Staying Shiny

My life as a Uber-geek in a Bridal world

The Oscars

Every year, J and I have a little competition where we pick our Oscar winners and see who's right.  I will admit, he's won 6 of the last 7 years.  This year, we both get the feeling there won't be too much of an upset in any category but it will be fun to watch...hopefully.  I have high hopes for James Franco and Anne Hatheway as hosts.  I think they could do some fun things.  Here's my list of picks for tonight:

Live Action Short: The Confession (wrong - God of Love)
Animated Short: The Gruffalo (wrong - The Lost Thing)
*Documentary Short: Strangers No More
*Documentary: Inside Job
*Visual Effects: Inception
*Makeup: The Wolfman
Editing: Black Swan (wrong - The Social Network)
Costume: The King's Speech (wrong - Alice in Wonderland - just a note, I wanted this to win but the Academy seems to usually go with the period piece so I took a shot)
*Song: Toy Story3 "We Belong Together"
*Score: The Social Network
*Sound Editing: Inception
*Sound Mixing: Inception
Cinematography: The Social Network (wrong - Inception)
*Art Direction:Alice in Wonderland
*Animated Feature: Toy Story 3
*Screenplay: The King's Speech
*Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
*Foreign: In a Better World
Director: David Fincher - The Social Network (wrong - Tom Hooper for The King's Speech)
Supporting Actress: Hailee Stienfeld - True Grit (wrong - Melissa Leo)
*Supporting Actor: Christian Bale - The Fighter
*Actress: Natalie Portman - Black Swan
*Actor: Colin Firth - The King's Speech
*Picture: The King's Speech

I will admit that I'm not to well informed with my picks this year as I actually have been to very few movies this past year and haven't seen most of the nominated films. I know, I'm terrible.  I promise I'll get to them eventually.  But for now, bring on the red carpet.

The results are in..... It's a tie.  For the first time in our betting history we ended up with the same number correct.  This is unprecedented and we are unsure of how to proceed.  We decided to chalk it up to the fact that this was a really lackluster year for picks.  Every category seemed like it was a lock before it even got off the ground.
Memorable moments: Kirk Douglas drawing out his presentation, Randy Newman's acceptance speech, Melissa Leo's F-bomb, James Franco in drag, Billy Crystal for just showing up and showing us how it should be done, Natalie Portman for thanking those behind the scenes
Bad Things: S-l-o-w pacing, the total lack of any category being a race, the weird segues for no apparent reason, overall BORING
Overall not the worst Oscars I've watched, but I would say it is very forgettable.  No one will be talking about this come Tuesday.

Being Human : a comparison

I am addicted to BBC shows.  I love how the UK takes risks with shows and have awesome and unique takes on thing.  With that being said, I was curious to see how the American adaptation of the awesome BBC show Being Human would translate.  So far I have mixed feelings, but I am still hopeful that they will be able to capture the spirit of the show.

Being Human UK is into it's third series (season) now and I can't wait until it's released here so I can catch up.  If you aren't familiar with the show it centers around a Vampire, a Werewolf and a Ghost that share a house and are trying to live a somewhat normal life while surrounded by everyday humans.  Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke right?  But this show is no joke and succeeds in entertaining and making the supernatural very easy to relate to for us "normals". The show begins after the boys have been living in the house with Annie the ghost for a while and are just starting to settle in when their pasts all start to come back and haunt them.  George the Werewolf is neurotic, funny and trying desperately to forget what has been "done to him" rather than accepting who he has become.  Mitchell the Vampire is trying to go straight and live  life without drinking blood,  killing, or turning anyone else.  Annie is trying to figure out why she is still here.  The first series takes these characters on a journey of discovery on what humanity truly is and how they can manage their various "conditions".  The creators of this show have done a fantastic job of making the stories easy to relate to and the situations.  Even the supernatural aspects of the characters are made over in the style of real issues that affect real people.  Mitchell is an addict, George has anger issues and Annie is agoraphobic.

Being Human U.S. has just started into it's first season and already has some major differences from it's predecessor.  Although it is primarily following the same story line to date, it is definitely "Americanized".  The characters names are different to begin with, perhaps because George, Mitchell and Annie are not the most common names in North America.  Aidan is the Vampire, Josh is the Werewolf and Sally is the Ghost.  I find it cute that the name of the Vampire is Aidan because the actor that plays Mitchell is named Aidan.  While the majority of the show seems to be following along to date, it is done at a decidedly different pace.  While UK starts after the group are already living together US starts with the first day that they move in.  There are a lot of little differences like this and I find myself almost feeling a little cheapened by the US version.  It almost feels dumbed down as though they feel the audience needs every little detail explained and that the audience could not possibly accept a slightly different version how they see the supernatural.  The following are examples of what I mean by this.

-Mitchell is a style of Vampire that doesn't NEED blood to live, but rather they are addicted to it.  When these vamps stop drinking blood they are bombarded with memories of all the things they have done.  When they drink, the pain of their past disappears.  This makes them truly addicts.  In the UK version, Mitchell drinks and eats regular food.  Blood is a drug.  Blood from a blood banks isn't the same.  It's like someone who is addicted to Oxycotin taking a Tylenol to fill their craving.  Aidan on the other hand appears to need blood and is trying just not to drink it from the living.  We have seen him heat up mugs of it in the microwave.  I don't get why the US version had to take out the addiction factor.  It cheapens his struggle.

-Josh has a family.  In the first episode his sister shows up at the hospital where he works and tries to convince him to let them back in to his life.  George has no one.  It feeds his anger.  He feels unable to live a normal life because of his situation and it makes his transformations epic.  Josh could have a relatively normal life, but seems to choose his isolation out of fear.

-Annie and Sally are quite similar to date, although Annie's pension for making copious amount of tea she can never drink is a quirk I miss in Sally.  Mind you, Sally has started farther back in her progression of abilities than Annie did.  In the first episode of UK Annie was already making progress in being visible to regular humans and could easily touch and move small objects in the house.  Sally is only visible to the boys and is just barely beginning to learn to touch and move objects.  It feels as though the US version must show the audience every little step and assumes that the viewers are unable to accept that things might happen out of their vision.  The UK audience can infer that Annie has gone through some struggles in trying to touch the world around her and has made progress, but doesn't need to be shown every little detail.  Maybe it's because a series in the UK is so much shorter than a US season.  (Series 1 had 6 episodes and series 2 had 8.  A typical US season is 13 episodes)

It will be interesting to compare things further as the season progresses.  I can see where a lot of this is going since the "Nina" and "Herrick" characters have been introduced, but I feel like it's missing some of the heart and soul of the original.  If nothing else comes from this, I hope it drives North American audiences to pick up the BBC version and give it a go.

Superbowl Party 2011

Every year J and I through a huge Superbowl bash.  Over the last few years it has really taken on a life of it's own and grown exponentially.  The first year it was just us and 3 or 4 close friends.  This year we are expecting around 30 people.  People talk about it all year and the closer it gets, the more we hear about it.  "What food are you going to serve this year?" "How many kinds of beer will there be?"  We put alot of work into this party and it seems to pay off in spades.  I love playing the hostess.  I'll give you a little preview of what will be going on Superbowl Sunday.

Kick off may be at 4:30, but things get started early here with a ton of food prep.  As one of my guests put it, it's best not to eat for a week before coming just so you have enough room for all the food.  Guests will start arriving about 2 and the fight for seating begins.  We don't have a huge place, but everyone makes room for each other.  Beer roulette has become a staple game at the party and everyone loves it.  We fill 2 large tubs with about 30 varieties of beer and cover the tubs.  You reach in and grab a random beer and the rule is you must drink it completely before pulling another.  The variety of beers included range from popular brands to foreign weirdness and plain old crap.  Everyone seems to stop what they're doing whenever anyone pulls a new beer to see what they might get.  We divide all the flavors evenly between the tubs and at half time the tubs switch side of the room to shake things up again.  But the big thing for me is the food.  I love putting it all together and try to mix things up and serve different dishes every year to keep things fresh.

My menu this year was a little hard to pin down because of the teams that made it in.  I usually try to find a theme food and do a cook off between the two cities involved. Last year I did a Indianapolis Hoosier Chili vs New Orleans Chili Con Carne and it was a hit.  Unfortunately Pittsburgh has a serious lack of good cook off style foods.  Did you know that the foods Pittsburgh is best known for are Heinz ketchup, Klondike bars and some strange sandwich with fries and coleslaw in the sandwich?  Not stuff that really lends itself to Superbowl foods so I decided to go a different route and we are doing sausage vs sausage.  Bratwurst for Green Bay and Kilbasa for Pittsburgh.  I am doing 20 of each served on s mini hotdog buns with a slice of pepper jack cheese on each and I am stacking them into the shape of a football stadium with a "field" in the center made of bean dip with sour cream lines on the field.  One half of the stadium will be the Brats and the other half the Kilbasa.  This will probably arrive at the beginning of the second quarter.  To start there is a cheese and cracker platter, potato skins with cheese and bacon, taquitos, bacon wrapped cocktail wieners baked in a vanilla burbon brown sugar and my nephew's famous cheese bung.  What is that you ask?  It's an amazing cheese dip baked in a sour dough loaf.  The sausage stadium will be accompanied with Heinz ketchup and a homemade hot mustard.  At half time I start cooking chicken wings usually about 15 different flavors and if I'm lucky, I'll see the last minute or so of the game.  It's fun though and I can't wait to do it again next year!