Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pause for Pop Culture

Yikes, I am absolutely underwhelmed by American Idol this year. I am willing to overlook a lot when it comes to Idol, but this year is just not good. I refuse to believe that these are the top twenty singers out of all the people who auditioned. I recognize that 95% of the people who audition are either psychopathic or simple, but since twelve bizitrillion people try out, Simon and the gang should have been able to do a little better. Last year, Sanjayagate aside, was truly fantastic. This time, there's nothing like Blake or Jordin or LaKisha or Melinda. They all knocked it out of the park from the very beginning. Now it's a bunch of easy grounders to first.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

My Two Cents

So, I love the Academy Awards. Even when they suck. Even when they are waaaaay too long. Even when I've actually only seen Juno, No Country for Old Men, Ratatouille, Sicko, Lars and the Real Girl, and The Bourne Ultimatum this year. I know, sad. Movies are expensive, people. Despite this, I still have my opinions on who will win. And how do I form these opinions?? By obsessive, systematic research. After consulting Roger Ebert, The Washington Post's Probe, David Ansen, David Carr, The Los Angeles Times' Buzzmeter, the Gurus o' Gold and the Guros o' Gold 2.0 (No, I don't know why there's a 2.0), and even Ramin Setoodeh, who now works at Newsweek and who lived in my dorm when I was an RA, here are my (and really, they couldn't be anything but) guesses:

Update: I didn't win the pool. I came in third. Bob came in second, but only because I told him to go for Ratatouille and The Counterfeiters. We lost to a guy who kept leaving the party to check on his steaks. Needless to say, I am upset. Upset in that overly upset way that overly competitive people become upset but don't want to admit. Here's the debrief:

Actor--Leading: Daniel Day Lewis, There Will be Blood
He is probably the most sure thing this year. Sure I didn't see the movie, but I did see In the Name of the Father and My Left Foot, and even though I was too young to actually understand them, I knew enough to recognize that D.D.L. was a great actor. That's enough for me.

Got it.

Actor--Supporting: Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Bardem is a pretty safe bet. I'm a little tempted to go with Hal Holbrook, who dressed as Mark Twain and did an awesome performance for my Mark Twain and the Gilded Age class. He did a Q & A session afterward, and he was such a neat guy. And he's married to Dixie Carter. That's cool. If Hal Holbrook wins, I won't mind.

Got it.

Actress--Leading: Julie Christie, Away from Her
This is one of the the least agreed-upon categories. The consensus seems to be that Ellen Page is too young and too new, that Laura Linney's performance was great but the movie wasn't big enough, and no one liked Elizabeth (I did, though). I may be kicking myself for not going with Marion Cotillard, who has been very graciously marketing herself, and has the fact that she played a real person in her favor. The Academy loves real people movies, especially destructive real people movies. However, the fact that her movie is in French might go against her. Julie Christie is an old favorite. Also, I must admit that I went for her because Away from Her was written and directed by Sarah Polley, who played Sara Stanley in Road to Avonlea, and we all know about my L.M. Montgomery adoration.

Argh. Marion Cotillard, I can almost forgive you because your speech was sweet.

Actress--Supporting: Cate Blanchett, I'm not There
is the most hotly contested category. I went with Cate because the Academy seems to love Cate. They also like the whole gender-bending thing. Saoirse Ronan seems to have been written off by everyone because of age, which I don't necessarily think is fair (or wise--let's not forget Tatum O'Neal). Ruby Dee is getting a lot of support, and she won the SAG award, but that could be either an indicator of a win tonight or a "We like you, but that's enough" acknowledgment. Amy Ryan's performance was widely appreciated, but I don't think the Academy will take her seriously. Tilda may be the dark horse here. I'm going with Blanchett, but I have no clue, really.


Animated Feature: Ratatouille
Everyone agrees on this one.

Got it.

Art Direction and Cinematography: I'm going There Will be Blood for both. I'm wondering if I'm making a mistake by not going with Atonement. Ah!

Only the Gurus went with Sweeney Todd; I don't feel too bad for missing that one. I got There Will be Blood for Cinematography.

Costume Design: Atonement
At first, I thought it would be Elizabeth. None of the experts think so, though.

I should have gone with my gut. I am mad about this one.

Directing/Best Picture/Adapted Screenplay: The Coen Brothers, No Country for Old Men
Everyone seems to agree.

Got it.

Documentary Feature: No End in Sight
People are upset. This movie shows why.

EVERYONE thought this one would win. I am really surprised it didn't. Taxi to the Dark Side won for the same reasons everyone thought No End in Sight would, I think.

Documentary Short: Freeheld
I had to go with what the Buzzmeter says on this one; no one else was saying anything about the category. I figure that the Buzzmeter's 32 person panel is as good a bet as any...

At the party, only Steak Guy and I got this one right. Research paid off for both of us.

Film Editing: The Bourne Ultimatum
This isn't everyone's favorite, but I think that the movie deserves it. I might pay for this one.

Got it.

Foreign Language Film: The Counterfeiters
WWII is always a safe choice.

Got it.

Makeup: La Vie en Rose
The makeup job here has been called "magic" by several sources. I would be very surprised if this isn't the winner.

Got it.

Original Score: Atonement
This is widely agreed upon, though several sources say to watch out for Ratatouille.

Got it.

Original Song: "Falling Slowly," Once
Three songs from Enchanted split the vote, and "Falling Slowly" is great anyway. This one looks sure thing-ish.

Got it. Why haven't I seen this movie?

Short Film--Animated: I Met the Walrus
I'm not so sure about this category. But when in doubt, go with a movie about meeting John Lennon.

I almost went with Peter & the Wolf. I am bitter about this one, because I used to listen to my Peter & the Wolf album on my Fischer Price record player incessantly as a kid. That should have been enough of a sign.

Short Film--Live Action: At Night
This is a flip-the-coin category. I'm going with cancer patients.

The Boyfriend chose Le Mozart des Pickpockets, the bastard, "because it was French." I am withholding sex for two weeks.

Sound Editing and Sound Mixing: No Country for Old Men
Hell if I know...

I think it was David Ansen who said go for Bourne here. I almost listened to him, but I really thought that Academy would go more highbrow.

Visual Effects: Transformers

Polar bears! Shoot!

Screenplay--Adapted: Juno
I think Diablo Cody has a decent chance. It feels the most innovative, although the dialog in the first ten minutes of the movie made me want to commit Seppuku (I have HONOR). I think Lars and the Real Girl is just as deserving in the innovative category, though.

Good for her. Cody's speech was excellent, I thought.

So there you have it, kids. This is the first year I've really gone out of my way to do research. I'm feeling pretty good about these, though I'm afraid the more obscure categories are going to bite me in the ass. Good luck to fellow poolers!

So there you have it, kids. Steak Guy takes my win. It will probably still bug me until next year. Next year, by the way, I'm choosing the nominees with the most vowels. Steak Guy!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Rustic Dinner

For some reason, today I became obsessed with the idea of making a "farmhouse dinner." When I lived on a farm, we ate a lot of beets and Ryvita crackers. So consider this a modified farmhouse dinner. We started with potato leek soup. The leeks in this case were refreshing, as I didn't actually have to harvest them myself. My fingernails would get really dirty on gardening mornings. It made me bitchy, let me tell you. The soup was okay. The recipe was from America's Test Kitchen. I tried to find a link for you, but it's "premium content" on their website. Anyway, the recipe just says to cook the leeks and potatoes until the potatoes are tender. Bob liked it, but I thought it was too watery, so I mixed it with our hand blender. With cream, it was much better. I also made popovers. They were awesome, even though the tops collapsed. The recipe comes from my beloved Apartment Therapy's kitchen page. The recipe is here, and it's stupid easy. Even if I did sort of mess it up. In my defense, I was trying to do a million things before Bob got home, so I don't think I mixed the batter well enough. Still, though, they were delicious. I served them with honey and some black currant preserves I got at Surfas, the best kitchen supply store ever (we also got new cookie sheets, a pan, a muffin tin, a highly unnecessary handle sleeve for our cast iron frying pan, a pepper mill, a mesh strainer, a couple ramekins, a cooling rack, and, you know...bacon-flavored chocolate). Then for desert we had fruit and cheese. And in honor of the stuff I made under my bed and in my closet that lovely year, we drank hard apple cider throughout. The dinner was hardy and pretty darn good.

Oh, also, I picked up some Bar Keepers Friend. Aside from their dubious omission of an apostrophe, I'm a fan. It's a very effective cleaner.

(Images from Apartment Therapy and the Bar Keepers Friend page)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Fun with fonts

I downloaded free fonts tonight and entertained myself. I am a wild woman on Friday nights, let me tell you!