Fading out on the 2012 Oscars

25 February 2012

So it’s usually about this time of year that I wrap up a series of blog entries predicting (well, attempting to) the winners of the Academy Awards.  Last year, it ended up as three or four entries, probably about 10,000 words, complete with historical markers and rules of thumb for how each category tends to go.  I’ve had fun doing it, had some success as well (last year I picked 18 of the 24 winners correctly), and I hope people have had fun reading it.

This year … it’ll just be this one article.  A month or so ago, I was all revved up for doing a big showstopper franchise of columns, but it ended up as just this little indie production.

Now, I’ll grant that part of the reason was the depression I’ve been pushing through the last couple of months (see my previous post).  But another part of the reason was that it’s been a pretty blah movie awards season.  And much of the reason for that was that 2011 was a pretty blah year for movies — especially the type of movies that tend to win Oscars.

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So hard to get started in 2012

6 February 2012

It’s only taken me five weeks to write my planned New Year’s Eve post.  Impressive, huh?

In all seriousness, I didn’t plan a month-plus layoff from this blog — it’s just kind of happened.  Every time I went to write something, there would be a distraction, or something else would come up, or I couldn’t get the words together, or I’d be too depressed, or … well, you get the idea.  Writing is not easy for that exact reason: it’s too easy to be taken off-track by almost anything that comes along.  It takes a discipline that I haven’t been exercising, or at least not exercising enough.

And then there’s the depression thing.  I’m thankful that (these days at least) I don’t get depressed seriously enough that I just quit functioning, or require medication to get moving again.  But something about the calendar turning over to 2012 really sent me into a funk.  Mostly, I suspect it was thinking back and realizing that I was barely recovered from the events of 2009 — Sean’s illness, my mom’s death, my continuing unemployment, my wife’s job difficulties, etc.  It’s a lot to move on from (especially when most of them have still-ongoing repercussions), but now I’m finally able to start working on the on-moving.  (Thus, the Churchill quote.  Seemed to fit.)

And so it goes, as Linda Ellerbee used to say. But at least, thank Heaven, it goes!

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What time is it? It’s movie awards time!

28 December 2011

It’s December 28, 2011.  The next Academy Awards will be held on February 26, 2012.  Which means … we are already well into the awards season!

Now you may be thinking, “whaaaa?  It’s two months away — whaddaya mean, we’re already into it?”  Well, what I mean is, we’re already into it.  Because the Oscars are only the culmination of a three-month-long orgy of the film industry and ancillary businesses patting each other on the back for another year of consistent profits and slightly less consistent artistry.  Plenty of awards have already been given, and numerous groups will be giving out more of them all the way up to the big Academy shindig 60 nights from now.  Heck, the screeners (special DVD copies of film) have been going out for weeks already, and sites like The Wrap and Gold Derby are currently festooned with enough “For Your Consideration” ads to choke Louis B. Mayer (and maybe even Oscar Mayer, no relation).

To date, trophies (real or metaphorical) have been handed out by the National Board of Review (the traditional first-awarders), the New York Film Critics Circle (this year’s first-awarders, as they bumped their announcement up to swipe some glory from the NBR), the International Press Association, and the film critics societies in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Florida, Indiana (!), Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco, San Diego, the Southeast, Toronto, Utah (!!!) and Washington, D.C.  And there are plenty more to come as other critics’ group throw in their two cents, culminating in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globe awards on January 15.  After that, the reviewers give way to the Hollywood (and elsewhere) guilds and a few independent groups, who’ll be passing out shiny baubles up to the eve of the Oscars themselves.

But already, a few trends have begun to emerge in the voting of the various groups, which give some indication as to who the Academy will nominate, and perhaps even who will win come 2/26/12 …

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Christmas on the down low

27 December 2011

So the Christmas season is winding down here at Chez Anselmeau.  Which in many ways is the best part of the Christmas season.

Now I’m not going to play Scrooge and pretend I don’t like Christmas, because I do.  I love  remembering what God did for us in coming to live among us in the person of Jesus, and how much He loves us that He was willing to be with us dirty apes at all.  I like the talk about peace and joy, and the reminders to give to those less fortunate (I need those reminders).  I enjoy the old hymns and stories — Christmastime is the only season where you get to hear 200-year-old songs on most radio stations, and it’s nice to see Charles Dickens and O. Henry get some attention.  And I enjoy spending time with family (my wife’s family these days, to be precise) and catch up on the year that’s past.

Furthermore, while I know many of them have pagan antecedents, I enjoy many of the secular traditions as well.  We always have a good-sized and very busily decorated tree in the house (a Douglas fir, always — for the price and the smell), and set up other holiday decor besides.  I can’t indulge in my wife’s baking as much as I used to — had to cut back on the carbs to avoid rampaging indigestion — but the season’s first batch of gingerbread is still much anticipated.  And I really, really like buying gifts — even more than getting them!  (This year, it was my daughter Charlotte who hit the jackpot — a 21-speed bike from Mom & Dad, an Snap Circuits electronics set from the grandparents, and a Kindle from her great-aunt and -uncle in Florida.  But she got me a book on the Giants’ 2010 championship season, which was perfect.)

But what makes the days after Christmas the most wonderful time of the season?  Easy.  We have all the thoughts about God and Jesus still in mind, all the decorations still up, all the gifts (which now we can enjoy) … and none of the spectacle.

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Netflix, Facebook and the loss of perspective

27 September 2011

Sorry I haven’t been around, folks.  I’m not sure what it was — a mild bug that my body was fighting off, mental preparation for the local school district’s two-week fall break (which meant my whole family would be home all day, getting in each other’s hair), one of my periodic bouts with depression, or some combination of the above with or without other factors.  But I found it very hard to write last week — and when you try to force yourself to write, I’ve found, the results are less than ideal.  So I did my best to relax and not worry about it (not my natural bent) and got back on the horse yesterday and today.

So what was I spending time on when not writing?  Reading.  I cleared out two novels; started a third (almost done); kept up on articles at Grantland, AVClub, Splitsider, Slate and Internet Monk; and watched what everyone was doing on Facebook.  It’s the latter that prompts today’s post, because I got to watch the Internet’s second major freakout in as many months.

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The continuing bargain, or “Why I STILL like Netflix”

1 September 2011

A little over a year ago, I put up a post entitled “The better mousetrap, or ‘Why I like Netflix’.”  Basically, I waxed rhapsodic about the genius of Netflix’s business plan, their superiority to the chain video stores I’d had to deal with previously, their excellent customer service, their vast selection, and so on and so on.  It was so laudatory that I’m amazed no one accused me of having been bribed to say all that.  (And no, I wasn’t bribed.)

Well, some things have changed with Netflix over the last year.  Mainly, one thing has changed: the membership price.

Several weeks ago, Netflix announced what was functionally a pretty major price hike.  Previously, they had charged $9.99 per month (plus local sales tax) for one DVD at a time, plus unlimited online movie streaming; that’s the membership level I’m at, and it’s apparently the most popular level.  Starting today, September 1, 2011, though, it’s $7.99 per month for the one DVD at a time, but no online streaming.  It’s also $7.99 per month for unlimited streaming, but no DVDs in the mail.  If you want both, like before … you have to pay both $7.99s, so, $15.98 per month.

And the howls were heard across the land …

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Cleaning out the closet — and long overdue!

23 August 2011

Some random bits and pieces from the pages of my mind — none of them enough for a full blog post, but still worth passing on:

* Regular readers of this space know that I’m a big fan of Bill Simmons, ESPN.com’s “Sports Guy” since 2001.  Well, Bill has gone and done something new, starting his own website called Grantland.  Named after 1920s sportswriter Grantland Rice, it’s sort of a clearinghouse for feature and opinion pieces on sports, popular culture and the intersection of the two.  Besides Simmons, the featured writers include Chuck Klosterman, Malcolm Gladwell, Katie Baker, This Recording’s Molly Lambert and ESPN’s Jonah Keri, plus a half-dozen others that you may not have heard of but will become a fan of before long.  The level of authorship ranges from pretty good to excellent, they put up about a dozen pieces a day, and I probably spend more time reading it Monday-Friday than I can really afford.  But I never seem to regret it.

I just added a link to Grantland to my list o’ links on the right — or you can click here to check it out.  Try it, you might like it.

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