Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day and Birthday

Brandy, Expression #1 Brandy, Expression #2 Brandy, Expression #3 Brandy, Expression #4
My late dog Brandy was born on Leap Day in 1992. If she were still around, today would be either her Sweet 16 or... just her 4th birthday! The above photos are from Feb. 6, 2003.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

My Oscar predictions... graded

Here's my report card... I got 14 correct out of 24, compared to last year's 15/24. How did you do?

Click for larger view.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

My complete list of Oscar predictions

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The Oscars: What will/should win

Here's my take on what will/should win among the big categories at tomorrow night's Academy Awards... my full list of predictions is here...

Best Picture: No Country For Old Men will win, but its incoherent last thirty minutes ruined it for me. And while Atonement is the best of the nominated films, the real Best Picture is Into the Wild, Sean Penn's generally-overlooked masterpiece.

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, for There Will Be Blood, will and should win. He delivered a complex, multi-dimensional character and he carried the film.

Best Actress: Julie Christie, for Away From Her, will probably win. She has the buzz and hasn't take home an Oscar since 1965. I'm okay with any of the nominees winning except for Ellen Page. Her flip, over-the-top performance in Juno was the weakest part of a very funny movie.

Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem made for the creepiest bad guy in a long time in No Country For Old Men. He'll win, but I wish there was a way it could be a tie between him and Hal Holbrook for his poignant on-screen performance in Into the Wild.

Best Supporting Actress: It's kind of a toss up, but I'll predict that Tilda Swinton will win for Michael Clayton (a film I generally disliked). I'd like to see Saoirse Ronan, the "evil sister" in Atonement, win. In fact, she'd make a great sidekick for Javier Bardem in something like Still No Country For Old Men. Hmmmm...

What/who do you think will win?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Hillary's latest big supporter, Chilly Dog:

Photo courtesy of Chilly Dog's owner.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A vacation to enrich your life?

My cousin Brenda told me about a great place to go for a great vacation: The John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. Brenda is passionate about photography and has gone to the Folk School for a week to take one of their photography classes. The school, a not-for-profit organization, also offers classes in many other subjects.

The Folk School is listed as the first entry the "Arts & Crafts Getaways" section of National Geographic's The 100 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life, a travel guide that explores life-enhancing vacation possibilities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Jan Davidson, Director of Folk School, comments:
While many students come to learn a new craft or enhance their skills, most students would agree that they leave the Folk School with much more than the objects they have created and the new skills they have acquired. As student Sharon McGrew recently commented, “The mix of folks is great -- older, younger, locals, travelers, first-timers, veterans -- a great sense of community. I not only felt the spirit of the place, I felt a part of it."
I need some inspiration to take my photography hobby to the next level. And I'd also welcome a vacation that's relaxing and peaceful. The Folk School may be the ticket...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Goodbye to Aunt Margie

My Aunt Margie passed away on Thursday. She was a very kind and caring person, and she will be missed. She is shown in the photo below (at center, with a big smile!) from last summer's family reunion; click on the photo for a larger view.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Man aims to find missing dog for seriously-ill wife

As his wife lies in a neurological intensive care unit at Barnes-Jewish since the day of her terrible car wreck on Feb. 3, Larry Brotherton Jr. counts his blessings that his five young step-daughters survived the accident with just a few scratches. But he wants to be able to tell his wife -- when she wakes up -- that everyone from the car is fine. To do so means that he'll have found his wife's cherished dog, Rocket, a three-year-old rat terrier/beagle mix who jumped out of the wrecked car and ran away. "They are very close... I want him back before she regains consciousness," Brotherton says in a posting on Craigslist. Additional information available in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article.

On Saturday, several of us from the Mattie missing dog search are going to St. Charles to help look for the dog. If interested in going along, let me know.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Congrats to Uno from Dawson

My beagle Dawson offers his congratulations to Uno, the first beagle to ever win best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club! And to make it even more special, Uno comes from nearby Belleville, Illinois.

An update on the German Shepherd

Good news about the German Shepherd that my friend DeJean & I found deserted in the neighborhood a couple of weeks ago: He's been adopted and is living in a huge home with lots of land along with two other big dogs -- and all are getting along great! DeJean said it best:
There are so many nice people in this world -- I just can't believe it. The woman who adopted him says she's always wanted to have a German Shepherd. I don't think we could have found a better home.
And his name is now Duke.

Monday, February 11, 2008

"12 Angry Men" on-stage vs. film

My freelance review:
Eleven jurors are convinced that the defendant is guilty of murder. The twelfth isn't so sure, thereby preventing a quick verdict. And so starts Twelve Angry Men, the latest production at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

It's the summer of 1957. Twelve male jurors from various walks of life are gathered for their deliberations while a troubled young man accused of brutally killing his aggressive father awaits his fate, as the jury was instructed that a guilty verdict would be accompanied by a mandatory death sentence. Corralled in a sweltering New York jury room, the twelve men engage in heated debate as hidden preconceptions and assumptions of the jurors are revealed.

Twelve Angry Men was initially produced as a teleplay that appeared on CBS in 1954. In 1957, it was made into a major motion picture by Sidney Lumet with Henry Fonda (as the lone dissenter) among a star-powered cast that included Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, Jack Klugman and others. This now-classic film, with its extremely powerful performances and excellent cinematography, sets the bar very high -- perhaps too high.

The Rep's production, directed by Martin Platt, feels like the film version being played out on stage, with the set having a nice period feel to it and the lighting, in particular, by Dan Kotlowitz, being quite effective.

Ironically, though, there's less intimacy in the Rep's version compared to the film version; perhaps this is due to the staging -- it was hard if not impossible to see the faces of some of the jurors during key exchanges, thus distancing the audience member from some of the emotional impact. Usually theatre is more intimate than film!

As the story plays out in real time for one hour and 45 minutes, with no intermission, the dialog is taut and compelling. There were a few parts, though, where the pacing could have been slowed a bit to achieve greater dramatic effect.

Twelve Angry Men plays through Mar. 2 at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis in Webster Groves.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Miracles with paws

The following hangs in my vet's examination room, amongst all the charts about vaccinations and general care. I often read through it as I'm waiting for him to come in. I recall it, in particular, two years ago this April, as my elderly dog Brandy lay unconscious, about to be put to sleep. It helped me feel a little bit better, reminding me to focus on the nice times that far outweigh the hard times.
Dogs are miracles with paws

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Good food

At the Whole Foods Market earlier today, I ran across something quite delicious. It's a lentil dip called Azeefa. Free samples of it were being offered, and wow -- was it delicious! I tasted (and subsequently purchased) the Azeefa-Hot variety (flavored with spicy jalapeno peppers and lime). There are two other varieties, Medium and Mild.

A couple of noteworthy reasons for writing about this. This dip is 100% vegan -- no animal products of any kind went into the making of it. (It feels good to not fund the mistreatment of animals whenever possible.) Also, the kitchen that makes the Azeefa dip is a startup business in St. Louis -- Berhanu Organic, located on Washington Avenue. Its founder, Sine Berhanu, shown in the accompanying photo, was a delight to talk with.

And she makes a pretty awesome (and nutricious) dip, too!