Mountlake Terrace Library Blog

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

For Your Consideration...Oscar Fever

This is the time of year when I dust off my glamourous duds and prepare for my annual Oscar Party. I used to have big parties. I would invite all of my friends and family and everyone would have a ballot and whoever got the most right would win a prize. I remember one year when the prize for "least correct" answers was a VHS recording of Mr. T's "Be Somebody or Be Somebobody's Fool."

Oh, the Good Old Days.

When the kids left home, we would plan trips to where they were and enlist their friends in our annual homage to the film world. And when we couldn't be with them, we would confer over the phone during the event.

Now it's just the significant other and me (and the dogs), but we will still honor the day (March 7), dress up, pop some bubbly and continue the competition.

What do you think about the Oscars?
Do you care?

What do you think about 10 films being nominated (this actually dates back to early Oscar years when this was the usual practice)?

Do you attend an Oscar Party?

Since I won't be, I thought I would give you a leg up and share some of my Oscar pics with you and the wisdom behind them.

Best Actor: Jeff Bridges
Here is one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood. This is definitely his year.

Best Actress: Sandra Bullock
Hard to believe she will beat Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep (who embodied Julia Child), but she is popular in Hollywood and has some star moments in the film so she will get the nod, much as Julia Roberts did for "Erin Brockovitch".

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz
He has won every other award for his role in "Inglourious Basterds" so why not this one?

Best Supporting Actress: Mo'Nique.
Same as above.

Best Animated Film: Up
It's also nominated for Best Picture so Best Animated Film is a no-brainer.

Best Foreign Film: The White Ribbon
Much buzz on this one.

Best Song: Have absolutely no clue. They all sound awful.

Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow.
No woman has ever won the Best Director award so now is the Academy's chance to right that wrong.
(Did you know that Kathryn Bigelow was once married to James Cameron who directed "Avatar?")

Best Picture: The Hurt Locker
I stuck my neck out in my blog called "What I know for Sure" saying this will win, so I am sticking with it. And in my mind, despite the buzz for "Avatar," it IS the best picture.

So there you have it.

You will have to work out "Best Documentary Short" and "Achievement in Makeup" and the others on your own. I don't want to give it all away. I may be watching the event with my husband and dogs, but I still want to win!

Good Luck!

Now I need to go pick up the tuxedos for the poodles!

In the meantime, here are currently released Oscar contenders on DVD available at the library.

The Hurt Locker

Nominated For
Best Picture
Best Actor (Jeremy Renner)
Film editing
Original score
Sound editing
Sound mixing
Original screenplay

Julie and Julia
Nominated for]
Best Actress (Meryl Streep)

Nominated for
Best Picture
Best Animinated film
Original score
Sound editing
Original screenplay

District 9
Nominated for
Best Picture
Film editing
Visual effects
Adapted screenplay

Food Inc
Nominated for
Best Documentary feature

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Nominated for

Nominated for
Best Animated feature film

Bright Star
Nominated for
Costume design

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen
Nominated for
Sound mixing

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Things I Don't Understand

1. Quantum Physics
Does anyone?

2. Drivers who wave their hand at you to go first at an intersection.

Some might think this is being polite, but everyone being polite at every intersection doesn't make sense. I find this to be a form of passive aggression, impatience and a form of acting out, because drivers do not know the rules of the road.

So I am going to do an Intervention.

The rules are very simple. If you get there first, you get to go first. If you both get there at the same time, the person on the right gets to go first. I know when it's my turn, and that's when I will go. So you can wave your hand at me all you want, I'm not moving if it's not my turn. So there.

And don't get me started on people who hold up traffic letting someone into the traffic lane and then the light turns red before I can get through the intersection. Trust me. Just let the traffic roll. They will find a way to join us.

3. Why can't there be one thing we really love to eat that has no calories?

Like french fries.

4. When you are sitting next to someone on a plane or in a movie theater, how do you determine who gets the arm rests?

And why is it never me?

5. What I did before Tivo.

You have probably already figured out that I am a big fan of TV.
(Critical observer of popular culture or pathetic transplant with too much time on her hands? You be the judge).

I digress.

I remember a time long, long ago when I would load up a thing called a tape player to record a program that was on at the same time as something else I wanted to watch, a common dilemma.

Oh the torment when I would return home only to find out it didn't tape!

Now I just have to turn on the TV and little Tivo knows just what I wanted to watch and it's minus the commercials. Brilliant!

Isn't he adorable?

6. The overuse of the word "literally."

If you say that "the top of your head will literally blow off if that happens again" or that you are "literally speechless," does that mean I should expect to see your head explode or that you will never utter another word?

7. Armadillos.

Mammals or reptiles?
What's that all about?

8. Kathy Lee Gifford.
'Nuf said.

9. Why my lists always consist of ten items.

10. When people have a question or are trying to make sense of the world they live in, they don't automatically think of the library.

Yes, many people use the library, but many don't think of us first or have any idea of the array of services we provide.

Why don't they know that we are not just about books (though we have plenty of them). We are all about helping them find the information they need, free community programs for all ages, friendly community spaces, sources of information for life long learning, and we let you borrow 10 DVDs or music CDs at a time (for free!).

We provide volunteer opportunities, free wifi, story times for children in different languages, meeting room space, computer instruction, citizenshisp classes, help with English skills, readers' advisory, one on one time with a librarian, talking books for that long drive home, teen paperbacks, homework help, full text magazines and newspapers (current and historical), car repair information, genealogy support, and health information. And you can find us online, by phone, by email.

Think Library!

We have it all!

And I mean that literally!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Reality TV, A Beginner's Guide

If you have been reading my blogs, you probably have already figured out I am a hopeless reality TV junkie. But before you judge my viewing habits, let me give you a little history of the genre, in hopes that you will see these can be learning experiences.

If you have followed reality TV at all you might think that American "Reality TV" began with MTV's "Real World." You know the show...

"This is the true story... of seven strangers... picked to live in a together and have their lives taped... to find out what happens... when people stop being polite... and start getting real...The Real World."

It is the longest running program in MTV history.

But, dear reader, if you thought that, you would be wrong.

What started it all was a program on...steady yourself...PBS! So harumph!

It all began with "An American Family,"an American television documentary filmed in 1971 and first aired in the United States on PBS in early 1973. The show was twelve episodes long, edited down from about 300 hours of footage, and chronicled the experiences of a nuclear family, the Louds of Santa Barbara, California, during a period of time when parents Bill and Pat Loud separated and Pat filed for divorce. In 2002, "An American Family" was listed at #32 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time list. It is one of the earliest examples of the "reality television" genre."

Here's more...

After I saw that series, I was hooked on the drama that is inherent in everyday life.

And then the Big Daddy of what I would call "Entertainment/Reality TV" came along.


Survivor is credited with popularizing modern reality TV and, I guess, must take the blame for the likes of Temptation Island and Growing Up Gotti.

But Survivor's popularity is still strong, and it is probably because it really has it all. It is combination drama, reality TV, game show and endurance contest. What more could you ask for?

Now reality has moved into every genre you can imagine.

We have self improvement reality - Biggest Loser and The Swan.

Variety show reality - American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance

Home Improvement Reality - Trading Spaces, Extreme Home Makeover

Real Estate Reality - House Hunters, Property Virgins

Cooking Reality - Top Chef, Hell's Kitchen

Fashion Reality - America's Next Top Model, Project Runway

Even Gross Out Reality - Fear Factor

It goes on and on. Quite overwhelming, right?

Well, good thing you have me.

I will help you sort out the best of the lot.
(Since Survivor is the granddaddy of them all, I will give it the Lifetime Achievement Award and leave it off my list).

Best Reality TV shows

1. Amazing Race

Best show for armchair travelers.
It was difficult to choose #1, but the Amazing Race is the fastest hour on television. It has the drama of the interaction between the paired contestants, and the viewer gets to participate in the heart pumping race while at the same time see the world. Host Phil Keoghan seems to genuinely care about the players when he has to say to that episode's losers, "You are the last team to arrive. I am sorry to have to tell you, you have been eliminated from the race."

What you will learn: If your team constitutes "good TV" (i.e. lots of fighting or dumb moves), the powers that be will manipulate the outcome so your team can continue to be good TV (hence the couple of non-elimination rounds).

Here's more...

2. So you Think You Can Dance

American Idol for Dance.
But it is so much more classy than Idol. Yes, it has the auditions, but far fewer of the "bad" auditions that Idol has, which IMHO are interminable. All contestants are treated with great respect and the lowest scorers get to "dance for their lives" at the end of each episode. Dancers are probably the hardest working performers there are, so it's great to see them get a showcase.

What you will learn: You really do like to watch dancing.

So You Think You Can Dance

3. Intervention.

I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when this was pitched to A & E.
"We have an idea for a show where a film crew follows around a drunk person and then her family holds an intervention. Whadjathink?"

But this program is one of the most compelling on television, reality show or not.

The format is the same. The addicted person thinks he or she is part of a documentary and has no idea there will soon be an intervention.

One thing I wonder about, though. This show has been on for a few years, so you would think when approached by a film crew there would be a suspicion that perhaps an intervention is nigh but so far, the subjects don't seem to have a clue. It is engrossing, heartbreaking and uplifting.

What you will learn: There is hope for even the most hardcore alcohol and drug addicted.


4. Top Chef

Yum. Who knew the world of cooking could be so vicious and odd concoctions so delicious.

What you will learn: The good guy doesn't always win.

Top Chef

5. Project Runway

From Heidi's little girl "Hello" at the beginning to Tim Gunn's "Make it work," this is a fun peak into the world of fashion. It's your "put a bunch of people in a house together and see what happens" fun with a fashion show at the end. You would think this would be strictly a women's reality genre, but you would be surprised how many men watch this show!

What you will learn: Sometimes a really ugly dress is considered high fashion.

Project Runway

6. Dancing with the Stars

This is the ultimate showcase for the celebrity on the way up AND on the way down. Either way, being on this show will stimulate your career and you will lose weight at the same time.

What you will learn: You really do want to take ballroom dancing lessons.

7. The Bachelor.

One guy - 25 women.

Sexist? Probably. Fun. Absolutely. My husband watches too, but he always says, "I feel dirty but I can't help myself." We watch just in case it really is going to be the "most dramatic rose ceremony ever."

What you will learn: "How do you solve a problem like Vienna?"

The Bachelor

9. The Biggest Loser

Who would think watching a bunch of overweight people get weighed would be a show? But here it is. Why do we watch?

For the ultimate pay off, when they have all lost as much as they can lose in 6 months of grueling workouts and low fat eating and are transformed. And it is amazing.

What you will learn: You aren't nearly as fat as they are.

The Biggest Loser

OK so those are the cream of the crop.

I am sure you have your favorites, and I would love to hear about them.

But I feel I have to be honest with you and share some guilty pleasures.

There is a dark side to reality TV.

So here is a list of...dun dun dun...

The Best of the Worst Reality Shows

1. Rock of Love.

I love this show! Brett Michaels cares not that we may judge his taste in women. Strippers? Bring them on! Biker chicks? Yes! And Brett seems to truly get into these women. Not to mention what THEY get into when he's not around.

What you will learn: Nothing, but it's an hour of mindless fun.

Rock of Love

2. Beauty and the Geek.

Ashton Kutcher came up with this one. It is actually quite a sweet show. Smart geek learns to have fun from beautiful airhead. Beautiful airhead learns it's not that much fun to be an airhead. As time goes by, they all form a bond that is very endearing. Of course there is always a geek or two that only needs a different haircut to be handsome, but we will forgive that bit of a set up.

What you will learn: Women will go for homely smart men before homely men will go for homely women.

Beauty and the Geek

3. Big Brother
This show started in Holland and has versions all over the world. The British version takes place every summer and the presenter opens with "Say Goodbye to your Summer, this is Big Brother!" And it's sort of like that. You need endurance for this one and a propensity for enjoying watching people sitting around, but if you hang in there, some drama will ensue. The celebrity version is especially fun.

What you will learn: What happens when people are really, really bored.

Big Brother 2010

5. Real Chance of Love.

This one is my guilty guilty pleasure, but when I found out my daughter was also watching it, I didn't feel so bad.

Now hang in there with me.

First there was Flavor of Love, a show meant to match up Flavor Flav (and if you don't know who he is, probably none of this will make sense) with a woman, Bachelor style.

One of the women who was not chosen was plucked from obscurity by VH1 to have her own show. Her name was New York (Flav likes to give all of these women nicknames, some of which are not for your gentle ears), and the show was a Bachelorette-style show called I Love New York.

Two brothers were vying for her love - Chance and Real (more nicknames). They too did not win the prize that was New York, but made enough of a splash to get their own show in which they could find love. Get it? Real Chance of Love

A spin-off of a spin-off of a spin-off.

What you will learn: The lengths to which reality show mongers will go to wring out a show.

Real Chance of Love

So there you have it. My entire inner life. Pathetic, I know, but if you ever have questions about pop culture, I'm your girl.

Oh, one more thing.

I forgot the most important reality show of all.

The Library.

Every day people come to us with their real needs. We will answer any question, help with everything from job hunting to finding that recipe on the Food Channel. We provide quality fun and enlightening programs for the whole family, offer tax help, citizenship classes, you name it. It's happening at the library.

And it's all real.Librarian: The Reality Series