Saturday, February 28, 2015

Animal

Nothing extensive this week. One of each - and then a together shot. Still, it's pretty cute. But I'm biased.


HRH Sophie - as pretty as ever. 

Petey - giving up a graceful look to stare me down while I eat lunch


One canine encroaching on Sophie's morning milk. 





Song by:  R.E.M.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Record of the Month

I figured I'd do a monthly 'what I'm listening to' kind of thing. This could be viewed as a lame placeholder kind of post. And probably it is. But it's my blog! So there! 



The Decemberists have a new "album". They took a break a bit ago, as multi-instrumentalist Jenny Conlee battled some health issues. But they're back with What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (which is really hard to get on the CD case binding, I suppose).

Like with any band or disk - there is good and bad. And with any band that has an ok output of music, you start to see their talent or limits (or both). The problem with the Decemberists seem to be, no matter how much they attempt to stretch, they don't quite seem to sound that much different from their other works. That's not a bad thing for folks who like continuity, but

"The Singer Addresses His Audience".  The music and pace is great. They lyrics? meh.  Like I need songs with product placement (really? Axe shampoo???) or talking about someone copying their drummer's hair style. Yes, I get it is a piece on criticism but save it for your Rolling Stone interview.

I wasn't sure what to think about the intro to "Calvary Captain", but then it took off and it seemed to work, with a '60s vibe, though I attribute that to the horns. The background vocals that repeat the main vocal are not stellar - almost cheesy in fact. If those were taken out, the song is actually better than good.

More '60s tendencies with "Philomena", but for me the tempo or cadence was just off. 'Skip' on my player seems to be used on this song far too often. I'm also ok on skipping "Better Not Wake the Baby".

"Till the Water's All Gone" is a moody piece that I find getting lost in and letting it play repeatedly. Possibly the best piece on the disk.

Liking "Carolina Low" too. It's almost a John Paul White song, but it works. It's more Americana than it should be, but I really like it. And "Easy Come, Easy Go"is good, but it's not too far of a stretch to hear someone like Raul Malo tackle this song...and do a better job of it.

I like "Make You Better", but it seems to be trying a little to hard to be radio friendly - not that there is anything wrong with that, if they tried that more consistently, it would be a good thing, But the rest of their material, they seem to go against that grain on purpose, which makes songs like "Make You Better" stand out like a sore thumb.

The rest of the songs are fine, but nothing that stand-out.

I get that many did not like the King is Dead, but I really dug that whole disk. And I get that some did not appreciate Gillian Welch being so prominent on those songs, but I thought she was the perfect person to be there - and that pairing made the group and the songs better.

What a Terrible World... is fine, but it's not going down in the annals of recorded history as being one of the great disks. The group has done better. I get that it is Colin Meloy is the leader, singer, and songwriter of the ensemble, but it might not hurt to get other influences in there - to mix it up, because things are sounding too much the same.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Baker Baker

It was pay-up time for that Oscar contest: Cookies for Mike.

I thought to myself - 'how hard can this be?', but as I rotated the pans of cookies halfway through their bake time, I realized (again) that I am not a baker.

I've said here time and again that I am not, but clearly I don't listen - even to myself.

There was a split second, earlier in the day, when I thought of buying cookies and trying to pass them off as my own. Or making the pre-made frozen kind.

But no, I did the righteous thing - and he'd have figured it out anyways. I couldn't live with him lording that over me.

Knowing Mike is a Martha Stewart disciple fan, naturally I went to her site to find the ultimate thin, crispy chocolate chip cookie. And poof (just like Mike) - there it was.

Flour - 2.25 cups
Baking Soda - 1/2 t
Salt - 1 t
Granulated Sugar - 1.25 cups
Brown Sugar (light) - 3/4 cup (packed)
Eggs - 2
Vanilla - 2 t
Water - 1/4 cup
Butter - 2.5 sticks
Semisweet (just like Mike) chocolate chips - 12oz


Again, it all seemed easy enough.

"Seemed" being the operative word here.

In separate bowl, mix flour and baking soda together. 
(Ok, I didn't fuck that up)

In mixer, add butter and both sugars. Blend on medium speed until light and fluffy. 
(ditto on the not fucking up thing)

Reduce speed to low. Add water, vanilla, eggs, salt and then the dry ingredients. Mix well. Scrape bowl to make sure all is incorporated. 

(I didn't fuck this part up either - thank you!)


Mix in the chocolate chips. 

(easy, peasy)


This is what may have gotten me into trouble. 


What the fuck is a heaping tablespoon sized ball? This is not helping me. Baking is a science, not a guess of weights and measures. 

I probably crammed too many balls (hehehe) on the trays, and probably not quite 2" apart. And I didn't have parchment. Martha RUNS the parchment paper industry. She uses it for fucking everything. Even when making a bologna sandwich. 

I still don't think the lack of parchment fucked me up. 



Once, long ago, Mike commented on a post I wrote on cooking, and after viewing a picture of our stove that he had oven envy. Yes, ours looks nice and it is VERY industrial, but it's very old and uneven in cooking, let alone baking. And there is no broiler. THAT is how old it is. Temps can vary by 40 degrees depending on the thermometer you use - and we use two (digital and non). 

So that coupled with the 'heaping tablespoons' could have resulted in 'spread'. The cookies spread - big time....morphing almost into two humungo cookies. 

And while Mike might have been ok to legitimately say, "hey, I only ate two cookies", the result was just a mess. 


For the record, they taste great. 

For the record, they look like a disaster. 


Mike and I chatted before the cookies ever left my house. I conceded that if this were a baking competition, he'd have won - and at this point, I hadn't even gotten his cookies. I just know they had to be better. 

The funny (?) thing was, is that he said that I was to be the recipient of his second batch of cookies, because his first batch.......wait for it........spread. 

So at this point, I'm blaming Martha herself. 

Mike did not use parchment either, but silpat, so that might have helped his end game. 

Maybe it is just best no one else participated in these reindeer games - or you might have won and been eating those cookies I just made. 




Song by: Tori Amos

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Some Girls are Bigger Than Others

...and this girl just happens to be a phone.

I finally upgraded to the iPhone 6. I'm still coming to terms with my selection and figuring out all I need to figure out.

....story of my life.

710's iPhone 5 wouldn't really charge easily anymore, so he thought it time to upgrade. Since his work was willing to pay for his phone and monthly plan, we opted to save a little money by doing that - and he gets to keep his number, so that's good. But their plan is on a different carrier - so that was logistically challenging.

Since we were bundled in a family plan, it made sense to look at new plans for just myself and with that, the realization of a new phone.

Sure, I've played with the phones at the Apple store and they seemed nice, but unlike other other iterations, I didn't feel the need to jump to the new level immediately. Of course, I had moments of 'me want', but I resisted as I could not really justify it just to get Apple Pay and slo-mo videoing.

Here it is, two days later - my old phone backed-up, my new phone synced and ready to go.

Everything seems faster, brighter, clearer and more slippery.

But the size. Yes, guys are always about size. Bigger is better.   ....but is it?

In the store, you know for a minute or two at a time, it seemed ok and it slid into a shirt pocket easily enough, as that's how I carry my phone often.

Except the models didn't have a case. I don't either.........yet, as the Apple ones currently are f'ugly. And pricey. So I don't know avec case that the new phone will slip easily into my normal carrying mode.

The 6 Plus seemed to be out from the get-go, though I was intrigued by it. I just can't carry anything that big.

But the problem I'm currently having is grip. Partially due to the size. Partially due to how smooth and curved the phone is. Texting is no longer easy. Hell, holding the phone is no longer easy. My typos have gone up exponentially and to the point that autocorrect is going 'huh'?????

Maybe part of the problem will resolve with getting a case. I won't worry about movement and dropping the device. And the other part will resolve when I get used to the size and how to text with the new placement of everything.

Oh, I guess I still have to set-up bluetooth for the device in my car. And my Apple Pay - which I have not done, but now that our grocery store accepts Apple Pay, it seems like a no-brainer not to.

I have to figure out storage too. I backed up my old phone and actually cleared out lots of crap I didn't use and decided to start up with no pictures on my phone. But iTunes is reading the new phone as having 13G of photos - or almost 900 pics. I've never had that many images on my phone ever, so I don't know what is going on with that. Ditto with 8G of documents.

I do like the print-recognition to get into the phone without my security code. Of course, I'll have to get used to it because 91% of the time, I'm still using the code. You know - old dogs; new tricks.

And just for David: true to my Apple nature, I stayed with white. White front, silver back. 710 has the black / matte, so why confuse things. And I like the continuity.



Song by: the Smiths

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tie Our Love (in a Double Knot)

Well, first off - I didn't see anyone else participate (again!) in the 4th Annual Academy Awards Guessing Game®.

What's with the holding back folks? Are Mike and I too entertaining for you? Too scary for you? Are you just that lazy?

I'm throwing out blog entry ideas for you, and no one is taking the bait.

Mike did get me his selections a few days prior to the telecast. We did not differ on much at all.

On only eight of the 26 categories did we choose different selections. That left us very very little wiggle room for a win - but that seems to be par for the course.

And most of our joint selections actually were mostly on the money, until the very end.

Save Patricia Arquette, Boyhood got completely shut out. I have to say, that surprised me. Maybe it was released too early in the year and used up all of its buzz before award time. Maybe people aren't ready for a movie that is a journey - and one as uncomfortable as having to relive their adolescence.

While I really liked Birdman - and going by Facebook comments, I might be one of the few - I didn't really expect it to be best picture. Neither did Mike, though he did nail it for best director.

We both also lost out on Michael Keaton as best actor. Mike "claims" to almost have voted for the Stephen Hawking impersonator, but who knows. I did put it (in print - thank you!) as my caveat to a Michael Keaton upset.

Mike seemed to drop all resentment towards me during the show, as we exchanged messages back and forth. Honestly, I think he was just making sure I had the tally up to date and correct, but if it helps us have a civilized two-way conversation, perhaps there is hope for rebuilding our friendship yet.

Here he is (in the title image) getting love from at least someone. Well a puppy. But don't be fooled, I'm 89% sure there is peanut butter on his chin is his attempt to be a nominee for best 'visual effects'.


While I like NPH, I found the show to be a bore - and long. Long. Long. Long. And what was with all the mid-80's music interludes as presenters and winners came and went? "Against All Odds"? "Take My Breath Away"?  "the Theme from S.W.A.T."?   nahhh.  just kidding on that last one. That was from the '70s.

And honestly, Lady Gaga? Facebook is ablaze of 'how great' she was. (s)He was fine (I still think 'she' is a dude), but I had to laugh that the big surprise of the night was that someone could sing. (which is more than you could say for Maroon 5's horrible horrible horrible performance.)

Oh and Streep drew the short-straw having to sit next to J Lo. And folks were upset that Joan Rivers wasn't in the 'in memorium' set. She played a robot in Spaceballs. She commented on actor's fashion, I'm not sure that makes her worthy. Harold Ramis wasn't there either and he did a lot more in the movies than Rivers.

Anyway, as for ticking off the categories, I eked ahead for about the first hour. Then we tied. Then Mike eked ahead. Then tied. Then me.  .....and then......yes Mike caught up and.......three out of the four years:



IT WAS A TIE. 

The Results (for auditing purposes)

Picture - both lost
Director - Mike wins
Actor - both lost
Actress - both won
Supporting Actor - both won
Supporting Actress - both won
Adapted Screenplay - both won
Original Screenplay - both lost
Cinematography - both won
Costume Design - both won
Animated Feature - both won
Documentary Short - both won
Documentary Feature - both won
Editing - both lost
Foreign Language - both won
Make-Up / Hair - Blobby wins
Score - Blobby wins
Song - both won
Production Design - both won
Animated Short - both lost
Live Action Short - both lost
Sound Editing - Mike wins
Sound Mixing - Mike wins
Visual Effects - Blobby wins

See? We have very few conjoined losses. It might frighten both of us to think we think this much alike. It should really frighten our respective partners (who have actually met each other!).

But, see the blog tags? I put 'friends'.

Because for all the razzing I give Mike (and he me?), it is all out of love and friendship. And somewhere - way deep down -  I think he knows that. Oh, he'd never admit it to you, and definitely not to me, but I know it's there.

Last year I asked for best out of five, so maybe I can squeeze one more of these things out in 2016. But I'm not counting my chickens - hatched or not. 

Both Mike and I are doing the grown-up thing. 

I know, right? 

Since neither of us won, we are exchanging a batch of cookies to the other. Chocolate chip. Crispy, not burned. No nuts.  

...and hopefully, no Ex-Lax. 

And that's how I'll know he likes me. He really really likes me. 



Song by: Dolly Parton

Monday, February 23, 2015

My Music Monday

It's 20:56 on Sunday and I'm just getting around to picking a song for today.

While it's not an Oscar moment, per se, it is Neil Patrick Harris. And it is coming from Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog.

Yes, the song clip is a little out of context if you have not seen the entire 40 minute show (you can on YouTube - it it totally worth it).

And yes, in theory, Felicia Day's voice isn't the strongest - especially compared next to NPH, but it really kind of works.

There are only about 21 minutes of music in Dr. Horrible, and most of it is good. The individual melodies work here, but it really kind of shines with their harmony.

Yeah, I know it's not much of a pick, but I've got to concentrate on tabulating the results for my very hopeful win.

Results are tomorrow.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mama Said Knock You Out

In my constant efforts to move levels from being super butch to über butch, I signed David and myself up for something that was not yoga.

It was billed as a boxing class, and while it certainly had aspects of pugilism, the beginning and end themes were definitely boot camp stuff.

The first 15 minutes was grueling. I knew it would be when the woman who showed up was the one who did the Insanity last May.

That was a living hell.

This first 15 minutes of this class was no better. I'm no fan of burpees or even jumping jacks. The sprints weren't too bad - though except for David and myself, the others on our team didn't really assert themselves. It wasn't scored, but had it been, we'd have lost.

Oh - and once again, we were the only two men (besides two of the instructors). I thought maybe it would be some kind of rape retaliation class: how to fight your attacker, and that David and I would be the designated rapists. Luckily, this did not come to fruition.

I will admit to liking the boxing and I didn't think I would.

Years ago, I made some flip comment to Rebecca when she said Muhammad Ali had some kind of honor for athlete of the millennium. I said he was as much of an athlete as Secretariat - which made Rebecca laugh.

Yes, boxers train and train and train. Lots of cardio and boot camp kind of stuff. And at least horse racing doesn't give you idiopathic Parkinson's disease.

But boxing, in real life, is not the same as it seems on television. I've seen it live and it is fucking brutal. Television desensitizes the violence of the hitting, the sounds and blood. It's not a video game or just a gambling event.

Yesterday wasn't exactly real boxing. It was just basics on hitting either guys or girls who were wearing pads or protective gear. Learning jabs, crosses and upper cuts.

Besides getting to throw punches at a guy wearing pads on his hands - left, right, left - I was expected to his a woman wearing a chest and abdominal protector.

I've never punched anyone in my life - let alone a girl. Years ago, I once owned up in this very blog, to being subjected to years of ridicule from former classmates because Eileen Perry beat me up in the 4th grade. Besides her being a bully - and obviously a probable lesbian - I even knew then it wasn't right to hit a girl, so I took it like a man.

The first few hits were very very tentative. She encouraged me where to hit and that I could do it harder. Also how to hold my arm and wrist, so not to hurt anything - on me. But hitting her was some virtual eraser for Eileen Perry.  ...at least that's what I'm telling myself.

That was all fine, but hitting the guy's hand pads were a much better experience for me. He had to stop me the first time, saying we were going for speed and not power, as he saw me wind up.

I found it slightly amusing that I asked the two male instructors if they boxed and they replied they did not - even though they teach it.

Those who can't......

Doing push-ups and planks while wearing boxing gloves proved to be challenging, at best.

David and I even got to spar a little. We said, being family, we were mostly used to sparring with our wit. Or at least, our perceived wit.

It was a great workout - well, eventually it was. It should be noted that David and I not only survived the entire class, but were basically the last two standing. Yes, there were two other students from this gym who had taken their classes before (one was a total ringer!), but the other students dropped out and left early. So, I'm taking that as a win.

And we got a free two week pass to their facility. That was nice and  if we were just hitting the bag, but it seems like a lot of burpees, push-ups, jumping jacks and sprints to get to that point. Even if we use a two week pass, I don't see getting there more than twice.   .....which may just kill me.



Song by: L.L Cool J

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Show a Little Mercy

Another cold week. Some more pictures - all indoors. Very very few walks for Petey. Way too cold for his paws.


Miss P. Winner of the 2015 Westminster Doggie Show. 
So well behaved. Such vibrant colours. We had those once upon a time. 


On the sub-zero nights, Petey gets a blanket to snuggle in - just in case. 

Petey got to see his brother, Boomer last Sunday. 
But begging for food was more important than playing. Boomer was ready to play. 

I went out for one item at the grocery. Gone for 8 minutes. 
No remorse whatsoever. Not only that, he actually fought me for the trash as I cleaned-up. 

Miss P is well behaved. Mr. P is not. 

I hate to say it, I held a grudge for a few hours. I should have taken Tim Finn's title to heart. 


video

And gotta have something of Sophie. Or at least parts of her. 





Song by: Tim Finn

Friday, February 20, 2015

Song for a Winter's Night

I sit here drafting this and it -1F.  This seems to be the norm lately.

We've been riding a cold spell as of late. As annoying as it is, it does not compare to last Winter - so it's hard to complain.

Today was supposed to be close to a record low, but now that forecast might be revised to be closer to just a plain old 0F.

710's commute doubled (each way) due to bad roads, white-outs and accidents (not his).

The thoughts of warming up are always in the back of my mind, and sometimes food is just the way to do it.

So I went with what I consider winter-time food - the grilled cheese you heard about a week or two ago and chicken tortilla soup.

Filling and cheesy.

Everything was ready when 710 walked in the door.

It's not much of a post, but it wasn't much of a day.

Allegedly we'll get into double digits over the weekend. I'll wait and see.





Song by: Sarah McLachlan

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Guess What

You know, I had a really nice post drafted for our Annual Academy Awards Guessing Game®, but then Mike has to go ruin it all, by out of the blue, calling me a "douche".

Just when his nursery school teacher started to say he  "played well with others", he goes and shows his true colours......and not the Cyndi Lauper kind.

Mike tried to pass it off as trying out his "French', but that's just his passive-aggressive nature.

So the gloves are off. Mine are more the boxing kind, his are more the lacy fingerless ones (which is why he always dominates the costume design categories!).

I suppose if this were Little House on the Prairie days, Mike might be dipping my pigtails in the ink wells or pushing me down on the playground to faux-prove how much he "didn't" like me.

But since he was being a bigger ass than Kim Kardashian's big ass, I've turned his picture into Kim Kardashian's bigger ass.

------------

Our petty squabble aside, you're all still invited (and encouraged) to play along in the 4th Annual Academy Awards Guessing Game®.

If you're a blogger, you can post your selections on your own site - or just in the comments of this post. Whichever is easier. You can even copy and paste the ballot below or just type in your selection and not the entire nominee list.

Seeing all the movies is not required. I'm guessing the folks who actually vote in the Academy have not seen most the stuff for which they are making their selections.

Let's face it - voting is either a guilt trip (how else do you explain a Halle Berry win?), a high school homecoming queen popularity contest (how else do you explain an Anne Hathaway win?) or the award is basically just out and out purchased (how else do you explain a Gwyneth Paltrow win?)

I haven't seen many of the performances. And from the short collections, just clips on YouTube. A theater here is showing both animated and live action shorts, but at the most inconvenient times - and not even together. So one gets to pay full admission for 5 animated clips that last no longer than like 7 minutes. What a deal!

Remember  - it is who you think will win, not who you think should win (or necessarily even who you like).

So yeah - it's a guessing game. Come guess with us. You win nothing*, but it gives you bragging rights - and if you're a blogger, it provides you at least with one post, if not more.

Selections must be posted by Sunday at 12:00 EST.


Best Picture
“American Sniper”
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” 
“Boyhood” 

The Grand Budapest Hotel” 
“The Imitation Game” 
“Selma” 
“The Theory of Everything” 
“Whiplash” 


I saw five of the eight. Not horrible. Loved them all in their own ways. But I still think that Boyhood was clever and something totally new in filmmaking. It wasn't suspenseful, it wasn't exciting. It was just a journey from childhood to adulthood, which kind of made it a brave thing even to make. 

Actor
Steve Carell in “Foxcatcher”
Bradley Cooper in “American Sniper”
Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game”
Michael Keaton in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything”

I was torn on this. I think Cumberbatch might have done a better job, but I think Keaton will be the sentimental winner. And I'm not voting for whom I liked the best, just who will win. This is a contest, don't ya know. If it were by performance that I liked the best, it'd have been Cumberbatch. Redmayne has been winning a lot of stuff w his role, so I might be wayyyyy off here. 
Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall in “The Judge”
Ethan Hawke in “Boyhood”
Edward Norton in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Mark Ruffalo in “Foxcatcher”
J.K. Simmons in “Whiplash”

J.K. Simmons was phenomenal. He was a total asshole, but so good at it. I actually like Norton's performance too, but not to be surpassed by Simmons. Hawke might have had the least impressive role in Boyhood - not that he was bad in it. I don't get why Simmons is in this category though. By my estimation, I think he should have been the Lead Actor slot - and could still have won that. 
Actress
Marion Cotillard in “Two Days, One Night”
Felicity Jones in “The Theory of Everything”
Julianne Moore in “Still Alice”

Rosamund Pike in “Gone Girl”
Reese Witherspoon in “Wild”


No one saw Cotillard's movie - though I love her. Reese already has a statue. Moore does not - though few have seen her movie either (as it wasn't released to many markets until mid-February). But Moore is pretty excellent in just about everything she does, so I say, let's give it to her. 
Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette in “Boyhood”

Laura Dern in “Wild”
Keira Knightley in “The Imitation Game”
Emma Stone in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Meryl Streep in “Into the Woods”


No on Streep. She was ok, but I'm not sure even nominee good enough. Stone was good, but it was a limited role. I really liked Arquette's role, until I saw Knightley's performance. I liked her's better, but I think Arquette will win. She's riding the Medium Boyhood wave. 
Animated Feature
“Big Hero 6” Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli

“The Boxtrolls” Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable and Travis Knight
“How to Train Your Dragon 2” Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold
“Song of the Sea” Tomm Moore and Paul Young
“The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” Isao Takahata and Yoshiaki Nishimura


I didn't see any of these. But who doesn't like a big (sometimes leaking) whacky waving inflatable tube guy as your main character?  Plus the big blow up character pets a Calico cat. The Japenese folks will probably take it. 
Original Screenplay
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
“Boyhood” Written by Richard Linklater
“Foxcatcher” Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness

“Nightcrawler” Written by Dan Gilroy

You'd think with picture and director the award would go to Linklater or the Birdman guy. But I think for originality it will more than likely go to Wes Anderson & co.  (though Dan Futterman is really cute.)
Cinematography
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Emmanuel Lubezki

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Robert Yeoman
“Ida” Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski
“Mr. Turner” Dick Pope
“Unbroken” Roger Deakins


Because of the super long, unbroken, unedited shots. They were amazing. 
Costume Design
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Milena Canonero

Inherent Vice” Mark Bridges
“Into the Woods” Colleen Atwood
“Maleficent” Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive
“Mr. Turner” Jacqueline Durran


Into the Woods was ok, but nothing they didn't pick out of a pile from Les Miserable and / or any pirate movie. I didn't see any of the others, though I thought Angelina Jolie looked great in Maleficent. 
Documentary Feature
“CitizenFour” Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky

“Finding Vivian Maier” John Maloof and Charlie Siskel
“Last Days in Vietnam” Rory Kennedy and Keven McAlester
“The Salt of the Earth” Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and David Rosier
“Virunga” Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara
Documentary Short Subject
“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry

“Joanna” Aneta Kopacz
“Our Curse” Tomasz Sliwinski and Maciej Slesicki
“The Reaper (La Parka)” Gabriel Serra Arguello
“White Earth” J. Christian Jensen


100% throwing a dart. 
Film Editing
“American Sniper” Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach

“Boyhood” Sandra Adair
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Barney Pilling
“The Imitation Game” William Goldenberg
“Whiplash” Tom Cross


I hate selecting it. I didn't see it. I'd never see it. But it's war. It's gun fire. It's back and forth between war and home life. I'd rather give it for Grand Budapest Hotel, but I'm trying to win here. 
Foreign Language Film
“Ida” Poland

“Leviathan” Russia
“Tangerines” Estonia
“Timbuktu” Mauritania
“Wild Tales” Argentina


100% throwing a dart. 
Makeup and Hairstyling
“Foxcatcher” Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier

“Guardians of the Galaxy” Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White

Come on. You saw Tilda Swinton, didn't you?
Original Score
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Alexandre Desplat

“The Imitation Game” Alexandre Desplat
“Interstellar” Hans Zimmer
“Mr. Turner” Gary Yershon
“The Theory of Everything” Jóhann Jóhannsson


Hans Zimmer's score was just bad - and made worse by sound mixing. I don't even remember music in the Imitation Game, though I'm sure it was there. I'm giving it to some jaunty music during chase scenes in tGBH. 
Original Song
“Everything Is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie”
Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson
“Glory” from “Selma”
Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn

“Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights”
Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me”
Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond
“Lost Stars” from “Begin Again”
Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois


Because Selma got overlooked for almost everything else, they'll get thrown this bone. I'd rather see Glenn Campbell win just on principle. 
Production Design
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock

“The Imitation Game” Production Design: Maria Djurkovic; Set Decoration: Tatiana Macdonald
“Interstellar” Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
“Into the Woods” Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
“Mr. Turner” Production Design: Suzie Davies; Set Decoration: Charlotte Watts


I think it comes down to my pick and Into the Woods. But the hotel, the prison, the bakery, the monestary, the ski scenes.....I think Grand Budapest has it wrapped up. 
Animated Short Film
“The Bigger Picture” Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees
“The Dam Keeper” Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi

“Feast” Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed
“Me and My Moulton” Torill Kove
“A Single Life” Joris Oprins


The clips I've seen of all of these make them all look great. But some of the animation with the Dam Keeper is spectacular. Some of the images look like paintings.  Feast (Pixar!) will most likely win, but I'm going with my gut - because it's about a bullied pig. ....and because of the images. 
Live Action Short Film
“Aya” Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis
“Boogaloo and Graham” Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney

“Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak)” Hu Wei and Julien Féret
“Parvaneh” Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger
“The Phone Call” Mat Kirkby and James Lucas


Because kids with grown-up Irish accents and two chicks should handily win. 
Sound Editing
“American Sniper” Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Martín Hernández and Aaron Glascock

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” Brent Burge and Jason Canovas
“Interstellar” Richard King
“Unbroken” Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro


Hans Zimmer's score for Intersetellar sucked balls and the sound was so overbearing and muddied at times (on purpose), they'll fail here. I'm giving it to Birdman bc it is the only other movie I've seen in this category. 
Sound Mixing
“American Sniper” John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga

“Interstellar” Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten
“Unbroken” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee
“Whiplash” Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley


The street noise, the music mixed with the dialogue was great. Both 710 and I commented on it after the fact. 
Visual Effects
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist
“Guardians of the Galaxy” Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould
“Interstellar” Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher

“X-Men: Days of Future Past” Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer

It'd be great if Captain America won since it was filmed here in Cleveland, but it won't. Interstallar will, though since they took my money  - robbed me, in fact - I'm not sure I like selecting them. And it would be great if Ian Hunter won, but I doubt it is the same Ian Hunter of which I'm thinking. 

Good luck to all. I do hope some of you participate. I'm posting today to give you a good three posting days to get yours up on the boards. 

Unlike last year, I will wait a day AFTER the show to post results. If you remember, last year I posted too hastily, and was taken to task for "cheating" when it was just an honest mistake. To hear Mr. Mike tell it, he'd have you believing I was Lance fucking Armstrong. So this year, I will contract with PrieWaterhouseCoopers to tabulate the results four or five times before declaring a winner - should there be one. 


* Mike has offered (well, to me) that a batch of cookies go to the winner. On the surface it is a nice gesture, but I now fear victory, as he even determined the type of cookie - chocolate chip. I see mine being laced with Ex-Lax,  should I take top prize. 


Song by: Buddy Guy

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Shopping with Blobby

Yet another installment in the drudgery that is everyday shopping. The camera-phone makes it a bit more fun - though I get looks whenever I take pics of products. Like I care what people think!



It was really hard to get a good shot of this, but as we all know, anymore buying wine isn't about the taste. It's probably less to do with the price than we care to admit too. 

For wine makers, it's all about the label and name. Or the marketing. 

And where Poizin might be a great marketing tool and logo for, oh I don't know, hot sauce...tipping a glass back after decanting a bottle doesn't quite seem to hit the mark with me. 

One might drink it if it were called Jolly Roger, but it isn't. The name rings of an elixir that will kill you - which it most certainly will if your liver is already shot, or if you drink too much of it. 

I will say, if you hit the above hyperlink, the packaging (which they did not have at the store) of a bottle coming in a casket was fairly ingenious. 

And $25 per bottle is kind of pricey these days. There are really really good wines out there that are half the price. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Brother

Yesterday, I went and had coffee with one of my old fraternity brothers / roommates.

Well, he had tea. I had the shittiest hot chocolate ever. Swiss Miss would have been better. (well, I'm guessing.)

I'm not 100% sure what possessed me, but he was in town taking his son to a college visit and he was free for hours on a cold cold day.

Well...he and his wife.

I guess curiosity got the better of me.

The year I moved into the fraternity house, I lived with Pat for most of the first year. Yesterday, he says he saw the house not long ago and our room was quite small, but I don't remember it that way. It wasn't spacious by any means, but it was not small.

Both Pat and I were thinner. Both of us had hair.

While I wasn't out at this time in my life (well at least to anyone in my house), Pat seemed to have this confluence of gay-dom around him, even though he was (and is) straight.

His big brother in the house was a flamboyant dance major. Yes, nothing says "gay" like a dancer named Jorge.

(side note: to bring the six degrees of separation closer - blogger bud, John, actually knows Jorge from some other point in time. From the theater. Shocking.: )  )

Pat's roommate before me was named Terry. Somehow, someone found Terry's stash of Blueboy magazines and he kind of fled from the house. That left a room open for me - another gay man in Pat's immediate existence.

I spent more than a few nights on the sofa in the living area of the house, as Pat would leave a tie on the doorknob. That frustrated me, but what kind of tramp would even want to sleep over in a fraternity house?

I mean - c'mon - show some self respect. Whore!

But Pat brought his wife yesterday - whom I had never met. And while we didn't talk a lot about ourselves today, it was more reminiscing which stands to reason. It was more about re-establishing our baseline.

I mean, he asked about and was genuinely interested in  710, which was nice. He asked if this girl who really liked me in college ever got over her crush. Me, being me, gestured to myself and said, "c'mon - does anyone really ever get over this???"

It was good for a laugh.

But it looks like his son will be coming to college less than a mile away from where we live, so the potential to see Pat is greater than it has been for the last three decades.

Before we parted, and while his wife was using the powder room, I made mention to Pat of Jorge, Terry and myself. He was light-hearted about it all and said, "well you know my dad was gay (I did not know that), so that pretty much makes me half-gay."

He went on to say how is dad claimed (humourously I'm sure) that he invented gay.

It was a nice way to end the visit.




Song by: the Kinks

Monday, February 16, 2015

My Music Monday

I won't lie, I struggled with a tune this week. I didn't give it much thought until the last moment (no real surprise), but nothing was hitting me.

Even rotating through iTunes and selecting the 10th song (no matter what) seemed to fail me. Whatever the song that came up, I did not feel I could subject you to that torture. Even I put it out of my mind whatever song title that was.

So I scrolled. And scrolled.

I totally forgot that Gary Allan was on my short list months back for Country Month.

I like him enough, but I kind of forgot about him.

His 2001 song, "Man of Me" is more than decent. Yes, you can call him and the song country, but if you took off violin, it is nothing more than a rock song.

I can almost guarantee that none of my readers have heard of him - and that's cool. I'm here to help.

To be honest, I don't know much more about him than this song. I know his wife - his third - committed suicide a year or two after this album was released.

The song is like 14 years old and I still like it, and I still play it. Maybe you won't mind it much either.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ask

I've mentioned before my lack of social cues and me trying to change them.

I failed last week while going to those calling hours. But on the other hand, I went to the calling hours, which is a huge stride for me. And last year, I rewarded our friends and neighbors for finding an escaped Petey.

So, slowly but surely, I'm learning. Or at least trying.

This last weekend, we went over to my mother's house. We didn't make it there last week due to a Winter storm. But this week, we wanted to stop out since it is a few days post-Buddy. Overall, she's holding up well.

As we pulled into the drive, I saw a man across the street shoveling his drive. As 710 walked into the house, I said I'd be there in a few minutes.

In the section of street where my mother still lives (and has for 46 years) there are only four houses of folks who are original to their 'hood. I know no one else on the street. But the young couple who bought the house across my mom's moved in right before my father had taken ill last April.

They had seen the comings and goings of the ambulances from time to time and then came over to check on my mother to see if she or my father might need anything.

I found this to be extremely nice and out of the ordinary in this day and age. Especially since not only did they not know my parents, but there was a good 50-60 year difference in their ages.

Still, this was the first time I had seen anyone outside the house, so I made my way over, just to thank him for being so kind to my mom.

See? I'm learning.

As I was talking to Matt, his wife came out to help with the shoveling and she joined us at the bottom of their drive, so I got to meet Stephanie too. Knowing that she was the one who had been over a few times, I'm glad I was able to include her and not just have it relayed later.

They were both appreciative that someone (other than my mother) took notice.

....and then it got weird...and my social ineptness came back into view.

Stephanie asked a very sincere question: "so how is your dad doing......"

Oh boy.

Mind you, they're not friends of my parents, so there'd be no way of knowing. And it was the wee hours of the morning when the funeral home came to pick up my father almost six months ago, so they'd never have seen that activity either.

While I very politely informed them that my father had died back in August, I could see both of their uneasiness. And I felt uneasy for them - though as I said, it was sincere and no way of knowing. It just felt that the awkwardness kept ping-ponging back and forth between us.

But Stephanie asked if we could exchange numbers, so if there was anything I needed for my mother, she was happy to do or if she needed to get a hold of me for any reason, she could.

I thought that was incredibly generous. And while one of my sisters lives 10 minutes away, sometimes a quick call is even better. So we did that.

Since I didn't tell 710 what I was doing, and my sister and brother-in-law pulled in while I was doing this, I'm sure the kitchen was abuzz of my activity.

So my mother thought it was nice of me (and it was!) that I went over to say 'hi'. I think both my mother and sister gasped then laughed at my alleged response when I told her they asked how dad was doing. I told her I told them "oh - he's still the same....".

I guess I'm being less inept, but clearly I still have a way to go.




Song by: the Smith

Saturday, February 14, 2015

One Small Heart

Petey Porn. Sophie Smut. Boomer Bling. And Valentine's Day. All at once.

And yet, I'm not feeling inspired this week in picture taking. It's been cold and getting colder. Walks have been limited and Petey has been enjoying the warmth of the house - and sleeping. A lot!!!!

But it is what it is.

My sister's dog (and Petey's former brother) Boomer, at my mother's house.
He is such a love. I'd take him home in a second, given the chance. 

Petey feeling he is being cheated from the last of the cereal milk. 
My favourite part of this is Sophie's tongue in action. 

They kissed and made up after the Great Milk Incident of '15. 
Or Sophie was just trying to keep warm. 

....and for good measure, another shot of Boomer. 


As Valentine's Day goes - I got nothing. And it falls on a Saturday, so there will be no going out tonight. The crowds and it will be below 0. I'll find something at the grocery and start cooking. No ideas as of yet.......but it'll be decent.





Song by: Mary Chapin Carpenter

Friday, February 13, 2015

12 of 12

So I'm doing my 60th (!!!!) 12 of 12

Normally it is 12 pictures taken on the 12th of the month. Since I only post once per day, you get my images the following day. All pictures taken with my iPhone. Click images to enlarge, if you choose.

Created by Chad Darnell and picked up from, what I can tell, any number of random bloggers who then link back to him and vice versa. Chad is no longer doing this, nor is successor coordinating the linking of other 12 of 12'ers anymore. Now it's just Erik (and sometimes Jim) and myself - that I know of. 

I still continue to do this, because of all my consistent post topics, I actually like this one the most.


06:10.  No I did not spooge on my foot. 

Trying to make feet less cracked. Curél Rough Skin Rescue is actually working. Every morning it goes on....and after every shower. 

06:25. Mr. Pete gets b'fast. 

He's up earlier. He peed. He pooped. Now it's b'fast and pills time. He is an old man, isn't he?


08:45.  Post Petey walk. 

His holding area for used poo bags is encased in ice. Eons from now, archaeologists will be able to tell a lot about civilization when they study, when and if, these ever thaw.  

It is currently 8 degrees and headed to below zero for the next few days. 

10:05.  Mid-morning snack. Three of them. 

11:20.  Sophie keeping herself warm when in the kitchen. I will lose her later to a radiator she'll sleep on upstairs. 


12:00.  Soup for lunch. This is only one container of what is left over from the other night. 

13:30. This came from Rebecca. Apparently we are going to do these podcasts. Cool. 


14:22.  He is a lineman for the county.   (ok...the city!)

16:55.  On my way to Valley View. This is the bridge going over the valley. 
And yes, it is blurry. 


17:50. Networking event at Quaker Steak & Lube.
Honest to g-d!

19:44.  One great song came up through my playlist in the car. 


20:05.  We are not a family of lactose intolerance. 



....and your Baker's Dozen.....

22:00.  Dessert. Lately I've had a thing for Oreos. Sometimes I forget how insanely good they are. 



That is it for this month. #61 coming up in a month.