Spell checking programs and new babies!

Posted in Friends on January 30th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: I discovered two nifty spell check applications tonight. ieSpell is for Internet Explorer, and works with text-based entry in blogs, web mail, forums, etc. It installs an “ABC” button (with a checkmark) in the IE toolbar, and also allows works with a right-click on the mouse. SpellCheck.net is a free online spell checker that lets you enter up to 20,000 characters before checking for errors.

:: Congratulations to my friends, Chris (in Castro Valley, California), and Jen (in Edmonton), on the recent arrivals of their firstborns.

Frozen Solid

Posted in Uncategorized on January 28th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

temp.jpg

I think it’s the “Feels like -53°C” graphic that makes me feel a bit chilly.

Academy Award Nominations

Posted in Film on January 27th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: By now you’re probably heard or read the Oscar nominations. There were a number of pleasant surprises, including Keisha Castle-Hughes for Actress in a Leading Role, Whale Rider, Djimon Hounsou for Actor in a Supporting Role, In America, and Samantha Morton for Actress in a Leading Role, In America. Notably absent from big nominations was Cold Mountain, which I think deserved better. I was hoping for In America to get Best Picture and Director nods as well, but at least Jim Sheridan and his daughters, Naomi and Kirsten, were nominated for Original Screenplay.

Will there be any surprise winners? Charlize Theron deserves a win for Monster, an amazing performance. The three other acting categories might not go as predicted. Will Actor be a showdown between Bill Murray and Sean Penn? Will Sean Penn attend the ceremony? Is Renée Zellweger a lock for Supporting Actress?

I’ve yet to see City of God, which received four nominations, nor have I seen Whale Rider, two films I will view very shortly. Some of the nominated films, including The Fog of War, and The Cooler, have yet to open in Edmonton.

My Canadian pride is strong today, as Denys Arcand received a nomination for Writing (Original Screenplay), and his movie, The Barbarian Invasions, won a Foreign Language Film nod as well.

In the end, I hope Peter Jackson and LOTR: TROTK win big.

David Poland offers this commentary on the 2003 nominations.

Who do you think will win? Would would you like to see win? Do you care?

-40C=-40F

Posted in Random Thoughts on January 27th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: Good morning! According to Canada’s Weather Network, it is -40C in Edmonton this morning. -40 degrees is where the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales meet; if it gets any colder today, say -42C, the equivalent temperature in Fahrenheit would be slightly higher.

The parka makes it debut this morning. Brrrrrr.

Maria Dunn: The Ballads of History

Posted in Music, Pop Culture on January 25th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: I went to Maria Dunn’s concert on Saturday night. She performed two sets of original tunes, with support from Shannon Johnson and Dawn Anderson. In 1992-93, I was a member of The Invisible Jug Band, with Maria, Dawn, and Duke Bronfman. I had a blast performing with them at that time.

In the intervening 10-11 years, Maria has developed into a brilliant writer of historical ballads and songs. She is becoming, if she isn’t already, one of Canada’s best storytellers in song. Maria researches the history of places like Edmonton, where she (and I) live, Alberta, Ontario, and other parts of Canada. She finds stories about fascinating individuals who may have struggled for a cause, and then writes a deeply moving and very original songs about them. She is a national treasure, and I’m proud to be able to say I once performed on stage alongside her.

Maria has released two albums to date: From Where I Stand appeared in 1998, and her second album, For A Song, received a 2002 Juno Award Nomination in the Roots/Traditional Solo category. Both are recommended. Maria is in the studio now, finishing her much-anticipated third album.

:: Spam to end by 2006?

:: Nathan Sawaya makes life size Lego objects, such as Han Solo in Carbonite, the Death Star, a rabbit ambulance, a head, a dachsund, and more.

It’s Colder Than Cold Mountain (Might Need My Parka)

Posted in Film, Pop Culture, Random Thoughts on January 24th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: It’s about to get really cold around here. It’s -17C right now, and a lot of snow is falling. And the temperature? Last night, the long range forecast had a high temperature of -37C and a low of -44C for mid-week. I’m on the Weather Network’s Edmonton page at the moment, and the forecast have been revised somewhat since yesterday. The low temperatures are now expected to be in the -32 to -37C range. *whew* I’m more concerned about the snow, which is forecast to continue falling until Tuesday, and makes driving treacherous. Ah, the joys of being Canadian!

:: The British Academy of Film and Television Arts announced its Orange British Academy Film Awards nominations this week. Leading the pack are Cold Mountain with 13 nominations, and LOTR: TROTK with 12. Girl With A Pearl Earring received 10 nominations, and Lost in Translation received 8. Interestingly, despite 13 nominations, Cold Mountain’s Nicole Kidman was not nominated for Actress in a Leading Role. However, Scarlett Johannson was nominated in that category twice, for Lost and Girl. Sean Penn also scored a double nomination for Actor in a Leading Role, for Mystic River and 21 Grams. The complete list is here.

:: Speaking of Cold Mountain, I saw it last night, and thought it was brilliant. After reading a few reviews, I went to this movie with few expectations, almost waiting to be disappointed. Some critics felt the film was slow moving, and that Kidman and Jude Law lacked chemistry. The movie is an episodic story of a Civil War deserter, Inman (Law), who leaves the south near the end of the war to return to Cold Mountain, where the woman he loves, Ada (Kidman), waits for him, in hopes that he is still alive. The Civil War scenes are brutal and realistic (movie depictions of any war scene have changed since Saving Private Ryan moved the bar way, way up.)

The chemistry between the actors is real, and the episodic nature of the movie, which gives the movie its length, does not detract from the richness of the story, but adds to it by introducing a number of fascinating characters, keeping us interested in the story. In addition to solid performances from Law and Kidman, Renée Zellweger is excellent as Ruby, a drifter who comes into Kidman’s life, at the time she is slowly spiraling downwards, following the death of her father. The aforementioned fascinating supporting characters are portrayed by some of our best actors, including Donald Sutherland, Ray Winstone, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Giovanni Ribisi, Eileen Atkins, Brendan Gleeson, Kathy Baker, Natalie Portman, James Gammon, Jena Malone, Lucas Black, and Cillian Murphy, from 28 Days Later.

This is a long film, 2 hours and 28 minutes, but I was never bored. Cold Mountain worked for me. My Blogcritics.org review is here.

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