Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts

Last Friday I went to the Lagoon Cinema to see the five “Oscar Nominated Shorts: Animated” plus two bonus “Highly Commended” shorts.  I love this opportunity to see these films on the big screen for myself before finding out who “won”.  Here are brief descriptions (stolen from the blurb at the theater’s website) in order of my “liking”, which I can virtually guarantee won’t match either the critics or the official voters :).  My “review” appears in brackets after the description.  Official sites and other links are also provided where available.

Madagascar, Carnet De Voyage (France), a journey diary that redraws the trip of a European traveller confronted with Famadihana customs (a funerary tradition of the Malagasy people in Madagascar). [My love of artist’s books bumps this one to the top.  It is a travel journal/artist’s book “come to life”.  Add music and rituals and new friends and you have the kind of scrapbook we all wish we could make when we get home from a trip.]  Filmmaker’s Official site:  http://www.bastiendubois.com/ Best on the big screen, but also viewable at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaWEzsLVGiA

The Lost Thing (Australia/UK), about a boy who discovers a bizarre-looking creature and sets out to find “place” for it.  [If you saw something that looked “lost” would you try to find its home?  Lovely story.  Fun animation.  I went back and forth between this and Madagascar about which to list first.]  Official site: http://www.thelostthing.com/

Let’s Pollute (USA), a modern satire on how pollution is our heritage and keeps our economy growing strong.  [Totally fun though horrifying at the same time.  Great satire.]  Official site: http://letspollute.com/

The Gruffalo (UK/Germany), the magical tale of a mouse who takes a walk through the woods in search of a nut.  [Pretty sure this one will win.  The longest of the “shorts”; Lots of famous names doing the voices.  A story kids might love, but which I found rather old hat and boring.  Some of the animation techniques are rather beautiful, but the whole thing left me rather cold.]
Movie Trailer available at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yq1ddK-Rlng
More information:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00pk64x
Official site for the book:  http://www.gruffalo.com/

Day & Night (USA), the story of the sparks that fly when Day, a sunny fellow, encounters Night, a stranger of distinctly darker moods.  [Sorry Pixar, this just wasn’t up to snuff.  Imitation of old-style cartoons.  Story not very engaging or original.]  Official site: http://www.pixar.com/shorts/d&n/index.html

The two bonus shorts were:

Bill Plympton’s The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger (USA), a children’s fable about the power of advertising, the meaning of life, and ultimately the test of a mother’s love. [Rather horrifying and hilarious at the same time.  What would you do if you were a mother cow and your child dreamed of becoming a hamburger after seeing a billboard ad? . . . ‘nuf said 🙂 ]  Official site: http://www.plymptoons.com/

Urs (Germany), the story of a son who carries his aging mother up a dangerous mountain to find a better place for both of them. But she wants to stay at home. [Heartbreaking story of the need for change and what can get lost along the way.  The animated rock climbing was rather impressive.]  Official site: http://www.urs-film.com/


I should mention that these films are being made available in theaters through Shorts International. Their website has links to their iTunes channel where some of the films are available for $1.99.  Some of the films (and/or trailers) can also be found via other familiar sources (youtube).

Rights and Responsibilities

I’ve spent much of the past 24 hours contemplating the Constitution, and the RESPONSIBILITIES that go along with all the Rights it grants us.

During the run-up to the recent election, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Sharron Angle, Michele Bachman and others, advocated a violent overthrow of the government if they did not get their way at the polls.  Yesterday, a duly-elected Democratic Representative from Arizona, Gabrielle Giffords, was gunned down in public by a disturbed young man who has publicly railed against the government using language not dissimilar to that spouted by Palin, Beck, Angle, and Bachmann.  Perhaps his actions were not directly caused by their hate-filled speech, but it is difficult not to believe that with so much hatred in the air perhaps some of it filtered into this one particular disturbed mind.

Many years ago the first-year students where I was teaching were required to read the U.S. Constitution over the summer before they came to college.  Once they arrived on campus, our task was to engage them in discussions of the Rights and Responsibilities presented in the Constitution.  I remember how difficult it was to get them to recognize that ANY of the Rights might also entail Responsibility of any kind.  Lots of talk about their FREEDOMs, but much mental blockage on the topic of Responsibility.

I fear our current new class of lawmakers may suffer from the same Freshman-itis.  I was hoping that their recent reading of the Constitution on the floor of the House might have opened their ears and minds to the monumental responsibility involved in being a citizen.  Alas, they managed to take the Freshman approach even to reading the Constitution (by choosing an abridged and modified version rather than actually reading the whole thing—which really is not very long anyway.  Read it for yourself at http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution.html).

All I have heard for the past year is “FREEDOM FREEDOM” and proposals that “Second Amendment Remedies” might be an appropriate solution to any situation in which you don’t get your own way.  It is time for someone to stand up and say STOP!  If you spew hatred with your First Amendment Right, then you better be prepared to take responsibility for the consequences.  Stop hiding behind the skirt of “Free Speech” and take responsibility as a citizen for being part of something larger than yourself.  A government by the people and for the people cannot be based on an “all about me” approach.  So far I’ve heard lots of folks de-crying the act of violence, but none of the Republicans who originally incited it have issued an apology.

I’m not holding my breath waiting . . .

Update: I wrote the above before seeing Keith Olbermann’s excellent commentary on this same subject on MSNBC:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Beloved Cubs icon Santo dies at age 70

Beloved Cubs icon Santo dies at age 70 | cubs.com: News.

This news shocked and saddened me.  Wept throughout my attempt to read the article.  Of course I knew about his health problems due to his diabetes, but I was unaware he also had bladder cancer.  Impossible to capture how much he will be missed.

I don’t have many memories of Ron Santo as a player, though I’m sure I watched him on WGNTV and perhaps even saw him in a game at Wrigley.  But I wasn’t even born in his rookie year (1960) and was only 3 when he started his string of Gold Glove Awards in 1964.  By 1969 I was certainly a Cubs fan . . . who could forget that heartbreaking year? (Still hate those Mets!)  Too bad those Hall of Fame Knuckleheads didn’t manage to give him his due and elect him to the Hall before he died.

What I remember most vividly is Ron’s voice on WGN-Radio with Pat Hughes, the two of them painting a picture of the game as it unfolded so those of us on the other end of the radio waves felt like we were there with them.  If you tuned in late you could always tell how the Cubbies were doing just by the tone of Ron’s voice.  His mood directly tied to the fortunes and misfortunes of his beloved Cubbies.  And whenever there was a gap in the lineup of seventh-inning stretch singers, there was Ronnie, pitching in with gusto to lead the fans in our anthem, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”.  It’s “Root, root, root, for the CUBBIES, if they don’t win it’s a shame . . .”

RIP, Ronnie.

And please talk to the Big Guy Upstairs about letting the Cubs win a World Series.

Pantry Inventory . . . Part I

Moving from the freezer to the pantry inventory. My dream house would have a huge walk in pantry. My current kitchen cabinets are so few that my pantry spills into the dining room. No way to take everything out at once, so I will start with the one shelf containing the bulk of the staples.

Empty it looks like this:

Pantry Shelf Empty

The contents moved up to the counter:

Pantry Shelf Contents

Whole Peeled Tomatoes (28 oz.—2 regular, 1 plum)
Crushed Tomatoes (28 oz.)
Diced Tomatoes (15 oz.—2 regular, 2 petite)
Prego tomato sauce (24 oz—1 chunky garden, 1 tomato basil)
tomato paste (6 oz.)
chicken noodle soup
tomato soup (2)
tuna in olive oil (5 oz.)
black beans (15 oz.—3 cans)
garbanzo beans (15 oz.)
tahini (16 oz.)
refried beans (15 oz.)
diced green chiles (4 oz.—2)
coconut milk (14 oz.—3 cans; 5.6 oz.—1 can)
sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)
evaporated milk (12 oz.)
pumpkin (15 oz.)
molasses (12 oz.)
corn syrup (reg & Lyle’s Golden)
cake flour
dark chocolate cake mix
angel food cake mix
dream whip (2 envelopes)
cocoa (dutch processed & regular)
jello (strawberry—8 serving; strawberry—4 serving, 2 boxes)
baking soda
pitted dates
tapioca mix
old fashioned oats
graham crackers
brown sugar
powdered sugar
candied ginger (4 oz., 3 containers)
lemon peel
orange peel

Since I wrote down this list and took the pictures, I’ve used the chicken noodle soup, a can of diced green chiles, and today I made chai mix with the sweetened condensed milk.

When I put all the stuff back on the shelf (under the counter) it looks like:

Pantry Shelf

Next: Dry Goods in the Dining Room, Liquid Staples, Flours in the Frig