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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday Arts- 2013 Oscar Awards Edition

Tonight, in Hollywood California, the 85th annual Academy Awards will take place.  It's a celebration of the best in America and International cinema.  I must confess, I have only seen one of the nominated films, Steven Speilberg's Lincoln, which I thought was excellent and I was mesmerized by Daniel Day Lewis portrayal of our 16th President. 

Without further ado, here are my Academy Awards predictions for tonight's Oscar winners in seven categories.  Enjoy the show....

Best Picture:  While I support Lincoln, I think Argo will win with its compelling real life story of the rescue of Americans in Iran in 1979.
Best Actor:     Daniel Day Lewis, Lincoln.  He was Lincoln, amazing performance and a good Irishman

Best Actress:   Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook.  SLP has received late buzz and I wouldn't be surprised to see it as a sleeper winner for Best Picture.  Jennifer Lawrence represents a young emerging talent the Academy loves to recognize. 
Best Supporting ActorRobert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook.  DeNiro plays a father to a son who's had a breakdown.  DeNiro is on of our great actors.  The late buzz for SLP applies to this selection too.
Best Supporting Actress:  Anne Hathaway - Les Miserables.  She sang and underwent some physical changes in the movie.  Plus she's hosted the show before, remember.. oh yes, you purged that abomination from your memory. 

Best Director:   David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook.  With no Ben Affleck here to award my choice for best picture, Argo, Russell wins for Silver Linings Playbook and I'll need to Redbox it when it becomes available to see what the fuss was all about.  Sleeper pick is Ang Li for Life of Pi

Best Animated Feature FilmBrave.  Boy would I love to work for Pixar.  They create wonderful stories for all ages and Brave joins their best. 

Finally, last night I had the pleasure to watch a true American Film Classic:  On the Waterfront.  The Turner Classic Movie Channel has been playing Oscar winning movies all weekend.  Last night this Marlon Brando classic was on.  Brando won an Academy Award for Best Actor for this movie.  I have always enjoyed Brando's work and in this movie he was so good as Terry Malloy.  I think I'll let this scene below speak for itself.  See this movie if you haven't.

What film is one of your favorite(s)?  Did you enjoy any of this year's nominated films?  I'd love to hear back from you.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Big Blue Marble

By now, if you don't live under a rock, you have heard and seen reports of the meteor streaking through South-central Russia yesterday and striking near the city of Chelyabinsk.  Reports indicate that over 900 people were injured due to glass and other debris falling as a result of the large sonic booms generated by the fast moving visitor from space.

A few years ago, I took an Astronomy course.  The one aspect of Astronomy and the study of planets, stars, and other celestial bodies that made a large impression on me is the relative size of it all.  The universe is HUGE!!!!

Meteors striking Earth have happened frequently and some have theorized that the Dinosaurs were made extinct from a large scale strike which disrupted the Dinosaurs food supply.  Satellite photos have pinpointed evidence of past meteor strikes with high resolution photos of craters. 

As our big blue marble turns and circles the sun, we realize that there is so much space junk out there.  One interesting note about yesterday's strike in Chelyabinsk was that astronomers were watching the closest pass (within the orbit of some satellites) of Asteroid -DA14.  Astronomers, as well as the population of South-central Russia were UNAWARE of the bus sized meteor racing towards them. 

Here is an interesting article about the events yesterday with photos and video:

What else is out there?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday Arts: The Return

Well here in the New York area we've experienced and survived a nasty winter storm named Nemo.  For several hours yesterday, I shoveled  out the driveway and cleaned off our cars so Monday everyone can get back to routine.  Today, with the sun is shining bright, I wanted to add a post featuring the return of my Sunday Arts feature.

I wanted to use this post to offer my tribute to the caricaturist Al Hirshfeld.  Most of Hirshfeld's work I would see at a young age in the Sunday edition of The New York Times, Arts and Leisure section, usually in the Theatre section.  Hirshfeld's caricatures would often accompany a story about some upcoming play, a profile of a performer or The Tony Awards preview. 

As I entered High School, I had several opportunities to attend Broadway shows.  I remember seeing Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound as well as Shakespeare's  MacBeth with my classmates. 

In my college years and beyond, I have seen many other shows and  I would continue to read the Sunday Times to keep aware of what shows were coming or going.  Hirshfeld's works were always an essential part of my enjoyment of the theatre as his caricatures would provide some glimpse into a show's presentation.

Hirshfeld also liked to make use of the lines in his pictures to embed the name of his daughter, I think, her name is Nina.  So an illustration might have a tag of Nina3, meaning there were 3 Nina's found in the picture.

Also, as a budding charicaturist, I attempted to emulate his style as I swiped a picture of Magnum PI actor Tom Selleck and I gave it to my sister, who was Selleck fan (she still has the picture after 25+ years). 

Hirshfeld died in 2003 and later that year a theatre, The Martin Beck theatre was renamed in his honor.  I had seen the revival of Guys and Dolls there in 2003.

Hirshfeld was the quintessential New Yorker who, thru his art, adored and promoted the perfoming arts in the greatest city of the world.

Official Hirshfeld webpage

Sunday, February 3, 2013

80 Years Young

This post is a tribute to my father Leo, who on February 4th will turn 80 years of age.  Notice I didn't use the term old.  No, I have never thought of my father as old but rather he was always the "Big Daddy" of his large brood of 12 children.  As his 10th child and 3rd son, I have been very lucky that I have such a fantastic Dad. 

My father has always provided guidance and direction for all of his children in his quiet, calm and measured manner.  He has been there for all of us during times of crisis and has instilled in all of us the values of fair play, modesty, and service to others that remain with  us to this day.  This call to service is reflected in many of the occupations and volunteer activities we are all involved with as adults.  There is no doubt that as a father myself, his lessons and example will be used often as I raise my three children.

Over the years, I have done some genealolgy research on both sides of my family and I hope to continue this research this year.  Also, as someone who loves history, I note that my Dad is a child of the Great Depression.  He faced tragedy at an early age as his father died and his Grandfather moved in with his mother to help her.  The relationship he had with his Grandfather was no doubt crucial in shaping my Dad into the man he became.  Some would call it "old school," I call it "common sense."  My father is a man of faith who has placed his trust in God and has given many hours in service to his parish as an Eucharistic minister and as a CYO Basketball coach.     

My father is part of what historians Neil Howe and William Strausst note in their book The Fourth Turning as the "Silent" generation.  These were the individuals who were two young to fight in WW II and too old to participate in Vietnam.  My father's generation were the technocrats that led American businesses during its boom years of the 50's and 60's before the fabric of our American society began to change.  Interestingly, no member of my father's generation ever became President as we've gone from WWII vets as Presidents to Baby Boomer Presidents. 

My father has enjoyed a fantastic retirement for the last 18 years with travel to distant locations.  I had the pleasure of joining him and my mother on a trip to Paris, France in 1999 and again in 2001.  My father made all the arrangements and the trips were a lot of fun.  Due to these trips, France will forever hold a special place for me and my wife. My father has also enjoyed the exponential growth in the number of his grandchildren which numbered only 15 at the end of 2005 and has now doubled in size to number 30 some seven years later. 

Yesterday, my family was joined by friends to celebrate my Father's birthday.  It was a very enjoyable afternoon filled with good food, drinks and laughter.  My Dad had a very nice time and it was a fitting tribute to our patriarch.  In closing, I found an Irish Birthday Blessing I offer to my Dad:

For each petal on the shamrock this brings a wish your way.
Good health, good luck, and happiness for today and every day.

Happy 80 years young Dad,

Stephen, Aimee
Joseph, Caroline and Samantha