February 25, 2008

And The Results Are In

I was off, way off. But, like I said, I haven't seen any of the movies. I've been interested in seeing quite a few of them. I would like to see No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood. I usually just wait for them to come out on DVD. We rarely get out to the theater any more. I was so glad that Ratatouille won! Last year, I felt that Cars was robbed when it lost to Happy Feet. I love Pixar films. Each one seems better than the one before it, and that's saying a lot. My picks are in bold type. The winners will be in italics. Bold italics mean I picked right.

BEST PICTURE

Atonement
Juno
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

BEST ACTRESS

Cate Blanchett, "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
Julie Christie, "Away From Her"
Marion Cotillard, "La Vie en Rose"
Laura Linney, "The Savages"
Ellen Page, "Juno"

BEST ACTOR

George Clooney, "Michael Clayton"
Daniel Day-Lewis, "There Will Be Blood"
Johnny Depp, "Sweeney Todd"
Viggo Mortensen, "Eastern Promises"
Tommy Lee Jones, "In the Valley of Elah"

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Cate Blanchett, "I'm Not There"
Ruby Dee, "American Gangster"
Saoirse Ronan, "Atonement"
Amy Ryan, "Gone Baby Gone"
Tilda Swinton, "Michael Clayton"

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Casey Affleck, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
Javier Bardem, "No Country for Old Men"
Hal Holbrook, "Into The Wild"
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Charlie Wilson's War"
Tom Wilkinson, "Michael Clayton"

BEST DIRECTOR

Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood"
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"
Julian Schnabel, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton"
Jason Reitman, "Juno"

BEST ANIMATED FILM

Persepolis
Ratatouille
Surf's Up

Posted by Valkyre at 08:53 AM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2008

My Uneducated Oscar Picks

It's that time of year again. Academy Award time. It has become a blog tradition for me to guess the winners. I really don't use any formula. And, like most of the other years, I haven't seen any of the movies that are up for awards. So, here are my guesses for the main categories. Best picture will be tough, I think it's a toss up between No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood. My choices are the ones in bold type. After tomorrows show, I will see how I did.

BEST PICTURE

Atonement
Juno
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

BEST ACTRESS

Cate Blanchett, "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
Julie Christie, "Away From Her"
Marion Cotillard, "La Vie en Rose"
Laura Linney, "The Savages"
Ellen Page, "Juno"

BEST ACTOR

George Clooney, "Michael Clayton"
Daniel Day-Lewis, "There Will Be Blood"
Johnny Depp, "Sweeney Todd"
Viggo Mortensen, "Eastern Promises"
Tommy Lee Jones, "In the Valley of Elah"

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Cate Blanchett, "I'm Not There"
Ruby Dee, "American Gangster"
Saoirse Ronan, "Atonement"
Amy Ryan, "Gone Baby Gone"
Tilda Swinton, "Michael Clayton"

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Casey Affleck, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
Javier Bardem, "No Country for Old Men"
Hal Holbrook, "Into The Wild"
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Charlie Wilson's War"
Tom Wilkinson, "Michael Clayton"

BEST DIRECTOR

Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood"
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"
Julian Schnabel, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton"
Jason Reitman, "Juno"

BEST ANIMATED FILM

Persepolis
Ratatouille
Surf's Up

Posted by Valkyre at 12:39 AM | Comments (1)

February 19, 2008

Castro Resigns

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Article here

Castro resigns as president, state-run paper reports

HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) -- Fidel Castro announced his resignation as president of Cuba and commander in chief of Cuba's military Tuesday, according to a letter published in the state-run newspaper, Granma.

Fidel Castro, shown in an undated file photo, took power in Cuba in 1959 and reigned with an iron hand.

The resignation ends nearly a half-century of iron-fisted rule that inspired revolutionaries but frustrated 10 U.S. presidents.

Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said the U.S. embargo on Cuba will not be lifted in the near term.

Castro revealed his plans without notice by publishing a letter in the middle of the night in state-run newspaper Granma.

"I will not aspire to, nor will I accept the position of president of the council of state and commander in chief," Castro wrote. "I wish only to fight as a soldier of ideas. ... Perhaps my voice will be heard."

President Bush said Castro's decision ought to spark "a democratic transition" for Cuba.

"The international community should work with the Cuban people to begin to build institutions that are necessary for democracy and eventually this transition ought to lead to free and fair elections," Bush said Tuesday in Rwanda. "The United States will help the people of Cuba realize the blessings of liberty."

Castro received treatment for intestinal problems two years ago and cited his "critical health condition" in the letter published Tuesday. He said "it would be a betrayal to my conscience to accept a responsibility requiring more mobility and dedication than I am physically able to offer."

He also said he realized that he had a duty to prepare Cubans for his absence.

"My wishes have always been to discharge my duties to my last breath," he said. "That's all I can offer."

Cuba's leaders plan to elect a president within days. Castro's brother, Raúl, the country's defense minister, has been named publicly as his successor.

Castro, 81, captured the world's attention at the age of 32, when he led a band of guerrillas who overthrew a corrupt dictatorship in 1959. He went on to become a thorn in Washington's side by embracing communism and cozying up to the Soviet Union.

Castro reigned in Havana with an iron hand, defying a punishing U.S. economic embargo intended to dislodge him.

Castro received treatment for intestinal problems in 2006 and transferred many powers to Raúl, who is generally seen as more pragmatic.

Ordinary Cubans have wondered whether a change in power in Cuba will lead to lower food prices, higher salaries and more freedom to travel.

In Miami, Florida, the news came as no surprise to Janisset Rivero, the executive director of Cuban Democratic Directorate, a group that works with dissidents in Cuba.

"I think there have been preparations taking place for quite a while to assure the crowning of Raúl Castro," she said Tuesday morning. "It doesn't mean any change to the system. It doesn't mean there will be freedom for the Cubans. One big dictator is replacing the other.

"It will be a big deal when political prisoners are released, when political parties are allowed to organize, when the country stops being ruled by a single party."

Polarizing figure

To leftist revolutionaries around the world, Castro, with his ubiquitous military fatigues and fiery oratory, became a hero and patron. But for hundreds of thousands of his countrymen who fled into exile rather than live under his thumb, he became an object of intense hatred.

Castro clung to a socialist economic model and one-party Communist rule, even after the Soviet Union disintegrated and most of the rest of the world concluded that state socialism was a bankrupt idea whose time had come and gone.

"The most vulnerable part of his persona as a politician is precisely his continued defense of a totalitarian model that is the main cause of the hardships, the misery and the unhappiness of the Cuban people," said Elizardo Sanchez, a human rights advocate and critic of the Castro regime.

And yet, his defenders in Cuba point to what they see as social progress made under Castro's revolution, including racial integration and universal education and health care. Instead of communism, they blame the U.S. embargo for the country's economic woes.

"What Fidel achieved in the social order of this country has not been achieved by any poor nation, and even by many rich countries, despite being submitted to enormous pressures," said Jose Ramon Fernandez, a Cuban vice president.

Castro's staying power was a source of irritation to Cuban exiles, who never imagined he would last so long.

"We came here with a round-trip ticket ... because we thought the revolution was going to last days," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Cuban-American elected to Congress, who came to Florida as a child. "And the days turned into weeks, and the weeks to months, and the months to years."

The center of the exile community is Miami, where the Cuban American National Foundation became a powerful lobbying group courted by U.S. politicians. For more than four decades, efforts to lift the embargo against Cuba went nowhere, thanks to political pressure from the exile community.

Although Raúl Castro has been named as his brother's successor, the departure of the charismatic leader whose identity became inseparable from his revolution raises questions of how long his system can survive without him.

"What I think will happen is that we'll see, hopefully in the future, a new set of leaders come with new ideas. And that will be a hopeful day for the Cuban people," Sen. Mel Martinez, a Florida Republican and Cuban émigré, said on CNN's "American Morning."

Road to revolution

Castro was born August 13, 1926, in Oriente Province in eastern Cuba. His father, Angel, was a wealthy landowner originally from Spain; his mother, Lina, had been a maid to Angel's first wife.

Though he grew up in wealthy circumstances, Oriente was a poor area wracked by a peasant rebellion in Fidel Castro's formative years, which is thought to have influenced his political leanings.

Educated in Jesuit schools, Castro earned a law degree from the University of Havana and offered free legal services to the poor. In 1952, at the age of 25, he ran for the Cuban parliament. But just before the election, the government was overthrown by Fulgencio Batista, who established a dictatorship that put Castro on the road to revolution.

In 1953, Castro was one of about 150 fighters who attacked a military barracks in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Batista. The attack made him famous throughout Cuba, but it also earned him a prison sentence.

He was released in 1955 and lived in exile in the United States and Mexico, where he organized a guerrilla group with Raúl Castro and Ernesto "Che" Guevara, an Argentine doctor-turned-revolutionary.

The next year, 81 fighters landed in Cuba. Most were killed; the Castros, Guevara and other survivors fled into the Sierra Maestra Mountains along the southeastern coast, where they waged a guerrilla campaign against the Batista government that finally brought it down in 1959.

Although the United States quickly recognized the new Cuban government, tensions arose after Castro began nationalizing factories and plantations owned by American companies. In January 1961, Washington broke off diplomatic ties.

Less than four months later, a group of CIA-trained Cuban exiles, armed with U.S. weapons, landed at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba in a disastrous attempt to overthrow Castro.

Two weeks after the Bay of Pigs, Castro formally declared Cuba a socialist state.

In October 1962, Cuba became the focus of a tense world crisis after the Soviet Union installed nuclear weapons in the country. President Kennedy demanded that the Soviets remove them and quarantined the island, bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war.

The Soviet Union backed down and removed the weapons.

Through the years, Castro was the target of scores of CIA assassination attempts. He took delight in the fact none of them ever succeeded.

"I have never been afraid of death. I have never been concerned about death," he once said.

As for Castro's private life, he is believed to have fathered eight children with four women. His longtime companion, Dalia Soto del Valle, is the mother of five of his sons. E-mail to a friend

CNN's Morgan Neill contributed to this report.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2008

One Can Never Be Too Careful

Was going through my junk mail pile last night. Came across a Victoria's Secret catalog. I happened to glance down at the mailing label and see it addressed to a "Brittany N Powers". Huh!? Double check to make sure it's the correct address. Yep, our house. Ah, one might think that it could have been whoever owned the house before. Except that Mike bought this house back in 1970. Highly unlikely. I got a little paranoid. What with identity theft going on out there. My sister in law is a victim. I went to Victoria's Secret website and sent them an e-mail. I asked them how this name got affiliated with my address. I also asked them to take my address off of their list. I thought that maybe I overreacted. But, I don't want them to sell their mailing list to other people with that name tied to our address. I'm still waiting for them to get back to me. And, just to be safe, I went to annualcreditreport.com and pulled my Experian report. It checked out clean. I am going to wait a couple of months and pull my next free report from one of the other bureaus.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:09 PM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2008

Which Sports Car Are You?

I told it that I didn't have expensive tastes....


I'm a Lamborghini Murcielago!



You're not subtle, but you don't want to be. Fast, loud, and dramatic, you want people to notice you, and then get out of the way. In a world full of sheep, you're a raging bull.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:49 AM | Comments (2)

February 07, 2008

Heath Ledger: Accidental Overdose

You got to wonder, though. Why did he need all these prescriptions? Was he overprescribed? What a terrible thing to happen.

Article here

Ledger's death caused by accidental overdose

(CNN) -- Heath Ledger died from an accidental overdose of prescription medications including painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs and sleeping pills, the New York City medical examiner's office said Wednesday.

Actor Heath Ledger, 28, died January 22 at an apartment in Lower Manhattan.
more photos »

"Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine," the office said in a short statement.

"We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications."

Hydrocodone and oxycodone are painkillers. Diazepam is an anti-anxiety drug commonly sold under the brand name Valium; alprazolam is also an anti-anxiety drug sold under such names as Xanax. Temazepam, sold under such names as Restoril and Euhypnos, is a sleeping agent. Doxylamine, an antihistamine, can be obtained over the counter as a sleep aid.

Ledger died January 22 at an apartment in Lower Manhattan. The Oscar-nominated Australian actor, best known for his role as a stoic, closeted cowboy in the 2005 film "Brokeback Mountain," was 28. Video Watch why Ledger's death probably was ruled accidental »

Police reported finding several prescription medications in the room but no illegal drugs.

CNN has learned the Drug Enforcement Administration has requested the toxicology and prescription records related to Ledger's death. The DEA requested the records Wednesday from the New York Police Department and the medical examiner's office after the release of the report detailing the cause of death, according to a law enforcement source who asked not to be identified by name or agency because the request concerns an active investigation.

Deadly Combination

Here are the drugs found in Heath Ledger's body:

• Oxycodone -- narcotic/painkiller; trade names: OxyContin, Percodan
• Hydrocodone -- narcotic/painkiller; trade name (combined with acetaminophen): Vicodin
• Diazepam -- anti-anxiety drug; trade name: Valium
• Alprazolam -- anti-anxiety drug; trade name: Xanax
• Doxylamine -- sleep medication; trade name: Unisom
• Temazepam -- sleep medication; trade name: Restoril

The combination of drugs could cause the brain and brain stem to "fall asleep," halting heart and lung function.

Sources: Dr. Gregory Davis, College of American Pathologists; Drugs.com

The DEA confirmed it will look into anything suspicious concerning Ledger's death. "We will investigate any leads in respect to this," DEA spokesman Garrison Courtney said while declining to provide any specifics. "In any case, we look to see whether prescription drugs were illegally obtained or whether it was through proper channels."

An autopsy done on the actor January 23 was inconclusive. Interactive: A look back at Heath Ledger's life »

In a statement released through Ledger's publicist, Ledger's father, Kim, said Wednesday: "While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy. Heath's accidental death serves as a caution to the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage."

The family added, "Families rarely experience the uplifting, warm and massive outpouring of grief and support as have we, from every corner of the planet. This has deeply and profoundly touched our hearts and lives. We are eternally grateful." Read the full statement

Ledger had talked about his difficulty sleeping after back-to-back roles as a Bob Dylan figure in "I'm Not There" and the Joker in "The Dark Knight," part of the "Batman" series that is due out this summer.

"Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night," Ledger told The New York Times in November. "I couldn't stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going."

In the hours leading up to Ledger's death two weeks ago, a housekeeper, identified as Teresa Solomon, arrived at the apartment about 12:30 p.m., a police source with knowledge of the investigation said.

She saw Ledger lying on a bed face down with a sheet pulled up around his shoulders and heard him snoring, the source said.

Masseuse Diana Wolozin arrived at the apartment about 2:45 p.m. to give Ledger a massage, according to the police source. About 15 minutes later, when he had not come out of the bedroom and the door remained closed, she went in, saw him lying in bed and set up a massage table.

She shook Ledger, but he did not respond, so she used his cell phone to call actress Mary-Kate Olsen, a friend of Ledger's, in California, the source said.

Wolozin told Olsen that Ledger was unconscious, according to the police source.

Olsen reportedly told her that she would call private security people in New York.

At 3:26 p.m., Wolozin called 911 and told authorities Ledger was not breathing. While on the phone with dispatchers, Wolozin tried to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Ledger, but he was unresponsive.

Emergency personnel arrived seven minutes later, according to the police source, at about the same time as a private security person summoned by Olsen.

The medical technicians performed CPR on Ledger and used a cardiac defibrillator, but their efforts were in vain and he was pronounced dead at 3:36 p.m. By then, two other private security people summoned by Olsen had arrived as well as police.

His former fiancée, actress Michelle Williams, has asked the public to respect the need for her, the couple's 2-year-old daughter, Matilda, and others "to grieve privately."

"My heart is broken," Williams said in a statement issued last week via her publicist. "I am the mother of the most tender-hearted, high-spirited, beautiful little girl who is the spitting image of her father. All that I can cling to is his presence inside her that reveals itself every day. His family and I watch Matilda as she whispers to trees, hugs animals, and takes steps two at a time, and we know that he is with us still. She will be brought up in the best memories of him."

Condolences poured in from Ledger's friends and co-stars.

"He was a wonderful guy, he was a wonderful actor, he had a wonderful future ahead of him, and I liked him," said actor Eric Roberts, who worked with Ledger in "The Dark Knight."

Colleagues on Terry Gilliam's film "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," which Ledger had been shooting in England, said the actor apparently had been suffering from a respiratory ailment in the days before he died.

Christopher Plummer told Entertainment Weekly that Ledger had a "terrible, lingering bug in London, and he couldn't sleep at all. We all -- I thought he'd probably got walking pneumonia."
advertisement

Ledger's first American film was the teen comedy "10 Things I Hate About You" in 1999. He passed up several scripts before taking a role in the Revolutionary War drama "The Patriot" in 2000 and "A Knight's Tale" in 2001. He also played a supporting role in "Monster's Ball."

But Ledger was perhaps best known for his portrayal of Ennis Del Mar in "Brokeback Mountain," Ang Lee's film about two cowboys who had a secret romantic relationship. The role earned Ledger a best actor Oscar nomination. E-mail to a friend

Posted by Valkyre at 10:04 AM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2008

Touche Lynne!

I just have to post a link to one of Lynne's recent blog entries. She lived out a dream I've always had. Putting a Hummer driver in his place. I would give a million bucks to see his face when she told him off. If these moron's are going to drive these large vehicles, they need to realize their limits and adjust for them. They aren't cars.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:35 PM | Comments (1)