Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fantasy Oscar Challenge!

I just entered my picks to Entertainment Weekly’s Fantasy Film Awards Challenge! See, this is a fantasy league for people who don’t like sports, they like movies. People like my brother. Ha, just thought I would shout out to one of my four readers! Hey Rusty!

Sorry for that tangent. Back to the Fantasy Film Awards Challenge. Basically, you choose who you think will win Oscars and you can win a TV and Blue Ray player if you have the most correct picks. It’s free, so why the heck not?

I don’t know if I’m hurting or helping my chances by posting my picks here, but I want bragging rights if I do well so here they are…but if I’m wrong I didn’t make any of these choices. Someone else did and then they wrote this post. Probably Rusty…

So without any further tangents here were my picks for the Fantasy Oscar Blue Ray Challenge:

Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger
Animated Feature: WALL-E
Adapted Screenplay: The Reader
Supporting Actress: Taraji P. Henson
Documentary Feature: Man on Wire
Original Screenplay: Milk
Actress in a Leading Role: Kate Winslet
Actor in a Leading Role: Sean Penn
Director: Danny Boyle
Picture: Slumdog Millionaire

Since I have no money on these picks, some are dark horses, some I am not so sure about, etc etc and I think closer to the day of the actual Oscar awards I will put together a post with my picks again, maybe they will be different, and I will try to explain why my picks are what they are. But for the time being I don’t want to give you all a leg up when you sign up to compete in this contest against me.

Good luck.

Monday, January 26, 2009

best promotion ever?

So, we're fat, America! Now I mean we could get really down on ourselves about it, or try to remedy the problem somehow. But that might take hard work, and we don't have time to be bothered with things like that. So why not just embrace it? Like at The Heart Attack Grill.

The burgers are referred to as "Single Bypass," "Double Bypass," and so on, depending on the number of patties on your burger. I think the best part of this whole restaurant theme is the promotional aspects available to them by telling it how it is. Instead of offering an apple with your Happy Meal as a lame attempt to healthify fast food, The Heart Attack Grill runs promotions like "Kill a Friend," a program where you can email your friends about the restaurant and earn points for free food.

Or this gem, which if The Grill stays open long enough, may just run them out of business if America continues in it's slippery slope towards supreme obesity -

And if you get a triple or quadruple bypass, they'll wheel you out to your car in a wheelchair after.

Now more than ever, I'm proud to be an American.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Top Five Moments of the Inauguration of Barack Obama

There’s a new President in town as of noon yesterday. So to celebrate the ringing in of a new administration, let’s take a moment and not talk politics at all. Let’s talk about the best moments of yesterday’s inauguration ceremony as seen on CNN in the 23rd room conference room here at G2 Direct & Digital. I don’t really like talking about politics or anything else that really matters on this here blog (as you have probably already discovered), so let’s just get right to it—best parts of the ceremony:

5. Aretha’s hat.

4. CNN’s “FACTS” at the bottom of the screen
I’d like to thank CNN for giving me helpful FACTS at the bottom of my screen, such as the FACT that the man giving the invocation was a supporter of an amendment banning gay marriage in California. Or the FACT that precisely at noon, Barack Obama was the new President even without being sworn in yet, thanks to the 22nd amendment. Without these fun FACTS at the bottom of my screen, I probably would have just been bored with the history unfolding before my eyes.

3. The way Rick Warren says “Malia” and “Sasha” around the 3:40 point in this video:

2. George HW Bush’s hat.

1. Cheney in a wheelchair

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Movie Trailers

You know what would be a great job? Making movie trailers. I’m not certain how one gets into that profession, I’m sure through editing or working for a production company or something like that but think of all the benefits of being the person who makes trailers:

1. Maybe you get to see the movie before anyone else does (or at least the trailer clips)
2. You can make it as intense or funny as you want to (watching the trailer for Doubt always gets my blood pumping)
3. Lots of people will see the work you do and enjoy it (sometimes I am a little disappointed when the previews are over to tell you the truth)
4. Editing is fun, especially in short form. Trailers usually aren’t very long, I mean there’s really not all that much you could even mess up...
5. Choosing the music for trailers would be really awesome too. For instance, the Revolutionary Road trailer is really sexy and awfully haunting thanks to the brutally sad voice of Nina Simone in the background:

All that being said, I probably will never be a person who makes trailers. I have heard that first of all, the production company that makes the film will also just cut the trailer. And though I think it would be awesome to make a film, I don’t think I want to work for a production company for the sole purpose of maybe being able to cut a trailer someday. Or maybe I do, we’ll see…

Anyways let’s look at some other sweet trailers, in honor of the profession that I do not have.

Knocked Up:

The Dark Knight:


Pineapple Express:

Alright, I guess that’s all I got for now.

I love movie previews.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

“This is Top Chef, not Top Scallop”

While watching Top Chef last night, some people got into a heated debate of how many times Jamie has made scallops this season, and if that amount of scallops was too much. Never having had scallops myself, I can’t really comment on their validity or if cooking with them too much would be a bad thing to do. But what I can do confidently (after some careful research of every episode’s recap), is tell you how many times Jamie has worked with scallops so far:

3 times*.

Out of the eight episodes, Jamie has cooked scallops in two of the episodes, but for both the quick fire AND elimination challenge on one night. That means if you watch any episode from this season so far, there is a 25% chance that Jamie will be working with scallops at least once. That percentage does seem quite high.

On the other hand, out of the 16 quickfire/elimination challenges that have so far occurred, if you take the three instances of scallop into account, there is only a 18.75% chance per challenge that Jamie will have scallops on her menu. This makes things seem a little less scallop-y.

So now the mystery is solved and everyone can go back to enjoying Leah and Hosea’s canoodling, Stefan’s ego, Fabio’s cute accent and Carla’s facial expressions instead of worrying about the number of mollusks being cooked.

The number 3 was reached through careful perusal of Top Chef season 5 episode recaps by yours truly. Each episode recap was browsed until both dishes Jamie cooked for that night were found and recorded. The findings are listed below:

Episode 1: Premiere!
Quick Fire: Cutting apples/etc.
Elimination Challenge: Pan roasted sea bass and eggplant puree with wile arugula salad

Episode 2: Getting Crafty at Craft
Quick Fire: Hot Dog Challenge
Elimination Challenge: Chilled Corn Soup

Episode 3: Thanksgiving at Foo Fighters
Quick Fire: Deconstructed Falafel Soup
Elimination Challenge: Corn Salad and Wax Beans

Episode 4: Today Show
Quick Fire: Amuse Bouche! - Egg on toast dish
Elimination Challenge: TV demo - A frisee salad with a duck egg (that does not set!)

Episode 5: Gail’s Bridal Shower
Quick Fire: Identifying the ingredients in a dish by tasting it
Elimination Challenge: Cooking for the Bridal shower. Jamie’s team is something borrowed, Jamie makes a carrot puree.

Episode 6:The 12 Days of Christmas
Quick Fire: SCALLOP on a potato-kale stew
Elimination Challenge: 7 swans a swimming: SCALLOP “swimming” in vichyssoise

Episode 7: Focus Group
Quick Fire: stone fruit Napoleon
Elimination Challenge: SCALLOPS with fennel and orange

Episode 8: Down on the Farm
Quick Fire: Bruschetta
Elimination Challenge: Chicken team, no scallops here.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Want to feel better about being a Bills Fan?

I sure do. Every year I am reduced to watching the NFL playoffs rooting solely for members of my playoff fantasy football team to succeed, with no real pride at stake nor real concern for who wins. The excitement of Super Bowls mainly consists of happiness to consume tasty snacks, drink some beer and anticipation for the most talked about commercials of the year (gotta embrace that advertising nerdiness).

When the Buffalo Bills fail to make the playoffs (as they have continued to do since 1999's horrifying Music City Miracle incident), I have no stake in the playoffs whatsoever. And sometimes, it leaves me feeling unfulfilled. But I read about some teams in my most recent TIME magazine that make me feel a little better about that 7-9 record...

First off, the Detriot Lions this year were awful. 0-16 making history baby. But besides that obvious one, Time provided some more examples of awful teams:

Philadelphia 76s, 1972-73 season
Record: 9-73
That's a win percentage of .109
Come on now, they played over 80 games and only won 9 of them. That's depressing.

NY Mets, 1962 season
Record: 40-120
They lost one hundred and twenty times?! That is so many times.

Washington Capitals, 1974-75 season
Record: 8-67-5
Yeesh. A whopping eight wins. I mean that's more than the Bills had this year but I'm hoping if the Bills had over 65 more games this season they would snagged a couple more W's.

So next time you're feeling down as a Bills fan thinking about Wide Right or the Music City Crapacle, think about the fans of these teams. At least we aren't that bad.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Movies I have seen lately

In order to make my Oscar predictions accurately and effectively I am trying to see any movie that will likely be nominated in the next few weeks. Already, thanks to a vacation from work and no real social life, I have seen the following films:

Seven Pounds
Marley and Me
Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader

Now, with my wealth of cinema knowledge gained from taking Cinema Production 1 in college (and watching a lot of movies), I will give you my critical assessment of each of these films.

“When you take a step to address wrongdoing you are taking a step away from God. But in his service.”

We’ll start with Doubt, an adaptation from a play about a nun at a Catholic School who suspects the priest there of taking advantage of a young male student. I must say that the acting in this film is stellar, Meryl Streep is very tough as the persistent head nun at the school, yet shows a vulnerability that her character is trying so hard to suppress. Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays the role of friendly, yet pretty creepy long-fingernailed priest very believably, and causes us to really doubt the harsh accusations of Streep’s nun. Amy Adams rounds out the core of main players as a young nun, caught in the middle of this conflict between two very strong characters. Her character’s struggle to cope with the consequences of taking either side in the argument is played so wonderfully by Adams with an innocence that perfectly juxtaposes Streep and Hoffman.

I enjoyed the film, although it did leave me a little unsatisfied, not by any of the performances, rather the plot. Though the name of the movie is Doubt, and we are expected to never have all details be fully disclosed to the viewer, the ambiguity of the story left something to be desired for me. It did spark conversation from a lot of people leaving the theater, yet for me endless possibilities are frustrating.

Possible nominations: Meryl Streep will definitely get a Best Actress nod, Hoffman may also get nominated. Viola Davis, who plays the mother of the boy who has a possibly inappropriate relationship with Hoffman’s priest, will probably walk away with a Best Supporting Actress nomination as well. Her powerful performance of a mother just trying to do what’s best for her son in the face of adversity of all sorts is memorable enough to catch the eye of any critic (even if the snot running down her face while she cries was really distracting to me).

The Marci-Meter

3.5 out of 5

“I did something really bad once and I'm never gonna be the same.”

Oh man this movie was bad…People were leaving the theatre. Like several groups of people left the theater. In a recession. After they had spent $10 on each ticket. That tells you something. Will Smith is a great man and actor, and the last 20 minutes of this film are kind of cool (probably because you finally realize what the hell was going on for the previous 80 minutes), but it takes so long to get there that we are tired and don’t care anymore.

It’s not all bad and the plot had potential to be interesting, but the story drags on and it’s just not enough to hold the attention of the average moviegoer.

Possible nominations:

The Marci-Meter

1 out of 5

“He's just like a little kid, except you know, furrier.”

Oh man, this movie was great. I went to see it on Christmas with my mom and dad and we all LOVED IT. Probably because we have a similarly destructive dog (see banner above) so we could relate to most of the chaos happening onscreen. In fact, anyone who has ever had a dog will love this film. Some boys I talked to did not like the film because it made them cry. Here’s a newsflash – it makes everyone cry. It would make Chuck Norris cry.

Anyways, Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston play a believable couple journeying through early married life and starting their official family with the adoption of a lovable pup, Marley. I mean I don’t want to give too much away but the movie makes you laugh, cry and everything in between, all while munching happily on popcorn.

If you want to go to a movie that does not force you to think critically about a controversial social issue, the meaning of life, or makes you leave wondering what really happened behind closed doors, dish out the dough and see Marley and Me. You won’t regret it!

*Disclaimer: Non-dog lovers may find this movie irritating and dumb.

The Marci-Meter

4 out of 5

Possible nominations:
This one isn’t really an Oscar favorite…but it’s still good!

“My name is Benjamin Button, and I was born under unusual circumstances. While, everyone else was agin', I was gettin' younger...”

Everyone talks about how long this movie is and blah blah blah… I think they should all shut up about it! I didn’t think that it dragged, and I am known to be fidgety in movies that bore. The movie is interesting enough to keep viewers engaged as we watch Brad Pitt age backwards and meet Cate Blanchett’s character in the middle of their lives. The tragedy of the situation is heartbreaking, and the film really makes you look at the fragility of life, lived aging either backwards or forwards.

The special effects are especially engaging as it was so amazing that we could Pitt’s features evident in his character’s face as he journeys from the body of an 80 year old man to a small boy. I read an article about how the fact that we’ve seen Pitt age from a young star into the man he is today makes it that much more impactful when we see Benjamin Button morph into a man in his young 20s, because it’s a face we’ve seen before. It really hits home on its themes of the fleetingness of both life and love.

I also really enjoyed the cinematography of this movie. It was shot beautifully; with a consistent tone that was subdued yet beautiful. It’s really emphasized if you look through still shots of the film like these for example:

Anyways, I thought this movie was well made and enjoyable. Definitely up for some nominations.

Possible Nominations: Pitt will get a Best Actor Nod, Blanchett may or may not get recognition for her role of Daisy, which I believe she played wonderfully, Fincher will get a nomination for his I think brilliant direction of this film, and Taraji P. Henson will most likely get a nom for her role as Benjamin’s generous, loving caregiver. This film is also a definite runner for best picture in my book.

The Marci-Meter:

4 out of 5

“It doesn’t matter what I think. It doesn’t matter what I feel. The dead are still dead.”

Wow. Take a great performance by Kate Winslet, add it to a moving and thought-provoking story about love, human nature, and the controversy of a world trying to cope with the atrocities of the Holocaust, and you get a wonderful film. I was pretty blown away by The Reader, and even though it had a depressing premise, I was very moved by it.

It makes you think but not in the same way that Doubt does. Not in a way where you can think and think and never know what’s really happened. But rather it makes you think in a way where we do know exactly what has happened and now we have to try to come to terms with it individually as well as culturally.

I feel like this movie is more powerful if you go into viewing it without preconceived notions or a real sense for the plot of the movie, so I am not going to dive into the details here. But to me, this film was thought-provoking, smart, and filled with powerful performances.

Possible Nominations: Kate Winslet really should be nominated for best supporting actress, but I’m not sure if this movie will get any other nominations.

The Marci-Meter:

4 out of 5

“All men are created equal. No matter how hard you try, you can never erase those words.”

This movie tells the story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to serve in public office, and I found it to be a very well acted film and inspiring. Maybe because I saw it after seeing movies for three straight days, but I also thought it dragged just a bit. But the acting was quite phenomenal, starting with Sean Penn’s portrayal of Milk. His mannerisms and overall aura were great, and the supporting cast worked brilliantly as well: Josh Brolin as fellow City Supervisor Dan White, James Franco as Milk’s first (and maybe true?) love, and Emile Hirsch as a passionate young gay activist were standouts.

For me, this movie told an exceptional story, but took a little bit too long to do so. The acting was amazing, and without the great performances I probably would have liked the film a lot less. But in all, the story itself is inspiring and captivating, making this film one that you really should see.

Possible Nominations:
This film will definitely get a best picture nod, and Sean Penn will be nominated for best actor. I also think Josh Brolin will get a nomination for best supporting actor.

The Marci-Meter

3.5 out of 5

So that wraps up the reviews of movies I have seen lately! I’ll leave you with a list of the ones I still have to catch before the Oscars…and you should too!

Gran Torino
Slumdog Millionaire
The Wrestler
Revolutionary Road
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Rachel Getting Married

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Kids Wear the Darndest Things

I hate growing up. When you are little, you can do just about anything you want and the consequences aren’t really huge even if you mess up. Take clothing for example. If I wore things to work that I used to wear when I was a little kid, I would be ostracized, ridiculed, fired, or all of the above.

But little kids can get away with wearing anything. Stuff that once you reach a certain age just makes you just look stupid or crazy. Or both. I found this picture of me when I was little wearing this weird leather vest with a cowboy hat, jeans with elastic bottoms and silly sneakers and it was actually cute. In a weird, ugly way.

So without further ado, here’s a look at some of my favorite little kid fashion faux pas. Things only little kids can pull off (or not even…):

Wearing pink jeans with a pink shirt.

A little girl favorite. Nothing like rocking out in the pink shirt, with the pink jeans, and if she’s feeling really ambitious, the addition of a purple scarf rounds the outfit out nicely. The perfect look for the 2-5 year old on their morning commute to preschool. The problem is, when an older woman tries to pull it off, the look leaves one feeling…weirded out? It becomes a bit tacky with age.

Dressing up in a costume when it isn’t Halloween.
I used to have superwoman pajamas with a cape that came on and off with Velcro. They were amazing. Little kids can do stuff like that. And not just with pajamas. How many times have you seen a kid in the supermarket that’s dressed like a princess or a tiger and it’s just adorable? So many times. Well, maybe not that often, but it happens! Kids play dress up whenever the hell they want to and it’s cool! Now I feel stupid enough dressing up when it’s Halloween (unless I’m being a “slutty” fill-in-the-appropriate-word-here). So here is my salute to little kids dressing up whenever they get the urge.

Light up sneakers.

LA GEAR, son. These things were seriously cool. I mean cooler than the shoes where you could pump the tongue and something in the shoe would pump up? Well maybe not that cool. Anyways, light up shoes are still alive and well even though I’m not sure if LA Lights are still around. Mostly now when I see light up shoes they accompany Dora the Explorer or Diego. They are still pretty pimp though. I can’t keep my eyes off them. Too bad little kids go to sleep before dark normally. It’s cooler walking around in those things when you can really see the lights pop.

Shaving patterns into the back of one’s head.
Basically, little boys like to shave things into their heads. NY Yankees symbols, initials, the current year…all are possible candidates to get shaven into one’s head. But once you pass middle school the only way you can really pull off anything other than racing stripes shaved into your head (and not everyone can even pull that off) is if you are a hip hop mogul. Then you can do whatever you want. You can shave things in your head and wear sunglasses that look like window shades and not care about anything because you are a hip hop mogul and you can do what you want. But other than that, most children who have the urge to express themselves through hair buzzing should get it done preferably before the age of 11? The sooner the better actually. Because it won’t always be this cute:


I am willing to bet that about 60% of all hipsters now used to rock a rat-tail. And I am also willing to bet that from this percentage, 0% regret it. Rat-tails were grossly amazing and I can’t think of one boy from my neighborhood that did not once sport that extra bit of hair gracefully hanging down the back of his neck at one time or another. Even some kids today have rat-tails. I coached a youth soccer team last year, and one kid, Peter, definitely had a rat-tail. There was also a good chance he had ADHD (or maybe I just couldn’t keep control of my youth soccer team…) Anyways, back to rat-tails. They are just another wonderful fashion option for kiddos, but unfortunately when adults have them, it’s kind of gross. And once a grown man has a rat-tail it’s a slippery slope that can lead to the all-powerful mullet.

Having a painted face.
I mean this one’s pretty self-explanatory. Small children can get their faces painted with all sorts of designs and look cute or cool or whatever. And even be proud of it. Once you’re older, the look becomes creepy. I don’t even really like when girls go to sporting events and just have a little logo painted on. I did that once. And there is one picture from that day and I regret it every time I look at that picture.

Wearing nothing at all.
Last and certainly not least, little kids always seem to run around butt naked and it’s okay. But, as you can see on the chart below, there is a direct correlation between your age and the grossness/likeliness to get arrested for said nakedness.

So as you age, it must be taken into account that you may no longer run amuck in your birthday suit without fear of social condemnation or eventual jail time.

And that concludes my list of things little kids can get away with wearing that no one else can! Feel free to leave comments of your own personal little kid fashion faux pas favorites.