February 29, 2004

My 2004 Oscar Predictions

Since they are starting to walk down the red carpet to the 2004 Academy Awards. I thought I would take the time to make my predictions for the main awards. I will probably be way off and I am thankful that I don't have any money riding on these. I will have all the films/actors/actresses nominated for each category and my picks will be highlighted in red:

Best Picture

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Lost in Translation

Mystic River

Master and Commander: Far Side of the World


Best Director

Fernando Meirelles - City of God

Peter Jackson - The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Sofia Coppola - Lost in Translation

Peter Weir - Master and Commander: Far Side of the World

Clint Eastwood - Mystic River

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Johnny Depp - Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl

Ben Kingsley - House of Sand and Fog

Jude Law - Cold Mountain

Bill Murray - Lost in Translation

Sean Penn - Mystic River

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Keisha Castle-Hughes - Whale Rider

Diane Keaton - Something's Gotta Give

Samantha Morton - In America

Charlize Theron - Monster

Naomi Watts - 21 Grams

Best Actor in the Supporting Role

Alec Baldwin - The Cooler

Benicio Del Toro - 21 Grams

Djimon Hounsou - In America

Tim Robbins - Mystic River

Ken Watanabe - The Last Samurai

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Shohreh Aghdashloo - House of Sand and Fog

Patricia Clarkson - Pieces of April

Marcia Gay Harden - Mystic River

Holly Hunter - Thirteen

Renee Zellweger - Cold Mountain

Posted by Valkyre at 04:38 PM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2004

Finally! All the Christmas Gifts Have Arrived!

I posted back on Christmas Eve that I was still waiting on some gifts. I had sent in two, snail mail, catalog orders to two different companies and hadn't received the items. Nor had they cashed the checks. One of the companies was What On Earth and the other was Catalog Favorites. I sent an e-mail to What On Earth asking if they had any record of my order. I got a "robot" response, stating that I would get a response from a customer service representative in 24 hours. I never did.... I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. I figured that it was probably just too close to Christmas and I shouldn't expect to get a response on Christmas Eve. However, after Christmas, I still didn't get any response. I also tried sending an e-mail to Catalog Favorites, after Christmas, and didn't get anything from them. Not even an "auto" e-mail. I tried sending another e-mail to What On Earth. Again, the promise of a 24 hour response, and again, nothing. At that point, I figured that both orders, and checks must be lost in postal neverland. I redid the order for What On Earth and put it on my credit card. This was on January 5th, 2004. On January 6th, I finally received an e-mail response from their customer service rep' who apologized for taking so long to get back to me. They never received my catalog order, but she did see that I had re-ordered everything and put it on my credit card. And, I'm not sure which e-mail she was responding to. The one on December 23rd? Or the one I sent on December 29th?

Now, this is where it gets fun, yet again. The main item, the one thing I wanted the most from What On Earth, was a Dragon Rug. This was going to be the "main Christmas gift" for our youngest daughter, Teresa. They had every item, in stock, that I re-ordered, except the Dragon Rug. When I filled out the order form, it said that it was on backorder, and their supplier would ship some out on January 7th. I re-did the order on January 5th. So, I figured I would only have to wait a couple of days. However, when I got an e-mail verification of the order, it said that "due to the popularity of the Dragon Rug, etc., it is back-ordered until February. Shit! I got the other items, okay. But, every time I checked on my order status, the Dragon Rug was always on "active backorder". I was hoping for a more definite date. So again, I write customer service. And again, I get the robot e-mail telling me I will get a response in 24 hours. And again, I didn't. However, I did receive a card in the mail telling me that the Dragon Rug will be shipped on February 22nd. If I didn't want to wait that long, I was to send the card back and they would cancel the order. If I wanted to wait, I didn't need to do anything. I still wanted the rug, so I didn't send the card back. The next day, I finally got a response via e-mail from customer service stating almost the exact same thing that the card I got via snail mail. They wanted me to verify whether or not I still want the Dragon Rug. Yes!!! Yes!!! Yes!!! While all this is happening, I decided to re-order the items I was planning on buying from Catalog Favorites. The main item, was to be Mike's Christmas gift. It was a triangular display that holds a folded coffin flag. His dad was a Detroit Police Officer. He died while still on active duty. Mike had the neatly folded flag that was draped on his father's coffin. I didn't like the fact that it was tucked away hidden. I liked the idea of the display. It had a brass plate that went with it. I asked to have his father's name, his date of birth and date of death put on it. I was going to re-order from Catalog Favorites, online and put it on my credit card. However, I was leafing through yet another catalog, Harriet Carter, and I saw another flag display case that was even better. I even had my choice of type of wood. I picked oak. That came, about 2 1/2 weeks after Christmas, but Mike still loved it. Anyway, finally, the Dragon Rug came yesterday. That was the last item I was waiting for. It is really gorgeous and was worth the wait. Teresa just loves medieval Dragons.

Posted by Valkyre at 09:26 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2004

Stepping Out in Style

Amanda, our "middlest" (16 years old) got invited to a birthday party. This one was very unique, as you can see. A nice stretch limo picked her up. The "party" turned out to be a scavenger hunt. Around Hollywood! They went to various landmarks around Hollywood. One of them, was the Grauman's Chinese Theatre. They had to look for certain movie stars footprints in the concrete outside, etc. All in all, they had a blast. Geez! Parties have changed since I was a kid.

Posted by Valkyre at 09:39 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2004

What Book Are You?

You're The Dictionary!

by Merriam-Webster

You're one of those know-it-all types, with an amazing amount of knowledge at your command. People really enjoy spending time with you in very short spurts, but hanging out with you for a long time tends to bore them. When folks really need an authority to refer to, however, you're the one they seek. You're an exceptional speller and very well organized.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Posted by Valkyre at 05:50 PM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2004

The Talented Mr. Ripley

Another one from my rental queue. I watched this last night. I really liked it. Again, since I'm so bad at writing about movie plots, I will post description from Amazon's site:

"I feel like I've been handed a new life," says Tom Ripley at a crucial turning point of this well-cast, stylishly crafted psychological thriller. And indeed he has, because the devious, impoverished Ripley (played with subtle depth by Matt Damon) has just traded his own identity for that of Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law), the playboy heir to a shipping fortune who has become Ripley's model for a life worth living. Having been sent by Dickie's father to retrieve the errant son from Italy, Ripley has smoothly ingratiated himself with Dickey and his lovely, unsuspecting fiancée, Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow). In due course, the sheer evil of Ripley's amoral scheme will be revealed.

Superbly adapted from the acclaimed novel by Patricia Highsmith (also the basis of the acclaimed French version, Purple Noon), The Talented Mr. Ripley is writer-director Anthony Minghella's impressive follow-up to his Oscar-winning triumph The English Patient. Re-creating late-1950s Italy in exacting detail, the film captures the sensuousness of la dolce vita while suspensefully developing the fracturing of Ripley's mind as his crimes grow increasingly desperate. And where Hitchcock was necessarily discreet with the homosexual subtext of Highsmith's Strangers on a Train, Minghella brings it out of the closet, increasing the dramatic tension and complexity of Ripley's psychological breakdown. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Cate Blanchett are excellent in pivotal supporting roles, and the film's final image is utterly effective: Ripley's talents have gone too far, and this study of class distinction, obsession, and deadly desire reaches a disturbing yet richly appropriate conclusion. --Jeff Shannon --

Posted by Valkyre at 07:58 AM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2004

Missed Me By That Much

So, last night, I am driving home from work. I approach this intersection that I have driven through many, many times. I have the green light. It had been green for quite awhile. In fact, you can see by the diagram, that there is an eastbound car who was already sitting at the red light, waiting for it to change. I am heading north. I can't see what's to the east as there is a chain link fence around the cemetery with some ivy, or similar growing in it. However, I can see the glare from someone's headlights on the asphalt moving quite rapidly westbound towards the red. This made me somewhat uncomfortable. I figured it was just an asshat who was approaching his stop way too fast. I figured that they would stop in time. I still took precautions, though. Like, I removed my foot from the accelerator and had it hovering over the brake. As I started to enter the intersection, I now noticed that this particular car was moving! It looked like around 60+ mph. At this time, he was also about 20-25 feet from the intersection and was showing no signs of stopping. I stomped on the brake pedal. This is the first vehicle I have ever owned with the ABS brakes. I was waiting for the horrid screech of tires, the uncontrolled slide, and the anticipation of the impact. But, low and behold! There was none of that. The car stopped! I can't explain it. But, there was no skidding, no uncontrolled slide. No fishtailing. The little bugger stopped. And, it stopped well back from the path of this asshat, just in case he blew the light. But, this mental reject suddenly noticed, either the red light, or my car stopped in the intersection and stood on his brakes. His car slid well beyond the limit line and into the intersection. But, like I said, I was safely back a distance, silently thanking VW for all the safety features on my little car. Asshat, actually backed his car up behind the limit line and I noticed a ton of smoke coming from his tires in the glare of his headlight beams. I tried to drive forward, only to realize that as I slammed on the brakes, I neglected to push in the clutch. The car had stalled. After, nervously starting it up again, (for some odd reason, I had this fear that it would not start), I managed to clear the intersection and continue home. I was a nervous wreck and kept making mistakes as I drove him. But, I finally made it.

Posted by Valkyre at 06:37 PM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2004

Napoleon - January, 1997 to February 14th, 2004

Woke up this morning to find that our parakeet, Napoleon was dead. His nickname was "Mr. 'Tude", as he had an "attitude". I love animals with attitude. January 1997, was when we brought him home from the pet store. I don't know how old he already was when we bought him. I just love the picture of him posted above. He always loved to share what one was eating. Our oldest daughter, Helena, is eating a tuna melt in this picture. Napoleon perched on her hand, so he could share it. Seven plus years is a good long life for a parakeet. I will miss him.

Posted by Valkyre at 08:11 AM | Comments (1)

February 07, 2004

It's Going to Be a Long Day

I can't remember the last time I woke up voluntarily at 4:30am. And, I really can't remember the last time I woke up voluntarily at 4:40am on a Saturday! I actually woke up at 4:28am. I looked at the clock, hoping that maybe it was around 3:00am or so, and I could get another hour and a half of sleep. But, no...... 4:28am. I only had two minutes. I laid there waiting for the alarm to go off. It seems like it was only 2 seconds later. I get out of bed, and go wake up my daughter Amanda. She is part of her school's Academic Decathalon team. Today is the "Super Quiz". A competition among other schools in the district to see who is going to go on to the state competition. Their coach wanted them to meet in front of the school at 6:30am. We also volunteered to pick up a friend, and teammate, of Amanda's named Elise. Elise suggested that we go out to breakfast before we go to the school. Hence, the 4:30am wake up time. Up at 4:30am, 20 minutes to dress and out the door at 4:50am.

I figured at this time of morning, especially on a Saturday, that we would have the roads to ourselves. Was I ever wrong. There were quite a bit of people up and about already. The thermometer in my car said it was 44 degrees outside, and I felt sorry for the poor people who were waiting for the buses. (I know, I know, all you back east people, 44 degrees is damn near tropical to you. But, for us wussy southern Californians, it is cold!) We picked up Elise at 5:10am and went to Norm's for breakfast. It's a small chain around Southern California. I commited a major sin and had some coffee. I had quit coffee back when I started this job back in June, 2003. But, I felt that there was no way I would be able to make it through today, without some kind of pick-me-up. I usually drink my coffee back, but the shit they served me at this restaurant didn't taste anything like the good old Columbian coffee I am used to drinking at home. This tasted like motor oil with bits of engine in it. So, I added some cream and sugar just to take the nasty bitter bite off. Thank goodness the restaurant was near empty, as for some reason, we were all really giggly. Probably from just being tired. I ordered what they called a "country" omelette. Other places refer to it as a "Denver" omelette. It came with hash browns and my choice of toast, muffin or biscuits and gravy. I chose the biscuits and gravy. I also ordered a glass of orange juice. I finished the omelette and hash browns, but gave the biscuits and gravy to Amanda. I really didn't want them and I figured she could use them more than me, to help give her energy for the competition. I dropped them off at the school. We were first ones there. I waited around until the coach came. Almost all their team was there on time, except for one kid. They called his house at 6:50am and woke him up! They piled into the vehicles that will take them to the competition. I gave Amanda, and Elise, goodbye hugs and wished them luck. As I was leaving, I noticed a car barreling into the parking lot, and I figured that must belong to the parents of the late kid. So, here I am, home now. Killing time before I have to go to work. The coffee didn't really seem to help. I am still groggy. I am dreading a long day at work. Dragging myself around. Oh well, I might update later, to let you know how the rest of the day went.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:31 AM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2004

Ocean's Eleven

They have a satellite dish at the house where I work. I came in at lunch and Ocean's Eleven was on. This, of course, is the more recent version. The original was made in 1960 and starred Frank Sinatra and the rest of the "Rat Pack". I actually came in when it was halfway over, but managed to catch the last hour. My lunch break is usually only about half an hour, but I was getting into this movie, so I stretched it out another 15 minutes or so. I started to get up to go back to work, but the owner's daughters told me that there was only about 20 minutes left in the movie. So, even though it would make me get home late, I watched the rest. I really liked it. It's on my rental queue over on Netflix. It's been there for awhile. I will get it eventually and watch it again.

Posted by Valkyre at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2004

Janet Jackson's Boob and Mortgage Rates

Somehow, these two things are linked. I haven't figured it out yet.... What am I talking about? Well, as I was driving home last night, the DJ's, on my local radio station, mentioned an incident during the Super Bowl halftime show. It seems that Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake were singing in some kind of duet. She was wearing some little bra thing. After the song was over, Justin reached over and ripped the little bra thing off of Janet, exposing one of her boobs for everyone at the Super Bowl game, and those who were watching the game on TV to see. Fortunately, she was wearing a pasty, so I guess everyone didn't see everything. At the time, no one knows if this was staged or what. Anyway, after I heard this, I thought to myself, "Here we go, my e-mail will now be clogged with spam links to see Janet's boob." I expected to see hundreds of e-mails about it the next day (today). At least, maybe this would stop the hundreds of spam e-mail links I have been receiving for the "Paris Hilton Sex Video!!!!" But no, I pull up in front of the house, go inside, get on the computer and see that my e-mail is clogged with about 20 spam e-mails announcing, "See Janet's boob!", "See Janet's tit!", "Did you see Janet's tit at the Super Bowl!?" This wasn't but about 20 minutes after the incident. I click on the first one to start deleting them. I will click on the first one, highlight it, and then hit the "shift" key and click on the last one. That will highlight all 20 and I can delete them at once. Anyway, as I click on the first one, I happened to notice that even though the subject promised me "Janet Jackson's Super Bowl tit!", the actual message was concerning falling mortgage interest rates. Curiousity getting the best of me, I clicked through and looked at the other 19 e-mails. They too, were the same thing, boasting about getting me low interest rates if I re-finance my mortgage through them. Obviously, it was a gimmick to get me to look at their stupid e-mail. But, I kept thinking, "Maybe there is a link between the two incidents!" And yes, I figured it out. The mortgage rates dropped just about as fast as Janet's boob did when good ol' Justin yanked her bra off.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:39 PM | Comments (0)

February 01, 2004

In Memory of Space Shuttle Columbia

This is dedicated to the Columbia Space Shuttle and her crew which were lost a year ago, on this day:

February 1, 2003

Rick D. Husband, Commander

William C. McCool, Pilot

Michael P. Anderson, Payload Commander

David M. Brown, Mission Specialist 1

Kalpana Chawla, Mission Specialist 2

Laurel Blair Salton Clark, Mission Specialist 4

Ilan Ramon, Payload Specialist 1

It's hard to believe that it has been a year.

Posted by Valkyre at 08:30 PM | Comments (0)