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Friday, January 23, 2009

Yikes

This story creeped me out, what with my amputee phobia and all that. A Brazilian model lost her hands and feet to some crazy infection and now she's fighting for her life.

Ick! Eww! Ouch!

It sends waves of repulsion up my spine. It's just so horrible.

If some mysterious disease like this attacks me, just let it kill me. Don't let them cut me to pieces.

The Oscars

Are a joke.

And I'm not saying that just because The Dark Knight just got the technicals and a supporting actor nod for Heath Ledger. They're just such a joke.

Benjamin Button, which I haven't seen, snagged 13 nominations. It's going to win Best Picture for sure. Best Director, Fincher's up for it, but he won't win. That's going to Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire, which I haven't seen either. Why? Because Benjamin Button's getting Best Picture, and Slumdog needs some love. The critics loved it, and it probably won't win much else. It's has no acting awards, so Best Director is its best chance at getting a "big" award.

Then the actors. Sean Penn, again, in his Oscar bait biopic about Harvey Milk, which I haven't seen, and Brad Pitt in Benjamin Button. Brad Pitt has a chance, but they're going up against heavyweight Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler, which I haven't seen. His come back role, they say, the role of a lifetime. The kind of role that wins Best Actor as long as it comes with a heartwarming story.

He's got it locked, even though I like that Richard Jenkins got nominated for a movie I didn't see. (Frank Langella's impression of Nixon seems like it was just filling in the cards. He has no chance of winning, but he should have fun at the ceremony.)

Best Actress is populated with women starring in movies I haven't seen, and frankly, they're not exactly movies I want to see. Rachel Getting Married? I don't want to see anyone getting married. Doubt? About the nun? Nah. Changeling? I hate it when Angelina Jolie does serious. She's better winking at the camera and slinking around on her long legs.

I give this one to Kate Winslett, if only because she played in a movie about Nazis. Movies about Nazis always win Oscars. It's a fact. Look it up.

In the Best Supporting Actress category, my pick is Taraji P Henson. And that's only because Taraji Henson is the bomb!

Best Supporting Actor goes to Heath Ledger and everyone cries. Something cute happens and the world swoons. Robert Downey Jr. chuckles in the background, thinking, "Next year. Next year, baby." (Heath earned it even if his death hadn't made it inevitable, but Downey just did something special.)

Best Original Screenplay goes to In Bruges. I watched it again recently and it's the kind of movie that wins best original screenplay.

Best Adapted Screenplay goes to Doubt. Because, come on, Meryl Streep.

Best Animated Feature, Wall-E. You don't fuck with Pixar.

As to foreign film and short animated feature, I have no clue. My opinion is so uniformed it's not even really an opinion. More of a shrug.

Art Direction, Benjamin Button. Piling them up.

Cinematography, Slumdog. It's just going to be one of those nights. Button, Slumdog, Button, Slumdog.

Costumes, the Duchess. Listen, you don't make a costume drama unless you're going to win Best Costume.

Best Documentary. This one's easy. Whichever one is about Nazis.

Best Documentary Short is a toss-up. They're all really strong contenders, but I think Smile Pinki has the best shot. I mean, The Final Inch was good, but Oscar good? I don't know. Actually...what am I talking about? I haven't seen any of these.

Film Editing, The Dark Knight. It's going to get all the technicals, I told you.

Live Action Short? See Best Documentary Short.

Best Makeup - Benjamin Button. Hellboy II might come out with it, as they took make-up to new heights in that one, but I think turning Brad Pitt into an old man might seal the deal on this one.

Best Score - Benjamin Button. The only one in contention that I've seen is Wall-E and I don't particularly remember the score. I'm giving it to Button just because it's going to win a lot.

Best Original Song - The one from Slumdog Millionaire. Whichever one. There's two in the running.

Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects go to Dark Knight in a sweep of the technicals and a kind of "not good enough for Best Director" tip of the hat to Christopher Nolan.

Now when I say the Oscars are a joke...come back when the winners are announced and see how wrong (or right) I truly am and you just might laugh. Or maybe chuckle a little.

Clarification

I may have sounded unnecessarily maudlin in my last post, because truly...life isn't that bad. I've been accused over being overly negative, and I don't deny it, but it's a kind of hopeful negativity. Yes, the glass is half-empty, but it could be full.

Besides that, I'm kind of a Taoist, although not in any religious sense. (I once considered getting a yin and yang tat, but that's beside the point.) Sometimes you're behind, sometimes you're ahead. Sometimes you're strong, sometimes you're weak. Sometimes you're healthy, sometimes you're sick. Or, as the Bible put it, this too shall pass.

And what I meant, if I had more time to construct the thought in a more coherent manner, was that my schedule, which mercifully ends tomorrow, has been a (another religious allusion alert) real fucking thorn in my side.

Working 2PM to 10PM just sucks. No social life. You get up at 10 in the morning, sit around for a few hours until you have to leave at 1. You work. You get off and putter around the house in the dark until the wee hours of the morning. Your personal time is split into three hour chunks, day after day.

Five months of that.

My brain and body has atrophied. My girlfriend cheated on me. I got pulled over in a New Year's Eve sobriety check. There's people I haven't seen in months, places I haven't gone, things I haven't done. And it's starting to wear on me.

That part in the song that goes:
I think I used to have a voice
Now I never make a sound
That refers to writing. Yeah, we're all familiar with the blog writing I do on a near daily basis. That's fine.

But I got these stories to tell...

Anyway, I'm coming out of the gloom tomorrow. I'll be going to nights next week, which has a whole other set of challenges, but I'm looking forward to getting off in the morning and having a whole day of sunshine to do whatever I want.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Every Day is Exactly the Same

I came across this Nine Inch Nails song during the course of watching Wanted. In the movie, it was an apt commentary on the plot, but listening to the lyrics, I realized it was also an apt commentary on my life.

Especially this part:
I believe I can see the future
Cause I repeat the same routine
I think I used to have a purpose
Then again, that might have been a dream
I think I used to have a voice
Now I never make a sound
The drudgery of routine sapping the creative spark is something I've definitely been dealing with the last couple months.

The Mortgage

Not to bore you with the details, but I just got off the phone with the bank to tweak my bi-weekly mortgage payments. As I've documented before, I'm deadly serious about paying my mortgage payment.

I pay it every two weeks, basically before I pay myself. And I always pay more than I have to. Each extra dollar paid means less interest and more principle, giving me the dual benefit of saving mucho scratch on "financing" and paying the damn thing down sooner.

Now I'll be throwing an extra $55 towards the mortgage. At the end of the year, that's an extra $715 in principle paid. That's $715 I won't have to pay interest on anymore, not to mention $715 closer to the ultimate goal of zero principle and outright ownership.

On a more short-term goal, I've been shooting to get my principle balance under 110K by 2010. With this little tweak, I think I'll be able to do better than that.

As it stands, a loan that was originally going to mature on July 1, 2033 will now mature on October 1, 2028. And probably be sooner than that!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

SkullKrusher

Watched a replay of the Steelers-Ravens game tonight. They only showed the plays, from snap to tackle, so basically it's all action rather than the lulls of a real game.

Watching it that way, you get a big sense of how involved Polamalu was in the defense. (And how easy it is to sack Big Ben.) Polamalu's final interception and runback for a touchdown? Damn, that was beautiful. He started out in the middle of the field, came over to the left to make the pick, then ran through at least three tackles to end up in the end zone on the right side of the field.

It's his fish bowl, and the rest of the players are just swimming in it.

The other play I wanted to see again was the big hit on McGehee. They rung his bell. He dropped like a rock, his muscles seizing up, the ball tumbling from his hands, and he was out.

Ahhh, football.

PS. I have no evidence, but I think there's something fishy going on with the refs. I'm not sure what or how, but I don't think the NFL officiating crew is, how should I say, untainted by criminal influence. I'm not saying there's Tim Donaghy stuff --it could just be general incompetence-- but something's not right with the Zebras.

For the Skeptics

Obama retakes the oaf of office with Chief Justice John Roberts. This one went smoothly.
But wait...there's no Bible!

At least Obama's wearing his flag pin though...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Speech

Wow. I just read this in transcript and all I can say is wow.

This stuff needed to be said:
We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you. For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
First point, this: "{W}e say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you."

So often over the years, the terrorists' intentions have been used as justification for all manner of immoral acts. "They want to kill us!" it was said. "They want to destroy us!"

Yes, but they can't, because our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. Finally! The President states the obvious, that is, that terrorists can only terrorize us not conquer us.

And to hear Obama admit this aloud is refreshing, not only because it's true, but because it means that he will not use the threat of terrorism to justify unhelpful, boneheaded policies like, you know, torture, among other evils.

And then, there was this part:
"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers."
Even the atheists get a shout-out in Barack Obama's America.

Finally.

Marketing

I am right now watching CNN's Campbell Brown, whose catch-phrase is "No Bias, No Bull," talking about Michelle Obama's inauguration dress with fashion expert Robert Verdi.

Um...Campbell...that counts as "bull."

A Couple Thoughts

Politics... (*Edited for clarity...)

Today George W. Bush is joining the ranks of the unemployed. This is good for America, and it's good for the world.

The adults are finally in charge. I missed Obama's speech, so I hope to catch up on it later.

Sports...

The Arizona Cardinals, perennial losers for years, are going to the Super Bowl. So is my boy Troy Polamalu. I told you he was the best defensive player in football! You didn't believe me, and now the Steelers are going to the Super Bowl.

Movies...

I finally saw Valkyrie this weekend. It wasn't as good as I thought it would be. It was slow, semi-repetitive, and about fifteen minutes longer than it should have been. Tom Cruise wasn't horrible, but the whole "he lost his right hand in the war" thing didn't work. They managed to digitally erase his hand, but they didn't bother to do anything with the sleeve or cuff, so the "illusion" was all quite obvious. They would have been better off giving him a fake hand and just leaving it at that.

Was it the disaster everyone thought it would be? No. But it wasn't a triumph either.