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 review is here.

Lake Superior State University Banished Words List

Posted in Pop Culture on January 22nd 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: The Lake Superior State University Word Banishment selection committee has published its 2004 List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness. The lists have appeared regulary since 1976, and have been compiled by The Unicorn Hunters.

This year, over 5,000 nominations were received, a new record. Words that made it onto the list include metrosexual, companion animals, shock and awe, and LOL. I’m disappointed that tipping point didn’t make it.

Want to have a word banished? Submit it here, with your reason.

Blogs & Blogging: The Ten Most Important Ideas of 2003, and Other Ideas as Well

Posted in Blogging, Pop Culture on January 8th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: Dave Pollard, of How To Save The World, offers his list of the ten most important blogging ideas of 2003. He also has a page that links to his various entries on blogs & blogging, many of which provide advice, tips, surveys, and other items of interest. Examples include Good Weblog Design and Layout, and Secrets of Breakout Blogs. Also, check his list of favorite Canadian blogs (no, I’m not on it.) Also worth checking, his list of 14 time-savers for bloggers. My favorite is #13: “Learn to type properly.”

:: In addition, the New York Times Magazine featured its annual Year In Ideas issue on Dec 14, 2003, and considers these 67 movements to be the most important of the year. (Free registration required.) Do you agree? Billboards That Know You is cause for concern, the Pod Car is kinda cool, but Tribute Bands in Denial?


Posted in Film, Library, Pop Culture, Random Thoughts, Technology on January 7th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: The Directors Guild of America has announced its nominations for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for 2003. One notable absentee is Anthony Minghella, for Cold Mountain. Overall, it hasn’t been the best year for film. Sales of tickets in the USA dropped for the first time since 1991.

:: With the Spirit Rover firmly in place on Mars, the US will now move its search for WMD to the red planet itself. Meanwhile, The Beagle isn’t doing too well.

:: The Writers’ Union of Canada is “aghast” over cuts to Regina’s public library system.

:: I’m a bit cranky tonight. Last night while falling asleep, my right eye began bothering me. This morning I woke to a burning feeling in said right eye, and it has yet to subside. I know, I should have it examined.

Al Franken

Posted in Pop Culture on January 6th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: An interview with Al Franken, author of Lies and The Lying Liars Who Tell Them, is available on the NPR Fresh Air website. Franken just returned from his fourth USO tour, where he entertained US troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kuwait. Franken tells a number of interesting stories about performing on the tour, and about travelling through the region. Al and I are good friends, btw. Well, not really.

:: Robert tells an interesting and frightening story about his new two-month old daughter, Kasia. She was sick with a cold, and Robert and Mary were instructed by their doctor to take her to the hospital

Stuff from Time Out New York and Elsewhere

Posted in Music, Pop Culture, Random Thoughts on December 29th 2003 by Randy Reichardt

:: Did you see School of Rock? I was pleased to learn that there is a real such movement, called Little Kids Rock. It was started in 1996 by David Wish, an elementary school teacher who at the time, was frustrated with the lack of funding for music education in his school.

:: Some of you may be familiar with This Modern World, by Tom Tomorrow, aka Dan Perkins. Mr Tom Tomorrow was interviewed in a recent issue of Time Out New York.

:: For dinner this evening, I had the first of four delicious Nova Scotia lobsters, flown in from Halifax yesterday. The lobsters were in the luggage of a friend I picked up at the airport, the second year in a row she has returned from her Christmas trip with this delicacy that is my favorite food. *sigh* Thank you, K!

:: Fans of Steve Earle will be interested in this new documentary, Steve Earle: Just an American Boy. Earle stirred up much controversy when his 2002 album, Jerusalem, featured a song called John Walker’s Blues, about the American Taliban fighter. A double-CD functioning as a companion piece to the movie has also been released. Time Out New York reviewed the movie favorably. I really like Jerusalem, and hope the film makes its way to Edmonton in 2004.