were carrying on across the street at 4:30 AM had the decency to go inside after 15 minutes. In closing, please keep you babies (and any other illegal number of tenants you have crammed in a tiny 1-bedroom) indoors at night and away from my window. That is all.

* "Did you try double knotting it?"- our imagined answer if you called tech support on your shoe laces. We may have had a few too many Murphy's Irish Stout as well...

* Jennie's word of the day is: pink socks (she is obsessed with her recently pink socks. I am a bit too considering they started life as grey). Her second choice in words is "mistakes" for those of you who cannot work pink socks into your conversation.

* It's all over the news, but I have just one question for Bombshell McGee the alleged former slut of Jesse James- "Exactly how are you not dressed like a Nazi?" Have you seen the pic? She claims this is not a Nazi outfit. Uh... I understand you're not very intelligent, but honey, it is.

* I finally learned something important from my Yahoo! homepage and immediately forgot it.

* Hogwart's is coming! As the movie/comic/life nerd that I am, I need to start planning my trip to Disney Florida asap. The new Harry Potter theme park opens June 18th. I'm so giggly it's ridiculous.

c/o married to the sea

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ode to Wednesday Night

Last night I went to trivia at the local bar as I always do on Wednesday nights. It's a lot of fun and we keep winning, so why wouldn't I go? Usually, my friend Dan hosts but he decided he wanted the day off (lame) so he could play (crap) and he enlisted my team mate and all around smart guy, "Big Brain" Brad. Double crap. I was convinced we didn't have a chance. Our smartest player was running the show, we were competing against the Master of Useless Knowledge, and birthday girl Lauren wasn't feeling well. By the end of round 2 we were in 6th place. Funny how things change.

Let me back up a bit. Trivia is divided into 5 rounds plus a bonus sheet. The 1st is multiple choice, the 2nd is identify the image/person, the third is more multiple choice, the 4th is identify the movie, and the 5th is fill in the blank (with wrong answers receiving negative points). The key to winning is the bonus sheet which could be anything. Anything! Last nights made me want to cry on several occasions so of course I kept it to share with you. The topic: Songs From A Lawyer's Perspective. Instructions: Fight through the legal jargon and over analyzation and give me the name of the song described.

I'll start with one we got right:
"The subject is a card sharp known to travel exclusively via public transportation. While committing the less serious offense of consuming alcohol on said public transport, subject likely provided a fatal dose of alcohol to an elderly person, purportedly in exchange for advice".

Give up? The answer is "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers (though you only needed to put the song title".

Contrary to what Brad says, my team and I did not recognize half the songs! What the heck is "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" or "Street Fighting Man"? I will never talk shit about Dan's bonus sheets again. In the end, we only got 3 out of 10 correctly. I'll give you an easy one and one hard one. Can you guess the song title?

1. The accused and his female accomplice are admitted kleptomaniacs. The accused has a juvenile history of theft-related offenses starting at a shockingly young age. At present, given the limited admission of the accused, the total value of the items stolen by the accomplice on behalf of the accused is of such a nature that Class C Theft is likely the only available charge.

2. A decade ago, a murder was committed in the vicinity of a government building. While the limited number of witnesses at the well-lit scene all agreed that the condemned was indeed the perpetrator, new evidence to the contrary has come to light. A posthumous pardon is recommended on the basis that the condemned had an airtight alibi which he refused to assert at his trial.

Answers to follow.

It was after the movie round (god bless the movie round) that we catapulted up from 6th to 2nd place. In all fairness it should be noted that Dan withdrew from the competition so we were really 3rd if he had been playing, but I don't care. 2nd! What a feat! How do you become a master of the movie round, now dubbed the "get us out of this hole" round? Simple, watch and love obscure movies. Yesterday's media images contained snapshots from:

Just to name a few.

At the end of the last round, were we did surprisingly well, we held on to 2nd place!!! Yea!!! We were so shocked and excited. There was something amazing about hearing our team name over the speaker. Not one to shy away from a double entendre and considering our normal team of 2 ladies and 2 men, became 3 ladies; we called ourselves "3 Ladies Makes a Whole". I don't know where I came up with it, but it sounded dirty and hilarious. Oddly, we were mostly corrected in our inability to perform basic math. Whatever, we won!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Monday Is My Favorite Time of Year

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Monday was the best day I've had in I can't remember when! We were invited to our companies annual awards luncheon so we got to leave work at 10:30 AM to go to lunch at Maggiano's. So delicious (and Meatless Monday friendly)! I had the crispy zucchini, bruscetta, and Italian salad to start, followed by Fettuchine Alfredo, roasted new potatoes, and asparagus for dinner. Desert was Tiramisu and Apple Crostada. We won Property of the Year and word-of-the-day Jennie won Leasing Agent of the Year. It was so exciting, especially when they gave us the rest of the day off! What to do?
Our first stop was the Farmer's Market, which is not a good idea when you've just gorged yourself on Italian food. Just the sight of all that beautiful produce was enough to make my stomach turn. I think it must still be a bit early for the market as there were hardly no local farmers present. If I wanted produce from Mexico or other states I could go to the supermarket. Oh well, I can't wait to go back a bit later in the season and see what's available. There was a sandwich board for a Kosher Meat Market/Butcher and I got so excited, but the shop was closed and I can't find any info on it online. Boo! Where can I buy locally raised and slaughtered beef, etc? On the way back to the car, I spotted the above window and had to take a picture. What is this Fine Foo of which you speak, and do I want to be in a bee? Even though we were stuffed to the gills and upset walking, we had a lot of fun to be outdoors in the beautiful sunshine (yes, I know how ironic that is since I hate the sun) and fresh air.

Next we decided to continue out out of doors escapade with a trip to the Nasher Sculpture Center, however, it being Monday; it was closed. Double Boo! It worked out for the best since the Dallas World Aquarium was open! Who can say no to an aquarium with a bar? We spent the next hour and a half looking at fish and monkeys and sharks and jaguars. PS- the strawberry margarita's are to die! It was so much fun and goofy.
The day was completed with happy hour with friends and a frustrating game of Hearts. I am convinced that game should never be played with only two people. We got all stabby trying to decipher the directions to the game (both of us not remembering a lick about how it's played). This game was designed for children 4 and up, but it would take an IKEA employee to figure out what the directions were telling us to do. Note to Future Self: keep you playing cards in the car not your purse so you will be less frequently without them. Whatever, we got a bit toasted, enjoyed some raucous conversation: "My track ball is messed up"- said our friend as they fondled their blackberry, or just YouTube "3 minute legs"- hilarious!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday's Not What It Used To Be

Sunday's are supposed to be about my week in film, however I have fallen dramatically behind. In a vain attempt to catch up on my DVR- there are still shows from Wednesday on there- I didn't get around to watching my Netflix. In all fairness, this was a holiday week, and I've been busy! St. Patrick's (or St. Patricks's if you celebrated on Greenville Ave) took up a lot of what are normally movie nights.

That's not to say I didn't see any movies this week. That would be "inconceivable"! Monday was the premiere of WWQTW with a screening of Raging Bull. Tuesday I saw and reviewed Repo Men. Both recommended viewing by me.

Last night was the birthday celebration of my friend Lauren (she's popped up here or there in these pages) and we celebrated in the now traditional style- with a Burlesque show. In a new twist from the shows we normally see, this one included a movie premiere courtesy of the USA Film Festival. The first half of the evening showcased some of the talent in the film as well as local favorites. The beautiful and energetic Perle Noir stole the show with her acrobatic routines. The star of the film, Immodesty Blaize, was supposed to perform but cancelled due to "unforeseen circumstances". I'm not sure what those were and would love to hear from you if you know. It became more depressing that she was not performing once the movie started and we got to see the show she usually puts on. "Burlesque Undressed" presents the history of burlesque in a tight 88 minutes, complete with interviews and performance footage of past and present stars. The "older girls" were pistols- so funny! As for the newer generation, I kept wishing to see and hear more- more about what brought them to burlesque, more behind the scenes, more about the current Burlesque scene. Immodesty looks like a cross between Nigella Lawson and Belle du Jour. She's pretty, and she answers the questions, but it never seems spontaneous. I'd give it 3 out of 5 stars. If you're interested in burlesque and it's history it's definitely worth a look.

Regardless, we (certainly I) enjoy dressing up and doing something different then the usual depressing drink-a-thon at the usual bar. I'll post a couple pics as they become available.

On a separate note, I am counting down the days until I visit my sister at college. It will be a weekend full of lectures (yea!), crawfish (yea squared!), and fun. I just hope the weather cooperates this time. Last year, it was so humid I thought I would die (and my hair did)! It's hard to look like the sophisticated city girl when your bangs are clinging to your forehead in a desperate attempt not to wash away.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Kind Saturday... Sort of

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* As you know, I've been on a major food kick for the past year or so- as much organic and local produce as I can afford along with free range/grass fed meat. I think it's important to know what you're eating! Oprah has been running her "Best of..." shows all year and I got to catch one I had wanted to see all about food and responsibility. If you haven't seen it, you can check out clips and info here. The episode featured food author Michael Pollan ("The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "Food Rules"), actress Alicia Silverstone, and clips from the film "Food, Inc.". I knew of Pollan but had never read any of his books, but I will just as soon as I find one at Half Price Books. His food rules are simple and easy to follow; his motto being "Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much". The episode talked a lot about responsible eating and easy ways to change your habits. It seems daunting when you think about cutting out certain foods (I just can't quit you fast food, especially when I've been drinking), however, I haven't eaten a frozen dinner in I don't know how long and feel great about it. My Meatless Mondays leave me feeling refreshed and great all day and Tuesday morning. ( PS- I've been really good the past couple weeks and remembered it was Monday! I'm already prepared for the next Monday with some delicious colcannon I made- skip the bacon, it's not traditional and personally it's gross). Organic produce simply tastes better and isn't that much more expensive than the measly "regular" food. I'm always reminded of Margritte's painting "The Son of Man" whenever I eat an organic apple- they're huge!

Alicia Silverstone was on to talk about her new book "The Kind Diet" and her vegan lifestyle. I don't think I could do it since eggs and cheese are my two favorite foods, but I fully support it! I've been meaning to read her book and become a "flirter" (a person who flirts with vegetarianism/veganism). She is a great spokesperson for the movement and some of the recipes they mentioned sound delicious! The thing I liked most about her was her effervescent personality and charm. The biggest problem, I feel, between vegetarians and meat eaters is a lack of respect and understanding. We have this vision of a militant hippie shaking their fist at us while we eat a hamburger or the glare when you say your vegetarian. I'm sure there are people like that out there, but I've never met any. Think about it this way, if you were attacked daily about your food decisions, wouldn't you become a bit defensive too? Silverstone came across as the kind of person who supports all choices but secretly wishes you would join her on the "kind side". She's vegan and mostly macrobiotic, yet admitted that she's cheated with cheese before. I love it! Imperfection is perfection. I can't wait to get the book and give you a full report. You can learn all about her and the book at The Kind Diet. There is a lot of good information there.

I also thought a lot about my sister while watching this episode. She is vegetarian/pescatarian and has been for many years. It's kind of tough in our house to exclude meat and she has maintained a healthy disposition and perseverance throughout the teasing! While I am an outspoken supporter of everything my sister does, I realized I could do more. We always talk about going to different vegetarian restaurants but I never follow through. I think, in a way, I'm spooked out by them and worried I won't like what they have to serve. I am a historically picky eater. Funny thing is, she never was. the girl ate scrapple once! If I'd only done a bit of research, like I have today, and looked at a menu; I wouldn't have been so worried. So, I am prepared to go to a vegetarian restaurant when I visit you or next time you are in town!

* A recent conversation with Word-of-the-Day Jennie:
Jennie: "They've got a castle!" (I think she's playing some sort of Facebook farming game)
Me: "Well, get a castle then."
Jennie (in a mopey voice): "I can't afford it"
I just burst out laughing! She was so sad to not have this fictional castle... so cute.

* Speaking of which, the word of the day is: confusion (I have no idea why, but it seems to fit the day perfectly)
[UPDATE: For the 1st time, there is a second word of the day and it is "lurned", as in "I just lurned something new". Further proof that Facebook needs spell checker]

* PS- If you have a busy day planned, it's probably best not to stay out until 4 AM the previous night. I wish I could say lesson learned, but I'm sure it will happen again.

* It's hard to tell in the above picture (way to go, camera phone), but that couch says "No Beardos" on it. What the heck is a beardo and why don't they want them? Just another benefit to living in Murderville- discarded crack den furniture. PS- It's been by the curb for a week now. Why is the city not picking it up?

* "I guess I never knew the definition of berry. I thought it was just a fruit that grew on bushes- a bush fruit" (According to my Diet Peach Snapple, a strawberry is not a berry but a banana is. Turns out that is correct, a berry being by scientific definition a fruit whose seeds are evenly distributed on the inside of the flesh. The above was my response. Our general goofy mood and possible hangover made this statement hilarious and dirty. I almost choked on a carrot!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I Wanna Be A Jet Setter Too!

The beautiful and talented Natalie is on her way to Disneyland (for work no less!) and blogged about her low maintenance packing skills. Halfway through a 3 paragraph response, I stopped, deleted, and decided to write my own response. A tip of the hat to today's blog muse!

I am an excellent packer. Perhaps it has something to do with all the travelling I did growing up. I loved packing my own bag and when you go on weeks-long vacations, it's important to make sure you've got all your best stuff with you! It probably has more to do with my Mother and her meticulous attention to packing detail that has stayed with me. Before every trip, my Mother pulls out the packing list from the previous one. I'm serious, she keeps them all! Any adjustments that need to be made are done prior to packing, then it's 1, 2, 3… packed! I do the same thing, though I usually forget that I've saved my list in my luggage so I end up stressing out while writing a new one only to find the old one right where I left it. Oh well, it's become part of the routine.

I refuse to check baggage. Period. The only time this may become a problem is if I ever went overseas, but I'm pretty sure my basic rules for packing would still apply. I have refused to check a bag since TWA lost then found then ran over our bags one summer. We were stuck in the middle of the woods with only what my mother had shipped ahead- primarily "just in case" cold clothes. This leads me to Rule 1: If you're gone for more than a week, think about shipping. With the cost of checking bags, heaven forbid you have more than one; shipping can be a good alternative. We, we meaning my family, only did this when we were spending weeks at my Grams in the mountains of Pennsylvania. The weather is so unpredictable that you have to plan clothing from 40-80 degrees. Shipping bulky, yet lightweight, sweaters and sweatshirts, etc. ahead saved time and money at the airport.
Rule 2: Leave it at home. Think about it- hotels provide shampoo, conditioner, and soap. Many have hair dryers. Your friends and family have all the same things, probably more. Leave it at home. I don't waste time packing shampoo, tooth paste, mouth wash, etc. I only bring my hair dryer if I'm visiting my Gram and that's only because I don't like my Mom's. The point is, think ahead and don't take what they have there.

Rule 3: Sample Sizes. Expert packers agree, sample sizes are the way to go. My quart bag contains travel contact solution, foundation, sample perfumes, lip gloss/balm, sunscreen, eye cream, travel moisturizer, and travel toner. I heart Clinique- their 3-Step skin care system as well as most of their moisturizers and serums come in travel sizes perfect for your quart bag. Other companies also offer travel sizes and they are worth it even if you only travel once a year. Other options involve a quick trip to The Container Store where you can buy smaller containers for all of your favorite products. If you're feeling posh, Bobbi Brown cosmetics sells a travel kit with empty bottles and funnel in a quart sized bag. I think the only thing I take with me that's full sized is sunscreen and foundation.

Rule 4: Pack for the actual time you are there. "I do this," you say. Then you would have never needed to check a bag. You don't need 3 pairs of shoes, 20 shirts, multiple pants. Come on. What would you normally wear in a week? I suggest bringing an extra pair of skivvies, socks, and t-shirt; that is all. Everything else should match the number of days your will be gone. A weekend? That's 4 shirts, 1-2 pairs of pants, and a going out outfit if applicable. One week? 8 tops, 2-3 bottoms, 1-2 going out outfits. Guys, you only need 1 pair of sneakers and nicer shoes if you will be going out in the evenings. Ladies, same is true for you. Flip flops only if you're going to a body of water. Don't forget to count what you're wearing on the plane- that's one pair of shoes, your jacket, etc. I don't understand this fear that you must have every article of clothing with you at all times. You will survive, I promise. Don't forget- you want to keep room in your suitcase for souvenirs right? See Rule 1 above.

Rule 5: "Tetris". I love the way Natalie described the art of packing the bag. Tetris is definitely appropriate. Flight Attendants roll their belongings- it takes less space and helps keep things wrinkly free. Just take your time. The inside of shoes is a great place to store socks/underpants. I took a pair of Wellies with me one trip (in addition to everything else I normally take and still had room for Tasty Cakes in my suitcase!) and used the inside of the boot to hold socks, underpants, flat iron, etc.

Finally, Rule 6: Carry on. Most airlines allow one carryon bag and an additional purse/satchel/laptop case, etc. So, get one and use it. In my weekender: my purse, magazines/books, iPod, make-up bag, my quart bag, hair brush, journal, camera, smokes, sunglasses, polka tot (I'll tell you all about him later). I usually use a cute tote bag for my purse when I travel. It can lay flat at the bottom of my weekender, and will hold any knick knacks I pick up along the way. Whatever I may need from my purse (smokes, keys, wallet, phone) all go in another make-up bag. Everything in its place.

So, next time you're travelling; take the time to plan ahead, think about what you don't need, and utilize everything the airlines will allow you to have. Oh, and remember to have fun and take lots of pictures! Do you have any great travel tips??

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Repo Men- What's New In You?

Last night Word-of-the-Day Jennie and I went to an advanced screening of "Repo Men" courtesy of Red Carpet Crash (thanks for the tix!). The event was also sponsored by Gordon and the Whale (Hi! I've never heard of your entertainment site, but I'm surfing it now. It looks pretty awesome- lots of reviews and give aways). The screening was at Studio Movie Grill (Positive: beer. Negative: lots of people talking and walking around).

If you haven't seen the trailers, "Repo Men" (not to be confused with Alex Cox's amazing cult classic "Repo Man" or the rock opera "Repo! The Genetic Opera") stars Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Liev Schreiber, and Alice Braga. Remy (Law) is best friends with Jake (Whitaker) and both work for The Union repossessing artificial organs (artiforgs) from those who've fallen behind on payments. With the cost of organs starting in the $500,000 range, you can imagine how busy they've been. When Remy's wife threatens to leave him if he doesn't quit repo and move to sales, he decides to pull one last job as his final hurrah (shout out to Rza and a great cameo!). Next thing he knows, he's now on the receiving end of The Unions business and running past due on payments. You see, Remy's developed a conscious as those with near death experiences often do in movies. Needless to say, chaos ensues.

For the most part, I really like this movie. I'd give it 4 our of 5 stars and will probably rent it once it comes out on DVD (if for no other reason than what I hope to be amazing behind the scenes features). The dialogue is witty and just a bit campy. A big gold star to any film that references paradoxical thought experiments like Schrodinger's cat. The action sequences are top notch, especially one earlier in the film where our protagonists discover a nest of past due's aboard a shipping vessel. The soundtrack is equally amazing and features prominently throughout the film. Director Miguel Sapochnik is very competent on his first feature. The editing, camera angles and movement, and performances are great. Where has he been hiding?!? The FX are really great. Located in a future New York (I assume, it's never identified) where every square inch of city space is dominated by skyscrapers and advertisements, blood flows like a Tarantino film and the deaths get pretty creative.

Law is always amazing in these kind of narcissistic, wink wink, performances. You feel sympathy for his character and genuinely want him to succeed. Whitaker chews the scenery in the best possible way, especially in scenes he shares with Law. You really believe the long and deep friendship they share. On the flip side, Braga doesn't really fit in. I understand the need for a female character for Law to play off of, but she is the least fleshed out. Why does he stop to help her when he can't even help himself? Why is he risking his life? Because he loves her? He just met her and from what I can tell she's nothing but a junky (in every possible way). I wanted to know more about her character, how did she get where she was, why does she continue to "upgrade" her body? She is the least developed character. The only other negative I have is the film lagged a bit in the middle. At 120 minutes, it's a long Sci-Fi romp that could have used a little bit of a trim- 10-15minutes max!

What also bothers me is the view that lawlessness is necessary and right. Law gets a new organ, keeps his life, and simply needs to keep working to pay it off. What's the problem? Now that he's "in the system" he feels connected to those who refuse to pay? He doesn't have their problems; a few more repo's and it's all paid off, then he can have his crisis of faith. I'm also disturbed when any character makes a complete 360 in regards to their views, morals, and/or ethics. I just don't believe it. If anything, his line of work should make him all the more aware of how important it is that he pays. Whitaker's Jake makes a beautiful speech to Remy near the beginning of the film, about how the world only works because there is order and consequence. That no matter what people think about them and their job, they're important to the order of things. I just wish Remy had really listened to that speech and maybe been more of a grown-up.
I do wonder how they're getting away with less comparison to "Repo! The Genetic Opera" (as seen above). Both films center on a large conglomerate that produces artificial organs sold at a high cost and viciously repossessed if not paid in full. Drugs and addicts abound. The only difference is "Repo Men" isn't a musical and "Repo!" puts it's main focus on a young girls search for the truth to her identity. The landscape is the same even if some characters are not. Furthermore, the book the film is based on was only recently published in March of last year under the title "The Repossession Mambo"- look for that reference in the film. The movie was written prior to that publication. "Repo!" however, was released in 2008 and based on a stage play that had been performed for years prior. I believe in the adage that there are no original ideas, yet it does seem a bit weird. In full disclosure, I have to admit to not liking "Repo!" at all. Great idea, but no "Rocky Horror".

So, see them both for yourselves and then decide. Might I suggest "Repo Men" first? It really is a much better film and truly enjoyable. However, I would caution against seeing it at any kind of movie grill- whoever thought dinner during a movie was a good idea is bonkers. People can't keep quiet and waiters are always walking in front of you. Furthermore, the number of available prime location seats is down by at least a third. Stick to a traditional theatre instead.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

WWQTW? Raging Bull

Last night was the first meeting of WWQTW movie club and it was a complete success! We enjoyed an intimate movie watching experience with 5 (plus me) ladies. For future reference, planning a movie night so close to the St. Patrick's Day celebrations was probably not a great idea. Oh well, you live and learn! I couldn't be more pleased with how everything turned out. Everyone was enraptured by the movie and the dialogue following was insightful and revealing. "He makes you pay attention...[afraid you'll] miss something", says Word-of-the-Day Jennie.

If you haven't seen "Raging Bull", here's the 411:

Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring his frequent collaborator Robert DeNiro, it tells the true story of Jake LaMotta; rising boxing star from the Bronx. The movie co-stars Cathy Moriarty (her first film!) and Joe Pesci (his 2nd!). Shot in beautifully black and white by Michael Chapman (DP on over 45 movies) and edited by Thelma Shoonmaker (go lady! She has been Scorsese's editor ever since). It was nominated for 9 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, and best Supporting Actor and Actress. It won for Best Editing and Best Actor. It was nominated for 4 BAFTA's and won Best Editing and Outstanding Newcomer-Male for Pesci. It was nominated for 7 Golden Globes and won for Best Actor. At the time, no one would have predicted it would now be named the 4th most important film in history by AFI.

This acclaim surprised no one more than the director himself. Having come off a loss ("New York, New York" aslo with DeNiro), Scorsese believed this film might be his last. In reality, it cemented his legacy as a prolific American filmmaker, the visual style for which he would become known, and influenced generations to follow.

What I love most about the film, is the relationship between DeNiro and Pesci. Few could argue that their brotherly report is bordering on documentary. In particular, I direct you to a scene at the beginning of the movie when Pesci breaks up a fight between LaMotta and his then wife. Their conversation at the breakfast table is stable and even keeled, even as they get heated at each other. The scene closes with DeNiro ribbing Pesci into hitting him. It also draws a direct reference to "on the Waterfront", a movie quoted at the end of the film. My friend Steph Too said it best, "You want them to get their heads out of their asses! You're killing me!". This struck me as especially funny seeing as she is the only mother in our group.

As I mentioned earlier, the film is shot in black and white. There doesn't seem to be any concrete reason why, however there is speculation galore! Scorsese has been quoted as saying it was because he was not satisfied with the quality of color film stock at the time. This makes sense- just look at other films from the last 70's/early 80's. Many seem dated, while "Raging Bull" is timeless. Other's believe it was to separate the film from another recently released- "Rocky"(1976). Other's involved with the making of the film say it was in direct reference to boxing movies from the time (40's-50's). Steph Too also pointed out the transitional editing, particularly how "the scene opens fuzzy, then become very crisp". The camera shots and editing were revolutionary at the time, but seem so common place to us now. During fight scenes, the speed slows down when there is contact between boxers allowing us to see the fight in all it's sweaty and bloody glory. At other times it speeds up, shooting the action from below, their gloves raging over the lens- we can't escape the punches any more than the other boxer.

Suggested Viewing: "On the Waterfront", anything by Scorsese particularly "Taxi Driver" and "Casino", "Rocky", "Rocky Marciano", and documentary "Easy Riders and Raging Bulls"

Monday, March 15, 2010

i couldn't be more lazy...

Okay, so I think I really have to shower tonight before WWQTW and I couldn't be more upset about it. I hate showering as I've gone on and on about previously. Not that I'm dirty, au contraire! I smell like a daisy, or Narcisso Rodriguez, or Kiehl's Original Musk, or Stella McCartney (the fragrance, not the person; though she probably smells wonderful). No, I'm just lazy and already strapped for time today.

Work switched to summer hours (that means I'm trapped until at least 6 PM)- thanks Daylight Savings! I won't get home until 620, which gives me a little under an hour to wash my hair (the only reason I would even shower tonight) and make the cheesy artichoke bread I'm taking to the movies. The recipe isn't totally clear, but I'm assuming it will take about 45 min from start to finish. Can I shower and dry my hair in 15 min? Not a chance in hell.

This is why I need to get my hair cut again. It just grows too damn fast! (I know, I know- wah! What a problem!)... I wonder if I can just wash my bangs and feel better.

I should also point out that the other reason I'm peeved about this is that I had planned to wash my hair tomorrow morning as I am off work and can devote the 30-45 min it takes to shower, shave, and style. I don't have time for this tonight!

Semi-related note: I am GEEKing out for tonight. The idea of "leading" a film introduction class was a daunting one. "Who the heck was I to teach anyone anything?" I said as if knowing about movies suddenly required a degree. I just keep reminding myself, "You're the walking IMDB. You're the walking IMDB. You're the walking..." No, I haven't suddenly grown an ego, this is what people tell me and I take pride in it. (I want it on a t-shirt. Design thoughts??)

I'm ready for it to be 8 PM so we can get started, then I'll be ready for it to be over so I can tell you all about it. I've kept the film a secret from everyone and it's killing me!!!

PS- Tomorrow, I also have passes to a screening of "Repo Men" starring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker. Full review to follow!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

What's up Netflix!

I don't know what my mailman's problem is, but he seems to have something against Keanu Reeves (understandable) and Guy Pierce (not cool). He has failed to deliver 3 DVDs (2 movies) over this past week. Each one was "delivered" and immediately returned. You would think Netflix would find this behavior odd, especially how I prefer to hold on to movies for as long as possible. Certainly, none have ever been returned same day. I don't even think that's possible! So, why does my mailman hate me, and Canoe (tee hee), and Guy? Long story short, he better quit it. It's ruining my Sunday reviews!

Moon- 5 stars- I wanted to see this movie when it hit theatres, but it seemed to disappear fairly quickly. I can't imagine why. It is a beautiful film starring Sam Rockwell (one of the best actors of our time and frequent nudist), and directed by David Bowies offspring, Duncan Jones. If I told you this Sci-Fi thinker was an independent movie and looked like 100 million bucks, would you be surprised? Probably. It is just another example of using money wisely and fitting your script to your budget. You can put a lot into FX when you only have 1 principal actor. Moon tells the story of Sam Bell, an astronaut stationed on the Moon to oversee drilling of an energy source Earth desperately needs. His only companion is a HAL-like robot named Gerty (bit of a nod to ET?) voiced by Kevin Spacey. Soon, Sam meets himself in the wreckage of a moon rover and has to decide if he's going insane or if there are larger forces at work. The movies pacing moves slowly but deliberately, the acting is above and beyond, and the set decoration is enough to make Hollywood weep. Included in the bonus features is Jones first short, a hired gun thriller titled "Whistle". I can't wait to see what he does next (IMDB puts it as "Source Code" about a young soldier (Jake Gyllenhaal) who wakes up in someone else's body).

Dead Snow (Bonus Material)- 4 stars- I don't think I've ever reviewed a bonus disc before. Don't worry; I'll keep it short and sweet. If you rent Dead Snow (and I know you have all added it to your Netflix queue), don't forget to request the bonus disc as well. There's the standard behind the scenes doc, FX info, and another following one of the production assistants (Ever think the movies look glamorous? Just watch this doc!). My favorite parts of the ample bonus disc were two films behind the scenes from the director's point of view and the cast. The first, "Madness in the North", follows the hardships of filming outdoors in Norway's frigid north. Snow bellows in from nowhere and shuts down shooting for days, light changes so quickly they can't get their shots to match from previous days. It's crazy! The other, "Madness in the West", follows the cast and crew as they travel to premiere the movie at Sundance. I LOVE intimate looks into the festival circuit and these guys know how to have a lot of fun!

PS- Happy Pi Day! (um.... pie)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Saturday is for Alice in Wonderland

* Last night Word-of-the-Day Jen and I went to see "Alice in Wonderland" (in 3D of course). If I'm being honest, I have to give it 3 stars with a big "A" for effort. The art direction is beautiful and definitely representative of the previous Disney classic and Carroll's illustrations. The FX all look nice as well. Helena Bonham Carter is magnificent as the Red Queen (and her large noggin is in no way distracting or resembling of a bobble head as I previously feared). So, why only 3 out of 5 stars? The movie is, quite simply, a little boring. By now you've probably heard it's a "continuation" of the previous story- Alice is now 19 and running away from a bad engagement. Unfortunately, it isn't; it's the same story we've heard/seen a million times. Making Alice older does not a continuation make. Alice still falls down the rabbit hole, eats and drinks to grow large and small, meets a cast of extraordinary characters, battles the Red Queen (here it's tete-a-tete with the Jaberwocky), is amused by the White Queens' novelty (a nice reference to "Through the Looking Glass"), and finally chooses to go home rather than stay in the magical Wonderland. Yawn. Burton had the ability to create any story he deemed fit when he called it a "continuation" (there's that word again!). Instead, he chose to weave themes and characters from both books, into a movie we felt as if we've seen before. There is nothing inherently wrong with a remake, Alice is a great character due for revitalization, so why didn't he just do that?

This new "Alice" is another great example of what I referenced previously about 3D. Burton used more traditional 3D for this picture and understandably so. Nothing will look like "Avatar" unless they use James Cameron's modified Sony HD cameras and computer technology (which I don't think Burton had access to at the time). Everything else is the same old thing we didn't care about before and I believe will not care about in the near future. The action was primarily static and what could have been breathtaking fell flat. The bread-and-butterflys never popped out at us. The Horse-flies stayed on the screen. Even the Mad Hatter (Johnny Deep switching inexplicably between a light English accent and Scottish brogue) throwing out a pair of cloth spools, never made its leap off the screen and into our faces. What's worse, this movie needed the 3D to keep me entertained at all. The writing was weak and I couldn't understand what they were saying half the time (I'm guessing it was a special language for those on the side of the White Queen, but who knows). Thank goodness it was pretty.

My suggestion, rent it. Just be sure to get your 3D glasses!

* Speaking of movies, I am so excited that the first meeting of WWQTW movie club is Monday! I've got the whole thing planned out complete with my own brand of type-A nerdiness. Full review to follow Tuesday.

* Yesterday was a long day. By the time we got out to the bar for a drink I was sleepy. Plus, no one was out since Saturday is the St. Patrick's Day parade and most of them were going to be on a float throwing Jello-O shots at passersby. So, we sat and sat. Until, Jen brought out the magical game that is Super Circles (thanks Sonic!). I won't go into how to play, but before long this harmless children's card game turned into an adult drinking game. I completely lost my mind at one point, perhaps because I kept losing and had to keep drinking. I kept telling Jen to "slow her roll". I can't even remember the last time I said that! It was so fun! A snippet of our conversation:
ME: "I'd like to thank Super Circles for getting this party started!"
JEN: "Yep, that's going in the blog".

* Once again, I wrote down something funny with no context clues to help me determine/remember what we were talking about. I'll let you decide:
"Now you're fucking Depends?"
"Well, if they're used..."

* Speaking of Jen, the word of the day is: Leprechaun (she had to fight off the voices in her head for that one too!)

* It's Daylight Savings today, so don't forget to move your clocks forward tonight at 2 AM. That would make it 3 AM. I hate daylight savings. It cuts into my good time and I lose an hour of sleep. Not cool earth! And after I started recycling and everything just for you!
* Last week I told you I couldn't find the napkin I wrote all my genius on. Well, good news- I found it! And, some if it is actually genius: We were hanging outside neighborhood bar #2 and couldn't help overhearing the crazy conversation happening behind us. We re-named Pooka Shell-Wearing-Douche as Geometry Man! Observe Geometry Man ask he talks to the opposite sex: "You see this guy?" while pointing to another oddly nerdy kick ball enthusiast, "His Dad invented the trapezoid". Seriously. I know my panties got moist just hearing those words. Trapezoid. In reality, I almost fell off my picnic bench laughing. One of my buddies came back with, "This guy? He invented polyhedron dice and Dungeons & Dragons". Exactly how does any of this impress women? I wouldn't have been surprised if one of the inebriated blondes came back with, "What's a trapezoid?" Furthermore, how do you invent a trapezoid? I tried looking that up online and the only answer I got was "some smart math nerd". Regardless(ly), I'm sure that guys Dad didn't do it. I then skipped off singing the "Do the Rhombus" song from a learning show we had to watch in Elementary featuring a guy dressed in a unitard with and interior view of the body painted on it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chez Gris: Who Loves Curry?

I do! I do!

I was starring at my cupboard yesterday trying to figure out what to make with the chicken that had been in the fridge begging to be used. Does it bother/amuse anyone else how uncommon ingredients only come in larger sizes, while common ones come in both large and small sizes? For example: I have dried rosemary in both the normal shaker and a smaller shaker. (Don't ask me why, I don't know). However, the only way to purchase garam masala (a spice used in Indian cooking) is by the bucket full (not really, it just seems that way). What am I going to do with all of that? I'll have the same jar for the rest of my life. That's not a very good business model!

Anyway, I decided curry sounded great so I marinated some of the chicken for a couple hours then baked it up. For a twist, I served it with pasta instead of rice.
[side note: Have you tried Barilla's "Next Generation" pasta called Barilla Plus? It comes in a yellow box and is the bomb. It's a multi-grain pasta (best one I've had so far) with added protein, finer, and omega-3. Seriously, if you love pasta, you should try it. You'll definitely feel better about splurging on a heaping bowl of carbs!]

Attached is the recipe for anyone who's adventurous. It's a bit spicy, I tend to go over board on red pepper flakes, but they can be omitted or you can substitute diced red bell pepper if you prefer. It can also be made vegetarian by substituting eggplant, firm tofu, or paneer (Indian cheese). If you do try it, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Oh Politicians, How You Vex Me

Get your letter writing supplies out- I am ready!

A headline caught my eye on my Yahoo homepage: "A Policy Change on Abortion, But How Radical?" Of course, I was curious. Many of you read shine's blog about the current proposal to Utah state law regarding abortion, and I know it stirred up quite a bit of emotion on both sides. Personally I am so proud of her and what she wrote- she's got a lot of balls! I am prepared that this blog may do the same. Hence, get your letter writing campaign hat on.

The article talks about the President's new health care bill and how it relates to current law on abortion funding. I have to tell you, I felt a bit in the dark. Having never to need the service so far, my thoughts on payment were misguided at best. I didn't realize it was covered at all on insurance. I thought it was always out of pocket. I'm actually surprised to hear that "abortion coverage is now widely available through workplace health plans". Really? I don't remember seeing anything about it on ANY of the insurance documents I've filled out. Hell, many of them don't even cover basic gynecological/pregnancy care (don't get me started on that one). How much does it cost? Over the long term, is it cheaper than paying straight out only when you need the service? Would it benefit a person who has never needed the service but is scared to death that one day she might? Is this all in the fine print that we never read when signing up for employer based health care coverage? I'm a bit pleased to hear this is an option for some women, I just wish it were available to more.

The main focus of the article is how the proposed bill would differ from current law and what is getting both Republican and Democratic panties in a twist. A quick break down:
Current law states that federal funding can only be used towards abortion if the procedure is required due to rape, incest, or to protect the health of the mother (Hyde Amendment). The tricky part lies in the difference between the House and Senate bills. One requires the policy holder to purchase separate abortion coverage while the other simple requires them to write a separate check for the abortion coverage they receive. I have to tell you, these both sound about the same to me and the article doesn't do a good job at differentiating why one is better than the other. They're basing all of this (the bill) on the governments own plan for it's workers (which may not contain abortion coverage except where allowed by Hyde). So, is something stopping these employees from purchasing a separate policy? Do they get fired? Lose their coverage? I'm a bit confused.

To me, either one sounds nice. Coverage available if wanted and you can opt out if you don't. What's the big deal? Oh yea, women's bodies and the government's vain attempt to control what we do with them. I think this is why politics leads me to drinking. Why does anyone care what anyone else does? You don't like abortion? Don't get one! [side note: I am in no way implying that someone somewhere likes abortion. I simply wanted to separate the two sides in as simple a language as I could.] Then chose the insurance coverage that doesn't include abortion. Are you concerned you may need an abortion in the future? Get the coverage that covers it! Simple! Now, can we all go on about our lives?

I've been openly pro-choice since the 5th grade when we had a mock presidential debate. I played Bill Clinton. You can imagine how unpopular that made me in Texas (even with my adolescent peers!). This is a position in which I am unwavering, yet I respect the decision others make to be pro-life. It upsets me when they cannot do the same. The decision to have an abortion must be a painful and labored one. Just thinking about what I would do causes me strife and I'm thankful I've never been in that position. I know I can't have a baby now- I'm still a baby and can barely take care of myself. Plus, I would be a horrid mother. I'm very selfish and care for little but how everything effects me. I'm in my 20's and I make no apologies for it. Yes, I am happy for my friends who have kids. Most are married and have good jobs and family support. I only have one of those things.

So I guess what I'm saying is can't we all go back to a more selfish nature and time and worry about ourselves not our neighbor? (In this matter at least).

Monday, March 8, 2010

82nd Academy Awards- Finally!!!!!

Well, this wasn’t my best showing at picking the winners but I didn’t do too badly either- 16 out of 24! I have to say, I think this was one of the best years show wise we’ve seen in a while. So many highlights! So much genuine laughter! Great speeches! I took note of it all and texted back and forth with several friend’s the whole time. I’m including the best messages I received where applicable below. Enjoy!

The whole thing starts on the red carpet and wardrobe watching. This year’s carpet was a cluster fuck (pardon the language) with people coming and going in all directions. No one seemed to know where they were going or who they were supposed to talk to. I will say Ryan Seacrest did a good job on E! but what the heck was happening on ABC? Why were Sherri Shepherd and Kathy Ireland there? {text: “Listening to her is painful. She needs to go work on her Kmart designs”} Why was Ireland standing like a cracked out Barbie doll? Shepherd did have the best line from the red carpet. While interviewing George Clooney she said, “Get the ones that don’t understand English!” in response to his girlfriend not understanding a question. Burn! It was so awkward! Now for what’s really important- Fashion!
[side note: Ladies, please stand up straight. I’m looking at you Miley Cyrus and Zoe Saldana! Come on, if Maggie Gyllenhall can learn to do you so can you.]

Best Dressed (Wow! Kristen Stewart actually bathed!) {text: “SJP looks like she has a hot cross bun on her head”}

Worst Dressed {text: “It’s canoe with his face mold!” That’s Keanu for the uninitiated}

On the Fence {text: “That dress bored me to tears” on Kate Winslet}

• What an opening! Neil Patrick Harris. Dancers. Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin descending from Glenda the Good Witch’s bubble. Jokes that were actually funny. Thank god! Can we hire Adam Shankman for next year’s show now? Best line: Martin: “Oh look! Damn Helen Mirren” Baldwin: “That’s DAME Helen Mirren”. Runner up: “…plays a Nazi obsessed with finding Jews. Well Christophe!”

• When the nominations for supporting actor began I loved how this year they showed a montage of clips from the film and not just one small bit. I thought it really helped showcase the nominee’s talent and give more depth to why they were nominated.

• John Hughe’s special memoriam. I’d heard about this a few days ago and thought it was lovely, especially the shots of all the actor’s who had been in his films. Very classy and sweet.

• On a negative note, I’m tired of the way the “In Memoriam” segment is directed. I don’t give a frak about James Taylor. All I want to see is who died. Instead, we miss a few names staring at Taylor’s bald head and in wide shot of the stage. Every year! This is the one area I don’t want you to be artistic. Just show up the pictures. And, where was Farrah Fawcett? Was she one of the ones we missed while in close up of Taylor or was she simply forgotten? {text: “He is so cheesy. Wait, that’s insulting to cheese”- in reference to James Taylor}

• Maybe not a negative but certainly a “what the hell” moment: Acceptance speech for Documentary Short. Who was that wack-a-doo and why did she feel the need to shove her co-producer? {text: “She will never work in this town again! What is that guy wearing?”}

• I loved the banter between Tina Fey and Robert Downey Jr. while introducing the screenwriting award. I think that got a laugh from everyone in the audience (mostly for his real truth than it simply being funny).

• Another good quote, this one from Robin Williams: “The Governor’s Ball. Just one of the many balls being held all over Hollywood tonight”.

• I loved Sandy Powell’s dress! It’s so refreshing to see a Best Costume winner who looks like she has an idea what fashion is. They are usually such a disaster!

• TRIBUTE TO HORROR!!! I am officially submitting my petition for a Best Horror Movie category. They never get any love (not since “The Exorcist”!) However, couldn’t they have included a clip from one of Eli Roth’s movies? I mean, he was in the audience for pete’s sake and had a lot to do with revitalizing the genre.

• Another great speech: Michael Giacchino for Best Score. You are “not a waste of time”! Here here! PS- what am amazing dance performance! I heart you League of Extraordinary Dancers!

• I also loved that the Best Actor categories where presented like last year with past co-stars sharing thoughts and anecdotes about the nominees. Michele Pfeiffer’s was one of the highlights as was Peter Sarsgaard.

• Can anyone explain to me what Sean Penn was talking about? Politics in nominees? Or politics in how to introduce nominees? Huh? Please, if you know please comment below. Now I didn’t pick Sandra Bullock, mostly because I haven’t seen that movie and it looked like one step from the Lifetime Movie Network. I guess now I’ll have to see it. However, she gave a great speech. Could this be the first time someone has made so many homosexual references in their speech for a movie not about homosexuality? “My lover Meryl Streep”- Loved it! I also loved her message about and to her mother. Schön!

• Finally, it’s happened. The barrier has been broken. A woman won best director. I cannot tell you how happy that makes me. I always hoped this would happen in my lifetime and am so pleased it happened to Kathryn Bigelow, a director I’ve admired for years. If I’m being nitpicky, her speech could have been better. It was just so generic. You would never know how revolutionary her win was. Take a note from Halle Berry (hell, even Mo’nique) and make a statement, give a couple shout outs! Oh well, I really don’t care. Her startled expression when she also won Best Picture was priceless!

• I win the side pool on end time of the show with an 11:05 guess. Everyone owes me a dollar!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What's up Netflix?

Wow, what a slow week for movies at my house! I can't even think what I've been doing to cause such a drought... Oh yea! My mailman is on drugs. I didn't get any mail for 3 days and I know it's not just because I didn't have any. I got an email from Netflix saying they received my movie and how did I like it. Well Netflix, I wouldn't know because it was never delivered to my house. Thanks mailman! I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I miss my crazed biker mailman so badly right now. I don't know who this new guy is but I'd like him to leave now please.

The Vicious Kind- 4 stars—This movie reminds me of the films I love from the early 2000's/late 90's (rent "All the Real Girls", "Margot at the Wedding", and "The Squid and the Whale" now if you haven't seen them yet). Director Lee Toland Krieger succeeds in his attempt to make the modern, young Neil LaBute film. Centering on the self-destructive nature of big brother Caleb (a superb Adam Scott who earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination) and the way his loneliness and confusion bleeds over and negatively effects his relationship with his family. Closest to his sting is his brother Peter (Alex Frost) and his new girlfriend Emma (Brittany Snow- wow! I hope she makes more films like this and leaves "Prom Night" style remakes alone). Slowly it is revealed the motivation behind Caleb's anger and how his own relationship and mistrust of his Dad (indie staple J.K. Simmons) has lead him down this path. Can he be redeemed? How damaged is too damaged? In lesser hands and certainly with a worse script; Caleb would be unlikeable, an asshole we wish something bad would happen to. Instead, we find ourselves relating to his depression and finding shades of ourselves in the way he chooses to act out. Who hasn't wanted to scare and tell off the aloof object of our desire? To say what we think when we think it? To self-destruct only so far as to be interesting but without causing permanent damage? Certainly I have. I don't want to mislead you- this movie is actually pretty funny; the sadness balanced out with wise cracks and prat falls. I am also in awe of Krieger's ability to write such a realistic young female character. I really liked it and cannot wait to see what Krieger has in store for us next.

Next week will bring a lot more reviews, promise. Until then, I hope everyone enjoys the Oscar's tonight and good luck to all of you participating in the "Oscar draft". My full review will be available tomorrow.

[side note: Have you subscribed yet? Are you a follower? Maybe that sounds a bit harsh to you or goes against your personal convictions- I understand! Maybe instead of a follower, you're a joiner? Have you joined my blog yet? I wish you would]

Saturday, March 6, 2010

In a Week of Nothingness, Random is King

* Just thinking about work gets my eye a-twitching. I think I may even be making myself more sick. I've been having panic attacks more frequently too. I need to just sit at home and sleep/relax/eat something good for me for a couple of days until I can right myself. I believe that will be my plan for the evening- bottle of wine, Sam Rockwell in "Moon", and half a hydro-codeine. Maybe I'll just cry... Unless you want to watch "Moon" and have a TV bigger than a bread box and will let me come over and watch it (you can watch it too) and drink myself into oblivion.

* I spent yesterday hanging out w/my friend Lauren and celebrating her getting a new job (Yea- finally!!). The weather has been acting particularly odd all week- cold, warm, cloudy, sunny. Each day is the opposite of the day before. We had a lovely brunch at Capitol Pub- I had the Drunken Steak Sandwich which is fast becoming my favorite thing on the menu. Then we got our nails did (this is only the 2nd time I've had a manicure. The 1st time I was 13), and hit up happy hour. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I didn't have to work the next day, so my eye kept randomly twitching as the night progressed. Lauren also broke her tattoo cherry and I am totally jealous. I want a new tattoo so badly!!!!

* I had a napkin with lots of hilarity written on it from last night and of course left it in my other purse. Now, all I can remember is "foot pillows". Apparently there is a restaurant in Cancun where you can take your shoes off and rest your feet on a pillow instead. This sounded ridiculous and crazy to me, until we got to happy hour. With the sun beating down on me it got real hot real quick. If only I could take my sneakers off but not have to touch the hazardous wooden patio bar floor. Foot pillows! Of course! Somebody needs to get on this stat.

* I don't get to see "Alice in Wonderland" until next weekend, so I am looking for one line reviews. Please post below!

* "He opened his mouth and it smelled like toilet"- I found that gem in the drafts section of my phone. I have no idea what it is referencing, but I assume it has to do with something funny either I or someone else said. Man, I wish I knew who smelled like a toilet... Also found on my phone: "You can't water, you're hot"

* Did you watch Bill Murray on David Letterman? It was hilarious. Randomly popping up on screen was a shout out for his orthopedic surgeon Dr. Powell. I wrote it down, certain it was a hoax, but no! It's real. So funny! Thanks Bill Murray! PS- when you going to make another movie? How about right now?

* I will now become the most amazing trivia player in the history of Wednesday trivia!

* Jennie's word of the day: *pfft* (she blew a raspberry at me! Deciding that was not a word, our new word is Guggenheim)

* I was rummaging around on You Tube today looking for something funny involving Chinese throwing stars (it's a long story) when I discovered this. Sorry, Blogger won't let me cut and paste for some weird reason so you just have to click the link. The joke is pretty standard and not funny, but this guys haircut makes up for it in spades!

* Tomorrow is the Oscar's!!! Did you watch the Independent Spirit Awards last night? I did. What the heck was up with Eddie Izzard? He seemed a bit off and I can only assume it was the free flowing Jameson on every table. The speech's were nice and everything wrapped up in a neat 2.5 hour package. The big winner: Precious (of course). I'm okay with that as I don't expect them to walk off with much tomorrow. The big surprise: Best Screenplay winner "(500) Days of Summer" beating out "The Messenger" and "The Vicious Kind" and "Adventureland". Awesome. Documentary winner Anvil. Awesome squared.

My complete reaction to the Academy Awards will be posted Monday. Good luck to everyone participating in a pool or going to the Red Carpet Crash event in Dallas!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

To Or Not To??

As you know, I've been a lonely sad sack for quite awhile now. It's during these times of drought that misplaced thoughts and bad ideas tend to creep up with more frequency. Case in point: Should you ever date friends?

I know all the magazines talk about the importance of friendship first and don't discount what's right in front of you; but I have to wonder: Is that really a good thing?
[side note: I totally felt like Carrie Bradshaw writing that last bit! God, what a nerd.]

I established the No Friends Rule after my ex became best friends with many of my friends while we were going out and then refused to give them up after we had broken up. It was awkward for quite a long time to say the least. I hoped to avoid this in the future so I said, "No more dating friends and no more introducing dates to friends". Surprisingly, this rule stayed intact for quite a few years. I never felt tempted to break it or emend it until a couple years ago. The addition to the rule was simple: You can date friends if they're not your best/good friend and/or are not best friends with your best/good friend. This allowed me to entertain the notion of acquaintances and casual friends without feeling bad or worrying about the consequences. It worked really well and I felt freer to accept what happened naturally. It also forced me to be more honest in the way I treated these relationships. If I wasn't feeling it, I had to nip it in the bud immediately or risk losing that friendship.

Now, I have to reflect on this rule again. You see, it would be easy if I met people outside of the group but you know my "stranger danger" mentality doesn't bode well for that. The other option is to encourage my friends to get attractive new friend's and invite them over more. (Why can't that work??) Otherwise, I feel I will soon be forced to address this situation head on and either make a concession or stick to my guns. Either way could end poorly.

I feel I would be remiss to deny an opportunity to have a little fun (and maybe cause my eye to stop twitching for an evening- PLEASE!) and explore; but, how do I know if I should? Is there a checklist somewhere I could use? You know how much I love lists! Is there anything that's a deal breaker? I know what kills it for me in a relationship but have no real idea what makes for a good person to date. You'd think with very little standards I'd have more offers and dates coming in! Usually I think 3 things when evaluating the situation: Are they cute/am I attracted? Do they fit the preexisting list of all potential mates (They must be my height or taller and they must be my age or older)? Do we have anything in common?

Is that enough when your treading on a friendship?

Maybe I'm over thinking and whole possible future situation is in my head. Even so, surely I must be prepared if and when it does come up. Help!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Countdown Begins!!

As you know, I am a huge fan of awards season. It officially ends this month with two of my favorite shows: The Independent Spirit Awards and The Academy Awards. I've made my predictions and am now ready to share them with you all as promised. Feel free to use them (though a little "finder's fee" would be much appreciated if you win anything).

Speaking of free stuff, if you are in the DFW area Red Carpet Crash is hosting an Oscar watching party at the Lakewood Theatre complete with prizes. Check it out here for more details.

Best Picture: The Hurt Locker (I'm sticking with my pic, though after hearing that one of the Producer's (the one that sent the "email") was now barred from the event, I'm getting nervous.)

Best Actor: Jeff Bridges (Hope he finally gets his due, though wouldn't it be a coup if Colin Firth won? Considering he won the BAFTA ...)

Best Actress: Meryl Streep (I don't care! I'm taking Meryl. Sandra Bullock should just be glad she's nominated and while Carey Mulligan won the BAFTA, I think that has more to do w/being British and don't think the Americans will reward her with more than the nomination itself)

Best Supporting Actor: Christophe Waltz hands down

Best Supporting Actress: ditto for Mo'nique

Animated Feature: Up

Art Direction: Avatar (while I disagree with this, they've won all the major awards. I would be happy to be proven wrong in my pick if "The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus" wins)

Cinematography: Avatar (again I personally disagree- it's all on computers!- but they've won this before. 2nd runner up: "The Hurt Locker")

Costume: The Young Victoria (period usually wins)

Directing: Kathryn Bigelow (James Cameron will probably get it to be honest, but it's about time a woman won and Bigelow's our best bet. However, if the Academy wants to pretend it's my birthday, they can award Quentin Tarrantino the prize)

Documentary Feature: The Cove

Documentary Short: Rabbit a la Berlin (come on! How do you not vote for bunnies!?)

Film Editing: Inglourious Basterds (Sally Menke, QT's longtime editor, recently won a lifetime achievement prize from the Editor's Guild. Hopefully they remember it's nice to get your 1st Oscar too and vote for her again)

Foreign Language: The White Ribbon (Das Weisse Band)- Germany (2nd runner up: A Prophet (Un Prophete)- France)

Makeup: Star Trek

Original Score: Up

Original Song: The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)

Animated Short: Logorama (I just gotta love a movie that's being sued for illegal use of copy write material!)

Live Action Short: The Door

Sound Editing: The Hurt Locker

Sound Mixing: Avatar

Visual Effects: Avatar (do you even have to ask?)

Adapted Screenplay: Up in the Air

Original Screenplay: Inglourious Basterds (2nd place: The Hurt Locker. Information recently released that the producer's are being sued by an ex-Marine who says they stole his story from a Playboy article will hurt this film. That makes it an adapted screenplay)

For a complete list of nominees, visit the Oscar's homepage linked above.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Both a Sad Day for Dallas & a Happy One For Me

While getting ready for work this morning my phone alerted me to a text message. This freaked my out as everyone I know should have been in bed at this time. I learned, with the rest of Dallas, that this morning a fire destroyed a block of bars and restaurants on Greenville Ave. Those effected were Hurricane's, Terelli's, Mick's, and Greenville Bar and Grill. Surely others will be effected by the massive plumes of smoke that continued through much of the morning. According to reports, Fire Rescue was called at 5:45 AM. When they arrived on the scene, flames shot 30-40 feet in the air. It is unclear what started this fire (they're saying it originated in the shared attic space), but what is clear is a bunch of hardworking people are out of a job. Not to mention the lushes and patron's who called these bars home as well. I couldn't help but be thankful the fire wasn't across the street at one of our neighborhood haunts and the place of employ for many of my friends.
Almost immediately there was Facebook group dedicated to posting jobs in the area and to set up donations to help preserve this historic block (and I hope help out the jobless workers). I support donating to the employees, but I'm a bit torn on the business owners. At least one of the owners (of two of the effected businesses) says he doesn't have insurance. That's a real bummer, but why not? I thought surely bars and restaurants on Greenville would have ponied up after the block fire of 2005. I'm sure it can be costly, but it is in no comparison of the costs without. Thoughts?

Wow! I think my eye stopped twitching for a second at this one. I've been awarded the Happy Blogger Award. I think this is hilarious!!! I know sometimes I include funny bits, but I always feel like I bitch more than I smile. Certainly this award has added a couple notches to the latter. Thanks Natalie for thinking of me.

So, the first part of this award I thought would be easy: name 10 things that make you happy. However, I may have problems with the second part: pass on to 10 blogger's. I recently did a little spring cleaning in my digital life which means I lost a couple blogs and finally read all the online articles I'd been hording in my favorites for at least 3 months. Still, here goes!

10 Things That Make Me Happy

1. Spending time with my sister. I already put in my request to visit her for her birthday again this year. How fortunate that it coincides with Crawfest!

2. Summers at my Gram's in the Poconos. How can you not be pleased looking at this:
3. Opening weekend at the Movies.

4. My Mom's homemade fudge.

5. Halloween. Heck, it still (and always) looks like Halloween in my house.

6. Presents. Come on! Who doesn't love little trinkets?

7. My daily dose of Internet hilarity: Married to the Sea, Lovely Listing, I Can Has Cheezburger, and everyone on the blogosphere.

8. Travel
9. Getting the Final Jeopardy question right.

10. Going on a date. Though I'm not too sure about this one as it's been forever since I've been. Still, the Hollywood style recreation I play in my head is almost as satisfying.

So, who gets the love? I know it says 10, but I really wanted to pass it on to blogger's who regularly make me laugh or make me feel bad about myself for not being so peppy. Therefore, may I present:

Do you want some love too? Make sure you're following my blog. I love to follow followers (?quizzical face?) and more importantly, I love them like puppies like getting dressed up as emo kids.