Saturday, February 25, 2012

5th Annual Oscar Picks

Well, this is it, people! Once again, I present you with my picks for all 24 of tomorrow's Academy Award winners, and these are really the only predictions you need to read, because I have never been wrong ever.*

(Previously: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008.)

Best Picture: Oh, I am just SO delighted to anticipate the win of one of my most favorite movies from 2011, "The Artist." I haven't felt this confident since naming "Slumdog Millionaire" the big winner three years ago, and I couldn't be happier. So mark one down for the silent film here, because this one will be joyfully tap-dancing away with the gold!

Best Director: Three years ago, I said that "So many times Best Director and Best Picture just go hand in hand. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but it’s a pretty solid bet." Why argue with my own logic? Let's just hope that whoever presents this category has practiced the pronunciation of "Michel Hazanavicius."

Best Actor: I've researched this category quite a bit, and what's funny to me is that pretty much everyone predicts either George Clooney for "The Descendants," or Jean Dujardin for "The Artist," and everyone is absolutely confident that it is one of them. I've read a lot of "George Clooney WILL WIN this one" predictions, or else, "The winner is definitely Jean Dujardin." Well, I don't feel nearly as confident picking between them, but I will stick with my favorite film in the category and go with Jean Dujardin.

Best Actress: Well, it's obviously either going to be Viola Davis or Meryl Streep. They've been sparring over the category this entire awards season, but this time around the name in the envelope will be Viola Davis.

Best Supporting Actor: I'm probably the most confident out of all of my predictions with this one. It's going to be Christopher Plummer, hands down.

Best Supporting Actress: Oh I would LOVE to see my dear Melissa McCarthy (aka Sookie St. James on "Gilmore Girls") win this one, but I just don't think it's going to happen. This year the big winner will probably be Octavia Spencer.

Animated Feature: I've never made a prediction in this category that wasn't Pixar. And this year? They're not even IN this category. (What happened, y'all??) So I am a bit at a loss, I must say. However, I can't bring myself to pick a "Puss in Boots" or a "Kung Fu Panda 2," and while the critics do seem to be loving "Chico & Rita," in the end I am going with "Rango."

Art Direction: While I would love to see the final film in the Harry Potter series get a win, I think the visually stunning "Hugo" will probably win this one.

Cinematography: Looks like this one is going to "The Tree of Life."

Costume Design: Irrespective of the quality of the film as a whole, the winner in this category seems to always be simply the most elaborate costumes. That's why "Jane Eyre" or even "Anonymous" wouldn't surprise me terribly if they ended up winning. Fortunately, I think this year the odds are actually with the dazzling duds from "The Artist."

Film Editing: When all else fails, stick with the Best Picture winner. And I really hope it is a big night for "The Artist!"

Makeup: Part of me is nervous that the award for Best Makeup could go to the folks who made Glenn Close look like a man in "Albert Nobbs." However, I truly believe, and desperately hope, that the winner is "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2!"

Original Score: I've been listening to the charming score from "The Artist" ever since I first saw the movie in December. It's absolutely delightful, and I highly recommend you download that biznass ASAP!

Original Song: Y'all, I just can't vote against "The Muppets!"

Original Screenplay: As the saying goes, "You don't bet against Woody Allen!" Okay, so nobody says that, but it's still true. This award is going to "Midnight in Paris."

Adapted Screenplay: It's hard to pick anyone other than Aaron Sorkin (who co-wrote this year's "Moneyball") because the Academy sure seems to love him. However, all signs point to "The Descendants." Go Dean Pelton!

Sound Mixing: Buzz buzz buzz... Do you hear that? It's buzz for "Hugo!" (Yikes, that was bad. Apologies.)

Sound Editing: Please don't ask me what the difference is between the previous category and this one, because I'm not entirely sure. Either way, I'm picking "Hugo" again.

Visual Effects: Man, tough category. So many of the nominees had effects that were so, like... visual. And I really wish I was about to say "Deathly Hallows" again, but I just can't. I think the winner will most likely be (I can't believe I'm saying this) "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

Documentary Feature: Gosh, I just have no idea here. Part of me wants to pick the football doc "Undefeated" because it looks so "Friday Night Lights"-esque, but I think the winner will be "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory."

Documentary Short: Maybe one year I will actually WATCH some of the nominated documentaries. Alas, despite hearing that they are all very good this year, this is not the year for Valerie to have seen them all. Or any. It's a hard category to do research for, but in the end I think I'm going to have to pick the Iraq-war-set "Incident in New Baghdad."

Foreign Language Film: Did you see the trailer for "A Separation"? Amazing, and I wish I'd gotten a chance to see the film before Sunday. Powerful stuff. Everyone says it really should have been nominated for Best Picture, so with that endorsement, how could I pick anything else?

Animated Short: How about "La Luna"?

Live Action Short: It's either going to be "Raju" or "The Shore." I am going to literally flip a coin here. Hang on... Okay! "The Shore" it is!

*Liar. Wrong all the dang time.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pasta Love

(*Apologies for the pre-post that happened last night! Darn you blogger!)

I received an e-mail from E-Harmony about a month ago announcing a contest. [Yes, my husband and I met through E-Harmony.] Send in your "love story" for a chance to win a trip. I'm all about entering contests because "who knows?" ya know? So I started penning something in a word document only to realize that it was cliche and boring. If I wanted my letter to be chosen as one of the six finalists I was going to have to channel a creative writer and produce something worth reading.

I was getting ready to make one of our favorite dishes that day. As I pulled out the recipe I decided to just run with it. Here's the contest entry I ended up submitting the next day.


January 16, 2012

Dear David,

I’m making “Fall in Love” pasta again tonight. I love that the penne and spinach dish will forever be known by that title in our home. As I pull out the recipe (by now, clearly committed to memory) I can’t help but think of the night I first made it for you.

It was November of 2009 and our fourth date. I couldn’t believe you had so readily and easily agreed to making the 105 mile round trip for one meal. You had no idea what you were getting yourself into. What if I was a horrible cook?And yet, you came.

I hadn’t expected to feel so strongly about you at so early in our relationship, and yet there I was, nervously excited as I pulled out the recipe my mom had written out for me years ago. It was just about a month since our match was made on E-Harmony. Who knew that signing up on a whim (and a promotional sale) on October 9th would lead me to you just one day later? (By the way, have I thanked you lately for taking that first step and contacting me?) I loved seeing your name and picture pull up in my messaging list, and I anxiously awaited each and every step that took us closer to open contact.

You were the only match to receive my phone number.

You were the only match to take me on a date.

You were and are still the only man to hear the words, “I love you.”

Who knew that a pasta dish and some chocolate cake would lead to a kiss while we washed dishes? Who knew that a kiss would lead us to both realize that we were quickly and steadily falling in love? Who knew that God could use a website to connect two earnest and unique people and lead them into a love story so deep and so wide?

When we declared our wedding vows on October 17, 2010 we entered into a new journey that has been filled to the brim with blessing. I am yours, my dear, and you… you are mine.

Hurry home, husband. The pasta and your wife are waiting.

With love,



Fast forward another week and I received an e-mail from E-harmony letting us know we had been selected as a finalist. Awesome, right? In the end we didn't win, (that went to a couple with the saddest and sweetest story - they totally deserved it) but we certainly had fun with the process.

I'm becoming more and more at ease with telling our story. I think there were hesitations in the beginning because of some sort of social stigma surrounding on-line dating. But currently one out of eight marriages find their relationship starts on-line.

So I say who cares what method God chose to use, I'm just thankful He did. So my on-line dating advice: don't knock it until you try it. And even if it doesn't leave you with the ending you were looking for... you might just end up with an amazing story about laminated poetry or a very hungry police officer.



Sausage and Spinach Penne Pasta (Fall in Love Pasta)

8-12 oz penne pasta 1/2 c chicken broth

2 T olive oil 1/2 c. dry white wine

3 cloves garlic, minced 3/4 c. oil-packed sun dried tomatoes (or 1/4 c sun-dried)

16 oz. sweet Italian sausage 1T fresh basil or 1 t dried

1 can diced tomatoes 2 t Tabasco sauce

salt, pepper, Parmesan to your liking...

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saute til garlic is lightly browned. Add sausage and saute until cooked through (remove from casing and crumble). Add tomatoes (undrained), broth, wine, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and Tabasco sauce. Cook 5 minutes. Push everything to the sides and add spinach and saute until tender. (I usually just close the lid and let it steam for just a few minutes.)

Cook pasta while "sauce" is cooking. Remove from heat, add pasta and toss. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with Parmesan to sprinkle on top.

Great with salad, bread, and THIS RECIPE FOR CHOCOLATE CAKE!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A "Vow" I Would Break

You know, I honestly don't know that I can possibly convey to you how bad I thought "The Vow" was, or exactly why. This really might not work. But that's not going to keep me from trying...

This insipid movie is an insult to mindless romantic movies. It's astonishing in its dullness, infuriating in its lack of a compelling plot, and absolutely astounding in its utter unbelievability.

The people in this film act like no one else I've ever seen or heard of. Seriously: NOBODY BEHAVES LIKE THAT!!! They looked like humans and they vaguely SOUNDED like humans, insofar as they used, like, words to communicate with each other. But the resemblances stopped there. Everything they did was either terribly contrived ("We go swimming in a lake once a month because... we do!") or a result of inexplicable plot contrivances. At the end of nearly every scene, I was left asking WHY??? Explain to me why you are even doing this. And WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT ANY OF THESE VAPID PEOPLE? You have given me NO reason.

However, the BIGGEST and most glaring problem, is due to just one thing:

Channing Tatum.

Y'all, I'm going to be completely honest with you: I DON'T GET CHANNING TATUM.

I don't! What do people see when they look at him??? Because I see, like, a walking chest with vacant squinty eyes and almost comically over-sized biceps. And the acting talent of a wooden post.

Channing Tatum brings the phrase "zero acting ability" to new heights (depths?), and one must wonder what kind of deal he made with Satan to get to star opposite an actress as effervescent at the lovely Rachel McAdams.


I just didn't believe a single thing he did or said. At all. Instead of yelling, "I'm trying to help you!" he might has well have just yelled "I! Am SHOUTING right now! Because it says so in the script!" And what I can't seem to get across to people is exactly how much Channing Tatum's lack of believability and complete woodeness hurt the movie.

So I decided to re-make the poster with what I felt like would be a more accurate representation of C-Tates in this film.


In conclusion: I DON'T UNDERSTAND CHANNING TATUM!!!!!!!!! And also don't go see "The Vow."

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I'll raise you

Raising Val's DOUBLE JUGGLING with some VERY MEDIOCRE single juggling.


You're welcome.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Double Juggle

I am so sorry to break it to you, but all of your previous parties have been missing one very important element.

What's that? Unicorns flying over rainbows and high-fiving as the song from "Space Jam" plays?

Yes. That, AND:

Two-person juggling!

(I'll wait for your BLOWN MIND to reassemble itself.)

Well. I think it must be your lucky day, because my own two-person-juggling-lesson-while-partying was caught on (a very short) video.

(Unicorns not included.)

You're welcome. And yes, I'm awful slash still learning--but that was fun.

Everyday I'm jugglin', y'all.

Rimshot? Maybe? No?

Well, this is awkward...