Wednesday, February 27, 2013

London and Paris this Spring!

My life has been in a stressful state the past two weeks, and while I patiently wait for word if I got a new job or not, I need to proceed on with life as usual. I was hoping that I would know by now if I have procured a new a job that would pay me well enough to avoid applying for financial aid for my final semester at grad school in the fall. The application deadline is March 1st, so I went ahead and processed my application online last night. It's best to err on the side of caution than to let that deadline pass and add more stress for school in the fall. If I am able to pay for it out of pocket, I'll just decline the aid offer in September.

In addition to doing that, in the month of March, I will continue on with my planning my trip to London and Paris, May 30- June 9. I'm willing and able to adjust the dates that I plan to go if offered a job soon, but once I buy the ticket, it's done and I cannot modify that. The ideal time to purchase my ticket will be in mid-March because as that time approaches the 60-day departure window for my trip, the ticket price temporarily slightly dips, and I can purchase it. I learned this trick last year for my Ireland trip, but I made a mistake. After weeks and weeks of watching the airfare hover around $1450, it dipped to ONLY $1250ish for two days, then went back up to $1460 and never dropped again. So, I need to be in a position to snag that lower price ticket asap, on the very first day I notice it drop down a couple hundred. Airfare to Europe is so ridiculous now - I could pay for two domestic first class tickets for the price of one flight to London in coach!

Taking the Eurostar from London to Paris.
My hotels, all three, have been booked since early January, so once I book the flight, I'll then book my Eurostar, and start buying my other little touristy saver packs for my trip. So far, I will be meeting up with two friends, one in London, and one in Paris, and I'm very excited about that. And this trip isn't just pleasure, I'm also going to be collecting information for my graduate project report article about GMOs in the UK and Europe and compare those grocery store products to American grocery stores. So in between taking pictures while out and about these fabulous cities, I'll be visiting grocers to compile consumer food buying data to incorporate into my research report.
So in regards to the job interview, I keep telling myself, if it's meant to be, it will. I did all I could do, I went beyond the normal to put a good foot forward, and if I'm still not selected, I'll have to learn from this and move on.

Monday, February 25, 2013

AMPAS is so proud of itself!

Just look at this lovely image. The handsome older gentlemen have won their third and second Oscar's respectively, Daniel Day-Lewis and Christoph Waltz. And the two sexy young ladies have won their first Oscars, Jennifer Lawrence and Anne Hathaway. This is the winners picture that AMPAS members dream of each year! Hot, sexy, well-known, and PoPuLar! Yeah!!!!!


Not.

Boring.

Gorgeous in Gold - to match her Oscar. How perfect!
Especially when you look at how hot Jennifer Lawrence looked at the Vanity Fair Oscar party afterwards...surely Emmanuelle Riva or lil' Q Wallis could never be as appealing as both are either too old and foreign, or too much of a minor child to attend the VF party and show off that Oscar gold!
I'm very happy for Ang Lee winning his second Best Director Oscar for Life of Pi.

And congratulations to Ben Affleck for winning Best Picture for Argo!

As per the comments on Awards Daily and my Twitter feed last night, I am soooo glad I spared my eyeballs and eardrums from that hot mess of a show that was trying to be the Tonys and Grammys combined.

This circus event closes down the 2012 year in film! Whew!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscar Day - No Guts, No Glory!

Tonight is Oscar night and I have already posted my thoughts about who should win tonight, but I'm doing my No guts, No glory hopeful wins today. I'm still not going to watch the show, I have too much writing to do for a class project and a LOT of reading to do. But I will read the play-by-play at the Awards Daily blog/forums tonight. I multi-task very well thank you.

So without further adieu, here at my NGNG choices in select categories:

Best Picture: Argo - yes it's my first choice, but as an alternative, I'm going to also select Zero Dark Thirty (neither Director got a Best Director nod. Funny that eh?)

Best Director: Michael Haneke for Amour. This film swept the Caesar awards the other day, those are the French Academy awards and it would be nice to see this director win a Directing Oscar. BTW, check out 'White Ribbon' if you haven't yet to see the talent of this director.

Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix - I just can't stress how awesome it would be to see this actor finally win an Oscar on his third nomination. It would just be underwhelming to see DDL win his third Oscar tonight, making history. IMHO, Joaquin is more deserving of this Oscar this time.

Best Actress: Emmanuelle Riva (Amour). She turns 86 years old today and that makes her the oldest nominee and hopeful winner tonight.

Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams (The Master) People think that just because The Master wasn't nominated for Best Picture, that kills any of the cast's chance of winning an award. That bullocks! I can also see Naomi Watts winning this, she was brilliant in The Impossible, and at this moment, that appears to be her winning chances too... but there's hope.

Best Supporting Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman - all actors nominated in this category already have Oscars, so no one should cry in their milk tonight if they don't win their second.

So of these six top categories, these are my NGNG predictions. Some NGNG predictions posted throughout the Internet are really wild, but it also shows you how people feel about the performance of some actor/actresses, and the quality of a particular film. I hope tonight's show is exciting for those who watch it, and I want to READ some surprise announcements. If the same four people who have been winning all season long win tonight, it will be a very stale evening. I want some gasps and awe!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cautiously Hopeful

Some of you are aware that I'm looking for new employment, it was my New Year's Resolution. And for some of you who live in Michigan, or are aware of how dire the economy has been in this mid-western state, you know just how difficult it is to find a good job, a job you like, and a job that pays a respectful salary to compensate for your education level and work experience. Part of the reason why I went back to college to obtain my Master's degree in Communication was to strengthen my resume and add professional and academic credibility to a discipline that I have been a part of for the better part of a decade.

Right now I find myself in the awesome position of interviewing with two companies, both are very different from the other, but they both present great opportunities for my career that my current place of employment will never, ever offer to me. I've been a little depressed in the past few months regarding my career path and my future, but the past 10 days have been exciting with two interviews, and a call back thus far from my preferred future employer which I will interview with later this afternoon. By this time next week, I will know my future. I will either have a brand new job and a renewed outlook on life, be proud of myself, as well as a boost to my confidence. Or I will just grab my boot straps harder and continue the search while working hard to keep my self-esteem level high. Needless to say, I prefer the former scenario.

Wish me luck please, I'll keep you posted! xoxo

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Film Review: A Good Day to Die Hard 7.5/10

I have been watching the Die Hard films since 1988. I remember going to the theater to watch Die Hard with my best friend from high school and we had a great time, thoroughly enjoyed a film that I would go on to watch at LEAST 400 times since! On Thursday morning, Valentine's Day, I received an email from Amazon.com offering the 25th Anniversary blu-ray collection of the previous four Die Hard films for only $25. The offer was valid for one day only and I totally bought it without hesitation. But the bonus deal was that if I purchased the collection that day, I would receive a $10 certificate to watch A Good Day to Die Hard this weekend. Sold!

So, not only did I receive my blu-ray collection on Friday, I also got the email certificate to redeem at the theater. My friend Laurie and I went to see 'A Good Day to Die Hard' on Saturday, and I was surprised by how light the traffic was in the entire theater... not your typical Saturday evening, but oh well, it's mid-February, dead movie month. Anyway, I saw the movie and we quite enjoyed it.

In A Good Day to Die Hard, we are introduced to the other McClane kid, Jack, who is in Russia working for the CIA on an undercover operation. He has been estranged from John (no surprise) for many years, and John McClane sets off to Russia to find and supposedly save Jack from going on trial for attempted murder. The car chase scenes throughout Moscow were very entertaining and awe inspiring. I reckon half the film's budget went into that scene as well as the finale with the helicopter at Chernobyl. 'Good Day' has a thrilling twin double-crossing plot, and incredible action scenes. It's not the strongest film in the series but it's solid good entertainment. I really enjoyed Jai Courtney as Jack, and I was telling my friend how refreshing it is to see a new face in a high profile co-starring role. And for a 58 year old actor, Bruce Willis is still at the top of his game, he is a box office draw, and I'm sure he can squeeze out at least one more Die Hard film. And if that happens, it would be cool to see John with both Jack and Lucy helping him 'Kill some bad motherfuckers'!

If you want to watch a fun high-action packed film with lots of guns and crazy Russian killers, treat yourself to 'A Good Day to Die Hard', especially if you enjoy all the Die Hard films!

Here is the order of the Die Hard films that I like:
  1. Die Hard
  2. Live Free or Die Hard
  3. Die Hard with a Vengeance
  4. A Good Day to Die Hard
  5. Die Hard 2 Die Harder

Grade: 7.5/10

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I'm fascinated with the Oscars, but not enough to watch them

I was asked by my friend this morning if I plan to watch the Oscar telecast on Sunday, February 24th. I told him that I no longer care to watch the program because I'm sticking to my heartfelt belief that the event is far too political and practices selective discrimination over its nomination process, and the selection of winners. In a fair world, which we do not live in, the Academy Awards would probably be more thrilling to watch because you would feel like being on the edge of your seat as to who would win, and which picture would be bestowed the highest honor of the evening. However, I don't think that time ever existed with AMPAS... they have always taken the easy way out.

Last week at Awards Daily, I posted a reply to an article that was ranting against the success of Argo at the expense of Lincoln. As much as I enjoy spending time at AD, they have a tendency to alienate their readership by being such strongly biased supporters for a particular film. It was first noticeable two years ago with The King's Speech vs The Social Network. With my supporting 'Speech' and AD supporting 'Network'. It was very nasty, but my preferred film came out on top. Fast forward this year, the same thing is happening and it's a shame because in my opinion, I enjoyed both Argo and Lincoln. They are two very different films, and it's hard to say, 'oh film X was just better than film G', that's not so clear cut. Both films are fine films, but yet again, people who are pro-Lincoln fans, slam Argo for being a 'made-for-tv' quality film (the same childish argument they used against The King's Speech). And in the same breath, they deem Lincoln to be a masterpiece. Art is entirely subjective and when it comes to the Oscars, the film with the highest preferential #1 votes, wins... and it looks like Argo pretty much has it in the bag. But I digress...

What I wanted to point out about my AD post was that I listed three things that happened with the Oscars in both the winning process and the nomination process that made me look at the Oscars in a different light, and prompted me to distance myself from it. For me, Oscar had it's three strikes against it (three strikes and you're out in baseball) and I present the following:

In 1999, Shakespeare in Love won Best Picture over Saving Private Ryan - this was unbelievable

In 2005, Crash won Best Picture over Brokeback Mountain - I was so pissed off about this, and I knew that it was due to AMPAS members not wanting to watch a gay love story theme, and awarding such a film. Even though Ang Lee, the director of BM, won Best Director that year. It was a travesty and I fully understood at that very moment, how faulty the voting process is, and the discriminatory attitudes that play a role in selecting a true winner, especially when you have two high profile Academy voters announcing that they would not even watch the film. For the record, I saw Crash and Brokeback that year. I thought Crash was good, but a very contrived film that was exaggerated for drama, but decent otherwise. However after I saw Brokeback Mountain, and my really favorite that year, another Spielberg film, Munich, I knew one of those deserved to win.

Michael Fassbender
 In 2012, my favorite actor, Michael Fassbender, was not nominated for Best Actor for his brave and honest portrayal of a sex addict in Steve McQueen's Shame. The man won a host of awards in the four months prior to the nominations and he was expected to be one of the five nominees along with George Clooney and Brad Pitt... sizing up what would have been a most handsome lineup of Best Actor nominees. But it was not meant to be. The film's NC17 rating killed it, on top of Michael's male nudity which makes regular men intimidated and ashamed... pun intended. I was so upset by this snub that I swore off watching the Oscars last year and I'm keeping my promise. I cannot in good faith, support an organization that finds Michael Fassbender's performance too risque to honor with a nomination, but yet for the Best Actress, nominates an actress who was in a film that was a brutal R rated film, lots of death, blood, sex, and female nudity. You saw the actress in all angles of nudity, but alas, she's female. According to AMPAS, Female butt naked nudity is A-Ok; male butt naked full frontal nudity, is WRONG! I do not accept this sexist attitude and selective discrimination, and therefore, I don't have time to watch the Oscars.

So what I will do is read the play by play action of the ceremony at Awards Daily while doing something else, like, homework. Each year I read from acquaintances online that they are fed up with the politics and BS of the Oscars and don't want to watch them. But for some people, it's a hard habit to break, and they give in to it. Others are like me and refuse to watch the show. I admit, this year may be interesting to watch because I think Seth MacFarlane is going to be a good host, and with so many top singers on the program singing the themes from the films, including Adele for Skyfall, and don't forget the 50th anniversary celebration for the James Bond film franchise, it is most tempting. But I have to stick to my principles, there is more to life than the Oscars and sometimes, when something conflicts with your morals of right and wrong and fairness, you have the right to not want anything to do with it. And for someone like me who otherwise loves to discuss things Oscar, I'm taking a pass on actually watching the show because I don't want to endorse a program that has a terribly flawed nomination and voting process, is ultra conservative, and narrow-minded.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Guest Blogger: To Swear or Not to Swear?

Vera tackles the issue of the use of foul language and profanity in literature and in films. I can understand her concerns and this is definitely a case where different tolerance levels have thresholds about profanity. I personally am not bothered by it so much. The context that foul language is used can really express the outrage someone is feeling, or to be funny, the hysterics of a situation. However, when profanity is not expected, to the individual who is concerned about it, may find it completely unnecessary and even rude. Like everything, there's a time and a place for cussing.


To Swear or Not To Swear?

I have recently finished reading Too Big To Fail, a book devoted to the financial turmoil of 2007-2009 written by Andrew Ross Sorkin. I have read another two books on the same topic, specifically, The House of Cards by William D. Cohan and Colossal Failure of Human Sense by Lawrence G. McDonald. I am really into this topic, since I am interested in the peculiarities in financial systems in different countries, and I think that the events of 2007-2009 are a great lesson to us all and should be thoroughly studied and learned from. But now I do not want to talk about the complicated financial instruments or management styles described in these books, but about another important element of the everyday life of the books’ heroes, as well as of our own. And this element is abusive language or swear words and reflection of its usage in fiction or films.

One can generally assume, that the more intelligent and sophisticated one’s profession is, the less the volume of swear words used in daily routines. I also thought so, although I myself am an auditor, a profession quite distant from, say, coal mining, but I use swear words quite often and every new year I make a resolution to swear less in my everyday life. But maybe in my case this is just my parents’ failure. LOL.

After having read the books I mentioned in the 1st paragraph, I found out that investment bankers and government representatives also tend to use quite an excessive range of swear words at work. Of course, the books described individuals in a state of uttermost stress and facing unprecedented circumstances, but still the amount of abusive language was quite large. In addition, the books contained references to emails written by investment bankers and traders to each other and to their immediate supervisors, and to commonly conducted conversations, which also contained quite an amount of swear words. As the authors of the books gave detailed lists of their sources in the end of the book, I am inclined to believe that the words used by the heroes were actually said aloud or written, that it was not just the imagination of the authors. In addition, otherwise they would participate in a hundred of lawsuits for each chapter.

There were two things that were new to me. Firstly, as I have already told you, I wasn’t entirely ready to face the fact that investment bankers, who generally are really, really smart guys, swear so much and on so many levels in the chain of command. But this perhaps shows that everybody is human and has the same weaknesses. Secondly, I was quite surprised that all these words were thoroughly reflected in the books. A lot of swear words printed out and distributed to the general public. The reason why it was so surprising for me is that I have never come across this volume of abusive language in Russian books. Never.

And this surprised me even more. I am not closely acquainted with all the aspects of English abusive language, I am aware of general concepts, such as the F**k word or shit or bitch and many other frequently used in movies or books, and I am sure there are still many many layers of ways to express your anger or frustration. Yet I am also sure (and here I am somewhat patriotic) that Russian abusive language is far more rich and extensively used. I myself and several colleagues of mine are really great examples. I am also convinced that generally used Russian swear words are much stronger than their English analogues. Our abusive language also has one peculiarity: we can actually express admiration or devastation using the same highly abusive word.  Friends of mine, who have studied abroad, always recalled that the first thing their classmates asked them about their country or their language was a request to teach them some swear words and to explain how they could use them. But I am being carried away.

So, having an enormous amount of really strong swear words at their disposal, our writers, even those who explore topics similar to the ones described in Too Big To Fail or The House of Cards, therefore, who supposedly may reflect similar conversations, do not use the swear words. And even in they use them, they do not print them, covering a most abusive part of the word with *** symbols. Yet the volume of the abusive language used and printed in the books in English that I have read (and this is quite a number) for some reason extensively exceed that of Russian ones. Puzzle of puzzles for me.

Same goes for movies. I have watched Too Big to Fail, and found out that much of the abusive language migrated there as well. The most vivid episode for me was the one where a CEO of a major Wall Street bank asks his assistant to tell a government representative to “fuck and blow” him. It was quite offensive, to my mind.

And then we have movies in my country, where the swear words are not even translated from English into Russian. I mean the closest we would ever get to “Go fuck yourselves!” uttered by Wolverine in the X-Men: First Class will be “Go to hell!” or “Damn you!” which is not really the same. Movies in Russian also do not contain that much of swear words, the strongest word I remember is of the scale of bitch or damn. No really strong ones are included.

Once I started to think of the reasons for such elimination performed by directors and playwrights, I figured that maybe we indeed use a little bit too much of swear words in our everyday life, and given the fact that movies or books are generally considered separate worlds of their own, we want at least to safeguard these fiction universes from our daily routines. Or maybe the concept of the fact that books and films are being in general considered to be works of art of sorts, and a true artist is somewhat above all routines of everyday life, and are generally considered to be more educated or better brought up.

Here we again come to the question why the usage of swear words is not like that in English books or films, and I think one of the possible answers is general tradition and more freedom given to express oneself. It is generally known that in my country number of restrictions put on people of creative professions is considerably more than in the US or UK.

To sum up, recently I very much enjoyed financial crisis related fiction written by American authors, and was very much amused by the usage of swear words within the text. This fact has given me quite an amount of staff to think about, as I hope it will give you as well.

-Vera Isayeva

     

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Grammys Wardrobe Warning E-mail

The last time I think I watched the Grammys was maybe 12 years ago. I think. I'm very, very particular about the type of music I listen to, and it's safe to say that the music that the Grammys honor is not my usual fare. Basically, they do not reward the artists I listen to and therefore, the point is moot in watching said program. So why am I writing about the Grammys? Well, the network that will broadcast the Grammys, CBS, has sent out an email to the artists who will be performing/attending/presenting, and to their public relations, pleading with them to dress like adults with common sense and decency. As posted at Deadline.com, here is the pitiful plea:

Date: February 5, 2013, 10:39:56 PM EST
Subject: 55th GRAMMYS: Standard And Practice Wardrobe Advisory

-kindly confirm receipt of s&p standards-
***GRAMMYS 2013***
CBS Program Practices advises that all talent appearing on camera please adhere to Network policy concerning wardrobe.
Please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered. Thong type costumes are problematic. Please avoid exposing bare fleshy under curves of the buttocks and buttock crack. Bare sides or under curvature of the breasts is also problematic. Please avoid sheer see-through clothing that could  possibly expose female breast nipples. Please be sure the genital region is adequately covered so that there is no visible “puffy” bare skin exposure. Please avoid commercial identification of actual brand name products on T-shirts. Foreign language on wardrobe will need to be cleared. OBSCENITY OR PARTIALLY SEEN OBSCENITY ON WARDROBE IS UNACCEPTABLE FOR BROADCAST. This as well, pertains to audience members that appear on camera. Finally, The Network requests that any organized cause visibly spelled out on talent’s wardrobe be avoided. This would include lapel pins or any other form of accessory.
It's a sad day when you have to issue a statement to adults who are going to appear life on TV, in front of millions, about how to dress and to keep 'puffy parts' properly hidden. I rolled my eyes so much while reading this that I'm dizzy and my eyes are red from the strain of rolling them too much. The hell?