Monday, January 30, 2012

My Opinion Is The Only One That Really Counts

I've changed my mind about watching all of the movies nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award for two reasons.

1)  Several of the nine nominated movies are just not interesting to me.  There are a few I'd like to see (Moneyball, the Artist, the Help) but there are a few that don't appeal to me (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, War Horse), and then there's one that was made by a person who took naked photographs of his adopted daughter and later married her, and even if he wasn't ever convicted of raping the poor girl it is obvious to me that bad things happened.  I'm not making a political statement by boycotting his movies, I just think having knowledge of that amount of ickiness would stay in my head and distract me.  Last year I was excited to see nearly all of them (Black Swan and 127 Hours in particular), and this year things just seem a lot less compelling in general.

2)  I read an article about a nun. This article:  It's about a young woman who had a promising acting career, including co-starring in a movie with Elvis (she was his first on-screen kiss) but then left Hollywood in 1963 to become a nun.  She's been living in a convent in Connecticut ever since.  From the article:  "Mother Dolores is still a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, receiving copies of movies to watch in her small room -- or cell, as they're known in the order -- to help select yearly Oscar winners."  Wait, what?  This elderly nun is one of the people who selects the Academy Award nominations?

I poked around on the internet, and apparently, this is a frequent complaint about the Oscar process, that so very many votes are given to people who were in the movie industry decades ago, but now appear to be, to at least some degree, out of touch.  At the very least, a lot of the voters are people who don't have much in common with me.

My desire to see every one of the Best Picture nominees was based on the idea that the nominees represented the very best in the art of moviemaking, and now I'm not so sure that is actually the case.  There are many types of movies that are historically under-represented anyway, such as horror films.  The Shining is one of my very favorite movies, and it was not even nominated for any Academy Awards.  That year, Kramer vs Kramer won Best Picture.  I've seen both movies, and Kramer vs Kramer had many fine qualities, but I wouldn't put it on the same level of memorable movie art as The Shining.  Guess what other movie was at least nominated for Best Picture that year, but lost?  Apocalypse Now.

So screw the Academy, I'm just going to focus on the ones that appeal to me, and the ones that get good reviews from people that I feel have tastes similar to mine.

Here's the list of the major categories, the only two I've seen out of all the major nominees are The Girl With The Dragon Tatto (nomination for lead actress) and Bridesmaids (nomination for original screenplay). 

How many are you interested in?

The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Demián Bichir, "A Better Life"
George Clooney, "The Descendants"
Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"
Gary Oldman, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy "
Brad Pitt, "Moneyball"

Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs"
Viola Davis, "The Help"
Rooney Mara, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady"
Michelle Williams, "My Week With Marilyn"

Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"
Alexander Payne, "The Descendants"
Martin Scorsese, "Hugo"
Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"
Terrence Malick, "The Tree of Life

"The Descendants," Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon; Jim Rash
"Hugo," John Logan
"The Ides of March," George Clooney; Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
"Moneyball," Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin
"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," Screenplay by Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan

"The Artist," Michel Hazanavicius
"Bridesmaids," Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
"Margin Call," J.C. Chandor
"Midnight in Paris," Woody Allen
"A Separation," Asghar Farhadi

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Naked, Naked, Naked: Exposing Myself

I've been thinking more about making nude art, with a goal of submitting for Nude Nite 2013.   It's oddly difficult to imagine taking naked photos of someone.  I have a profile on Model Mayhem and there are plenty of models who are available to do nude shoots in exchange for photos for their portfolio.  Still, it's a pretty weird thought.  I've never actually worked with a model before, although I would love to.  But nakedness makes things weird ("Nice to meet you, this is my first time working with a model, now take off all your clothes!") and also logistically difficult -- I really don't have nearly enough space/light to set up a decent studio in my house, and doing it outside would be potentially... illegal.

Anyway.  Obviously, the easiest and most accessible model would be me.  Boy, that's a thought.  I am very aware of the possiblity of photos with artistic lighting, cropped creatively, that could show nudeness but without showing flabby 45 year old horrors.  (I suppose a portrait of flabby 45 year old horrors might be artistic in itself, but I will leave that particular artistic statement for someone more courageous than I).  I don't hate my body, I really don't, but I'm not happy with how out of shape I am, and the idea of going through tons of photos of myself naked just seems like an exercise in pain.

There are many wonderful things about my loving husband. Sadly, willingness to be photographed naked is not among them.

Then I had the idea of taking a few close-up photos of my vagina.  (When I say "vagina" I am referring to all the various external woman-y bits in the vagina-y region.)  My husband was willing to help me out with this, and stood in as my guest photographer.

Now, I am not unfamiliar with the topography, but I guess I have never really seen my vagina that closely before.  Looking at it in a mirror is a completely different thing.  I was kind of shocked at how completely foreign it looked.

There is no way I could have picked my own vagina out of a photographic line-up.

My plan is to make digital fine art from the photos, possibly layering other photos and/or text.  It would be kind of neat to end up with something so different looking that people would have to stare at it a while to work out where the nudity was.  Subtle vagina.

The funny but somewhat unfortunate thing is, I keep forgetting that plugging my iPod Touch into the computer will automatically bring up iPhoto, which has the default setting of displaying the most recently uploaded photos.  So I'm looking for the new update for Angry Birds, and all of a sudden it's like OMG VAGINA.  Yikes. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Work is wearing me down.  There was always a certain amount of stress just caused by deadlines and things changing at the last minute and those miscommunications that are inevitable but still infuriating when working in any office situation, but now things are just so tense every day, all day.  I feel like I'm in a tiny cage in a big noisy room.  I try to step back to have perspective.  Things could always be worse.  I could be unemployed.  I could be one of those factory workers in China, eyeing the suicide net and wondering where I could get a knife.  If I can think of something worse, then I'm not doing so badly, right?

I'm still doing my 12-minute cardio workout pretty much every weekday, and it's amazing how much it's helped my hurty shoulder.  I used to have headaches at least once or twice a week, plus migraines periodically, but I haven't had one migraine and only very few headaches.  I feel better in general, too, and more capable of using my body in ways that should be a given.  Now, if I'm standing in the kitchen and I drop a spoon on the floor, that spoon doesn't looks quite so far away.  I haven't really lost any weight, but I didn't expect to with such a short workout.  Even without that, the physical effects have been surprisingly great.  One might imagine that this would inspire me to work out longer than 12 minutes, but so far that has not been the case.

The Adam Ant show that I was so looking forward to has been rescheduled for the end of September.  My heart is a little bit broken.  The good news is that my front row center tickets are still good, but I'm so disappointed to have to wait so much longer.  Apparently there were issues with his new album and the release has been delayed.  Given his mental illness issues the delay is kind of concerning, but I'm trying to stay hopeful.

I mentioned a while ago how I missed doing fine art.  I did the Nude Nite show nearly 10 years ago, and I was thinking I might submit a couple of pieces and try to be a part of it again this year.  I gave up that plan when the Adam Ant show was scheduled February 11, the very same night as the art show.  Now Adam has been rescheduled, but the submission date has already passed so it's too late for this year.  I'm determined to go for it next year.  I have time to work on it.

The thing is, I used to sit in my quiet, isolated cubicle, listening to corporate-approved "lite rock" music, enjoying a nice Christopher Cross song while typing little numbers into giant spreadsheets, and it was okay.  Now I sit in a tiny, tiny cubicle, struggling with programs that are still not working correctly, people walking around me and up to me all day long, hearing the call center din and it's like my brain just gets all clenchy, and it takes a long time to unclench, even after I leave.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Watch More Movies Initiative of 2011

Halfway through the year I started to feel like posting about movies I'd seen was getting boring, as I am not a movie reviewer.  I compiled a (hopefully complete) list of all the movies I watched in 2011 and put it here, on its own page.  

My goal for last year was not specific, just to watch more movies, which I definitely did.  For some reason I had just gotten out of the habit of watching movies, and watched very few in 2010.

One cool thing I did in 2011 was focusing on watching the movies that were nominated for a Best Picture Academy award, and watched most of them (excepting, embarrassingly, the actual winner: The King's Speech, which I do still want to see).

My specific goals for 2012 are to watch 52 movies (one a week should certainly be doable), to watch every movie nominated for Best Picture, and to see at least 6 movies in the theatre (last year we only saw 2 in the theatre, which is pitiful given how much we love the theatre experience).

Here we go, 2012!

Look Around, It's 2012 Already

Here we are in the first hours of the new year.  I can understand the people who tell themselves that it's just another day, making resolutions should happen anytime and not be saved for a new year, but truly, turning over the calendar to a whole new year seems momentous and, to me, something that should be marked.

I'm sitting here in our office room, the windows to my right looking out on a beautiful Florida sunny day (the internet tells me its 63 degrees but I haven't been outside yet), and at nearly 10am my husband is still asleep after staying up "late" last night.  We cuddled on the couch and watched movies, and at midnight we ended up cozy in bed reading to ring in the new year with kisses and books and a purry kitty at our feet.  We are not yet too old and lame to go out and drink a lot and party to celebrate a new year, but we chose to be quieter this time.

We had a nice Christmas with my mother in Georgia.  She loved the digital photo frame, and I'm already collecting photos for the other memory card to switch out on my next visit.

Over the past week I have been off work, and I set up a little light box/photo studio on a table in the sun room.  I've been having fun taking photos and playing with light and shadow.  Ironically, one of my favorite photos so far was taken not with the new lights but in direct sunlight streaming in the window.

My Aunt Cleo, my father's sister, was a registered nurse.  Back in the 40's when she graduated from college and went to work in a veteran's hospital, she needed a watch with a second hand to count people's pulses.  My father told me that she couldn't find a women's watch that had a second hand, so she ended up getting a men's pocket watch.  She thought it was pretty and it did the job perfectly, and she kept it in the pocket of her uniform, using it throughout her decades long nursing career.

A few years ago Dad gave it to me.

Aunt Cleo was a smart, independent woman who never married.  She bought me lots of books when I was little, and was my very favorite aunt.  She lived next door to us (the term "next door" being relative on a street like the one I grew up on) and always brought chocolate chess pies to Christmas dinners.  She passed away when I was in college, and I still miss her.

I never saw this watch or knew about it when she was alive, but my Dad assured me she'd want me to have it.

"Time, time, time
See what's become of me
While I looked around
For my possibilities
I was so hard to please.
But look around, leaves are brown
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter."

~ Paul Simon, Hazy Shade Of Winter