Monday, February 28, 2011

Movie Monday - 2/28/2011

The Academy Awards have come and gone.  What remains are all the recaps of the fashions, the acceptance speeches, the awards and the overall experience.  While I've seen better hosts in years past, I am a little surprised by the negative appraisals I have read about James Franco and Ann Hathaway's turns at hosting.  True, there wasn't much chemistry between the two of them, but they weren't that bad.  Besides, I was focused on finding out who won in each of the twenty-four categories.  The other stuff leading up to each announcement doesn't really make much difference to me. 

Now, I'll just go back to watching movies without that urgency of having to see as many movies as I can from October to December, until the nominations are announced in late January to see if there were any I haven't seen.

In that regard, here is this week's installment of Movie Monday:

Amreeka is the story of a Palestinian divorcee who brings her teenager to America in search of a better life. Back home, she worked as a bank manager, but in the US, all she could find was a job at the local White Castle. It was really cute.

The Maid, in Spanish with English subtitles, is about a family who has had the same housekeeper for over twenty years. For various reasons, the family tries to hire more help and she feels threatened. The housekeeper makes it difficult for the new hires. It’s a bit of a dark comedy. It was alright.

Gomorrah is an adaptation of a non-fiction book by Roberto Saviano, about the Camorra crime family in Naples. The group infiltrates all socio-economic levels with international presence. The movie portrays the characters and situations without glamorizing them. It was violent and scary. While interesting to learn about these types of real-life activities, it takes a certain level of intestinal fortitude to watch this film.

Cleo from 5 to 7 is a little subtitled French film from the early 1960s that I streamed on the iPad. It is about a singer named Cleo (whose real name we come to find out is Florence), who spends the two hours between five and seven in the evening waiting for the results of her biopsy. She runs the gamut of emotions while she spends this time getting a Tarot reading, singing new music, having a coffee with a friend, shopping and finally walking the streets of Paris to fill the time. It was cute.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was adapted from the children’s book of the same name. It’s about a nerdy kid who grows up to be an inventor. One day, when the town runs out of food, he invents a machine that makes clouds rain any food that is requested. Soon the machine takes on a life of its own, and it is up to him and his friend, a smart weather girl, to save the town. It was pretty cute.

Until next time...

MK out.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Let's Get This Party Started!

The munchies are ready and my spot on the couch is saved.  It's time to divulge my Oscar picks:

There were very good performances this year in the Best Supporting Actor category.  I think Christian Bale will win for The Fighter, because it was a stand out role.  It's interesting that the crazy characters garner more nominations, and Bale's portrayal of Dicky Eklund was so entertaining to watch.  Geoffrey Rush is my close second in The King's Speech.   

In the Best Supporting Actress category, my pick is Melissa Leo in The Fighter.  Hailee Steinfeld was awesome in True Grit, but again, that crazy character that Leo played was a standout performance.  Amy Adams, also nominated in The Fighter as Micky Ward's girlfriend was very good, too.

In the Best Actor category, I really liked Colin Firth in The King's Speech.  Javier Bardem was also good in Biutiful.  Jeff Bridges was good, but his performance was similar to his role in Crazy Hearts, for which he won Best Actor last year.

All the ladies nominated for Best Actress did great jobs in their roles, but I have to pick Natalie Portman in Black Swan with Nicole Kidman coming in second for Rabbit Hole.  Again, it's that crazy character factor.  What is it?  Are those roles just really fun to play and actors just take them and run with them?  I don't know.

Finally, I think The King's Speech will probably win for Best Picture, and while it is a very good film and I enjoyed it immensely, I was more entertained by The Fighter (with True Grit coming very closely behind).

Y'all enjoy the show!

MK out.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Special Edition Movie Post

The Academy Awards are set for Sunday night.  I can't wait.  This week, I've seen two more movies that will round out my Oscar experience:

In Animal Kingdom , Jackie Weaver was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the matriarch of a mid-level crime family.  She did a good job playing the cold and calculating mother of a group of thugs.  When her grandson comes to live with her, after her daughter dies from a drug overdose, the kid soon has to choose between the law and his murdering, thieving, drug-dealing flesh and blood.  It was pretty good.

I liked The Town much more than I thought I would.  It is based on the novel Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan.  Ben Affleck directed, helped adapt the screenplay and starred in this film about a group of bank robbers in Charlestown, MA.  He falls for a former hostage, played by Rebecca Hall, that the gang took during a heist.  Jeremy Renner was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a volatile member of the group.  It was good.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled activities.

MK out.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WIP Wednesday - 2/23/2011

Greetings from Chez Merry Karma.

I woke up to a cloudy day today and snapped a couple of quick pics of the projects that are currently on the front burner.  I had to dash to work, so haven't had a chance to post until now.

First, we have the Lux Scarf, made out of Buffalo Gold's beautiful yarn named Lux - hence my original name for the project.  As you may recall, I had finished it back in October and as I was about to soak it prior to blocking, I noticed a couple of stitches that were awfully wonky.  I thought about letting it go, but put the scarf in time out until I had the fortitude to rip back almost half the scarf to start knitting it again.  I did first rip back to the point where I could just unravel those stitches down to the mistake and then use a crochet hook to ravel them back up...but I wasn't happy with the results; so, I just frogged it the rest of the way and started knitting it back up.  I don't really mind.  I like knitting with this stuff.  It is made with bison, cashmere, silk and tencel...lovely stuff.  I may finish it tonight:

Secondly, I am almost to the foot expansion of the February 2011 socks.  I am making the Simple Master Coriolis Pattern out of Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters: Book One, and am using Koigu:

I think I'll go knit now.

MK out.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ten on Tuesday - 2/22/2011

Last year, the Academy expanded the nomination field for Best Picture from five films to ten, however, of the pool, it was hard to figure five that deserved the nomination.  This year, I feel that more of the ten movies nominated are Oscar worthy.  A look at past nominations reveals that years ago, the number changed from as few as three to as many as ten.  I have an idea for the Academy...instead of scrambling to come up with ten movies each year, why not change the rule to "up to ten" nominees?

This week's Merry Karma ToT topic is Ten (plus one) Movies That Could Have Won Best Picture.

I looked at the list of nominated movies throughout the years, and from the late 1930s to the mid 1990s, just about every picture nominated each year is a classic, and could have won.  It is a difficult choice to make, but I will list ten movies that could have won, in no particular order:

1.  The Queen, (2006) - The Departed won that year - a horrifically violent movie with cops double-crossing cops...bleh. Helen Mirren did an outstanding job portraying QEII.  The story, set around the time that Tony Blair took office as Prime Minister and Princess Diana was killed, was enchanting.
2.  Little Miss Sunshine, (2006) - (see above) - This movie was a little quirky, but it was funny and intelligent in it's humor.  A little girl wants to compete in a beauty pageant, and her family joins in to help her.
3.  Shine, (1996) - This biopic is based on the life of David Helfgott, a piano prodigy who was driven to a nervous breakdown. Geoffrey Rush won Best Actor for his portrayal of Helfgott., and it was well deserved.
4.  The Green Mile, (1999) - Set in a prison, this movie is about an inmate with special powers that lead his wardens to wonder if he could have committed the crimes of which he is accused.
5.  The Sixth Sense, (1999) - Little Haley Joel Osment sees dead people...what's not to like?  This movie had everyone hooked in for the big surprise. 
6.  Fargo, (1996) - OMG, this movie is the epitome of quirk and I can watch it over and over again.  William H Macy plays a car salesman whose scam is thwarted by his boss/father-in-law.  In order to raise some money to cover his tracks, he hires some thugs to kidnap his wife for the ransom, making things go from bad to worse.  Frances McDormand plays the pregnant police chief who is hot on the trail.  She won Best Actress for this plumb part.
7.  The Shawshank Redemption, (1994) - Great movie based on the Stephen King book about a man convicted of two murders that he didn't commit and his life behind bars. 
8.  Pulp Fiction, (1994) - Three stories are intertwined in this highly stylized and violent story that takes place over a short period of time.  Who can forget John Travolta and Uma Thurman in that dance scene?
9.  The Color Purple, (1985) - Whoopi Goldberg was nominated for Best Actress in this film about a woman who was kept down by the men in her life until one day she had just had about enough. 
10.  The Big Chill, (1983) - College friends get together for the funeral of one of their own and discover that they've grown up (just a little).
11.  E.T. the Extraterrestial, (1982) - Everyone knows the classic line, "E.T., phone home."

There are dozens more I can add to my list, but these are a start.

MK out.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Movie Monday - 2/21/2011

The Illusionist is a sweet little animated movie about an aging magician having a hard time getting good gigs.  He meets a young girl in a small village who decides she needs to become his traveling companion, believing that his magic is some sort of supernatural power.  And so, the two start a sort of father/daughter relationship.  This movie was inked by the same illustrators as The Triplets of Belleville.  I thought this film was not as entertaining as Triplets, but it was cute.

Toy Story 3 is another incarnation of the adventures of a group of toys whose children grow up and pass them along to another group of kids.  Tom Hanks, Joan Cusack, Tim Allen, Michael Keaton, Ned Beatty, Bonnie Hunt, Don Rickles and Estelle Harris are among the actors who lent their voices to the characters in this animated film that has been nominated for Best Picture, as well as Best Animated Picture.  It was cute, but not Best Picture material...Best Animated Picture - you bet!

Sorry so short, but my duties call....

MK out.

Friday, February 18, 2011

FO Friday - 2/18/2011


It's Friday!!!

I have to dig out an old FO, because it has been an eventful week, but not in the knitting arena at Chez Merry Karma.

I made this poncho in about 2004.  You can find the pattern at the YarnHarlot's blog.  (Just click on A Very Harlot Poncho under Patterns on the right side-bar.)  I used Paton's Katrina yarn in black.  The yarn is okay, but it is stretchy, and I'm not sure that I like my poncho to be stretchy.  Oh and learn.

Have a good weekend...

MK out.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Ode (More of a Lament) to the Colonoscopy

O dear Colonoscopy,
We truly are thankful for thee.

It may not be the best way to spend the day,
But it helps keep colon cancer away.

In my line of work, I schedule patients for colonoscopies almost daily. I warn them that the worst part of the whole thing is the day before - the prep day. Of course, I was coming from the "I can only imagine" viewpoint.

Imagine a day in which you are limited to a clear liquid diet. What is a clear liquid diet? It consists of anything that is clear and liquid...simple. Oh, there are lots of things you can consume - clear broths, jello, water, tea or coffee without milk, sodas, fruit juices without pulp, and sport drinks - but nothing red or purple and no alcohol.  Boring, but doable...

I got up in the morning and started getting ready for the day. I showered and dressed and took my morning pills. "Wow! It's going great so far....I'm not even hungry," thinks the girl who never eats breakfast anyway.

As I prepared coffee for my mom, I thought, "Coffee sure smells good," and then I reminded myself that one day of restrictions is way easier than giving up something for Lent. Plus, I don't drink coffee anyway.

So, I went about my business, but as the day went on, I noticed that smells were so tantalizing. E.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g smelled so good. Luckily, the broth helped my hunger pangs somewhat, and I tried to drink as many sports drinks and glasses of water as possible.

Then, there's the bowel prep thing. I will spare you the details, but for your information I didn't use anything with the word "lytely" in it. If that is a marketing tool, it is definitely false advertising.

Today, I showed up for my appointment all prepared. The nurse gave me my gown, I changed, she started my IV, I was wheeled into the endoscopy suite, I met the doctor, I was listening to the conversations and the next thing I knew, I awoke and it was over.

It was easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy.

I learned three things from this ordeal:
1. A quick way to lose two pounds in a day and a half is to eat a clear liquid diet and consume 60 oz of colon prep.
2. Baby wipes are your friend.
3. Courtesy of The Husb: Don't trust the farts.

This PSA was brought to you to remind everyone over fifty to have a screening colonoscopy. If there is someone in your family who has had colon cancer, talk to your doctor, you may need to have one sooner.

MK out.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

WIP Wednesday - 2/16/2011

Dear Internets,

Merry Karma is very tired.  She has been giving care to her momma who has a stress fracture in her hip.  She is feeling overwhelmed...There is so much to do, but all she wants to do is


Yes, People...I just want to run away from home and spend my time either staring at a blank wall or knitting.

I have just half the month of February to go, and the other day - Sunday, to be exact - I realized that I hadn't started my self-imposed-sock-club socks for the month.  So, I pulled out the book and the yarn and the needles and started reading.

Cat Bordhi is a marvelous teacher and a very innovative designer.  Her books are well written, and even though a tiny bit of math and measuring is involved, I just.could.not.find five minutes to myself to sit down long enough and figure out my master numbers to start knitting my sock!

What did I do instead of organizing and starting those socks?  Well, when I am feeling overwhelmed, I tend to slip into ADD mode, because it is so hard for me to concentrate.  I started the little sweater on the February Knitting To Do List, but as you can see, I haven't gotten very far on that one:

What are you working on today?

MK out.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

There are some blogs out there that have a regular feature called Ten on Tuesday every week.  One girl is a knitter.  She comes up with a topic and she has a group of people who subscribe to her ToT feature, who in turn post their topic lists on their blogs.

Last week, the topic was Ten Favorite Oscar Winning Films.  I had already written my pales-in-comparison Tuesday post, which was a lame Two for Tuesday missive with four pictures...but I did only talk about two things - my trip and the weather - so, deal with it. 

I'm going to use this last week's topic and run with it over the next couple of weeks.  Today, I will list my Ten Favorite Best Picture year order:

1.  Gone With the Wind (1939).  I first read this book when I was in middle school and reread it about a dozen times before I got to college.  The movie was a wonderful adaptation of the book.  Of course, I wanted to be Scarlett.
2.  Rebecca (1940).  Being a second wife is not always easy.
3.  All About Eve (1950).  It just goes to show you that someone younger, prettier and stronger always comes along.  Bette Davis and Anne Baxter were both nominated for Best Actress in this movie.
4.  The Sting (1973).  Robert Redford and Paul Newman (especially) were such eye candy in those days.
5.  Kramer vs. Kramer (1979).  That was back when women could have it all.  Well, I know that we can have it all, but these days, we don't necessarily want it...
6.  Amadeus (1984).  The sets!!!  The costumes!!!  It was a pretty film to watch.
7.  Rain Man (1988).  Such an interesting story, and Dustin Hoffman was incredible in it.
8.  American Beauty (1999).  What a put upon person that Kevin Spacey character was...This movie was a little quirky; so, you know I had to like it.
9.  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). - The Kid and I agree that Orlando Bloom looks better as an elf, and I think Viggo Mortensen needs those long hairs to look his best.
10. Slumdog Millionaire (2008).  It was an endearing story.

So, there you have my list.  What about you?

MK out.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Movie Monday - 2/14/2011

Happy Valentine's Day internets!!!  I hope you and your sweetheart have something fun planned for today.  At Chez Merry Karma, we are going to have a family dinner with heart shaped cookies and cupcakes - and some brownies thrown in for good measure.  I think the VD cupid might have a couple of little treats that might involve candy or something...


It was another slow movie-watching week at the Merry Karma house, but I do have a few flicks about which to comment:

The Runaways, starring Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart, is about the 1970s band with the same name. Cherie Currie (Fanning) and Joan Jett (Stewart), along with Lita Ford and Sandy West were teenagers when they started the band under the direction of their abusive manager Kim Fowley, (Michael Shannon). Dakota did a great job. Kristen did alright. The movie showed all the seedy and inappropriate part of the business to which these kids were exposed. I guess they came through it all okay. Joan Jett is still out there performing. Cherie Currie is a chainsaw artist. She really is quite talented, but what a dangerous medium! Overall, it was alright.

It Might Get Loud is a really neat documentary looking at three of the best rock-n-roll guitarists of our time. Jimmy Page, the Edge and Jack White come together at the end in a jam session that is quite entertaining – The three have their own distinctive styles, but how they each got to this point is interestingly similar. Starting out, each artist was trying to rebel against the going style of the day to find a new voice…and I think each succeeded. I am very fascinated by the creative process and I thoroughly enjoyed this film.

The Invention of Lying is about a world where everyone tells the truth…until one day, one person doesn’t. Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, Tina Fey and lots of others star in this predictable little film. It was cute.

Y'all have a good one!

MK out.

Friday, February 11, 2011

FO Friday - 2/11/2011

It's two-eleven-two-oh-eleven...just thought I'd share.

I realize it is not quite Valentine's Day, but Older Son is visiting and we thought we would practice making some sugar cookies.  I posted a picture of them yesterday.  I have a lo-o-o-ng way to go to get to SugarBelle's level; so, she shouldn't worry.  This girl is phenomenally talented when it comes to making decorated cookies.  I know her momma from one of my knitting groups.  Her momma is pretty talented too - at writing and at knitting. 

Had to take my momma to the doctor yesterday and luckily, I brought some knitting.  I do think ahead at times...really. I worked on the gold linen wash cloth and started another in green using a plainer pattern, cause I needed something more automatic.  I am at the point of the Lacy Top where a little concentration is needed; so, I didn't want to bring that along to the doctor's office.  Good thing, cause the waiting room was full and just about everyone was on their cell phones.  It amazes me the (should be) private conversations people have in a public place.  Some were teetering quite close to the brink of the TMI category.

I do have some FOs to share though...with an inadequate picture, at that.  Sorry.  On the trip, since I couldn't finish the top, I made some hats for a charity project in which one of my knitting friends is participating.  I had packed some yarn for other projects...There's that thinking ahead thing again...

I used Berroco Comfort and Ella Rae Amity that were leftovers from other hat projects.  I adapted a pattern for the one on the top and just made up the other two.

MK out.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

WIP Wednesday - 2/9/2011

Another snow day has crippled the city...

I think my friends in Canada are laughing at us down here in Tey-has.

Since I won't be going down my driveway anytime soon, I'll show you what I am going to work on today.

First, we have the lacy top that I wanted to finish by the end of last month.  Since I left for our trip without extra skeins of yarn in which to complete the project, it isn't quite finished...but close.

Oh, so close:

I've started a wash cloth out of the 100% linen Louet Euroflax Sport Weight.  I am using a feather and fan pattern from the book Knitter's Stash. There are seven other patterns in the book, and I will have to decide which others to use:

Finally, the scrap blanky in its current state:

On days like today, having lots of yarn around is a good thing.

Oh...and one more thing.  While I think it's a catchy tune, and Aggieland was represented, I have a little bone to pick with Jack Ingram.  He didn't mention The Jewel of the Gulf, (aka my island isla bonita...The G) in his little ditty

Get a rope!

MK out.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Two for Tuesday...

1.  Last week, we missed Ice-and-Snow-maggedon because we were on the west coast.  I think it was the only place in the country that wasn't having too much weather.

In fact, it was beautiful out there.

A complete rainbow:

Two-fisted drinker:

I could not capture accurately the icy blue-green color in the top of the waves:

2.  There's just a little snow left around my house - mostly on the north side and under the bushes.  Otherwise, today was beautiful here.

It's supposed to snow again overnight.  That should make tomorrow fun.  I wonder if the schools have already decided to close.

MK out.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Movie Monday - 2/7/2011

Hey, hey, hey....How is everyone today? 

Can y'all believe the weather last week?  Kids around here had four days off from school.  The Husb and I were on a trip on the west coast; so, we missed all the hoopla.  I am hearing rumors that more weather may be in store for us this week.  Here's hoping...

When one drives from Tejas to the west coast, there is ample iPad-streaming movie time.  I did identify two limiting factors:  1.  It is better to watch when it is darkish...the sun really adds that glare dimension to the screen.  2.  3G works great when there are cell towers nearby...but if not...(Can you say "Mojave Desert?")  And cell towers on the AT&T network....well...(Can you say "I love Verizon?")

What I watched:

Solitary Man, starring Michael Douglas, is a study of how actions have consequences. Douglas plays Ben Kalmen, a former very successful businessman who used to have it all. He had gone to the doctor one day and instead of having further tests to investigate an abnormality that his doctor saw, he chose to ignore it and assumed that he didn’t really have much time left. Further, he decided that he would live out the rest of his life by acting on his impulses, which caused him to lose everything. Susan Sarandon, Mary-Louise Parker and Danny DeVito also star in this film. The last scene determines if you are a cynic or a romantic. It was good.

Patricia Clarkson, Danny Glover, John Cena and Devon Graye star in Legendary. Cal is tired of being bullied at school and joins the wrestling team. He uses his participation to try to reunite his mother (Clarkson) with his older brother, Mike (Cena), who left home after their father was killed in an automobile collision. Mike was quite the wrestling star in high school and college; so Cal goes after him to get some training. It was predictable, but sweet.

In The Pope’s Toilet, Beto makes his living smuggling goods across the Brazilian border to Uruguay. It is 1988 and the Pope is set to visit his small town. His friends and neighbors take out loans to set up stands to feed the estimated throngs of people expected to travel to see the Pope, but Beto has a better idea. All these people eating and drinking will soon need a place to go to the bathroom; so, he sets out to build the perfect enclosed outhouse.  He intends to charge a fee and make his fortune. The movie, in Spanish with English subtitles, was not as funny as the name or the premise may imply, but it was good.

The Art of the Steal is an interesting documentary about the art collection of Albert Barnes, a physician who became a millionaire in the pharmaceutical industry in the early part of the 20th Century. With his money, he started collecting Post-Impressionist paintings that were collectively worth billions at the time of his death in 1951. Because he didn’t have much regard for the Philadelphia elite and art snobs, he started the Barnes Foundation to keep his collection private. When he died, he thought he had an iron-clad will that prevented the sale, loan or otherwise removal of the art from the Foundation’s walls. He also thought he had chosen the right custodian for the Foundation. It really exposed the greed and political shenanigans that resulted in the violation of his wishes.

Paris, starring Juliette Binoche and Romaine Duris, is about two siblings who turn to each other (in a non-sexual way) when he finds out he has a heart condition and must alter his lifestyle, and she, being a single mother, is tired of being alone. There are several characters in this movie, in French with English subtitles, whose lives are interconnected. It was alright.

While in San Fran, we were able to catch a movie at the Sundance Kabuki Theater.  I appreciated their feature of allowing you to pick your seats.  That was a special touch.  I think it would come in handy if the film was really popular or if you wanted to see it at a busy time.  (Did you hear that Angelika?)

Biutiful is a dark film starring Javier Bardem. In Spanish with English subtitles, this movie is set in Barcelona, Spain. Bardem plays Uxbal, a divorced father, who finds out that he has terminal prostate cancer. I found it interesting that such a young man had stage four prostate cancer, but I guess it can happen. Anyway, he sets out to put his affairs in order, including atoning for the fact that his occupation – an underground criminal – prays on those less fortunate. It was alright, but with a running time of roughly two-and-a-half hours, it was about an hour too long. Javier Bardem gave a good performance though.

MK out.