my academy award picks

Best Picture*
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Best Actor*
Bill Murray, Lost in Translation

Best Supporting Actor*
Tim Robbins, Mystic River

Best Screenplay (original)*
Lost in Translation

Cold Mountain

Visual Effects
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Costume Design
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Sound Mixing
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Original Song
“You Will Be My Ain True Love,” Cold Mountain

Best Animated Feature Film*
Finding Nemo

Best Documentary Feature
Capturing the Friedmans

Best Animated Short Film
Harvie Krumpett

Best Director*
Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation

Best Actress*
Charlize Theron, Monster

Best Supporting Actress*
Renée Zellweger, Cold Mountain

Best Screenplay (adaptation)*
Mystic River

Film Editing
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Art Direction
Girl with a Pearl Earring

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Sound Editing
Finding Nemo

Original Score
Cold Mountain

Best Foreign Language Film

Best Documentary Short Subject
Chernobyl Heart

Best Live Action Short Film
Die Rote Jacke (The Red Jacket)

*ed categories are those which I consider the major awards

02-29-2004 12:45 PM - comments (2)

nervous laughter followed by an asinine question

There are times when I want to wring Michelle Block's neck. Is it NPR policy or just terrible radio technology that results in us having to hear every little pause, breath and indentation in NPR broadcasters' voices? Honestly, I think it's the former. Interestingly enough, I learned on NPR that Jack Paar used to ask his guests to speak as if they were talking in the bedroom. Someone at NPR has taken this formula to disgusting new heights. And that someone is Michelle Block. She's affected, as Simon Cowell would say. Everything she says smacks of pretension. It reminds me of a certain stuttering, affected footballhead I knew at Mizzou. This guy was so affected that even the stuttering was put on. He'll probably be at NPR next. And, much like how it is with Michelle Block, I will still be the only person who isn't pretending to like him.

Speaking of stuttering, I can't believe Stuttering John is working for The Tonight Show now. Please don't take my Artie away!

So my dad's convinced Dick Cheney is actually a robot. A robot with a job, for the time being. It's lucky for the Bush Administration that Cheney has a health problem; when the Democrats really start to push ahead in the polls, Cheney can resign because of his heart and, conveniently enough, Giuliani can succeed him. I think Bush is toast in this next election, personally, but a Bush/Sept. 11 hero ticket would probably make things a lot more interesting.

02-25-2004 9:35 PM - comments (5)

from three blocks away

Happy third anniversary, love.

02-23-2004 9:54 PM - comments (0)


Okay, now I just feel guilty.

02-23-2004 9:47 PM - comments (4)

sex and the red planet

So tonight, Amy, Sara, Rachel and I watched the series finale of Sex and the City. I've never had HBO (save for one semester when my Columbia roomies and I got suckered into a digital cable deal), so I've had to catch up with the DVDs. I'm only on Season Three right now, but I read some episode synopses and felt good going into tonight's show.

After an hour-long retrospective on the show, we were primed to have our heartstrings tugged. I'm glad the show ended the way it did. It bordered on the maudlin and cliched at times, but it's really hard to avoid that in finales of any kind. (I doubt Friends will do better. In fact, I know it won't come close.) I had read some critiques of this past season; some felt the writers weren't doing their characters justice. But truthfully, Carrie has grown up remarkably since she first brought her half fabulous/half atrocious fashion sense onto the scene. The same can be said for all the others. (I can't say a lot more without giving too much away.)

I maintain that my favorite episode is the one where they're all making fun of those silly scenes where the man runs into the rain to tell the woman he loves her after all, and then at the end of the episode, Miranda runs after Steve in the rain after she realizes he could actually be good for her. That show had its superficial, unimportant moments, but it also had a lot of soul.

On a totally different topic, I was thinking about the Mars rovers the other day. I was thinking about how truly amazing it is that there are people so intelligent and so passionate about science and math that they could figure out a way to send robots into outer space and somehow ensure that those robots hit their (moving) target. (On a side note, it took Dell months to send someone out to fix a fan belt inside my computer.) Yet we don't know the names of the scientists and mathmeticians who did this. We know Scott Peterson and Kobe Bryant and Bill O'Reilly and Alex Rodriguez and John Kerry and Britney Spears, people whose lives are astonishingly meaningless in comparison. What did they ever do? There are people who are actually responsible for mankind's progress, and we care more about who married whom and who will be making millions of dollars for swinging a bat.

I wonder what the world would be like if we idolized NASA scientists instead of celebrities.

02-22-2004 10:00 PM - comments (0)

on nader's potential bid for the white house

"It would be a shame if what Americans remember after a lifetime fighting for working families is the fact that he did not fight on the side of the Democratic Party and its nominee when all of those issues he and us hold dear were at risk," the Democratic committee said in a statement.

I could not agree with that more. Nader's such an ass, and frankly, so are the people who voted for him in 2000 and are now crying about the way things turned out. They have no one to blame--not Gore and not even Bush--but themselves. Moderation and realistic expectations are valuable lessons to learn; I just hope everyone was paying attention.

02-20-2004 6:44 PM - comments (2)

you ought to be on radio

I was on TV today to promote our next bridal show. I woke up at 5 a.m. and drove to the FOX 2 studios before the sun came up. Even though we weren't going to be on air until 8:30, there was a lot of preparation -- setting up the table (raspberry organza overlay, gold-banded china, stemware); floral centerpiece (stargazer lilies, heather, roses, orchids); food (Tuscan greens with crisp pancetta bacon and parmesan reggiano, Maryland crab cakes with Asian slaw, Chilean sea bass entree with chive potatoes and duet entree of stuffed beef tenderloin and seared salmon with au gratin crown and carrot flowers); chocolate fountain (25 pounds of flowing milk chocolate and strawberries, marshmallows, etc.); Lou Brock chocolate party favors; and wedding cake with silk flowers and personalized toppers.

I had two minutes to say all of that. Two minutes goes by very quickly on air. Ridiculously quickly. Add that to the fact that the interviewer actually did her job and asked me questions (Is there a hot flower this year? Um, orchids? They're my favorite, anyway. Good thing I chose one of the priciest there was. The florists will love me. Is there a hot time to get married? Yes, definitely. Fall and winter. Specifically, Christmas. Er, make that Christmas and Hanukah. In some messed up twist of fate, I suddenly have gone from oil asset divestment analyst to community newspaper reporter to expert on weddings. It's a sign of the apocalypse!).

I watched the tape of the broadcast against the advice of several people and, surprisingly, wasn't completely repulsed. I talked relatively slowly -- a miracle for me -- but looked totally overweight. Seeing myself on TV is definitely going to be my motivation to trim down.

And now, a MasterCard rundown of today's costs
Table decor, including six place settings: $100 each
Flower centerpiece: $50 per table
Food: $60-$70 per person
Chocolate fountain: $480 for three-hour rental
Party favors: $3.50-$50 each
Wedding cake: $950

Keeping Rachel in a steady job: priceless.

02-16-2004 6:31 PM - comments (4)

rose nolen is next

Am I the only person who misses 1990s alt-rock? I just heard Stroke 9's "Little Black Backpack" again, and though they might be a one-hit wonder, they're a much better one-hit wonder than some of the stuff being played today. Trapt's "Headstrong" comes to mind. Also, that guy from Silverchair married Natalie Imbruglia. Wasn't "Ana's Song" really good?

Thoughts on the Grammys

-Um, yay, Coldplay endorsed Kerry (!?)
-Samuel L. Jackson was great. Samuel L. Jackson Lager or whatever Chappelle said comes to mind. "Chappelle's Show" is the second-best show on TV.
-OutKast's performance was, of course, ON FIRE (said in Artie Lang voice), but really, what's with the Native American costumes? Am I the only person who's more offended by stuff like that than Janet Jackson's breast?
-One of the salespeople at work, probably in her 50s, loves OutKast. And I was suspicious of those over-50 salespeople...
-Faith Hill seemed terrified to be around OutKast. What was up with that? Also, when their name was read as one of the nominees for best album, she looked freaked out. Then they read Justin Timberlake's name and she smiled again, as if she had re-entered civilization. Seriously, people. Why are you so afraid of real talent? I'm beginning to think merely being able to sing well is not that rare of a thing, so shouldn't we value good songwriting more?

02-09-2004 9:40 PM - comments (6)

argh to the nth degree

I've graduated and no longer have to deal with the insipid Missourian editors, so here goes:

A somewhat open letter to a certain columnist of a certain daily newspaper.

After reading your latest piece de resistance, I have determined you are exactly what's wrong with the "older" generation. Actually, I take that back. I now feel terribly guilty for lumping you into a category with intelligent and open-minded people like my parents, employers and former professors. Do you take pride in being a dumbed-down version of Andy Rooney? And no, that's not a compliment. You're trite. Your ideas are trite. Remember that time you wrote about how much you hate political correctness? You scoffed at the idea of having to call Indians "Native Americans." You know something, I bet you wished they were still called redskins. Who cares what they think? It's only their dignity and pride at stake. It's your opinion that counts, right? And boy, do you get miffed when people use gender-vague terms such as "humankind." What was wrong with mankind, huh? Let's just blame this frighteningly open, progressive culture on the usual suspects: the feminists, gays, teenagers, liberals and rappers. And really, let's just be honest. When you say rappers, you just mean black people in general, right?

I complain a lot. I'm cynical. So at first I saw where you were coming from. But good lord, unless you can write past an eighth-grade level, you really shouldn't spend all 500 words of every column you ever write bitching about how screwed up America is. You don't sound intelligent. You aren't making good points. Your frustration with "the way things are" is cliched, juvenile and lazy. America is not any more screwed up then it was when you were growing up in the '40s and '50s. What do you want, to bring back segregation? To bring back oppressing women? There was no golden age, as you'd like to think. Scandal was simply covered up, and people pretended to be something they weren't. People were not happier then than they are now, no matter how much you try to sell us on the lie.

There are times, admittedly, when I read one of your columns and don't end up in a homicidal rage. But those few times certainly do not and cannot justify why a newspaper — any newspaper — gives you a block of space each week to say whatever you want. I have little tolerance for people like you, people whose perspective is so warped that they can't adapt to change. I understand that people in your generation might be reluctant to accept modern-day technology or culture. But to assume that something is automatically bad because it's new or different is ridiculous. (I can just picture you in front of your computer at work, grumbling, "What's the deal with keyboards? Back in my generation..."). Worse, though, is that you take the easy way out by writing about your frustrations in such a half-assed way. It's embarassing that a newspaper produced by a world-renowned journalism school includes columns like yours that would have been rejected by my high school paper. The only reason people like reading your "work" is because it gives them comfort to know someone equally vapid is representing them. Look at that, you give the idiots of America hope. If I had a cookie handy, I'd give it to you. Don't worry, I'd make it from scratch instead of using that newfangled pre-made dough.

The Missourian ought to maybe, just maybe, let a qualified, interesting, thoughtful professor, community member or — gasp — even a mere student, current or former, write columns in the future.

My first choice would be MU grad Drew Lawrence, whose work never failed to leave Sandy Davidson's Editorial Writing class awestruck. Now that was a courageous, ambitious and just plain funny writer. If he isn't available for the position, may I suggest the lovely and talented Amy or Joe, who are MU grads and delight us all with their witty and thought-provoking blogs? If they say no, there are about eleventy billion other bloggers out there who would be more than willing to. I link to a few of them on this site. But you probably hate the idea of blogs. Let me guess; back in your day, people actually wrote letters and mailed them. Yeah, things were so much better then.

It should be noted that I have no aspirations of being a columnist. I am simply dispensing really harsh advice, advice that has been bubbling inside of me for years until this boiling point. So for anyone who would make the astute observation that I myself am not a particularly good writer and have no room to talk, fret not; I have already acknowledged that.

02-05-2004 5:52 PM - comments (14)

who are you this time?

This time last year, it's hard to remember what I was doing. I'm certain the air was as cold. I'm certain my heart felt the same about someone certain. But you know how you can be in a moment that ends up defining so much, but you don't figure it out until a year later? That's how most of my life has been; a series of important, monumental, but altogether tiny moments that months and months later time has built up in dramatic, unrealistic ways. The way the air smelled, the way the snow crunched under our shoes, the way the song sounded during the party, the comfortable way we eased into couches and chairs and held our hot cocoas and just talked about our day without once considering how we'd feel about such conversations a year later.

But then there are those moments you thought could make or break you at the time, the ones you were sure would be haunting you a year later. The look someone tossed your way, but it didn't feel tossed, it felt heated and passionate and knowing. Are you sad to know it meant nothing? Or maybe it's the nervousness you felt during a moment that was supposed to define your entire career. And here you are doing something so completely different than anything you might have imagined you would be. How does that make you feel about your sense of perspective?

A year goes by, and things are so much better now than they were then. No one needs to tell you that. But unseen hands in your mind have cleverly molded the past in such a way that sometimes, just sometimes, looking back leaves you with a cold, paralyzing feeling of emptiness. And all over some silly, tiny, monumental moments.

02-02-2004 8:57 PM - comments (4)

nightly sightings of st. louis celebrities

I'm sorry. I know he's some sort of local god or something, but whenever I see on Pollstar that Chuck Berry is playing at Blueberry Hill, I'm like, "Wow. That's the surprise of the century."

But immediately upon saying that, I remember Simon Cowell just used that line last week on American Idol and I banish myself to my room for being such a complete idiot.

Also, I know somewhere up there there's a dangling participle. Deal with it.

02-01-2004 10:19 PM - comments (1)