Saturday, July 25, 2015

Life + Cat

So, I may have jumped the gun on something. 

Before I have finished unpacking... Before I've refinished all the furniture or have gotten things totally organized and settled... I went and invited this little furry turd to come live with me.


"Oh, furry turd?! Kim, you're so cruel!"

Yeah, yeah... she's cute in pictures, but let's run through her first night here.
  • 11:00 pm: Lights out.
  • 11:01 pm: Repetitive meowing from Cat.
  • 11:02 pm-4:00 am: Horrendously repetitive meowing/squawking/live exorcism taking place out in the Florida room.
  • 4:01 am: Human worries for the sleep of the entire neighborhood, slams both doorwalls shut and chastises, "Now NOBODY gets to enjoy the fresh air!!!"
  • 5:00 am: Cat scales every piece of furniture in the living room.
  • 6:30 am: Cat discovers alarm clock on nightstand. Human fears her stepping on the "alarm off" button and deactivating it. But, Human needn't worry about waking up, because Human hasn't fallen asleep yet.
  • 8:30 am-5:30 pm: Human is excessively grumpy due to lack of sleep and manages to avoid most human contact for an entire work day. Forgets the word "brass" at one point and refers to it as "the one that's like gold, but uglier. I forget the word. I just said in two minutes ago, but can't think of it now. You know..."

In Cat's defense, Human may have provided cat nip right before bedtime...

Day Two went a little more smoothly. She didn't greet me when I got home and was hiding under the bed. She still hadn't eaten, but there were signs of piddle in the litter box.


Night Two was a total 180. She stayed out in her favorite spot (kitty condo in the FL room) for what sounded like (or I should say, "lack of sounded") the entire night.

By the time I got home on Day Three, she had made herself at home. Food, eaten. Water, drunken. Litter box, pooped in. We were in kitty business!

That's not to say it's a perfect arrangement. We've had alot of "Seriously?!", "What?" conversations.

Like when she...

Climbs things:

Hogs the couch:

Climbs more things:

Impedes with my morning process:

cannot go to work looking like that!

Etc.:
Last minute addition, from ten minutes ago.

I've been reintroduced to cat allergies that have laid dormant for the past five petless years. I've added extra chores to the daily list. She's decided it's fun to refrain from retracting her claws when she walks, so she goes around the house sounding like steel velcro as she crosses the carpet... the bed... my brand new couch!!!

She kicks her litter all over the bathroom. Sticks her bumhole in my face as a sign of supposed affection. She gives looks of teenage indifference when I scold her. But, I've found my owns ways to even the scorecard:

I've had passing thoughts of, "What have I gotten myself into?", "Do I want to spend the next twelve years of my life itchy-eyed, snotty-nosed and incapable of breathing?", "Is she too old to be declawed? If so, can I have her feet amputated?", "Do I really want to be a mom?", "Would they take her back if I ask?"

But, as I was laying in bed this morning, in comes Cat. Steel velcro prancing across my new bedding. She mewed for breakfast and I tried to forcefully hug her to buy a few minutes. She pulled away, stuck that bumhole in my face, then proceeded to purr and rub her head all over me as I pretended to be sleeping. 

She climbed across my legs. Hugged her side against mine. Purred to almost pornographic degrees. Then took a lap across my nightstand and quietly lied down. She'd decided I could sleep. She would allow it.

She reminded me exactly of myself when I'm not the hugger, but the huggee.

And, I too, like to keep my own schedule. I too, would rather hide under the bed some days. I like to go where I want, when I want. I like to act like I own the joint wherever I go, 'cause it makes me feel comfortable. I too, invoke "Seriously?!" in others, and reply with my own "What"s.

She's independent. Sassy. Loves fiercely once she decides your worthy of her love. Is affectionate on her own terms. Loves to sleep. Is thoughtful when it counts. And, is silly as can be. Wait a second... this cat is ME. I can't get rid of me!

In other words, she's a keeper. Seriously.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Let Me Tell You About My Grandma...

Me and my gal.
My dear grandmother passed away this week.

She was my last living grandparent. She was 95 year old. And, once I tell you all about her, you're going to wish you would have known her yourself.

Some things you should know about my grandma. She was:

Brave: As a child, had you asked me if I thought my grandma was brave, I would have said, "No way! She doesn't swim and never even learned how to ride a bike. Her hair is always curled and she wears matching shoes and scarves. She's a girly girl. There's nothing brave about that!" I may not have said it all out loud, but I certainly would have thought it. Strongly.

But, once I became a woman, my grandma shared pieces of her story with me time and time again. The more she shared, the more my opinion of her grew.

Her parents were Swedish immigrants, fresh off the boat. Her mother embarrassed her growing up by saying things like, "Let's take the hiss to the third floor" instead of using the American term "elevator". She later felt sorry for her mother's struggles in this new land with Swedish being her native tongue and came to have empathy for the barriers that must have caused her. But, when you're a kid---even in the 1920's---you wish your parents would just be cool and use the common term for that man-sized box on the cables.

She grew up in Topeka, Kansas, surviving the Depression and later "running away" to Detroit. I wish I had paid better attention, so I could give you an age or a year... but just know that she traveled to Detroit to visit a friend and stayed here. Forever. Never looking back.

It was never clear to me if she traveled here knowing she was to never go home. Was her vacation really a plot? Was she escaping the Dust Bowl? (She was a very much a lady. She would have wanted to keep her dresses clean.) Or, did she just fall in love with the Motor City and cancel her return ticket? My guess is that she was likely in her early twenties, which would have made this the early 1940's. And, that's just not the kind of thing you think of respectable young women in the early 1940's doing.

She lived right in the city, in an apartment shared with an older female roommate. She lived dollar to dollar and ended up falling in love with a handsome Canadian named Elden. It's okay. Elden was my grandpa. So, this is a love story I'm allowed to know.

Elden was a bit older than Alice. (Alice is my grandma's name, by the way.) He already had an ex-wife and two children. But, boy, did he sweep her off of her feet! I remember her once swoonily telling me, "Oh, your Grandpa! I thought he looked just like Tyrone Power when we met!" I glanced over at the old man sitting across the room from us, with his big teeth, bushy eyebrows and probable cookie hidden in his breast pocket; and thought to myself, "Okay, Grandma. If you say so..."

Tyrone Power? Is that you?
So, here's my grandma. Hundreds of miles from home. A new wife. A young stepmother. And, soon to become a mother herself. That seems like alot of responsibility for someone of that age. In my generation, at least, it would have been! I was just starting to feel out my moxy in my twenties. She had fully taken on womanhood! Brave indeed.

She ended up having three girls of her own, which is pretty brave in itself. And, they were three girls from three different molds bearing three very different minds of their own (...just like their mother, now I know.) 

Judging by the stories I've heard, these kids seemed to do whatever they wanted. They were allowed to be adventurous, even if it sometimes meant stitches and/or broken bones.

Pile on the pets!
When I was a kid, we had to beg and barter just to bring one dog and one cat into the house. These girls had several dogs, actual piles of kittens, as well as rabbits and whatever else the cat dragged in (maybe, literally.) One even got away with bringing home a horse from the fairgrounds. A horse, I said! Was she grounded? No way. Just go build a corral and a barn so it has someplace to stay.

Piling pets on the horse!
Brave girls. That's the kind of daughters Grandma would like us all to raise.

My grandma and I had a special bond. I lived within blocks of her house my entire life (even right next door for about a decade.) So, I got in more "Grandma Time" than the average person. She graduated from authority figure to friend over the course of my lifetime.

Grandma loved men. I love men too, but my life never revolved around the importance of constantly being in a relationship. She spent the early half of my thirties saddened by the fact that getting married just wasn't at the top of my priority list. To the point that I came to think that she would never die until she saw me married off. In my mind, she could not leave this earth, until she saw I was "taken care of". In some abstract way, I credited her long life to me being stubbornly independent and never "settling down". But, I recently found out how wrong I was.

I'd never seen Grandma prouder of me than the day I announced that I had put money down on my own place. My own money. For my own home. This was during her first week in hospital, about a month before she passed. I had, after forty years, shown her my own moxy. I now realize that this made her prouder than if I had walked in with a diamond ring on my left hand. I had finally followed her brave lead. She knew I was going to be okay.

Struttin' it out in Topeka
Stylish: Grandma was a lady's lady and handled herself with a grace and poise I can and will never live up to. She was always put together. Always on her manners. She instinctively knew how to accessorize, from the days that she made her own clothing to the ones where she was able to raid the Hudson's store, downtown. She knew what she was doing and was known for it.

In the 80's she even had a full-length faux leopard fur coat that I secretly wished I would one day inherit. It's been long-since donated somewhere. *tear*

She once brazenly told me that she was the first person to put red and brown together. Have you seen that in a fashion magazine? Did you think your grandma started that trend? Well, you're wrong. Grandma was a humble woman and wasn't one to ever want credit for her accomplishments. But, whatever the deal was with brown and red... hands off! She's claimed it!

More struttin' in Topeka, this time with a friend!
(Is she wearing all black? Or, brown and red? We'll never know!)

Funny: We've always thought of Grandpa (the dreamy, Elden) as being the family comedian. You know those Canadians! But, Grandma subtly proved through the years that she could hold her own.


From the time in the 50's when the neighbor kid wouldn't leave her alone. Peppering her with inane questions left and right as she was just trying to fix her tea, already! She sprinkled in her artificial sweetener, holding in her patience, as the neighbor boy obnoxiously asked, "WHAT'S THAT STUFF YOU'RE PUTTING IN YOUR TEA?!" She calmly answered back, "L.S.D." and went on about her snack.

She didn't say it to entertain the kid. There was no audience around to chuckle at her wit. She was just giving herself a laugh to get through the day. Also, providing herself with the years-long amusement of wondering if the story made it home to his parents and are they imagining the sweet Baptist woman in the little white house on the corner tripping on psychedelics during her daily afternoon tea.

Snacking like a lady. But, what's that in her tea?

When Grandpa got sick with Alzheimer's, she told me about the importance of humor. He was doing strange things, not recognizing us all the time, making little sense when he talked and lost his ability to care for himself. She told me, "Kimmy, you've just got to find something to laugh about every day. If you don't, you'll do nothing but cry."

So, we laughed. We laughed at his quizzing us on who we were. We turned it into interviews. We laughed when he'd pet the arm of the wingback chair, thinking it was his beloved cat, George. We laughed as he asked me on a date to go dancing, because he didn't remember that I was his granddaughter. (He did a mean Charleston. You would have accepted too!) We laughed when he told us un-p.c. things about women and made up songs with words we weren't allowed to use.

We laughed our way through his disease, because Grandma gave us the permission to, so it was okay. And, that license helped us survive those hard years.
Even in her last weeks, she made me promise again to never lose my sense of humor. She begged, "Kimmy, never stop laughing. We need humor in this life." It was an easy promise to make and keep.

Especially, two days after her passing, when we opened her obituary to see dear Alice being referred to as a "Loving Father... Grandfather... and Great-Grandfather to fifteen." Oh, we're laughing Grandma. And, so would you be! 

Above all else, She wanted you to know about Jesus: 

Grandma was a Sunday School teacher when I was a child. I was even a student in her class, along with some of my siblings and cousins.

She grew up Presbyterian, but joined the Baptist church as a Detroiter. Christian is Christian, as far as I'm concerned. It doesn't matter the denomination, but this is how Grandma found God.

Coming to know the Lord was a turning point in her life. It gave her a holy purpose. It guided her conscience. It gave her comfort in times when the world just doesn't provide that for you. She knew the world's job isn't to look out for us, but God is begging to. That was the most important relationship in her life.

Because of her faith, generations of people have found faith and comfort in God. She insisted her family know about Him. Not always tactfully so, but this was a lesson and a priceless relationship that we were not going to miss out on, if she had anything to do with it!

Christianity teaches of salvation (going to Heaven when you die) by faith, as Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that, "By grace are you saved by faith - this is not from yourselves, it is a gift from God - not by works, lest anyone should boast."

What drew Grandma to her Christian faith is the assurance it gave her in this salvation. You can know where you're going when you die. You don't have to guess. You don't have to hope. You don't have to cross your fingers and count your good deeds to feel God in your life and receive His gifts. You can actually tap into this guidance while on earth. You can have a living Comforter, when humans fail you. You can have peace in your soul over things others try to complicate.

Grandma loved to have conversations about God with other believers. She loved talking to others who have that bond of truly living with Christ in their lives.

We would talk about Heaven sometimes. Grandma was a secretary by trade and she always hated filing. She once told me of her fear that, when she gets to Heaven, she worries God will put her in charge of filing. I said, "Grandma! That doesn't sound like Heaven to me. Where do you think you're going to?" But, she was humble. She had a saving faith that would get her through the pearly gates, but not enough good works, she feared, to get her a sweet gig once she made it there. (Fingers crossed... Heaven has gone paperless by now.)

I told you Grandma was funny! All the good she'd done in life. All the kindness she showed toward others. She always worried, she didn't do enough. She didn't tell enough people about Christ. She'd outlasted all of her friends and peers, so her work must not be done on earth. What was she missing? She was becoming ready to go Home.

In all her worry that she didn't do enough, I watched as her family and former students and people that she had touched shared their seeds with others. Roots she'd planted in life ages ago, were now spreading across the world. People who may not have given God a second thought until they'd met her were now sharing the Good News with their children and their loved ones.

She continued to mentor me, maybe without either of us even realizing it at the time. I began to teach the little ones in my life. I learned to be less legalistic in my own faith. I learned not to sweat the small stuff and let God intercede. I began to allow others to know I had needs (I'm stubborn too!) and became humble enough to ask for prayer when I needed it.

But, Grandma's favorite lesson of all is what Baptists call the Sinner's Prayer. And, I'm going to briefly share that with you, so Grandma can plant a few more seeds even now that she's gone from this earth.

As mentioned, our salvation surely comes from our faith. The Sinner's Prayer is the way she came to declare her faith. (Me too!) I'm sure this is not the only way to come to declare one's faith or become a Christian; but we like it because it's simple, not overly-Theological, and it covers all the basis in what we call, the Roman's Road. (A path through the biblical book of Romans that outlines how to "get to Heaven" or "be saved".)

Step One: Acknowledging your sin. Romans 3:23 tells us that, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." We're bad, we're flawed. I don't think any of us could deny this. Even the holiest person you know has had a bad thought, a slip-up, or a moment of vanity that separated them from the perfection of God. This is an easy acknowledgement. To start the Sinner's Prayer, you simply tell God, "I know I'm a sinner. I know I'm not perfect." (Or, your own version of this profession. There are no magic words. Just, with honesty, tell God, "I know I can be bad.")

Step Two: Acknowledging where sin will get you and the help that He sent for us. Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 5:8, "But, God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Because we sin, we deserve to die one day. We deserve to be separated from God and His holiness. BUT, God sent to us a savior, His Son, Jesus Christ. To take on the death caused by our sins (think of the Good Friday story.) "While we were still sinners..." Even though He knows that we're never going to be perfect, He still offered that sacrifice for us, giving us a way to find eternal life. He's not waiting for us to straighten up our act first. He's not requiring any huge life changes to accept this gift. This leads to the next sentence of our prayer, "I'm sorry for the bad I've done. I know I can't get to Heaven on my own. Thank you for sending Jesus as a way."

Step Three: Ask for it! Romans 10:9,"If you confess with your mouth, Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Not only did Jesus die for our sins. But, God raised Him from the dead (think of Easter) to conquer the permanence of death. He proved to us He has power over human death and is offering us eternal life in Heaven, if we're willing to take it. It's free! Romans 10:13, "For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." EVERYone. Not just the rich who can afford to give to charity. Not just the goody-goodies who aren't going to drink beer or have sex outside of marriage. Not just the people who commit their lives to professional ministry. ANYone who calls on God can go to Heaven. Even you! Just as you are. Last part of our prayer, "Please forgive me for my sins. I want to go to Heaven when I leave this earth. I believe that Jesus was your Son. I thank Him for dying to cover the price of my sins. I believe you rose Him from the dead and I accept your gift of salvation. I invite You into my life today."

Boom! If you prayed that prayer with belief in your heart, you're saved. Grandma would be so happy!

You now have access to God Almighty. He can give you peace when you ask for it in the most unbearable of circumstances. He can answer your prayers in the most unbelievable of ways. He can give you the best advice by helping you understand The Bible when you're reading it. And, He'll introduce you to my grandma when you go to Heaven one day.

She got to go Home! Not only did Grandma insist we all learn about Jesus all throughout our lives. She also ended her life proving that He's really here. This came as a great comfort to those of us who've ever wondered if we're wasting our lives believing in this guy so many refer to as a fairy tale.

In her hospice room, standing in the corner, she saw Him visit. Sometimes wearing a white robe. Sometimes in what she called His "work clothes". What His work clothes looked like, we may never know. She never described them beyond that. But, obviously, He was doing His work in them, so that's good enough for me!

She continued to tell people about God and about Jesus, even on her deathbed. I'll bet every nurse and aide that crossed the threshold of her hospice room heard her praise Him.

One day, when she saw Jesus visit her, He told her that she was going Home soon. And, He didn't lie. She went. He took her Home on Sunday, June 7, 2015.

He kept her here just long enough to inspire me to write this entry. Then her work was finally done. Because, she found one last way to tell someone about Jesus.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Things You Need to Calm Down About


Now that I've humbly listed the items that I'm trying to calm down about, I think that warrants me the right to instruct you all to calm down a bit too. (Not all of you, of course... but, if the shoe fits.)

Things you should calm down about:
  • Feeling superior and looking down your nose at others' parenting skills, eating habits and tastes in music, movies or TV. Guess what? I was fed baby formula as an infant and lived to tell about! I eat meat and my heart's still ticking! I can't even pronounce quinoa without thinking really hard about it first. (And, couldn't even tell you what it tastes like.) Sometimes pop music, even when overly-manufactured, can be catchy and mood-lifting. We like what we like. We do what we do. Feel free to do the same. (Quietly.)
  • Making fun of others' appearances. What's with all the fat-shaming, skinny-shaming, slut-shaming, butt-shaming, clothes-shaming, lip-shaming and hair-color-shaming going on as of late? Are you the same people who wear purple to support Anti-Bullying Day? (I will now take this moment to publicly apologize to the Kardashians for anything I have ever said. I will choose to simply ignore you moving forward.) 
  • Thinking it's okay to post racist/discriminatory/hateful comments on social media that is aimed at entire groups of people with whom you've probably never even bothered having human contact with. Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and you have your rights to free speech. But, please realize that this will also give you the right to be outted as a complete a-hole in a public setting. The choice is yours!*
  • Misrepresenting my religion as being a shield for your prejudices. Don't be throwing God and Jesus's names all over your hate speech. Especially during our holiest weekend of celebration. You make all Christians look bad when you only represent a minuscule percentage of us. Don't be misquoting Scripture out of context as a defense for your own ignorance. If you really feel that God has called you to hate, maybe you need to crack open that book you've been busy thumping people over the head with and perhaps start by turning to Matthew 22:36-40. Then, when you feel your next rant coming on, how about telling us about something you actually like instead? There's a reason they say the biggest deterrent to Christianity is Christians. Don't be a Pharisee.*
  • Trying to interfere with others' religious holiday celebrations. So, you don't celebrate Passover. You don't care for Christmas or Easter. You think we're all fools for believing in a higher power. That's great. Do it over there. Let us enjoy our special days and we won't make fun of your obsession with vampires and zombies.
  • The N-word. It's the 21st century. Stop saying it. Stop singing it. Stop typing it. No matter what color your skin is. It hurts my ears and my eyes.

Now take a deep breath... 

Just do as I say... and it will all be a-okay.


*If any of these bulletpoints personally offended you and you're now poised to spend a full hour angrily banging out a seething response in your defense; please note that you may want to save your time. If you have any past habit of posting racist statements/memes/"jokes", gay-bashing, or hate speech of any kind... I've probably already blocked you from my Facebook newsfeed and won't see it anyhow. I don't have time for that kind of negativity in my life and you should find a better use for your own time as well.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Things I Need to Calm Down About



Some things bother me. More than they should.

I can get rather hot-headed and opinionated. But, since I've decided I have enough gray hair for the time being... Here is a list of things I'll try to calm down about:

  • Getting outbid on eBay. It's not really a contest you're winning if it costs you money.
  • People not following my advice. If only the world came to realize how wise I am. Don't live and learn. Do as I say!
  • People that don't even ask for the advice that is just waiting for them at the tip of my tongue. Why aren't you more confused about your life? Ask me what to do! DON'T THINK I WON'T TELL YOU!
  • Conversations that didn't go my way over a decade ago. I came up with 52 better comebacks in the shower that are entirely wasted on the fact that I don't talk to those people any more.
  • Grammatical errors in social media posts that were initially meant to be deeply thought-provoking. Can a bad speller really be deep? And, why did you not proofread after going through the time and trouble of creating that meme? Couldn't you at least have used your Google search bar as a makeshift spell check? Sigh... Okay. I'll calm down about this by spelling it "gramaterkal eras" and saving it without correcting. *cringe*
  • People liking the wrong things. You don't like my show?! How could you not like my show? Maybe you just watched the one episode that had weaker writing than the rest of the stellar examples that aired this season. Maybe you were just tired when you viewed it and your brain wasn't acting so sharp. Give it one more try. I don't care if it comes on past your bedtime. Use the DVR! JUST DO AS I SAY!!!
  • People not doing as I say.
  • People not laughing at my jokes, comments, or physical humor. If you don't laugh, I'm going to just keep doing it harder. The choice is yours.
  • What I think you're thinking. I can't guarantee that I can read you thoughts, but I can see your facial expressions and am a pretty good judge of body language. That said, I'm pretty sure that you're mad at me and it's because you're thinking something about me that is not true, unfair or unproven, and your entire opinion of me is a misunderstood one. So, just let me explain... What's that? You're just hungry? Carry on.
  • People eating things that traumatize me. Ugh. It's green and brown. And, the texture is so creepy-looking. Are they calling that slime, "sauce"? It smells so spicy! Oh well... It's their belly, not mine. Why are you such an empathetic taster?
  • Obsessing over the fact that I'm talking to, not only the audience, but also myself in the second person throughout this entire post. It's my calm self's way of reasoning with my rager self. I'm not Sybil! Quit judging me, grammar snobs.
  • People who walk through life as living contradictions.

Don't worry. I'm going to lighten up.

The world can be an annoying place at times, but I know you're not all doing it on purpose.

Or, are you???

Sunday, March 1, 2015

F.U. Flu!


Well, that's a gross image above!

Even grosser, I've had every one of those symptoms within the past few days.

The flu is such a pill and an inconvenience, but a great excuse to stay in bed and vegetate.

In the past four days, I've progressed from feeling a little yucky, to blech, to barf, to "I'd better just stay in bed", to a 12-hour bout with the whiny man-flu (yes, women... it can happen to you), to "I think I can eat again!", to "Why did I just eat that?", to angry dinosaur tummy, to "I really can eat, but why does my body still hurt so badly and why is walking to the bathroom so exhausting?"

Today's flu stage is a promising one. It's the stage where I've emptied out the DVR, read all of the magazines, ran out of Netflix titles on my list, reached the bottom of my Pinterest feed and have completely explored the Internet in its entirety.

There is absolutely no other form of entertainment to be found from my bed, (well, there is always blogging... and, so, check!) which means I must now will myself back to health because I've simply become too bored to be sick any longer.

Yes, my tongue is still white from dehydration. My muscles feel like someone's been practicing electroshock therapy on them. My throat feels as if someone's been scraping it with a salad fork in my sleep. And, I can't tell if I'm still feverish, or if I've simply had my laptop resting on my stomach for too many hours on end.*

But, I've decided: Today is the day! I will get dressed even! (Yoga pants count as clothes, right?) I will wash (or, at least, change) this germ-ridden bedding! I will walk up and down the stairs without resting in between! I will set the alarm for work tomorrow! I will drink all of the water so my tongue becomes pink again! I will wash my hair and (maybe) shave my legs!

I will do it all! I think I can, I think I can, I kinda know I maybe can...

I just need to take one more nap first.

Zzzzzzzz...



*Please remember to refer me to this post if, in the future, you ever hear me whining of a sudden and unexplained bout with infertility. I fear this laptop may have fried my eggs as well.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oscar Picks 2015

I'm very proud of myself this year, for getting out to see five (yes, count 'em , a whopping FIVE) of the best picture nominees. This is a new record for me, pre-award show.

So, guess what that means. I've got more opinions than ever this year!

Here we go with my picks (not predictions...):


Cinematography: This year's movie makers upped the game on stunning cinematic quality. My cinematography picks this year are Birdman (quite possibly for the Christmas-lit liquor store scene alone... and since it wasn't nominated in the Production Design category) or Grand Budapest Hotel (because, every Wes Anderson film is a lesson in this art. Duh.)


Film Editing: Whiplash is my unlikely pick. I've never quite seen a music-based film that was shot almost like a war or action movie. Every lick of the drum was like a bullet whizzing by. It was a unique approach and left me impressed. But, I won't cry if American Sniper or Boyhood takes home this trophy either.


Production Design: Grand Budapest Hotel. Duh. No explanation needed.



Sound Editing: Birdman I will award for its innovative use of untuned drums and whatever other twanginess that was that put us directly inside the mind of a man that had become unraveled. American Sniper has my honorable mention for its traditional good job in this category.




Sound Mixing: I'm going with Whiplash or American Sniper here.



Screenplay- Adapted: Whiplash. Are you noticing any trends yet?


Screenplay- Original: Boyhood's writing was fine, but seemed very familiar. Like it had possibly lifted dialogue from Dazed and Confused (as well as one liquor store clerk.) I'm going to have to go with Birdman for original screenplay. There was alot of dialogue... good dialogue. And, every actor did an impressive job of reciting it all while riding out those long seamless shots.



Directing: This year's nominees seemed to be awarded by way of experimentation. We had Alejandro G. Inarittu and his single-shot, steadycam, no room for a breath, experiment with Birdman.  Richard Linklater's exhausting twelve year run putting together every scene for Boyhood. The problem is, I'm just not sure if either novelty paid off for me in either case. I'm in the minority, by not thinking the single-shot work in Birdman served its purpose in the way of impressing its audience. Yes, I'm impressed with the endurance of the cast, crew and everyone else involved with making those long, seamless scenes happen. I've read the interviews and understand Inarittu's artistic reasoning for these choices. But, it just didn't do anything for me in the audience. If the timeline of the film was a "real time" situation, I might have went for it. But, it wasn't, so it didn't. It actually, just made me kind of sea-sick. Boyhood, I finally watched last night, just in the nick of time to form a proper opinion. And, again, although I'm impressed with the marathon involved in piecing this film together... I think the actors were great... the story was fine... I just didn't see anything spectacularly over-achieving in the direction, besides a decade-long loyalty to the job. So, I'm tempted to award Wes Anderson in for Grand Budapest Hotel, even though it wasn't my favorite of his films. I always appreciate the hustle and painstaking attention to artistic detail he shows in every one of his movies and maybe it's time he finally gets his Oscar for it. He's got an eyeball like no one else's eyeball.



Animated Feature: Big Hero 6. Hands down. It was like a real movie. Not just a cartoon. I cried... multiple times. I laughed. I got scared. I've referred to this movie as an older kids perfect segue into their next level of movie-watching. And, I meant it.


Actor in a Leading Role: Michael Keaton (Birdman). And, I will be furious if he doesn't get this one! All of the other nominees are each great actors and all wonderful in their respective roles... but, man, what a comeback! Michael Keaton all the way!


Actress in a Leading Role: Although I hear these were all fine women's roles this year, none of the pictures really piqued my interest. (Sorry ladies! I know I sound like a total female sellout.) I go to the movies quite a bit. And, I see films to be entertained. So, I don't usually fall under the spell of heavy drama or watching people get sick, go insane or battle demons. I'm glad these roles exist for women actors, I'm just less likely to pony up my ten bucks at their releases. The one film I did catch in this category was Gone Girl. At the time I thought Rosamund Pike was annoyingly melodramatic and over-selling the part. But, by the end of the story you see that's exactly what she was called to do in such a role. I don't see her winning, though, and I'm sure Julianne Moore (Still Alice) will finish out her award season sweep. (P.S. If Jessica Chastain would have been nominated for A Most Violent Year, she would have had my vote.)


Actor in a Supporting Role:  This is my favorite category this year as Ethan Hawke was great in Boyhood, Edward Norton was as flawless as ever in Birdman. I didn't see Foxcatcher but I always love me some Mark Ruffalo. But, the one actor that will absolutely make me cry a thousand rivers if he does not win, is J.K. Simmons in Whiplash. Spectacular. Unfailing. J.K. not only had the best written role of the flock, but put the most into executing it with absolute precision.


Actress in a Supporting Role: For me, this is a toss up between Patricia Arquette in Boyhood (also my pick for best hair changes) and Emma Stone in Birdman. I hear Laura Dern was great in Wild, although I didn't get a chance to see it in time. The only thing that will tick me off is if Meryl Streep wins for Into the Woods. I love Ms. Streep. She's the best, without question. But, this role? Really?! What was the nomination committee thinking? Just because she was in something this year, doesn't give her a free pass.

Saving the best for last... [insert drumroll]

Best Picture: I've seen five. Yes, FIVE, remember. I have a fully formed opinion on this for a change. I've already stated my petty flaws with Boyhood and Birdman. They're not my winners. Even though I loved Birdman, Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Zack Galifianakis, Amy Ryan... everyone involved. Since I had any complaint at all... I can't cast my vote for the big prize in its direction. 

I've already stated that Grand Budapest Hotel was not my favorite Wes Anderson movie. So, bye bye. Not my pick. 

I LOVED American Sniper. Absolutely, loved it as my second favorite movie of the season. But, it had three glaring imperfections to me. 1.) Doll baby in the nursery scene. It totally took my head out of the movie. And, it was so obvious! C'mon Clint! 2.) The mile-long bullet shot. Very cool. But, I was suddenly transported from Saving Private Ryan to The Matrix. It didn't match any of the other camera work in the movie. I don't know how else they could have effectively shot that scene. But, not my job. I'm underpaid and in the audience. 3.) My heart soared in the closing credits, but it ended so abruptly for me. Just a sudden one sentence blurb and the movie was over, even though the scene seemed to be still rolling on script. I felt like something may have gotten chopped out at the last second. And, no. I didn't need to see "that" scene. I just felt Mr. Eastwood could have steered the boat to shore more smoothly. It was a sturdy vessel. It knew where it was going.

So, am I an overly picky movie-goer this year? I'm going to pick my second favorite movie apart and throw its lifeless baby doll to the birds?

Yes. I can afford to this year. Because there was one film that stood a mile above the others. I have no criticisms of it. It was a flawless masterpiece as far as I'm concerned. And, that movie was... Whiplash!



I was worried I was going to miss out on it completely, as it played it very limited windows in the Detroit-area. Then, when I finally able to get myself to a showing, it was sold out!

It was months after its release before I actually got a ticket in hand and my butt in a red cushioned seat. Where I then sat through the previews wondering if my months-long anticipation had killed my chances for the film living up to my expectations. 107 minutes later, it had not. 

Impeccable! Beyond expectation. Not one single complaint. Flawlessly cast. Perfectly filmed. The drama had a good build. And, the music... there are just no words. The final drum solo, alone, has me in tears while simultaneously shouting out, "HOLY S**T!!!" (Yes, that actually happened. I'd take this moment to apologize to my fellow audience members, but I believe they were all equally caught up in the rapture and didn't even notice me.)

Judging by the award season stats... I think this pick is a long shot. But, if the voters really did their job by watching every nominee... If they truly understand and respect their craft... If they can remain unbiased toward popularity contests and awarding their buddies in the field... I hold a small glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, my #1 film of 2014 just might have a chance of shaking things up on Sunday.

Fingers (and drumsticks) crossed!

(Then go see Whiplash after the show. You won't regret it.)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 Year in Review

Not a best of, not a worst of... just the things I feel like talking at you about in this year's Pop Culture wrap-up.

And, as always, all red links lead to good things!

AT THE MOVIES:


  • Gone Girl: The year's most thrilling, mind-bending, titillating mystery that I really wish I hadn't brought my mother along to see.
  • John Wick: A most welcome return to the gratuitous action genre. The body count, innumerable. I literally left the theater exhausted. And, if Keanu Reeves can keep up with that much cardio at the age of 50, I have absolutely no excuse for skipping my evening walk.
  • Birdman: Michael Keaton's back! Michael Keaton is BACK!! And, he's going to win an Oscar! Although, I'm in the minority by having my critiques of some of the directing choices in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's stunner/comeback vehicle for Keaton, I cannot deny the flawless acting from each and every one of its stars and costars. If this film does not win the prize for Outstanding Cast at this year's SAG Awards, I completely give up on Hollywood.
  • The Interview: So, I'm not much a fan of stoner comedies, or graphic vulgarity, or needlessly explicit language in film. I am pretty much immune to James Franco's smarm. I hated The 40-Year Old Virgin. I thought Knocked Up was good in concept, but veered off into bad taste once played out. That said, I'm a fan of Seth Rogen as a person (ie. talk show guest) and, potentially, a writer (if he'd put down that bong for five seconds.) I loved Freaks and Geeks. I liked Funny People. But, was I willing to risk terrorist threat to be "in on" his latest endeavor? Apparently so, because I did. And lived to tell about it. Was there drugs? Some. Was it vulgar? Yeah. Was there a needless amount of explicit language? Of course. But, did I laugh? Yes! Surprisingly, alot. I rank it on the same level as Tropic Thunder. If you did not like Tropic Thunder, you will not like this. If you're still not sure if it's not for you, check out Eminem's hilarious cameo and then decide.
  • Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I: I am so unbelievably hooked on the Hunger Games series for someone who had avoided it for a whole year, based on the mere concept alone. And, as if Jennifer Lawrence wasn't perfect enough with her flawless hair, flawless face, flawless body and hysterical sense of humor. Now we find out she can sing pretty amazingly in a minor key as well. Oh well! It's impossible to hate her. You can only wish to grow up to be just like her. (Even if you're practically twice her age.) 
  • Big Hero 6: I call this the animated movie that offers the perfect segue for kids approaching PG-13 territory. There were explosions, action, drama, laughter and tears. (So many tears! I literally cried a contact lens right out of my eye!) I did have to warn a few younger viewers away from seeing it, though. That villain was a little too creepy for the Disney princess set. (Click here for some images to decide for yourself.)
And, Let's Talk About This: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. One of the worst movies my nephews dragged me to this year, that ended with the most unexpected and heartbreaking goodbye from Robin Williams. (This year's award season In Memoriam is going to be a rough one!)

I Missed It! Whiplash. Damn you, metro-Detroit theaters and your minuscule window for seeing anything that's not a blockbuster. This one is on the grab-it-as-soon-as-it-comes-to-DVD list.

Can't Wait for in 2015: A Most Violent Year, American Sniper, Pitch Perfect 2, Inherent Vice, Black Mass and... okay, fine, let's finish it off... Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II.

IN MUSIC:
  • There were many mentions of butts.
   Moving on...

ON TV:
  • Gotham (Fox): This prequel to all things Batman had me a little nervous at first. How are they going to drag out the legacy of Batman in the twenty or so years it is going to take for young Bruce Wayne to become the Caped Crusader? So many characters crossing paths so soon! But then I simply sat back, relaxed, and learned to enjoy the ride. P.S. Middle-aged Alfred Pennyworth is a total badass.
  • Gracepoint (Fox): The American remake of the UK's Broadchurch miniseries was the biggest nail-biter on the small screen this year. The coastal smalltown murder mystery kept me guessing and defending my case for its entire ten episode duration and provided that best water-cooler talk of 2014. (It's still playing On Demand if you missed it!)
  • Drunk History (Comedy Central): The biggest belly laughs I had while watching TV this year were while sitting sober and watching drunk people try to explain (in great detail!) some of the biggest historical events in America. Check it out on YouTube, Comedy Central and full episodes now on DVD
  • The Mindy Project (Fox): I couldn't get into The Mindy Project in its first season. I felt like it was trying too hard to be the next Ally McBeal or something. But, in its second season, I gave it another chance, once it became more character-centric and less wannabe-chick flick. By Season Three, the show has really hit its stride. And, what?!  Danny Castellano is dancing out of nowhere! What's going on? And, why do I like it so much?!
  • Wahlburgers (A&E): When Donnie and Mark Wahlberg were growing up in Dorchester, MA, the neighborhood taunters used to call them the "Wahlburgers". So, they grew up, became multi-kazillionaires, then opened a successful chain of burger joints with their older brother Paul. They call the chain Wahlburgers. You may also call it the last laugh. Now A&E has decided the Wahlberg clan of nine siblings, led by matriarch Alma, are entertaining enough to have their own reality show. I agree. Last last laugh. (Also, keep an eye out for the real Entourage.)
  • The Little Couple (TLC): Still my vote for the most perfect family on the planet Earth. The 2014 season of The Little Couple led Bill and Jen through the highs of adoption and the lows of Jen's battle with cancer. Your heart will melt for these two (now, four.) And, if I ever met someone who is half the man Bill Klein is, I would consider myself the luckiest woman in the world.
  • Every Simpsons Ever (FXX): FXX has found a cure for the Nothing-Is-On blues that can strike at any given time with their seemingly-endless running Every Simpsons Ever marathon.
  • Eaten Alive (Discovery): Did you miss the Discovery Channel's Eaten Alive special? The one where idiot "scientist", Paul Rosolie, volunteers to be "eaten alive" by the largest anaconda on earth, all in the name of conservation and research? Count your blessings. I sat through the two hour ordeal just for you! Read about it here.
And, Let's Talk About This: Duggars getting married left and right. Never before did long skirts and chastity make a spinster feel so... spinstery.

And, What About That: 

I Missed It! True Detective and Fargo. Come on, Netflix! Bring me up to speed already!

Can't Wait for in 2015: Breaking Bad prequel, Better Call Saul.

ON THE WEB:

  • Listen Linda... just listen! I can't decide if little Mateo will be going into politics or sales one day. I do know that he will surely find a way to make more money (and cupcakes) than the rest of us, though. 
  • This meme.
  • These foreign Doritos with "kick".

OVER-HYPED in 2014 (and so, I refuse to add images):
  • Ice Bucket Challenge: Newsflash! You can donate money to charity without risking hypothermia.
  • Shia LeBeouf and all his self-produced drama: You're "not famous anymore". So, go away already.
  • Jaden and Willow Smith: They're so much smarter than us all now. Didn't you hear?
  • George Clooney Wedding: He's found love and is happy. Scandalous!
  • Kimye Wedding: I threw up in my mouth a little, then forgot about it.
Speaking of throwing up...
  • Bill Cosby: What is up with you?! I am in mourning for the loss of my TVland reruns. I am also mad on behalf of Cockroach, for you taking away from him the only royalties he makes these days.

I am now extremely tired and will lazily conclude with Funny Spellchecks Suggested in the Making of this Post (that, at least, were funny to me at 1:00 am): Birdman = Batman (go figure!); Stoner = stonier; Inarritu's = linearity's; Mockingjay = Mackinac; Gracepoint = grease paint;  Wahlberg = wallboard; Wahlburgers = vegeburger; Dorchester = chestier; Netflix = Norfolk; Shia = Shiva; LeBeouf = beef.

See you in 2015!