Friday, October 31, 2008

Anne Geddes and Halloween Cruelty to Children & Pets

I can't stand Anne Geddes pictures. I tend to view them as cruelty. Exploiting babies, dressing them up in "cute outfits" for the sake of our enjoyment and they get nothing in return but the torture of having to be stuck in some flower pot or reclined across a fake flower decoration.

(Note, I feel the same way about you silly people that insist on dressing up your dog).

Well when my wife said "let's dress up our 4 month old for Halloween, I thought she was crazy."

"That's cruel." I said. "She can dress up when she's old enough to tell us she wants to dress up."

And imagine my surprise when I see infant costumes galore at children's clothing stores (Gymbore, Children's Place), department stores, big box retailers like Target, Pottery Barn Kids, and the list goes on. Suddenly I realized the scope of this cruelty.

Many people asked "What is Linden going to be for Halloween?"

"I think she's going to dress up as a baby." I would say, befuddled that everyone expected I would put my daughter through this silly ritual.

Yet earlier this week I folded.

I don't want to be cruel. But I didn't want my wife to sigh every time she she's her friends post baby-dress-up pictures on their blogs from this point forward.

So our daughter Linden does have a "costume." Nothing too torturous...something less than cruel that my wife and I have put together for her to wear this evening when she greets little children at the door to pass out candy.

What's your thoughts on dressing up infants and pets?
If you are dressing up your infant or pet, feel free to e-mail me a picture. I'd love to show off your pet/child here.

Picture above via Andrea-Shroeder.com.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Haunted Houses

I wonder what it's like for those trick-or-treating in Maricopa County, Arizona this year? With Foreclosures through the rough, I can guarantee you that Fannie Mae is not passing out candy when you go to one of the vacant lender properties.

It used to be that the goal was to go to the nice neighborhoods because those people gave you the good candy...you know the Hershey Bars and Reese's Peanut Butter cups (my favorite). But a lot of time the lower cost homes are selling, while the upper valued ones are vacant, or if filled have families struggling. Where are people in high foreclosure areas like Las Vegas, San Jose, Detroit, or Cleavland to go for the best of the best? Maybe people will be generous still, or maybe kids are going to get more Tootsie Rolls then ever.

One things for sure, I think people are excited about Halloween this year. I think between politics and the economy, the idea of something silly and imaginative is freeing. It seems to me that when it comes to Halloween '08, this is not a year for horror films and haunts, its a year for pretending and taking a decompression break from it all. It's the opportunity to think about something non-stressful is a delightful treat...even if in some cities kids might have to skip a few extra vacant houses.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Best Actress Oscar Predictions for October

Doubt...

That's the way I feel about these Actress predictions..and my delay in posting them. As I've mentioned earlier...there's still a lot of year left with some films we all want to be hopeful about, but who knows how it will it all pan out.

Doubt is also a film that I think will really connect with Academy voters and has some great star power (Meryl Streep, Phillip Seymore Hoffman, Amy Adams)...and it's about the only film that I think I can say with any confidence I believe will score it's lead and Oscar nod.

If I had to predict the 5 Actress that will get nominated for an Oscar this upcoming year...obviously with many of these films unseen, I'd have to predict...

1. Meryl Streep, Doubt
2. Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road
3. Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
4. Angelina Jolie, Changeling
5. Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married

Names that could easily sneak in:

6. Kristin Scott Thomas, I've Loved You So Long
7. Nicole Kidman, Australia
8. Cate Blanchett, Curious Case of Benjamin Button
9. Melissa Leo, Frozen River
10. Emma Thompson, Last Chance Harvey

What are your predictions?
You think Streep will pull out her 15th Oscar nod?
Will Mendes direct his wife to our 6th Oscar nod?
(Or maybe Winslet's 7th depending on The Reader?
I'm I too generous by predicting two unnominated actresses (Hawkins & Hathaway) with nominations?

Monday, October 27, 2008

269 & The Obama-Palin Ticket

So...a tie in the electoral college is of course unlikely...but there are a few scenarios that would mean that there could be a 269-269 electoral tie.

The "overtime" rules for this situation is so unique, that in our current situation, it could result in a Barack Obama - Sarah Palin Ticket.Here's how it works.

If there's a tie, the house gets to vote on who get's to be the president. Each state gets one vote, so the three Wyoming delegates vote and the 54 California delegates vote, and Wyoming gets one vote, and California gets one vote.

With the current situation in the house the president would be Obama, assuming everyone votes along party lines.

But, the vice president is decided by the Senate who will also vote, each vote counting as 1. With a 51-49 democratic majority you'd expect a democratic win, but Joseph Lieberman has clearly lauded the McCain-Palin ticket, and if he were to vote for Sarah there'd be another tie. 50-50.

In this case, the current vice president is given the opportunity to make the deciding vote...which we can only assume Dick Cheney would chose Sarah Palin.

Giving us an mix matched ticket of Obama and Palin that only fiction (and the photoshop expertise above) could write.

(An example of a scenario with a 269-269 tie would be Obama wins Kerry's 2004 states plus Iowa, Colorado, and New Mexico, but loses New Hampshire. Another scenario is Obama wins Kerry states plus Iowa, Nevada and New Mexico, and McCain gains to ground.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Hopeful Top 10 for the next 10 Weeks

The other day, I did a post about my dissatisfaction in the current films that have been released, and my general disinterest in a year were films are consistently under performing with audiences and critics.

So with hope, I am not writing off 2008 yet...here are the top 10 films I hope will win us over that are coming out in the final 10 weeks of year. I also hope that there might be a few touching surprises.

Let's see which of these films really make my top 10 come year end.

10. Australia
9. Gran Torino
8. Slumdog Millionaire
6. Quantum of Solace
3. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
2. Doubt

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rory Gilmore and Barack Obama

Warning: This post contains spoilers about the final episode of Gilmore Girls...chances are that really shouldn't spoil anything, because either you've seen or you never plan on it...so in that case, I feel to give no more warning...read on.


In the final episode of Girlmore Girls, Season 7, Episode 22. Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) leaves not only leaves her home, Stars Hollow...but the entire north east part of the country to begin a new journalism career.


Forgoing a traditional print journalism career Rory Gilmore in the May 15th, 2007 episode, takes her Yale Journalism degree to write for an online magazine where she will be following Barack Obama.

Yes, fictional Rory Gilmore leaves Stars Hollow in May 2007 to follow non-fictional Barack Obama...a White house hopeful, who was still a long ways off from getting the democratic nomination.

So...while Alexis Bledel is the real person, and Rory Gilmore is the fake person, I like to pretend the Rory is real, and I ignore Alexis and her traveling pants and other less-impressive filmography.

Yet instead, I like to pretend that Rory is real, and she is traveling in buses across America, as early as May 2007, the same month that secret service began protecting Obama, the earliest of any presidental hopeful...yes, Gilmore was on the campaign trail even before the "Obama Girl" You Tube video came out.

So as Obama is in North Carolina, Michigan, Virginia, Florida, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, and everywhere in between...I imagine that Rory is there too.

And I think that after November 4th, 2008, once this very long tedious election is over, I will have a looming question in my mind...I will wonder...

Where is Rory now?

Previous Gilmore Post on StrangeCulture:
-
A Gilmore Girl "Gushing" of Appreciation
- A Formal Apology, Please Expunge My Previous Comments (A Pre-Post to Some Gilmore Girl Thoughts)
-
Four True Confessions

Monday, October 20, 2008

Spending Money on Rotten Tomatoes

I want to go to the movies, really I do...but I can't justify spending the money on rotten tomatoes.

This years film season seems incredibly lean. I don't know if it's a result of the writer's strike, or some other cause, but even the most interesting movies are released with the most lackluster critical and public approval.

I respect the film critic collection that occurs on the website rottentomatoes.com and for example this past weekend only one of the top ten grossing films had a "fresh" rating, which is Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. Otherwise, the other movies playing had less than desirable critics ratings including Max Payne, W., Eagle Eye, Body of Lies, Secret Life of Bees, and the list goes on & on.

It seems to me that 2008 is certainly an interesting year, but real life is more interesting than fiction.

There's hardly any quality roles for African-Americans or Women in films this year, but Barack Obama and Sarah Palin are the two top featured people in the news, and the presidential debates have been pulling in higher ratings than ever.

The stock market rises and falls in a way that's far more unpredictable than most of what's out there now.
Real life events like the Olympics were incredibly enjoyable to watch, out of it came new American heroes like Michael Phelps, and an extravagant world-wide sporting event.

In fact, sporting events have been incredibly interesting to me this year. Whether it's the Red Sox's ability to come back from behind or college football upset after upset, it's hard to see why anyone would want to waste their money on Nights in Rodanthe when real life is far more interesting.

I want to be excited about the upcoming projects of the next two months heading into award season, and believe me I will...but it's hard to know what I'm going to be excited to put my money into, and what can wait for rentals or be skipped completely.

Even some potentially interesting films like The Road and The Soloist have both recently announced that they will now be 2009 releases, which of course effects some academy award predictions for sure. And might mean two less films I will be watching this holiday season.

Has there been anything you've recently seen that you've loved, or something you're dying to see...or have you too, been entertained by reality far more than fiction?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Top 10 Songs I'm Diggin' Now

In the spirit of recent posts, here are the top 10 songs I'm digging this week.

This list seems a little more mellow then the past two list. But it has some gems.

10. What If, Coldplay
9. Come Around, Rhett Miller
8. Brighter Than Sunshine, Aqualung
7. Something, Jim Sturgess (from Across The Universe)
6. No One's Going to Love You, Band of Horses
5. Keeping Your Voices Down, Days Ahead
4. Claire, The Push Stars
3. Oh The Glorious, Brett Dennen
2. Miles, The Southland
1. Lazarus, Porcupine Tree

*pictured above is the band Porcupine Tree

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Christopher Nolan - Will This Director Finally Be Invited to Join the Club?

Christopher Nolan has one very well deserved Oscar nomination. But it's not for directing, it's for his screenplay he co-wrote with his brother Jonathan for his 2000 film Memento.

I really believe that Christopher Nolan is one of the most incredible directors out there, and if I know he's the director I know I'm interested, for the combination of style, tone, and excellence in film making. Yet, despite these personal sentiments, Nolan's trophy case is relatively empty. Nolan has yet to receive an Oscar nomination for his directing, nor has any of his films received Oscar nods for best picture.

Nolan's wide-release filmography is limited to this decade but includes:
  • The Prestige (2 Oscar nods: cinematography and art direction)
  • Batman Begins (1 Oscar nod: Cinematography)
  • Insomnia
  • Memento (2 Oscar nods: Best Screenplay, best editing)

Interestingly enough every one of these films, including The Dark Knight (with the exception of Insomnia) is in IMDB.com's top 100 films according to user ratings. The Dark Knight is currently #4 of all time, Memento is #27 of all time, Batman Begins is #97, the Prestige is #81. Can any other director claim this success?

Will Christopher Nolan be invited to join the club in 2008 with The Dark Knight?

Honestly, earlier in the year I would have had a hard time seeing this. In fact, it really seemed like it would just be one big fan boy extravaganza, but with it's incredible box office and significant critical support, it seems like Nolan might have an excellent chance to join the club.

It seems like a Heath Ledger nod is one of the few locks we can expect in 2008. And Nolan pictures as seen above can pick up a technical nomination here and there, and all of that could provide the necessary momentum needed to push The Dark Knight under the best picture spotlight. And if The Dark Knight got in, Nolan certainly would to.

It'd be a unique nod for a superhero genre pic, but Nolan elevates a genre that continues to bring us some of the most entertaining films in recent summers.

It's still a little early to tell what films will get the buzz and what films buzz will "pop" but of movies that have already been widely released, one things for sure...people have embraced the work Nolan has done in The Dark Knight, and with that, he might be invited to join the club.

Other potential "finally" invited directors:
-
Edward Zwick
- David Fincher
- Darren Aronofsky

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Darren Aronofsky - Will This Director Finally Be Invited to Join the Club?

Like David Fincher, Darren Aronofsky is wildly popular, and has quiet the cult following.Yet when it comes to the Academy Awards, he hasn't had a chance to "join the club." Aronofsky hasn't been nominated for a single Oscar in any category, specifically directing. Nor has any of his films been recognized (or mainstream enough) to garner an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.

Aronofsky's limited but known filmography includes:
  • The Fountain
  • Requiem for a Dream (1 Oscar nod, best actress Ellen Burstyn)
  • Pi

And of all three films, only one Oscar nod. Yet don't underestimate the popularity that each of these films has within certain circles.

Will Darren Aronofsky be invited to join the club in 2008 with The Wrestler?

After Fox Searchlight picked up distribution of The Wrestler after the Toronto International Film Festival, this film, and Darren Aronofsky suddenly had a chance that none might have expected. I believe that Mickey Rourke has an exceptional chance at a Best Actor nod for this film. I think Marisa Tomei has a great chance at a supporting actress nod as well.

Yet, it's hard for a film to sneak into the best picture race unless it's capable of picking up at a handful of nods and support from a variety of academy branches. So unless this has the allure of Juno or Little Miss Sunshine, it would certainly seem like a long shot for the best picture race. And without a best picture nod, a director sneaking in without his film is even trickier.

I must, admit, this probably isn't the year Aronofsky gets invited to join the club, but I expect this film to certainly have its fans.

Other potential "finally" invited directors:
-
Edward Zwick
- David Fincher

Monday, October 13, 2008

David Fincher - Will This Director Finally Be Invited to Join the Club?

David Fincher may be wildly popular, but when it comes to the Academy Awards, he hasn't had a chance to "join the club." Fincher doesn't have a single Oscar nod to his name, or even a best picture nod for one of his films...yet, his films have many fans.

Previous fan favorites Fincher has directed include:
  • Zodiac (much critic love, no Oscar love)
  • Panic Room
  • Fight Club (1 Oscar nomination...sound effects editing)
  • The Game
  • Se7en (1 Oscar nomination...film editing)
  • Alien³ (also 1 Oscar nomination...visual effects)

Will David Fincher be invited to join the club in 2008 with the Curious Case of Benjamin Button?

One thing is for certain, Benjamin Button breaks free of the thriller genre, so that has to be in David's favor. Plus it stars some high-level star power that the Academy loves (Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Brad Pitt). And this film should have many of the visual, editing, and sound finesse that Fincher's previous films have demonstrated.

But Fincher's choice of less-than-traditional film subjects have often made his films the love of a cult following, but too nontraditional to win over Academy voters in mass.

Does Fincher have a chance?

Unless it's a flop, I'd expect The Curious Case of Benjamin Button to score far more nominations this upcoming year than any of Fincher's previous films...but it will have to wildly popular at a critical level for Fincher to sneak in.

As an early-front runner in many ways, this film has it's challenges, and if Hollywood is uncertain what to make of this film they may just opt for nominating Clint Eastwood for the thousandth time.

Personally I think he has a great chance though, and really do hope this film is great and gives Fincher an opportunity to be a part of the club.

Other potential "finally" invited directors:
-
Edward Zwick
- Darren Aronofsky

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Edward Zwick - Will This Director Finally Be Invited to Join the Club?

Edward Zwick is one of a handful of directors who hasn't had a chance to "join the club" with a personal director nomination, or a best picture nod for one of his films...yet, who's previous films make the short list of many fans.

Edward Zwick, has received an Oscar as one of the producers of Shakespeare in Love and a nomination for Traffic, but has not received a nod as a director, nor has any of the films he's directed received best picture nods.

Previous fan favorites Zwick has directed include:
  • The Blood Diamond (nominated for 5 Oscars, but not for pic or director)
  • The Last Samurai (nominated for 4 Oscars, but not for pic or director)
  • The Seige
  • Courage Under Fire
  • Legends of the Fall (nominated for 3 Oscars, 1 win, but nothing for pic or director)
  • Glory (won 3 of it's 5 nods, but no nod for picture or director)

Will Edward Zwick be invited to join the club in 2008 with Defiance?

One thing is for certain, based on Zwick's track record, the film Defiance should not be underestimated as a potential nominee for it's actors and tecnical crew. It would seem reasonable with Zwick's track record to see Defiance pick up some nods, potentially for Daniel Craig's lead role, or for the supporting roles by Liev Shrieber or Jamie Bell.

But Zwick's films for whatever reason never are strong enough in the eyes of the Academy to make the final five, nor has Zwick ever received a nod for directing.

Does Zwick have a chance this year?

At this point, there's not a lot of buzz for his success, but with the lack of technical period films, I think Defiance could sweep in. Plus, Zwick's done war before, but never WWII.

Other potential "finally" invite:
-
David Fincher
- Darren Aronofsky

Friday, October 10, 2008

Market the Dow Jones...how about a Theme Song

So...the stock market's had a rocky week.

Certainly an understatement to say the least. With the world's largest financial systems and governments doing what they can, it doesn't seem like anything's quite enough.

Will 2008 be seen as the year the world went Socialist? Will they call this past week Panic 2008? It's certainly mind baffling to think of the money that has been lost on Wall Street this week in retirement funds and other investment accounts.

All that to say, perhaps the Dow Jones Industrial Avg needs a theme song. You know, something to spice it up a bit.

Yet I can only think of two songs that could adequately describe what I've seen this week.

Here's my theme song picks for this months Dow: Fallin' by Alicia Keyes and You're Love is Like A Roller Coaster by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Any other ideas for Stock Market Theme Songs that would describe what we've seen in the past couple weeks?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Big Names, Little Names & A Suprisingly Crowded Best Actress Race

The picture above is of Melissa Leo from the Sundance winning film Frozen River.

Yea, I've never heard of Melissa Leo before, either. Yet, according to imdb.com this 48 year old actress has 10 acting credits to her name alone in 2008. Her biggest acting credit up to this point seems to be a regular role in the TV show Homicide: Life on the Streets.

Yet Melissa Leo is one of the names that is getting thrown around as a buzzed-about Oscar contender for this years Award season. Her role in Frozen River is about border smuggling between New York State and Quebec on a Mohawk Indian Reservation. This small film, and her role in it, is just one of the buzzed performance by lesser known actresses who are already getting buzz.

Another "smaller names" getting buzz at this point are names like Sally Hawkin's in Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky.

Or there are also some bigger names in smaller films, like Michelle Williams in Wendy & Lucy, Kristin Scott Thomas in the french-language film I Loved You So Long, and Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married.

There are also the constant names we expect to hear heading into award show...including frequent "shoe-ins" Cate Blanchett (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Meryl Streep (Doubt), Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road), and Nicole Kidman (Australia).

Always on the fringe of a potential nomination is Angelina Jolie (Changling). And as you'd expect there is some buzz for Emily Blunt (Young Victoria), and Keira Knighley (The Duchess)

I also still think Sophie Okonedo (Skin) has a chance as well, but I haven't heard anything about a release date.

The point is, at this point I've been wanting to put together a top 5 prediction list, but it honestly is really hard...it's a tough year at this stage in the game to balance these big names, with the big buzz, and try to find out what's going to come together in the end.

Perhaps there's not a lot of roles for actresses in Hollywood these past couple years, but that doesn't mean the list of potentials, at least at this stage in the game, is short.

Do you think there's anyone I've missed? Do you have any thoughts on this years race or these films/performances?

I will try to take a leap and make some predictions soon. Honestly, it was much easier to predict the lead actor race at this stage in the game.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Liberty University: The College that Elected the Presdient?


In an election that is supposed to be close, there has long been talk of blue states turning red and red states turning blue. One of the states that consistently comes up in the news in Virginia, one of those republican states that could easily go democratic in the presidential race. Currently, in most polls McCain slightly leads Obama.

Lynchburg, Virginia's conservative Christian college, Liberty University, has long been a force of conservative stronghold in the state, especially with the influential leadership of the late Jerry Falwell, the Universities vocal founder and pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church.

Liberty University's often has given many political leaders a forum on their campus in the required weekly convocations including John McCain, George H.W. Bush, Jesse Helms, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Sean Hannity, and Ronald Reagan.

Jerry Falwell Jr., the current chancellor decided to politically direct the 20,000 student campus towards playing an influential role in Virginia's presidential election, and perhaps when it comes to electoral college votes helping Senetor McCain become president.

While Jerry Falwell has not told the students of Liberty how to vote, he has given the students of Liberty University election day off, with no classes November 4th. He and his administration have also pushed hard for 100% participation in voting on the day with buses to polling places, registration forms passed out in classes and dorms, and extended campus curfew election night to watch the results announced.

Many Liberty students appear to be changing their registration status from their home states to Virginia, so that there vote will have greater influence in a swing state, as opposed to their "already decided" home states.

NPR has a great story you can hear or read on the subject, it certainly is interesting, and there's no doubt, this bold move by Liberty and Falwell Jr. could certainly have impact in this election.

photo credit: Photo from daylife.com, Liberty University graduating students in front of a prayer chapel after the school's 34th commencement ceremony May 19, 2007.

Friday, October 03, 2008

NFB Protesting the Movie Blindness

I've opened up some discussion on StrangeCulture the past couple months about whether or not it is appropriate, effective, or rational to vocally protest film messages. Recent protest have occurred over the use of the word "retard" in the R-rated comedy Tropic Thunder, or the decision to use the title Towelhead for Alan Ball's dark comedy instead of a previous title, Nothing is Private.

Well I don't know why it surprised me, but tonight I heard about the National Federation for the Blind protesting the film Blindness. The Denver NFB protesters above think people should boycott Miramax's film because of the messages about Blindness in the film.

Respond to this from the story on KUSA (NBC Denver):

Opponents of the movie say this just reinforces inaccurate stereotypes and misconceptions about blindness. They say the movie sends a message that blindness is a tragedy and that blind people need others to take care of them.

Scott LaBarre, president for the NFB, said, “We’re here to tell the public that this is not the proper message about blindness. There’s a much more positive message. The message of the NFB in that, once you have an opportunity, once you have good training, skills and a positive attitude, you can do whatever you want to do.”
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