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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hat shower/Tea party for my friend Lisa

I'm insanely proud of this event - I got the idea from my friend Terri, who had chemo for breast cancer a couple of years ago. Lisa was delighted with the party, and, almost as important - eveyone there really wanted the opportunity to take care of Lisa in this small way. And Lisa will get more support going forward as well. I got great feedback from several people. A real triumph, on several levels.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

More movies

Watched a bunch of videos again this weekend.

Things I Never Told You was my favorite. A gem from 1996 with Andrew McCarthy perfectly cast as a sad sack 30-something and the incomparable Lili Taylor as the object of his affection. Sharp, off-beat writing and lots of sly humor (the scene with the woman sobbing in the grocery store makes the movie worth watching). Another offering from Spanish writer-director Isabel Coixet, who made The Secret Life of Words (which is darker, but also terrific).

Good Dick (2008) has a lot in common with TINTY - a somewhat anchorless man pursuing a troubled woman, though Jason Ritter (as the man) is about 10 years younger than Andrew McCarthy. This movie is not for the faint hearted - it contains quite a bit of frank sexual content. But it's clever, brave and thought-provoking; very much worth watching. And quite a coup for the writer-director-leading actress Marianna Palka - she is someone to watch!

Northanger Abby (2007) - I've never watched a version of this Jane Austen story, thinking it was too silly to be bothered with. I found it delightful. Felicity Jones was perfect as the naive Catherine and Carey Mulligan (who recently shot to fame in last year's An Education) as the selfish Isabella is, of course, superb.

The Secret Life of Mrs Beeton (2006) is a wonderful Masterpiece Theater production, based on the true story of the author of a famous "household management" book. Don't be fooled - this is no staid costume drama - it maintains a breezy tone for the first 3/4 which I thoroughly enjoyed. The final, darker section doesn't diminish the film, but it was somewhat unexpected - she dies young (which is not a spoiler - the movie opens with this fact), so I shouldn't have been so taken aback. Bonus - Mr Beeton is played by the same excellent actor (JJ Feild) who played Henry Tilney in NA.

Bonneville (2006) is a somewhat formulaic, but still entertaining road movie with 3 incredible actresses - Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, and Joan Allen, with a small part for Tom Skerrit. Jessica Lange's Arvilla has been recently widowed and must return the ashes of her husband from Pocatello Idaho to Santa Barbara Calif, where his daughter (Christine Baranski) lives, in time for the funeral. Adventures ensue. Worth watching mostly because women this age rarely get featured in movies as anything other than secondary or tertiary characters. Side note - the women are Mormon, though only Joan Allen's Carol is noticably so; Pocatello is when Aaron (Latter Days) was from.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief - took Cal and a couple of his friends to see this big budget movie; quite a drastic contrast to the quiet, off beat films I watched on video. But fun and well done. I haven't read any of the books, but I really enjoyed the mythology references - reminded me of all the stuff I learned in Jr Hi school. Also, Kevin McKidd makes a terrific Greek god! I also liked the dynamic between Percy and Annabeth - very feisty and the girl doesn't just stand there looking pretty and mooning at the boy. I also found the father-son story very moving. I like to imagine that my own mother was forced by Zeus to never see me - what an empowering interpretation of abandonment. Now if I could just find that camp!


Friday, February 26, 2010

Orca kills trainer

Such a sad and horrible incident, witnessed by tons of people, including children.

From the Associated Press:

A 40-year-old trainer at SeaWorld Orlando was drowned by a massive killer whale named Tilikum, a 22-foot orca which has now killed 2 trainers. At nearly 6 tons, the bull is the largest in captivity.

Orlando SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau was rubbing Tilikum from a poolside platform on Wednesday when the whale reached up, grabbed her ponytail and dragged her underwater. She died from multiple traumatic injuries and drowning.

Even in captivity, orcas rarely attack out of aggression. The whale likely saw the trainer's ponytail as a toy, then dragged the woman into the water and turned it into a game.

The incident raises anew the question of whether some beasts, especially the biggest ones, have any business being tamed to entertain.

Some more info:

Killer whales (a type of dolphin actually) are called that because they hunt and kill whales. Tilikum was captured off the coast of Iceland, he wasn't born in captivity.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Movie articles

Newsweek has run some great movie-related articles lately. One on how Gene Hackman left the business because he didn't want to play grandfathers (after being in some of the most iconic movies of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s). Another on the death of the biopic - after the offerings of 2009 such as Amelia and Creation (on Darwin) have fallen flat. The latest was a terrific piece on remakes of Swedish films like Brothers, and on movie influences in general. Great stuff.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Jumping ship

Philadelphia-based radio personality Michael Smerconish has switched parties from Republican to Democrat! I saw him talking about it on the Chris Matthews Show. Here's an excerpt of his column from Sunday explaining his decision:

Years ago, I grew tired of having my television or radio introduction accompanied by a label, with some implied expectation that what would then come from my mouth were the party talking points. That was me 26 years ago, when I was the youngest elected member of the state delegation to the Republican National Convention, but not today. I'm not sure if I left the Republican Party or the party left me. All I know is that I no longer feel comfortable.

The national GOP is a party of exclusion and litmus tests, dominated on social issues by the religious right, with zero discernible outreach by the national party to anyone who doesn't fit neatly within its parameters. Instead, the GOP has extended itself to its fringe while throwing under the bus long-standing members like New York Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, a McCain-Palin supporter in 2008 who told me she voted with her Republican leadership 90 percent of the time before running for Congress last fall.

Which is not to say I feel comfortable in the Democratic Party, either. Weeks before Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh's announcement that he will not seek reelection, I noted the centrist former governor's words to the Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib. Too many Democrats, Bayh said in that interview, are "tone-deaf" to Americans' belief that the party had "overreached rather than looking for consensus with moderates and independents."

Where political parties once existed to create coalitions and win elections, now they seek to advance strict ideological agendas. In today's terms, it's hard to imagine the GOP tent once housing such disparate figures as conservative Barry Goldwater and liberal New Yorker Jacob Javits, while John Stennis of Mississippi and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts coexisted as Democratic contemporaries.

Collegiality is nonexistent today, and any outreach across an aisle is castigated as weakness by the talking heads who constantly stir a pot of discontent. So vicious is the political climate that within two years, Sen. John McCain has gone from GOP standard-bearer to its endangered-species list. All of which leaves homeless those of us with views that don't stack up neatly in any ideological box the way we're told they should.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wow! Leo on NPR

I'm sitting here in my office, half listening to NPR, as usual, and I hear that the next question is from "Leo in Tucson." It's my brother!!! Holy mackeral! I listen all the time and I never heard anyone I know call in. He sounded amazing - so articulate and intelligent. I'm swooning.

The show is Talk of the Nation and the segment is on the recently declassified "Torture Memo" by John Yoo and Jay Bybee.


Leo and I had a great chat later in the evening. Among other things we decided that MoveOn or some other progressive group should sponsor a PSA campaign asking people NOT to vote if they are completely uninformed. It was so fun to chat with someone who I am so in sync with. I just wish we could talk more often!!!


Monday, February 22, 2010

Scott Brown

In only his second vote ever in Congress, Scott Brown voted with Dems and against a Republican fillibuster on the jobs bill. Wow! Just trying to assert his independence or was he amply rewarded? Hmmm.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Movie update

I watched a bunch of movies during my vacation this past week.

Crazy Heart was wonderful, as I knew it would be. But I would have to say that, yet again, the impact was diminished by seeing the previews - so many pivotal scenes were included. The performances were exceptional and it was heartbreaking and moving and everything. But I think I would have felt more involved if I hadn't known so much about what was coming. Some things are really better when they're a surprise.

Tristan + Isolde is my new obsession. Critics were not kind, especially to James Franco, when it was released in 2006, so I skipped it, along with everyone else . . . it was a box office flop despite its impressive pedigree - great cast and the Scott brothers (Tony and Ridley) producing. Now I'm really mad at the critics! I thought it was incredibly romantic and well done overall. I'm so sorry I didn't go see it on the big screen. I already bought a copy for my library so I can watch it over and over. For the record, I thought James Franco was delicious, and perfect in the part.

Towelhead was incredible. It totally made me cringe, which I think it intended to do. But it's so good and very worth seeing. I might have to check out the book. Of course it made me so worried, to watch this 13 year old girl's sexual curiosity. But that's what those of us who are the parents of girls have to deal with. Watching her foolish, selfish parents is a primer in how not to respond. Terrific performances by absolutely everybody and a visually interesting film to boot. Should have been nominated for tons of awards. So glad I watched.

How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer was a good movie too. A little offbeat, and another rather challenging presentation of sexuality, this time at all ages. But very worth watching and very well done. Elizabeth Pena as the buttoned-up divorced mom and America Ferrera as the teen exploring her budding sexuality were terrific and are well-known to American film audiences. The grandmother (Lucy Gallardo), who is arguably the best thing in the movie, is not familiar to me, but she was wonderful too. I just wish the writer-director, Georgina Riedel, would get busy and make another great movie about women!

Suburban Girl is based on two short stories by Melissa Banks in a collection that I read called A Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing, which I remember liking, though I don't remember the particulars of any of the stories anymore (I read it years ago). The movie is quite witty and the performances are fine, but I didn't really buy the May-December romance between Sarah Michelle Geller and Alec Baldwin. It's not that they were miscast, though you could make that argument. I more blame the writing - I think, as with many movies, more time should be spent developing the romance and letting the audience in on why these two people are drawn to each other. Instead, in this movie, as in so many others, the couple meet, fall for each other immediately, and most of the time is spent on the obstacles they face. It wasn't a bad movie at all, but it could have been so much better.

Shut Up and Sing, Babara Koppel's doc about the Dixie Chicks after Natalie Maines' comment regarding President Bush at a concert in England in 2003 ("we're ashamed that the President is from Texas") was very good. It was a tiny bit confusing, jumping between time periods, but it was very inspiring to watch them stick to their principles despite a firestorm of protest, including a very scary death threat (in Dallas no less). And their post-comment album won 5 Grammys, so they survived both personally and professionally. Great stuff.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Extend a hand

I've been a bit taken aback by comments I've heard twice recently about how awful it would be if rich whites took in poor blacks in order for them to play football for their alma maters al a the movie, The Blind Side. In a recent conversation, someone equated that scenario to slavery. Huh?

How many 17 year old young men living in the projects of any major city would feel exploited if they were taken to live in a good house, go to a good school, get their own car, a tutor, and a guaranteed college admission as long as they played a sport? They'd be lining up for this deal and they would have a clear conscience doing it, I'm sure.

I'm the biggest bleeding heart you will ever meet, but I have no problem with this kind of supposedly strings-attached assistance.

I think people who object are not thinking about this from the perspective of the young man - who wouldn't want to leave hopeless, grinding poverty for something better? No one.

I will go even further - I think that people who object are trying to assauge their guilt - their knowledge that they would not be willing to do this for someone, to help someone in this very personal and material way. The best way to avoid the guilt is to insist that such an arrangement would be wrong on principle.

We're not talking about robbing cradles or snatching kids from their parents. We're not talking about destroying intact families. We're talking about people like Michael Oher who had no one taking care of him. He had no support system of any kind. The help he got was a galaxy, a solar system away from what he was coming from.

As for me, I would love to see my friends and neighbors make such a commitment to another person, even if it was based on a trade, even if the help was supposedly conditional.

How many McMansions have a spare bedroom that could be put to better use? How many lives could be altered?

The idea that not everyone is like the Twohys - not everyone would give their help with respect and integrity, just seems completely fatuous to me. Anyone who received that kind of support would be better off from where they started. Period.

And I don't believe that anyone could get that involved and remain untouched. That's a big point of the movie - that the Twohy family was ultimately affected at least as much as Michael Oher, if not more so.

Everybody wins.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Thoughts on Facebook

Facebook is so fun. I've reconnected with several people that I really did wonder what happened to them. But it's so odd too. I have almost 200 friends but hardly anyone posts, maybe a dozen or so people regularly. Even weirder is that while almost no one comments on my posts (maybe a half dozen people), I've had several people say to me in-person that they liked something I posted, an article, or a photo, or whatever. But why didn't they say that online? It's like they're unclear on the concept - that's what the "like" button is for if you don't want to take the time to comment. I just don't understand - why get involved in social networking if you aren't going to interact?


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Weighing the Best Picture prospects

This is some intriguing speculation (at Gold Derby)- the question is, how significant are the Golden Globes as a predictor?

Dave Karger recaps the derby parallels between "Hurt Locker" and "Brokeback Mountain" (4 years ago): 'Brokeback' managed the rare feat of winning Best Picture and Best Director at both the New York and Los Angeles film critics awards; so did 'Hurt Locker.' 'Brokeback' also picked up those two big prizes at the Broadcast Film Critics Awards; so did 'Hurt Locker.' 'Brokeback' won the trifecta of PGA, DGA, and WGA trophies; so did 'Hurt Locker. 'Brokeback' won 4 BAFTAs, including Best Film, Director, and Screenplay; 'Hurt Locker' picked up 6 awards, including Best Film, Director, and Screenplay. And of course, 'Brokeback' lost the SAG cast award, and so did 'Hurt Locker.' (The main difference between the two films’ tallies is that 'Brokeback' did win four Golden Globes, including Best Drama and Best Director, while 'Hurt Locker' went 0 for 3.)

Here's some additional thought-provoking speculation (from Awards Daily), just a small portion of a longer entry that is well worth reading:

I said previously that this is starting to remind me of The Departed year. The big difference between The Hurt Locker and The Departed is that the Scorsese movie was, essentially, a popcorn movie that could be enjoyed by crowds. It also had the advantage of people saying things like “my favorite film is The Departed but it won’t win.” That is the magic phrase. That is what people should have been saying about Avatar, but since the web chatter was confident out of the gate that the film was now the Best Pic winner, the dialogue has changed to “Avatar’s winning best picture? But the Hurt Locker is much better.” Or “Up in the Air is so much better.” Or “Inglourious Basterds is so much better.”


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How the other half lives

Trip to Georgia was terrific, but not nearly as relaxing as I had hoped. I brought a bunch of issues of Newsweek, thinking I would catch up, and several movies on DVD. I had visions of lounging in the luxurious room, but the schedule was so full, I literally never did that. It was so nice, but I had so little time to really revel it.

The food at the Ritz was AMAZING. At lunch on Tuesday, Larry mentioned to the waiter that I couldn't eat any of the food (it was a lovely buffet, but everything was fried or sandwiches, etc). The waiter had a special plate made for me and starting then, they took incredible care of me. We had a wonderful dinner that night and they gave me slightly different dishes for 3 of the courses (out of 5) to ensure that they were GF. My fav was actually the cream of tomato soup, which was just heavenly (everyone else had leek soup). The crab salad was very good (everyone else had crab cakes), but I thought the citrus cream dressing was surprisingly bland (or maybe they just didn't put enough, which is almost funny, since I usually think there's too much dressing on salads, not too little). The dessert was also rather boring, but we were stuffed by then, so it didn't matter.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Driving me crazy

Wow, I am out of practice driving in traffic. I find myself really tensing up on these multi-lane roads. It's not congestion or traffic jams, it's just the volume and the way that people drive in an unpredictable way. I don't trust anyone to stay in their lane or to give me any warning of what they're planning to do. I've only been out of the area for a couple years, but I am no longer comfortable with this city driving.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Biology teacher shoots 6 colleagues when denied tenure

Holy crow, this story is just blowing my mind. Why did she shoot them? Over tenure. Three lives cut short. Just awful.

Here are some observations from a newspaper blog:

The murder of three University of Alabama-Huntsville professors by Dr. Amy Bishop-Anderson, a a neurobiologist and assistant professor in that school's biology department is now three days old, yet the picture painted is not any more clear than before.

The image of Dr. Bishop is complex . . . brilliant researcher, genius, mother of four children and good teacher . . .

With all of this, UAB students have painted a picture of a Dr. Bishop that was a good teacher who gave informative, if "tagent-prone" lectures, and who took time to help them. . .

The reason why this matter is so intriguing is that no one had any warning that Bishop was going to snap in this way (if the murder allegations hold). It's important to not only get at the motivations for what she did, but how to spot such possible actions in the future and declare the person mentally ill and thus eligible for special treatment, care, and observation.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Our latest paper

Anesthesia & Analgesia. Feb 9 2010 [Epub ahead of print]

Prospective Trial of Thoracic and Spine Surgeons' Updating of Their
Estimated Case Durations at the Start of Cases.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Superbowl ads

Commentator on NPR's Talk of the Nation, Mary Elizabeth Williams, who also writes for Salon.com, noted what I had noticed - that there were several ads showing emasculated men reclaiming their masculinity - the FloTV "spineless men" ad, the Dockers "we wear no pants" ad, and, worst of all, the Dodge Charger "we've given up so much" ad.

Here's what Ms Williams had to say about the car ad:

Wow, I didn't realize being a grown-up was soooo challenging. And as you glumly stare at the camera until your eyeballs look like they're about to explode, all you demand is that you can zoom around to some fucking James Bond music in your dumb Dodge as you boldly take "Man's! Last! Stand!" Way to stick it to us. The Charger: delusional masculinity's reward for having to put the toilet seat down.

Of course there's always plenty of sexism, but I noticed it more this year - the book club ad for Budwiser (probably my least fav of the night, though a close second is the desert island one, which annoyed me for obvious reasons) and those nasty GoDaddy.com ads were just the worst - I was embarrassed to be in the room with my son. Ick.

The high point was the google ad, with the trip to Paris. Really charming.

Here's an excerpt from Ms Williams' excellent piece:

First, congratulations to the Saints. Second, guys, I am really sorry about your penises. You know, the ones we took away from you with our book clubs and our vampire TV shows. And while it's practically a tradition to get the lady knickers in a twist over that annual evening of misogyny punctuated with occasional outbreaks of football, really, I had no idea you were that angry. How angry? The Super Bowl hates females so much, even hens and baby girls aren't safe from scorn.

See, I know because I watched the game too -- women make up about a third of its audience. Believe it or not, we're actually capable of enjoying television events that don't revolve around snarking on Drew Barrymore's wardrobe choices. And we want to like the ads that accompany it -- those star-studded, memorably clever, funny and special effects-laden affairs that sponsors fall all over themselves to create for the edification of our captive eyeballs. Yet as I was brushing the cheese doodle dust off my shirt Sunday evening, I had one particular thought again and again -- somebody paid almost $3 million in airtime costs alone just to show us that?

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Animated movies

I have to admit that I just don't get why adults swoon over animated movies. Up was entertaining, but it's a cartoon. Same with Wall-E. They're fun, but they're not really entertainment for adults. I want to watch movies that showcase human performances - that's what I consider the sine qua non for a really exceptional movie. Animation is impressive and artistic, but it's limited. It can be just as fun, but it can't be as meaningful, by definition.

Now that I'm saying that, I'm thinking about Maus or other media that have presented important stories. It *can* be deep and meaningful, but movies created primarily for a youth audience can't. Pixar's offerings and other movies like them, which attract the adoration of so many, are the ones that I don't take seriously. The two I mentioned above and Toy Story and The Incredibles. Super entertaining. Not Oscar bait.

I'm glad that the Academy created a separate category for animated features, because there are many terrific animated movies each year. But putting an animated movie in the Best Picture category is just silly, in my opinion. I just can't take an animated movie seriously as film.


Friday, February 05, 2010

Computer downed by virus

Got a nasty virus on my work computer on Wednesday, but didn't realize how serious it was until Thursday morning, when the computer was unusable. Nice IT tech came and removed the virus, but had to clear my hard drive to do it. Then he couldn't get me reconnected to the network. Another tech came to my office, but he couldn't figure it out either. Eventually, they took the computer with them, back to their office, and Paul, the guy who originally set it up, reconfigured it. It's fine now, but it's different - some things look different, and I can't find some things. It's not going to be fun to sort it all out.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Al Franken is no shrinking violet

Loved this item on Hullabaloo:

. . . it appears the irreverent comedian isn't playing by the rules there either:

Franken — a comedian turned liberal talk show host — vowed to keep a relatively low profile when he arrived in the Senate over the summer after a protracted legal battle with former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman. But he has developed a reputation among his colleagues as one of the more aggressive personalities on the Hill.Last November, after Tennessee Republican Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander authored an op-ed in a local paper defending their opposition to a Franken amendment, Franken confronted both men on the floor — and grew particularly irritated with Corker.He lashed out at Corker and a staff member in a follow-up meeting about the matter, several people said. Franken also clashed with South Dakota Sen. John Thune, No. 4 in GOP leadership, last month in a scathing speech during the health care debate, and staffers have reported other run-ins.

Those delicate little Republican flowers just don't know what to do when a Democrat isn't afraid of them.


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

More on the Tea Party Party

CNN is covering these folks a lot lately, and each time I hear about them, my blood just boils. I'm not sure if CNN wants to give the group credibility or showcase how marginal they are.

This morning I heard Rand Paul (I assumed he was named for Ayn until I saw that his given name is "Randal"), who's running for Senate in Kentucky, talking about how reasonable they are and how it's really about the deficit. Of course I think that's ridiculous. Not that they aren't sincerely concerned about the deficit, but you heard nothing from these folks when Bush took us from a surplus to the trillion dollar deificit. Or for that matter when Reagan ran up a huge debt. And they certainly aren't this angry about the deficit. They cannot escape the strong racist tone of a least some of the protest.


Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Oscars Noms announced today

No big surprises. Because they expanded the Best Picture category to 10 (which I think is silly), finally all the directors' pictures are included, though obviously not all the pictures' directors are included.

I agree with this commentary - expanding the Best Picture category just diminishes the brand, watering it down, and makes the nominees seem less worthy.

My attitude about the best picture is that it should be judged on artistic merit, not on audience appeal. There are plenty of awards that focus on that, like the People's Choice and the MTV Awards. Plus the box office receipts are the obvious, ultimate reward for popularity. The Academy should be assessing the artistry of a movie.

I also think that a movie shouldn't even be considered for Best Picture if it doesn't have any nominated performances. How can a film be the very best of the year if it didn't showcase an actor or actress. If it didn't, then what is it the best of? The best special effects?

I'm tickled that Meryl Streep broke her own previous record for nominations - now she has 16!! But she's only won twice - one for Lead Actress (Sophie's Choice), once for Supporting Actress (Kramer vs Kramer). It's been 27 years since she won!

Here's a fun fact:

Though Streep just broke Hepburn's record of an even dozen nods in the lead-actress race, she should take inspiration from Hepburn's Oscar history. Hepburn won her first Oscar bid, for "Morning Glory" in 1933, but she lost her next 8 Oscar races. It was only after Hepburn turned 60 in 1967 -- the age Streep is now -- that she prevailed again with nod No. 10 for "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner."

I'm rooting for her and for Kathryn Bigelow (as previously discussed) for the first ever female Best Director. I adore George Clooney and I loved him in Up in the Air, but I probably have to root for Colin Firth, being bold and playing a gay man, and, at the same time, for Morgan Freeman, just because he's awesome in everything. But I won't be upset if Jeff Bridges wins, which he probably will.

For Supporting Actress, I think I'm all in for Mo'Nique, who I assume is a long shot, but I don't really know. As for Supporting Actor, I've only seen Invictus, but right now I'm rooting for Woody Harrelson, just because it's a differnt role for him and I think he is extremely underrated, as are many performers who move effortlessly between comedic and dramatic performances. I probably need to see the rest of the movies before I really take a stand, though I'm sure they're all worthy.

I'm pleased to see a few less predictable choices, especially Babourey Sidibe and Lee Daniels for Precious.

Here's a summary of who got snubbed, and below are my comments:

Of course I wanted to see Joseph Gordon Levitt get a nod, but his time will come. I'm a little surprised that Viggo Mortenson wasn't nominated for The Road. I didn't see it, but I heard great things about his performance. Maybe it was a little too under the radar. And Tobey Maguire didn't get any consideration, though his performance in Brothers was widely lauded. Also, has Daniel Day Lewis given a performance in the last 2 decades that he wasn't nominated for? I haven't seen Nine, but I'm sure he's amazing, because he always is.

Emily Blunt was probably hoping for a nod, especially since playing a queen of England is usually good for a nomination. But like JGL, her time will undoubtably come - she is a massively talented lady and quite young. I've missed many of the other high profile female performances, so I can't kvetch (yet) about who was overlooked.

Multiple nominee Julianne Moore was noticably absent from the roster, though she received raves for her performance in A Single Man.

Clint Eastwood is noticably absent from the Best Director category, but I guess a South African rugby movie just isn't Oscar bait. He was no doubt on the short list, but didn't make the cut.

Can't wait for the telecast on March 7th!


Monday, February 01, 2010

More bad kid movies

I've never even seen Air Bud, the movie that started it all. But with Alana so obsessed with puppies, we went straight to the knock-offs (you can't even call them sequels because they're something like the 6th and 7th movies in the series).

Air Buddies is the first one that focused on the puppies. The plot, such that it is, involves the inept henchmen of a rich man who has orders them to steal Air Bud for his spoiled son. A cross between 101 Dalmations and something more modern and offensive. The 5 puppies are each a type - the one who wears bling, the fat one, the girl, etc. It's really dumb. The action is silly and predictable, though of course watching the puppies tumble around is fun. Overall, pretty painful for an adult to watch, but the kids enjoyed it.

Space Buddies is actually a bit better. The puppies sneak onto an unmanned space shuttle that goes to the moon and visits a defunct Russian space station. It's funnier than the first one, though relies on some of the same stupid humor (fart jokes and such). And it's smarter, with some nice nods to the importance of science. It's also a bit more sentimental, for example, a dog stranded on the Russian space station just wants to get back to his owner, a sweet boy waiting back home for him (as if a space dog would have a sweet boy owner, but whatever). Not quite as agonizing to sit through.