Friday, February 22, 2013


Below you will find my Oscar picks and predictions. Hover over each box to see what I think should win vs. what I think the ol' farts in the Academy will ultimately choose! This blog is gettin' interactive!

I'mma be honest with you guys and admit that I didn't get around to seeing all of this year's Documentary Features. I did see Searching for Sugar Man and The Gatekeepers, though, so I just chose between the two.
(Both are wonderful, and I hope to see the rest!) 
Thanks for reading, and I wish you all a wonderful Oscar night!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Short and Sweet: Mini Reviews of Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts

I am no animation aficionado. I sketched a hand the other day and was so proud of it that I forced each of my family members to shower me with compliments as I held it three inches away from their eyeballs. ''LOOK. LOOK WHAT I DID. Do you SEE how almost life-like this hand is, you guys?!!?!" They each managed to stammer out a "nice job!" or a "look at those fingernails wow!" before things got too crazy. I was satisfied. So before I start, let me just state that I am in awe of anyone who can do draw something more advanced than bubble letters (my forte), and give a HUGE virtual hug to all who were involved in the production of these short films!
Adam and Dog, directed by Minkyu Lee
The SOUNDS in this film were incredible! Every footstep and every swaying blade of grass could be heard. My dog was sitting next to me as I watched this and did the adorable I'm-confused-back-and-forth-head-tilt the entire time, most likely because he thought I was holding live birds captive in my laptop. Bravo, sound design team! This was a beautiful, colorful telling of an old story, and I'm glad to have seen it. Also: dogs are da best.
Fresh Guacamole, directed by PES
I was so excited to see this listed as a nominee! I had seen the video a few months ago online and couldn't get over it. Honestly. How. I could watch this over and over again for the rest of the weekend. I probably WILL watch this over and over again for the rest of the weekend. I don't think the ol' Academy will give this one the gold, but it sure is a fun, impressive project. You can see "Western Spaghetti," a similar project by PES, here!
 Head Over Heels, directed by Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly
I'll just come out and say it: claymation has always creeped me the heck out. I really don't know why, because the only claymation I was exposed to was in Christmas movies! Whatever the reason, I was wincing as I clicked play on this one. I'm happy to say, however, that I really, really enjoyed it. It was a truly affecting display of what can happen in so many marriages: couples gradually drift apart until they're living two separate lives under the same roof. The creative upside-down concept was such a neat way of getting the message across, and the couple was adorable. I'm a sucker for lifelong love. NEAT FACT: This film was made by students! 'NOTHER FACT: I am also a sucker for underdogs. I can't imagine the whirlwind of excitement these talented guys and gals must be feeling.
The Longest Daycare, directed by David Silverman
I was an elementary school camp counselor last summer, and one day we took the young boys and girls to see Ice Age 3: Continental Drift (yawn). This short film played before the movie began, and I remember wanting to cover the kids' eyes! It was a little disturbing, what with the cement walled-rooms and crushed butterflies! I suppose it did make for an in-your-face commentary on our current school systems, though. Accelerated students getting star treatment while others are left with posters that read, "A is A" and "C is C." (I did enjoy the detail put into background elements of this film.) This wasn't my favorite of the bunch, if just for its lack of a "wow" factor.
Paperman, directed by John Kahrs
Oh, Paperman. Last but certainly not least. I don't have much to add to the conversation about this one. It's just wonderful. The combination of 2D animation and CG makes for such a lovely final product—can you pleeeeease make a feature film using this technique, Disney?! I was amazed at how they made animated objects look out of focus. And the characters had such realistic movements! You could immediately tell Meg was in the middle of an interview just by her tense posture. It's nuts how much Disney got us rooting for George after just a minute or two, but I guess that's just the power of film for ya. Beautiful job.

Good luck to all! I'll reveal my official Oscar picks in a future post. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Make Bright Your Day

After much consideration, I decided Beatles' lyrics would serve as a suitable title for an outfit that combined a '60s-tastic shag vest with a pair of shoes plucked straight outta the Fab Four's closet! (They were actually found buried deep in my mom's closet. Let me pretend.)
Neon sweater: Marshall's. Here's a similar one!
Faux Fur Vest: ASOS (found at a thrift store?!!?) Lots of similar styles on Etsy.
Leather skirt: Thrifted, but here's one like it.
Necklace: Forever21.
Tights: Modcloth.
And now to give photo credit: Joseph agreed to climb a snowy hill, trespass on possibly private (but sweet-awesome graffitied!) property, and take pictures despite having strep throat. #1 trooper! He's #1! And with a smile to boot! I gave him $4 and a frozen pizza for his troubles. The price for photographers these days, man. Pretty steep.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Pouty with a Plate of Meatballs

While I knew that food photography would be a tricky hobby to pick up, I never expected it would cause me to reach an about-to-bash-my-face-into-the-kitchen-window level of frustration. Like I almost did while attempting to take pictures of these meatball hoagies.

No matter what I tried—flash, no flash, white background, wooden background, on a plate, on a pan—they. would not. look. appealing! Finally, I decided I'd just mess around in Photoshop and make some text that would hopefully distract viewers from the harsh appearance of these cheesy, delicious bundles of fun. (Did it work??? No??? Darn.) I suppose I'm going to have to chalk it up to experience, read even MORE photography tutorials, and do better next time. Can't get anywhere without a few bumps in the road, right?

The hoagies were really tasty, by the way! The extra time that was needed to bake the homemade meatballs was worth it, and the cheese was reeeeeeal bubbly and nice when it came out of the broiler. Yumnumnum.

Meatball Hoagies
From Let's Dish.
For the meatballs
1 pound ground beef
1 pound hot Italian sausage
1 small onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
1-2 teaspoons olive oil

For the sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves
2 (28 oz. cans) crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup water

For the sandwiches
6-8 hoagie rolls
Sliced provolone or mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375°. To make the meatballs, combine the ground beef, sausage, and spices in a large bowl. Finely chop the onion and add to the meat and spices. Add the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and beaten egg, along with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Combine the mixture thoroughly with your hands. Form into meatballs, about the size of a walnut, adding more olive oil as needed to hold meatballs together. Place meatballs on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by heating the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Add water a little bit at a time until sauce reaches desired consistency. Add the cooked meatballs to sauce and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

To make the subs, preheat oven to 400°. Place open hoagie rolls on a large baking sheet. Spoon 3-4 meatballs into each roll, along with sauce. Top with sliced cheese and bake for 12-15 minutes, until the rolls are toasty and the cheese is browned and bubbly. Enjoy!